Entries Tagged as 'tutorial'

how i edit instagram photos.

Posted on: Thursday, September 15, 2016

How I Edit Instagram Photos | Ann-Marie Loves

I’ve seen a handful of people write this post and each and every person (all of whom have impeccable taste!) has a completely different method for achieving her beautiful images. I love learning new tips and tricks so I figured I might as well chime in and share my personal take on getting Instagram photos to my liking.

How I Edit Instagram Photos | Ann-Marie Loves

Here is the photo I took using the built-in Camera app on my iPhone. I always try to make my photos look as good as possible from the very start so that when I go to edit them, I don’t have to make any major cosmetic changes. In the case of a flat-lay like this shot, I used a white foam board (a must if you take a lot of overhead shots!) and placed it near a window with plentiful natural light.

How I Edit Instagram Photos | Ann-Marie Loves

01. Once I have my photo, I open up the VSCO app. Not only does VSCO make my favorite iPhone photo app but they also sell my favorite Lightroom filters that I use with my DSLR images. Needless to say, I’m a big fan! To begin, I almost always use the C1 filter and adjust it to suit the needs of each particular image.

02. Bumping up the Exposure is a must. I try not to go higher than 2, however, because it quickly diminishes the quality of the photo.

03. Sharpen is a handy tool for bringing in a little more polish and drama to the image.

04. For a colorful photo like this, I love using Saturation to really exaggerate the bright colors.

05. I prefer that all my images have a warm quality to them, so a little bump of red from the Shadows Tint feature makes my eyes happy.

06. In the case of this image, I felt that the overall picture could use a little more depth, so I ended the VSCO editing process with a slight bit of Contrast.

How I Edit Instagram Photos | Ann-Marie Loves

And here’s how the image looked once I exported it from the VSCO app. I adore the way this photo looks but I knew I could make it even more eye-catching if I used two small tweaks in Instagram.

How I Edit Instagram Photos | Ann-Marie Loves

07. I bring my edited photo into Instagram where I apply a small degree of the Clarendon filter. I love how sharp and white this filter makes my photos look! You can still see a little bit of the pink-ish hue created in VSCO, but the overall image is much brighter and more striking.

08. Finally, I use the Brightness feature to pump up the image even further. I really love how far Instagram has come with their built-in editing features!

How I Edit Instagram Photos | Ann-Marie Loves

And here is the final image! Pretty crazy how a few small changes can really elevate a photo, no?

What are your favorite photo-editing apps?

faux letterpress tray for toddler room.

Posted on: Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Faux Letterpress Tray for Displaying Miniatures | Ann-Marie Loves

John and I are moving this week and possibly having a baby next week, so I figured, what better time to ignore all my responsibilities and work on a project I pinned? Ha! All I have to say is, when you feel the need to make something, MAKE SOMETHING. You’ll feel so much better once you give in to your creative urges. Even if it means ditching your to-do list for a few hours ;)

Faux Letterpress Tray for Displaying Miniatures | Ann-Marie Loves

I have been obsessed with the idea of filling a letterpress tray with miniature animal figurines basically from the moment I knew I was having Briar, but I haven’t been able to track down a cool letterpress tray for a decent price. So! I decided to do the next best thing: buy a $6 divided wooden tray from Michaels and paint it myself!

Faux Letterpress Tray for Displaying Miniatures | Ann-Marie Loves

This tray is pretty shallow so it didn’t take too long to cover it with white paint. I think applied maybe three coats? As usual, it’s not a perfect paint job but that’s more than fine with me.

Faux Letterpress Tray for Displaying Miniatures | Ann-Marie Loves

While the tray was drying, I painted each of the animals’ ears pink and added a little heart to the donkey. Because why not?

Faux Letterpress Tray for Displaying Miniatures | Ann-Marie Loves

And once everything was ready, I styled it up! The animals fit into the slots perfectly, plus a few of the recent Instax photos of Briar make for a fun addition to the overall look.Faux Letterpress Tray for Displaying Miniatures | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m so happy with the way it turned out and I’m already excited to swap out the animals for bottle brush trees in a few months! Yay for procrastination crafting!

apple + peanut butter cookies.

Posted on: Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Apple + Peanut Butter Cookies | Ann-Marie Loves

Recently I was asked what my favorite snack is and it took me a moment to figure it out. I’ve been through many different snack phases but right now I am deep in an apple and peanut butter “cookies” stage of life. They’re basically the perfect combination of sweet and crunchy that sometimes I forget I’m not actually eating a real cookie! Okay, that’s a lie. I never forget ;) But honestly, I feel like these are even better than a real cookie!

Apple + Peanut Butter Cookies | Ann-Marie Loves

I think the reason that I love this particular snack so much is that it takes approximately one minute to make and that’s about the max amount of time that I am willing to invest in a snack. All you need is an apple, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and Craisins…that’s it! I take the apple, cut it into thin slices, and then layer it with all the aforementioned toppings.

