My 3 Favorite Things about Blogging

I started this blog one day in July in 2010.  It has been a crazy ride since then and I have to say that I really do love blogging.  I do take breaks here and there to get my mojo back but I don't know if I'm ever going to quit blogging.  Social media and an online presence is such a second nature thing now that I don't think I can give any of it up.  I love creating, I love sharing, and I love looking back on this little part of my life from year to year. 
There are three things, though, that I absolutely love about blogging:

Pants are Optional
I don't have to wear pants (or a shirt!) to blog.  I love it.  I love that blogging is a way for me to be myself.  Not only can I share what I want to share, but I can be me behind the screen.  I don't have anyone to impress I just have a voice to express. This may sound weird but I feel like blogging has given me a feeling of empowerment.  People head to this blog and read my voice.  I can choose to share things that are important to me - sometimes it is frivolous things, but I really want to use my blog to voice things I care about.  I've posted before a few things I'd tell my teenage self, and that is about as much as an advocate for anything as I get.  But I want to use my blogging and other social media presence for more.  I am able to use this space as a reflection of me.  And that is the best.

Blogging is not my Income
While that may not seem like something that you'd expect, I love that I don't make a living blogging.  It is a small source of income but it is nothing major.  It is not even enough to keep this blog going.  Because I don't make a significant income blogging, I don't have to worry about creating content on a time line.  I create my content for myself, for my own agenda.  But if I worked with a network or sponsors or anything like that I'd have to create so many odd posts, in such and such amount of time, using such and such links.  I like to have total control over the monetized content I share.  Working with sponsors isn't always like that - deadlines, serious stuff, etc - but if you're trying to bring in X amount of $$ a month to sustain your blog and your life (buy groceries, gas, house payments, etc) there is a lot more to it than just blogging when you feel.  I would love to blog full time but I also know that really isn't for me.  I tried it, loved it, but my life wasn't steady that way.  And I do like predictability and control.  A steady pay check from someone else does that for me.

My Blog Changes with Me
As I change interests my blog can change with me.  I used to want to fight that, but everything changes.  I started this blog to focus on home decor.  I was in college when I started this blog.  How was I going to do anything related to home decor in college?!?!  I grew to be a crafty documentation of my life.  It grew to involve fashion & What I Wore type of posts and now it really doesn't.  I got really into make up so I started posting a lot of make up stuff.  Now I'm really into planning and organizing. So I blog about that.  Somewhere in there I realized this blog was really a reflection of my interests and if I had something to say about a topic, I should say it.  The tag line of my blog is 'living a creative life' and I really feel that I do.  Everyday I try to be creative and I love trying different things.  My favorite part about myself is that I am creative and I want to continue to express this creativity no matter what the topic is.

Blogging has been a big part of my life for the past six years and I hope to keep it going for another six!  I make time to do it as if it is a job because it is rewarding - not monetarily, but in personal growth.  Sharing what I've learned is important to me (like in this post on why I use my blog to teach), I like to connect with others.  I also like to produce content that I'd like to interact with.  I didn't find a lot of videos or blog posts I liked so I thought I'd make my own (and I watch my own content on YouTube...is that weird?)

Anyway, those are the three reasons I love to blog.  It's an expression of me, when it boils down to it, and I love that.

Do you have a blog?  Do you blog for different reasons?

xoxo, Moe


App Review // Paternator

I am not one for changing out my iPhone cases - I buy a case when I upgrade my phone every two years and then I stick with it.  I'm committed like that.  And you can bet I will pick a phone case that is purple.  My current case is glittery purple (reminds me of Barbie + mermaids, and that is pretty much perfect) and the case before that was a purple Mophie case.
I am all about that iPhone wallpaper life.  Even better if I can make it myself because I will make about 3 thousand of them and clog up my camera roll.  This app, Patternator, is a super fun app you can use to create patterned images to use various ways - most importantly as a wallpaper on your phone.

