How to choose a good Background for your Blog #1

{Read in Italian...}
how to choose a good background for your blog 1
Today I'm glad to introduce a topic that is very important to me: blog design!
I'll start with some theorical advices to choose a nice background. The background of a blog (or a generic website) is that color or pattern that sits behind its content.

Choosing our background thoughtfully is important for three reasons:
  1. it defines the personality of out blog (we'd never choose black skulls as a background if we talk about shabby chic interior design!);
  2. the legibility of our content might be impaired by the wrong background;
  3. it might impact your page load time on slow connections (like 3G connections from mobile devices).
That's why it is so important to stop and think before choosing our background, instead of just considering if we like that image.
Let's see what possibilities we can have.

I'll say from the beginning that if you choose a solid color you can't go wrong; also, you will meet the current web design hype.
A simple total white background can give you a lot of space to choose colors and shapes for other graphic elements in your design. Think of it like it was an outfit: you'd hardly wear a heavy, fancy necklace over a colorful, printed blouse!

PATTERN (generated by a small image that repeats itself horizontally and vertically)
how to choose a good background for your blog 1
Tine the Lazy's background. 
My content, anyway,
has a simple, total white background.

So, what if we want to use a pattern? Of course, it's not forbidden, just try to choose it wisely!
First of all, it mustn't be distractive: our followers come to us for our content, not to be blinded by a strong background. Make sure that your pattern suits your topics and the other colors in your blog.

Another problem we can have with patterns is the legibility of our text: try to avoid having the content right over a pattern or your followers will go crazy trying to read!
You can make up for this by having a solid color as a secondary background for your content.
I often see blogs with a bold background that try to make their text more legible by wrapping it in a sort of 'marker effect'.
Let me give you an advice straight from my heart: no, don't do this! This is one of those things that yell 'old website', it is not graphically appealing. There are lots of better solutions to make your text legible!

how to choose a good background for your blog 1
Try also to keep the size of your file as tiny as possible (without a relevant quality loss, of course): try to stay under 100 Kb. You don't want to make things difficult (and expensive) for your readers with  slow connections, the risk is to lose more than a few potential followers!

There is also a third option for a nice background: a full-sized picture. To make things properly, anyway, you need to write some CSS and have a nicely optimized image. We'll see this option in depth another time!

That's enough for today! Let's sum it up:
  • a solid color background is effective, lightweight and trendy and gives us more possibilities with graphic customization;
  • if we decide to use a pattern, we must avoid heavy, distractive ones. Instead, we should choose one that fits the style of our blog, without overwhelming it;
  • we should avoid to have a pattern right under our content, in order to avoid legibility issues.
Next time we'll face the dangers that can be hidden behind some solid colors and some pattern images. Once we finish talking about theory, we'll see how to implement everything with Blogger interface and/or some simple HTML/CSS.

Meanwhile, why don't you let me know your very own background preferences when you visit a blog or a website?

2. Solid colors and pattern dos and don'ts.
3. How to use a full-sized image as background.
4. Implementation.

Little Owl, Little Present

{Read in Italian...}

Last weekend I've been in Varese to visit my parents. I had bought a gift for my mum's birthday (a scarf with maxi polka dots), but I didn't want to make her just an impersonal gift.
My mother loves owls, so I decided to add something handmade on this subject.
little owl, little present
With some felt remnants, some cotton disks, needle, thread and glue I made this little owl, then I added a keychain.
I put the scarf into a white paper bag and hooked the keychain to one of its handles. Then I drew on the bag the moon and some stars, like a little night sky where the owl could rest.

This was certainly not an accurate work: I was in a hurry (as usual!) and this was my first time working with felt, but I liked the idea and I'd love to make more in the future.
Anyway, don't you think that a little handmade extra can help to make any store-bought gift way more personal?

Have a nice Monday!

'Crackle' necklace

{Read in Italian...}

Lately, I've been hearing always more frequently of people who take someone else's work and pretend it's their own, especially on the internet. Sometimes their purpose is to resell an idea, which is disgusting yet understandable under a logical point of view, but what about those who do this just so they can get lots of praises?! What kind of satisfaction can they get from this?
I would never do such a thing to an artist or a designer that I appreciate!
I'm telling you this because today I want to show a necklace, but I'm not the one who started it.
crackle necklace
My sister-in-law Marilena is the one who taught me the basics of jewelry making.
Sometimes we meet, we exchange some ideas and we work together. Her amazing craft room (which was my mate's room!) is full of beautiful supplies that she gathered over time.
One day, while I was looking around, I found this little piece of chain with some of those pearls. Marilena told me that she was doing a necklace with it, but it was never completed. I rarely wear necklaces myself, but something in that white pattern with crackle quartz got me. So she told me that I could finish it if I wanted to: she made me happy!
crackle necklace
I consider myself very, very lucky.

DIY: faux leather bracelets from an old belt

diy faux leather bracelets from an old belt
{Read in Italian...}

Unfortunately, today I'm not ready to show you my latest web project: my lovely customer is still on holidays (lucky her!), I have to wait for her return in order to get some contents.
I'll try to make it up to you by sharing a little tutorial.
Have you ever owned one of those cheap faux leather belts that start to tear apart after a couple of days?
I never like to trash them, that's why I tried to give them a new life. I really love leather bracelets, so that was my obvious choice.
diy faux leather bracelets from an old belt
  • an old faux leather belt
  • scissors
  • automatic button
  • needle
  • thread (pref. same hue as the leather)
  • glue
diy faux leather bracelets from an old belt
Cut the belt as desired so that it fits your wrist.
Sew the automatic button at the edges. If this is your first time sewing an automatic button, look carefully at pic n.3 to figure out how to position the two parts on the bracelet.
If the edges tend to fray, fix them with some glue.

