Author Archives: Simply HelenJ

Peer Review #2

This is a peer review of Rachel Lee’s blog, 36C. Rachel’s blog revolves around gaming and a little bit of her personal life as well. When I first got onto her blog, everything loaded quickly, which can help retain visitors. From the first look at her homepage, her theme is simple and easy to navigate and everything is readable. Her image for her banner is aesthetically pleasing, nicely placed, relevant to her blog, and fits with her colour scheme, which is pink. Her font is fairly standard and minimalistic which fits her blog type.

Example of a dead link. The Twitter social media button doesn’t lead users anywhere.

I like her Instagram widget on the right sidebar but it seems like some of the social media buttons on her sidebar don’t work. I think removing the inactive social media buttons, such as Facebook and Twitter, would cause less clutter and confusion. If there are plans to add those social media platforms, the buttons can be added back later.

Example of text contrast; Titles vs. body text in blog posts.

For the most part, everything on Rachel’s homepage is balanced and has a good amount of white space. Her banner is spread through most of the page while the rest is split into two columns, which I think results in visual equilibrium. I think Rachel’s homepage has a good rhythm and my eyes flow nicely through her content. I think the proportions of the images and text are nice. For example, the titles of blog posts are capitalized and larger than body text which helps create good contrast. Also, the image for her banner is quite zoomed in which I think is capturing; It might be interesting to see proportions being used in this manner for other blog post images as well to create emphasis and emotions.

Example of the different alignments on her homepage. Top image is left-aligned, while the bottom image is centred.

One thing that I think Rachel can improve for her blog design is consistent alignment. I think her alignment is good for her header and top bar links but her alignment for blog posts sometimes change. For example, for her blog post, Fortnite, the images are centred and are on separate lines from the text. On the other hand, for her blog post, Happy V-Day Gamers, the images are left aligned along with the text. This might create some inconsistency on the homepage.

The caption under the image is differently aligned.

Also, in the post, Fortnite, the caption under the image is left aligned while the image is centred. I think it would be a better design choice to have the captions centred along with the images.

Overall, I think Rachel displays a good grasp of design knowledge and integrates it well into her blog. For the most part, everything is balanced, cohesive, and fluent. Also, she integrated her Instagram into her blog well and her blog is very user friendly. With some small adjustments to alignment and dead social media links, her blog design would be even better.

Be sure to check out Rachel’s blog, 36C!

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My Favourite Books

There’s nothing better than finding a good book, not being able to put it down until you get to the last page, and then sharing them to willing (or unwilling?) listeners. Here are some of my favourite books to-date that I would highly recommend. Most of these are Young-Adult novels because that’s just what I tend to enjoy reading.

The Infernal Devices Series by Cassandra Clare

This is a fantasy YA novel set in the 1800s that revolves around the main character Tessa Grey. She goes on a mission to find her missing brother and befriends Shadowhunters (demon slayers), Will and Jem, who help her in her search.

Lots of action and humour! The first book, Clockwork Angel, does a great job at world building and easily sucks the reader into the world. Also, every book ends in a cliff hanger and leaves you wanting more.

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Penryn & the End of Days by Susan Ee

In a post-apocalyptic world where angels have taken over the world, Penryn is in search of her kidnapped sister. Along the way, she befriends an outcasted angel named Raffe and they struggle to survive and find their respective family.

The plot was fast paced and it was a perfect blend of creepy, action, humour, and romance. There were so many disturbing things going on in this post-apocalyptic world and it was so enthralling. I never felt bored while reading this. Penryn and Raffe’s dialogue together is very entertaining and definitely adds some light into this dark, twisted story.

Rating: 5/5

 

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

One summer day, Emily’s best friend suddenly disappears and only a note is left behind. The note is a list of tasks for Emily to complete during summer and leads Emily to an unexpected Summer.

Cute and funny story about friendship and finding yourself. This is probably my second favourite contemporary YA novel and I would highly recommend this read.

