Journey With Jess | Inspiration for your Creative Side

Inspiration for your Creative Side

Social Media Image Size Guide + Cheat Sheet

Blogging, OrganizationJessica WozniczkaComment
SM-ImageSizeGuide-blogpost

In the ever changing world of social media, it is so incredibly important to stay up to date on all of their image sizes and formats. Optimizing the right images to use, the amount of text that is allowed and sizes are different for each platform. The need to maintain a social presence online is escalating and will only increase in importance in 2018. Being a graphic designer, I know how inconvenient it is to have several different social media platforms each requiring different image requirements all of which differ from one another. Which is a main reason I've been searching for a more convenient way to have all of this important information compiled in one place. I found this amazing infographic designed by onblastblog.com and it is so helpful! If you manage several different social media accounts and struggle keeping up with the requirements, make sure you to pin or book mark this for future reference. I hope you find this as useful as I did.

Image designed by onblastblog.com

120 Blog Post Ideas For All Types Of Blogs

Blogging, BusinessJessica WozniczkaComment
120BlogIdeas-blogpost

Are you having trouble coming up with a new blog post? Not feeling inspired or are you just suffering from writers block? Being a blogger and constantly coming up with new and interesting content can be difficult. There were times I found myself staring blankly at my screen, struggling to get the creative juices flowing. But the more I thought about it, the harder it was to write something. To help you out of your rut (as well as future-me), I've included 120 blog posts ideas for all blog types. Enjoy!

  1. What’s in your travel bag?
  2. Makeup storage ideas
  3. Your 5 year plan
  4. How to start a blog
  5. Your workout routine
  6. Favorite websites you’ve visited this week
  7. Write about your strengths
  8. Cheap makeup brands
  9. Share a day in your life
  10. Your dream job
  11. Share any photography tips that you have
  12. 10 things I can’t live without post
  13. Your blogging advice
  14. List of the bloggers that you admire
  15. How do you manage your time
  16. Ways you save money
  17. How do you pack for a trip?
  18. What do you love most about yourself?
  19. Favorite Etsy shops
  20. Mantras for success
  21. Share with your readers your biggest success in life so far
  22. What did you do to grow your blog?
  23. Productivity tips
  24. What do you look for in a blog?
  25. Share how you take/edit photos for your blog
  26. Share some of your family traditions
  27. Planners and stationary that you’re loving
  28. Recipe post
  29. If you’ve been blogging for a while now, what advice can you give to new bloggers?
  30. Share the things that keep you organized
  31. Things you don’t mind splurging on
  32. Ask your readers a question
  33. Have someone do a guest post
  34. How to spring clean your life/blog
  35. Share some budgeting/finance advice
  36. Monthly goals
  37. Favorite books of all time
  38. Host a giveaway
  39. Share your blogging or creative process
  40. Put together a gift guide
  41. Write a letter to your younger self
  42. Share an arts and crafts or DIY tutorial
  43. Your most favorite blog posts
  44. What’s your favorite stock photo sites?
  45. Create a massive list of blog post ideas!
  46. What are your goals that you’d like to achieve for the season
  47. Host your own 30 day challenge
  48. Free activities to do in your city
  49. Share your strategy on how you make money from your blog
  50. Write about your weaknesses
  51. What are the difficulties you’ve overcome in your blog?
  52. Review a book
  53. Your favorite blogs that you read regularly
  54. Things you regret not doing in life
  55. Being a woman in your 20’s
  56. What makes you come back and read more?
  57. Make a reverse bucket list – share all the cool things you’ve done already
  58. Airport hairstyles
  59. Write an open letter to your younger self
  60. A behind-the-scenes look at your blog or work studio
  61. Share your best marketing tips
  62. Share your favorite healthy snacks
  63. What you are looking forward to in your blogging journey?
  64. Travel essentials
  65. Share any life hacks that you know
  66. How to effectively search for a job
  67. Airport makeup
  68. Share products that you swear by
  69. Favorite dollar store/drug store finds
  70. Why did you start blogging?
  71. Why you want to do _____ on your bucket list
  72. How do you plan your content?
  73. How to properly pack a suitcase
  74. Talk about something you’re afraid of and how you overcome it
  75. Beauty/fashion haul post showing your readers the latest things you’ve bought
  76. Picking a blog niche
  77. X things I’ve learned in X amount of years post (you can publish it on your birthday)
  78. Talk about an important life lesson you’ve learned recently
  79. Who has inspired you throughout your life?
  80. Share pictures of your workspace
  81. Food prepping
  82. Create something free to give away to your readers, like a checklist, printable or something your readers can download
  83. DIY gifts for any occasion
  84. Take part in someone else’s 30 day challenge & document
  85. Write about your fears – what scares you?
  86. Podcasts your readers need to listen to
  87. Do guest posts with another blogger
  88. Your favorite blogging tools
  89. When do you feel the most creative?
  90. Travel bucket list
  91. Q & A post (ask for questions on your social media channels and answer them on your blog)
  92. How do you stay motivated?
  93. Subscription box review
  94. Share your plans (short term and long term)
  95. Share a recent project that fire you up
  96. Blog series set up as a journal
  97. Write a “Top 20” or “Top 10” post
  98. A what’s in my bag post
  99. Share with your readers your most epic failures and how you overcame them
  100. How you relax after a long day
  101. Monthly Favorites/Must-Haves
  102. How you ended up in the job you’re at
  103. Share your favorite cocktail recipe
  104. Grocery haul post showing your readers your latest finds from the grocery store
  105. Blog tips that have worked for you
  106. How do you love to spend your “me-time”?
  107. Share your favorite apps
  108. How to throw a dinner party/brunch
  109. Talk about a hobby of yours
  110. What fascinates you in the blogging community?
  111. Makeup haul
  112. Share your to-do list for the day/week/weekend/month
  113. Facts about yourself
  114. Share your favorite affiliate partner/sponsor
  115. What I learned about my first job
  116. Favorite life/hair/beauty/cleaning hacks
  117. Share articles that helped you improve your blog
  118. How you became a successful blogger
  119. Share your not-so favorite affiliate partner and why you regret working with them
  120. Share your blogging essentials that you cannot live without

