Saturday, August 27, 2011

How to make a blog header

Right now, our living conditions are still rather messy. We also had to mourn the loss of our camera on the flight over to Germany, which means I'll have to get a new camera soon to start taking pictures.

At a loss of what else to write about, I started playing around with my blog design and layout and ended up with this new header:

Together with some color scheme experimenting, I think I am pretty satisfied with the new appearance.

Altogether, I spent about 2 hours trying to figure out how to create a consistent design. If anyone is still in need of a new blog header, here is how I got to the above picture (which can be adjusted to your own preferences as necessary).


1) Open a blank document in Microsoft Word. Go on Insert - Picture - Auto Shapes and you should get the auto shapes toolbar. Select a shape you like (I used one called Opaque) and then insert it into your word document. Then increase the size to sort of an elongated shape.

2) Now, when you move the mouse right on top of one of the shapes lines, you will see a little hand. Right click the mouse and a small window should pop up. Choose the option that states Format Auto Shape. 

3) In Colors and Lines, change the Style of the Line to 6 Pt and change the Color of the Line to anything you like.

4) If you left the Format Auto Shape to take a look at what you have so far, go back now and click on the Down Arrow of Fill Color. Click on Fill Effects and then Pattern. There are quite a few to choose from, but I went with a diamond pattern. In the same window the program should give you the option to select which colors you want to use for the fill effect. I would suggest going with a very subtle contrast, so that your background pattern won't overpower the entire header.

Here is what my demonstration header looked like after making these changes:

5) Now save your header, and after that go on File - Print. You will want to open this beginning of a header in Picasa, so you'll have to transform this into a JPG file. I am sure there are easier ways (although I haven't found them yet), but here is how I get to this point.

6) Once you click on Print, there will be a new window which has an option of PDF. Now save your work as a PDF file.

7) Next, use a free online converter for PDF files to JPG files, such as this one. Save the converted document.


1) Open Picasa, and import the freshly converted JPG file. Double click on the image to get to the Edit function on Picasa.

2) Crop your image as close to the lines as possible (use the manual setting for this).
3) Select Text, then any type of script you like (I used Lucida Calligraphy in Size 96) and type the name of your blog. Just start writing, as you can then move the writing to any place you like on the header. Play around with bold and underlined script, change the color of the text until you feel happy with the results.

4) Once you apply the text to your header, click on Edit in Picnik (you might have to download the program, but many of its functions are free).


1) Once your header has loaded into Picnik, you can click on the Stickers tab and decorate your creation. Many of the sticker categories are for free, such as Floralia. Select a flower type, and drag several of the same design onto your header.

2) Now, you can select each flower, change its size, rotate it a bit, and adjust the color. Here is mine in the middle of adjusting colors and layout of the stickers.

3) Once you're happy with the results, click the Save to Picasa Tab in the top right of the Picnik screen. Now, the only thing that's left to do is to click on File - Export Image to Folder - Resize Image to 1000 Pixels (for blogger).


1) In Blogger, you can make changes to your header in the Design tab. Click on Edit Header and then Remove the previous image and Browse your new header. Once you click apply to blog and view blog, you should see your nice new header at the beginning of your blog.

Please let me know if I need to edit something in my instructions, or if you have questions. I did my best to make this explanation as clear as possible and I hope this could benefit your blog too.

Linked up here:

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quick Update

After 20 hours of traveling last week, we have made it well to Germany. By now, we are pretty much adjusted to the new time zone and we are feeling more like ourselves.

Our son is loving the time he gets to spend with his grandparents and aunts and uncles and my husband is taking the days to discover the town.

On Monday, we rented a tiny car to drive 300 miles to Leipzig, a larger town located in Eastern Germany, were I had my first job interview.

My husband is registered with the town (which is obligatory in Germany) and tomorrow we will also start the process to get his permanent resident card.

As you can see, we had quite a few things on the agenda already, but we are moving along.

Tomorrow or so, I will post pictures of our cute little guest room, so that you can get an idea of how our stay is.

Monday, August 15, 2011

24 hours ...

I a little more than 24 hours we will be on the plain to Germany. Are we excited? Absolutely! Scared? Yep! Just the thought of carrying around a whole bunch of bags, car seats, toddlers, strollers leaves me nervous. Last night I couldn't really sleep trying to figure out how we would carry all of our hand luggage.


