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Design

6 of the best WordPress Plugins for your Blog

This is my ultimate list of the best WordPress plugins (in my opinion) that will benefit your blog. From preventing spam to backing up your blog or speeding up your site, these plugins make blogging a hell of a lot more easy!

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Whether you’re a newbie blogger or have been blogging for years, it’s never too late to update your plugins. I’m constantly adding in new ones I stumble upon and deleting old ones that slow my site down.

Just a note of warning, be careful and selective with the plugins you do install. I’ve had my blog hacked years ago via an insecure plugin, and another pesky plugin caused my site to crash a few weeks ago. Not sure which plugins are slowing things down? Check out P3 Profiler which creates a performance report for your site.

1. Backup Buddy

You back your blog up weekly, right? No? If the idea of dealing with FTP servers and manual backup is a bit overwhelming, then something like Backup Buddy is an easy to use and hassle-free option. With the click of a button, Backup Buddy backs up your site including its content and files, which you can download onto your computer/USB or send to your Dropbox account. It costs $80/year but I think it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

2. Akismet

I get loads of comment spam on the blog, and Akismet does a fine job of capturing 99% of it. In fact, it’s saved me from 94,563 spammy comments in the past 6 months! It’s easy to install and set up, and it’s free for personal blogs.

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3. W3 Total Cache

This plugin optimises your content to ensure your site runs smoothly and loads more quickly. My web host actually recommended this plugin to me when my site was lagging and it’s sped everything up considerably!

4. Easy Recipe

If you’ve ever wondered how I get my recipes so nicely formatted, it’s all thanks to the Easy Recipe plugin. The recipes are displayed in an easy-to-read format, stand out from the rest of the post and there is a handy print function so readers can print your recipe out to make it.

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5. WordPress SEO by Yoast

This is consistently rated the best SEO plugin, optimising your blog’s SEO (that’s search engine optimisation) to hopefully increase the number of visitors to your blog by ranking your posts higher in search results.

6. Simple Share Buttons Adder

I’ve gone through a lot of social media sharing button plugins, and found the majority either ugly, not user friendly or a serious drain on performance. Simple Share Buttons are easy to customise (I made my own custom buttons below that suits my colour scheme) and I put the share buttons at the top and bottom of each post to encourage readers to share it with their friends.

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Please note these plugins are for WordPress.org users only. There are only a very limited set of plugins available to those who use WordPress.com. If you’re serious about blogging, I highly suggest making a move to .org as you get so much more control of the look and functionality of your blog.

Do you have any other favourite WordPress plugins you love?

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Design, Inspiration

Creative Fridays: An Interview with Jennifer Jenner

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Jennifer (known to most as JJ) was one of the first food bloggers I befriended years and years ago. Since then we’ve worked together on various projects, drunk lots of tea together and spent an inordinate amount of time gossiping. Welcome JJ!

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Hello! Who are you and what do you do?

Hi there! I’m JJ, a food photographer and stylist, commercial recipe developer, social media consultant and speaker. Sometimes I blog too.

What work are you most proud of to date?

Landing my first proper off-blog photography job and the time my Rainbow Ice Pops post went mental and showed up on media sites across the globe rank up there. More recently I’m pretty proud of a cookbook I shot for a client at the end of last year.

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What was the turning point in your career?

Realising that I could actually do what I love and make a living out of it! There are so many challenges to working for yourself but on the good days you know you are the one making things happen, and the one reaping the benefits.

Who would you love to collaborate with one day?

Oh so many people… My Instagram is filled with such gorgeous inspiration and I would love to collaborate with almost anyone – however some dream partnerships would include Beth Kirby from Local Milk, Sydney-based stylist David Morgan, the ever lovely Luisa Brimble, and of course the king of mad science Heston Blumenthal.

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What’s your number one tip for someone wanting to start their own business/blog?

Just start! And whatever you do, do it with love and passion.

Don’t worry about perfection, be ok with failing fast, then bounce back and iterate to meet the needs of your audience and yourself. Blogging has changed so much in Australia over the last 3-5 years, it’s treated as a business and people seem to think they need to launch fully-formed blogs, but then they expect immediate stratospheric success and it’s obvious when the effort is forced. Make sure to do things your own way, you can look to others for inspiration but no one needs an exact copy of what’s already out there. (I never was very good at that just one tip thing – ha!)