No excuses. Chop-chop and start writing something amazing!

Basic HTML Every Blogger Should Know

Blogging, TutorialJessica WozniczkaComment
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HTML can be intimidating and takes both patience and practice to master. I remember my first experience with HTML was way back during my freshman year of high school. In 2003, Livejournal was all the rage and if you didn't have one, you weren't cool. Upon starting my own account I discovered that Livejournal wouldn't allow any customization. Having the ability to bold and strike-through text was an absolute necessity. A friend of mine showed me some quick and simple HTML code that I could use in my posts. They weren't complicated, but they did allow me to bold text or customize colors. Fast forward to 2010 - I'm sitting in a graduate class learning some pretty hardcore HTML and CSS and I felt myself struggling to keep up. Although I took classes that specialized in HTML, I learned most of what I know on my own.  I am by no means an expert, but if I can teach myself you can too. If you're really serious about blogging or starting your own website, I highly suggest you learn a little HTML. By learning the basics of HTML, you will gain the ability to better manage your websites' design which can help you stay organized. 

This lesson will include all the basic HTML codes that I feel are important and every blogger should know.

IMAGE CODE

<img src=”http://image.jpg”>

LINKING TO A WEBPAGE

<a href=”http://link.html”>WHAT YOU WANT YOUR LINK TO SAY</a>

OPEN LINK IN A NEW WINDOW

<a href=”http://link.html” target=”blank”>LINK</a>

LINK AN IMAGE

<a href=”http://url.com”><img src=”http://image.jpg”>

IMAGE WITHOUT A BORDER

<img src=”http://image.html” border=”0″>

TEXT CODING

BOLD TEXT

<b>BOLD</b>

ITALICIZE TEXT

<i>Italic</i>

or

<em>Italic</em>

UNDERLINE TEXT

<u>Underline</u>

or

<span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>Underline</span>

ALIGNING TEXT

You can align your text left or right using this code.