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This is a great snack food but I’ll also eat it for breakfast or for dessert!

diy magic foam.

Posted on: Thursday, September 1, 2016

DIY Magic Foam | Ann-Marie Loves

Yesterday was one of those days where I felt like I exhausted every one of my tried-and-true toddler activities by early afternoon. We played with play dough. We watched many an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We read several of her favorite stories. We went to Gymboree and Target and Starbucks. We did just about everything (including her taking a much-too-short nap) But nothing seemed to hold her attention long enough for me to get a little work done. So! I finally realized that I needed to call for backup and consult Pinterest for new ideas. Lo and behold, I spotted a recipe for creating amazing colored magic foam and knew we had to try it!

DIY Magic Foam | Ann-Marie Loves

The ingredients are pretty basic: 1/3 cup of water, 1/3 cup of Dawn soap, 1 tbsp of cornstarch, and a few drops of food coloring mixed together at a high speed. I used a KitchenAid stand mixer but I know that a hand mixer would work just as well.

DIY Magic Foam | Ann-Marie Loves

With Briar as my trusty assistant, we made the first round of magic foam. I’m not sure who was more impressed: the toddler or her mom! It’s so much fun to watch simple ingredients turn into such a cool sensory experience.

DIY Magic Foam | Ann-Marie Loves

I made about four batches which was enough to create a shallow layer around Briar’s water table. She had a blast playing in the colored magic foam with her water toys. That is, until she got a taste of it. I should warn you that this is a very cool diy just so long as your child knows not to put it in her mouth. Just ask Briar ;)

DIY Magic Foam | Ann-Marie Loves

Luckily, her first (and hopefully last) taste of soap was not enough to deter her from playing. This simple activity proved to be a big hit (minus the minor taste test snafu) and it bought me a nice chunk of time to get a little work done. It’s all about the small victories, right?

frozen cookie dough.

Posted on: Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Frozen Cookie Dough to Keep On Hand | Ann-Marie Loves

My nesting urge is manifesting in unfamiliar ways these days, specifically in the kitchen. I’ve been thinking a lot about having meals and snacks on hand and ready at a moment’s notice for those crazy early days of newbornhood. After spending an afternoon with my inspiring friend (and mama of three), I realized the one thing I was missing in my life was having frozen cookie dough on hand!

Frozen Cookie Dough to Keep On Hand | Ann-Marie Loves

If I can only have one dessert for the rest of my life, it is, without a doubt, cookie dough. Cookies are great and all, but I’m just here for the dough. However, I know other people (ahem, my husband) enjoy the finished product, so having cookie dough on hand to make a quick batch of chocolate chip cookies is ideal.

Frozen Cookie Dough to Keep On Hand | Ann-Marie Loves

The instructions are pretty easy: make your favorite cookie dough recipe and then prepare it for the freezer. I always use my mom’s favorite recipe, which can be found here.

Frozen Cookie Dough to Keep On Hand | Ann-Marie Loves

Frozen Cookie Dough to Keep On Hand | Ann-Marie Loves

Once you cookie dough has been thoroughly mixed, grab a sheet of parchment paper and roll the dough into a cylindrical shape using your hands. I found that it was much easier to mold the dough once I wrapped the paper all the way around it, so don’t worry if you can’t get a nice shape right off the bat.

Frozen Cookie Dough to Keep On Hand | Ann-Marie Loves

Finally, secure the dough with a few rubber bands and toss into your freezer until you’re ready for cookies at a moment’s notice!

 

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peach + strawberry mini pies.

Posted on: Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Strawberry + Peach Mini Pies | Ann-Marie Loves

The other day I was scrolling through my Instagram Stories feed and found myself mesmerized by Leah of Freutcake’s making of mini pies. I must have rewatched her short videos at least five times because not only did her cute little mini pies look delicious, but they looked DOABLE to someone like me who usually lacks the patience for baking. So yesterday I picked up the supplies to make mini pies and tried it out for myself!

Strawberry + Peach Mini Pies | Ann-Marie Loves

Using Leah’s recipe as my guide, I stuck as closely to her instructions as possible but instead of rhubarb, I used peaches to go with the strawberries. P.S. How pretty do these fruits look together?

Strawberry + Peach Mini Pies | Ann-Marie Loves

Creating the pie filling was my favorite part. It’s a mix of strawberries, peaches, lemon zest, cornstarch, and sugar cooked over medium heat in a saucepan for about six minutes and it smells divine! Of course I had to sample it after turning the heat off and I then realized it would make for a super easy, super tasty jam for rolls or biscuits. I’m adding that to my repertoire for future reference…

Strawberry + Peach Mini Pies | Ann-Marie Loves

Next, I applied a large spoonful of the pie filling onto the dough. I should mention that I used a Pillsbury pre-made dough that simply had to be rolled out and cut into circles (I used a mug since I didn’t have a circular cookie cutter on hand). Maybe one day I’ll be adventurous enough to make my own dough, but for this time, the pre-made stuff was perfect.