We are right in the middle of our last preparations.Our apartment feels kind of empty. My brother-in-law will continue to live here, but we have sold quite a bunch of furniture, toys and baby items in the last month. Actually, the entire space feels large now. It's easier to clean too. Kind of like a house staged to sell. With the exception that we have half packed suitcases lying around in every room.

Depending of how things go, I might post tomorrow. If not - you'll here from me in Germany.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The hardest good bye yet ...

About an hour ago, someone came to pick up our chocolate lab Shira. For several reasons, we are not able to take her with us on the big move, so we were trying hard to find a good home for her.

Yesterday we found a family with dog experience and a huge yard. They really liked her, and so today they came to give a new home.

The last hour my son kept having moments looking for the dog and I keep getting tears in my eyes. This is so hard.

I love you Shira!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bittersweet ...

As part of my "cleaning" for our international move, I decided it was time to let go of my son's preemie clothes.

In the morning, I went through the neatly folded stack of tiny onesies and pants, moved my 2 or 3 favorites to the side, and put everything else in a bag.

Next I called up my son's former NICU and asked if they accept donations. I never thought how hard it would be to let go of these first items my son ever wore. Looking at these pieces now, they look very small to me. Two years ago, even the Preemie-sizes items were far too big on my son.

Anyway, the NICU's social worker confirmed that in fact my donation was very welcome. And as hard as the thought of letting go was for me, I knew that there were families out there, with a baby in the NICU, who could make good use of my donation.

Here are my items all freshly washed and ready to be dropped off at the hospital.

In the afternoon, I took my son, the bag, and off we went to deliver our donation. I think, this must have been the single one donation of clothing I ever made that left me most content and the most bittersweet.

I talked a little bit with the social worker, who actually remembered us from 2 years ago. And then
before leaving, I grabbed a pecan danish (which I used to buy pretty much every day at the hospital's bakery, while my son was still in the NICU) and then I said good bye to the place that did so much for our family.

Thank you so much for taking excellent care of my baby!

On a happy note: I had the danish for my afternoon snack:

Monday, August 8, 2011

And another Canvas

iI guess by now most of you have seen the toilet paper canvases many bloggers have created the past couple of months and last week I decided I was going to make one for myself.

By the way, the one below is a creation of Chris from 'Just a Girl'.

I started out as previously with two old canvases that I covered completely in Glidden's Barely Jade:

This color seemed to be a beautiful gray with just a hint of green/blue. I had a tester at home, but had yet to test the color on a larger surface. Painting the canvas was the perfect opportunity that enabled me to "get to know" the color without making immense changes to our walls.

Here are my canvases in the middle of being "primed" with my selected color:

For those of you with an eye for details - the canvases used to hang above our bed but they were just too small scale to really make an impact.

The entire process took about 3 coats. Then I put the frames aside and cut a toilet paper roll into small 1/2 inch wide pieces and started painting them a dark blue.

Trying to avoid big messes, I worked on one section of a roll at a time, and once through the entire set, started with the next section.

I covered these with 2 to 3 layers of paint as well. Since I didn't have enough pieces to create a sufficiently large pattern on my canvases I thought about what I could do to achieve the desired impact.

Here is what I came up with:

I simply used a brush and some white acrylic paint to replicate the pattern of the toilet paper rolls. Then I added the toilet paper roll pieces with some glue.

Here is the other canvas:

And now, both canvases together:

And one more picture:

I haven't found a spot for them just yet, but for now I am excited to have found another potential paint color for future use.

What do you think of my little afternoon project?

Edit: I found a spot for my canvases. After removing all of our pictures for the big move, I had an empty spot for my canvases "available":

Here are both of them together:

Linked up here:

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My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia - Tuesdays Treasures 
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays 
The Shabby Nest - Frugal Friday 
Just a Girl - Show and Share Day

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday - 8/7/2011

This is where I would post my meal plan for the week, but I have to admit that I am rather planless. In a few days, we will be moving, so I will be making nothing but creations with items we already have on hand. Hopefully, there won't be any real grocery shopping this week.

What am I planning on create with the leftovers?

Here is an example:


I covered a cookie tray with aluminum foil.

