December 6, 2012

Christmas Dream Template

 This template includes:
  a wide 2-column layout
  a background
  a matching header
  a post icon (picture next to the post title)
  a post divider (picture in between each post)

You can add/change:
  •   the Blog title and description shown on the header
  •   the font colors
  •   the font  Click here to learn how.  (This template allows you to alter the date, post title and sidebar titles with a different font for each one.)
   Don't forget to add my button to your sidebar. Here's the code:

<center><a href=><img src=" Button.png"/></a></center>

Images copyright Katie Castillo
From her kit Heavenly Christmas

November 1, 2012

Photoshop Basic for Bloggers

When I was in high school, I took my first Graphic Design class. It was there that I was introduced to Photoshop and I fell in LOVE with it! Since then I have tried a lot of other design software and though many of them are good, they just don't compare in my eyes.

As bloggers, it is important to have great designs for your blog layout as well as for the images you post on your blog. Thus having software that can give you those great designs is so important! I know that Photoshop can be pricey (there is a really expensive version and a cheaper version). So if you are just starting out, there are a lot of decent options for graphic design software other than Photoshop and many of them free. But if you really want to move forward with your blog, I recommend starting with Photoshop Elements.

Now many of you may be intimidated by this program. If you have never used it before it really can be so confusing! But I have found a site that I wanted to share with everyone that offers Photoshop Basics for Bloggers. Suzie at The Accent Piece has put together 31 days days of Photoshop Basics for Bloggers. It is very basic, so if you are one of the many that are too scared to try it, check out her site!

How many of you use Photoshop?
What other software do you use?
What's your favorite?
What software do you prefer that I use in my tutorials?

October 17, 2012

My Memories Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to KAREN at Crafty Friends
You are the winner of a free copy of the My Memories Software Giveaway!

Please email me at blogdesignsbydani[at]gmail[dot]com to claim your prize!

Here is the number generator that chose Karen:

Didn't win the giveaway? Don't worry, you can still purchase the software at a discounted price. If you use my discount code below, you can receive $10 off the retail price of $39.97. So you only pay $29.97. Also, you get $10 to use in their store to buy scrapbook kits, templates or anything you find there! 

Here's the code:
This code never expires and is posted in my sidebar. 
So head over to My Memories and get started with your first digital scrapbook!
(To see my review of the software, read my post HERE.) 
Thanks to everyone that entered the giveaway! 

October 9, 2012

My Memories Scrapbooking Software Giveaway!

Giveaway Closed

I am excited to announce an amazing Giveaway today!!
(and an awesome discount at the bottom of this post!)

Update: I am extending this giveaway to end on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at midnight PST. Enter today!

Are any of you digital scrapbookers? Are any of you regular scrapbookers trying to make the switch to digital but don't know how? Or do you just have tons of pictures filling up your computer and you have no idea what to do with them? Well this giveaway is for you!

Have you heard of the My Memories Suite before? It is the top rated digital scrapbooking software and it makes scrapbooking so easy! I've been given one copy of the software to try out for myself and one copy to give away to a lucky reader! Before I give you the giveaway details, let me tell you about the software and show you what it can do.

When I first downloaded the software, I was worried that I was going to have to purchase kits from their store in order to make my scrapbooks. I already have tons of digital scrapbooking kits for my blog designs and would hate to have to buy them all over again. Luckily, I was wrong. It is very easy to use kits you already own to make your layouts.

I am currently working on a scrapbook of my son's first year. Here is page of his first haircut that I made in My Memories:

Excuse the blurry faces. I like to keep my baby's face private. :)
I used a kit from Katie Castillo at Just So Scrappy called "Boys Will Be Boys" to make this page. 

I didn't use a template but it was still fairly easy to place the pictures and images wherever I chose. The design I did above was simple as far as figuring out how to use the program, but it did take me some time to put all of the elements together. If you are interested in putting together "Quick Pages", My Memories makes it really easy. Here is an example of a quick page I made:

(Image removed)

To make a quick page in My Memories, I simply added the photos and placed them behind the quick page image. It was SO easy. The only downside to the Quick Pages is that they are not very customizable. The photos have to fit in the frames provided. You can't resize anything.

Fortunately, My Memories has another feature that does is easy and customizable. By purchasing Templates from the My Memories store, you can create pages quickly and then customize them by moving around photo frames, changing the size and shape of those frames, and much more. The video below gives a basic overview of My Memories and shows how these template pages can be customized.

