Monday, January 27, 2014

You are Five Steps From an Exceptional Blog

You've started a blog and now you're wondering how to bring it to its fullest potential. Let's start by being completely honest with ourselves, we care what people think. And you should! You want people to want to read your blog. You want people to return to your blog time and again. It brings a blogger great joy to receive comments on a blog post. After all, we work so hard on them. But what makes a reader want to comment on them? Or, better yet, what makes a reader want to return to your blog at all?

Welcome to Exceptional Blogging!

1. Invest
When you begin your blog, you need to be prepared to invest in it. Even if you don't intend to monetize your blog and make money off of it, you still need to put money into it. This starts with your URL. I recommend purchasing a URL through GoDaddy. It's very inexpensive and their customer support is phenomenal! The reason I say get a URL isn't because it's "more professional," but because it makes it easier for me to find you. There are a lot of blogs out there, on both Blogger and Wordpress platforms. Don't make me have to wonder which yours is and whether or not you have a or attached to your URL. 

Next is your blogs layout. Invest in a layout that portrays professionalism. This tells me you care about your blog, you want it pleasing to me, the reader, and it will set you apart from any other ordinary-looking blog. Begin with a brand style in mind, and build from there. If you want a custom design, you need to be prepared to spend at least $300, depending on your blogging platform. For many, this is not feasible when you are just starting out, so invest in a premade Blogger or Wordpress template. Many are customizable to fit your branding needs. 

Purchase a custom logo! Again, you want to stand out. You want to treat your blog like a business, and businesses need individuality. If you are not a web or graphic designer, don't pretend to be by creating your own mediocre logo. Purchase a custom logo!

Lastly, there is advertising. You have to get your blog name out there. I once read in a business article, "If you build it, they won't come." Never forget this. The world doesn't know you exist. It's the WORLD WIDE WEB. You are one among millions. You have to tell people you're here, and, no, this isn't necessarily free to do. So paid advertising is almost always a must for any blog with a desire to grow. But choose wisely. If you operate a food blog, it may not do you well to advertise on a blog centered around web design. If one food blog has 1,000 blog followers who consistently return for daily recipes, odds are those readers might like to check out your recipes too. Perhaps one of those readers, a bread lover, has recently learned they are allergic to gluten, and they don't know where to start because everything has gluten in it, and how can they part with a slice of garlic bread at dinner each night? But low and behold, you posted a recipe for gluten free garlic bread. You just made their day! A web design enthusiast isn't going to care about your gluten free garlic bread. But that one reader not only doesn't feel alone in a gluten-wild society, but now knows where to start, and where to continue to go for more gluten free recipes.

2. Connect
Connect with like-minded bloggers by joining communities. Twitter is one of the best communities to join for this. It took me a long time to transition from Facebook to Twitter. I was used to Facebook. But the fact was, it was taking me no where. So I bit the bullet, put the Twitter app on my phone, and now I have made some phenomenal connections. The next community to join is The Sits Girls. It is a community specifically for bloggers looking to connect with other bloggers. They talk about the success to blogging is in building your tribe, connecting with others. Become a SitsGirl, you'll be glad you did. There are many other communities you can join, designed to help you do this, like Bloggy Moms, Southern Blog Society, The Charlotte Social, and more. Do some research, find communities in your area. Just get connecting!

3. Useful Content
Create useful content. Give readers a reason to need to come back to your blog. In doing this, your content needs to be unique. There are many recipes out there, but what is going to make yours memorable when thousands of others have already shared the same thing? There is nothing wrong with sharing your own take on a recipe, just be sure yours stands out in some way. Continue to provide posts with useful content so that I will need to come back and reference said post. Don't make post after post a constant stream of Instagram photos of what you did over the weekend. Tell me to follow you on Instagram, I'll follow and see them then. Keep enticing me, continue giving me reasons to need to come back to you. 

4. Eye Catching Images
One of the best things I can tell you is to learn Photoshop. This is another investment into your blog. You're serious, you've purchased a DSLR camera, now take it a step further and invest in Photoshop. Learn it. Take your dark images and turn them into beacons of beauty readers can admire. You can follow the Photoshop tutorials here on NewlyMynted. 

Other ways to get eye-catching photos is to browse the Creative Commons section of Flickr. This is a great resource for share-alike images. Be sure the photo in question has a share-alike attribution. If you find an image on Pinterest or Tumblr that you enjoy, send the owner an email, ask if they mind if you use theirs. Be sure to let them know if you intend to use adaptions. And always source others' images. Not only is it law, it's common courtesy. 

