Wednesday, March 26, 2014

More of my writing published!

I'm continuing my search for freelance writing work and have just had another couple of my articles published!

on an environmental website.

and 
on a women's health and wellbeing site.

Happy days!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How to add a responsive slider in Blogger

I have to say I'm quite proud of this addition to my blog.
A few weeks ago I didn't know what a 'responsive slider' was.
I noticed a lot of websites and blogs now have a fancy box at the top of their home page with rotating pictures on.  I liked the look of this and wanted to see if I could learn how it's done - through my Wordpress site, Fit and Healthy Me, which I initially set up as a learning platform and to see what everyone was talking about when they said you had to have a Wordpress site.

So - I researched and learned how to add the slider in Wordpress, and was pretty happy with how it looked in that blog.
It seemed a shame though that you couldn't have the same in Blogger....or could you!

Well, it turns out you can. With a little help from Google, I found this site - Image Slider for Blogger.

So simple - all you have to do is choose which type of slider you want - from looking at the pictures and demos; then copy and paste the html into your site as a widget (in layout, add a widget, html).
You can have it in the sidebar, or, as I've done here, under the header. All you need to do is replace the hyperlinks and image sources with your own.

I chose to use mine as page headers, so created images with titles to use, but you could use photos for a great, clickable display!

So what do you think? Do you like my 'responsive slider'?  Would you add your own?

NB - I've since removed the responsive slider from this blog, but may add another in the sidebar in the future as they really are simple to add.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Eco Friendly Produce Bags - an upcycle tutorial



I've been using a set of bags like these for the past couple of years every week at the local market when we buy our fruit and vegetables. Over time, as our kids have grown and our eating habits have changed, the amount of fruit and vegetables we buy has increased, and at the same time some of my lovely little bags have disappeared. So it was time to make some more bags and I thought I'd post a little tutorial to show how easily you can make your own produce bags and never have to use plastic bags at the market - or supermarket again!

All you need is:
an old net curtain and some cord.

Here's how to make a simple drawstring produce bag.

1. Fold over the edge of the curtain to the width you'd like your bag. 
Mine are around 28 cm (11")

2.Cut where you have folded to, and also to the length of the bags you want. 
Again, mine are around 33 cm (13").

You can use the top of the curtain - or also the hem at the base as the casing for your drawstring. 

3.So now just pin 2 edges of your bag - the side opposite the fold, and what will be the base:

4. Stitch where you have pinned - but remember to leave the casing open at the top.
Don't stitch across that or you'll have nowhere to push your drawstring through!


5. Now turn your bag right sides out, and cut some cord double the width of your bag:


6. Using a large safety pin, thread your cord all the way through the casing at the top of your bag. 


7. Tie the two ends of the cord together..

And there you have one finished drawstring produce bag!


Now if your net curtain is large and you cut pieces that don't have a ready made casing in the form of the top or hem of the curtain, all you have to do to make your own is fold over the top edge of your piece of curtain like this:
Pin then stitch before folding your fabric and finishing your bag.

Note: I've been using bags like this for 2 years now and the seams have never frayed. I did not overlock (serge) or finish off the seams in any way - the net curtain fabric just doesn't seem to fray at all!

My single (short) net curtain that cost me a couple of dollars from the charity shop, made me 14 bags!  So I shouldn't run out again any time soon.

Strong, durable and eco-friendly! What could be better!

Do you use plastic bags for your fruit and vegetables?  
Why not make some of these and keep them in your car for next time you shop!



For more of my upcycling tutorials, take a look here.

Or I even have a whole e-book of sewing tutorials to make eco-friendly shopping bags - including a stylish handbag to carry them all in so you never forget them when you're shopping!


Happy upcycling!



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

T-shirt sleeves to pouches - an upcycle tutorial





I'm currently working on upcycling the old-style uniforms from my daughter's swim club.
First I made a few tote bags using the main backs of the t-shirts which had our club name on. You can see some pictures of those here.
Now I've made some small zipped pouches with the sleeves, lined with waterproof rip-stop nylon so they are ideal for carrying swim caps and goggles for our star swimmers. You could line these pouches with any kind of material you choose and use them as anything from a pencil case to a money pouch!

Here's how to make a small zipped pouch from a t-shirt sleeve:

First cut the sleeve from your t-shirt and trim off the seams and hem.

Then cut 2 rectangles from the fabric you have. I cut mine as large as I could from each size, so the pouches were varied sizes depending on the shirt size!
You also need to cut 2 more rectangles of fabric the same size for the lining. I used my scrap fabric stash for this - but you could always use the other sleeve from the t-shirt!. Then you need a zip which is approximately the size of the longer side of your fabric rectangle and a few scraps of each fabric you're using:

Adjust the zip length
First you need to make the zip the same length as the long side of your fabric rectangle.  To do this you need to use fabric scraps that are a little wider than the zip.
Place the scraps on either end of the zip with the right sides of the fabric facing in towards the zip. The outer fabric facing the outside of the zip, the inner fabric facing the inside of the zip. 
Pin these in place where you want the finished ends of the zip to be:


Before you stitch, pull back the fabric scraps to check you've got them pinned the right way - the fabric should form the new zip ends like this:

Stitch the scraps into place at either end of the zip. Be careful if you're stitching over the teeth of the zip. Go slowly and lift the foot a little if you need to to avoid snapping your needle!

