Ribbons, Buttons, and #hairties… Oh my!

Our foray into the world of kid-friendly bookmark making

When you find yourself reaching for a napkin, receipt, post it, nail file (…..or stapler) to mark your place in your current read, it may be time to invest in some bookmarks. We decided to try making some cute ribbon bookmarks, that also teach young readers how to sew simple stitches and buttons.

 

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One disadvantage of cleaning your desk – no scrap paper close at hand when you need it…

Check out our creations! Find instructions below. We saw this idea on mybusybeehives.blogspot.fr.

 

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Here’s how to make these yourself:

First, gather your supplies! Sewing kit, button, ribbon, hair ties or elastic, etc.

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RLR’s classic feminine taste

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SMR’s what’s-cheap-at-Joann’s motif.

 

Your ribbon and buttons can reflect your personal style (or lack thereof). 

Select your ribbon and elastic or hair tie. Fold the edge of the ribbon around the elastic and stitch closed.

It’s so easy, even a 6-year-old can do it! (Yes, those are Christmas pajamas. Yes, SMR is aware it’s April. Personal style, people.)

Measure your ribbon with a book – we used several books to make several different sizes. Cut the ribbon to size and fold down the end. Sew the button to the end.

Finished! Mark your place in style!

 

*Note: we also used multiple buttons to make it adjustable*

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Zombies, buttons, ribbon and rainbows. (Someday we’ll figure out how to crop the pictures, too…)

 

 

How to Start a Blog in 53 Easy Steps (Part Four)

Part Four – Actually Start the G*ddam Blog

Word to the Wise

Blundering: (noun) the act of making a careless or stupid mistake; the act of acting or speaking clumsily; the act of moving clumsily as if unable to see.

Step 1: Over the course of the process thus far, you’ve probably learned a lot about yourself. Namely that you are a hopeless e-klutz who blunders into things like Ilsa blundered into Rick’s cafe (We mustn’t underestimate “American blundering…”), but without the noble cause or perfect face. Also that any way that you interface with the internet has the ability to inadvertently connect with the people you know IRL and alert them to your goings-ons. And that you know a lot of really helpful people who will happily inform you when they discover your anonymous internet blunderings. You’re also likely considering getting #fail tattooed on your forehead…

Step 2: Sit down with your best friend and brainstorm ideas for blog articles. Read blogs about starting blogs and articles about introductory articles. Most of these are boring and not engaging and perhaps a little redundant, too. Realize you want your blog to sound nothing like these.

Step 3: Come up with a list of 50+ topics for blog articles. This list is surprisingly similar to the one you crafted two weeks ago in Part One.

Step 4: Decide that you will each write your own introductory piece, but you should really get a general “what we’re all about” opener on the site stat, since the site is live and is an f’ing template and you no idea how in hell you take that shit down.

Step 5: Take a break for coffee and cake.

Step 6: Cruise Instagram for a while. Admire bookstagrams of folks who probably have stock options in Michael’s they use so many knick-knacky craft supplies for these posts.

Step 7: Recommit to keeping your apartment clean and keeping more than just coffee and cake on hand for when you have guests.

Step 8: On second thought, recommit to not having guests, because who are you kidding?

Step 9: Thank your lucky stars you’ve got a best friend who 1) doesn’t mind the mess, 2) doesn’t mind the lack of food, 3) loves books as much as you do, 4) tolerates your incessant lists, and 5) wants to start a blog with you. 🙂 Sit back and admire your darling friend. ❤

Step 10: Tell your BFF how excited you are to be working on this project together.

Step 11: Re-open your laptop and start typing. Mostly just tap on the keys because eventually the words will come to you and you don’t want your partner to know you have absolutely no idea what to write.

Step 12: Embrace the fact that nothing you write will be perfect or will even feel remotely “good enough”. Decide that “written” is the new “good enough”. Feel a small sense of accomplishment in this step towards overcoming your crippling perfectionism. You can totally do this.

Step 13: But seriously, how are you going to start the goddam blog???

Step 14: Write. Just write. Write anything…

And so, without further ado or unnecessary instructions, we welcome you to ThatShelfLife – our erratic, haphazard, impulsive jaunt into the world of bookish blogging. If you’ve stayed with us this far, thank you (and as they say in the South, “bless”), we’re ecstatic. We sincerely hope you enjoy our musings on books and life. Please – comment, share, talk to us!