<div align=”left”>Align this text to the left</div>

OR

<span align=”left”>Align this text to the left</span>

CHANGE COLOR OF TEXT

 <span style="color:#AA5585; "> this text is purple</span>

HEADINGS

<h1>THIS IS A HEADING</h1>

<h2>THIS IS A HEADING</h2>

<h3>THIS IS A HEADING</h3>

<h4>THIS IS A HEADING</h4>

PARAGRAPHS

<p>Creates a paragraph</p>

CREATE LINE SPACING

Creates a line break<br>

LINK TO AN EMAIL

<a href=”mailto:youremail@gmail.com”>youremail@gmail.com</a>


Like anything, practice makes perfect. HTML can be finicky and frustrating, but I promise if you keep at it you and continue learning you will eventually understand. The job I currently have requires me to use HTML on a daily basis and a lot of what I learned I learned on the job. If you still find yourself confused and scratching your head I've included some useful resources below.

http://icanbuildablog.com/html-css-tutorials/

http://lifeyourway.net/understanding-basic-html-blogging-basics-for-beginners/

https://designyourownblog.com/html-and-css-design-bloggers-guide/

 

 

How to Add Google Analytics to Squarespace

Business, BloggingJessica WozniczkaComment
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Google Analytics is absolutely essential for any blogger or business website. Knowing your website's traffic allows you to better understand your audience and to continue producing the right content. The information collected by Google Analytics provides a lot of helpful information - your target audience, best time's to post, web traffic and much more! Being able to set up Google Analytics to any Squarespace account is pertinent to gathering data. There are so many great features, I'm still learning how to use them all. 

Locate Your Tracking Code

If you don't have a Google Analytics account, make sure to create one. It's especially easy if you already have a Gmail account. Once you have your account, you'll need to find your Google Analytics tracking code. To do this, go to your Admin account by clicking the Gear icon located at the bottom lefthand corner. After you've slected Admin click Tracking Info > Tracking Code under the property column.

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Your tracking code is located at the very top under Tracking ID. Copy this code and save it somewhere - you will need it later.

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Connecting Squarespace to Your Google Analytics Account

Now that you have your tracking code, head back over to the backend of your Squaresapce website. Click on Settings then scroll to down until you see Website and click Advanced > External Services. Here you can copy and paste your Google Analytic's tracking code directly into the Google Analytic's Account Number box.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

And voila! You have successfully connected your Google Analytic's account to your Squarespace website. Make sure you save before heading back to the main page though - I forgot this step the first time and had to re-paste the code all over again. It may take a few days for Google Analytic's to display any data, but don't fret too much about this you'll see your stats very soon. My favorite part about linking my account is the ability to see data directly through Squarespace's backend. It's another great way to compare your data. 

How to Create Your Own Color Palette Using Photoshop

Graphic Design, Photoshop, TutorialJessica WozniczkaComment
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I’m sure you’ve probably seen customized color palettes inspired by a particular photo on Pinterest. Have you ever been curious how to make your own? Color palettes aren’t only used by designers, but they are great for bloggers who wish to stay within their website color scheme. They can also be useful if you’re looking for a collection of colors that go well together especially for blog post images. I’ve recently come across a great and easy way to create your own using Photoshop and I’m excited to share it with you.

Choose an Image

Image from https://pixabay.com/

Image from https://pixabay.com/

Search online for an image that inspires you and reflects your current scheme. I use https://pixabay.com to find copyright free images. Once you've found one, open it in Photoshop. Tip: I ALWAYS duplicate the layer so I don't edit the original. 

Working With Color Swatches

Image from https://pixabay.com/

Image from https://pixabay.com/

Once you have Photoshop open with the image you wish to use, look to the right hand side where the Swatch panel is located. If you aren't seeing yours, simply go to window>swatches to open it. The photo above is labeled with all the important information pertaining to swatches. 

MENU - You're able to see preset swatches built into the program. You can load, save, reset and replace current palette colors.