Rating: 5/5 

 

 

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

This summer, Taylor and her family gets some bad news and they spend the few months all together at their lake house, where they used to live. She sees some old friends and is reminded of her past.

A cute and touching coming of age story about family. This was an emotional read for me and made me reflect on my own life.

Rating: 4.5/5 

 

 

 

The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead

Rose and Lissa are best friends and after two years on the run, they are found and brought back to St. Vladimir’s Academy. Here they are forced to get back into their old routine and face what made them run two years ago.

Everything from the title, cover art, and synopsis is cheesy which tends to make me wary. I was very hesitant on reading this series at first but now it is my favourite fantasy YA series. I think what makes this series so enjoyable are the characters. Each one of them adds something to the story and their dialogue always makes me laugh. Rose is a strong female protagonist and it is pleasant to read from her point of view. Lots of action, humour, suspense, and romance.

Rating: 5/5

 

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna is forced to move from Atlanta and spend her last year of high school in a boarding school in Paris. At first she struggles with the culture, language, and idea of having to make new friends. Soon she is invited to join a group of friends and begins her unexpected senior year in a new country.

I would recommend this book if you’re looking for a fun, quick, and light-hearted read. When I first read this book, I couldn’t put it down and I’ve reread it once or twice.

Rating: 5/5

 

 

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

(Does anyone really need a synopsis of Harry Potter at this point? In case anyone does, here you go.)
Harry Potter grew up with a horrible family but gets some shocking news on his 12th birthday that changes his life. He learns the truth about his parents and who he is, that being a wizard. He is then taken to study abroad at Hogwarts: School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and faces some challenging obstacles.

I read this series really late into my life compared to others. I didn’t get into it as a kid but decided to give it another chance four years ago and I couldn’t believe I didn’t read it sooner. Amazing world and character building and although the movies had spectacular imagery, the books add so much more to the story. A funny and touching story for readers of all ages.

Rating: 5/5

Hope you find something that interests you and that you enjoy it as much as I did. Happy reading!

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Valentine’s Day Gift Guide — Personal and DIY

Doesn’t Valentine’s Day always seem to sneak up on us? If you’ve been too busy to prepare a gift earlier, here are some personal gift ideas for your special someone.

1. Jigsaw Puzzle 

Jigsaw puzzles make for great future night-in dates and they can be framed after they’re done! They can double up as a great memory and an excellent home decor.

2. Personalized Book/Story or Card 

Write and create your own personalized book. This can be a cute story of your relationship with inside jokes or a couple coupon book (ex. coupon for one back rub, a movie night — your pick). If you have writers block or are worried about your artistic skills, LoveBook provides great guidelines and compiles everything into a hardcover book.

3. Succulent or Preserved Rose Terrarium 

Succulents are so cute and extremely easy to care for. Terrariums are relatively simple to make (lots of guides online) and they’re really customizable. If succulents aren’t a good fit, then maybe a preserved rose is a better option. It incorporates the classic Valentine’s Day flower gift but this one can last for many years and makes a great decor item. Terrariums can be a quick one day DIY gift that is still thoughtful.

Check out my DIY airplant terrarium tutorial. A lot of the same steps apply if you need some guidance.

4. DIY Painted Mug

DIY painted mugs are great because your special someone can be reminded of you every morning when they use the mug. If you want to be extra adorable, you can create two matching ones for both of you. You can find a plain white mug in most department stores or dollar stores. I found my mug at Winners HomeSense. The markers I recommend using are the Pebeo porcelaine markers, which I found on Amazon.

5. Jewelry 

Necklaces, rings, earrings, watches… Jewelry is a classic Valentine’s Day gift and can still be personal. Gauge your partners style and find something to fit their lives. You can even take it one step further and engrave your gift with a personal message.

6. The Night Sky Star Map

A map of the stars on a special day such as when you first met your significant other, when you got married, or your partner’s birthday can make a touching gift. The Night Sky allows you to easily get the map of the stars of a date and location. The design of the poster is simple and aesthetic and you can even write a short custom message.

