Instagram for Introverts

Taking this photo was a big deal for me. It sounds incredibly silly, but as an introvert, I find it super hard to just “be” in public. I’m working on coming out of my shell, owning my space in public, and working in places like coffee shops. Here, oddly enough, my imaginary audience is helpful – spurring me on to actually get working, and not to scroll through social media feeds. I sit on the bar – computer facing inwards for ultimate accountability.

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What is art?

I pushed myself out of my comfort zone last night. I sat in a hall, surrounded by creatives at a local creative entrepreneur event in Victoria, BC.  Why would that be out of your comfort zone, you ask? Wouldn’t you be right at home, and among “your people?” The answer is - I don’t know. If you’re looking for conclusions, read no further. All that follows are the strange thoughts and feelings provoked by attending such an event.

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Here we go again

Well, here we are over a year later -- a year wiser. Last year was hectic to say the least -- even though they were all happy things (got married, threw a wedding party, and bought a condo in my dream neighbourhood) it left very little time for anything creative. Now things have settled down, I’ve settled down, and had a chance to look around and figure out how to fit Teacups and Spectacles into my life.

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Flowers and Cakes

As a budget conscious and fairly aesthetic person, wedding planning has been a bit nerve wracking. I really can't see spending a lot of money, but I'd rather do nothing than do something half-assed or tacky (which of course, is in the eye of the beholder.) I've been super lucky, and got my dress as a sample, a veil for half price, $30 dollar wedding shoes, and found out that an "elopement package" for flowers is really quite inexpensive. 

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My Conference Experience

In May I attended my first conference ever - Social Media Camp. It's hosted in Victoria every year, so I got to stay in my hometown, which was super convenient. There were a ton of great speakers with extremely interesting and industry relevant talks. I was also curious about conference scene. What would it be like? 

The Conference

Fortunately, the week of the conference, I developed what I thought was strep throat (my boyfriend's tonsils were green the week earlier - a fair assumption) which turned into the nastiest cold of my life. As an introvert, I was already terrified to attend something where "mix and mingle" was written into the schedule of events (along with a dreaded karaoke night), but having to blow my nose constantly, consume Halls cough drops like they were candy, and intermittently breaking into a head-to-toe sweat from being ill, really rounded off the conference experience. Being the most disgusting you can be really doesn't instil confidence in oneself and handshaking just seemed mean. (Hand sanitizer was applied liberally.) Thankfully I met a companion at my least gross stage during the first day, so it was nice to have someone to discuss (commiserate on?) the day's events with. Still, it was a LONG three days. 

My take aways from the conference experience: Be prepared for the worst. Pack kleenex, every possible cold remedy on hand (you don't want to be that person coughing during the recording), and a ton of snacks. I really underestimated the importance of food - but 9 hours is a long time to go on the greasy chicken sandwich that was only marginally appetizing at lunch. Depending on the area you are - you might not really have access to food. The conference centre is a really neat building attached to the historic Empress Hotel (so amazing!) but there really aren't a lot of places to dash in to get a snack (hence our venture to People's Drug Mart for a sawdust like Lara Bar and apple juice).  Attending sessions, as enthralling or boring as they may be, feels a lot like attending a lecture at university and can be super tiring, especially on day 3. I was definitely not one of the ones at the after party. 

Anyways, here's the relevant part you probably wanted to read about. While I sat trying not to blow my nose, I took 9 pages of notes. Here are some of the main takeaways...

Content is King

You need to educate your audience. You need to give them something valuable to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. If you're looking to grow your business - get yourself out there and create something that can be shared on social networks or downloaded by prospective clients. 

Use Social Media to Recruit

You need to establish your company's identity before hiring. What is the culture? Are your employees happy? They are your "brand ambassadors" and what they say about your workplace, casually to their friends, or formally to someone inquiring, can have long reaching effects. People will remember the praises sung by happy employees and might look to your company when unhappy at their current job. 

Create a Brand Story

Who are you and what are your brand's values? These should seep into every level of your business. You should ask yourself "does that align with our values?" each time you make a decision. (This also helps with the above section) By having an emotional mission statement (that's the best way I can describe this) you can weave stories that people care about in your marketing. For example, if you were a life coach and your mission statement was "Helping People Realize Their Dreams" (okay a bit cheesy) you could showcase your customer's experiences in a series of blog posts, tracking their journey that started with your services. 