Use your Photoshop skills to do some minor graphic design to create Pinnable images for your now useful post. The majority of my blog views come from Pinterest, people looking for specific content. The above image is bright, it has a dash of loveliness yet still applies to this post, and it tells people exactly what they're going to find beyond it.

5. Engage
My final tip on today's Exceptional Blogging series is to engage with your readership. Remember, readers don't just come to you. They come by you putting yourself out there. And they stay by you acknowledging them. Be consistent in replying to comments. Get on your Twitter account and throw out a useful question to begin a conversation. If they retweet you, like their RT. Reply to other users tweets or RT them. Pop into your tribe members blogs and comment on a recent post. Not just a thanks-for-sharing kind of comment, but a genuine make-a-reference-to-a-sentence-in-the-post kind of comment. Sign it, as if you were signing off a letter or an email, and leave a link to your URL. Browse the forums on The Sits Girls site. Whatever you need to do, be consistent in engaging with your community. 

Image SOURCE|| Graphic design by NewlyMynted

Sharing with:
Funday Monday

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Friday Find: Bjorn and Bringly

Image(s) © Bjorn and Bringly

I am starting a new series on the blog, The Friday Find.  I love handmade and small businesses. There is just something about a small business owner who goes the extra mile for you. It's not the kind of thing you can find at Walmart or McDonalds, but those amazing business owners don't get nearly as much recognition as they should. So we're going to start giving them shout-outs every Friday, and allowing you to relish and splurge on their goods for the weekend.

Our very first feature goes to Bjorn and Bringly. I have really been into bracelet crafting lately, and as I browsed beaded friendship bracelets on Pinterest, I came across her Etsy shop. Let me tell you, my heart stopped for a moment when I saw these beaded bracelets. Inspired by the flowers and mountains of the Northwest, Julia puts exquisite detail in her jewelry. She truly makes the outdoors take your breath away with these gems.

If you'd like your small business featured on NewlyMynted send an email to: I would love to shout you out to the world!

*Submissions are subject to approval. Entries must coincide with the NewlyMynted brand, offering inspirational and resourceful opportunities for our readers.

Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

DIY Geometric Cork Board

First I'd like to apologize for the lack of personal posts. Sadly, my rechargeable batteries have gone caput. They will no longer hold a charge. These are the last photos I was able to get out of it. It's very saddening. My camera gets so much love, and now it is feeling so very lonely, sitting there upon my desk all alone, neglected. Single-mom's Budget Syndrome has prevented me from being able to spoil it and buy it new batteries. I've had to put what extra money I have into some health expenses. Hooey is what I say!

Okay, I'll get to the task at hand now, this lovely diamond painted cork board I hung in my studio. I was inspired by this blog post from The Happy Home when I stumbled upon it on Pinterest. Oh, good ol' Pinterest! I had picked up a pack of cork tiles at Big Lots over the summer and they had been sitting here for months. Then Ms. Belinda came to my rescue and was just the right inspiration for me!

All you'll need are:
Painters Tape

Simple enough, tape off your lines. I did a mix of skinny and thick, because both are beautiful and can complement the other lovingly.
 Make sure all your lines match up. This is also where I would recommend taking an extra piece of tape and labeling each square 1-4. The reason I say that, is I didn't and they got mixed up, then I had to play a puzzle game to get the lines matched up again. Good thing I like puzzles!
 And it is reasons like this I love Folkart. I have mixed metals all throughout my house, so I used Pearl White and Royal Gold.

Yeah, that's a shout out to my girl, Julie at Julie Ann Art. Buy her cards. Seriously. People die laughing when they read all the cards I buy for Logan. I already have his Valentine's Day card ready. Her new cardstock is like magic. 
I finished off my little corky space with some tacks I DIY'ed. Those are just scrapbooking embellishments I super glued onto tacks. Now I have fancy tacks to hold up all the junk that would normally get thrown on my cutting table.

And there ya go. An inexpensive and easy DIY to add a pop of geometric style to your plain white apartment walls. 

Love and that jazz!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Summer Indulgence | One Piece Swimwear

Just a little summer indulgence to make you swoon while I'm concentrating on my doctor stuff. I'll keep you all posted as I get these tests done. Much love!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

You Are Loved Inspiration & FREE Download

I felt today I needed to take a moment and share a little love. To remind each and every one of you who may be reading this that you are unequivocally loved. If you are new here, welcome. What a blessing it is to have you! If you are a return reader, thank you. Another blessing in disguise!

