If at First You Don’t Succeed . . . .

Last year Para Paints introduced the Para Paints Blog Crew, and with the enticement of 15 gallons worth of free paint I blogged about what I would do if I was chosen as a member. Unfortunately I wasn’t one of the lucky few.

This year at Blog Podium they announced that the Blog crew would be back for a second year. Yippee – a second chance! A member of the crew still gets you a years worth of free paint, $250 towards painting supplies, and social media exposure, but this year they’re offering up the chance to name a colour – how neat is that? Haven’t you ever wondered how they come up with some of the names for paint colours? Seriously – there are hundreds if not thousands of different colours available – how do they name them all? (Personally, I believe there’s heavy usage of dictionaries and thesauruses).

Of course, it couldn’t be as easy as writing a blog post this year, this year they upped the ante – to be considered as a potential member of the 2014 Para Paints Blog Crew bloggers had to submit a video detailing what they would do in their space over the year. WHAT?

My immediate reaction was ‘Nope – not going to do it. That’s scary, and I don’t want to put myself out there like that’. Some people would say that blogging is already putting myself out there, but even though I’m sharing my thoughts on things that interest me, I’m still feel like I have a bit of anonymity – I can hide behind the keyboard a little bit. Video on the other hand is different – you can see me, and not some carefully chosen photo at the top of my sidebar, but me in ‘real life’ without the downcast gaze and the zit carefully removed from my chin. What’s more, with a video you can hear me, which is a rather foreign concept in my blogging world where I communicate solely via my written words. What if I sound funny? What if I suddenly start using ‘um’ and ‘like’ every second word? What if, what if, what if? Before Para had even finished their video presentation about the 2014 Blog Crew I had decided that it just wasn’t for me.

A couple of weeks went by and then I finally started writing my post about BlogPodium, and as I was typing out my notes from Sarah Richardson’s keynote speech a couple of points jumped out at me: Sarah Richardson - take risksThere it was – why was I not even going to give making a video a try? What did I have to loose? If I tried it, and I was completely out of my element then I could stop recording, and even though it didn’t work I would have at least tried to do something new – I would have pushed those boundaries just a wee bit.

It turns out recording a video is a lot of hard work – setting up shots takes a while, and then there’s the actual taking of the video. I had genius plan to write out my script, but it turned out I couldn’t see that far without squinting – not really the look on video I was going for. Then I thought I could set up my laptop on the coffee table below the camera, and have it scroll slowly through the script (rather like the opening scene of Star Wars), but I couldn’t get the speed right so I either sounded like I was racing to finish, or I had to pause periodically to wait for more words to appear – either way it wasn’t working. In the end I ended up just winging it – I looked at the camera, opened my mouth, spoke for what seemed like ages, and then hit the stop record button. Then of course there was editing the video – there’s nothing like learning new software on a deadline.

Anyways, after all that I decided that since I’d gone to all that trouble to step outside my comfort zone, I might as well go one step farther and share it with the world, so here you go – me, way outside my comfort zone:

Ta-Da! What do you think?  I have to say I’m rather pleased – I only said ‘um’ twice, and not a single ‘like’

There were nine bloggers who submitted videos, so I’m going to ask you a favour – Para has posted all the videos on their Facebook page, please head over there and watch them, and ‘like’ and comment on the ones you like. I know how hard each of them worked on their videos, and if they’re like me they found it scary to put themselves out there so show them how much their efforts are appreciated.

If all goes well, I’ll hopefully be chosen as a member of the 2014 Para Blog Crew and, as luck would have it, I’ve already come up with the name for my paint colour – ‘Homeboner white’. It has a nice right to it, doesn’t it?

BlogPodium 2013 – A Long Delayed recap

On Saturday September 21st I had the amazing opportunity to attend BlogPodium for the 3rd time (you can read about the previous years here and here).  This time the conference was an expanded all-day affair with 250 marvelous bloggers from across Canada and even a few from the US.

It’s been a few weeks since I attended the conference, and even though there are quite a number of really good recaps already done by attendees (you can read them here) I still wanted to do a post to share some of what I learned for those of you who didn’t go, and so I always know where my notes are ;)Blogpodium - Sarah Richardson

  • A business grows out of passion
  • When I was a kid, and I got sent to my room, I would just rearrange the furniture
  • The best thing you can do is get out there and do it – that’s how you learn and grow.
  • If you believe it, if you can dream it, I’m here to tell you it can happen – you can do it
  • When online (as with in life) think about what you’re saying, and how it will make the world a better place. Never forget the written word is a powerful thing.
  • Whether it’s your blog or your designs, you should have a signature style – it should reflect you
  • You need to have a point of view and a unique perspective in order to move ahead.
  • Never create something you wouldn’t be happy to have in your own home.
  • Design is about experimenting – about trying new things . . .I encourage you to push the boundaries
  • If you’re not comfortable in your home, nobody else will be comfortable in your home
  • Don’t over think it – Make a decision and move on
  • Trust your gut – if it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right
  • It’s never worth rushing
  • Always ask – will I be proud of this in 5 years?
  • On work/life balance – There needs to be a balance – you need to have a life


