500

Today is the day: my 500th post.

I am, at the same time, the kind of person who gets sentimental about milestones, but who also doesn’t really spend a lot of time planning anything in anticipation. So, that’s to say, 500 really snuck up on me. I noticed a few weeks ago that I was getting really close, and after posting my new headboard Friday I saw the magic number… 499. I could have squeaked out something “special” and gotten this post up on Monday (I am trying to commit to a MWF schedule) but my job had inventory scheduled that afternoon/night and I didn’t want to phone something in… I mean, it is milestone after all.

I guess a good thing to to at this point is to look back at some highlights, right?

Entering the Office

My highest-traffic post is (you guessed it) the wood pallet room divider. Man, it was so easy to build and was a really, really good space dividing solution in that gigantic bedroom in the old loft. The divider has been really popular on Pinterest and was even featured in DIY roundups on several other blogs, including one in Turkey and one Brazil. It was linked to on Design Milk’s facebook page with (very!) mixed reactions. I know it’s not for everybody, but it worked really well for us at the time.

bruges2small

My favorite series to date has got to be the posts I wrote when we got back from Europe–Eurotrip part 1, part 2, and part 3. I wish I’d been as methodical, organized, and well-written during my study abroad in Morocco, but I was just taking my bloggy baby steps back then. Looking back, the posts are pretty good, but they could have used more photos!

Let’s see… time to post a few goals for the next 500 posts!

  • Reach 1000 in half the time it took me to reach 500. (It took me three and a half years to reach 500).
  • Double site traffic in 2013 (I have doubled it every year since 2009).
  • Do another giveaway, in 2013. My Scentsy giveaway last summer was so fun :)
  • Do several posts giving a photo tour and profile of local San Diego shops and restaurants.
  • Make the final shift off of wordpress.com so I can have more flexibility and customization of the site.

To all my friends and readers, thanks for your comments and views! It would be much harder to keep up this blog without your encouragement. Nobody likes speaking into a vacuum.

Taking On Monday

After a fantastic Thanksgiving break at my parents’ house (and a not-so-stellar three days of retail work), I am feeling energized and ready to take on the week.

This week I’m planning a cool DIY sofa table post for Wednesday (a “fake it till you make it” solution, if you will) and a pretty inspiration board for Friday. I’m also going to get the Christmas Tree out (after weeks of begging Doug to let me put it up, now that Thanksgiving’s over, I can!) and decorate the apartment for Christmas.

And also: This morning I was featured twice! How’s that for starting Monday off on the right foot?

West Elm has featured my old bedroom with its’ Organic Ironwork Duvet cover… I really, really loved that light-filled space. Click here for more photos.

My friend Angela (best friend since 7th Grade, mind you) has revamped and relaunched her photography website, itsjustanji.com, and shared some of the pictures she took of my little family for our Christmas cards.

Ashley over at Yeah. We Bake. (my cousin) shared Thanksgiving with us up at my parents’ house and I can fully vouch for the deliciousness of these 2-tiered chocolate mini cakes. I’m craving one to have with my coffee right now actually….

So I’ll be here resisting the Cyber Monday e-mails I keep getting while listening to my favorite Christmas CD, Christmas With The Rat Pack. Maybe I’ll even bake? Who knows? Ashley makes it seem so easy! Either way, I love that I now live here in So Cal where I can have a Christmas tree up and the sliding glass door open to let the fresh 70-degree air in… Have a great Monday, all! 

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Focus.

I’d love to transform this blog into a full-time gig, or at least, use the blog as a springboard for a different full-time gig, something along the lines of interior designer/decorator/consultant. There. I said it. I put it out for the bloggy world to know.  That’s the first step, I hear.

This, I have admitted to myself, might or might not happen. Becoming a successful blogger is kind of like becoming a famous athlete or actress… Tons of hopefuls, but hard work and yes, talent, will set one apart from the rest. Clearly, I am currently in “the rest.” Let’s change that.

Homework.

Confession time: I recently read every post from Making it Lovely from the beginning of her blog to now. Seeing Nicole’s home come together from scratch was very encouraging. Same thing with Young House Love.

Tangent: I must keep reminding myself that I’m young, that funds are tight, that I do have a full time job that I have committed 40 hours a week to, etc etc. It’s so hard when the bloggers I admire are in their 30s. And already using their blog (among other avenues) for their living. On that note… perhaps I can be the voice of the struggling fresh-out-of college-niche? Although I’m not that fresh out of college anymore. I’m an in-betweener.

Back to homework: I am list-making, putting it in a binder, and I am filing away a few articles like this one and this one to study and try to take to heart.

Investment.

I’ve bought a camera to use for blogging but have only used it a few times.

Maybe if I knew how to use it a little better?

Do I want to save up for alt design summit next January? Seems like every blogger I follow went to it. Maybe if I’m a little more “established” by then?

Upgrading my wordpress and doing a custom design is something I’m interested in, but website woes I’ve been dealing with this week at work make me second-guess going to the next level. We shall see.