Now, My Memories is a great digital scrapbooking software program, but do not expect it to be a powerful photo/graphics editing program. It is built for scrapbooking first and editing second. But for $39.97 USD (retail price), this software really can't be beat. It does have some good photo effects like Crop, Red Eye, Sepia, Black and White, Sharpen, Blur and several more. One feature I really like is how easy it is to cut photos into the shape of your choice with just the click of a button.

Once you create your scrapbook albums, it is fairly easy to get them printed. You can either print them through My Memories or you can save the images as jpg's and upload them to the site where you would like to get them printed.If you don't want to print your albums you can keep them digital and view them as slideshows on your blog, your ipod, your computer or wherever. You can even add multimedia such as music and videos to your albums and burn the album with the embedded media onto a DVD.

For any software, the biggest test for me is how versatile it is. Can you do more than just scrapbooks with this software? The answer is yes! This week I needed to make an invitation for a church activity. I was able to put together a simple invitation quickly by making a custom project. Here is the invitation I made:

This invitation was made using Just So Scrappy's kit "I Toadally Love You". 
Another project that I made with My Memories was a Calendar. There is a great calendar feature that places the dates for the month or year that you choose and allows you to customize it with your own photos or design elements. Here is my calendar for October:

This calendar was made using Just So Scrappy's kit "Toil and Trouble".
My final test for My Memories was whether or not I could create blog design elements in the program. I found that I could create backgrounds like the one below:

This background was made using Just So Scrappy's kit "Abby".

This background is made following instructions similar to my tutorial on How to Make Your Own Blog Background with the Minima Template. However, I was not able to make a background using my simplified instructions on How to Make Your Own Blog Background with the Blogger Simple Template
 Update: Since I posted this, I have tried to upload the background image above to a blog and have not had success. The header image below worked great, but I cannot guarantee that the other design elements will work when created in My Memories.

 I was unable to make the simplified backgrounds because the documents in My Memories have to be at least 200pixels wide x 500pixels high. I also had a hard time cropping the image precisely so that it would repeat the pattern smoothly on my blog.

 My Memories will not save images as transparent png files so the final images will have to be rectangular.  Using this software I was able to make a nice rectangular header shown below:

This header was made using Just So Scrappy's kit "Abby".
You can follow instructions similar to my tutorial on How to Make Your Own Header to make a header similar to this.

So what do you think? Is the My Memories Suite Software something that you could use to preserve your memories or to create your own miscellaneous designs? I think it's totally worth it! And one lucky reader will get a free copy of the software!

Here's how you can enter to win your own free copy:
You may comment once on this post for each of the items below. 
Each comment on this post is an entry for the giveaway.

1. Visit My Memories and find your favorite digital paper pack, layout or anything else you like. Then leave a comment on this post saying which kit, layout, etc. you found and what project you would make with it. 
2. Follow my blog and leave a comment on this post saying that you are a follower.
3. Follow the My Memories blog and leave a comment on this post saying that you are a follower.

This giveaway starts Tuesday, October 9, 2012 and ends Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at midnight PST. The winner will be chosen randomly using and will be announced the following Wednesday, October 17, 2012.

Please be sure to check back to see if you won. If the winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

This software is available worldwide. However, it is intended for English-language computers. Technical support is English-only.

And for anyone that is interested in purchasing the software, I have a discount for you!

If you purchase the My Memories Suite using the following discount code, you can receive a $10 discount on your software purchase (retail price is $39.97 USD before the discount). That means that for just under $30 USD, you can create beautiful digital scrapbooks and other digital designs!

In addition to this discount, you will receive a $10 coupon for the My store, giving you a total savings of $20!

To use this discount, simply go to My and enter the following discount code:

September 24, 2012

Out with the Old and in with the New

Most of you have been using Blogger's new interface for a while now and are hopefully getting used to the great new features. There are tons of new features to help you customize your blog without having to touch the html/css. However, there was one feature that I really loved about the old interface. The Minima template. This was a basic template that was so easy to alter to add custom design elements to your blog. For a while, even if you were using the new interface, you could switch back to the old interface, add the Minima template to your blog, and then switch back. Unfortunately, Blogger has finally gotten rid of the old interface. The option to switch back is no longer available.

You may remember that my Free Backgrounds required the use of the Minima template. Don't worry, I have updated my instructions to help you add my Free Backgrounds using the newer Blogger templates. You can read these instructions here:

If you still want to use the Minima template, you can use either of my 2 modified versions. Below are links to a Wide 2-Column template and a 3-Column template. You can use the 3-Column background code for either of these templates.