Be #Disruptive

The speaker discussed creating the campaign for the ugly sweater party/run etc. in Vancouver. It was a very impressive presentation. Thinking outside the box, being fun, putting together something larger than life that will capture people's interests are all great strategies. 

I have a passion for social media, so I'm sure I'll be discussing it more in future posts. 

Have you ever been to a conference? What was your experience?

- Karen

 

From the Archives...

When I created this website, I wanted a fresh start. A new platform (a blog post is coming about that), a new name, a new look. However, when I was putting the last finishing touches on the current site, I felt a pang of sadness. I was more of a dabbling blogger for the few years I was active, but I still had created content that took some effort, and it was sad to throw it away. So, I decided to import all of my old content into this website as kind of an Archive. 

A bit of history

Initially I created a blog on blogger called "Blue Anchor Crafts". In between my history degree and starting my Medical Office Assistant training, I knitted like mad, creating 50+ dolls and selling them to family, friends and acquaintances. I attended a craft fair and sold
a few of my wares. (Last year a donated quite a few of the dolls I had made to a children's charity for christmas.)

Blue Anchor was also my first foray into graphic design and web design. The blog
contained simple graphics, I used Picnik (now Picmonkey) to edit my photos, and
used image mapping to make my links (definitely not responsive!!). It makes me cringe
a little now, but it's the same as looking back at an old sketch book. You need to try to make mistakes and learn. 

Design Disaster Management 

So, I've tried to clean up some of the content - deleting the worst of the cringe-worthy DIY designed collages etc. There are remaining photos that are a little over-filtered. I seemed to have a love of coloured rounded borders that mystifies me all these years later. (I couldn't help it - I cropped those out where I could!) The photos imported a bit smaller than I'd like, but I think it's worth keeping the posts around, even if they're not perfect. 

A lot of the posts from that time are Tuesday Treasures - curated, usually themed lists of goods from Etsy sellers, prefaced with a brief update. It's been kind of fun to read back over the posts as I've been cleaning them up, seeing which year had a cold rainy summer, or remembering my life in the midst of MOA training and how overwhelming that was. Being a bit of a perfectionist, it's healthy for me to include where I've come from, not just where I'm going. I'm sure as my skills evolve, I will always feel slightly contemptuous to what I've created. I'm going to consciously guard against this. 

Anyways, that's the history of the archives on this blog. I hope to keep creating fresh content! 

 

Let's see some spectacles

Etsy Love - Vintage and Handmade Admiration

I'm a little bit Etsy obsessed, so to make me feel better about perusing the site when I probably should be exercising (shhh), I'll share collections of vintage and handmade items from the site from time to time. Click on the pictures to go to the listing (I'll list them below as well) If you're in love - hopefully you'll make it in time to snap it up!

As you probably can tell, I'm a vintage style glasses admirer. I remember buying my first pair of "out there" frames a few years ago. A brand new pair of pink translucent cat's eyes glasses from Clearly Contacts. I remember thinking they were almost too crazy for work! Bold eyewear is definitely more acceptable (encouraged?) now, which is super fun. I've enjoyed some of my less expensive pairs from Clearly Contacts (seriously - if you don't know, a pair of glasses can be $40.00 with lenses!! It's not as much of a commitment when they're so cheap, which was always the terrifying part when you're shelling out hundreds of dollars for frames at the optometrist.) I've added some sweet 1960's frames (like the guys on Mad Men wear) and a pair of tortoise shell cats eyes to my collection - which probably total to one pair from a shop. 

I've always wanted a pair of vintage glasses. I purchased an inexpensive pair off Etsy a few years back, but they were almost child sized and severely cats eyed (almost vertical!) so I can't help but laughing whenever I try them on. One day I'm going to purchase a real pair of flattering vintage frames. The quality of things back then were fantastic, and the glasses were definitely more intricate and ornate. I enjoy the history behind wearing something from the midcentury era... something someone actually did or could have worn. 

Challenges & Breakthroughs

Sorry things have been rather quiet around here lately. I've been working on the behind the scenes things and things are slowly coming together. It's always easy to plan and dream and brainstorm, but not always as easy to implement these notions. Let's start with the positives..

The breakthroughs: 

1) I have come up with a way to colourize my drawings to look as good as they can look. While this might seem trivial, it was devastating to create a lovely pencil crayon illustration, that when scanned looked like a bad wax crayon drawing with grey outlines. Now I draw my images in pencil, ink with a fine tipped pen, create a vector outline in Illustrator and colour in Photoshop. It's actually less work than it sounds, and I'm left with clean lines, beautiful textures, and truer colours. I'm very happy about this development. 