Boldness.

They say “if you want something, just ask.” I would feel like such a pest bugging “real” bloggers with links to my blog, so I haven’t done it. But I need to learn to take pride in my work! So what if my home tour hasn’t been featured on an interior design blog yet (ahem.) I am proud of my photos and my friends tell me they’re great. If my content wasn’t great, why would anyone go out of their way to tell me they like it? They would just ignore it like the elephant in the room. The fact of the matter is, I have had people complement my home and my blog, and instead of going “aww shucks,” I need to grab ahold of it with both hands and try to parlay it into the next phase of my life. This means offering to write guest posts, asking for people to write for me, doing more DIY tutorials (possibly) and just focusing and working hard instead of making excuses.

Right? 

Rabbit Hole

Isn’t it fantastic how easy it is to stumble upon a blog you never even knew about–simply by following links from blog to blog? It really is like a rabbit hole of great pictures and wonderful content.

Well, earlier this week Blair posted about the February Comment Love Challenge over at Desirous of Everything. I am so excited to participate! The jist of it is to comment on posts instead of just reading/skimming and moving on. SO SIMPLE! Those who comment at least 42 times by Valentine’s Day are entered for a prize. Comments jut make my day and I know that this is true for all bloggers. Knowing that people have read what you’ve worked so hard on gives a little rush and builds momentum to head forward on more posts and projects. Additionally, insightful and meaningful comments are a major traffic-driver for your own site. It truly is a win-win.

One frustration, though: and perhaps this has happened to you and can tell me why this occurs. When I try to comment on a bigger blog, like Design*Sponge for example, my comment is eaten and never sees the light of day. I can only assume they are getting sent to the spam filter. Whaaaaa?! I try to at least write real, complete sentences, not something banal like “Cute!” …yet the short comments often make it up while mine end up in a black hole somewhere.

Comment Love Challenge

Anyway, I’m SO happy to say that I have commented on various blogs 6 times in the last two days and I hope that my words have brought a smile to another blogger’s face. Hopefully I can comment repeatedly on several blogs and develop some blog buddies ;)

PS: Due to some great responses yesterday, I’m giving Bloglovin a shot. Although this morning I instinctively went to Google Reader. Whoops! I’m “claiming” this blog too, so please Follow my blog with Bloglovin!

PPS: Evidence of comments as traffic-drivers: one time I posted a link to my coffeetable refurbishment post in a comment on Young House Love and I got 365 views in one day! WHAT THE WHAT! Unfortunately, none of them left a comment. Wop wop. However, that was this blog’s busiest day ever! Yay!

The Big Three [I Admire]

When this blog grows up, it wants to be like these blogs.

Now, on my Google reader, I follow a TON of blogs. What turns me off is when people only post about things you could buy if you wanted to. Do you know what I’m talking about? “Look, here are some lovely clothes and decorative objects grouped by color. They are all out of your price range.” While I’m impressed by the fact that the author found these cool design-y objects I could not come up with if I tried (where do you find this stuff??), that ain’t me. Among the blogs I follow, a few do have moments like that, but those posts do not stick with me. I glance at them, scroll past, and look for something more down-to-earth, chatty, and engaging. Like… the ones I’m going to point out today.

My blog heroes: I’m talking about heavyweights in the interior design blogging world. I know there are bigger ones, magazine-style blogs with various contributors and more content, and other blogs with a widespread reader base that I subscribe to, but none of those speak to and inspire me as consistently as these three do. These are the blogs that I cross my fingers and hope a new post is up when I check my Google reader every morning. The ones I can spend hours browsing in my pajamas on the couch instead of going to bed. Wow, I sound like I’m writing a love letter. And maybe I am.

Below, click on the picture of each site to be taken to it.

Enough blathering. Let’s get to ’em.

What I love about 7th House of the Left:

  • What a great site design! They seem like a fun and interesting couple.
  • This house is so classy and the writers seem so fun. You can tell a lot of the house is “in progress” and it makes me eager to see how things turn out. Each room’s color palette is top-notch and I can’t wait to see her incorporating more “pops” of color here and there (which she mentions frequently that they’re working on).  They are currently working on their kitchen (YHL is too–see below) and I find it very interesting what they are choosing that is similar and different from other kitchen rennos I’m seeing online.
  • I really like their “his and hers” posts–glimpses into what other people are totally into at the moment is interesting to me.
  • They post the least frequently out of the three blogs listed here, but that’s okay because of the posts’ quality.
  • They have a top-notch house tour page and their “projects” page allows you to see their floor plan and click room by room to see related posts. LOVE!