With the new Blogger templates, you may want a few of these tutorials as well:


Remember, to use any of my designs you must link back to my blog with my button in your sidebar (unless my "designs by dani" tag shows up on your Free Background). Here is a link to my button with instructions:

Please let me know if you have any questions about my tutorials. 

Thanks for visiting my blog and using my designs!!


September 19, 2012

Updated Templates

Some of you may have noticed that my free templates have been acting weird. The Blogger navigation bar that you see at the top (with the links to write a new post or edit the design of your blog) suddenly jumped to the sidebar. Blogger may have changed a few settings causing the template to malfunction. Fortunately, I figured out how to fix it by just adding a few extra lines of code to the template. So, if you currently have one of my templates, please go back to my Free Templates, find the html code and copy/paste the template again. If you have forgotten how, please read through the instructions and ALWAYS backup your old template before adding a new one.

September 18, 2012

Keep It Simple

I recently received an email from sharing with me a great article titled, 10 Reasons Your Site Needs to be Obvious for Users. I started this blog with the hopes of helping bloggers to create blogs that were more pleasing to the eye. Since then I have discovered many ways to make a blog really stand out and to make it easier for readers to find the information they are looking for. Read through Longhornleads' article to learn how to keep it simple and attract more readers to your blog. Then read through my Design Secrets to find the tutorials you need to help attract more readers.

September 4, 2012

Back Home

If you've been following my blog you'll know that I had back surgery in May. My recovery has taken much longer than I had expected. With a very active toddler to take care of, I decided it was best if I go stay with my parents for a while to get help until I could handle taking care of him on my own. So for the past 6 weeks I have been away from home and away from my computer (and Photoshop). I was able to post a few tutorials, but not my best ones. Now that I am home I will be able to post better tutorials and some template designs. I have a lot to get caught up on in my personal life since I have been gone for so long, but I will be sure to post again soon. Let me know if you have any requests. Also, if you have emailed me or commented and I have not responded, feel free to send me another email. I may have missed it.


August 14, 2012

Navigation Bar - Using Pages

A good blog needs to be easy to navigate. If your readers can't search through your posts quickly and easily to find what interests them, they probably won't be looking at your blog for long. There are so many different ways to make a navigation bar but I am going to explain very basic ones for now. Navigation bars can range from a very basic list of links to complicated drop-down menus. Some blogs even have their navigation bars creatively embedded in their header design.

I can definitely help you make a basic navigation bar, but I still don't know how to make the really creative types of navigation bars. I created my navigation bar a few years ago and I don't remember how I did it well enough to explain it. I do remember that it took me forever to figure out how to do the drop-down menus. I encountered a million glitches and eventually figured it out, even though the spacing in some browsers keeps it from lining up as well as I would like. However, if I have time after I finish this basic nav bar, I will look into my drop-down menu and try to figure out how I put it all together.

So let's get started on a basic navigation bar!

July 24, 2012

Blogs on Mobile Devices

Have you ever looked at your blog or other Blogger blogs from a mobile device like a phone or a tablet? You may be surprised to see that the background doesn't always look right. Let me first tell you what is wrong and then show you what you can do about it.

If you use any of my free backgrounds or other similar backgrounds from other sites you will notice a problem with the size and position of that background. Below is a rough sketch of what you might see when you view a blog on a phone:

On a mobile device, the background image is shrunk down to fit the size of the screen. But because a phone is much longer than it is wide, the image does not fill the screen. You could turn your phone on its side but it still does not fit the screen right. Also, the background image stays fixed at one position on the screen. It may be at the top or centered in the middle as you see above. Either way, this means that as you scroll, the background image will not move with your blog.

So how can you work around this problem and still have a great design on your blog? Let me tell you...

July 20, 2012

Update to Background Tutorial

I have noticed that a lot of the free backgrounds and more decorative backgrounds can take a long time for some computers to load. In fact, I have heard friends complain that the images on some blogs take so long to load that their slow computers just can't handle it. To help with this, I have updated my tutorial on How to Make Your Own Background using the Minima template. It is a simpler background that loads quickly on computers but still looks great. In some ways it even looks more professional than the more decorative designs.

Check it out here: 

July 9, 2012

An Update and Tutorial Requests

So it has been a month since I last posted an update and I am doing much better now. I am not fully recovered but I am doing significantly better. I have gone from lying in bed all day to sitting most of the day...still can't do much but I can sit at the computer for longer periods of time.