7. Gift Cards 

Lastly, don’t be afraid to give gift cards. Especially if you’ve already been together for a while because it’s difficult to come up with a unique gift every Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Birthday and Anniversary. Gift cards can be like a mini shopping spree. What are your significant other’s hobbies? Where do they like to shop at? What restaurants do they frequently eat at?

Hope this gave you some ideas for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Also, don’t stress out too much because anything from the heart should be well received. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

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Process Post Week 5

In Class Guest Speaker, Matt Shea

I enjoyed the Skype session with Matt Shea during class because it gave me a lot of insight into creating an online presence, what it takes, and the pros and cons of being online. It was interesting to learn the audience growth curve of Shea’s channel and his suggestions of when to and when to not make your online creation your full time job. I found it surprising that Shea’s channel grew exponentially; He started out really slow from gaining 100 subscribers in a year to 1,000 subscribers in the next year and so on until now where he has sort of plateaued. It is comforting and inspiring to know that he grew slowly at first but with more effort and persistence, he grew even more. He said that there are three things he has in mind when creating content. He assesses if the content is enjoyable to make for himself, if the content is likely to be popular, and if it is content that his audience would enjoy. I think this is helpful for new bloggers or Youtubers in the beginning of creating good content.

My Imagined Audience

When I started this blog, Simply HelenJ, I imagined that my audience would be dominantly younger females. The age range is probably teens to thirties. I aim to make the content on my blog, content that I would enjoy myself. This means that I target my content to audiences who appreciate aesthetics and are looking for material that improves their lifestyle. Also, I predict for an audience that enjoys reading about all aspects of life; This includes, fashion, makeup, fitness, and more.

My imagined audience has influenced many decisions I’ve made for my blog. For example, I put in a lot of effort into making my blog look nice. Because I imagined that my audience would be dominantly females, a lot of aspects of my blog is fairly feminine. For example, my colour scheme is white and coral and the font of my header is light and cursive. The content I make are things that this type of audience can relate to and would enjoy reading. I think it is important to make content that grabs your audiences’ attention because there are so many things on the internet nowadays that it is easy for users to exit out of your blog and go somewhere else. “Some kind of active uptake, however somnolent, is indispensable.” (Warner, 2002)

References

Warner, Michael. 2002. “Publics and Counterpublics.” in Quarterly Journal of Speech. 88.4.

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Process Post Week 4

I have picked Suzanne Collins website to review.

Overview

Firstly, the page loads quite quickly which helps retain visitors. When we first arrive at the homepage, we notice the light orange colour scheme; The colour is consistent throughout the website and does not cause any readability problems which is good. A problem is that the orange colour is quite dull and doesn’t reflect Collins` brand and books. Gertz states that “instead, we’re thinking about how we should treat each piece of content, designing to reflect its subtle personality. The content should speak to the few people who can identify with this personality because this is the only audience that matters.” (Gertz, 2015) A lot of Collins` books are exciting and adventurous and this may be what audiences expect from her now and the orange colour does not speak to these types of audiences.

Our eyes are first drawn to the header “Suzanne Collins” which tells us what this website is about. From Mauve Pagé’s presentation this week, we learned that `rhythm helps create predictability and order to your design`. (Pagé, 2018) The problem is that after the header, there is no rhythm to the page, meaning there isn’t a nice and predictable flow for the user`s eyes to follow. Also, there are too many different alignments. The header and the first picture are centered while navigation bar is right-aligned and the second picture and the rest of the text is left aligned. This negatively affects consistency, unity, and balance. Also, the white space isn’t trapped into one area like the example shown during Pagé’s presentation.

Pagé’s example of good white space
The Other Pages

Collins’ website design is fairly consistent and cohesive throughout her other links; We know that we are still on Collins’ website and there is no confusion.

We see that on the Works page, the content stretches all the way to the left side and there is no white space on the left. On the other hand, on the Biography and Interviews pages, there is white space on the left side. It would be beneficial to be more consistent and choose all pages to have either no white space on the left or to have the white space.