 

What I love about Brooklyn Limestone:

  • There are fewer home construction posts on this blog since the renovation she started 5 years ago is finished. She does talk about furniture and accessories, which are interesting to me, but also writes about a wide variety of topics like holidays, travel, and organization.
  • The photography is excellent, from up-close shots–she does a ton of holiday-centric paper items, especially halloween, and takes detail shots of everything) to far away, and wide angle shots. (I have to assume she has a wide angle lens to get narrow rooms into one photo).
  • She travels a lot… and shares photos with us, which as I said before, are often just breathtaking.
  • Her free printables are so much fun! I used the tags she made this year at Christmas and I look to these to get some inspiration for my own paper documents (cards, fun things at work, etc).
  • Collaboration with other bloggers–I found this blog around a year ago (I think) from her junk drawer overhaul series… YHL (below) were included and I followed their link on over and have been a fan ever since!
  • Her worldly sofa table. I am pretty sure this is what sold me on the blog for good. It is just perfect.

What I love about Young House Love:

  • John and Sherry’s writing style makes their personality very clear. Tons of commenters mention it every day–“I feel like I know you and we are friends!”
  • Frequency of posts: they post twice each weekday (once on Friday) which keeps us all coming back for more on a regular basis.
  • They do a ton of projects, large and small. For example, they are currently redoing their kitchen, but not all posts are kitchen-related, because they simply aren’t going fast enough to give us two updates a day on it (they are moving at light speed considering they are doing it themselves as well as being full-time bloggers). So, interspersed between the big projects are smaller things that anyone can do, whether a homeowner, renter, or other (dorm resident? I don’t know).
  • Step by step details. Man. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen somebody explain, with words and picture (instead of video or in person) how to do something–and make it seem so doable and even easy. They have a knack for walking you through a process and making you (well, me) believe that I can do anything as long as I’m patient (paint: “thin and even”) and thorough.

 

Takeaways:

If this blog wants to grow up and be more like the others (maybe my blog is in middle school and the above are in college?), here are a few things I can learn from their successes and work toward in the future. While it’s not feasible for me to abandon my 40 hour a week job like YHL, I can continue focusing on doing quality projects, getting better at writing step-by-step how-to’s for them, and most importantly taking and using more photos. How pathetic is it that I don’t use a ton of extra photos because it’s such a pain moving them over to the computer from the camera? Lazybones alert. So, here are a few more bullet points just for fun:

  • Take more photos and improve their quality
  • Do more step by step “How to” posts
  • Share budget breakdowns so readers know how cheap/easy something can me
  • Continue to link back to old posts for reference
  • Try to post frequently, make it a habit and gradually increase frequency

Any tips for my little blog as it grows up?
Or, I know, please leave YOUR favorite blog in the comment section! Pretty please!

Cohesive Color Scheme

I have been trying to pin down a color scheme to use throughout all the rooms in my house so they flow together and don’t feel disjointed. Since we painted the living room, dining room, and hallway Westhighland White (color by Sherwin Williams, matched to Valspar) those rooms are airy and light. The kitchen and bathroom are La Fonda Mirage from Valspar’s historic color line, and they too are bright and cheerful. Then we come to the bedroom and guestroom/office, which we did not pick the colors for.

They are two different shades of dark blue-gray. The office is darker than the bedroom by a hair. This brings the “light and airy” train to a dead halt. I’m trying to lighten the mood by using light colors in both of these rooms… the effect is working better in the office than in the bedroom. I know it takes time and energy (and money!) to create the perfect layered look so I need to be patient. But the bedroom is killing me! It reminds me of a bachelor pad… all dark grey and white with dark wood accents. Like Barney Stinson’s apartment on HIMYM.

Image from how-i-met-your-mother.wikia.com

I turn to Pinterest for my design inspiration, more often than not. As I’ve written about before, I love to pull up my pinboards and look at what trends I’ve been drawn to over time, instead of sticking with just one inspiration image/room. Here are two shots of my “Personal Environment” boards–if you want to see anything in particular, just click on them to be taken to my pinboard.

What I noticed is white, white, white, with pops of bright, vibrant color. Got the bright and vibrant thing going in the kitchen and bathroom; can’t wait to accessorize more. Still working on the bright colors in the bedroom, where I am largely at a loss. Remember the pic of Barney’s room? Doesn’t even remotely speak to my pinboards, does it? This brings me to my next tool:

To keep myself on the up and up (and to keep myself focused on things that will “go” in my space instead of being distracted by other pretty, potentially clashy items) I created this handy little color palette for myself to print out and keep in my purse. Except be warned… the “Westhighland White” on your computer screen is a very strange, bad color, and in my “official” one it’ll be replaced with a real paint swatch.

I cannot WAIT to get some of that green and coral into the bedroom. DIYing some detail on the curtains? Maybe! Putting new pillows on the bed to go with our new duvet? Probably! Having my main colors and accent colors on hand will help me when making decisions (scenario: “But it’s on sale 50% off!” “Does it go with everything else?” “No…”). Hopefully they’ll help me get a vision for the bedroom as well. Because I’m about ready to move into the guest room with it’s happy pillows and gold frame (and computer, of course).

2011 in review

WordPress.com created an annual report for My Friend Staci. Wow. 15,000 views in 2011? Thanks, readers!! Check out the full report under the nifty graphic. Thanks again for a great year and I vow to make 2012 a year full of quality posts!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.