First off, I want to rehash some of my favorite overlay apps that you can totally use to make amazing backgrounds - here are 8 overlay apps that I love, here are 4 ways to add text to your iPhone photos, and here is a post on creating journaling cards on your iPhone (can totally be translated into wall papers!).  

What it is
Create the world’s cutest patterns, backgrounds, wallpapers and lockscreens. Pick from millions of cool stickers, hundreds of beautiful background colors, and endless pattern options.
taken from the Apple app store here.
What it does
Patternator allows you to create, quite litterally the cutest backgrounds ever.  Choose a sticker to add to the background - you can scroll through the seemingly endless categories or type in a key word to search.  The hardest part about this is picking a sticker to actively convey your emotion, as there are a ton to choose from.
Fine tune your pattern by selecting the layout and then adjusting the scale, spacing, angle and more.   Select the background color and export your image. The control you have over creating your pattern is great - though this app isn't a full on pattern maker.  You can not export your creation as a tile-able image but the quality of the image created is good enough to use on Instagram or small projects where a tiled image won't matter.
Why it helps you
If your a blogger or instagramer or shop owner, or anyone who uses social media this is a great app to create a background for an announcement.  Using this background in conjunction with another app like Phonto to overlay text is a great way to create unique advertising on your platform of choice.  Advertise shop sales, meet ups, announcements, etc.

If you just like being creative, this app is fun to have in your design arsenal on your phone.  Create backgrounds for wallpapers or to use in smaller projects the quality the image is saved isn't as high as I'd like it (you can get really hi res images from an app like Rhonna Designs).  You could use this to create pocket scrapbooking cards (in conjunction with this app tutorial and then use them in the Project Life app) or small stickers.  This is a fun app to play around with!

**I think you also used to be able to order phone cases right from the app, but that feature is no longer available.  I'm not sure on the resolution quality on a printed item like that though.

Do you have any pattern making app recommendations?  I can't seem to find too many in the app store!


Make it Monday // Fruit Slices Cup Cozie

It is finally getting to be the time of year where I can switch my parka for a tank top and my winter boots for bare feet.  This winter wasn't as bad as it has been in the past but it still was cold, it still was long, it still was winter.  Even last week we had a day in the 40's after a week of 60's-70's.  I was like WTF is going on here.
I decided to welcome the warm weather with a crochet project! Super weird, right?  But it isn't something you wear it is something for your cup to wear.  I've posted previous cup cozie projects before (here & here) and they are all themed for the season.  This is the second crochet applique cup cozie I've made and I have to say it is pretty fun to figure out how to make little shapes using various stitches.  I tried to make charts for the orange slices but just couldn't figure out how to properly convey the shape.  Hopefully you can go off of these charts for reference.  I did use a combination of single crochet and double crochet to get the look.

The half size slice has a row of double crochet in light orange, and then two rows of single crochet in light orange, increasing a bit each time.  The final row is single crochet in the darker orange.
The full circle slice is crocheted in the round with out turning and has a row of double crochet in the light orange followed by a row of single crochet in light orange, then a third row of double crochet in light orange.  The last row is single crochet in the dark orange.  Each row has an increase to help keep the shape.  Both appliques were made with a size G crochet hook.

I then used some white yarn to weave from center to outer edge to create some 'slices'.  I didn't do this equally around the slices though, to add some contrast.  Then I attached the appliques to the cozie with a needle and the corresponding yarn, tucking all loose ends inside.
The cozie was made by crocheting in the round 17 rows of 35 single crochet stitches using an H hook.  Because the appliques were so huge, the cozie had to be big enough to accommodate them.  Using thinner weight yarn and a smaller, corresponding hook will make the appliques smaller.  But this size works great for a cold beverage insulated cup.

I can't wait to sip something delicious on the porch out of this fun mug.  Or even throw a frozen lemonade or smoothie in it to go.