Where can we find you online?
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Thanks for your time JJ, and check out other Creative Fridays interviews here!
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Design

My Favourite Homewares from the new Target and Kmart Australia ranges

I remember a few years ago I was on the hunt for affordable, well made and well designed cushions. I trawled through every homewares store under the sun, scoured the internet and resulted in either overpriced design cushions that had to be imported from Sweden, or rather drab looking ones.

Thankfully, a lot has changed in the Australian market since then, and now I am overwhelmed with the amazing range of affordable and gorgeous homewares available on our shores. First Typo released their new range called The Hall, and now both Kmart and Target Australia have both released impressive collections of their own.

I’ve gone through both the ranges and picked my 5 favourite pieces from each collection. Happy shopping!

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1. Gold Circle Pot
2. Black Ampersand LED Light
3. White Pineapple Lamp
4. Yellow Dipped Basket
5. White Dipped Round Clock
6. White Side Drawer

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1. Hola Printed Cushion
2. Sweet Home Table Lamp
3. Pink Table Clock
4. Morris Quilt Cover Set
5. White Side Table
6. Recipe Holder

What’s your favourite piece from the collections?

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Design

Flower Power: Botanical Patterns by Cocorrina

I recently stumbled across the amazing blog Cocorinna, a graphic designer who shares her recent works, gorgeous photos and an insight into her freelance life. I fell completely in love with her stunning floral arrangements in her Botanical Patterns series.

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She has definitely inspired me to start my own self-initiated projects! I need to get the creative juices flowing outside of the office.

What bloggers have you discovered recently?

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Design, Lifestyle

Creative Fridays: An Interview with Genna Alexopoulos from Super Duper

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Genna is a super duper amazing PR gal (get it?!) who I got to know well after designing her new website. Since launching her own company, her career is going from strength to strength!

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Hello! Who are you and what do you do?

Hi there! I’m Genna and I’m a music/lifestyle publicist and own a little PR Agency, Super Duper.

What work are you most proud of to date?

Launching Lazy Oaf’s [London clothing label] first Australian Pop-Up store in Sydney last year was pretty awesome.. There was a lot of excitement building for them locally, so it was incredible to be the ones to deliver their PR strategy. And on a personal level too – their Australian Brand Manager is one of my best friends so it was a really great experience to work on a project of that magnitude with someone I love. A nice reminder of why I started working for myself. Also being approached to work with the Sydney Opera House on this year’s Vivid LIVE is just beyond words.

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What was the turning point in your career?

Probably/definitely the day I left my first full-time job without having another lined up.

Who would you love to collaborate with one day?

The two bands I want to work with more than any other are Rancid and The Postal Service, both of whom may never step foot in Australia again (cry!). On a PR-nerd level, there are publicists from all over the world whose work I admire: Liz Matthews in the UK is amazing, I follow her on every outlet I can, and Shelby Meade from LA is probably one of the most badass publicists I’ve ever worked with (and probably ever will).There are a lot of strong, positive, savvy businesswomen and businessmen out there who work incredibly hard while balancing enriched personal lives, and they’re who I look up to the most.

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What’s your number one tip for someone wanting to start their own business/blog?

Work hard and don’t be a dick.

Where can we find you online?
instagram: @superduper_pr

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Thanks for your time Genna, and check out other Creative Fridays interviews here!
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Design

Friday Link Loves 30/1/15

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♥ Typo to launch a new bedding range

I’m a huge fan of Typo’s stationery collection and their homewares by The Hall, so I was thrilled when I read on Interiors Addict that they are branching out into a bedding range!

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♥ Wanting to take your writing to the next level?

Whether you’re thinking of starting a blog or want to finally get that book published, Gala Darling has a great article on My Best Piece of Advice for Writers.

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♥ Fanciful nails in Sydney and Melbourne

I’ve followed I Scream Nails on Instagram for a while now and I can’t wait to visit their Sydney store for some kind of cat/food-themed nail art!

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♥ Is the humble soft serve 2015’s dessert of the year?

I joined the hoards of fellow Sydney food bloggers holding up the gorgeous Aqua S ice cream against their teal wall. But this isn’t any old soft serve, it’s sea salt ice cream, topped with fairy floss with popping candy, caramel popcorn and a toasted marshmallow on a dark chocolate cone. Wow. Goodbye froyo!

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♥ Planning the home office

After next week I will be working from home a lot more (I’ll tell you about that later…) so I’ve been madly pinning inspiration for my Perfect Home Office. I don’t have a lot of space to work with (nor a big budget) so I’m trying to think of practical yet stylish solutions. Stay tuned!

