On this Resources for DIY and Blogging page I would like to share some of my favorite tools (like that tiny gadget that saves my indoor photography) and tips ( got to over 100k monthly views by the 8th month but my site was slow like a snail).
I hope these will be helpful to you along your joyful journey as a creator or a blogger!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. I have experience with all of these companies/products, and I only recommend them because they are helpful and useful.
There are 5 sections outlined below. Feel free to skip to what you need by clicking on one of the titles.
I will add more resources as I learn more!
DIY Resources – Pallets, Wood, Basic tools
It’s so empowering to be able to build something even as simple as these wood crates for our homes! Working with wood and pallets is really fun, and you don’t need lots of expensive tools to start!
One of our favorite tools for working with pallets is a Duckbill Deck Wrecker. We took apart a ton of pallets when we did our pallet outdoor room, and this tool made it so much quicker and easier to take apart pallets! Also here’s a post all about pallets – where to find, how to select and work with pallets, and project ideas!
The first thing to consider when starting your power tool collection ( yes they are adjective!! ) is to decide on one or two brands. Because many tools come in cordless nowadays, and it’s great to have the freedom to take your tools anywhere without dragging a cord. When you have the batteries and charger from one brand, you can get bare tools from this brand again without having to get another battery set.
Then comes Ryobi! Well, this Ryobi Cordless Brad Nailer is amazing, and very few other brands make it. So there we go, got a Ryobi P523 Jig Saw and a Ryobi Reciprocating Saw Kit which included the battery set!
Out of all the tools above, I would start with a drill and a circular saw first. And the Duckbill Deck Wrecker if you love pallets!
The Kreg Jig Pocket Hole System enables us to build simple furniture pieces so much faster. The joints are really strong. When you don’t have a workshop with all the tools to make traditional joinery, this jig is magic.
If you don’t have lots of work space, a portable workbench like this is so useful. You can also build one or find a used one on Craigslist!
DIY Resources – Paper, Arts and Crafts
Paper is an amazing medium to create. I always have this super versatile and nice quality card stock on hand. You can paint on it – these bubble paint hydrangea flowers , make paper crafts –paper lanterns , decoupage your outlet covers, the list goes on!
Brushes for watercolor and acrylics – these brushes are great for all kinds of painting . They have a nice pointed tip great for washes and for finer details.
If you love paper craft, a Silhouette Portrait is the #1 gift for yourself! It can cut from a digital file, so you can just enjoy the most fun part! It can also send a file to your printer to print first then cut, like in this birch forest shadow box!
Blogging Resources – Website Setup, Hosting, Optimization, etc.
When I started this blog in April 2014, I have never built a website or blogged before. After lots of research, I decided on a self-hosted wordpress site using Genesis Framework and Foodie Pro Theme , and I could not be happier with it! It’s a great feeling knowing your site has some of the best designed structures to support it. Foodie Pro Theme has a great dashboard where you can customize fonts, colors and preview it right there, see screen capture below.
When I first started my blog, I was not sure if it would last so I wanted to keep the hosting cost small. When my blog started to get over 120k monthly views by the 7th month, and it was sooo sloooooow to load, I switched to Site5 hosting , and my site instantly got so much faster. The Site5 team goes above and beyond to help me optimize my site so I am still able to keep the hosting fees at only $12 a month with their HostPro Turbo plan even with growing page views!
Update 1/2016: I have switched to Synthesis hosting about 8 months ago. My monthly traffic grew to 350k, and Synthesis has been the fastest hosting I have experienced, with almost no down time! Their service is top notch too. I can grow my traffic to 600k/month, and still pay less than $100 each month, which is unreal.
Site optimization is something we should all keep in mind from day one. ( I did not!) Optimize your images to 72 dpi for web display ( see next section on photos) will reduce the size significantly. Reduce the number of plugins to only what you really need. (still working on that! I’m a plugin junkie! ) The W3 Total Cache free plugin is great at optimizing site performance.
Having a self-hosted website means infinite freedom as your site grows. You can start with a free theme from wordpress. It is so easy to cover hosting cost with Google Adsense. Just install a couple of ads on the side bar, and you will feel like a mega success when you make the first $5!
There is a little bit of learning curve at the very beginning with wordpress site set up. WP Beginner is a good place to start with lots of free tutorials. I learned from googling each question and problem that I came upon. Later I discovered a great ecourse by John from the super amazing blog Minimalist Baker. His WordPress Master ecourse is PACKED with the best tutorials, some are free in the resources section. It filled lots of gaps I was missing from self studying, helped me to optimize my site, and, it would have saved me hundreds of hours of staying up at night looking for answers if I had found it earlier! For those of you who are trying to move from blogger to wordpress, John also has a ecourse – Move Your Site from Blogger to WordPress .
Blogging Resources – Photography
The camera we use is Canon EOS Rebel T4i DSLR. The lens we use most often is Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens. It’s an amazing all purpose lens. We also use an ultra wide zoom lens for small space photos when you can’t step back far enough – the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens.
Ready for my best kept secret? This little gadget – the Lightscoop Deluxe bounces the camera’s flash light onto the ceiling to create a natural light effect in those dark interiors!
For photo editing, I love Adobe Photoshop Elements. I have Photoshop CS but find it much easier to just use Elements. It has more than enough function for all my blogging needs.
I love the free tool Picasa by Google for making collages or certain special effects, super fun and easy to learn!
Favorite Books for Happiness and Creativity
That’s a big topic!
Each one of us may have a different idea of what a successful life is. For me, it’s happiness, it’s living life to the fullest.
When we are happy, we look at life with fresh eye, and creative ideas just flow to us. We affect the world in a positive way.
But life can be challenging. We can easily lose our balance and inner clarity when we are too busy chasing our dreams.
I think of a great book as a great friend who is so fun to be with, and so uplifting at times of confusion!
Some of my best “friends” –
Words can’t describe how much I appreciate all of Eckhart Tolle’s books :
Books by Abraham Hicks on how to live joyfully and how we create our reality :
There are so many home and garden books that are gorgeous and inspiring! Here are just a few to start with-
Can’t leave out with this one- it does not have colorful pictures, but it’s filled with ingenious ideas of how to learn from nature’s amazing designs and bring it into our homes and gardens: Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual.
Disclosure: I am affiliated with some of the services / products listed, however, I will only recommend things I have used and I absolutely love to my readers!
And I truly appreciate it so much that you go through my links if you do decide to buy certain products – it supports this blog at no extra cost to you. Thank you and I wish you all the best on your journey!! =)