Links of the Week 5/18-5/24/15

sorbet-peonies-flowers-spring-chic-steals

from my Instagram: my sorbet peonies in my backyard bloomed! So gorgeous. Follow me on Instagram

Hello again, friends!

I hope everyone had a wonderful week, and a Happy Memorial Day (if you celebrate it).

I have been without Internet for almost a full week…since last Monday there was a lightning storm, lightning struck near my house, made a surge, and apparently fried the circuitboard in my home’s cable junction box. And Frontier couldn’t get someone out to look at it until Friday afternoon. For someone who lives most of their life online, it was extremely hard to figure out how to deal with getting my work done when I had no internet from home…and was maxed out on my data plan on my cell phone for the month. XP

But now I’m back, with some cool links of note from last week. IFB again was kind enough to include my DIY Pearl and Spike Chain Choker in the link roundup…so here are other cool links of note:

Links à la Mode: May 21

SPONSOR: East Dane: Ferragamo Shoes, Superga, Furla, C/Meo Collective, Baggu, Citrine Swim, Black leather booties, Veda, Wrap & Cotton dresses

xo

Carly

DIY Links of the Week 5/11-5/17/15

links-of-the-week-portland-love-padlockMy tutorial on how to take headshot photos that reflect your blog’s brand was just included in the weekly round-up of Links a la Mode on IFB!

There are a bunch more links – and many EXCELLENT DIY tutorials as well, so clicky clicky to visit all those included and say hi!

Thanks for the inclusion!

xo
Carly

Links à la Mode: May 14

SPONSOR: East Dane: Red Heels, Sensi Studio, Katie Diamond, Gray Malin, Vermilion Dresses, Deux Lux, Brooklyn Tailors, Veda, 70s looks & Chaser Clothing

DIY Pearl and Chain Spike Choker (and How to Finish a Necklace with Crimp Beads)

0.diy-pearl-and-chain-choker-introphoto Sometimes you’re feeling a little ladylike…and a little edgy at the same time. This pearl and chain choker pairs so well with both demure outfits and darker streetwear easily. All you need is aluminum chain, glass beads, jumprings, and a closure. diy-pearl-and-chain-choker-done1And of course some hematite spike beads for that necessary wild child. Here’s how to make your own with some affordable supplies from PandaHall: (and a brush up on How to Use Crimp Beads, below)

You Need:diy-pearl-and-chain-choker-materials

aluminum twisted curb chain (5 mm wide)  //  silver color aluminum twisted curb chain (5 mm wide)  //  6mm white glass imitation pearl beads  //  non-magnetic hematite rectangle beads  /  matching jumprings (6 medium, can all be the same size)  //  2 crimp beads  //  2 (two) 3-strand necklace ends  //  Beadalon nylon stringing cord  //  chain cutting pliers  //  crimp pliers  //  jump ring tool (or another set of pliers)

How To:diy-pearl-and-chain-choker-step1

1. Attach one end of the chain to one of the necklace ends with a jumpring.

2. Hold the flat curb chain against your neck and decide how long you want it (mine was 14″). Use the chain cutting pliers to cut it at that point.

3. Attach that end to the other necklace end, being careful to keep the chain flat.

4. Attach the next oval link chain in the same way, making a little longer than the first so it will drape lower and lay flat.

How to Finish a Necklace Using Crimp Beadsdiy-pearl-and-chain-choker-step2

5. Crimp beads are an easy, clean way to finish a cord necklace, and they look really great. Thread one crimp bead onto the end of your Beadalon cord, leaving about 1″.

6. Thread a jumpring onto the end.

7. Curve the cord around the jumpring and back into the crimp bead. Make sure the loop around the jump ring is small.

8. Use crimping pliers to first smash the crimp bead flat (in the grooves closest to the plier center), then bend the flattened ends towards each other (in the hole closest to the plier tips). You’ll make the crimp bead into a flattened hot dog shape.

diy-pearl-and-chain-choker-step3

Voila!diy-pearl-and-chain-choker-step4

9. Attach the jumpring onto the final loop of the necklace clasp, below the chains.

10. Estimate how long you need and cut the wire a little longer than the length of the longest chain.

11. Start threadiing pearls onto the wire. Use the first pearl/s to hide the end of the wire.

12. When you are close to where the center of the wire would be, start adding hematite spike beads.diy-pearl-and-chain-choker-step5

13. Add a spike bead, a pearl, and another spike bead in a graduated manner.

14. Continue adding pearls once the center spikes are finished. Once your strand of pearls is as long as you want it (slightly longer than the bottom chain so it hangs below it), add a crimp bead.

15. Be careful to hold the crimp bead close to the last pearl, and finish the end of the wire as before. Tuck the long end into the last pearl bead/s.

16. Use a jumpring to attach to the remaining open loop in the necklace closure.

diy-pearl-and-chain-choker-done1

And that’s it! diy-pearl-and-chain-choker-done3

It’s a little fiddly and something you’ll want to do while watching your fave TV show to pass the time…but once done this 3-strand sophisticated choker has maximum impact.

