My husband has a home gym.
What this means is that the inside of our garage (where a car is meant to be) is filled with several thousand pounds of workout equipment. I'm talking an elliptical machine, a lat-pull down, weight bench, free weights, the works.
There are also several bicycles (mountain, road, another mountain, and a tricycle (Juliet's, of course)), some tennis rackets, several dozen cans of tennis balls, and a lawnmower (mowing the lawn counts as a workout as far as I'm concerned.)
We cannot even begin to imagine parking his car inside. There is just no room. The "gym" takes up all available space.
People come over and ask Ben "Where do you work out?" And he says, "Let me show you." in a slightly embarrassed, slightly proud voice. Then, holding his breath, he opens the door to the garage.
Usually, people are polite and say something such as, "Oh! How nice. It must be so convenient having all this IN YOUR GARAGE. ("Convenient" in this context, means the same thing as "great personality," in case you were wondering.)
But sometimes people say what they really think, like our friend Brian who exclaimed, "Wow! I haven't seen a garage like this since like THE 80s!" before bursting into a fit of near-hysteric laughter.
I tell you all this because the way Ben feels about his home gym is the same way I feel about my blog design. I do it all myself and it looks like it. I am fully aware that it looks like someone designed it in her basement or even HER GARAGE.
And while I am slightly embarrassed (I have many extremely talented graphic designer friends, so I know good design when I see it.) I am also slightly proud because I did it myself. I have no training and no prior knowledge. I just search around on the Internet looking for tutorials and finding whatever free graphics people are willing to hand out. And after many hours of searching and messing around on my practice blog, I came up with a header and a blog button.
Ever since starting this blog, I have been envious of all those cool blogs with their fancy blog buttons. The cute little graphics, the fun fonts, the "Hey, grab my button!" invitations.
Where do people get these? How in the world do you make them? It boggled my mind for the longest time. I finally gave up hope and decided I would just have to wait till I saved up enough money and my blog was a little more well-read to warrant spending my money on a fancy blog button.
But oh how I wanted one.
For some reason unbeknownst to me, I decided to try making a button again this week. (I had tried and failed miserably several times before.) And for whatever reason, it clicked inside my feeble technology-challenged brain, and I produced a button!
A real blog button that links to my blog! And what's more, it's not just a box with my blog's name on it, it's a bookplate that reads, "This book belongs to SILLY EAGLE BOOKS." Look! Here it is:
It's vintage-y and flowery, and very ME. I placed it in my sidebar and now other people can "grab it" and place it in their blogs.
I have to say that there is no way I could have done this on my own and I wanted to share my sources for anyone who might be looking to do the same with their own blogs.
I found the bookplate image at thegraphicsfairy.com. Her site is full of beautiful vintage illustrations that you can download and use for free. And I should mention that her images are not just for use in blogs, you can use them for scrapbooking and crafting as well--so many beautiful images to choose from.
I edited my graphic on picnik.com and then saved it to my computer.
I followed a button making tutorial on Sneaky Momma Blog Design
which resulted in a fully-functioning blog button.
So while my blog's design is not all that I hope it to be, it is definitely improving and I am having a lot of fun working on it. I've got a few other ideas, so you might see a few more changes in the coming weeks.
So, now that I have a button, please feel free to "grab it" and post it on your own blog. I look forward to seeing it somewhere out there in the "real world."
While we are talking about blogging, anyone have any good how-to sites or free graphic sites you want to share? I am always eager to find more. Leave a comment and let me know how you design your blog.
Sorry, no book stuff today, but I've got a great vintage book to share with you tomorrow. See you then!