DELETE - Self-explanatory. Simply click a swatch color and hit the delete button to remove it.

ADD NEW SWATCH - This is where you can add new swatches to your library. It will add the current color selected to your foreground swatch. 

Creating a Color Palette

Before discovering this trick I would randomly select colors using the eyedropper tool. And what I quickly discovered were the colors I chose seemed too dark or simply not what I was looking for. To make things easier you need first need to apply a crystallize filter over your image. To do this, go to Filter>Pixelate>Crystallize.
Image from https://pixabay.com/

Image from https://pixabay.com/

This will create a crystallizing effect over your image by merging similar pixels together making it easier to select the colors you want. 

Enter the cell size you want; I usually go around the 45 mark because I like having more color options. Just keep in mind - the larger the cells, the fewer options you'll have available. Also, make sure to set your window to a percentage under 100%; I typically set mine to 33%.

Image from https://pixabay.com/

Image from https://pixabay.com/

Now you can start selecting your colors using the Eyedropper Tool. Pick a color you like and press the Create New Swatch button and a window will pop up. This allows you to rename that color and after you press OK it will be added to your library. You can select as many or as few as you like. Once you're satisfied, you can press the menu button in the right hand corner and save your new color palette. 

Image from https://pixabay.com/

Image from https://pixabay.com/

If you want to add strips of color on the sides, simply use the rectangle tool and select the color from your palette. How simple is that!? 

FREE PRINTABLE Weekly & Monthly Planners

Printable, Organization, Organizing, Graphic Design, BloggingJessica WozniczkaComment
Weekly-monthlyPlanner_blogpost

Are you tired of using your phone as your only source of daily/monthly planning? Miss the good ol' days where paper was king? Fear no more! I'm happy to share with you two simple and functional printable planners for your organizational enjoyment. Not only will you have your days sorted out - but you'll have your month figured out as well. 

I'm back again to deliver you with another organizational freebie. It's no secret that I love printables to keep myself organized. But, as much as I love using my phone, it doesn't keep me as organized as I like. I know many of you remember in junior high or high school how necessary it was to have a daily planner to keep track of homework. Although I don't miss the high school experience, I do miss the ease of organizing my days. It's just not the same. 

For a while now I've been on the search for a weekly planner that was both functional as wells as pretty to look at. This is why I decided to create not only a weekly planner but a monthly planner as well. Both planners are done in the same style, color and font choices so those that are interested in downloading both can have a completed set. I believe the basic layout will serve you well and should help make your life less hectic. 

Download links can be found at the bottom of this post.
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Monthly-planner_clip
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Monthly-planner_full

Both planners are 11 x 8.5" PDF's and will print from any home printer by switching your print layout to landscape. I suggest printing these out on Saturday so you have time to plan out your week or month. 

Travel Done Right: Tips and Tricks to Pack Efficiently Infographic

Travel, BloggingJessica WozniczkaComment
packingdoneright-blogpost

Packing before a trip is my least favorite thing to do. It doesn't matter if I'm going away for 2 days or 2 weeks, I always stress out over it. I get so stressed over the mere thought of packing that I end up packing days beforehand since I know I'll end up sitting on the floor staring at my empty suitcase. I am notoriously known for over packing because I am always thinking of "what if I need __ " but in reality I never end up wearing it. A great example of this is when I went to Poland last month and I ended up packing not 1 but 2 dresses thinking that maybe I'll wear them out for a fancy dinner. Spoiler alert, I wore neither of them because it was too cold.

I know I'm not alone with my packing dilemma because of the many sources I see online about the best ways to pack a suitcase. Although my next planned trip isn't until December, I thought I would share with you this amazing easy to understand infographic by the Bluegala fashion site which outlines the best ways to pack a suitcase. I plan on saving this infographic for my future self - who I know will find this extremely handy.

