Blogger Profiles: Brittany of Darkroom and Dearly


My name is Brittany Moser; I’m probably the most OCD, right-brained person you’ll ever meet. I’ve been writing and drawing since I was old enough to hold a marker, and I’ve been compulsively organizing my spaces for almost as long. 

I’m the kind of person who loves to sprawl on my living room floor with a mess of art supplies, paper, scissors, and ideas, but who also needs all my colored pencils to be the same height, and facing the same direction, at the end of the day. In a way, this helps me keep my ideas organized and flowing.


I love solving problems and coming up with creative solutions for tricky situations. At work I put this into play every day, and at home designing and drawing is my creative outlet. I worked as a carpenter in a local theatre for a long time and I still love the challenge of working with my hands and designing something beautiful and new for everyone to enjoy.

 
My blog is called “Darkroom and Dearly.” It embodies my dual love of taking photographs and creating paper crafts, and I love the way the alliteration rolls off the tongue. I use Blogger as my platform because I love the customizability of the site to incorporate my ideas and designs.

Creating Darkroom and Dearly

I’ve always been a creative person, and I’ve kept personal blogs in the past as a hobby. I started getting into Etsy and design blogs a few years ago, and the inspiration I’ve gotten from them has been huge. I love that it is such a strong community, with ideas being created, shared, embellished, and tweaked for everyone to enjoy. I love going to craft fairs, art shows, and artist venues for the same reasons, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that online community so I could add my own designs and ideas to the mix. It’s been a wonderful creative outlet so far.


Why blogging?

I started blogging simply for the fun of it, to be able to share with friends and family a little more about myself. I quickly discovered how much fun it was to share ideas, projects and photographs with the people in my life. Not only did they enjoy reading the posts, but I’ve found it keeps me always generating new and creative ideas, which has been so fun, and often challenging. Everyone needs something that keeps them happy and energized after work, and I’ve discovered that sharing my passions through blogging is mine.


Topics and posting schedules

My posts are fairly free-flowing; they revolve around whatever I feel like talking about, but usually they end up in a few general categories: recipes, photography sessions, DIY projects, paper crafting, boredom busters (puzzles, quizzes, or funny links), and wonderful ideas or inspiration that I’ve discovered from other blogs or homemade crafters. Lately I’ve also been exploring my new home in the Pacific Northwest, so I like posting about the fun places I’ve been that I’ve fallen in love with.


I don’t keep a rigid schedule with my posts. I’ve thought about making specific days of the week revolve around specific topics, to give people something to look forward to. However, I often find that my ideas pop up spontaneously, and if I have a great idea on a day that I’m “supposed” to be writing about something else, I get annoyed about the limitations I’ve placed on myself. I’d rather share the ideas as they strike me - it’s more fun that way.

A place for blogging

I do have a craft room with a desk that would be ideal for blogging, but for the most part, I curl up on my couch and do most of my posting there. It strikes me as kind of funny that I have this wonderful, creative space I could be using, and instead, I sit on the couch with a coffee table covered in paper, colored pencils, and a half-eaten PB&J sandwich.


Staying organized
 

Generally ideas for posts will come to me throughout the day, either from being crafty on my own, or from spending too much time on Etsy and my favorite blogs. I have an application on my computer called Sticky Notes that I jot ideas down on, and once I have a good idea for the post, then I start gathering or taking photos that would match well with it. 

My craft room has a bulletin board that I tack ideas to, and I have way too many bookmarks in my browser simply waiting to be talked about. Pinterest is another site I’ve recently become addicted to; it’s a great place for gathering and sharing ideas.

Finding the time to blog

I post whenever I find the time. I try to post every weekday: sometimes that means waking up early and typing up a post that morning, and sometimes it means that I have a week’s worth of ideas and I spend a good part of the day writing up three, four or five future posts.

I used to write daily, but since I work forty hours a week, I found that blogging was becoming almost like a second job! I’ve since started posting on weekdays only, but it’s hard not to want to share ideas that crop up over the weekend. I still have to restrain myself and give myself some time off. :)

Sometimes my posts are quick and easy to write, but often getting the photos edited and in place where I want them takes the bulk of my time. I’m not the most savvy internet designer (unfortunately); I still prefer to draw things out by hand, so it’s a little tedious for me to do HTML coding sometimes. But ultimately I like sharing designs virtually, so I’m doing my best to teach myself the tricks of the trade. Hopefully in the future I will be faster at it, but for the moment my posts tend to take an hour or two to photograph, write, design, and post, depending on the subject.

Networking and getting the word out

I currently don’t utilize SEO tricks, but I understand its usefulness and it’s something I’m planning to devote more time to in the future. I still use basic techniques to share my blog: Facebook, Twitter, linking to other blogs has gotten me some fun pingbacks, word of mouth, and of course, chatting with other bloggers! :) I plan to be more active in craft fairs in the future with business cards to help spread the word, and I’m working on opening my own Etsy shop in the near future.