Strawberry + Peach Mini Pies | Ann-Marie Loves
Strawberry + Peach Mini Pies | Ann-Marie Loves

After the filling was added, I placed a same-sized dough circle on top of each bottom and used a fork around the edges to secure the two layers together. Then I brushed an egg mix over the top of each pie and placed a tiny bit more of the filling along with chocolate chips over that for a bit of embellishment.

Strawberry + Peach Mini Pies | Ann-Marie Loves

After baking in the oven for twenty minutes at 375 degrees, I was thrilled to see the final product! These mini pies turned out SO well and totally boosted my confidence as a novice baker! I don’t know why I’ve always viewed pie-making as a difficult baking endeavor but I am now happy to report that although it’s time-consuming, it’s very easy to do!

What should I make next?

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diy play dough for toddlers.

Posted on: Wednesday, August 10, 2016

DIY Play Dough for Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

I have loved many stages of Briar’s baby and toddlerhood (6 months and 18 months were particularly sweet) but this current stage at two years is a whole new version of fun! Not only is she able to tell me (in full sentences, no less) what’s on her mind, but her attention span has lengthened considerably! Now I can sit her down at the table with an interactive activity in front of her (i.e. coloring, sorting pompoms, etc) and let her play for extended periods of time while I get work done on the computer. It’s kind of unreal just how self sufficient she is! So naturally, I decided that play dough would be an excellent activity to have at the ready.

My mom made homemade play dough for my brother and myself when we were younger so I was excited to give her recipe a try for my own little one. There are so many cool play dough recipes on Pinterest but the reason I prefer this recipe is that it is completely edible. When Briar gets a little bigger and less inclined to put everything in her mouth, I definitely want to try the recipes with hair conditioner and glitter!

DIY Play Dough for Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

Here’s what you need to make toddler-friendly play dough:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • Food coloring

Begin by stirring all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.

DIY Play Dough for Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

Once you have thoroughly mixed the ingredients, add in drops of food coloring until you reach your desired hue.

DIY Play Dough for Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

From there, add the mix to a non-stick pot and stir it over medium heat on the stove until you reach a play dough consistency. (This took about three minutes for me.)

DIY Play Dough for Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

Finally, remove the play dough from the heat and let it cool. Once it’s no longer too hot to touch, knead it with your hands and introduce it to your toddler!

DIY Play Dough for Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

It took Briar a few minutes to get accustomed to the feeling of play dough in her hands, but once she was acclimated, she loved it!

DIY Play Dough for Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

We showed her how to roll the dough into balls and attach pieces together and poke holes in it with our fingers.

DIY Play Dough for Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

She was a quick study ;)

DIY Play Dough for Toddlers | Ann-Marie Loves

Once you are finished playing with your play dough, store it in an airtight container for future use!

diy heart crayons.

Posted on: Tuesday, August 2, 2016

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar is at the age where she is constantly requesting to draw. “Colors? Colors” is what I hear on repeat until I break out her box of crayons and colored pencils and let her draw to her heart’s content. It’s a super exciting phase of life (my little crafter!) so I’ve been dying to make heart-shaped crayons after spotting a few tutorials on Pinterest.

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

The process is pretty simple: you take existing crayons and melt them down into multi-colored crayons using nothing more than a mold and an oven. Easy, right?

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

So I stocked up on two boxes of Crayola crayons at Target and took advantage of Briar’s nap time and the new season of Real Housewives of New Jersey to peel off the labels. This was definitely the longest part of the process but I barely noticed because, hello, Teresa just got out of prison and was reuniting with her family! I was riveted.

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

Once I had all the labels peeled off, I broke up the crayons into small pieces and laid them in an old IKEA heart-shaped silicone mold (similar one here!) that I had on hand. I tried to keep the color palette for each crayon pretty analogous, mostly for my own visual benefit ;)

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

From there, I baked the crayons in the oven for 20 minutes at 235 degrees and then took them out and let them cool down for a bit. After awhile they were still kind of runny, so I popped the mold into the fridge for about 10 minutes and that seemed to do the trick. (Next time I’ll probably leave them in the fridge for even longer just to make sure they completely harden because they were still a little pliable when I popped them out of the mold.)

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar immediately took a liking to her new “colors.”

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

Clearly there was lots to talk about!

DIY Heart Crayons | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m fairly certain that I enjoyed this project just as much as she did! It was an easy, mindless task that yielded the cutest crayons! I can totally see myself replicating this DIY with different molds for different occasions.

Next on our crafty to-do list: make homemade play dough!

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how to make journaling cards with digital brushes.