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Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

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Design

Creative Fridays: An Interview with Amy Arthurs

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Amy was one of the first bloggers I made friends with online when I started blogging, and I instantly fell in love with her Oh, My Design Blog. She is also a super talented graphic designer and all round nice gal. Welcome, Amy!

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Hello! Who are you and what do you do?

Hi! I’m Amy and I’m a graphic designer. By day I work designing for a big mass market women’s magazine, and by night I’m a freelance designer and occasional blogger. My freelance work is quite varied, from blog designs and logos, to packaging and wedding invitation suites.

What work are you most proud of to date?

Oh this is a hard one! I don’t think there’s a specific project! But the projects that I took on following my instinct, even if it meant going way outside my comfort zone or against the advice of others, always seemed to have the best results in the end. Those I am most proud of.

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What was the turning point in your career?

Definitely getting my work online and working with my first freelance clients. I really wanted to freelance but I was so incredibly shy about showing my work to almost anyone, let alone the world. Once I got over my shyness of getting my work online, I didn’t even have to put it out there that I was available to freelance. Again I was really shy about taking on my first freelance projects, but when people started emailing me saying ‘Are you available for work? If not, do you know a designer who can design something for me, in your style?’ I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity.

Who would you love to collaborate with one day?

Although I do a lot of web work, a big chunk of my heart belongs to the print medium and magazines. I’d love to work with the team at White Magazine again one day.

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What’s your number one tip for someone wanting to start their own business/blog?

Just go for it, don’t be shy! And don’t worry if your style isn’t what the ‘popular’ bloggers or designers seem to be doing. My style definitely isn’t. Own your niche – there are people out there who will find you. And you’ll be exactly what they’re looking for.

Where can we find you online?

ohmydesignblog.com
pinterest.com/amyarthurs
facebook.com/amyarthursgraphicdesigner
twitter.com/amy_arthurs

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Thanks for your time Amy, and check out other Creative Fridays interviews here!
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Design

The Best Free Font Sites for Bloggers

As a graphic designer, I spend a lot of time looking for new fonts to use on projects for both clients and my own blog. Whilst I purchase a lot of fonts for my professional work, I am always on the look out for free fonts for small personal projects. A lot of fellow bloggers contact me to ask what fonts I use/recommend so I have collated a list of my 5 favourite websites for free fonts!

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1. Font Squirrel

Font Squirrel has a HUGE range of free fonts (and these are free for commercial use too). Overall the quality of the fonts is good, you just have to know what style of font you’re looking for as it can get a bit overwhelming.

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2. Lost Type Co-Op

LostType is one of my favourite type foundries, giving you the chance to pay what you like for a font.  So yes that means it’s possible to type in ‘$0′, for a free download. But maybe flick em a few bucks now and then cause they are great.

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3. Da Font

The quality of the fonts at Da Font varies greatly, but there are some amazing fonts buried in here and it’s often one of my first stops on my quest to find new fonts.

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4. Google Web Fonts

Google Web Fonts is a huge library of, you guessed it, free fonts for the web. As it’s all open source, you can use them on your blog/website/online store to customise the look.

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5. The League of Moveable Type

These guys have a GREAT range of free fonts, and are the first free and open-source type foundry. I use several of their fonts on a regular basis (Ostrich Sans and Raleway).

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A note on free fonts vs paid fonts…

So with the huge amount of free fonts available, why would you pay for fonts?

Well firstly, and most importantly, paid fonts are created by professional typographers. This is their livelihood. How would you feel if you spent months on a project and then people downloaded it illegally because they didn’t want to stretch for the extra $50?

Secondly, paid fonts are a superior option to free fonts. Broadly speaking, you really do get what you pay for – a full font family (ie range of weights, the upper and lower case letters, numbers, symbols, glyphs etc), legibility and the legal right to use the font. It’s also worth knowing that most free fonts are “free for personal, non-commercial use”. This means that if you use the font in a professional capacity you need to purchase a license for commercial use.

I hope this list helps and I would love to hear if you know of any other great free font site resources. Oh and last year I wrote a list of my favourite free fonts, so check that out too!

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Design, Food

Foodie Fashion Finds

I love food-related clothing (and alliteration) so I thought I’d round up my favourite foodie fashion finds for you to drool over!

