DIY Gemstone-Topped Jewelry Boxes On KATU Afternoon Live Thursday!

KATU Afternoon Live banner

Hi friends, tomorrow I’m going to be a guest on KATU’s Afternoon Live show with Tra-Renee again!

Back in January when I was first on the show they ended up not airing the replay online, which was a bummer. I would have posted it had they did!

DIY Gemstone Topped Jewelry Box craftSo I’m going to be back tomorrow – this time demonstrating some pretty DIY crystal jewelry boxes you can make yourself. They make great gifts (and would be perfect for a Valentine’s Day gift for that special lady in your ife!)

If you’re in Oregon you can watch it on channel 2 (or 16, depending on your cable provider). If you aren’t in Oregon or don’t have cable you can catch it live here:

WATCH KATU AFTERNOON LIVE – THURSDAY AT 3PM PST

Watch on Thursday, February 9 from 3PM-4PM PST for my 5-minute segment with Tra-Renee and see how to make your own chic DIY Gemstone-Topped Jewelry Box!

xo

Carly

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DIY Valentine’s Day Labeled Glass Bottles with Paper Mart

DIY Printed Bath Product Labels with Paper Mart

This project is in collaboration with Paper Mart. I was provided supplies to create a Valentine’s Day tutorial. All opinions are my own. My full Disclosure Policy is here.

There’s something about a suite of matching, pretty labels on all your toiletries…something high-end and chic-looking about lovely bottles all in a row. I’m a big fan of decanting product since it creates a consistent look and feel. Yet this was the first time I was using printable clear stickers in my inkjet printer…so I had a bit of a learning curve. In collaboration with Paper Mart, here’s how to make your own pretty bath product labels (for a Valentine’s Day gift or just for yourself!) with some printable adhesive sticker paper and a printer:

How to Make Your Own Valentine’s Day Printed Toiletry Bath Product Labels

You Need:

glass bottles (these are a smaller size, good for gifts)  /  bottle caps or dispenser pumps  /  scissors  /  printable clear sticker paper  /  white eraser (not pictured) Krylon Preserve It! spray (not pictured)  /  old newspapers or something to protect your surface (not pictured)
  /  label template  /  piece of plain paper (not pictured, optional)  /  tape (not pictured, optional)  /  rubbing alcohol and paper towels (not pictured)  /  small funnel (not pictured)

How To:

1. Create your labels on the computer.  I used these original templates from Creative Market, and customized them for this project. You can download the labels I created here – or use this version where you can type your own product names in Acrobat, Photoshop, or another graphics program.

2. Print out your labels on your inkjet printer. I found that my printer had A LOT of trouble feeding the clear sticker sheet through. I got past that by taping a piece of regular 8.5″ x 11″ printer paper to the back of the sticker sheet with a couple pieces of tape, and then the printer was able to grab it and feed it through. HOWEVER printing labels on an inkjet printer I found requires sealing the labels, or else the ink will run when it gets wet. More below. (You could also use this brand on a laser printer down at the print shop to get around this…or use this waterproof label paper here.)

3. I found that my inkjet had smeared the ink a little bit. I was able to clean that up with a white eraser, and scrubbing at the ink blots before the ink was completely dry.

4. At this point if you opted for printing in your inkjet printer, you will have to seal the labels so you can use the bottles in the bathroom (where they are bound to come in contact with moisture). Here is a tutorial for sealing with clear crayon, but I prefer to use Krylon Preserve It! spray. Lay the sticker paper, right side up, on some newspapers and give it a good spray according to the directions and allow to dry.

4. Cut out your labels, leaving a small amount of sticker sheet around the label edge.

5. Remove the sticker sheet backing. Clean the bottle surface with rubbing alcohol if you need to. Making sure your bottles are clean and dry, apply the labels to the front of the bottles.

6. If you purchase the dispenser pumps through Paper Mart, you’ll find they are a bit long for these bottles. Cut the straw shorter at a length that is long enough to touch the bottom of the bottle. (I made my straws long enough so they would be pushed up against the bottle bottom, and be slightly curved in order to fit.) Cut the straw on an angle, and round out the cut edges.

7. Pour your product into the bottles (you may need a small funnel) – and enjoy!

And that’s it!