Was winter harsh were you were?  Are you excited for warm weather?

xoxo, Moe


Free Printable Sick Day Stickers

A few weeks ago I was sick as a dog and really wanted a way to mark the fact that I felt like death in my planner.  I didn't take any days off from work so consequently the guy I sit next to got sick (sorry dude) but I did come directly home and sleep.  Sweetie was not very happy with that as she really wanted to play and cuddle and play and cuddle.  I created this little graphic using the app Phonto - which is such a fun and quick text app (I use it to create all my blog cover photos and YouTube thumbnails - it is the best) then imported it into my Silhouette software and used the Draw a Curved Shape tool to trace a cut line around each little image.
this post contains affiliate links, please read my full disclosure here.

So I have a PDF, a Studio file, AND a PNG file for you all today - so if you have a cutting machine like the Silhouette you can cut the Studio file or like the Cricut Explore you can cut the PNG File (check out this video on how to cut PDF & PNG files with your Cricut!), and if you're old school you can trim these with scissors.

**If you do cut this with the Cricut Explore, make sure when you upload the image you erase the text at the bottom of the image (that is the only cleaning up you'll need to do) and then size the WIDTH ONLY to 5.5 inches.  You may find the image to pixelate a little bit - so you might need to size it smaller :( this graphic was created at 300dpi so I'm not sure why it's pixelated!**

If you haven't considered picking up a digital die cutting machine I highly recommend you consider picking one up!  The Cricut Explore is my favorite for paper crafting and the Silhouette is my favorite for sticker making but you can totally do both with each machine.  I am very happy I have both though!
As a reminder, all the files in this blog post are for personal use only.  If you'd like to share with others please link or pin this post and do not share the file.  Do not print and distribute in mass and do not sell this printable as is, modified, or printed.  Do not claim this file as your own.  All in all, please play nice.

Hope you enjoy, and I hope you don't have to use these often!!!

xoxo, Moe


How I get More Done // 5 Tips for Productivity

A long while ago I started on this journey to be productive and organized.  This started with purchasing a planner, developing a cleaning routine, expanding on that cleaning routine, finding planner peace, and talking more about my cleaning routine (cleaning routine & cleaning routine).  I credit this obsession with my cleaning routine for making me more productive.  Today I want to share with you 5 tips on setting your mind frame in order to create more productivity in your day.
Decide what activities are important
This is the first part to being productive.  There are things you do in your daily life that take priority over other things.  The first thing to do is decide what is most important to you.  For me, I decided to make cleaning a priority.  I made it something that had to be done in my daily life and I sucked it up and did it for a few weeks straight until it became habit.  You may find that there is an activity you want to complete during the day but haven't made time for it - make this activity a priority for a few weeks, then it will become habit.  Also there is no easy way to do this - suck it up and get it done.  Then it will seem out of place to not do it.

You may also need to prioritize things differently.  I love to sleep the frick in on every damn day of my life.  I dislike what 5am looks like.  But I found during my day to day life if I woke up 30 minutes before I have to leave for work, my day tends to stink.  I get to work still tired, I'm thrown into the thick of if still hazy, and I'm yawning well into 1pm.  I found that if I woke up early enough to enjoy time to myself and allow my body to adjust to the burning sunshine my day was more pleasant.  I wasn't playing catch up with myself all day.  (Pro tip on waking up - don't hit the snooze, it will only make you feel more tired.  I'm not a scientist, but I do play one on TV)  Re-prioritizing something that you may think is important when in actuality it might be detrimental to your productivity levels, may help you.

Create & Test Routines
Re-prioritizing things in your day to day life may lead to new routines.  I find that if I complete certain tasks in a certain order I feel more efficient and more productive.  Even if it is in minor increments, keeping to a schedule is key to feeling productive.  In the morning I wake up at 5:10am, I take Sweetie potty and am back inside to have her fed and my coffee brewed by 5:25am, then I cuddle back up with her in bed and mess around on my phone, watch TV, etc until 5:55am when I start to do my make up (if I feel like it), I get dressed by 5:18am, put up Sweetie, and if all is on track I'm out the door a little before 6:30am.  I didn't sit down and decide on 5:18am being the time I start to put my pants on, I just found that by re-prioritizing the things that made my morning better that this was the routine the fit best for me.