Branching out

I would love to add more “green living” posts to my blog. I’d love to be a sustainable cook, a gardener, an zero-footprint commuter, a composter, and a more eco-conscious person. I do a great job already with cutting down on my own energy costs and impact, but I know I can always take it one step further. It’s a big change (and sometimes more expensive…), but when I see other bloggers talking about fresh market salads and urban-raised chickens, a big part of me wants to revamp my whole lifestyle. Unfortunately, I’m not the greatest cook or gardener, so these things don’t come naturally to me, but I’m working on it, bit by bit!


There aren’t any posts that I dislike; some appeal to me more than others, but I think everyone has the right to share their opinions, and that’s what makes reading other blogs so fascinating. It’s fun to see someone’s take on the same topic and be able to give it a completely different spin.

What the future holds

I write because I enjoy it, and that’s always been good enough for me, but it’s certainly fun when other people can enjoy it, too. I like feeling connected and part of the community, and I hope to be a larger part of that, someday. I’m still inspired by those crafters who have single handedly started their own blog and business and were able to quit their day job and focus on what they love doing. Certainly this way of life has its ups and downs, but the bravery and commitment that you have to dedicate to such a leap of faith is amazing, and I love reading those success stories.

I’m taking one day at a time and creating because I love it – if it needs to be something greater in the future, then it will be. I’m excited for the possibilities!

Favorite blogs

Your blog, of course! :) (editor's note: thanks for the shout-out! :) )

I have a long list of blogs I love checking up on, but another one of my favorites is HowAboutOrange.blogspot.com. Her posts aren’t usually very long, or flashy, or often, but when she does write, she has a quick wit that keeps me laughing, and clever design ideas that I always want to put into action.

Another favorite is one I just discovered, alisaburke.blogspot.com. Her beautiful watercolors bring me right back to the days of my own art classes, and they inspire me to bring out my own inner artist.

Bonnie’s blog goinghometoroost.com is an excellent source for new bloggers/ etsy shop owners, and it has certainly given me the courage to jump start my own blog/ crafting/ entrepreneur journey without worrying that “I’m not good enough to try that!"

I'm constantly adding more to my list, but blogs with a sense of humor, charm, and beautiful designs usually catch my attention the quickest!


* * *

Thanks so much to Brittany to sharing her story with us!

My weekend: DIY ice cream, chevron favor bags, and downtown Naperville


This weekend was so beautiful and busy...

I made homemade ice cream - without an ice cream maker. This was really exciting for me since I've always wanted to, but never thought I could without the machine. You can read the full recipe and tutorial for cookie dough ice cream over on Going Home to Roost today!

I've also been working like crazy on a wedding order of chevron-printed favor bags. Each bag is printed by hand, front and back, with my carved chevron stamp in black ink. I really have to admit that I wish I had been this creative for my own wedding. I had just used organza bags for my favors - I like these a lot better.

Since it was actually nice out, we also got to go downtown Naperville and to the Riverwalk a couple of times. I'm so in love with downtown Naperville, IL - it has so many charming shops, like a place that serves raw, edible cookie dough as if it were ice cream; a shop that specializes in popcorn; one of the most amazing independent book stores I've ever seen; one of the best places in Chicagoland to get gourmet breakfast (there's always a crowd outside on Sunday mornings); plenty of art shops, galleries, and specialty shops; and an amazing man-made beach, among other things. I really could live here forever.


Oh yeah, and I also played my geek card and rented Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1. I never saw my interest in Harry Potter coming, but I love it, and I can't wait for the last movie due out in July... and yes, I've read all of the books, too! :-X

Homemade Lemon Curd Recipe

As you may remember, I have a bit of a lemon fetish and finally got around to making my own lemon curd. After buying it in a jar a few weeks ago to use as homemade donut filling, I decided it was just too expensive to buy premade, and made some myself.


For this particular recipe, I really do not know the shelf life of it, so I suggest using relatively quickly since it does contain eggs and butter. Perfect uses include toast and scone topping; cake, cupcake, and donut filling; tart filling (which is what I used it for); by the spoonful (I also did that). If you want a sweeter lemon curd, use Meyer lemons.

ingredients
4 lemons
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 stick of butter
4 eggs
pinch of salt

directions
 
The first step is to zest all four lemons with a vegetable peeler. Combine all of the zest and sugar in a food processor, processing for about three minutes, until the mixture is smooth as baby food.


Next, squeeze the lemons until you have 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice (for me, this was 3 lemon halves).


Pour your lemon zest / sugar mix into a bowl, and cream in the butter. I used an electric mixer to combine, pouring in the lemon juice, four eggs, and salt. Continue to mix until fully combined.


Pour the mixture into saucepan and cook on medium-low heat, stirring often. The curd must be heated to 175 degrees F, which is when it will begin to thicken - you do not need to bring the mixture to a simmer. Once the lemon curd has reached 175 degrees and is sufficiently thick, remove from heat and let cool.


You can now use the curd for whatever tasty treat you have in mind, store it in an air-tight container in the fridge, or just eat it straight up!

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Five Free and Lovely Fonts

I have spent hours over the years combing through the fonts on Dafont.com - all of the fonts are either freeware, shareware, demo versions or public domain. The following are five free fonts that I think are worth sharing, plus one bonus font that is free for personal use only.

