Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blog Angels October - The Final Round-up and a The Ultimate Blog Angels December Launch!

Blog Angels is constantly evolving as a project and with 100 people to sign up this round was the most successful yet. With more than 87% of people actively taking part, it is bittersweet. I'm celebrating the 87 of you who have thrown your heart and soul into the scheme....and slightly disappointed that some of you won't have had any help from the 13 people who dropped out without saying anything. For those who couldn't see the whole thing through and let me know, thank you! I was able to sort out back-up Angels and hopefully keep the scheme going. I'm not sure we'll ever have 100% success; however I will keep aiming for it!
So with the half way 'reveal' post going live here, the Blog Angels have been busy getting to know each other. I hope that some of you are now firm bloggy friends. I've had some sweet emails from people who appear to have new 'besties' for life, so I'm glad that some of my match-making worked!
The time has now come to fill us all in on what you have been doing over the last 14 days. Here are some questions you might want to consider while you write your posts.
1. How has your relationship with your blogger and Blog Angel developed since the reveal?
2. How have your helped them out and what help have you received?
3. What have you learnt about your blogger since the reveal?
4. What plans have you to stay in touch in the future?
Please only link up a Round Up post below. If you want to be a December Blog Angel, read further down in the post  after the linky party - we are holding our first ULTIMATE edition.


On 15th November you can sign up to be a December Blog Angel. I wanted to make the scheme a bit simpler for everyone over the busy festive period, while seeing if I could really unite 200 plus people in the completely selfless act of giving without receiving help in return. Ambitious right? A little bit, but then I know that with your support this project can work. Regular Blog Angels will return in February as usual.
These are the December rules!
1. Find a blog you want to help in secret - this could be new to you or an existing blogger in need of a boost. Try and give the URL of a reserve blog to help in case your first choice is in hot demand.
2. Fill in the form (on the blog from 10th November!)
3. Wait for an email before 30th November confirming you can help that person. I will make sure that everyone isn't trying to assist the same person.
4. Help them with their blog in secret for one month, commiting to commenting a minimum of twice a week. See more advice on what else you can do here.
5. Link up a post summarising what help you have given throughout the first two weeks. (15th December)
6. Link up a reveal post on 30th December and contact your blog to let them know you've been their festive buddy for the month.

So there are some pretty important changes. I hope you like the idea and will help me reach my 2012 target of 200 participants. If you would like to have the sign-up form on your blog on 10th November, email me, or Tweet me and I will send you the HTML. The more the merrier!

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Monday, October 29, 2012

A Week in Review and a Whole Lot of Blogging Opportunities to JOIN IN with!

I've been in Germany this last week and there have been LOTS of highlights. Within 7 days the temperature went from a freak for autumn 22 degrees all of the way to 1 degree and snow! We started with some gorgeous weather while visiting the Edersee area of Germany. We went on a tree top walk through a forest and then had coffee in my favourite castle in the world.....and not just because of THAT view of because I got to climb the cannons again...
Do any of you regular readers remember the post where I featured this castle before?*
From there we went to the site of a village which was destroyed to expand the lake. I did me some scrambling up rocks and stone throwing while the sun went down. I was meant to be skimming stones, but had my usual success!
 We kicked around Mannheim for the second half of the week...but went on a day-trip on Saturday to Baden Baden where I had some 'Flame cake'. Or a kinda German pizza thing to all of my foodie readers. It's a very thin pizza dough, with Swiss cheese (like a creamy kind), ham and leek. Yum! Just what you need to help wash down a delicious Rieslingshorle (white wine spritzer). Baden-Baden has two special Spa baths, one looked extremely interesting, but involved lots of voluntary public nudity and the other looked relaxing, clothed, but I forgot to pack my swimmers. We drank some of the local 'mineral' water straight from the source. If you can imagine warm, salted pasta water you'd probably have a nicer time with it! As you can see from the picture, we picked the BEST weather for a trip out. Apparently it was all of my Christmas shopping which made winter come along early.