By creating and testing different routines you'll be able to develop what works best in what order.  I can't give you the scientific breakdown of it but you should be able to develop a routine that flows together organically.  For me it is pointless to walk to the kitchen and brew my coffee before going into the bathroom because the bathroom is before the kitchen.  So then I'll get that over with, wash my face, etc.  Then my dog has to pee so of course we'll go downstairs and outside, etc, etc.  The routine you develop should be organic.

You may find that if you switch this and that you're more productive (or less) and you should evolve your routines.  One thing I am absolutely horrible at is adapting my routine when something changes. I am horrible at it and my whole life is thrown off for weeks at a time.  

Write (Specific & Helpful) To Do Lists
I find that the more specific my To Do List is, the more helpful it is.  It also helps to see what actually can be done in an allotted amount of time.  If you have a task, simply writing task reminds you about the task.  If the task has certain parts to complete it, I find writing down all that needs to be done is very helpful.  Not only is a metal thing where you can check off more things but it shows your progress.  I try to break down a task (if it needs to be broken down) into 3 to 4 steps so I'm not overwhelmed.  Laundry is a great example - wash, fold, put away.  Laundry also doesn't happen all at once so you can see your progress even as your working on other things during the day.  Breaking down the task into smaller tasks makes me feel like I'm staying on track and getting things done.

I find being too specific is unhelpful to me.  I also find that creating a general, non-intimidating heading to be super helpful.  So instead of a generic YouTube as a task, I'll put Schedule Videos and break it down into edit, upload, finalize the list of videos I have.  That way I know what I'm doing but I'm not overwhelmed.  I work in batches too - batch edit, batch upload, finalize them all in one go.  Batching is super helpful when it comes to To Do lists. 

Hold Yourself Accountable
A planner does this for me.  Also, remembering the feeling I have when my house is clean and my shit is done helps me stay accountable.  Find something that works for you - because, in general, no one gives a crap about your productivity except for you.  (your job is a different story, though.)  No one cares if you got your mascara on before 6:05am in order to finish curling your hair by 6:45am, except for you.   No one cares if you clean the family room on Tuesdays or on Saturdays, except for you.  You get what I mean?  Find something that pushes you to complete your tasks.  But also don't stress on it if you can't get things done.  Creating routines and To Do lists will show you what you can feasibly fit in your amount of time.

I hope this post was a little bit helpful - it is how I approach productivity in my daily life and how I get a handle on things!  Creating routines and just seeing what I can do and when I can do it gives me a little more control over my life, you know?  And I think that is a very helpful thing to have a tiny bit of control over!

How do you stay productive?  How do you keep on top of daily tasks?

xoxo, Moe


Make it Monday // 3 Ways to Use Clip Art in PicMonkey

I was at a total loss for what to do for this week's Make it Monday post - I wanted to make a physical thing, but I wasn't sure what to make. I wanted to move away from planner stuff because I've got other ideas brewing.  But I just didn't know what to do.  So I thought I'd just turn to my old trusty PicMonkey for a little how-to inspiration for today.
this post contains affiliate links, please read my full disclosure here.

There are a bunch of PicMonkey tutorials on the blog (find them here) and I want to share with you today three ways to use clip art in PicMonkey to create something unique.  I also want show you some more inspiration and new takes on some old DIY's.

First - where do you find clip art to use?
The PicMonkey blog shared this post on 4 places to find free for personal and commercial use clip art - and it is super helpful in understanding licensing and file types that PicMonkey can open.  While we're on that topic, PicMonkey can only open JPG and PNG files so you'll need to search for file types that end in .jpg or .png.  A lot of creative bloggers offer free clip art on their blogs for various projects.  I like to search Pinterest for free clip art to find some really creative and pretty images to use.

Now on to the important part:

Use Clip Art Over a Photo
In this DIY post, I showed you how to create your own watermark in PicMonkey to then use in PicMonkey over your photos.  Adding clip art to an existing photo is as simple as this previous tutorial - just skip the step of creating the over lay.  Here's how.

