current favorites

Current Favorites

I keep failing to post these on an actual weekend so we are going to rename them to current favorites. This week was a little crazy – I drove 6 hours down south to stay with my in laws and hang out with my family. It was a great week but I’m back home now so I’m finally starting to get back to normal and catch up on work and blog stuff.

My current favorites are:

1) Urban Decay Perversion Mascara

current favorites

I actually bought this mascara on the fly, but I am a die hard Urban Decay fan and they didn’t let me down. I wear glasses and I have decent eye lashes already so I have to be smart about how much and what kind of mascara I put on. this mascara makes my eyelashes just long enough and separates them beautifully. They don’t make them look too fake or clumpy which I love. 5/5 would buy again.

2) Nose piercing

current favorites

Being spontaneous is not something I’m really known for…but I was pretty spontaneous this weekend. I mean I have been thinking about getting my nose pierced since I was like 17, but I never pulled the trigger. We were at a tattoo shop for B to start work on his sleeve tattoo and next door was a piercing place, so I thought, “what the hell” and got my nose pierced. I’m kind of obsessed.

3) Chicago Med

B and I have been binging this show for like two weeks and we finally finished it. It’s so good. It’s the right amount of dramatic with some humor thrown in. The characters are well developed and they interact really well. I already miss it. We are recording The Night Shift now, but I’m not sure I’m sold yet. We’ll give it some time.

4) Summer Country Concert

current favorites

Every summer at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds there is a summer country concert series. It’s over three days and they have some really great artists playing. This year Kip Moore was playing so we had to go and see B’s man crush. (I didn’t totally mind either…) It was a really good time. They set up a bunch of fair food booths and everyone has a really good time. It was gorgeous weather too. The margaritas sucked though, haha.

5) Bagels

Super random, but when I go “home” (my in laws is like my 2nd home) there are a few staple foods I always have to eat. This time I was all about my favorite drive thru bagel place, They also have some of the best coffee. It kept me going while I was bouncing around trying to find a quiet and productive place to work. Seriously, the bagels are amazing and I don’t even have to put pants on because, drive thru. Yes please. I miss it already.

So those are my current favorite things. Back to the grind this week and still working through my writers block. Hopefully I find some motivation soon!

What are some of your favorite things right now?

|| the chaotic creative

 

blog photo template

Steps to Creating a Blog Photo Template (+ A Free Pinterest Photo Template!)

I have a confession to make. Okay, literally everyone who knows me at all knows this but: I’m super lazy. 99% of the time this is not a good thing. But it has made me more efficient in a lot of ways. Just so I have more time to watch Veep or Grace & Frankie. Or anything else that doesn’t take any effort.

Recently I have been taking steps to streamline my blog workflow. One thing I have done is implement a blog photo template. I have done this for a couple of reasons. The first being: it saves so much time and effort. I can use that time to watch an episode of Chopped. The second reason I did it was because I realized how important it was that my photos all had the same look; that they are all on brand. And that was something I was really struggling with. Now that I have implemented this step into my blogging process I have also realized that it really helps my social media as well because it’s already sized correctly for Pinterest and it already has my logo on every single picture.

Here are the steps you should take to create a blog photo template:

1) Pick a size

I started out this blog only doing horizontal images. But then I realized that was creating more work for me because I’d have to make one feature image and one image for Pinterest. You will need to decide what size you want for your blog.

social media image sizes

2) Create a photo file that size

Whether it’s Photoshop, which is what I use, or PicMonkey or Canva, create a file in whichever size you’ve chosen. (I use the Pinterest size.) Save it with your other blog files. I recommend creating a sort of blog identity vault that has your logo, colors, fonts, etc. Then you’ll always know where your blog related files are.

3) Add a design element

I always have a light pink transparent square layer that I can put any image under and any text on top. The freebie has a bright pink triangle. You can literally do anything, but I would suggest using something that will make the title easy to use if you’re using photos or something that is unique and eye catching. By adding this element, all of your blog images will be cohesive with very little effort.

photo template

4) Add filler text

You’ll replace this filler text with your title. Use your chosen fonts in line with your blog brand and title away. I have two fonts that I always use on my feature images and it’s so much easier to set titles when the fonts are already in place.

blog photo template

5) Add your logo

When you’re sharing your photos across all social media platforms, having your logo is an enormous help. People sometimes are awful and steal your images and don’t link back to your content. This way, at least viewers will know where the image came from. I always forgot to add my logo to things. But not since I’ve started using a template.

blog photo template

 

You are now set to create infinite amounts of blog photos. You can fill the background with a plain color, your most recent photo, or a pattern. The possibilities are endless. This is just a jumping off point. You can make a template for every type of image you use. Or one for each social media platform. Go forth and create a beautiful blog photo template (or four).

To get your free photo template (PSD or PNG file), please sign up below! 

Send me all of your photo templates and let me know if you need help!

|| the chaotic creative



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wordpress plugins

5 WordPress Plugins You Should Be Using

I am by no means a WordPress or blogging expert. With that being said, I started my blog last year from scratch and I have learned a lot. I have worked through all of my blog problems by googling my way out of them. So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about optimizing my WordPress blog with plugins. Here are the 5 WordPress plugins I think you should be using:

1) Yoast SEO

Search engine optimization is so important. It basically means that when someone is searching for something, your blog post will rank well in that search. There’s a whole science to it, but this plugin is the first step to understanding and utilizing it. And it makes it so easy.

2) EWWW Image Optimizer

So, I’m a photographer and it was always ingrained into me to keep my image files as large as possible. But this is not a sustainable process for blogging. And my website showed it. It took forever to load just a basic page. And it was because my images were way too big. I first created a smarter image workflow that made for smaller images to start with. Then I installed the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin which automatically optimizes your images so that your site runs a lot smoother.