How Responsive

Collins’ website transfers fairly well onto mobile phones and everything is readable and functional. Also, it loads quickly which helps retain visitors. One problem is that the orange header and navigation bar doesn’t extend all the way to the right side of the screen which doesn’t look that nice.

Verdict

Overall, Collins’ website is simple, readable, and functional but there is a lot of room for improvements. I would rate the website 6/10.

 

 

References

Gertz, Travis. 2015. “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” 
Pagé, Mauve. 2018. “Some Considerations on Web Design and Type”

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Process Post Week 3

Question of the Day

To start off, something that is true, that almost nobody agrees with me on is that dice rolls are not dependent on previous rolls. I enjoy playing board games a lot with my friends and often my friends think that if during a round 4 is rolled often, that means future rolls during the round is more likely to be a 4. This is completely false but no one believes me. I`m a statistics major which might explain why I`m quite passionate about this debate. (Also, I enjoy flat soda a lot more than fresh soda which is an outrage to some people. The carbonation is unpleasant in my opinion.)

In Class Discussion

The discussion during class this week on the online disinhibition effect was interesting. I`m on the internet quite frequently and I use social media platforms such as Youtube, Instagram and Facebook. From my experience, I have definitely noticed some of the online behaviours in John Suler`s “The Online Disinhibition Effect“. I`ve noticed that toxic disinhibition has become more of a problem on the internet these days. Some people abuse the anonymity and invisibility aspect of the internet and make hurtful comments. It is less likely for these people to say these hurtful comments in real life because there is more confrontation in talking face to face. On the other hand, the internet acts as a barrier and makes people feel less responsible for what they say online.

 

Mapping My Website

I think choosing a preset theme makes component placing a little bit easier. But essentially, I was aiming to have a fairly simple layout and I wanted my category buttons to be placed on a bar near the top of my home page. I wanted my media social links to appear as aesthetic buttons near the About Me section. I decided to use Instagram and Pinterest for my blog. I chose to use Instagram because I think it can act as a preview to my blog content and it is a little easier to promote yourself on Instagram. Instagram also has a lot of my target audiences. I am thinking of using Pinterest as well because I think my target audiences would use that platform; But I have never used Pinterest before and am not too knowledgeable on it and its functions.

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Peer Review #1

This is a peer review of Gurleen’s blog, Gdhxzzi. It appears that Gdhxzzi is a personal blog where Gurleen writes about her life and experiences. I think her simple theme and typeface is a good match for her type of blog. Also, the theme is easy to navigate and everything seems to be consistent which I think is important.

From reading what Gurleen has posted so far, her writing is very casual. For example, she includes inner thoughts in brackets and texting abbreviations in her writing. In her blog post Strangers Strangers, she writes “When I was younger, I was an avid blogger on Tumblr (if you were wondering… I rarely reblogged lol).” I think this type of writing works well with her type of blog. It makes it more personal and gives off the feeling of reading a diary or reading text messages from a friend.

Gurleen has recently added her About Me page and I think it is a good start in letting her readers learn more about her. Although, it would be even better if she added more details about herself; such as her age, her interests, and if she is a student or her occupation. I do like that she added a picture of herself on her About Me page because it helps put a face to the personal blog posts and readers can feel more connected with her. I think an About Me page is especially important for Gurleen’s type of blog because it’s so personal and it would be nice to know more about the girl behind the posts. Readers will be able to better understand and relate with her blog content. It might be helpful to look up About Me pages on other blogs to get some ideas on what to write about. This page might be useful for some examples.

Although I appreciate her consistent pink colour scheme, some of the smaller text in pink is a little difficult to read. For example, in her post Strangers Strangers, her caption, “I flew out for my BFFs graduation to Louisana. We became friends through Tumblr. “, under her picture doesn‘t have a lot of contrast with her white background. It might help if the pink words were slightly darker, bolded or outlined or if the background was a light grey colour.