  • Set Goals
    • Make short-term goals throughout the year
    • Review them periodically
    • Little goals should lead to big goals
    • Remember – don’t compare yourself to others – they have different goals
  • Prioritize
    • Accept that not everything will get done right away
    • Spend your time in useful ways, and spend it working towards your goals
    • Ask yourself what you need to get done that day and do it
    • Do what makes you feel productive that day
  • Using Organizational tools
    • Use what works for you – personalize your workflow
    • Make a to-do list
    • Use feedly, Bloglovin, Instapaper, Pinterest
    • Use a paper agenda
    • Use Evernote
    • Use an editorial calendar
    • Make notes of your ideas
  • Make the Tough decisions
    • Learn to say no – it might be hard, but in the long run it will make your life easier
    • Time is your greatest asset – invest it wisely
    • Do what works for you
  • Time Management
    • Use and editorial calendar
    • Work backwards from holidays if you’re planning a specific post
    • Brainstorm, prep, and plan ahead
    • Set up a blogging time slot everyday – write posts, plan, set goals
    • Figure out what time you work best – mornings, evenings, are you a night owl?
    • Do the task that have to be done today – stop procrastinating
    • Make your blog a priority
  • Manage emails
    • Reduce incoming emails – unsubscribe to anything to don’t read – you can always re-subscribe later
    • Aim for a zero inbox – use folders, file, delete, archive
    • Use templates for responses to frequently received emails
  • Social Media engagement
    • Rule of thirds – stick to three social media networks –chose the ones you like
    • Be active, be engaged, have a conversation
    • Use Hootsuite or similar for organization and automation of planned posts
    • Use a mix of social media for communication – don’t use all for the same post
  • Networking
    • Embrace positive networking opportunities
    • Attend blogger conferences, media previews
    • Meet new people and collaborate
    • Engage with your community
    • Learn and teach – share what you learn with others
  • Personal time
    • It’s important – take the time for yourself as needed to relax and recharge
    • Step away from the computer!
    • Learn something new
    • Celebrate your achievements
    • Find inspiration offline
    • SLEEP!!!!


  • There is no better place to spend your marketing $
  • Social media engages your customers
  • Allows you to get to know your audience, and for them to know you
  • Social media is a relationship first, selling second
  • From Neil Gazmen at Westelm – Instagram is our largest source of engagement – new products posted often sell out
  • From Meredith Heron – streamline your social media posting – use Instagram to process photos, auto post those to Facebook and Twitter. Then use those photos in your blog posts. Pin pictured from your blog to Pinterest
  • Use Hashtags for Projects
  • Meredith Heron Social Media stats:
    • Joined twitter March 2010
    • As of Sept 14,2013 – had 122,900 tweets and 9930 followers
    • Residential projects to date secured via social media (Pinterest, Instagram, etc) $1.4 million
    • Commercial projects: $500K.
  • Try the Echofon app.


  • Promote your own website
    • Submit it to other websites – curbly, Lifehacker, dwellinggawker, craftgawker
    • Comment on blogs, and try to be the first, second or third comment
    • Reply to comments on your own blog
    • Devote a certain amount of time each week to promoting your blog
    • Advertise on bigger websites
  • Check your Google page rank – the higher your rank the more you’re paid per click with Google Adsense
    • Links from large established blogs help build your page rank
  • CTR – Click Through Rate
  • CPC – Cost per click
  • CPM – Cost per thousand impressions
  • Vertical ad networks – they put ads on the sidebar of your blog. Some networks are:
    • Glam Media
    • Blogher
    • SheBlogs Canada
    • Haven Home
    • Federated Media
  • If signing up with a vertical ad network ask what their CPM, and fill rates are
  • Sell ads on your own site – Etsy sellers will be looking to advertise for Christmas
    • Generally 125px x 125px ads
  • Write an ebook
  • Sell stuff via your blog – use shopify
  • When working with magazines
    • If one of your images is good enough to for a magazine it’s good enough for you to be paid for it
    • Writing for an online magazine = $0.50/word, print magazines = $1/word
    • Photo in an online magazine – credit and link, and possibly a small fee ($25-50)
    • Photo in a print magazine: Canadian mag: $75-200, American mag: $100-400, Cover $1,500+
  • Look at your blog as a business and treat it as such
  • Call and email people and ask to work with them

I have to say it was a wonderful day, and I learned SO much. There were several other seminars which I didn’t get to attend, but thankfully we can read the presentation notes for those here (I wish I attended the Photography and Instagram workshop)

I hope to be able to implement some of the points I outlined above (especially the ones on balancing blogging and working) in the next little while. This blog, like everything, is a work in progress. I learn new things, and try new things, and hopefully it becomes better for it.

Did you go to BlogPodium? Are you already looking forward to the next one like I am? What did you learn? Have you already implemented some of those things?