Open the photo you'd like to add the clip art to in PicMonkey.  You can click one of the links on the top (choose edit in this case) or drag and drop the image on to the PicMonkey screen.  Three squares should show up, drop your image into the edit square.
Under the Overlays tab (the butterfly in the left hand column) select the arrow next to Your Own and select my computer.  Locate the clip art image on your hard drive and select open.
You can the repeat the process adding the clip art around your image.  Be sure to create a visual balance across your image.  Add text and save.
This is a great way to add interest to a scrapbook photo or photo to use in your pocket scrapbooking albums.  It is also a creative way to create images for your blog or even your Instagram profile.

The feathers for this example were created by Angie Makes, and you can find them here.

Create a Layered Design
In this tutorial I showed you how to fake a repeating pattern in PicMonkey.  In another tutorial, I went over how to use PicMonkey's own graphics to create a patterned notes page for your personal sized planner.  You can also use clip art to create a patterned background for various projects.
From the main PicMonkey page, hover over the Design tab and choose a canvas to design from. The 4x6 canvas works great for pocket scrapbooking cards.  Once you have the canvas open, set the background, and rotate if need be.  Navigate to the Overlays tab and begin to open the clip art in the same manner as the previous tip - selecting Your Own and then My Computer.  Once the clip art is on the screen, size it to your liking and begin to duplicate it by right clicking on a PC or two finger click on a Mac and selecting Duplicate Overlay.  Continue to place your duplicated clip art around the canvas.  Like in this tutorial, you'll want to try to fake a repeating pattern.
Open a second clip art image you have saved that compliments the first.  Duplicate it across the canvas as well to create a layered look.  This adds depth to the pattern you're creating and creates a more interesting design.  I suggest only working with 3 clip art images at max to avoid a cluttered design.
Once the second image has filled the canvas the way you like, you can right click and send it to the back if that image seems well suited to the bottom layer of the design.  Save the design you've created.
This is a great way to create digital papers for personal use (if the clip art you chose is for personal use only) to use in any digital scrapbooking or other paper crafts you are looking to make.  This is also a great way to make backgrounds for your various devices.

The floral clip art is from We Lived Happily Ever After, and you can find them here.

Change the Color of an Existing Design
If you've found a clip art image that you love but it happens to be a color your don't quite care for, there is an easy way to change the color within PicMonkey.
Begin by either opening the image you will overlay the clip art on to or open a blank canvas.   If opening a blank canvas, and plan to use the clip art as an overlay in the future - set the canvas color to transparent.  Navigate to the Overlays tab, select Your Own and then My Computer.  Open the clip art image you'd like to change the color of.
You should see a little dialog box pop up any time the clip art image is selected.  Use the color scale on the dialog box to change the color by dragging the little circle around the color scale.
Duplicate the clip art and create the design on the canvas you've selected, or use the altered image as an overlay on another photo.  Save your design.

This is great if you want a few of one image but they were only created on one color scheme.  This can add some fun to a design project - like a pocket scrapbook card or print.  How cute would the design above be as an art print?

The mushroom is from Lisa Glanz and you can find the set here.

PicMonkey is a simple yet amazing tool if you're into being digitally creative but not down for spending a ton on higher end software.  PicMonkey can do a lot for you even though it is such a simple, online resource.  All of these tips can be done in the free version of PicMonkey but the Royale version offers a lot more - like the drop shadow on the text in the first tip!  You can sign up here for either the $33/year plan or $4.99/month plan.  Either one is totally worth it if you're down for some creativity and awesome fonts!

*as a side note, please be sure to read the terms of use for any and all clip art you download from any artist.  Please play nice, karma is a thing ya know.  I am also in no way affiliated with any of these artists - I found their work beautiful and wanted to share them with you.  I am in now way an expert on licensing terms, please read and understand any and all TOU that come with any downloads you find.