These are super-cute as a gift (think a coordinating product suite, themed gift or spa basket, or even bottles for homemade body products!). Plus, they look great on the bathroom counter.

Oh, FYI – the rose petals are from here.

Happy DIY’ing – and Happy Valentine’s Day!

xo

Carly

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Shopbop Picks for Spring 2017

Spring 2017 Shopping Picks from Shopbop.com by Chic Steals

Spring is on its way – and already 2017 is quite reminiscent of 2016 it seems.

Crisp deconstructed shirting! Feminine bows! Lace layers! Low, chunky heels! I for one am seeing a LOT of DIY possibilities in all the button-down shirt-inspired fashions. How about you?

Here are some new neat items for Spring 2017 that have caught my eye as top picks for the season:

Top Fashion Picks for Spring 2017 from Shopbop

1  //  2  //  3  //  4  //  5

6  //  7  //  8  //  9

10  //  11  //  12  //  13  //  14

xo
Carly

DIY Valentine’s Day Jeweled Wreath with Paper Mart

This project is in collaboration with Paper Mart. I was provided supplies to create a Valentine’s Day tutorial. All opinions are my own. My full Disclosure Policy is here.

Most of the year I have a seasonal wreath hanging on my door…but realized that for Valentine’s Day I’ve never made anything appropriate for the holiday. My initial thoughts were to just do something easy peasy (and a little cheesy 😉 : gluing foam cut-out hearts to a wreath ring and call it that. Then I decided I wanted to take things up a notch and make something sparkly, chic, and not so obviously Valentine’s Day…and Paper Mart came to my rescue. (And let me preface this by saying this project is as easy as gluing stuff onto a wreath form!!) Here’s how you can make your own bejeweled beautiful sophisticated wreath – not just for Valentine’s Day but for any day of the year:

How to Make a Jeweled Valentine’s Day Wreath

You Need:

16″ wreath frame / 1+ pack of pink round acrylic jewels / 1+ pack of 20mm crystals / 1+ pack of 12mm crystals / silver wired lame ribbon / jewel placement tool (optional) / slow-drying clear glue (recommended: Dazzle Tac) / scissors / glue gun

How To:

1. Start wrapping the end of your ribbon to the top of the frame (I didn’t even need a glue gun to secure because the wire inside of the ribbon will hold it down!).

2. Wrap ribbon around the entire frame to make a gluable ribbon base, overlapping the ribbon slightly.

3. Cut the ribbon once you meet the beginning of it again, fold over the cut edge slightly, and glue down the end to cover up the other ribbon end.

4.Now make a bow for your wreath. Here’s how:

How to Make the Perfect Bow (gluing wired ribbon)

Cut 3 pieces of ribbon. For 1.5″ wide ribbons like this, the measurements I used were:

  • 3.75″
  • 18.75″
  • 26.75″

5.Take the middle length of ribbon and hot glue the ends overlapping (about 1/2″) to make a loop.

6. Press the loop down in the middle and glue the inner center of the loop at the overlapping area to the other side of the loop on the inside. This now creates 2 loops: the loops of the bow.

7. Glue the center of the longest piece to the back of the loop you created at the overlap, right sides together.

8. Place the shortest piece on top of the bundle at the center front of the two loop piece and glue down.

9. Pull the ends of the shortest ribbon piece to the back of the bundle, scrunching in at its sides, and glue at the back, the ends slightly overlapping.

10. Fluff out your ribbon by making the loops large and round, and fold the long ribbon piece down so it’s visible behind the loops. Add some waviness to the longer ribbon ends.

11. Cut the long ribbon ends at an angle.

12. Top off your wreath by hot-gluing on a bow made from the wired ribbon.

13. Now it’s time to have some fun! Spread slow-drying glue onto the back of a large gemstone, and place onto the wreath. (I know it shows E6000 glue in the photo, but I quickly found that Dazzle Tac was much better.) I chose an evenly-spaced placement.

14. Then repeat for the medium-sized jewels (these too I opted for an evenly-spaced placement around the wreath).

15. Repeat the process for the smallest rhinestones. You could use a jewel placement tool to help place gems quickly, but you can also use tweezers or even your fingers depending on how much precision you want. It’s always helpful to take a step back and assess your work. I chose to create a cluster with the smaller pink jewels near the bottom of the wreath; you can add more or less depending on what look you like.