*The Photo of Sarah Richardson is from her website. The last three photos used in the title images are by Anna with Love

Monday Morning Love – New Greatness From Ikea

Morning everyone! I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe we’re at the start of another week already! I had a very busy weekend – I attended BlogPodium on Saturday, and had class all day Sunday which means I’m writing this at 2:30am – apologies in advance for any spelling or grammar mistakes.

I have to say that my Saturday was amazing – I’m hoping to write-up a full post on my experience, and the wonderful bloggers I met, and the tonnes of stuff I learned, but for now I’ll just say that the keynote speaker was the lovely Sarah Richardson (yes, that Sarah Richardson) which was a thrill in itself. Sunday’s class was Kitchen Design. It’s only a four-week course, but it runs from 10am to 5pm, so it makes for a long day. Yesterday’s class was in a furniture showroom, and I have to say I never knew there were so many rules when it came to where everything in a kitchen is placed.

Today’s Monday Morning Love post is a little different because I honestly didn’t have the time to search the web for an inspiring and beautiful space – instead I went to my inbox. Because of this wee hobby of mine I am periodically sent media releases from companies promoting their new products. Ikea sent me an email about a week ago with some new products for October, and I thought I’d share – I think you’ll understand why.

Ikea Ovre Toddlre bed - $96 (frame)

Ikea Ovre Toddlre bed – $96 (frame)

I don’t have kids, but most of my friends do. There’s some debate as to the value of a toddler bed, but this one (called Ovre) may sway some opinions. I think it’s adorable, and the bunting makes it even cuter (and I would love that stuffed shark).

Ikea Ranarp Lamps - Desk Lamp and Pendant lamp - $40ea.

Ikea Ranarp Lamps – Desk Lamp and Pendant lamp – $40ea.

I think these new Ranarp lamps are simple and classic, and therefore beautiful. It’s available in a desk, and a pendant lamp, as well as a floor lamp that I think I may need to own in the near future..

Ikea Fjallberget Chairs - $199 ea.

Ikea Fjallberget Chairs – $199 ea.

My office has some very typical ‘office-style’ chairs in the meeting rooms. These new Fjallberget chairs are oh-so stylish, and now every time I sit in a meeting on the regular boring office chairs I’ll be a bit disappointed.

Ikea Fjalkinge shelving units - $189

Ikea Fjalkinge shelving units – $189

I have a feeling these Fjalkinge shelving units will become a new blogger favourite. They come with four shelves, and you can add drawers. While they’re lovely in white I know that the blogoshere will soon be filled with these shelved spray painted gold, and every colour of the rainbow.

Will you be hoping to see any of the above in person? I know I’ll be using the lamp as an excuse to go to Ikea next month (although I don’t honestly need an excuse to go – the meatballs and icecream are usually enough inducement for me to go).

*All Images by Ikea

EBlurb Books: A Giveaway (Yippee!)

You may recall that last month I had the opportunity to attend BlogPodium. One of the sponsors was Blurb books – they donated all of the lovely notebooks that the attendees were given to make all our copious notes in.

Left picture by Mango Studios. Right pictures are my Blogpodium notebook that was created by Blurb Books.

Books with lovely pictures have always been a favorite of mine, but I like them even more if I know the story behind the pictures. In the back of my mind I’ve always wanted to put together a picture book of my youthful travels to South East Asia, but have always been quite intimidated by what I thought was an arduous process. It turns out I was wrong – it’s really rather simple.

If you had pictures like these wouldn’t you want to make your very own picture book too? L: Me at the Taj Mahal with some gentlemen who were more interested in getting my picture than looking at the beautiful building (2003), R: Riding in a Vietnamese wooden boat (2004)

Blurb books actually have a few ways you can design your own books – you can either use their online tool called ‘Bookify‘ which allows you to use popular layouts to make your book, or you can download their ‘Booksmart‘ software that allows you to customize the layouts and text.

One of the great things about personal picture books is there is no limit to what you can make. While at Blogpodium I stopped by Blurb’s booth, and they had copies of books that some customers had created and they were all wonderful, yet completely different. There were books of Instagram pictures, and books of family vacation photos, and even a book made with a newlywed couple’s wedding photos, but the one that caught my eye was one that was a collection of old family photos and recipes. It was made to celebrate their grandmothers birthday, and it was put together by her children and grandchildren.

Image courtesy of Blurb books – I wish I had taken a picture of the inside – it was gorgeous

Anyways, I received an email from the lovely folks at Blurb books, and they would like to give one of you $35 towards your very own personalized Blurb book! You can use it to create any type of book you like. How neat is that?

Okay, now for the important details – how you can win – you can enter up to three times!

  • Visit the Blurb.com website for ideas, and then leave a comment here telling me what type of book you might like to create.
  • For up to two bonus entries share this contest on Twitter, and then leave a comment letting me know that you did.(Please add @sweetsuite10 and @Blurbbooks to your tweet)
  • This contest will open on June 12th, and will close on June 18th at midnight EST.
  • The winner will be drawn from eligible entries using random.org
  • This contest is open to Canadian readers only.

So, what type of book will you make if you win?

*I was not perked in any way by Blurb for hosting this giveaway.