I still am not allowed to bend or lift more than 10 pounds and won't be able to for a little while longer. Since my toddler weighs a lot more than 10 pounds I am not able to take care of him on my own. To get the help I need, I am going to be staying with my parents for a while. I won't have access to my own computer there and won't have Photoshop to make any more designs then.

This means that anyone interested in Custom Designs will have to wait. You can email me for time frames of when I will be available again. Because of my surgery, I have gotten very behind on taking care of my house and many other personal things. So even if I am feeling up to designing again, it may take me a little longer to get caught up and be ready to design again.

However, I may still be able to do a few tutorials. I will even show you how to create designs using Pixlr or any other design software I find on my parents' computer. I want to do tutorials, but I really want to do the ones that matter most to you. I have compiled a list of questions readers have asked or tutorials that have been requested and I want to know which ones you want to see first. Also, if you have another tutorial request, please leave me a comment. (My comments are moderated, so they don't show up right away. But don't worry, I'll publish all comment requests. I just like to remove all junk and spam comments myself.) Here's the list in no particular order:

1. How to create a background around the middle posting section (like the white, orange and green background around my middle section)
2. How to change the title of your blog to not all be upper case
3. How to get your header to fit your blog better, how to center it, etc.
4. How to get your designs to look good on mobile devices (Have you ever looked at your blog on a phone or tablet? It doesn't always look as good.)
5. How to make your own social icons
6. How to add a signature to all of your posts using Blogger's new templates
7. How to make a wrap-around design like my Ultimate Design (This tutorial is complicated and will require a lot of time for me, but let me know if you are interested.)

What else do you want to learn? Don't be afraid to ask!


June 7, 2012

Doing Well

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to thank all of you for your well wishes! I had major back surgery 2 weeks ago and spent over a week in the hospital recovering. The surgery went well, but I was pretty sick while recovering in the hospital. I am home now getting lots of rest and doing much better. I finally was able to sit at a computer today and check emails. I can't sit at the computer long enough to respond to your comments and emails, but please know that I will get to them eventually. I may need a month or 2 to recover completely.

Thank you for your continued support. I apologize that some things have not been working, my templates in particular. Please be patient with me. I will be sure to reply as I continue to improve in health.


May 16, 2012

Time Away

You may have noticed that I have not been posting very often these days. I apologize for that, but unfortunately it won't be getting any better. I have had some health problems for a while and finally met with a doctor that said surgery is the only solution. My operation is in less than 10 days and I am spending this time getting my house in order and everything ready for me and my family during my recovery. I don't know for sure how long I will be out but I probably won't be jumping back on the computer for at least a month, maybe two.

I want all of you to know how much I appreciate your kind words and support of me and my blog. I am amazed every day that so many of you have been able to find something useful here on my blog. It has been such a great experience for me so far and I hope to be able to continue. I have cut back on my posts quite a bit lately and I appreciate so many of you sticking with me. I have been making sure that my job as a mom is my full-time job and does not take a back seat to this blog. I still have a long list of tutorials I want to post and I hope to eventually get to them. Thank you so much for your patience.

You can still email me if you'd like but please don't expect a response any time soon. I'll be sure to update my blog with an update on my recovery!

Thanks to all of you for supporting my blog!


April 20, 2012

How to Add a Post Icon (Simple Template)

Customizing the Simple Template - Part 4

Have you ever seen those cute little icons next to the title of each post? I have made several for my custom design customers and love them. They are just one more simple feature to draw attention to your blog without over doing it.

Making the actual post icon is very easy. And if you use the Blogger Simple template, adding the icon to your blog is even easier. You don't have to worry at all about editing the HTML and messing up your blog. You won't go anywhere near it in this tutorial.

Follow Part 1 of my Simple Template Tutorials to set your template to the Simple template.

Let's get started!

April 4, 2012

How to Make and Add a Post Divider (Simple Template)

Customizing the Simple Template - Part 3

Do you want a post divider for your blog but you are afraid to edit the HTML? If you answered yes, then this post is for you. In a previous post I showed you how to create a post divider like the one you see below:

My previous instructions showed you how to add the divider if your template is already set to the Minima template. This post will give you instructions on how to add the divider if your template is set to the Blogger Simple template. Follow Part 1 of my Simple Template Tutorials to set your template to the Simple template.

Let's get started!

March 14, 2012

How to Make Your Own Background (Simple Template)

Customizing the Simple Template - Part 2

In my last post, I showed you how to get your blog set up with the Blogger Simple template. Now it is time to start customizing it!