Trim the fabric scraps so that they are in line with the zip edges:

Then you can pull the fabric back on both sides of the zip and it's ready to attach to the main pouch parts!


Attach the zip to the main pouch parts
Lay down one of your outer fabric rectangles with the right side of the fabric facing upwards.  Lay your zip on top of this with the right side facing downwards.  Then place one of the inner fabric pieces, face down on top of the zip:

Pin then stitch in place using the zipper foot attachment on your machine.


Then flip both fabrics back and top stitch close to the zip. This should prevent the fabric from catching in the zip when you open and close it.


Now repeat all of this with the other 2 fabric rectangles. So again place the outer fabric face up; then next the zip face down (so now both pieces of outer fabric should be right-sides together); then finally your last inner fabric piece face down on top:

Pin, then stitch, and once again flip the fabrics back and top-stitch close to the zip on the top of the fabric:

Here's what it looks like on the underneath:



Joining the outer and inner pieces together
First MAKE SURE YOUR ZIP IS OPEN!!
Then put both outer fabric pieces on one side of the zip, and both inner pieces on the other side - with right sides of the fabric together in both cases!

Pin around all four edges, leaving a gap of a few inches to allow you to turn the pouch right sides out at the end.

Stitch where you have pinned, then trim the corners.

Now turn the pouch right sides out through the gap:

Pin and slip-stitch the opening closed. This seam will be on the inside of the pouch so you could just machine stitch it as it won't be seen!


That's it! You're done!

Fill it up and start to use your new upcycled zipped pouch!


For the free downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.


For more ideas on ways to upcycle old t-shirts you can go here or follow my Upcycling T-shirts Pinterest Board.

Or for over 600 ideas for upcycling all kinds of old clothes, check out the long term linky here!

Have you upcycled any clothes lately?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I'm a Voices of 2014 Nominee!!!

Yesterday I found an email in my inbox so say that my blog been nominated for VOICES OF 2014!!

A HUGE thank-you to whoever nominated me, I'm very flattered and excited to be included in this.

The judges are currently going through the nominees to choose the top 90 over 3 categories.

There are some amazing prizes up for grabs, including writing contracts with Kidspot which is a fabulous site here in Australia and I would LOVE to write for them!

So, I have everything crossed that I make it into the top 90.
Please keep your fingers crossed for me too - every little bit of luck might help! :)


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Top 10 Blogging tips for Newbie Bloggers



Here's my own 
 Top 10 Blogging Tips for Newbie Bloggers


1. Creating your own header
All you need for this is a picture that you want to represent your blog.  You can use photos, or create your own image, or a combination of both.
I have used the free online photo editing software Pixlr.  For my simple header I just created my own image - I think it was about 1200px wide by 300px high.  Make it larger than you need rather than smaller, as once you insert the image you can check the box to 'shrink to fit'.  Once you're happy with your image, then you save it as a jpeg onto your computer, then insert it into the configure header on your blogger : edit layout.

2. Making your own button with text box
I've used a few different instructions for this, and the best I've found so far are on ehow: click here!
Again I used Pixlr for my image, then saved it as a jpeg on my computer before uploading it into my photobucket account (also free to set up)

3. Don't be a no-reply comment blogger!
Early on when I started blogging, another blogger kindly pointed out that I was a 'no-reply comment blogger'.  This meant that when I left a comment on someone's blog, my email address wasn't available to them (not on their blog, but on their email) so they couldn't reply to my comment.  All I had to do to rectify this was go into your dashboard, click on edit profile, then check the box that says 'show my email address' then save!
NB - with the new Google+ Blogger profile, many people's accounts keep slipping back into 'no-reply' status. I check mine once a month and usually have to change it back. Go here to find how to do this!

4. Protect your photos
You may  want to protect your own photos from being copied.  To do this you can add a watermark of your blog name, your name, or whatever you wish. Picmarkr is one free site that allows you to upload your photos and add watermark, then save them back when you're done.