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1. ASOS Hangry Sweatshirt

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2. I Scream Nails Grape Soda Polish 

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3. Neat Eats Grilled Cheese Sandwich Necklace

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4. Adolescent Clothing Pizza Never Lies Tshirt

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5. Kate Spade Eat Cake For Breakfast Bracelet

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6. Mr Gugu and Miss Go Hamburger Sweater

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7. Peter Alexander Ice Cream Pyjamas

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8. Forever 21 Please Donut Tshirt

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Design, Food, Inspiration

Christmas Gift Ideas for the foodie in your life (all under $50!)

Stuck for gift ideas? We all have foodie friends, so I have rounded up my favourite gift options to buy them this Christmas – and they are all under $50!

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1. Kikki K Cupcake Wrappers and Flags

2. Robert Gordon Polka Dot Teacup and Saucer

3. Karen Walker Champagne Glasses

4. Alice in Bakingland Cookbook

5. Cotton On Watermelon Towel

6. Blackboard Canister in Blue

7. Pantone Coffee Maker

8. Society Gold Cake Stand

9. Salt Meats Cheese Hamper

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Design

Pantone Colour of the Year 2015: Marsala

It’s that time of year again, and Pantone has announced its colour of the year for 2015 as Marsala, “a naturally robust and earthy red”.

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According to Pantone Colour Institute executive director Leatrice Eiseman, “Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal while it’s grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness.”

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“This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors.”

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I must admit it’s more of a shade I associate with lipstick as opposed to a colour I would instinctively use in a design, but I’m keen to give it a go!

What do you think of 2015’s colour of the year? Love it or hate it?

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Design, Food

Creative Fridays: An Interview with Bianca Virtue

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I stumbled upon Bianca on Instagram one day and was immediately drawn to her simplistic, elegant food styling.

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Hello! Who are you and what do you do?

Hi there, I am Bianca, I’d like to think I am a stylist of all trades. From interiors to events and through to my favourite food!

What work are you most proud of to date?

I honestly am proud of everything that I have styled to date, I am completely in love with what I do and am fortune to be able to call this a career now.

From just having a little blog and instagram account to now getting the chance to work with some incredible businesses, I am extremely thankful to do this.

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What was the turning point in your career?

The biggest turning point was when I got the chance to work with Marnie Hawson (photographer) when styling for The Gap Project on Green Press Juice’s website. It was a point in time when I thought I could actually do this and take it seriously.

From that job we have worked alongside each other on just about everything else and everything to come in the future. To find someone who thinks like you, works like you and has the same taste is a lucky thing to come across.

Who would you love to collaborate with one day?

Ok I can’t answer just one, that is impossible! Here is my short list haha. Emma Duckworth stylist, Kinfolk – doesn’t everyone, Donna Hay – the simplest styling and by far some of the best, Jamie Oliver – I don’t think I need to put the reason other than he can do no wrong, styling heaven! & Robert Gordon they have incredible products, I shop there every week and their styling is some of the best.

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What’s your number one tip for someone wanting to start their own business/blog?

Do what you love, always trust your gut. I have chosen to not listen to my head or gut and it sadly took me in the wrong direction. Do what you want, stick to things your passionate about and it will pay off.

Where can we find you online?

Instagram
Pinterest

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Thanks for your time Bianca, and check out other Creative Fridays interviews here!
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Design, Food

Friday Link Loves 14/11/14

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Hi everyone, I know it’s still mid-November but I’m starting to get into the spirit of Christmas a little early (plus the silly season is getting in full swing).

♥ Brownie Cupcakes with Strawberry Santa Hats

I’m already started scheming Christmas baking ideas and can’t wait to share them with you. These adorable Santa Christmas cupcakes I made a few years are still a huge hit and I get asked to bake them every year!

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♥ DIY Christmas Wreath

This tutorial for a homemade holiday wreath is gorgeous and a unique idea for making your place look more festive. Thanks to the ever-fabulous Design Love Fest!

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♥ How to Plan an Art Wall

I’ve spent a lot of time umming and aahing over creating an art wall in my bedroom and always give up. This easy guide by Decor8 makes it seem much easier.

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♥ Homemade Pressed Flower Lollipops

I LOVE this simple and easy idea to make your own Pressed Flower Lollipops – they would make a great gift idea for your sweet-toothed friends.

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♥ Finally.. Sydney gets hand-crafter glazed doughnuts

Authentic America doughnuts have come to Sydney! I’ll take 5! For a list of cafes that are currently stocking these delicious-looking beauties go here.

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