Thursday, 29 August 2013

NEW Minimalist Social Media Icons

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I'm hoping to freshen up my blog design a little bit, in the near future, and as part of that I have been tinkering with designs for social media icons. I really like the clean and minimalist when it comes to blogs, so this new set reflects that. I'm undecided as to whether I'll be using something similar on A Typical English Home yet, but here is a mock-up of how it might look:

In the meantime, I am making the social media icons available to my readers. 

What social media buttons are included?

I have included 14 different social media icons in these sets. The buttons include:
Bloglovin', email, Etsy, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, Linked In, Pinterest, RSS, Stumbled Upon, Tumblr, Twitter, You Tube
There are twelve different colours of button to choose from, (which you can see further down the page). Most people should be able to find a colour which compliments their blog's colour scheme, and you may want to mix and match a few different colours!

Image details

The files are all in .png format with transparent backgrounds, so you can use them against any coloured background. I've made the icons 70 pixels by 70 pixels, which might be slightly larger than you want. I create them like this because it is easy to reduce the size of an image and retain the quality, but it is much harder to make icons larger if you need to without losing the crispness of the image. I have published a tutorial on how to reduce the size of an image, if you aren't sure how to do this. 

How to install social media icons

To learn how to install social media icons on your blog, check out my "How To Add Buttons" tutorial.

Download your free social media icons

Click on the colour you want below to download the corresponding set.

Please let me know if you spot any broken or incorrect links. :-)

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

How To Remove Permanent Marker From Anything

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If you have kids, then removing permanent marker from something which wasn't meant to be permanent markered is a problem you will most likely face at some point. With two boys, I now consider myself to be quite an expert on the topic and have compiled all of my relevant cleaning tips into one handy post. I've even put together a free printable so that you can print it off for easy reference!

These suggestions mostly have a good success rate and can mostly be implemented without worry of causing further damage or staining. However, as a little disclaimer I will say that you should always test the method on a discrete area before attempting the actual stain removal. 

How To Remove Permanent Marker From Any Surface


You can try:

·         Baby oil or lotion
·         Hand sanitizer

Soak a cotton wool ball in one of the above and gently rub onto the affected area until the stain is gone.


You can try:

·         Hand sanitizer
·         Hairspray
·         Rubbing alcohol

Moisten the stain with one of the above and blot with a clean cloth. Repeat if until all of the marker pen has lifted from the garment.

Flooring: Carpets and Rugs

You can try:

·         White vinegar
·         Hairspray
·         Rubbing alcohol

Moisten the affected area with one of the above and blot with a clean towel. Do not rub the stain as it can make it worse. Repeat until the stain is fully removed.

Flooring: Hard Surfaces

You can try:

·         Toothpaste and baking soda (ratio 1:1)
·         White vinegar
·         Acetone (such as nail varnish remover)

Gently rub one of the above into the affected area and scrub with a cloth until the stain is no longer visible. A second application may be necessary.

Upholstery: Fabric

You can try:

·         Hand sanitizer
·         Hairspray
·         Acetone (such as nail varnish remover)

Apply one of the above to a clean cloth and blot the stain. Repeat application until the stain has lifted.

Upholstery: Leather

You can try:

·         Hairspray

Apply to a clean cloth and blot the affected area. The stain should transfer to the cloth.


You can try:

·         Whitening toothpaste
·         Hand sanitizer
·         Acetone (such as nail varnish remover)

Rub one of the above into the stain with a clean cloth. Use a gentle circular motion to avoid removing paint.

Household Appliances

You can try:

·         White vinegar
·         Acetone (such as nail varnish remover)

Rub one of the above into the marker pen stain with a clean cloth. 

White Board

You can try:

·         Dry erase marker

Draw over the affected area with a dry erase marker, then wipe the pen away with a cloth.

Household Products That Might Remove Permanent Marker...

It is very hard to write a post on removing permanent marker pen because there are a lot of variables that will affect the stain removal process (the surface, the pen used, the age of the stain, etc). So in addition to the guide I've given above I thought it would be a good idea to include a comprehensive list of everyday household products you can use for marker pen removal, in case your problem isn't covered, or my suggestion has failed for you.

Obviously, you need to exercise a bit of common sense when attempting to remove the stain. Some of the suggestions will only work in specific scenarios, for instance dry erase pens usually work on hard, wipeable surfaces but will only ruin your fabric sofa further! You should also be very careful about using abrasive substances on delicate surfaces.