Free - go to font

Free - go to font

Free - go to font

Free - go to font

Free - go to font

Free for personal use - go to font

Which one of these do you like best? What's one of your favorite free fonts out there?

Project: Recipe Photo Album


A few weeks ago, Whitney purchased some recipe cards from my shop. She shared with me the project that she used them for, and it was right up my alley: scrapbook-meets-recipe box-meets-family heirloom. Whitney was kind enough to describe her project in detail (photos included!).


Whitney: I found this photo album a few years ago in Barnes and Noble, and I thought it was so beautiful, but I didn't know what I would do with it. Well, I bought it anyways and just stored it until I could figure it out.

The idea for a recipe photo album popped into my head when I was reading two of Tessa Kiros's cookbooks: Falling Cloudberries and Apples for Jam. Her books are beautiful inside and out. She also sprinkles intimate little stories throughout, as well as photos of family, sentimental places, trinkets, and toys. Every single recipe I've tried is amazing!

I love how she describes the memories and stories behind the food, and gives a glimpse into her family life while growing up and while raising children of her own.

Still, the recipe photo-album was just a thought in the back of my head until I found your recipe cards while browsing the treasuries. The colored leaves were just adorable, and would go well with the leaves on the cover of the photo-album. Then my idea became real.


I love good food, and I love cooking! Taste and smell is such a strong part of my memory, and food is a very important part of many celebrations and holidays (like Thanksgiving, birthdays, and wedding receptions). So I often associate certain recipes with certain events.

Whenever I find or create a recipe that I know I want to make over and over again, I immediately keep it. I have many recipes saved on my computer and my cookbooks are filled with bookmarks. It's starting to become a little disorganized and chaotic, though, and a recipe photo-album seems perfect for keeping all these recipes in one neat, organized place. I've never liked the idea of a recipe box because having separate loose recipe cards just floating around inside a box just seems like an easy way to lose that precious recipe for grandma's chocolate chess pie.


The time line of my book is starting from our wedding day (August 8. 2010) and is a project that will last for many years to come as we find new recipes and make more memories. I hope to one day pass this book down to my future grandchildren and have them continue adding to it, or make even more books if this one runs out of room!

***
Thanks again to Whitney for showing us this wonderful keepsake project!

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Home Decor DIY: Adding Nail Head Trim to Furniture

I saw this project on HGTV.com and new it would be a keeper. The idea is so simple, and the results are high-impact: take a so-so chair or other piece of furniture, and just by adding nailhead trim yourself, you give the furniture a whole new look.

I have a hand-me-down wing chair from my husband's grandmother that would be a great specimen for this experiment. It is neither my favorite color or fabric, but since money is tight while we save for a house, adding trim to this chair will allow me to add my own twist to a piece of furniture I had no say in.


I think I will be adding trim to the front of the arms, and along the bottom edge on the sides and back. I hope to get around to it some time this month - I'll report back when the project is finished!


If you're craving a little nailhead trim DIY, but don't want to commit to a piece of furniture, I found these hardware store projects on Nate Berkus' website - use nails to make wall art, or use thumbtacks to embellish picture frames:

Colour Lovers Palettes

Tea Time by JS
I've been experimenting on COLOURlovers this afternoon, and it is so addicting! Their tools for creating color palettes are easy and fast to use, and you get to name your palette, as well as any colors you used (so long as no one else has used and named them before you). I created six palettes today, all in the name of my future house. Possibly even more fun than that? Naming 12 new colors on the site. Here are my new palettes:

Living room

Because of my Couch by IndiePrettyProjects

Autumn Crunch by IndiePrettyProjects

Espresso Mod Primary by IndiePrettyProjects
















If Things Go Well by IndiePrettyProjects







Bedroom (my current palette which I will keep)

Tomorrow's Bedroom by IndiePrettyProjects





Kitchen

Funky Kitchen by IndiePrettyProjects

Which one is your favorite (if any)?

10 DIY Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Now I can say from experience: moms love handmade gifts best. If  you're looking for something thoughtful to treat your mom to this weekend, try one of these 10 homemade gift ideas!

1. Momtastic: Framed jewelry organizer

2. Monogrammed hand towels via Martha Stewart 

3. Fabric-covered trays on This Full Life

4. Ruffled: Vintage-inspired necklace

5. Martha Stewart body scrub tutorial

6. Personalized note pad (previous Indie Pretty Projects DIY)


7. Origame Lotus via Omiyage Blogs

8. DIY Terrariums via Soap Deli News

9. Repurposed tea cup lights on Martha Stewart

10. Red Velvet Cake Balls by Bakerella

My beautiful handmade gift swap necklace


A few weeks ago I participated in a handmade gift swap with some of my teammates, and I just had to share the gift that I received. It was created by Erika of Uniquely E Jewelry. Her shop is actually on vacation until early June, but you can see some of her sold pieces to get an idea of her beautiful work. These were some of my favorites:




And of course, this is the necklace that she sent me - LOVE IT!

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