Two years ago I thought so little of myself. I remember one day, while Logan was waiting patiently for me to come around, I said to my mother, "For whatever reason, this guy is interested in me." I said it numerous times in various ways before my mom finally said, "Will you stop saying that? There are a lot of reasons for anyone to be interested in you." I verbally abused myself, without even realizing it. My divorce nearly crippled me. I drowned in my depression, allowing it to stifle every breath I dared try to take.

I know now I am better than that, and I want to you to know you are too! So today, stand up, remind yourself of your beauty, for you are created in God's image, and what is more precious and beautiful than that? You are loved by many. Even if there is one naysayer, they are but one of billions. Don't let them break your spirit. Give them something to admire!

Feel free to DOWNLOAD the quote above, frame it in your home as a reminder for yourself each morning. Share it on Pinterest or email it to a friend or loved one who may need to hear this reminder today. No matter what the trial plaguing you, remember you are not alone, you are strong and courageous.

So many hugs and love today!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Summer Decor Inspiration | Modern Romance

I'll give you one guess where I spent my weekend. I was at Michael's. I had stopped in Saturday for some paint for a project I'm going to be doing this week. The signs for 90% off holiday baskets reeled me toward the back of the store. And would you believe what I found when I turned around? They had begun putting out the new Ashland Summer Collection. This years signature accents collection is called Modern Romance. I just had to share it with you, in case you haven't happened upon it yet.
I spent a good while Saturday oohing and ahhing over everything, saying to Logan's mother, who was with me, "I want that, and that, and that ..." as I pointed to each new thing I saw that delighted me. It is simply one of those collections that you can't help but feel serenely happy in.
I adore those pink apothecary bottles. They had them displayed in the store with pink and white feathers in them. They were darling! I also have those chandelier style candle holders on my wish list.

Way to class up an owl! So chic!
More importantly, however, is I want that pink vase with the rhinestone starburst on the front. I actually picked up a couple pieces of crystal at TJ Maxx just before hitting up Michael's, and I think it will go lovely with them.

Ooh, wait. I just noticed something as I'm gazing at this photo. That planter to the left is a decorative storage box. What a unique way to use it. I'm thinking perhaps some of my storage boxes need some flowers adhered to the lid for an extra pop in my studio.

After thinking on this set all evening Saturday, I went back Sunday for a piece. I picked up a bouquet bundle to go in a hand painted vase I had previously purchased from Hello Awesome. The bouquets are on sale for $4.99 this week. Start your romance collection!

I hope this inspires and delights you this Monday morn. 

All images courtesy of Michael'

Au revoir!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Style Guide: Gold Plated Fashion

I have one of my favorite Tweeps for you today.

Hi all – my name is Sydney and I run the personal style blog, Chic Stripes. Stephanie reached out on twitter earlier this week looking for someone to help fill her blog posts, so I gladly volunteered. I “met” Stephanie through the weekly #BlogTrends Chats on twitter (Mondays at 9 PM; so good!). I don’t even remember what the topic was that week but I do remember being drawn to Stephanie’s comments and of course her blog. She’s an all-around lovely woman!

I wanted to bring you, her readers, something of interest, and loved all of Stephanie’s recent posts on gold foil. So when she requested style inspiration – I knew it had to contain metallics!

Metallics are everywhere right now: on the runways, celebrities, and bloggers; in sweatshirts, jackets, skirts and of course accessories. As we transition from winter to spring, now is a great time to break them out – no need to reserve them just for glittery holidays.

But how do you style these for your every-day life? If you’re like me, you are not jet setting off to islands and needing a bronze metallic bikini or glamming up to receive an Oscar in a silver metallic gown.  I prefer to grunge up my metallic, keeping them ultra-cool and casual. Try these tips:
1.       Tone it down – Wear a metallic top, but throw a blazer over it or loop a huge scarf at your neck. 
2.       Keep it rough – Play with the textures of our your other clothes – wear denim, knit, suede, or wood – that will contract with the slick metallic and help bring it down a notch.
3.       Try just a tad – if you don’t like to go with a trend full force, try just a bit of metallic. Find a shoe or skirt with metallic trim or strip. Look for sweaters or cardigans with metallic thread for a bit of sparkle. Add a metallic bag or flat while keeping the rest of your outfit natural. Don’t forget necklaces, bracelets, rings and even hair accessories – all of these can be great for bringing in a touch of metallic. Remember, a little bit of metallic can go a long way!  
4.       Go all out – If you’re gonna wear metallic, try looking for a statement piece: a coat, blazer, skinny pants/leggings, or sweater.  

