Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Digital Layouts

Today I got to meet with some awesome ladies in my ward and teach a scrapbook class. It was so much fun (After I rode my bike 1/2 mile to the church and I came in all sweaty and winded... pathetic). But seriously, if you haven't been turned on yet to the world of digital scrapbooking, I'd say you should really think about giving it a try. It's affordable, there's less mess, and you never have to worry about running out of supplies because once you buy a digital scrapbook item, you have it forever.

We learned to do simple layouts like these.





They really don't require a lot of Photoshop expertise, just a very basic knowledge. You could even do the same thing in Publisher or one of the free photo editing programs available online. Honestly the only Photoshop tools we really used were the crop tool, the move tool, and the copy/paste commands. Easy peasy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New Mix and Match Scrapbook Paper!


My inner designer must be in high gear lately because I have another awesome collection for you... This time it is a mix and match collection and it's in my Etsy shop! Be sure to go check it out. It is perfect for digital scrapbookers.



As a kid I LOVED mix and match. As an adult, I still love it, so I thought, why not apply it to scrapbook paper?

This line has 6 patterns- quatrefoil, stripe, dot, damask, houndstooth, and medallion. Each pattern has TEN colors-- brown, cream, gray, hot pink, pale pink, aqua, lime green, red, purple, and mustard. I have already had a blast pulling out different patterns in different colors from the collection and see how many new and adorable combos I can make.

Bottom line... If you digital scrapbook, you NEED this line! Go grab yours now!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New digital scrapbook paper line!



This line is just in time for July! You can get all 24 papers at my Etsy shop for only $6!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Photoshop



So, I was asked to teach a Photoshop class for church. My visiting teacher even came and told me how excited she was for it! I realized that I need to go brush up on my photoshop skills! I am definitely not a professional photographer, and there are so many people who are way better than me at Photoshop... But I do know a few things.

Anyway, here is what I played around with this morning, from a family trip to Zion's last year. I think I'm addicted to that "dirty" filter... I want to put it on ALL my photos!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Scoop

If you tried to go to either of my Etsy shops this week, you probably saw the note about how my shop was closed because my baby was in the hospital. I just wanted to say, he is doing great now! I never took any pictures, partly because it was too sad and partly because in the whirlwind of activity that happened, I forgot to get my camera.

Anyway, what happened was, the poor kid got pneumonia. The doctor said there was really nothing we could have done to prevent it; germs are everywhere and he just ran into the wrong bug. I was feeling almost crazy because it came on so fast, I wasn't even sure if he was that sick. His breathing seemed fast and labored, and he had a fever, but there have been times he's seemed a lot sicker and it wasn't that serious. Finally I decided to just take him to the doctor. I was almost sure they'd give me that "You are a crazy, overanxious mother" look and send us home, but the doctor listened to his lungs and took his oxygen level. Neither one was doing well. They took an x-ray, saw the pneumonia in his right lung, and admitted him pretty fast after that. We are really lucky to have great doctors who fixed him right up. He was only in the hospital for 2 days. His last day, he was off oxygen, monitors, IV, and running like crazy around the Pediatric unit.

He is still sick but at least the worst is over (hopefully) and he's home getting better. We are very blessed, it could have been much worse!

So, that's what happened this week. I am back now, both the shops are open. I'm going to spend the next few days trying to catch up on some custom orders and then next week you should see lots of new stuff flying coming in, so keep checking back!

Monday, May 2, 2011

NEW! Digital Scrapbook Supplies

With the opening of Perfect Printables, I'm rolling out a lot of new products, here's another one:

Yep, all you digital scrapbookers, here's a big treat, and when I say big, I mean BIG. This collection includes over 60 pattern papers. I love this collection. It's so versatile. If you want to use it for Easter scrapbooking, it will work great, but I've also designed it so that there are LOTS of beautiful non-Easter themed pages, so there really is no limit to what you can do with this collection. Plus the best part: It's only $6 at my Etsy shop.

And if you haven't explored digital scrapbooking, you should look into it. Seriously. I think the best thing about it is there are no stacks of paper to organize, no little scraps that you don't know what to do with, and you can get your scrapbooking printed into beautiful books at places like Snapfish. Hey, you don't even have to be a scrapbooker to enjoy this collection. You could even use it to make cards, invitations, really there's no limit.

Plus, it's so affordable! All you need is your imagination and Photoshop, and of course this new huge collection that will give you tons of mileage!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Free Owl Printables


download here



download here



Download here



download here


Today I'm sharing these adorable, FREE 8x10 printables.

I have owl illustrations in my Etsy shop, Perfect Printables. They're only $3 and they match these free printables!

Enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cheap, Cute, and Easy


This week I am really getting the spring cleaning bug. Normally I am not a "neat freak" person. Honestly, I'm usually mildly disorganized. I hate it when things are gross though, so this week I decided I needed to tackle cleaning my bathroom... Then I went in there, looked around, and decided I needed a little decor change. Nothing big, just a little rearranging.

I decided to do a little project, too. It took me less than 5 minutes. All you need is a frame, a piece of patterned paper, and a 3D object that is light enough to be held by hot glue.


First, I grabbed a frame and took out the glass. I buy a lot of frames at DI (Deseret Industries, for you who don't know, it's a thrift store kind of like Salvation Army) because they are cheap and you never know when you'll need a frame for a craft project, so I keep a little stash of cheap DI frames.

I cut out a piece of paper to fit the frame, and then I grabbed a sand dollar I had around, and hot glued it to the paper. Then I put the whole thing in the frame.

Easy, huh? There are TONS of things you could do this with, not just sand dollars. A couple things I want to try later are letters cut out of foam core, and paper flowers.

Hope this gives you some inspiration for you own spring cleaning/redecorating.

Next on my list: Touch up all those places on my bathroom wall where the paint is chipped. Yikes!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Free Images!

I stumbled upon this blog one day, and I just have to tell you about it. I have been looking for a place like Graphics Fairy FOREVER. It is a fantastic source of vintage images, if you're into collage or design, or whatever it is. They check on copyrights so you can know that you're not violating any laws using these images. Plus they post craft projects, too. It is AWESOME! I can't say enough good things about this blog!

So here's the link, go check it out!

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Shop!

I am so excited to announce my new Etsy shop.



My old one will still be up and running, but I decided to open a second shop, too. I considered combining the two, but ultimately decided that it would be better with both.

My new shop will be dealing EXCLUSIVELY with digital downloads. You don't know how excited I was when I discovered this concept. It started with me stumbling upon a wedding site that designs wedding invitations and sells them as digital files, and the buyer gets to choose the mode of printing. Little bells started going off in my head... What a brilliant idea! The wheels started turning and I realized that this concept could be applied to a LOT more than just wedding invites, I could do art, like the ones below, or stationary or digital scrapbooking supplies. The sky is the limit with this shop and it makes me so excited!


This new shop will be a win-win situation for customers, too. With my old shop, I felt bogged down because my ability to produce new things outpaced my ability to stock them. I want my customers to get a full range of selection, and my new shop will enable me to do that. Since I'm just selling the files, it cuts out the overhead of printing and shipping, for me and for shoppers.

Printing sites like www.snapfish.com, or iprintfromhome.com, make it so easy and SO affordable to print your own things. And since customers will already have my artwork, they can choose whether they want a photo print, a gicleƩ, or even a canvas done. And they can always print on their home computers if they want.

See? It opens up a whole new world of possibilities!

I hope you all check back often to my new Etsy shop. I have all kinds of awesome plans and things are rolling out as fast as I can make them (during naps and in between other jobs). The first things to go up in the shop are these 8x10 LDS temple pieces-


But this isn't all. There will be LOTS more to come! In the meantime, go check out the temples, they're ONLY $3.00. Even considering your printing costs, that's a steal!

Perfect Printables

I hope you check out my efforts to make more of my work available. I only create designs that I would use in my own home and life.

Enjoy!

Monday, March 28, 2011

14



So, during the past few weeks, my work load has exploded-- so I thought tonight would be a good time for a break and a little blast from my past.

I just need a good laugh tonight!

Prepare yourselves, because, seriously, well... There are 2 words that describe me at 14 years old: MAJOR. DORK. If you think I'm already a dweeb, check out my 14-year-old self.

My mom made us write about ourselves on these little note cards back in 1999 and then we all added the cards and a few items that represented us to a time capsule, which sat in my parents' closet until last year.

Then it was opened and... this was me 10 years ago (I blurred out some last names to protect the innocent):

Yeah. Some of it, I can still deal with. Blue is OK. My first crush was Brandon Doe... that was an unrequited love. I remember on my last day of middle school, I brought a disposable camera with me and secretly took a picture of Brandon out in the school yard so that I'd be able to keep it under my pillow and blow kisses at it all summer. Soon after that my hopes were dashed when he started "going out" with an older girl from our church.

As far as the jeans... I don't know if that can be forgiven. I wore Aura by Wrangler. If you don't know what that is, it's basically the mom jean of Wranglers. Don't even get me STARTED on my choice in movies. Seriously, Jess? George of the Jungle? That was the BEST I could come up with?

Oh, dear.

'99 Chevy truck... Well, at least I knew my trucks.

Do you ever think back on your middle school years and remember what a deeply awkward stage it was? I wore oversize men's shirts, heinous denim, and I got my hair permed even though it was already curly... Titanic and Backstreet boys were THE thing (Nick Carter!!), and I was always jealous of all the other kids who got a Walkman for their birthday.