And that’s it!

Allow to dry, then hang on your door – or wall – or use as a centerpiece for your delicious Valentine’s Day dinner. Sparkle – ribbon – jewels – beautiful!

Happy DIY’ing!
xo
Carly

Blog as a Business: When To Go All In, and When to Call It Quits

When to Go All In and When To Call it Quits Blogging as a Business laptop image

This is a series of posts about blogging as a business (with a focus on the craft/DIY/lifestyle/fashion blogging niches). Designed to help other bloggers and creatives, from setting up one’s own blog to growing it, monetizing it, scaling it, and optimizing it, and all the business details you want to know. Leave any ideas you have for future topics in the comments, and you may see your topic discussed in a future post!

Hi friends, I’m experimenting with a new post series: Blog as a Business.

As many of you may know, I’ve been blogging for 9.5 years now, writing content for other blogs, consulting on blogging, SEO, and marketing, and designing and setting up other people’s websites and blogs. I’ve learned a ton in this space simply by doing it (which was enough for me to first get a job as a Social Media Manager and Content Marketing Manager, then as a Marketing Director, and now as a Marketing Manager, which is what I now do full-time). I figured that all this could help out other people if I start sharing about what I’ve learned over the years, especially when it comes to the unique niche of DIY/Craft, Fashion, and Lifestyle Blogging. So here goes….


After 9 years of running Chic Steals, I felt at an impasse. I felt exhausted, burned out, and uninterested. Not only did my blog not look like how I wanted it to anymore, but I was just not truly passionate about the content I shared. Times had changed, and I felt a growing disconnect with my blog. The fun hobby had now become a burden.

I’m sure there are other people out there like this, who are reaching a stage of burnout in their endeavors. As life and circumstances change, it becomes more and more difficult to keep your original interests up with the same fervor. Everyone likely reaches a point where they say:

Is it Time to Quit?

Here’s how to figure it when it’s time to call it quits, or keep going with your passion project:

Figure Out Where the Disconnect Is

  1. Make a list of why you began this endeavor in the first place. Hint: You MUST be brutally honest. List all the reasons why you started, however big or small. If you aren’t honest with yourself, you will never be able to move forward, and will constantly remain in a state of limbo.
  2. Add to your list any reasons that you have, over time, discovered to be good reasons to keep going with it. Again, brutal honesty is key.

For me, my reasons for starting my blog back in January 2008 were:

  • sharing the crafts and things I made with other people to help/inspire/teach them to make similar things
  • connecting with other people about our similar interests (crafts and fashion) even while being a stay-at-home mother
  • share my thoughts and ideas with other people and discuss things
  • stay on top of fashion trends I am interested in
  • be a fashion icon like other fashion bloggers <*cringe>

And further reasons I discovered over time:

  • becoming a somewhat known blog in the DIY/craft niche
  • becoming an authority on DIY, specifically DIY fashion, sewing, construction, and craft
  • honing my skills in writing, photography, SEO, HTML, CSS, marketing etc.
  • steadily making money from my blog after monetizing it in 2013
  • challenging my DIY and branching out in my crafting skills
  • the connections and collaborations I created with other bloggers, magazines, websites, and brands
  • free stuff!
  • and my really, really awesome readers!
  1. Okay, now you have your list of reasons, Original Reasons and Additional Reasons. Here is where the truth lies. Go through each one and rank it in how important it is to you at this point in time, with 0-5, 0 being not important at all…5 being super-duper important now.
  2. Once you’ve added a ranking next to a reason on your list…write a reason why you gave it the rank you did.

My example continued….

ORIGINAL REASONS I STARTED A FASHION & DIY BLOG, RANKED

  • sharing the crafts and things I made with other people to help/inspire/teach them to make similar things (2 – I still like sharing, but I now have so little time to create lots of DIYs to share. I don’t DIY or craft much anymore in my day-to-day life.)
  • connecting with other people about our similar interests (crafts and fashion) even while being a stay-at-home mother (2 – I’m no longer a stay-at-home mother, and crafts and fashion are not my most passionate interests right now)
  • share my thoughts and ideas with other people and discuss things (2 – I have a day job now and discuss things with other people on a regular basis)
  • stay on top of fashion trends I am interested in (1 – I barely pay attention to fashion trends anymore, I’ve developed my own sense of style and am uninterested in the consumer forces shaping fast fashion)
  • be a fashion icon like other fashion bloggers <*cringe> (0 – this stemmed from a feeling of inadequacy I had. I don’t care about being a fashion icon, I am uninterested in other fashion bloggers’ style. I’ve finally accepted myself, and I no longer have anything to prove.)