You can make your own just by checking out PandaHall.com for the best beading supplies!diy-pearl-and-chain-choker-done2

Happy DIY’ing!

xo

Carly

FTC Disclosure: Pandall.com provided me with the craft supplies featured in this post for me to make a fun DIY with. I have received no other compensation. The opinions above are my own. For my full Disclosure Policy, click here.

33 DIY’s for Mother’s Day from Darby Smart

Mothers-Day-Gift-Ideas

My DIY Agate Keepsake Box was just featured in Darby Smart’s roundup of 33 DIY Ideas for Mother’s Day. If you’re looking for some DIY inspo, Darby Smart is definitely the place!

ChicSteals_agatebox2

And, my DIY Agate Keepsake Box kits are still available for purchase.

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It’s a super-fun project that makes a gorgeous trinket box for Mom or another special lady in your life! Shop this kit here.

But you don’t necessarily need a kit to get crafty at the last minute! For Mom, whip up something creative and unique by Sunday:

Check out the 33 DIY Ideas for Mother’s Day here

xo
Carly

How to Take Headshot Portrait Photos that Reflect Your Blog’s Brand

chicsteals_floatingdiamondheadshot

Portrait photography is definitely not my strong suit, and it’s even harder when YOU are taking a photo of YOU. It’s so much easier to work with someone who knows what they’re doing and can make you relaxed enough to take a great fun photo for your blog headshot.

carlyjcais_2012headshotI’ve had the same sidebar headshot for 3 years (above, taken by Dave Lim) simply because I liked how I looked in the photo. I’ve also had another photo on my About Me page (if you recall, that particular photo was pretty horrible) for about 5 years. I’ve been going through a brand audit of Chic Steals and felt that my head shots didn’t really reflect my blog topic and focus. They needed to be lighter, brighter, closer – and more depicting chic, creative, crafty living instead of just my head in front of a forest.desktopcomposite_aboutpage headshot_behinddiamondSo after playing with a couple different ideas, I settled on a photo of me in my home office in front of a wall that I decorated with gold washi tape in a triangle pattern. (Similar to what I did with my DIY Geometric Bathroom Makeover wall here.) I chose on a white-and-gold palette since I felt that was in line with my blog branding. carly-j-cais-headshot-with-diamondI did make a little sparkly gold prop as the silhouette of the diamond in my logo, and utilize the DIY paper glitter diamond paperweight I made in this post here. carly-j-cais-at-deskFor the overhead and sitting at the desk laptop shots, I styled the desk with my DIY Gold Succulents in Geometric Origami planters, the origami diamond paperweights, and a variety of crafty materials to touch on the “making” theme of my blog. The only piece of jewelry I wore was the DIY Free People Wrapped Quartz Bangle that has been really popular online since I shared it.

My good friend Josh of Joshua Johnston Photography took my photos, and though we shot in the late afternoon and the light was fading inside, his lighting techniques were still able to bring out all the little details and make everything white and bright. In all it took an hour and a half, and the finished photos were awesome – and, I felt, much more fitting with the look and feel of my blog.

So are you experiencing some difficulty with deciding on the perfect headshots for your blog or website? Here are 8 steps to get portrait photos you’ll love:

pinterest-how-to-take-head-shots-that-reflect-blog-brandHow to Take Headshot Portrait Photos for Your Blog That Reflect Your Brand

1) Spend some time looking at your blog. Are there colors or elements that you could incorporate into a shoot? Do you feature the same items over and over again? What “goes together” and what doesn’t? (like using a forest background for a crafty blog…which doesn’t make any sense)

2) How can you accomplish what you want in the least cluttered, most direct way? What would make sense as a background? Can you make it, fake it, or is there a place you know that would be perfect for the locale?

3) How about props? Would they be more specific and tie a photo of you into what you write about better? Reiterate your branding or logo somehow?

4) Sketch some ideas out on paper, having in your head a firm idea of the colors and layout of the elements. Where do you want your head to appear? Should you be looking at your content to draw people’s eyes to it? Looking at the reader to connect with them? Looking away so that you’re an object of admiration and having fun by yourself? What are you trying to sell with your head shot?

5) Allow enough time to be able to properly style out your photos and capture them in the best light. Do you need to shoot during the Golden Hour? How long will it take you for hair and makeup? How about styling your props?

6) Choose a lens that has the least amount of distortion for the face: ideally, 85mm. If not, 50mm will also do quite well and create that soft blurred background. Use a tripod if you can, especially in low light situations!

carly-j-cais-funny-headshot

7) Unless you’re used to modeling (or modeling by yourself!), shoot with someone you know well and who you’re comfortable with, preferably someone who makes you laugh. That way your smiles will be genuine and your eyes light up in your photos, which is difficult to fake. You’ll also have someone to interact with which can come out in the final images, creating more of a connection with the viewer. Don’t be discouraged if you have to take a ton of photos to get any you like. Some the framing might be right, but you have a hair out of place. Some your expression might be weird. Keep them all and look at them later.

8) Go through the photos on a large screen, ideally after some time has passed. That way you can apply a fresh eye and be more objective with the ones you choose. Choose ones that you like a lot then compare them against one another. If you like them, your readers will too. Post-process, upload, and announce your new pictures!