And the bangs... Oh, the bangs. I had a 2" barrel curling iron and I'd twist my bangs around it and then hairspray those babies until they were stiffer than a board and there was burnt hairspray all over the curling iron. Then I'd carefully peel my bang curl off the curling iron so as not to disturb the shellac. It was literally like having an empty toilet paper roll glued to my forehead. Yeah. GROSS.

I also kept a journal in which I wrote horrifyingly bad poetry, which at the time I thought was very deep and moving and emotional. My husband got hold of one of those journals after we were married, and I still have not lived it down.

Yeah.

All I can say is, I am SO GLAD I don't have to be 14 ever again!

I want to hear about your adolescence, too. Were you as painfully dorky as me?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Photography Problem

So, I opened my first Etsy shop a few months ago. It's been fun. It has been a great outlet for me to be creative and still stay home with my son. It's brought opportunities beyond the Etsy world that have been just wonderful. I love coming up with new stuff for the shop.

I love it all! All except... photography. Yes, I found early on that photography was becoming a real chore. Sometimes I would not list things on Etsy just because I didn't want to struggle through photographing the items.

There are a few reasons why I've struggled in the Photography department.

1. I own a cheap camera. To be exact, it's a Kodak EasyShare Z1285. My husband very sweetly bought it for me after an unfortunate accident involving my old camera (also a Kodak EasyShare), my purse, and a bottle of hairspray. I'll spare you the details.

2. A fancy, professional camera with a thousand different lenses is just not feasible. With a young son, I've got other things to spend my shekels on. And my time.

3. It seems like ALL the photography advice out there is for people who own higher-grade cameras than I've got.

I'm not claiming to be a master photographer. I know I'm far from it. I'm not claiming that my photos are perfect because I know they're definitely not. What I am saying is, I've taught myself to take better and better Etsy photos with the camera that I already have, and I want to share what I've learned in hopes that it will help someone else who's in the same boat as me.

1- Photoshop is a huge help. Is Photoshop necessary? No. But it has been a big help to me! Now, the problem with Photoshop is that it can be expensive. There are some ways around that. When I was in college, I bought the whole Adobe CS suite for WAY less using my student discount. Later on, I bought a used computer that already had the software. Both options were a huge savings.

Here are a couple photos that illustrate what Photoshop can do:
Here's the straight-from-camera shot:

And here's the Photoshopped version.
Both photos are nice. Photoshop just helped to bump up the contrast and crop the photo. It also makes it easy to meet Etsy's rule that uploaded images can't be over 1000 pixels wide.

Usually when I edit a photo in Photoshop, I do three simple things.
1. I crop the photo using the crop tool.
2. I use the Curves tool (Command+M) to tweak the contrast and the white balance (About white balance- When parts of the photo that are supposed to be white, aren't, you can use the Curves tool to fix it.).
3. I resize the image down to 1000 pixels in Image>Image Size.

Lighting is a key factor in photos. In fact, I'd say it's the NUMBER ONE most important thing. If you don't get the lighting right, it's hard to capture a photo that's workable.

It's also the number one thing I've struggled with most! Here's what I learned about lighting:

1. Since it's winter and I don't want to haul everything outside and risk ruining my hard work, I take my photos beneath a south-facing window that lets in a lot of light. I don't use any special light bulbs or equipment.

2. When our crazy Utah weather is not changing from blistering sunshine to blizzard every 3 minutes, I like to take photos outside. The light is best in late afternoon, about 4-5 o'clock. I've tried to take photos at noon before, and the light is just too harsh. If the sun is beating down, or you don't have time and you've got to do your photographs during lunch, try to find an area of open shade, somewhere that's getting light but that doesn't have the sun shining directly down on it.
Another challenge is my beautiful son... He's a sweetheart, but sometimes he likes to "help" a little too much! When I was photographing the Princess plaque, he WOULD NOT leave me alone. I tried to distract him with toys and games and he just wouldn't have it. So I just let him be a part of the photos that day. In the end, I thought his cute little baby toes worked in the photos, so we were both happy. Sometimes you just have to roll with it. You never know when something that you thought was a problem turns out to be a good thing.

Another thing is, get creative with your backgrounds and props.

The two main backgrounds I use right now are:
1. Some old boards that I got from my grandpa's farm. I just push them together and set my products on top. When I'm not using them, they sit in a stack under the window, where I can pull them out in about 20 seconds if I need to use them. They are GREAT, especially for colorful items. Plus, they fit in with my love for the distressed and vintage look. The best part was, they were free!