I collected miscellaneous ingredients I had flying around in my cupboards. They included honey, syrup, chocolate powder, hazelnuts, brown sugar, and flower.

I combined 1/2 cup of butter, 2 Tbsp of Syrup and all of the brown sugar I found (about a cup) in a sauce pan.

Once the mix was completely liquid, I added a cup of hazelnut, 1 Tbsp of Chocolate Powder and 1/2 cup of flower.

This is what my creation looked like.

I then dropped spoons of the dough on my cookie sheet and out the whole thing in the oven at 350F for 10 minutes.

After ten minutes I had some very sweet cookies. My son loved them, I had some too. I am not sure if this is a keeper recipe though, because these are some very sweet hazelnutty cookies.


On the move ...

Here are some news for my few readers:

I am moving out of country in less than 2 weeks and I am going crazy. Several reasons I am not going to elaborate on for now made us decide for this move, and starting mid-august, I will be posting from Germany. That's right. We will live in Germany, buy a house (hopefully in a year or two), and raise our son there.

After a lot of research, looking at moving companies and options of sending boxes overseas, we decided to sell all of our furniture, etc and to just take 6 suitcases plus hand luggage.

This means, that the last month we have been busy going through piles of stuff, sorting, donating, throwing away, selling, .... I believe you get the idea.

Trying to reduce your household to about 6 suitcases plus a few bags is not an easy task. Bags and bags full of stuff have already left the apartment. Today, I will hold a yard sale and on Saturday somebody will come to buy our car.

I never thought how hard it would be to let go of things that were cherished. Everything had to be cut to the minimum. Clothes (I donated and sold about 7 bags), photos, books (I sold all but 2) all had to go through the evaluation - keep, toss, donate/sell.

However, all this letting go of things also means that I will start with a completely blank slate in about a month. I will need furniture, kitchen supplies, everything but clothes.

So in between the process of getting rid of my current household items, I have been busy making mood boards, wish lists, and lists of items I will need to start a new household and I have a lot of ideas floating in my head.

These are the kind of pinterest plans I have on my boards - kind of a combination of color inspiration and rooms that go into the right direction. Obviously I am planning of finding and using a lot of pieces that I can refinish according to my ideas, but I'll have to see how that goes as I am not too familiar with the different paint products available in Germany.

So, in order for me to have an idea how much I will spend for a complete room, I registered with the Ikea in Germany, and started creating shopping lists for each room.

I think it is obvious that I am very excited about the idea of starting completely from scratch.

Soon I will post pictures of how our apartment looks like at the moment (not picture perfect, that's for sure).

Also, for those of you noticing that I am painting walls like crazy, I'd like to offer an explanation. Since we are allowed to paint, I am kind of using this opportunity to go out of my comfort zone with the paint colors and to try out different colors.

So that's the big news for this week. I will post more details as they become "available".

Friday, August 5, 2011


To make it short: Our last sofa pillows got ripped apart by our chocolate lab who figured they would make a great snack.

Since I was to cheap to spend money on new toss pillows, we spent a few months without any pillows.

Then the other day I decided, that I had to change something. Obviously, I did not want to spend any money, so following instructions I had seen all over blogland I grabbed two dollar store placemats (purchased a few years ago), an old pillow that was taking up space in our closets and some yarn and went to work.

Here is how I made my pillows:

1) I started by opening my place mats at the seams on one side (about 5 inches or so). The opening was wide enough for my hand to get into the mat, but not too much so that I wouldn't have to sew the entire thing back together.

2) Next, I opened ripped the old pillow open as well:

3) I removed the stuffing from the pillow (supported by my little helper) and put it in the place mat. I made sure that it got all the way into the corners of the place mat so that my new pillow would be puffy in all the right places:

4) My place mats looked like this at first:

and then like this, once I thought they were thick enough:

5) Then I took some yarn and a needle and started sewing up the seems. I just tried to make this as neatly as possible. You can also use some hemming tape and an iron to close the seem, but since I didn't have any, I worked with yarn and needle instead. After less than 20 minutes, I ended up with 2 of these:

Here is a close up:

I like the swirly design on the mats/pillows and they now decorate my previously empty sofa. Hopefully our lab won't feel the urge to eat pillow any time soon ;)

Not bad for free, right?

Linked up here:

Just a Girl - Show and Share Day