How to Start a Blog in 53 Easy Steps (Part Three)

Part Three – Develop your Social Media Presence and Prowess

Word to the Wise

Presence: (noun) the state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present in a place or thing; a person or thing that exists or is present in a place but is not seen.

Step 1: You are going to need a Twitter and an Instagram to start with. Come to think of it, you’re not sure what else you’ll need because you basically live under a rock and don’t even have a personal Instagram, and the only reason you even remember you have a personal Twitter is because it got hacked last summer and your email blew up with complaints from friends about your inert social media account embarrassing you without your knowledge or consent. Don’t worry, it happens.

Step 2: We’ll start with Twitter. Your BFF texts you back mid-morning telling you she loves your idea for a Twitter handle (@singlemomreading). You open a corresponding gmail account (once you get blogging, you’ll need to carefully separate your personal email from all the fan mail or engaging book conversations you’ll get into with strangers). You download the Twitter app and sign up. It’s so freaking easy and it takes like two minutes, so you’re totally not worried about doing this between tasks at work. Huh… Twitter wants your phone number. They say they’ll keep it private, so what the heck. Finish signing up and decide you’ll come back to it when you’re off work later.

Step 3: Receive a text from a coworker – “Welcome to Twitter, singlemomreadin!” Oh. Shit. Realize simultaneously that every one of your phone contacts who is also on Twitter (including over two dozen coworkers) have been instantaneously alerted that you are now on Twitter, even though you really wanted to keep this whole blog project as an anonymous online thing to connect with other introverted book lovers. Check pulse to ensure you have not died of humiliation. Await email from your boss telling you are fired for doing personal things while at work. Swear you’ll never do it again.

Step 4: Now you can get back to the other half of that realization – Twitter handles can only be 15 characters long, and the phrase you attempted to use is 16. They cut you off and didn’t even warn you. Ok, maybe there was some sort of rule written on the page explaining this, but you were trying to just get it done between tasks at work and not exactly reading every word on your tiny phone screen. But really, they should alert you if you try to type more than 15 characters into that box. The people @Twitter are #jerks.

Step 5: Lurk on Twitter for about a week. Follow as many authors as you can find. (Make a mental note to stop searching for dead authors. Charles Dickens and JD Salinger are not on Twitter.) Get an idea of how people communicate on Twitter. Experiment with re-tweeting. That feels good, doesn’t it? Wait for something to happen, some sort of interaction with the vast corpus of users in the Twittersphere. Try not to feel awkward or self-conscious when no one responds or finds the amazing New Yorker story you tweeted to be worth liking or retweeting. Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out eventually…

Step 6: Establish yourself on Instagram. You’ve never used Instagram before, but hey, it’s free and like everybody is doing it, so it can’t be all that hard, right? Your BFF promises it’s easy and painless, plus you get to follow accounts like HotDudesReading, which is more or less porn for bookworms, but without the risk of viruses or the awkward shame of having watched actual porn and then questioning how badly you’ve disappointed everyone you’ve ever slept with.

Step 7: Find the Instagram app on Google play and hit Install. Spend an hour deleting old pictures, podcasts you’re never going to relisten to, and screenshots of FB posts from ex-boyfriends that you had to commiserate over with your BFF. Now that you have enough space, proceed to download the app. Get the 30 second tutorial from your BFF. Follow as many bookstagrammers as you can find. Holy heck there are like ten million people on this platform posting amazing artistic shots of books and bookshelves organized rainbowgorically, and they all drink fancy coffee beverages and wear adorable socks and have forty different species of organic tree branches and flowers on hand to complement any book cover plus an arsenal of artisan hand-crafted blankets for backdrops of their daily book still lifes…

Step 8: Look around at your messy apartment, piles of books accumulating on every conceivable surface and arsenal of hand-me-down baby blankets. Decide you’re going to have to do this bookstagram thing a little differently… And you should probably invest some time picking up your apartment.

Step 9: Ok, now that your place is tidier (until the weekend when your 6-year-old will wreck the place while you “sleep in” until 9 am), take a picture of a bookshelf to use as your profile pic. Hey – a picture of your own shelf – a shelfie! Text your BFF the clever new word you invented. Do not feel dismayed when she informs you, “Yeah, that’s a thing already…”

Step 10: Update your profile with a link to your super cute website! No one’s really looking at what you’re doing yet, so it’s no big deal that the site’s not live and it’s a dead link. Make sure to use a hashtag that references your site with every photo you post.