Let's get started with the background:

March 8, 2012

Customizing the Blogger Simple Template, Part 1

I have posted several tutorials on how to make your own blog background, post divider and such and I hope they have been useful to you. However, all of these tutorials have required that you use the Minima template. I like this template the most but this template does not allow you to take full advantage of the Template Designer. Also, many of you are terrified at the thought of editing the HTML on your own.

So, I would like to give you some instructions on how to add your own custom designs to the Blogger Simple template. If you use this template, you can adjust the widths of the columns, the arrangement of the columns and much more without having to edit the HTML at all! In fact, when you add all of your design elements, you won't ever have to click "Edit HTML"!

This first post will be all about getting your blog set-up with the Simple template of your choice. (There are several Simple templates. I'll help you choose!) My next post will show you how to add your own Custom Design Elements.

Ready to get started? Here we go!

January 31, 2012

Blank 3-Column Template

This template is a blank template, meaning there is no background image, no header, no designs on the blog. The template, however, has been modified to allow for 3 columns. My free 3-column backgrounds can be used with this template.

By using this template, you agree to the terms of use.
Read here for instructions on how to add a template.

Click Here for HTML/CSS Code

You can add/change:
  •   the Blog title and description shown on the header
  •   the font colors
  •   the font  Click here to learn how.  (This template allows you to alter the date, post title and   sidebar titles with a different font for each one.) 
  •   the background
  •   the header
   Don't forget to add my button to your sidebar. Here's the code:

<center><a href=><img src=" Button.png"/></a></center>

January 27, 2012

Cherished Love Header

Use with the background: Cherished Love Love%20Header.jpg

Images copyright Katie Castillo
(from her kit called Cherish)

Cherished Love

For those of you interested in just the background from the Cherished Love Template, here it is:

 2-Column (Standard Width)

<script>document.write(unescape("%3Cstyle%20type%3D%22text/css%22%3Ebody%7Bbackground-image%3Aurl%28%22http%3A// Love.jpg%20%22%29%3Bbackground-position%3Acenter%3B%20background-repeat%3A%20no-repeat%3B%20background-attachment%3A%20fixed%3B%7D%3C/style%3E%20%3Cdiv%20id%3D%22tag%22%20style%3D%22position%3Aabsolute%3B%20left%3A0px%3Btop%3A30px%3B%20width%3A150px%3B%20height%3A50px%3B%22%3E%3Ca%20target%3D%22_blank%22%20href%3D%22http%3A//"))</script>
  3-Column (Wide Width)
<script>document.write(unescape("%3Cstyle%20type%3D%22text/css%22%3Ebody%7Bbackground-image%3Aurl%28%22http%3A// Love_3Column.jpg%20%22%29%3Bbackground-position%3Acenter%3B%20background-repeat%3A%20no-repeat%3B%20background-attachment%3A%20fixed%3B%7D%3C/style%3E%20%3Cdiv%20id%3D%22tag%22%20style%3D%22position%3Aabsolute%3B%20left%3A0px%3Btop%3A30px%3B%20width%3A150px%3B%20height%3A50px%3B%22%3E%3Ca%20target%3D%22_blank%22%20href%3D%22http%3A//"))</script>

Images copyright Katie Castillo
(from her kit called Cherish)

Matching Header

January 26, 2012

Cherished Love Template

By using this template, you agree to the terms of use.
Read here for instructions on how to add a template.

Click Here for HTML/CSS Code
*This template may not show the header when you insert the HTML/CSS code. If it does not appear, do the following:

1. Go to the Design page and make sure you are on the Page Elements section.
2. Click on the Edit button on the Header box.
3. In the pop-up window, click "Behind Title and Description and then insert the following address in the box that says, "From the Web"

4. Click Save and View Blog. Your header should appear!

 This template includes:
  a wide 2-column layout
  a background
  a matching header
  a post icon (picture next to the post title)
  a post divider (picture in between each post)

You can add/change:
  •   the Blog title and description shown on the header
  •   the font colors
  •   the font  Click here to learn how.  (This template allows you to alter the date, post title and sidebar titles with a different font for each one.)
   Don't forget to add my button to your sidebar. Here's the code:

<center><a href=><img src=" Button.png"/></a></center>

Images copyright Katie Castillo
From her kit Cherish

January 13, 2012

Header Problems

Are any of you having problems with my headers? A few readers have complained of the headers being too big. Lately the "Shrink to Fit" button hasn't been shrinking my headers down to the right size for many blogs. If you are having this problem, please leave a comment or email me. I will resize the header for you and post a new code. Be sure to tell me which header you want.