Overall, I think Gurleen has a clear idea of her target audience and reaches them well with her personal writing style. Her blog style is simple and easy to navigate which makes for a pleasant reading experience. A few additions to her About Me page would really solidify her blog persona and a little adjustment for readability for some texts would make Gdhxzzi even better. I look forward to Gdhxzzi developing further.

Be sure to check out Gurleen’s blog, Gdhxzzi!

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What’s In My Purse

Are you like me and enjoy discovering what other ladies carry in their purses? Thought I would share what’s in my purse for those of you who are interested! I rotate through about three bags depending on how much I need to carry and which better matches my outfit at the moment. The bag I’m featuring here is from CallItSpring. I love it because of it’s small size and neutral colour. It goes with a lot of outfits and it doesn’t get too heavy.

What’s In My Purse

Shown in picture (from top left to bottom right):

  • Phone power bank
  • Lululemon coin purse
  • Chloe perfume pen
  • Kate Spade wallet
  • Choker (Forever 21)
  • Hand Cream (The Body Shop, Almond Hand & Nail Cream)
  • Lip gloss (Sephora Collection, Outrageous Effect Volume Lip Gloss in XXL Nude)
  • Liquid lipstick (Sephora Collection, Cream Lip Stain Liquid Lipstick in Marvelous Mauve)
  • Phone (LG G4, phone case from eBay)

The rest:

  • Phone charger
  • Tissues
  • Feminine products

Things I would suggest and that are sometimes in my purse:

  • Pen
  • Gloves (in the winter)
  • Sunglasses (in the summer)
  • Water bottle (when there’s enough room in my bag)

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DIY Air Plant Terrarium

 

 

Air plants make extremely easy houseplants. They don’t require any soil — so it saves you the hassle and mess of having to pot something. They require misting every 2-3 days and thrive in bright, indirect sunlight. LED and florescent lights can help as well if you live in an area where it lacks sunlight. Air plant arrangements can add some life to your home/work desk or they can be really pretty hung next to a window in your home. In this DIY I have provided two design examples but be creative because air plant arrangements are so customizable!

Supplies

  • Globe or small vase
  • Plastic spoon (or something to help scoop up sand and rocks)
  • Sand
  • Aquarium rocks (blue for a beach design)
  • Preserved moss or reindeer moss
  • Air plant
  • Decorations of your choice (bark, shells, dried flowers, etc.)

 

Air Plant Globe with a Beach Setting

Step One. Use a plastic spoon to scoop some blue aquarium rocks into the left side of the globe. It helps the rocks stay on one side if you tilt the globe slightly. Then, scoop some sand into the other side of the globe. Very lightly shake the globe to level the rocks and sand.

 

Step Two. (Optional) Add a section of preserved moss into the back of the globe.

 

Step Three. Add your desired amount of reindeer moss to fill up the back of the globe. Don’t be afraid to rip sections of the reindeer moss if it is too large.

 

Step Four. Finally, add in your air plant and decorate as you please. To keep with the beach setting, I added a seashell and a small section of bark in my terrarium. You can even add in a small figurine or dried flowers if you want to customize further.

 

Mini Air Plant Vase

Step One. Use a plastic spoon to scoop in your desired colours of sand into the small vase. You want the sand to fill up about 3/4 of the vase. You can create fun designs by layering different colours of sand!

 

Step Two. Layer a few aquarium rocks on top of the sand.

 

Step Three. Finally, gently settle your air plant on top of the rocks and decorate! Adding a small section of reindeer moss and a seashell makes it even cuter.

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Vision Board Process

When I created my vision board, the first thing I did was create a list of things that I liked, activities that I think were fun, what I studied in school, where I worked at, and other facts about myself and my life. After brainstorming, I started to look for connections and grouped items on my list together. This list became really messy and unorganized; Therefore, I transferred everything to a Venn diagram and this really helped narrow down what I wanted the focus of my blog to be.

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