Those numbers^^ are where the disconnect is. Anything below a 3 is going to show you that you no longer consider the endeavor worthwhile in your current state. That’s why it’s essential you are completely honest with yourself and take a long, hard look at your past motivations for your endeavor. Anything at 3 or above is going to tell you that these reasons are still important to you now, and those are the reasons you should pay attention to.

So, let’s set about fixing it…

DIY Gold Glitter Nugget Pushpins by Chic Steals

Photo from DIY Glittery Gold Geometric Pushpins tutorial

What to Do About Your Passion Project Now That You’ve Found Out Why It Isn’t Making You Happy Anymore

Now that you’ve identified any disconnect between reasons you began or kept going with your project, now it’s time to figure out if you want to forge on…or give it up. There comes a time in everyone’s life when they are faced with the choice of barreling forward…or laying something finally to rest. Here’s how to figure out which path you want to take:

  1. Make a list of all that your project is right now. Just list them, big or small. It’s important here to be very honest and self-critical. Invite others you trust to share their opinions so you can get some perspective.
  2. Take everything that was 3 or above from the first Disconnect list, and imagine your life without them. What would your day-to-day look like? What would your weekends look like? I really enjoy lists (obvs), so I made a list of Pros/Cons for each 3 and above -ranked reasons.
  3. When you went through the above imagining exercise, for every 3 and above-ranked reason that you feel a significant emotional attachment to (like “oh no! I wouldn’t want to lose that!” put a star next to)
  4. Question to ask yourself: ARE THOSE STARRED REASONS THAT YOU HAVE EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT TO…ENOUGH TO KEEP GOING? Only you can answer this question. Think of future you and what s/he will say looking back on this moment and this endeavor. Will throwing in the towel bring relief, or regret that you didn’t have the drive to keep going at the time? What could lie in store for you if you pushed through this impasse?
  5. Finally, write a list of what you want your passion project to do. If you see enough discrepancy between what you want it to do for you, what it is now, and the emotional attachment you have to it, if the gap is big enough…it’s time to let it go. Let it go, say you had a wonderful time with it, but you have changed and it is now time to move on. Move on to the next – it is not a failure! – and find another passion project that does what you really want it to do.

BUT if there isn’t a huge gap…if with a little re-dedication and work your passion project could once again align with what you want, if you’re significantly emotionally invested in it…explore your options for keeping going with it. Can you redesign it? Realign it? Rebrand it? Rethink it? Here it is wise to have a brainstorming session with friends and people who have faced similar obstacles.

In my case, I talked a great deal with my friends who’d known me throughout my years of blogging, as well as consulting with my fellow bloggers and members of Portland Bloggers. I found that I was still emotionally attached to my blog, I didn’t want to abandon my readers, I enjoyed making money and getting free things (which really helps with my tight monthly budget), I enjoyed being an authority in this niche, and giving all that up would have felt like too much of a loss. So I decided to rebrand, redesign, and realign my blog more with my goals (which I defined more clearly in a separate exercise).

I found that separating out the process of asking whether it was time to quit or go all-in to my blog, from the larger question of what are my ultimate goals for it, helped clarify things better than just going around and around in my head on the larger issues. Working things out step-by-step in this way allowed me to finally break through more than 6 months of indecision and move forward in a positive, fulfilling way.

It is, after all, what we actually do – and not what we try to do or think about doing – that defines who we are and our contributions in life.


Have any of you ever dealt with a passion project stalling or losing momentum? How did you break through?

I’d love to hear about your questions or ideas for future topics! Leave a comment below and I’ll help you out 🙂

xo

Carly

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10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity Launching Tomorrow!

10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity emails

Hi friends!

We’re almost 2 weeks into 2017 – and already I can tell this year is going to be waaaay better than 2016. I’m so excited to make it the Best. Year. Ever! How about you?