Posted on: Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

Yesterday after I dropped Briar off with her grandpa for the afternoon, I decided to take my oft-neglected car to the carwash and give it the proper treatment it deserves. I absolutely love the carwash; there’s something so satisfying about sitting inside with the windows up, cranking the radio, and watching those high-powered wipers blast your car into oblivion…all for only a few bucks! It’s the stuff of nightmares for my poor Briar, but for me? Dreamy. Anyways, once I was finished with the washing part (have I lost you yet?), I pulled over to the free vacuums and gave my car a SERIOUS interior cleaning and it felt SO GOOD. I haven’t vacuumed that puppy in maybe a year (?!), so once I drove off with a super-clean car, I felt like I could conquer the world! Or, at least come up with a fun tutorial for a blog post.

So I decided that today I would share how to use digital brushes to create journaling cards. Coming from a graphic design background and using Photoshop on the daily, I often forget how I take my basic knowledge for granted, so I am breaking it down into bite-size pieces today for anyone who is just getting started. I totally understand how digital brushes may sound super intimidating, but I promise they are a lifesaver once you get the hang of them!

Here’s how to create journaling cards in Photoshop using my Summer Fun digital brushes:

CARD NO. ONE:

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

1. Open a new document with your desired size. For this first card, I sized it at 3 x 4.” Next I grabbed the Paint Bucket Tool and applied yellow to the whole card.

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

2.  Pick another color to create a gradient effect (I went with a complementary aqua shade).

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

3. Click on the half-circle in the bottom of your Layers palette and choose “Gradient.” Cool, huh?

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

4. Once the gradient is applied, be sure to Flatten Image to merge everything back on to a single layer.

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

5. Next, choose a few brushes to add to your card. For this particular one, I chose the heart and the “pool party.” Then I added a new layer of text below. Once this was completed to my liking, I went back up to Layer and chose Flatten Image again.

CARD NO. TWO:

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

1. Open a new document and choose a size for your card. This time I went with 4 x 6.” Next, I used the Paint Bucket Tool again to add a pink background to the card.

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

2. Repeating the same steps as I did with the first card, I created a pink + yellow gradient.

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

3.  Once the image was flattened, I grabbed the swan icon from the set of brushes and created a loose pattern on the left side of the card.

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

4. Once I had both cards designed in separate files, I brought them onto the same document (8.5 x 11″) and combined them with photos so I could print everything on a single page. After I aligned all the cards and images to my liking, I clicked Flatten Image again and sent them to my printer.

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

Here’s what the sheet looked like after it was printed and before I cut it up.

How to Make Journaling Cards Using Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves

And here’s how I incorporated my card designs into a page in my 2016 album! I hope this inspires you to try something new with digital brushes!

P.S. Summer Fun digital brushes can be found here!

new summer fun digital brushes + photoshop layering tutorial.

Posted on: Friday, July 15, 2016

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

When it comes to getting things done, I’ve decided that it’s the little pockets of free time that really yield the biggest accomplishments for me. For example, on Wednesday I brought my laptop to my one hour glucose test at the doctor’s office knowing that I could probably eke out a little bit of work while I waited to have my blood drawn. Little did I know, I was able to crank out a whole new set of summer-inspired digital brushes to use in my ongoing 2016 album! Being a mom has taught me nothing if not how to be more efficient with my time. Plus, I secretly love watching all the other pregnant ladies (and sometimes their nervous husbands or their newborn babies) in the waiting room, and hiding behind a laptop makes this much easier to do on the down low! I might need to bring my computer more often ;)

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Here are the latest designs, now available for purchase in my shop!

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

And here’s a spread I made using a few different brushes. I could sing the praises of digital brushes all day, everyday simply because they make creating so easy and so fast!

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

One of my favorite design tricks is to layer a solid block of text with an outlined version of the same text. It’s such an easy way to add depth to type without any cheesy drop shadows or glows. So for this group of digital brushes, I made sure to include both a solid and an outlined form of the word “SUMMER” (shown above) as well as the cacti graphics.

Here’s a little tutorial on how to layer the two different brushes in Photoshop:

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

First I dragged my photo into Photoshop and resized it to fit a full page protector.

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Next, I went over to my color palette and chose a bright yellow to act as the solid layer of the “SUMMER” title.

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Using the fill version of the two “SUMMER” brushes, I found a good spot on my photo and clicked to set it in place.

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Finally, I changed the color in the color palette (shown at left) to black and used the outline version of the “SUMMER” brushes and carefully layered it over the solid layer, slightly off-center to create a faux shadow effect.

Summer Fun Digital Brushes | Ann-Marie Loves | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

Once my title was in place, I added in my own journaling and two solid lines (using a 9pt solid dot brush). Then I flattened the image and printed it out to tuck into my album. Super simple!

Summer Fun digital brushes can be found here!

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