Travel Done Right: Tips And Tricks To Pack Efficiently #infographic

The Best Packing Advice, courtest of BlueGala.com

Top 12 Things to Do in Tokyo

Blogging, TravelJessica WozniczkaComment
Topthings-tokyopost

Tokyo, Japan: the name alone invokes visions of bright neon lights, packed trains and a fast-paced organized culture. Tokyo is home to more than 13 million people who have created an unexpected mix of both ancient and modern traditions which coexist side by side. I'm not going to sugarcoat it; Tokyo is a massive city. Having to maneuver your way through a labyrinth of trains, subway stations and hurried businessmen can be very overwhelming. On top of that, you'll have to adapt to a world dependent on a completely different writing system and language. Despite this, Tokyo is by far one of my favorite places in the world.  

In September of 2016 I did the impossible. I convinced my husband to hop on a plane and travel 6,000 miles away from our home in Chicago to Tokyo, Japan. I’m no stranger to Tokyo. With 2 prior trips under my belt I felt like I was the perfect tour guide. But I knew this trip would be completely different. With this being my husbands first time to Asia and the fact I created so much hype about this city, I knew I had a huge task ahead of me. Before we even left, I made sure to create a list of what I thought were quintessential when visiting this city. As I was cleaning out my email and deleting old folders a couple days ago, I found my Japan folder. In that folder was the list I created before we left for Tokyo. I thought I would share with you my top 12 things for first timers to see and do in Tokyo.

1. Meiji Shrine

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Surrounded by a forest directly across from the bustling streets of Harajuku sits the Meiji Shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Following the tree-lined path through the forest away from modern society makes you feel like you’re being transported back in time. This is one of the most popular Shinto shrines in Tokyo and it attracts tourists from all over the world. The traditional Japanese architecture is absolutely stunning and the forest around it makes for a beautiful backdrop.  

2. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

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One of Tokyo’s largest national parks, the Shinjuku Gyoen Park is a sprawling expanse containing several themed gardens, a greenhouse, an art gallery, restaurants and several tea houses. The park is divided into 3 separate gardens: traditional Japanese, English landscape and French formal. There is no shortage of vast open spaces, ponds with koi fish and colorful flowers. It’s easy to spend a couple hours here strolling through the many gardens they have to offer. Pack a lunch and head to the park to enjoy while also taking in the beautiful surroundings.

3. Ueno Park

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There is no other park in Tokyo that has as many attractions as the Ueno Park. This large park is a favorite destination for Tokyo residents, and is home to many of the city's main attractions including the Tokyo National Museum, Ueno Zoo and the National Museum of Western Art. Make sure to see the Kaneiji temple and try and catch a a boat ride on the Shinobazu Pond.

4. Tsukiji Fish Market

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This is the worlds largest and busiest fish market. With endless rows of hardworking fishermen slicing and dicing all different types of fish, it is easy to see why this is a favorite destination for tourists. Although the market itself is huge with plenty of room to roam, the internal environment is fast-paced. Take all the time you want, but be aware of your surroundings - this is a place of business and many workers don't enjoy maneuvering around stunned tourists. For those of you who are sushi fans, grab a sushi breakfast before heading into the market itself. If you're an early bird, be sure to get up early and check out the tuna auction at 5:00 AM. 

5. Tokyo Imperial Palace and Gardens

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The Imperial Palace is where the Emperor and Empress reside and is situated in the center of Tokyo. It is a short 10 minute walk from Tokyo station. The palace is surrounded by a water-filled moat and tree-covered grounds and is accompanied by the beautiful Imperial garden. Walk through a magnificent park set in the center of the city and get a taste of nature within the bustling metropolitan city. The Empress of Japan is personally involved with the garden itself - but more specifically the silk worms. The Park and Gardens are all open to the public free of charge. If you wish to visit the palace itself, you need to make reservations in advance through the Japanese Government website. Reservations may be made over the Internet and can take several weeks to receive approval.

6. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

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This building allows for the public to enjoy a 360 degree panoramic view of Tokyo from an observation deck. Along with free views of the city, there are also souvenir shops and a resturant.