2. A big map. I bought it as a souvenir from my time living in Ukraine. It's a map of Kiev. The babushka I bought it from thought it was not very beautiful, so I ended up buying another map from her that she said was much prettier. I happen to disagree, I think the first map was gorgeous and it makes a GREAT background!

When it comes to props, I don't buy anything. I look around my house for things that I already own that I think would look cool in my photos. Usually I try for a pop of color with my props, but just a small amount because I don't want my props to overwhelm the product I'm photographing.

Anyway, the point is, just dig around in your old stuff, or ask friends and relatives if they've got anything you can take off their hands, or drive around your neighborhood and take a look at the colors and textures of your environment. You'll find something that will work perfectly, for your products and your personality.

Try for a variety of shots. This one is important because customers will want to see the product from more than one point of view. I usually try to get three types of shots when I'm taking photos of something.

1. The hero shot. This means there's nothing but your item and the background. Clear out all the props so the item is the only thing. Usually I photograph the item straight on for my hero shots.

2. The close up shot. People want to see the texture and workmanship of the item. This is where Macro is especially helpful.

3. The angled shot. This is for when you've got a 3-D item. The purpose is to show it from another angle so that the customer can see thick, thin, matte, shiny, etc.

Last, but not least, even if you own a little cheap point-and-shoot, chances are it still has a few features that are worth taking advantage of. Get to know the user guide to your camera. Here are some things that I use regularly on my good ole Kodak EasyShare:

1. The option to turn off the flash. If you have good lighting, there's no need for a flash that will usually just create a weird bright spot and mess up your beautiful photo.

2. Tripod. Not every camera comes with one; mine did. It's tiny, but it works. If you don't have a tripod, you could use a stack of books or other such things to create a little stand for your camera. It works great when you need your camera to be level with your item.

3. Timed capture. You know the one, where you can set a timer for your camera to take the photo. I use this a lot because my hand pressing the button almost always makes the camera shake and it blurs the photo.

4. Macro mode. I've taken lots of good photos just with the auto mode, but if your camera has a macro mode, it might be worthwhile. I've found that my camera does really well with macro as long as I don't hold it too close to the item.
I really hope that was helpful to somebody out there who, like me, struggles to take good, professional-looking photos with their itty-bitty point and shoot. And after all is said and done, I think the best advice is to just be yourself in your photos. They've got to reflect your own unique style and personality.

Good luck, and happy photo shoots to you!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Some like it hot... the color pink, that is.

^^in my Etsy shop right now.

Hey! It's been a while, again... I've had a lot of projects demanding my time lately, plus the mysterious daily vomiting of my little boy. I think we've finally got that figured out, but between laundering vomit-y sheets, clothes, towels, rugs, couch covers, and blankets, (because it's hard to get a 15-month-old to give warning about his nausea or aim it into anything) and working on all the stuff I've got going, well, the blog's taken a back seat (I know. Excuses.)

Anyway, I've finally stared updating the Etsy shop again. Go check it out!

Also. A matter of extreme urgency: the Pantone color of the year... Hot pink! What do you think? I wasn't quite sure at first but as usual I'm discovering that it's all in the details. Neutrals and whites with a pop of hot pink can be SO pretty. And, OK. It's not really HOT PINK. It's called Honeysuckle and it does have a hint of salmon.

There, now that that's straightened out, if you're loving the hot pink trend you're in luck because I have stuff (with more to come) that addresses the need for Honeysuckle this season.
To wit:






If you have no use in your life for the letter K, don't despair. I'll be adding more stuff, I promise!

If you DO have use for the letter K in your life and on your walls, well, what are you waiting for?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Modest is Hottest


At least, it kinda seems like it this year. This is a topic I don't normally delve into, especially as I sit here, clad in holey sweats, my scruffy hair in a pony tail, with my rooster-tailed son sitting on my lap "helping" me type.

But I have to say... did anyone look at the Golden Globe dresses? I really don't care about the Golden Globe awards, but I do like to look at the dresses sometimes... And invariably I think, that's pretty, but I could NEVER wear it. Too much skin! Well, that, and the most formal event I ever go to is church every week.

So, anyway. I was happy to see that some of the dresses at the GG's this year actually provide some coverage! I'm talking about this one, this one, this one, and this one (Some of these are only modest if you ignore the backs).

Fashion is such a fast-changing industry that I would be very surprised if this new modest trend lasts for more than about 30 seconds. But for those 30 seconds, maybe us modest girls can enjoy finding more things in the store that will actually cover us up. These ladies sure are. I know I will.

As long as nobody expects me to embrace those "boyfriend pants" that they cuff and pair with ankle booties. Seriously. I am barely able to deal with the existence of the skinny jean.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy 2011

Think people in the 1890's would've appreciated the fuchsia hair? Not sure... But I think it's totally fun!