Permanent marker pen can sometimes be removed with:

Baby wipes
Baby lotion
Baby oil
Hand sanitizer
Lemon juice
White vinegar
Rubbing alcohol
Dry erase pens
Magic eraser

If you know of any other clever ways to remove permanent marker, let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Prettify Your Posts With Washi Tape

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Over the last few weeks I have shared several free digital washi tape downloads. It can be used for digital scrapbooking, but it can also be added to blog photos and other images to prettify them a bit and create a bit of "depth" to your pages. Since my files are .png and have transparent backgrounds you can easily layer them over images using software such as Photoshop. However, even the lite version represents an expensive investment for a blogger, so when I started getting questions about how to add digital washi tapes to photos I decided that it was best to demonstrate an inexpensive way to do it. And if you've read some of my recent tutorials you will know that I am a big fan of PicMonkey, whose photo editing features are mostly free!

Adding Digital Washi Tape  With PicMonkey

Step one. Go to the PicMonkey website and choose "Edit a photo". Locate the photo you want to prettify and open it.

Step two. Click on the "Frames" tab and choose "Simple Edge". Set both the outer and inner colour to white, and then click on "Apply" to save the changes.

Step three. Navigate to the "Overlays" tab and click on the button that says "Your Own". Select the digital washi tape file that you want to use. 

Step four. You will want to tweak how the washi tape looks. There are four things you can edit:

  • Size. Drag the corners of the box to alter the size of your washi tape image.
  • Rotate. To change the angle of the tape, hover your mouse over the circle which is protruding from the box. Two arrows which go in a circle will appear. Click on this, and you will be able to rotate your shape.
  • Colour. You might like the pattern on your digital washi tape, but perhaps it doesn't quite "go" with your image or your blog's colour scheme. Use the colour palette to pick a colour which compliments your blog a bit better.
  • Opacity. If you are using my free digital washi tape files then the image already has reduced opacity, which gives it a slightly transparent appearance. But you can use the opacity further by using the "Fade" slidebar.

Step five. If you want, you can repeat step three and four to add multiple strips of washi tape.

Step six. Once you have finished editing your picture, select "save to my computer". Your newly prettified picture is now ready to add to your blog!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Fonts For The Autumn (Fall)

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This year is just flying by! At the moment I am still enjoying long, hot sunny days but I know it wont be much longer before the leaves start turning shades of orange and red, and the morning school run gets a bit nippy. So, being a fontaholic, I am preparing for the forthcoming season by downloading yet more free fonts...

Please check the licenses before using any of the fonts for commercial use!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Patterned Digital Washi Tape

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Regular readers will, by now, be expecting another digital washi tape post today. This last set is a collection of miscellaneous patterns which didn't fit neatly into any of the other freebie packs I've been putting up for download, (you can see all of the different patterns in the above image).

There are nine different patterns to choose from, and each design comes in two sizes of tape.

400 pixels by 100 pixels
250 by 75 pixels
Of course, you can also reduce the size of the images with software like Photoshop or PicMonkey if you need too. Every .png file has a transparent background so that you can overlay the digital washi tape seamlessly over other images. 

If you like the idea of digital washi tape but aren't sure how to use it with your photos and blog images, then keep a look out for this post next Tuesday:

I am planning to share some more blog freebies next Thursday (of the non-washi tape variety)!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Creating A Custom Watermark With PicMonkey

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Somebody asked me how you watermark a picture with PicMonkey, and I promised them I would add a tutorial to the blog very soon. Today I am sharing that tutorial, but I've gone one step further and added a brief overview of how you can create a custom watermark with PicMonkey too.

Watermarking pictures is, in my opinion, essential. So if you are a bit on the fence as to whether it is worth the extra effort, please take a look at my tips for optimising blog photos as I share my reasons for why adding a watermark is important.

Designing A Custom Watermark With PicMonkey

Step one. Go to PicMonkey and click on "Create a collage".

Step two. Click on the Layouts tab (second icon down) and select "create your own". A single cell 2000px by 2000px image will appear.

Step three. Click on the Backgrounds tab (which is the bottom icon which looks like a paint palette). Underneath the colour palette is an option which says "Transparent background" - tick the box!

Step four. Save the image as a .png file. This means that it will retain its transparent properties.

Step five. Navigate back to the home screen in PicMonkey, but this time select "Edit a photo".  Load the .png image you just saved. Because the image is transparent it will look like nothing has loaded, but don't worry - it really is there!

Step six. Design your image! The most useful tabs are the Text tab (which looks like a 'P') and the Overlays tab, which has lots of free clipart. You can also add custom elements from your computer.

Keep the design simple - after all, you do not want your watermark to distract readers from your super amazing photos. You may even just decide to keep your watermark as plain text.

Step seven. If you are happy with the watermark logo you have created, it is time to crop your image. The crop tool is found under the top tab of the left hand menu, under "Basic Edits". 

Step eight. Save your image. Don't forget to save it as a .png again, to keep the background transparent. 