2) I've narrowed down the type of paper I like for the cards, and it is quite textured. I normally would have thought the texture would look too old fashioned and take away from the images, but it really sets things off. I'm looking for a bit thicker of a paper, I think. Nice sturdy cards appeal to me. 

3) I've completed Illustrator and Photoshop in school and am thrilled with what in able to do. I was working with a super old version of Corel photo paint... Like 1998... And it's so nice to be able to navigate its programs effectively. 

4) I'm edging closer to HTML and website building and can finally put my plans into action. I've sketched out menus, landing pages, shop layouts etc. and I'm so excited to actually make things work. I did my first HTML class on Tuesday, and I'm super excited to get started!

Stay tuned for the challenges!

Thanks for reading,

-Karen

Changes

Hello everyone.

I keep apologizing for being M.I.A, but this time there really is a reason. Taking my class, and re-reading the book "The Handmade Marketplace" has got me scheming, and planning and full of ideas.

While I've completed the Photoshop portion of my schooling and am starting on an overview of Illustrator.. the most important part of the course is

web design. 

I've dreamed up a website that encompasses this bloggalleries etc and ties in the illustration aspect of what I do, as well as the knitting. I've been in the rough stages of starting a card line and would like to share more of that here. I want to re-brand and rename and redesign everything as well.

When I started Blue Anchor.. it was more about crafts... and sea glass jewellery, and wine charms. Besides knitting, there's not a whole lot of crafting going on (at least not regularly). I'd like to emphasize my two loves: drawing and knitting, as well as share some of my (very amateur) photography, my thrift store and etsy finds, and a little behind the scenes getting my cards launched, learning web design and maybe the occasional craft fair.

I'm very "bipolar" when it comes to organization--- part of me always wants to classify things too closely and be super organized, while the other part wants to not feel pigeonholed by being too specific. I think that's what's going on here.. it feels disjointed having both

Blue Anchor Crafts

and

Dearest Doodles

... so hopefully tying them together will create a stronger, more unified image, and also encourage me to write a lot more!

 It' s a ton of work, and might be a long process (as I don't really know much about webdesign besides plugging generated html things into blogger and messing about.) I'll probably be using Wordpress too, as that's what my school is teaching.

Anyways, I'm just checking in to say that you will be seeing some exciting changes around here in the next (err... six months? year?), and the finished product (if it turns out to be anything like I've imagined) will be worth the wait. I might not blog on here as consistently in the meantime, but I am planning to share some of my steps in the right direction or any big news that comes my way (ie, planning a card-line, perhaps even selling something?!)

I thank you for reading and for your support. I'm excited to see what the future will bring, and will keep you updated on the new changes as they come.

Thanks so much for reading,

-Karen

Tuesday Treasures

Hello,

I know I've been a little MIA,  but I've been learning loads of things in Photoshop at school lately, so my time has been a little occupied. This weekend I fiddled around with the program, designed a blog mockup for a friend, and made a mother's day card. I'm really excited about the things I'm learning---- I feel like I can work towards some of my goals now that I can improve my images! Yay!

This week, I  tried out contacts. I can't decide about them, I have two trial pairs, and it's a little difficult to focus on my computer screen at work. I'll probably investigate further, but I've decided that I really don't mind myself in glasses--- I might actually prefer it!  You can wear more eye makeup without looking tacky, you don't have to wear as much jewellery, and there's always the sexy librarian/secretary thing, right? Haha. I went on Etsy and found the most flamboyant glasses I could find. Go big or go home, right?

Here they are:

I love the squareness of these beautiful cats-eye glasses

Arrows!?! So fun.

These are kind of spacey.... like retro-sci-fi

These baby blues are just toooo pretty.

It's like brooches for your eyes! (Okay, that's a gross simile... but you know what I mean!)

These are incredibly funky

These are extremely mod... Love!

Links: 

Thanks for reading! Do you wear glasses or contacts? Which do you prefer?

Tuesday Treasures

Hello, hope everyone had a great weekend!