5. Add a clickable signature to your comments
When you leave a comment on someone else's blog, you can also add a clickable link back to your blog so people can easily find you!  To do this, just insert your details into this html code and copy and paste to the bottom of your comment: Replace your blog url in the pink part, and where it says your text here - type your blog title or what you want the text to say that people can click on!
You will also need to replace the { and }    with     < and >


{a href=http://www.jembellish.blogspot.com/ }YOUR TEXT HERE {/a}


6. Adding a 'signature' to your blog posts
You can do this by creating a signature for free at My Live Signature.  You don't have to register - just click proceed and follow the prompts to create your own personal signature.  Then at the end click on use this signature, and create html.  Once you've got the html code, copy and paste it onto your blog at settings-formatting-post template. Now everytime you write a new post, this signature will appear in the text box you type in!

7. Thank people in advance for their comments
If you go to 'Settings' on your dashboard and click on 'comments' you can leave a 'comment form message' . This is what people will see above the box they type their comments into.  You can also put a note in here reminding people about the 'no-reply comment' thing (- see number 3 on this list)

8. Get the comments to pop up in a separate window
When someone clicks to leave you a comment - the whole page refreshes to give them the box to type into.  If you want a new window to open for their comment, so they don't go away from your blog page, then go into settings - comments, and click on 'pop up window' in comment form placement. Save and you're done!

9. Disclaimer
It is important to have a disclaimer on your blog so people don't then blame you if things go wrong after they follow something you said!  I used the instructions on ehow (click here) once again to write mine, and have added it in a widget at the bottom of my blog so it's visible on every page.

10. Linky parties
For crafty blogs, I have found that joining in linky parties is a great way to get your work out there and to meet other similar bloggers.  I have a full list of linky parties you can join day by day -
 just go here to my linky party page!


I hope you've found some of this useful! I'm no expert, but I have learnt a lot long the way - thanks to all the useful tutorials and very helpful bloggers out there! So here is way of 'paying it forward'!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

$160 earned in my first month of freelance writing

This year one of the things I've decided to try is looking for work as a freelance writer.
Since I've been writing for my own blogs for more than 3 years, and have had guest posts published in a few other places, it seemed like a logical next step to take in looking for ways to earn an income from blogging.

I really got the idea from a blog I found last year called:


The author of the blog - Tom Ewer, has shared his journey as he quit his job to create his own income online. He did this through his own blog and freelance writing.  

On his 'About Me' page, he says he's a 

"freelance writer and professional blogger"

I like the sound of that!

For a while, he was sharing his monthly income reports on his blog. These were a great source of motivation and encouragement for me, and I'm sure many others, as it showed clearly what can be done if you set your mind to it!

So I bought his e-book 'Successful Freelance Writing Online'
 (this has since been expanded and updated - you can see what he has now available here) and read that through a couple of times, exploring all the links and making lots of notes. This isn't an affliate link or anything like that - I just really found his blog and course helpful in motivating me to get started and pointing me in the right direction.

So February this year was my month to focus on finding some freelance writing work, and I'm really pleased with the small successes I've had and the potential I can see to earn lots more money from this.

This was my first stop. I've heard it described as an ebay for jobs. People post all kinds of freelance jobs here and you can send your proposal for the job together with others and the seller will then choose who they feel is best for the job.
There are all sorts of weird and wonderful jobs posted there and initially I found it tricky to find something I felt I was qualified for. Once I realised that many of the jobs you don't need any specific knowledge for, I managed to start putting in my proposals.

The site is free to sign up for and you create your profile then get 15 free job proposal credits per month. So you can apply for 15 jobs for free. So far I've just used these and have just completed my second job.
The first job I got was 'copywriting'. For this I had to write descriptions of printers and inks.  Not the most exciting of jobs, but required no specialist knowledge as it involved looking up the information about the printer and inks and expanding it into sentences.  
In terms of copywriting experience I'd had previously - well I've written my own product descriptions when selling things in my madeit shop, or on my own website. I've also written product descriptions when writing sponsored posts on my blogs.

Blogger job boards
Another way to find freelance writing work is to look on various blogger job boards. One of these is Problogger.
It was there that I found a couple more jobs.
One - I've already had my first article published and have been paid.

Another I found was a new environmental site where you can submit your articles, and they get paid on the basis of popularity. So the top 2 articles each day receive payment. I have written 3 articles for this site so far and was so happy when my third article hit the front page and was the top post a few days ago, so more money in the bank!!


Overall I'm really happy with the start I've made. I've also been continuing to add articles to my own blogs, which gives me more examples of my writing to show prospective employers.
With an overall profit of $160 for my first month of freelance writing, I'm happy with that and aiming to grow that this month.


Have you ever considered freelance writing as a way of working from home?
If you're interested in giving People Per Hour a try, I'd be happy to send you an 'invite'. You can just go direct to the site and sign up, but there is also a referral system whereby any friends you refer who sign up and get work, you then get a one off referral commission.  Every little helps - so if anyone would like me to refer them, and you can then in turn refer someone else, do let me know!!

Onwards to month 3 of this fine year 2014! So far I'm reaching my short term goals, but have to keep on going with them to attain my long term ones too!

How are you going with your goals for this year so far?