So, I finished my Christmas shopping (and wrapping!) for Andi's folks. It culminated in me making this necklace and bracelet for his mum. Finally...some crafting! If you want a tutorial, comment below and I''ll make my mum one too.
(The stones are: pink river stone, rose marble and cultivated pearls.)
I also did quite a lot of bloggy bits this week:
  • This Wednesday, Blog Angels - the final October link-up, is ready to go live. I can't wait to see what everyone has been up to!
  • I decided on the rules for Blog Angels the Christmas edition so I could find a way to involve even more people. Sign up is earlier from 10th November, but you can check out the new ideas on my Blog Angels page now. You can also take the new wintry Blog Angels button from my sidebar.
  • I have been getting everything ready for my massive 500 Follower giveaway on 5th November. There will be 45 prizes! FORTY-FIVE!
  • I joined in the Resolutions in Motion scheme and have set myself a goal to get my Facebook page up and organised (more on that later!) I will be posting all about this on 6th November.
  • I set up my Facebook page and designed my Facebook Follow Fest button! I am looking for a whole bunch of co-hosts. If you want to co-host the party, all you need to commit to is 'liking' the pages of everyone who signs up and putting the post up between 9th-11th November (yes this IS during Blog Angels sign-up so traffic should increase!)
So I have set myself the challenge of reaching 100 'Likes' of my Facebook page by 17th December. Can you start me off now? Click on the link below.
And there was me thinking that I had a really quiet week away from the blog! So don't forget to pop back over the next couple of weeks. It appears that it is going to be another huge month of building community and links with other people. Hope to see you around, and remember if you fancy co-hosting the Facebook Follow Fest, just tell me before the 7th November.
P.S. *the castle post...well that was here!
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Friday, October 26, 2012

A Crafbotic Book Club - Life Changing Literature Link-up!

I hope you are all having a fantastic week. I certainly am. Well it's great to be on holiday after a busy half term. Even thought it's nearly over, I am so happy to be back in Germany. There have been some life-changing moments over here and I suspect there are more to come. 
I'm not sure how weird this on a scale of one to barking mad, but quite a lot of my life-changing moments tended to happen at the end of a great book, followed by a trip to a remote castle where I could think in a Wuthering Heightsesque dramatic setting and settle my life plans (or in the absence of the castle 300 miles away, the sea side, but only in something suitably dramatic like a gale force wind).
O.K. Re-reading that I can see how weird my behaviour is with the castle, though I still firmly believe that the reflection provoked by a book can genuinely change your life.  When I was struggling as a teenager,  I found refuge in books. I read obsessively to avoid real life sometimes and that ironically gave me the nounce to cope a bit better. 
I have already written a post about my top recent reads which includes a couple examples of life-changing literature. And yes, I am that lazy that I am just going to post a link to it here!
So without any further pre-amble: what book has changed your life?

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Lame Wednesday Rant and a Super Awesome Personalised Notebook Tutorial

 The ONLY thing I have to rant about today is how full my brain is. I'm on holiday, in the same country as mein wunder boyfriend, but Ich am confused. Which language am I thinking in? Speaking? Listening to? I hadn't realised how much vocabulary I actually learnt in August. I am able to understand so much more of what Andi's parents are saying, but in turn, I am concentrating more and completely mentally exhausted.

I am also quite traurig as we have to go back to Mannheim today and I don't get to see them again until February. We always have the best times at home in the country, even if I feel like I might want a lobotomy. 
(Any newb readers to my blog will be wondering what an earth I am going on about. Please click on my About Me section to learn more!)

I am also heaps happy to go back to my home from home Mannheim. Ich vermisse es!

So rather than a rant, I am going to pass you over to my uber awesome blogging buddy and IRL blogging friend, Anja, who has made time to share a fantabulous tutorial with us. Ich heart her.
Hi everyone! My name is Anja and I'm so glad to be here today blog-sitting at Craftbotic while Rosie is enjoying her stay in Germany. You can usually find me over at Cocalores, where I blog mostly about my creative endeavors (which include sewing, baking, and giving new life to old furniture) but also about anything that strikes my fancy. I am very happy to say that Rosie and me are not just blogging buddies, but have become friends, too! She is just the best!

Do you also like reading the About Me page first? Well, here is mine in a nutshell:
  • My husband, dog, and job are my everything. Well, that and my creative side.
  • I'm German, so you'll always find lots of entertaining mistakes and clichĂ©s.
  • I'm a redhead, but my go-to accent color is pink. Not always easy to make it work.
  • My vices include coffee, chocolate, ice-cream, and DVDs. Preferably lots of them, and at the same time.
Being creative is what puts a spring to my step. The problem is: Crafting materials tend to be somewhat pricey! A template and paint here, some fabric and crochet yarn there, believe me, it adds up pretty quickly. That's why I love inexpensive projects using things I already have lying around the house and why I want to share this tutorial with you today:

How to make a cute and inexpensive 
personalized calendar or notebook

What you need:
  • scissors
  • cutter / exacto knife
  • ruler / set square
  • glue (glue sticks are better than liquid glue)
  • pencil / pen
  • lots of old magazines (fashion magazines are the best because of their great prints, many adds, and glossy paper)
  • a simple calendar / notebook
  • clear contact paper

1. Color
Decide which color scheme you want to go with. You end up getting the best look if you stick to monochromatic pictures.