If you wear any metallic this week, I’d love to know how you wore it! Email ( or tweet (@chicstripes) me a pic!

Thank you, Sydney, for taking the stage for me today. Please show Sydney some link-love this weekend:
Blog Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What's in a Romantic Relationship

As I'm sitting here this morning, coffee in hand, I have been reflecting on many things. Through my failed marriage, I learned many things, all of which I am grateful I can be open and honest with my ex-husband about. But there was something he said recently that touched me, and triggered these thoughts. He said he was happy I had found someone who loved me the way Logan does, that I deserved that kind of happiness. And over the past few days I have been thinking on this, thinking of the ways Logan loves me and what it means to be in a relationship.

First, let me start by stating with absolute fact that CHIVALRY IS NOT DEAD. I do not care what people say. It is not. I personally feel to say it is dead, is to give young men an excuse to put no effort into a relationship. It trains them up to think women are not worth wooing. Yes, such a statement teaches men to devalue women. 

We also live in a society of female empowerment. Don't get me wrong, I strongly encourage every woman to build their confidence, know they can stand on their own two feet, and can dare to dream BIG. But what about the days when men pursued women? What's wrong with being a fragile, delicate being? When did we lose that? When did a desire to be desired become "high maintenance?" 

Let me tell you, ladies, I have been on both ends of the spectrum. I have done the pursuing and I have been the pursued, but being pursued has been the most fulfilling! And, yes, this is where Logan comes into the picture. At the time I had met him, I was unsure I wanted a relationship. I still felt jilted by the dissolution of my marriage. But I figured if he thought I really was worth it, he would put in all the effort he could, and be patient until I felt I was ready.

Boy did he ever! At the time he wasn't making very much money, but he scraped together every dollar he could, drove 10 hours to where I was at, picked me up, then drove me seven hours to Pensacola, where we spent an amazing weekend on the beach together. He took me thrifting all over town, browsed boutiques with me on the boardwalk, and had a beer with me at a sports bar. He opened doors for me, never once suggested we go dutch on any meal (or that I get the next one), and spoiled me with nonsensical trinkets from the gas station merely for a laugh.

And it didn't end there. In fact, a year later, he still goes out of his way quite often to show how much I mean to him. The other day he sat down and said, "What could be better than this? I've got a beautiful girl, three beautiful kids, and a puppy to snuggle!" (Yes, I adopted a puppy for Christmas. More on that later.)

I allowed him the opportunity to express his desire for me, and IT WORKED! He continues to everyday.

Which brings me to my final point, what can you hope to get out of a relationship? I recently read an article titled "Marriage is Not For Me." Take a moment to read it. Relationships are not about what you get out of them. That is a selfish way of thinking. Relationships are about what you can give. What you can put into it to make your partner feel loved. Christ had a servants mentality while in the flesh, he was humble. I feel that is how we should enter our relationships, willing to give rather than receive.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Create Gold Foil Text in Photoshop

I have been in love with the new trend of metallic gold lettering in graphic design. Who doesn't love shiny text! I bet if you do, you've been wondering how to get it. I mean, your text doesn't just come in those fancy letters. There is no Hex code for that metallic sheen. So I knew this would make for a great tutorial to share with you all. 

Open the canvas you will be working on, as well as the gold foil texture you want to use. You can see with the arrows I have the Create Foil Text document open and the Foil Background open. THIS is the free gold foil background I used for this tutorial. Another great gold foil digital texture pack is THIS one from Mommyish.

Working on your Foil Text canvas, create a new layer. In Photoshop, the small piece of paper with the corner marked is the new-layer icon. You can see in the layers pallet, Layer 1 has been created. You can rename this by double-clicking it if you wish. I did not for this tutorial since it is the only additional layer I'm working with.

 Toggle over to your window with the gold foil background. Select the whole thing and copy it.

Toggle back over to your canvas and paste the gold foil background to the layer you just created. If you look at Layer 1 in your layers pallet, you now see it has a gold rectangle in it, displaying to you what is in that layer. Be sure you have Layer 1 highlighted before you paste the background to it.

First, move the layer up or down until it is directly over the text you want to add texture to. You can easily do this by clicking and dragging. Now right-click on Layer 1 and select Create Clipping Mask.

You just clipped two layers together! And only with the click of a button! If you look at Layer 1 in your layers pallet, you will see a small downward pointing arrow on the left side. That arrow indicates that that layer is clipped to the one below it, and whatever is in that layer (Layer 1) will reflect only within the layer it is clipped to.