How do you get creative in PicMonkey?  Any tips to share?

xoxo, Moe


Boost your Blog // Free Creative Stock Photos for your Blog

I have been loving using stock photos in some of my blog posts when I just don't have a reason to take a picture myself.  Stock photos are especially helpful when I have a block of text that really needs an image to draw you in or to pin to Pinterest.  I usually grab one from Unsplash on my phone, run it through Phonto to overlay the text, and then email it to myself (of course you could use something like Google Drive or DropBox) in order to upload it to my blog from my computer.  Stock images are very helpful in a pinch!
After this post on the blogging style guide, I was inspired to try to make some stock photos of my own.  I set up my lighting (two clamp lights and daylight bulbs from Wal-Mart - more on my lighting in this video) and took some photos!  Feel free to use the images below how ever you would like - on your blog or on Instagram - but a link back to this post or a tag on Instagram (@fivesixteenths)  would be wonderful!  
To open and save the images - click on the image you'd like to save, use the spy glass that hovers over the image on the new page to increase the image to it's original size, right click, and save to your desktop.

I know I'm always looking for stock photos relating to planning and to creative endeavors so that is why I chose these elements to photograph.  Please let me know if you use any of these images - and stay tuned for a post with tips for using stock images on your blog!

xoxo, Moe


3 Ways to Save Money on Design Elements

In this post I shared ways to find free design elements online.  You can also check out my YouTube channel to find out how I put those bad boys to work - my videos are geared towards making stickers, but you can totally use the tips in any sort of design work your doing (especially making repeating patterns with Inkscape!)
Today I want to share with you how to save money on design elements you purchase and I'll be featuring various sites that I love 

Through the artist's own domain
If you find a great digital element you'd like to use on a website like Creative Market, see if you can navigate through to their own website.  A designer may have his or her own domain that will host more designs, different designs, different licensing, etc.  A lot of the times, third party sites - Creative Market & Etsy, for example - charge for using their site to sell digital elements.  The designer will add this cost in to the cost of the element they are selling in order to pay the overhead.  If you head over to their personal domain/website, the hosting fees are often a lot lower so the prices of their products will be lower as well.  I've seen designers offer something on their personal domain/website at 10% less than that of Etsy...because of the Etsy fees.  

Additionally, you may find a more extensive commercial use license in included on their personal domain than that of a site like Creative Market.  Creative Market offers 2 licensing options with different commercial use provisions.  I've found the same digital design on a designer's personal website with a more comprehensive commercial license than what is on Creative Market.  That way you're getting more bang for your buck.

Coupon codes through Etsy
I am giving this tip with one request - if you find yourself purchasing elements from the same designer, pay full price at least a few times.  I am starting off this tip with this suggestion because, just like you, they put hard work into the elements they design and deserve to be paid the price they are asking for.  With that said, you can find a lot of shops will have Instagram and Facebook pages that may offer up coupon codes.  Use these to get a small discount on any elements you've been eyeing.  If you have to go to a website and sign up for an email to get a coupon, do that too.  Any penny saved is great!  You may also find some designers may be offering older digital designs at a discounted price.  You might be able to use a coupon code on top of the discounts already taken on the listings.  This isn't too often but if a designer is just trying to clear room of things they aren't feeling anymore, you can get a great deal.

Consider purchasing a subscription
If you find yourself using a pay per download site, consider signing up for their subscription plans - if they have any.  This way you are saving money on each download - I know I personally use Creative Market way too often to not consider their credit plans.  Creative Market works a bit different - you buy credits and then get a bonus $$ amount at a certain level where as other services may have  a monthly, quarterly, or yearly plan (like FreePik).  You can also find a ton of coupon codes to save on various plans - I know on FreePik I see a 15% off for Shutterstock all the time!  You may even be able to snag a free trial of some sites, just be sure to cancel before the billing cycle if you're not interested.

These are the three ways I save money on digital designs that I use in various projects.  If you want some great elements to work with you're going to have to shell out some cash!  I love supporting smaller artists so going through Etsy or through their own domain really ensures they are getting exposure.  

How do you save money on creative design?  Have any other tips?