7. Tokyo Skytree

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Completed in 2012, the Tokyo Sky Tree Is a broadcasting and observation tower. It also contains restaurants and a 300 store mall. Heading up to the observation deck isn't necessary (it can be a little pricey) but it is a very cool to look at especially at night. The Tokyo Skytree is quickly becoming the new symbol of Tokyo, transforming the skyline signifcantly.

8. Tokyo Tower

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Similar to the Skytree, the Tokyo Tower is an observation tower providing 360 degree views of the city. This tower has been an icon for the city since it opened in 1957. The design is based off the Eiffel Tower in Paris and stands 9 meters tall than its french counterpart. Visiting the observation deck isn't neccessary, but it's a beautiful sight to see lit up at night.

9. Takeshita Street

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This is where Harajuku culture was born. Located across from the Harajuka JR Line, this famous street offers shops containing the latest Japanese fashion trends - most of which are unique and very well priced. There are also 1 yen stores here (similar to dollar stores), which make for a great place to pick up inexpensive souvenirs for friends and family members. This street can get very busy so visiting during the morning or avoiding weekends would be ideal. Make sure to pickup a delicious crepe or try out the Purikura (Japanese photo booths). For those of you searching for a little adventure, head over to the Kawaii Monster Cafe. You are served artwork-like food by girls dressed in Harajuku fashion. It is a little touristy and not on the cheap side, but it's a small price to pay for an interesting experience.

10. Senso-ji Temple

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Located in Asakusa, this Buddhist temple is Tokyo's oldest and most visited. The gate (Kaminarimon ) and the large red lantern are the first things you'll see when leaving the Asakusa subway station. Walking past the gate you'll be led into Nakamise street, where there are tons of shops and food stands. Making your way past the shops you'll be greeted by another gate (Hozomon) and beyond that, the main hall sits. This is a beautiful temple and you can easily spend half a day here wandering around the large grounds and gardens.

11. Akihabara

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Also known as "Electric Town," this town is home to shops selling the latest technology, video games and Anime related items. The streets are lined with colorful billboards containing promotional sales and advertising Anime shows or characters. There are plenty of gaming arcades and shops to check out. This is also where maid cafes are located as well as the Gundam restaurant. Stroll through the thinly lined streets and take in the quirkiness of this town.

12. Golden Gai

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Connected by several narrow alleyways and hidden among the dense high rises and buildings in Shinjuku, you'll find what the locals call the "Golden Gai." In this area you'll discover more than 300 bars and restaurants - most of which are only large enough to hold 4-5 customers. This area seems almost secretive and makes you feel like you've found a hidden gem. Each bar or restaurant has a unique theme, which you'll quickly notice by the interior decoration. Take the time to stroll around and possibly stop into one or more of these rare bars.

Free Font Collection: Rustic Fonts

Blogging, Fonts, Graphic DesignJessica WozniczkaComment
This is my third post in my font collection series

This is my third post in my font collection series

Happy fall! It's been almost 7 weeks since my last font collection series post and since we are nearing the end of September (what!?) it was about time I did another one. With summer in the rear view I wanted this months font collection series to be all about rustic fonts. If you missed it,  I've covered scriptclean and handwritten fonts in past months. When I think of rustic I think of autumn or the countryside and since fall is upon us, it only seemed fitting I would create this collection.

Rustic fonts have gained in popularity over the past couple of years. This is in part due to the popularity of rustic-sheek weddings. Receptions with mason jars adorned on tables, dark stained wood accents and Edison bulbs are the epitome rustic. Although I missed this trend by about a year, I can still appreciate the simplicity and elegance of rustic themed weddings. The trendy rustic movement isn't strictly limited to weddings - home designers are using this as inspiration for interior design. Because of this, this type of font can be seen almost everywhere; trendy coffee shops, boutiques and even used in framed quotes. A short search through Etsy proves this point. If you're planning a rustic themed wedding or just like the look of these fonts, I've come up with 18 of my favorite rustic themed fonts.  

Below you can find the list of all 18 rustic fonts you can download today!