3) Use Google Libraries

In the same vein as the image optimizing plugin, this plugin helped my site be much much faster. Honestly, I’m not 100% exactly sure what this one does but here’s an explanation from their plugin page:

“This plugin allows your WordPress site to use the content distribution network side of Google’s AJAX Library API, rather than serving these files from your WordPress install directly.”

I know that it helped speed up my site and that a fast site means that people won’t leave. I know if I go to a website and it takes too long to load, I leave. I am very impatient and I know I have better things to do than wait for a blog to load, so I don’t expect anyone to wait on mine either.

4) Comet Cache

This is a great plugin to also speed up your site. Obviously mine was in dire need so I downloaded all of the speedy uppy plugins. (That’s a technical term. Speedy Uppy.) It basically takes a picture of your site so that all of the little details don’t need to load every single time a user visits that page during a visit. So it makes it a lot faster. It’s great.

5) Instagram Slider Widget

This one is a fun one. It displays all of your Instagram images wherever you put the widget. You can have them scrolling, or in a line, or in a grid like I do. It adds so much personality to your page, connects your viewer with your social media and doesn’t take up too much space. It’s great. And really easy to use.

So these are the WordPress Plugins I’ve been using for a while and I have found them all indispensable. There are a million plugins to choose from to optimize your blog or website, but make sure to do your research and only install plugins that are really going to help. It doesn’t hurt to find a tutorial on the best way to optimize the plugin too. Some of them can be pretty confusing with way too many options.

What are your favorite plugins?

|| the chaotic creative

 



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creative block

Working Through a Creative Block

I’m not going to lie – I am currently working through one of the biggest creative blocks I’ve ever had. I do have a minor excuse and that is because two weeks ago I went to the hospital and found out my appendix was about to burst so I had to have open surgery and have it removed. It was incredibly painful and stressful but I made it through! The down side though is the doctor said I could feel tired and lethargic for 4 weeks after my surgery. It’s been two weeks and I am constantly exhausted – it feels like my mind is working up a hill all the time. So that’s my current excuse for my creative block but excuses don’t get the work done so here I am, using my own tip to staying inspired, and just getting stuff on the page.

I have a lot to get done this week with work and the semester wrapping up so here are some things I’m going to do to work through this massive creative block:

1) Read

I have finally found a few good books that I’ve been completely engrossed in. I have found that reading really clears my head and honestly makes me feel like my brain is working harder and smarter. If you’re in the market for some books, check out my post on my favorite books of all time. Currently I’m reading The Hand That Feeds You by A.J. Rich. It’s a big mystery and pretty addicting.

2) Exercise

To be honest, I’m not really great at exercise. I used to play volleyball in high school but after I was left to my own devices, all athletic motivation vanished. But in order to break out of this creative funk I’m in, I’m going to go for (slow) walks to get those ideas flowing. And it helps with my healing process too.

3) Rest

My go to solution to anything is to just work through it, but in this case I think that rest is what my body, and mind, need. Sometimes you just need to listen to your body and let it recover before diving back in so that you can come back 100% and that’s kind of what I’m planning on doing. To the best of my ability… I’m not really great at not doing things. So we will see.

4) Research

I am the self titled queen of the Google search and I love learning new things. So I’m signing up for all of the free ecourses I can get my hands on and searching for design ideas. One great design educational PDF I found last night is Thou Shalt Not Use Comic Sans. It’s funny and educational, my favorite.

So that’s what’s going on in my life right now. I hope you don’t ever hit a creative block, but if you every do I hope you’re able to work through it. Please share all of your tips for working through it. Share your secrets with me, because I need them.

|| the chaotic creative

p.s. find the featured image in my store: the MarketPlace! 

 



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creative playlist

A Playlist to Create Pretty Things To

I am constantly listening to something. Especially while I’m working. I have a lot of trouble focusing a lot of the time. But when I have my headphones in, I can get down to business. A lot of the time, especially when I’m doing busy work, I’m listening to my favorite podcasts. But if I have to actually use my brain and get some stuff done, I put on my tunes and bust some work out. I’ve compiled a playlist my favorite songs to create things to:

1) Wild things – alessia cara

I heard this one Jimmy Fallon and I literally can’t stop listening to it.

2) Love Yourself vs F*CK YOURSELF – Yo Preston

I’m not a big JB fan, but this version is so catchy.

3) Chandelier – Sia

This is such a powerful song. It’s so fun to belt out while editing photos.

4) Gold Digger (acoustic) – Xavier Dunn

I love this original song. I don’t know why. But I do. And I love acoustic songs. So here you go.

5) San Francisco – The Mowgli’s

This song is so much fun. B and I were announced as a married couple to our wedding reception to this song.

6) Stay With Me – Angus & Julia Stone

This song is just really pretty.

7) When We Were Young – adele

I don’t think I could ever make a playlist without an Adel song on it. This is just my current favorite.

8) Billie Jean – The civil wars

I love the Civil Wars and I love Billie Jean.

9) The hills – the weeknd

I am addicted to belting this song in my car. I feel like such a badass when I sing it.

10) Cool Kids/Riptide – Less is more

These are both great songs and they’ve intertwined them perfectly.

11) Throw down your guns – wild belle

I also heard this song on Jimmy Fallon. Her voice is seriously angelic.

You can find the Spotify playlist here. I hope you enjoy!

This playlist has gotten me through many projects and will get me through many more. Maybe some day I’ll branch out and find new music, but for now I will play this on repeat.

What do you listen to while you’re working? What music gets you in the work zone?

|| the chaotic creative

 



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