That's it! Easy, right? If you sew a lot (unlinke me), it's really matter of a couple of minutes.
You could use a real leather belt as well, but of course it would be harder to sew.
diy faux leather bracelets from an old belt

I hope you enjoyed this super basic tutorial.
Have a nice week!

Blog Design: 'Please, Ma'am, take something off...'

Illustration by ONEQ pinups.
{Read in Italian...}

When I was a kid, I used to love to read my mother's old books. I remember these three huge tomes from the Fifties, called 'L'enciclopedia della fanciulla' (how should I translate it into English? I suppose...  'Youngladypedia'? :D).
I'd like to tell you a story that was written on one of these books. I hope to remember it correctly, since I read it 20 years ago!

Mary was a Hollywood actress. She was beautiful and talented, but her fame was tied mostly to her love for  excess. For this reason, critiques didn't spare her from negative judgements and she was often pointed out as the worst dressed celebrity.
On the occasion of an important premiére, Mary decided to hire a fashion advisor, who had already cured the image of some of the most glamorous stars.
Before the premiére started, the advisor came to Mary and, with a smile, handed her three sealed envelopes. “Open them, one at a time, when you finish to prepare yourself. You'll be gorgeous”. Then he walked away, leaving Mary quite confused.
When Mary was ready in her dressing room, she decided to follow the man's advice. She opened the first envelope. Inside, there was a message: “Please, Ma'am, take something off”. It took her quite a while to understand, then she removed her gold, diamond-studded bracer.

She decided to open the second envelope: “Please, Ma'am, try to take off one more thing”. This time Mary took off the biggest of her pearl necklaces.
Then she opened the third envelope: “I'm so sorry Ma'am, but I have to ask you to take off one last thing”. Mary was confused: it took her so long to prepare herself and now, blindly, she was being asked to undo her work. In the end, she removed a velvet rose from her hair.
That night, both critique and press talked profusely about how beautiful and glamorous the actress Mary was and from that moment her style became worldwide iconic.

Why did I want to tell you this story?
When I started my web design class, one of the first thing our teacher tried to explain us us was that most of the newbie graphics tend to live a sort of Baroque period, where they think “the more, the better”: more colors, more fonts, more elements, more stuff that moves around... After all, the more we add, the more we are capable, right?
As for design, as well as for fashion, makeup, cooking and more, elegance comes from a good synthesis, an accurate choice of elements that work well with each other.
There are lots of technical reasons, in addition to merely aesthetic ones, why a minimal site/blog works better than a “Baroque” one: for the moment I'm going to stop here, but I'd like to write more specific posts on this topic, hoping that they can interest you and be somehow useful!

When I design something, I try to keep in mind the moral of this story and I belive that having it read when I was a kid, when you need practical examples to understand a concept, helped me a lot to grasp the meaning of what my web design teacher was trying to tell us.
So, the next time you give your blog a restyle, imagine to open those three envelopes and decide accordingly if you really need that flower rain from the top of your browser, that bulky visitors counter widget or that sparkling mouse pointer ;)

Have a nice weekend! Hopefully, on Monday I'll be ready to show you my first web commission.

'Back to School' Earrings

{Read in Italian...}

September has come, for the joy of those who must return to school. Luckily, I'm done with it; still I should find the right motivation to study for my last two academic exams.
Here's a colorful pair of earrings, to wish all of you students a nice comeback to school, but also (maybe, mostly) for those who are facing my same impasse. We can do it! >_<
back to school earrings
These mini pencils come from my bf's kindergarden apron. They were a couple of buttons: aren't they cute? I paired them with two wooden pearls and a small olive string.
back to school earrings

Easy Stuffed Gratin Zucchini

{Read in Italian...}

I just loved my holidays, but sometimes they can have... side effects.
So, after all of the revels, I'm now trying to eat light(ish).

Some days ago my parents in law gifted me with some amazing round zucchini, straight from their garden: they were so fresh and savory! I decided to try to stuff them and, even if this was my first attempt, I enjoyed the result.

I'd like to share my recipe with you: hope you like it!
easy stuffed gratin zucchini
  • 3 zucchini
  • about one fistful of boiled rice
  • 1 egg
  • canned tuna (optional)
  • some grated Parmesan cheese
  • bread crumbs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Wash the zucchini, then stew them in a pot of salted boiling water for about 10 minutes, until they're soft when stabbed with a fork. Drain and let them cool a little (so that you don't burn yourself during the next step, as I did!).
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Cut off the top of the zucchini, take out their pulp with a carver and put it into a bowl. Add the tuna. Mix and squash them together with a fork, until you get an almost uniform compound.
  • Add the rice, some Parmesan cheese, the egg, salt and pepper to the compound. Mix them all and fill your carved zucchini.
  • Put the stuffed zucchini in a baking casserole, then sprinkle on top some Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is golden and crispy. You may want to switch to your "grill" function for the last minutes.
easy stuffed gratin zucchini
PS. If you can't use all of the filling to stuff the zucchini, you can bake the leftover in a small baking dish and eat it alone :)

Hello World!

tine the lazy goes international
Welcome to the international version of my little blog!
I really hope that my English will be clear enough...

Thanks for stopping by.

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