Adjust the size and/or position of the gold foil texture until it is how you like it. This is easily done by highlighting Layer 1 in the pallet (it should be selected on your canvas as you see in the previous photo), press V on your keyboard to select your Move Tool (or toggle it on the left [see photo]) and adjust the size and position. Another quick note: holding Shift while adjusting one of the corners will maintain the proportions of the background layer.

There, you're done! Your text is gold and shiny and beautiful! Give yourself a little pat on the back.

What other things would you like to learn to do in Photoshop? Let me know in the comments or send me an email: You can also follow us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on new tutorials.


Friday, January 3, 2014

A Place Called "Home"

The view from my second story apartment. The temperature is currently 10 degrees outside, and I am cozied up in front of the laptop with a hot cup of coffee and my fuzzy pink robe. And here, in this place, I am overcome with comfort and solace. Joy fills me!

It's funny how a place you can call home changes you. In all the years I lived in Colorado, I dreaded the winter months. I loathed the snow and any day that was less than 40 degrees and sunny. The icy, slick roads were my nemesis. I suppose it's because even after 8 years of living in Aurora, CO, it was never really "home."

I have thoroughly come to love living in Boone. The cold and snow and ice don't bother me the least bit. I even enjoy opening the curtains in the morning and seeing my kids' delight as they see snow on the ground. It's like magic fell from heaven to them!

I thank no one but God and His loving grace for that happiness. What place do you call "home"?


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 In Review

I sort of vanished for the latter part of 2013. My last post was on November 16, when I shared the Gatsby printable I created. I'm glad for those of you who enjoyed and for all the shares it has received on Pinterest

The year 2013 was a hard year. It began with me abandoning all control, putting all of my faith in God, and moving to Boone. I had never set foot on Boone soil. I hadn't been to NC since I last lived here when I was six years old. But God brought me here, and boy do I love it! God is great that way. The day I left I cried on my mothers shoulder, terrified to leave. Who would of thought I would find such an amazing, gracious and loving home here.

But that was hardly difficult. Between October and November I lost three members of my family. Two were somewhat expected, so while disheartening, easy to cope with. It was the last one, my Aunt Shari. She died Thanksgiving morning. She died in her sleep. She was but 50 years old.

I was walking out the door the morning of Thanksgiving. My purse was in hand, the kids were headed downstairs to the car, when my phone rang. I realized it was coming from my bedroom and that I did not have it on hand. I went to get it real fast, saw that it was my dad calling. For a fraction of a second I thought, Oh, I'll call him back later. We were just walking out, headed to spend the holiday with family and friends. We had hours of driving to do. But then I decided to answer since it was Thanksgiving. My parents had relocated back to Phoenix, so the least I could was wish my family a Happy Thanksgiving.
In that same moment it occurred to me that it was 9 AM my time, 6 AM theirs. How odd they would be calling me so early.

"Hello," I answered.
"Hey, Sis," came my dad's voice. "I've got bad news."
"What? Is everything okay?"
"Shari died."

My reply was bleak. I plopped down onto my bed and stuttered over my words. What words I could get out, that is. I hung up the phone and wept. I wept all the way to Morganton, then on the drive to Rockingham, then while I was there at my best friends house. 

I haven't quite gotten passed it yet. Each time I think of it, my mind doesn't seem to want to comprehend it. She was only fifty! Far too young to die! But just like that, my mothers baby sister was gone. 

My aunt didn't have children of her own, but spoiled us tremendously. I always had a very close relationship to her. She bought me my first pair of dangly earrings and took me to my first R-rated movie. She once took me to see the Beauty and the Beast ballet at the theater, and even brought a pair of theater binoculars. Between that and the dress my mother bought me, I remember feeling so fancy that day.

Each time I think of these things, I just feel ... sad. Is there another word for it? Something not quite so morose, but equal in feeling? 

That is why I have not been around much. I haven't quite gotten over the sadness. And beginning a new year doesn't make it easier to do so. I feel this need to begin a new year, leave the old in the past, and embrace the present. There's a whole future in front of me. But how do you just let someone go so cavalier-like? I don't think you do. 

So, no, I don't believe I will be embracing 2014, but rather plugging on through another day. I know that time heals and just because it is a new year, that doesn't mean it's time yet.

On a more delightful note: I did get to spend a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with my best friend of nearly 20 years. We had a marvelous time together! We even stole a moment to take some family portraits. So enjoy these final mementos for this post. Till next time ...

Hinson Lake, Rockingham, NC

If you're interested in how I edited any of these, please let me know in the comments. All the actions I used are freebies, and I would love to share the techniques I'm learning in Photoshop.

Happy New Year to all,