Though I managed to find myself with a rather achy cold, I had a lovely weekend. Lots of movies, dachshund snuggles, spicy food, and organization (well, my computer, not my house unfortunately.) I'm still on the hunt for a decent jacket, but I've narrowed in on a shop that might carry what I'm looking for. I have teensy shoulders, so no jackets ever fit properly. I basically look like a line-backer.... or I raise my hands and the jacket goes up to my ribs.   It's pretty windy, and rains a lot in Victoria, so a jacket is kind of a year-round necessity (we didn't get a real summer until the end of August last year, either!) I've been spending a lot more time outside, and have been enjoying it! I have lots of pictures to post from various excursions... one day I'll have time to post them!

Work and school have made me a very busy bee. I've decided to only knit (when I can, that is, my wrist is still unhappy) dolls for the craft fair I want to attend this winter. Custom orders are lovely, but it's just not as spontaneous, there are deadlines, and sometimes I'm just not as excited about what I'm doing...  I'll definitely start up again once I have a better handle on life, but as it is, I just can't. It feels kind of good to come to this realization... when you have too many things on your plate (and I still do...) it gets overwhelming. I just need to putter along at my own pace with my side projects for now.

There isn't really a theme this week, just pretty things in lovely springy colours! Enjoy!

Tuesday Treasures

We put on a baby shower for my cousin's sweet baby boy this weekend. The decorations stayed up, yummy food was eaten, but most importantly it was a lovely chance to catch up with family-- especially ones from out of town. My other cousin is having a baby in the summer, so it's an exciting time. It makes my heart happy to envision little ones running around together at family events in the future.

I'm embarking on a pretty busy week, but had a productive weekend. I sat in a coffee shop for the first time in years with my notebook. I wrote down a bunch of ideas and it was super helpful. Feeling kinda pumped about my endeavors, even if they are rather exhausting.My hand is also falling off from attempting to get back into knitting, but it felt so good to knit again. I'm on the list for a CT scan, which might give some answers. Wish me luck!

This week's Tuesday Treasures is all about toys! I know I've posted similar things in the past but I just love a good, quality, handmade toy!

Love the shape of this airplane

I adore the organic look of this hedgehog toy. Isn't he sweet?

I almost want to buy one of these now for my future child. That's how much I love this.

Crochet veggies are more fun than plastic.. you can even cuddle with them!

Seriously, check this out. Best dress up props EVER! Let your imagination soar!

Links:

Old England Inn

There is a place near where my parents grew up, called the Old England Inn. Well, it's called the "English Inn and Resort Now". The other day when I was driving by, I saw that there was a rezoning sign. After panicking a bit, I read an article in the newspaper saying they're wanting to tear down some of the out buildings and the replica of Anne Hathaway's cottage to subdivide. I decided to walk up and take some photographs....

A little history. The manor house was originally called "Rosemeade" (so pretty!) and was built in 1906. It was built in a Tudor style (which I absolutely adore). In the 1950s/60s it became a bit of a tourist attraction... quaint, quirky, and kind of kitschy. Tudor+history+kitsch = amazing. They used to have tours too. 

My grandparents stayed at this hotel when they were newly weds. My mother worked in the kitchens here in high school. My dad was a waiter at the same time. He did this dressed in a doublet and knickerbockers... as the restaurant was themey. I remember eating there as a small child and having a kids menu that featured knights and ladies, and being served by a lady in a long dress that laced up the front with big sleeves. The inside was full of beautiful carvings and grand rooms. It was truly awe inspiring for a kid. 

I forgot to mention, my parents were married there in on a sunny winter day in 1986. My mum threw her bouquet from a window in the grand hallway. I always thought I would get married there too when I was older.... unfortunately it has fallen into disrepair. 

They stopped offering dinners (which is terrible, as the restaurant is walking distance to my parents house, in a large residential area with poor dining options), the grounds are overgrown and unloved-looking, and they repainted the house (probably with great expense) a taupe and rust colour, which is so bland compared to its white and black Tudor glory. They took out the beautiful carved staircase and replaced it with a finger-print infested glass railing. They added leather couches and made it look modern... too modern. It just seems like someone had the wrong vision for the place, and now it has failed... the reviews are terrible... poor service, gross rooms, bad breakfast, and owners that didn't seem to care about their guest's experience. It's such a shame to see a place with such potential being mismanaged.

There's so much family history here, it breaks my heart to see that some of it might get torn down. I'm hoping that they can restore it to its former glory, with a nice family restaurant to walk to, updated rooms full of happy paying customers, with the unique and well maintained grounds its so well known for.