Using PicMonkey To Add A Watermark To Your  Pictures

Step one. Select "Edit a photo" on PicMonkey, and open the photo you want to watermark.

Step two. Go to 'Overlays' and click on the box at the top which says "Your Own". Locate the watermark image which you saved to your computer.

Step three. Arrange and re-size your watermark, (this is just done by clicking and dragging the corners of the box). You might also want to change the colour or reduce the opacity with the "fade" slidebar.

Step four. Save your newly watermarked image to your computer. 

If you have any great PicMonkey tips or have any questions about using it for watermarking your blog photos, please leave a comment.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Best School Fonts

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I had intended to get a school fonts post up at the beginning of August, but I've been so focused on other projects (and my family) that it didn't happen. I believe that a lot of American children are heading back to school now, but British parents have still got a little time to knock out some "back to school" crafts and printables! I guess school fonts can come in handy at any time of the year anyway. :-)

Here is where to download them...

I'm just going to put my usual disclaimer here - all of these fonts are free for personal use, but check the terms and conditions if you are creating something commercial.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Free Striped Digital Washi Tape

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Apologies for skipping over the Freebie Thursday post last week - it was one of those hectic weeks where life gets in the way of the blog. That happens a lot over the school holidays. But hopefully today's post was worth the wait because I am sharing 24 more digital washi tape files, to use in your scrapbooking and blog posts!

There are a dozen files with diagonal stripes, and the rest have horizontal ones. As with my other sets, the 'tape' comes in two different sizes...

400 pixels by 100 pixels

250 pixels by 75 pixels
For those of you who haven't checked out my previous digital washi tape files yet, they have a transparent background and reduced opacity to give the image a more authentic 'washi' look.

I am planning one final pack of digital washi tape, which *should* be available next Thursday.

Friday, 9 August 2013

How To Prolong The Life Of A Washing Machine

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A few months ago, when I was going through my spring cleaning frenzy, I shared a post on how I cleaned my washing machine. Since doing the big clean, I have been making an effort to maintain good daily habits when it comes to using the washing machine in order to keep it clean and running smoothly, and thought I would share some of the tips I have learned.

Washing Machine Care Tips

My washing machine is still relatively new (I only bought it from John Lewis a couple of years ago), and since I opted for a good model I hope to have many more years of service from it. However, maximising the longevity of your washing machine means taking basic precautions right from the start to keep the components running smoothly, the drum smelling pleasant and to avoid the problems associated with a build up of soap and detergent. These tips are all very basic, the hard bit is remembering to do them until it becomes habit!

Leave The Door Open

Unless you have an inquisitive toddler or pet you should always leave the door open on the washing machine when it is not in use. This gives it time to dry out so you don't end up with nasties like mildew growing in your machine. If you do have to keep the door constantly closed for safety reasons then keep a cloth near your laundry area, and give the glass door and rubber seal a quick wipe down after unloading your clothes. 

Run A Hot Wash At Least Once Per Month

Many detergents allow you to clean your clothes at a much lower temperature now. This is good news, because the lower you set your machine the less energy it will use. However, if you always run a cool wash you are at risk of growing mold or mildew in your washing machine so make sure you are doing a hot wash (60C to 90C) at least once a month to kill and bugs and keep your machine odor free.  It is beneficial to do this on an empty load (or take the opportunity to sanitise your dirty cleaning cloths), and you can add a cup of white vinegar into the wash to help clear the build up from detergents. 

Don't Overload The Machine

If you ignore the load capacity and cram in as much as possible then your machine will run efficiently, (I am very guilty of this one!). Break large loads down into smaller loads to use less energy and put less strain on the motor. Just to be clear, this doesn't mean running the drum half empty, which is bad for the environment and a waste of your time. There is a happy medium!

Keep Your Washes To One Per Day

This might be a controversial suggestion...

If you have a big family then you are obviously going to need to do several loads of washing every week. It is better to spread these loads over several days rather than having one dedicated laundry day. This is because the motor on a domestic washing machine is not nearly as powerful as that on a commercial one, and it is not designed to be run for such a long and sustained period. Regularly overworking the motor can shorten its lifespan. 

If I am busy, I will put a load of washing in just before bedtime and set the timer so that it will be ready just as I get up in the morning. I will then make sure I set aside 10 minutes first thing to hang out the washing. Personally I find little and often preferable to spending hours sorting and folding laundry once a week anyway!

Replace The Hose Every Five Years

The hose which leads to your washing machine should be replaced every five years, as the rubber will deteriorate over time and may eventually cause a leak. If you go on holiday you should also turn the water off to remove the risk of coming back to a flooded kitchen.

Have a missed anything?