1) Click on an of the above links.
2) You will be directed to the font webpage.
3) For dafont.com: Click on the "download" button on the right hand side. A zip file should begin downloading. Locate the zip file and open it. Open all of the .ttf files and click the "install" button at the top of each window that opens. They will be automtically installed into your fonts folder.

If you're getting an "invalid font" error, trying logging in as Administrator. Don't drag the files directly from the zip folder in to the fonts folder: this won't work. If you're still having issues installing, please google "invaild font" and you should find some discussion boards.

DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS FOR PC

Disclaimer: Most of these fonts are free for commercial use. Please read the license on each font before using them. The downloaded zip files should contain a text document called "license." It is your responsibility to read the terms and conditions for each font you choose to download. Any font listed as "Demo" means you are allowed to download and try for free. You will need to purchase the license if you decide to use the font past the mock-up phase.

5 Ways To Be a Tourist in Your Hometown

Travel, BloggingJessica WozniczkaComment
Beatouristhometown-post

In our hunt for travel and exploring new and exotic locations, we often forget to see the places around us. Taking shorter trips that don’t require a lot of packing, airline hassle or traveling to other countries may not result in your top moments of an epic travel experience, but they can be just as rewarding.  The same goes for exploring your hometown and viewing it through new eyes as a tourist.  

I live in Chicago, the 3rd largest city in the United States with an abundance of museums, tours and attractions. I’ve seen people from all over the world strolling through the streets of Chicago with their cameras, travel guides and the look of amazement on their faces. Whether it is the jaw dropping height of the Sears Tower [sorry I’ll never call it the Willis Tower], the Chicago Theater lit up or the cultural melting pop that makes up Chicago.

And yet here I am constantly thinking of the furthest possible destinations to take me away from here - which is why I’ve decided to change that. A great way to see your city is to invite some out of town guests to visit and explore with you. Having others there viewing your city with fresh eyes can give you a new perspective. I’ve come up with 5 ways to be a tourist in your own hometown.      

1) Book a Room

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Nothing says vacation more than checking into a hotel room for a couple of days. Waking up in a hotel is the best way to set the mood for adventure and exploration. In addition to being away from your house, the amenities offered by a hotel or B&amp;B are a great way to start the day. If you live in the suburbs, take a trip to stay overnight in the city and if you live in the city, head to the suburbs or spend the weekend in the town over. 

2) Sign Up for a Tour

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You can probably name iconic buildings in your hometown, but do you know the history behind them? Depending on what your city has to offer in terms of tours varies, but there are probably some available. Whether they are by bus, foot or water - tours are a great way to fill in the history gaps in your cities’ knowledge. Feel free to search for yourself and see what types of tours are offered in your city. Chicago for example is known for its 1920’s mobster activity, and the city offers a variety of Chicago crime and mob bus tours. Try something a little abnormal, you may surprise yourself. 
 

3) Splurge on “Toursity” Attractions

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Every city has that attraction that almost all locals avoid because it’s overpriced and extremely crowded. For me, it’s the Sears Tower (which I haven’t been to since I was about 11). You’ve already booked your room in the city so this is the perfect time to go and try it for yourself. Because you’re a local, you know the best times to go in order to avoid the crowds.

4) Take Pictures

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When you travel to new and exciting places, we typically stop and take pictures of cool sights and attractions along the way. But when we’re in our own city, we typically don’t do this. Take some time to walk around and appreciate the architecture or a popular attraction and don’t be afraid of taking that camera up to snap some photos. It will make it feel more like a vacation and it’s a great way to preserver your memories of your staycation

5) Try a New Restaurant

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One of the best things to do when visiting a new place is the get a taste of the local cuisine. Why not try that in your own hometown? Finding a local or family-owned restaurant is a great way to break from the everyday routine. If you live in a larger city that is broken up into subsections (for example China Town), be adventurous and try out some of their local specialties. Trying local cuisine is a great way to treat yourself as well as making you feel more like a tourist in your own city.

Feel free to adventure out to try something new and exciting in your very own city. You might even surprise yourself by finding a hidden gem you never knew existed in your hometown.

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