Tomorrow I can’t wait to launch something I’ve been working on for quite awhile:

10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity

Ever wanted a creative boost to start off the month with a bang? Sign up for 10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity – a free daily email jam-packed with helpful tips and tricks to get your brain revved and ready for new ideas.

Even if you think “I’m not creative at all!” – or if you feel you’ve hit a roadblock and need a mental refresh – 10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity will start your month off right and reset past burnout to get those neurons firing again.

This is a 10-day series of emails expressly designed to fire up those creative neurons, reframe your thinking, and supercharge your creative skills.

I hope you’ll sign up so I can share these fun tips, tricks, and activities with you. Let’s explode our creativity together!

It’s totally free; no obligation. Emails begin January 15, for the next 10 days. If you’re a regular subscriber to the RSS feed – you won’t be getting this exclusive series, unless you sign up below:

Edit 1/15: Registration for 10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity is now closed. I’ll be opening it up again in the future, so please check back!

Hope to see you there!

xo
Carly

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Chic Closet Organization Tips on KATU Afternoon Live this Thursday!

KATU Afternoon Live banner

Hi friends, I couldn’t resist a bit of shameless self-promotion and let you know that I’m going to be a guest on KATU’s Afternoon Live show with Tra-Renee, this Thursday.

Apparently the show is live (*gulp*) where I’ll be sharing closet organization tips for the New Year – plus 2 fun DIY’s (if there’s time) to give your closet storage and display areas a makeover.

As far as I know the show only airs in Oregon and isn’t syndicated nationally, but if you’re in Oregon you can watch it on channel 2 (or 16, depending on your cable provider). If you aren’t in Oregon or don’t have cable it seems you can catch it live here:

WATCH KATU AFTERNOON LIVE – THURSDAY AT 3PM PST

Watch on Thursday, January 5 from 3PM-4PM PST for my 6-minute segment with Tra-Renee and get tips for a chic closet for 2017!

xo

Carly

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10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity

10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity emails

Hello friends…and hellloooo 2017! I’m excited for this New Year and what it brings. How about you?

As I announced on New Year’s Eve…this year will bring a lot of changes to Chic Steals. One new thing I’m trying is to share content in different ways: like email, direct to my subscribers. This allows for a much more personalized approach, which I’m excited about. (You may have noticed a new popup on this website prompting you to signup!)

The first email:

10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity Email Newsletter

Ever wanted a creative boost to start off the month with a bang? Sign up for 10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity – a free daily email jam-packed with helpful tips and tricks to get your brain revved and ready for new ideas.

Part science, part pop culture, part inspiration – with daily to-dos and prompts that will get you excited about tapping into your more creative self.

Even if you think “I’m not creative at all!” – or if you feel you’ve hit a roadblock and need a mental refresh – 10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity will start your month off right and reset past burnout to get those neurons firing again.

I’ve been blogging at Chic Steals for 9 years now, sharing creative DIY tutorials for accessories, jewelry, apparel, and home. I’ve always felt I was a creative person, and the blog became an outlet to share that with the world, in the form of advice, how-to’s, and ideas. I’ve spoken at events and conferences about creativity, guest-lectured, and coached clients to train themselves to become more creative. And now I’m sharing that expertise with you.

What many people may not know is that creativity is something that can be trained. Though people may think that certain people are just born creative, in fact, the ability to find connections between seemingly unrelated things, make mental leaps, and create things which did not exist before can be cultivated, honed, and exploded. I won’t lie, it does take work and effort, but results can be astounding. Just by attempting to make new habits, pattern disrupt, and opening your mind to possibilities you begin to reset ingrained ways of thinking and expand your capabilities.

This is a 10-day series of emails expressly designed to fire up those creative neurons, reframe your thinking, and supercharge your creative skills. I hope you will join me so I can share many of the tips and tricks I’ve learned with you!

It’s totally free; no obligation. Emails begin January 15, for the next 10 days. If you’re a regular subscriber to the RSS feed – you won’t be getting this exclusive series, unless you sign up below:

Edit 1/15: Registration for 10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity is now closed. I’ll be opening it up again in the future, so please check back!

Hope to see you there!

xo
Carly

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