Step 11: Once you’ve got a few shots up on Instragram and you’re remembering to take pictures of the bookish activities you do throughout the week, you will begin to enjoy the delight of strangers “liking” your photos. You’ll even start to feel an odd sense of kinship and affection for a fellow bookstagrammer who likes all your pics, plus she posts some really adorable stuff and appears to work in a library! Check your cyber-friend-crush, but gush to a friend about how incredibly cool Instagram is because it allows you to connect with strangers who like the same things you do, without the self-consciousness of everyone you know judging the pictures you take or filters you use. Being an anonymous book lover on the internet is great, isn’t it? An introvert’s dream…

Step 12: Take a really funny photo of the “how to do a self-breast exam” pamphlet you’ve been using as a bookmark and inadvertently displaying in public as you read in the Mr. Tire waiting area. Decide to share on your bookstagram and personal Facebook account. You’ve seen someone share an Instagram photo on Facebook before but you couldn’t see their Instagram handle, so there must be some form of sharing while keeping your accounts separate, right? Since posting photos to Fb always seems to crash your phone, load your photo onto Instagram and click the little Fb icon.

Step 13: Wonder why your photo hasn’t posted to your Fb page.

Step 14: Wonder why Instagram is suddenly sending you an onslaught of push notifications. How in the Hell did people you know IRL find you on Instragram?

Step 15: Curse Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, whatever asshole invented the internet, and the Gods of the WorldWideWeb. Oh, really???? Screw you Instagram for not warning me that you were instantly going to tell every last one of my Facebook connections about this very personal, nascent foray into developing an online persona…

Step 16: As the friends, acquaintances, co-workers and former students that you hoped would never know about this secret desire to join the world of book bloggers begin to message you about your website, discover that your site is, in fact, live. And it’s clearly a template. And you feel like you are in one of those dreams where you show up to school/work/a wedding wearing only your underwear.

Perfect! Now that you’ve created your social media accounts and gotten your feet wet with fucking things up, it’s time to do the real work…

How to Start a Blog in 53 Easy Steps (Part Two)

Part Two – Do the Legwork

Word to the Wise

Impulsivity: a blessing that frees you to do really dumb shit that will later make you anxious and question whether you should be permitted to handle any money or adult decisions.

Step 1: Get a website. WordPress, you’ve heard wordpress is good, and it’s free. Plus, you’ve seen “Wordpress” listed as a desired skill in a lot of job openings, so this is totally going to help your budding career and keep in alignment with your current goal of learning things that will buff up your resume.

Step 2: Ok, so WordPress is more confusing than you thought. Apparently it refers both to open source software and a blog-hosting platform. Find a button somewhere on a wordpress website that says “start a blog”. Click that button.

Step 3: Confer with your BFF via text to decide on a name. “That Book Life”. It’s brilliant. Catchy. Definitely has the right feel.

Step 4: Find out that your desired name is taken. (But for reals, kudos to thatbooklife.com for having an awesome name. Blog on, you kindred spirit!) Back to the drawing board.

Step 5: Come up with a new name, but be really reluctant to stray from the name you first fell in love with. Answer a few work emails while you think this over. Goddammit, why do they think I know the difference between an expiration and best by date? Aren’t they two different ways of saying “shelf life”? EUREKA! That.Shelf.Life. Text your BFF your terribly clever new idea. Immediately question whether it is at all clever or just a stupid word association…

Step 6: She’s on board?! Good. Register that domain name. Now! Hurry, before the evil internet overlords who monitor Google trends and buy domain names based on searches buy up yours! A .com is definitely worth the higher price tag. And yeah, you probably should fork over the extra money to keep your personal address private. The last thing you need is come creep obsessing over your reading selfies and showing up at your house, spying on your through your open blinds. Seriously – you’ve got to remember to close your blinds when it gets dark out.

Alright! You’ve got a website! You’ll have to get together with your BFF to decide what you’ll each write about first and how you want the site to look. But you definitely should not try going to your site on another computer to see whether it’s LIVE and just a template. Because don’t websites require you to hit a “publish” button or something before other people can see them? Don’t worry, if you don’t know the answer to this question yet, some of your closest friends will soon enlighten you. But first…

How to Start a Blog in 53 Easy Steps

Part One: Decide to Become a Blogger

Word to the Wise

Becoming: (adj) flattering a person’s appearance; (noun) the process of coming to be something or of passing into a state.