2. Go through your magazines
This is the easiest and the hardest part. You leave through your old magazines and cut out all the pages that look pretty. Use your exacto knife to cut along the spine of the magazine.
The pictures can be small or really big, and it's best if you collect a good mixture of patterns and solids in different shades. You rather cut out more than you will need because it's easier to choose the prettiest ones later on.
Why is this the hardest part? You might be tempted to read the magazines again, and then this project will take you forever. Trust me, I know first-hand.

3. Choosing pictures
Start with pictures that you absolutely love and that should have a prominent position on your calendar. Use your ruler and pencil to mark where you want to cut. Measuring and cutting exact lines produces the most professional end results. Start off with squares.

4. Getting your glue on
After cutting out some pictures, you can start to glue them onto your calendar. Spread the glue well, especially on the corners of the picture. Place them closely together so that the original color of the calendar doesn't shine through.

5. Use what you've got
Sometimes pictures fit together very well. For example, the cartoon with the woman in black that you can see below had a scalloped edge in a darker color, so I chose pictures in a darker shade of blue for the area above it. Too many straight lines look boring. That's where you can put an odd shape (like the model below) and glue them directly over the lines. Still, it all depends on what you have collected at the beginning.

6. Extras
You might even use punches to add some shapes to the end result. For example, flowers can look good.

7. Patience, girls, lots of patience!
When you have covered all of your calendar (don't forget the spine!) you proceed with the contact paper. Use the clear kind, the one you can cover books with. Place it on a flat surface, put weighs on its corners, and measure (surface of the calendar - front, spine, back - plus about one inch on every side).

Carefully (!!!) pull off the paper backing and place your calendar on the contact paper. Carefully (!!!) pull off more of the backing and flip your calendar. If there are any air bubbles left, don't push (that might ruin your pictures), instead put a sewing pin into the air bubble to remove the air. Cut away the protruding corners, then fold the contact paper inside the calendar. Thereby, you get a clean finish, and the edges of the calendar are protected as well.

8. Drum roll: Your calendar!
Here's the end result of the two calendars that I made (front and back). If you work really carefully, you ca even get an ombre look (the pink calendar has darker, hot pink pictures on the front and softer, baby pink colors on the back).

It doesn't get any more YOU than that, right? Calendars and notebooks like that are unique (that means if you forget them at work, you will get them back because everyone knows they're yours), and they make perfect, inexpensive gifts for your loved ones. You can make more manly ones, too (including pics of cars or other hobbies that your guy might have).

I hope you enjoyed this easy and inexpensive project! Curious what else I've got going on at my blog? Here are some ideas:

I'd love to see you at my blog!

Stay in touch: blog / twitter / pinterest

Isn't it great when you have friends who can step in and give you a few days off? Boy do I need it. The time I would spend blogging is going into working and preparing for the next half term. I'm even Christmas shopping as I will not be back in Germany until February (schniffle....the German sniffle). So while I am busting out the festive wrapping and hiding the not so festive marking, spare me a thought, but seriously visit Anja's blog. I'm biased. She's awesome...her blog is superb....that is all!

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Making Mondays a bit more Marvellous - Creative Link-up!

For any of you who don't know Julie from This Gal Cooks, then you are in for a treat. I am really pleased to be co-hosting her Marvelous Mondays link-up again. You never know, I might have time to craft something today to link up! I hope so - that's what holidays are for.

Good evening, everyone! Welcome to Marvelous Mondays week 17! I hope you all have had a great weekend. This week's co-hosts are:

Julie from This Gal Cooks (HOST)
Rosie from Craftbotic 
Ang from Juggling Act Mama
Ashley from Forgetful Mama

Be sure to stop by these wonderful blogs and say hello! We cannot wait to see what you have to share this week! Did you miss last week's features? Have no fear; you can check them out right here! Also, I am currently hosting a GIVEAWAY. Please find the entry form below.
If you are interested in co-hosting, please contact me (thisgalcooks@gmail.com) and let me know when you would like to co-host.)


1. A follow of your hosts via Google Friend Connect, Twitter, Blog Lovin, Facebook or RSS Feed is greatly appreciated. 
2  Check out your fellow bloggers' projects. Leave them some wonderful comments to let them know that you stopped by.
3. Link up your recipes, crafts or DIY projects. No giveaways or shops, please.
4. Grab a button. It's not mandatory but it helps get the word out about the party.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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