Thanks, Josh – I couldn’t have done it without you! Check out his website for prints of cool landscape and nature photography – especially Oregon waterfalls!joshua-johnston-photography

Joshua Johnston Photography

Do you have any tips for good blog headshot photos? Please share in the comments!

xo
Carly

I actually helped Josh build the website and optimize it for SEO, learning the Smugmug platform [aff. link] in the process. I’d highly recommend it if you’re a photographer looking for a no-hassle way to sell your prints and photos as digital downloads – since they take care of all the order processing and fulfillment for you!

Recap: Portland Bloggers Speed Networking Meetup at Passionfruit HQ

portland-bloggers-speed-networking-1 Last Sunday the Portland Bloggers group came together for a fun speed networking event at the Passionfruit headquarters in SE Portland.portland-bloggers-speed-networking-3portland-bloggers-speed-networking-5It was a morning filled with fun, laughter, quick-fire questions, networking, business card exchanging, and a ton of great advice on blogging issues. portland-bloggers-speed-networking-8portland-bloggers-speed-networking-4We noshed on deli cold cuts, cheeses, fruit, fresh vegetables, and bagels provided by Bowery Bagels (DELISH vegan cashew cheese on salted bagels!) and sipped coffee from Black Rock Coffee.

portland-bloggers-speed-networking-7We also got an inside look at the incredibly cool Passionfruit office space and the inner workings of Passionfruit Ads where you can sell ad space, paid posts, or sponsored content through their blog widgets with minimal maintenance and upkeep (seriously if you haven’t tried it out – DO IT NOW! I can’t believe how much time I spent on managing individual sponsors and advertisers with the emails, and back-and-forth, and getting their banner ads, having to re-optimize them, uploading, then taking down once the ad had run. Once you do it through Passionfruit, all the headaches are GONE and you just collect a paycheck. Seriously cool.)portland-bloggers-speed-networking-9portland-bloggers-speed-networking-2We had a fun photo shooting area with photo booth props Bee and Jenni had made. I’ll be updating this space soon with the photos!portland-bloggers-speed-networking-6It was a great morning and I met a number of local bloggers to add to my reading list and my blogging buddy list. We had a prize draw and 3 bloggers won some awesome prizes including a year of Passionfruit ad service, the book Blog, Inc.by Joy Cho, and a package of blogging goodies like stationery supplies and blog planner. (Plus we all received a sample of Lemon Dream Bar King Cream ice cream to take home with us!)

Stay up to date with all Portland Bloggers events here. Hope to see you at the next one!

Have you ever been to a blogging meet up? Was it worthwhile to attend?

xo
Carly

I’m a volunteer member of the organizing team of Portland Bloggers, a local organization dedicated to bringing together bloggers and providing networking and resources. I designed their logo and also maintain their website and do videography for them.

Create and Craft x Kollabora How to Print a Cool Lumi Inkodye Wallhanging Video

Hi DIY-lurvers!

Who wants to learn how to do lumi photo print inkodye?? What is lumi photo print? Well, it’s a fun alternative to screenprinting that uses direct sunlight to transfer photos to fabrics – and Create and Craft has the perfect lumi photo print kit to get started. I wanted to share this neat video with all of you because although they make a wall hanging in the video, you could make anything, including photo-print bags, scarves, or even a cool graphic T-shirt sporting your favorite photography.

Who wants to get started with Lumi Photo Print? I definitely want to try it as my next project for Summer!

Check out Create and Craft’s Lumi Photo Printing Kit (on sale for limited time) here!

Happy DIY’ing!
xo
Carly
FTC Disclosure: I am sharing this information as part of a paid campaign with the Kollabora Network. My full disclosure policy is here.

Chic Steal for Earth Day: A Hybrid Car

new-hybrid-car-earth-day

I’m just kidding.

Though hybrid cars are not considered a steal per se, I felt slightly eco-friendly when I bought this one. I researched them thoroughly, decided on a Honda, and met with some private sellers and a dealership to find the perfect car for me (and my budget). I negotiated, said no to a lot of unnecessary extras, and ended up driving away in a used 2011 Honda Insight, the first car that I myself bought with my own money and of my own decisions.

In the end, the disposal of the batteries with their heavy metals, and the environmental impact of mining for said heavy metals, may not make hybrid vehicles completely “eco-friendly” in a true sense. They are cars after all. But when I think of the monthly savings in gasoline (38-43 mpg vs. my current Mazda CX-9’s 18-20 mpg) hybrids are very, very attractive to me (and my long commute into work and taking my son to school).

I bought it yesterday last night just as the dealership was about to close. It runs smooth and quiet and hums along and the engine turns off at inexplicable times. Plus, it’s gray. And I love it because it’s ALL MINE.

Huge changes are happening around here, which is why I’ve been unable to update my blog lately. I’m still here. I’ll be back soon.

Once I sell my 2008 Mazda CX-9 8-seater, which is all clean and detailed and ready to be put on Cragislist.

Happy Earth Day, friends! To change…for the more eco-friendly.
xo
Carly

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