Step 1: Notice the Book Riot annual call for writers. Remember this time last year when you decided to apply then never did. Decide that this year, you are actually going to apply.

Step 2: In preparation for applying, brainstorm over 50 ideas for clever posts about books. Pat yourself on the back, you’re halfway there!

Step 3: Get really busy with life. I mean really busy. Overextend yourself with a demanding job and a long commute, while also raising a child and running a household on your own. Top it all off by taking a class at community college to improve your job skills and do more “art”. Do not write anything.

Step 4: Realize you have not written anything, and decide, “I’ll go for it next year. That gives me an entire year to prepare the most perfect bookish blog posts the world has ever seen!”

Step 5: Have an epiphany – if you didn’t go for it last year, and you don’t go for it this year, there’s about a 0.000000006% chance you’re actually going to work on your blogging skills in the next 12 months. And the likelihood that you’ll do it the following year is the square root of that. In fact, the following formula applies:

La = √(Ti÷n)

Where, La = the likelihood of accomplishing something,

Ti= the amount of time you’ve already invested in it

and N = the number of months you’ve put it off already

Step 6: Re-commit yourself. The deadline is tomorrow, you’ve already got those 50+ great ideas for topics. Sit down. Write.

Step 7: Type out that clever middle paragraph you’ve been crafting in your head for weeks now. Ahhh, that feels good, doesn’t it?

Step 8: Realize you have nothing else to say on this topic, or, at least, nothing that sounds in the least bit clever or engaging. Oh shit, I have to be clever and engaging? All the time?

Step 9: Repent all the mean things you said about a certain-other-blogger and how incredibly dull all her posts are. (I mean, really, who can read that drivel? It’s worse than teen angst poetry about the boy you have a crush on, and at least that can still elicit emotion, even if the emotion it elicits is utter cringe-inducing humiliation…)

Step 10: Re-recommit yourself. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you just have to get it written. You don’t expect to actually get chosen to write for Book Riot, because there are a metric s*ton of really amazing book bloggers out there already. This is more about fulfilling a promise to yourself.

Step 11: Write. Just write. Write anything. You will learn two things: 1) blogging is f’ing hard – you have to find a voice that is authentic and engaging, but not forced. Turns out, all those brilliant ideas in your head don’t translate into brilliant, poignant, funny, thought-provoking blog posts as easily as you thought they would. And 2) You cannot be a perfectionist if you’re going to do this. Nothing is ever going to sound just right, and the only way to get better is to practice. (Bonus lesson #3 – you way overuse lists. Seriously, get that shit under control, you’re confusing people.)

Step 12: Finish your two sample pieces. They suck, but they’re yours. If you had infinite time, you would carefully hone them, craft more compelling sentences, and use every word to knock your audience out of the park emotionally.

Step 13: (optional) Decide never to use sports analogies. Ever. You know nothing about sports. Don’t kid yourself.

Step 14: Submit your shitty samples. Feel an overwhelming sense of pride – you’ve overcome yourself and actually finished a thing you promised yourself you would do. You make you proud. High five yourself. Realize that high fiving yourself is clapping and you look like an idiot. Thank God no one saw that. You should probably close the blinds though, because it’s midnight and your light is on, and oh God – what if your neighbors saw that??? What if they can see you slouched over your laptop in your unkempt bed and your scrungy old-tee-shirt pajamas???

Step 15: Now that the outside world is properly screened out, give in to the burning desire to tell someone what you’ve just accomplished. Text your two closest friends. Wait – why are you texting all those people? You don’t seriously want all those people to know you’ve put yourself out there for an incredibly cool opportunity that requires real talent, do you, you egomaniacal narcissist???

Step 16: Read your best friend’s reply text: “That is so freaking awesome! I want to apply!”

Step 17: Come to the final realization, text it to her: “OMG DUDE, WE SHOULD TOTALLY START OUR OWN BOOKISH BLOG”

Congratulations! You’ve made the important decision to commit more of the time you don’t have to a project that will require dedication and patience. There’s no way your perfectionist self is going to hate you for this! And your anxiety totally isn’t going to tell you that everything you write sounds dumb and you’re disappointing your dearest friend by not being more on the ball and writing more regularly… Trust me, the rest is going to be a cakewalk!