Although I was lucky enough to take a few awesome photography classes in college, the majority of the tricks and tools that I use on a daily basis for photo editing have come from personal experimentation. In fact, I’d say that statement applies to the bulk of my formal education vs. real life knowledge. I learned so much during my four years of college, but getting out into the real world and having to figure things out for myself has been the best classroom setting of all. So today, I’m sharing one of my go-to photo editing tricks: adding fade!
Adding fade to my photos is one of my favorite ways to create an ethereal vibe or to temper a color palette that doesn’t exactly jive with the look I’m going for. This effect is often seen on Instagram through the help of the Afterlight and VSCO Cam apps (shown above), but can also easily be achieved in Photoshop. Here’s how I do it:
1. Open a photo in Photoshop.
2. Edit it to your liking (I always adjust the levels, contrast, brightness, and curves).
3. Go to Image > Exposure > Offset and play with the dial to achieve your desired “fade” effect.
4. The over-saturated colors have been dulled a bit to create a more subtle, moody image. While I’m positive that I will never master Photoshop, it sure is fun to try!
What Photoshop tricks or techniques would you love to learn?
I have been on the hunt for an affordable pair of gold scissors for-like-ever and after seeing what the designers at BG pulled off for the gold + aqua-hued props for the booth at last month’s tradeshow, I was INSPIRED. As someone who uses scissors in just about every single stylized photo I take (Typo aqua scissors…you’ve served me well), I need options, people.
Not only is this DIY super quick and easy, but it only requires three supplies! (It just gets better and better, doesn’t it?) I used an old pair of fringe scissors found at a swap meet for two bucks, a can of gold spray paint, and blue painter’s tape.
Since I just wanted to gild the handles, I did my best to tape off the bottom portion of the scissors and then wrapped the rest in a small plastic bag. Once that was done, I laid the scissors out (outdoors, of course) and sprayed one side and gave it about 10 minutes to dry. Then I flipped them over and sprayed the other side. After both sides of the handles were completely dry, I lightly sprayed over any spots that I felt needed a little extra paint. And that was it!
To be honest, I anticipated a little sticky residue left over since I didn’t use any primer, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was none! #craftingsuccessstory
I will warn you: the thing about spray paint (much like wood stain) is that you spray one thing and all of a sudden you want to spray EVERYTHING. In fact, I have been known to do a little digging through drawers and cabinets in search of an item that needed (read: didn’t need) a change of color. You’ll see… ;)
I realize it’s mid-June and to most people, it’s not exactly calendar season. But for me, I just want a change of scenery. Since I can’t write on my Rifle Paper calendar (thou shalt not deface any Rifle products with messy handwriting…everyone knows that), I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own. Here’s how I did it:
S U P P L I E S
- Watercolor paper
- Watercolor paints
- Number stamps (mine are from The Curiosity Shoppe, which sadly appears to be closed!)
- Cup for water
To begin, I (roughly) measured out the lines for my calendar squares and then ran my paintbrush right along the edge of the ruler. I should preface this by saying that I am NOT a perfectionist. I have little interest in making everything look uniform; I just want to have fun creating and get things done. Plus, watercolors don’t exactly lend themselves to clean lines. The more freeform, the better!
Once I have the lines and month name painted, I gather my number stamps.
To stamp with watercolors, I simply paint the rubber stamp with the paintbrush and stamp directly onto the paper. Easy peasy.
I decided to go with a light paint color so I can eventually write over the date without competing with the overall design.
Let dry and let the planning begin!
The other day as I was browsing the shelves of the Goodwill, I spotted this muffin tin + knew instantly that I wanted to turn it into a planter. Once I picked up the muffin tin for $1.50 (50% day – look out!), I swung by Lowes and had a wonderful time picking + choosing my succulents.
Click here to see my Vine video of the planting process!
To create this planter, you will need:
- Six succulent plants (I purchased all of mine for less than eight dollars at Lowes)
- 1 muffin tin (the deeper the cups, the better)
- Vinyl Bumpers
- An awl or drill (and drill bit)
After cleaning the muffin tin as best I could (a good rule of thumb for all thrift finds), I flipped it over and punched drainage holes in all six of the cups using a bookbinding awl. Luckily the tin was super easy to punch through, but if yours is thick, I recommend using a drill with a small bit.
From there, I added a vinyl bumper to each of the four corners of the tin to allow for proper drainage. This is key if you prefer living plants.
I then played around with the arrangement of the succulents and placed them in the muffin tin.
Then I began moving the soil around, adding in a handful of small rocks, and finessing each of the plants to my liking. After that I lightly watered the individual plants and called it good. The thing to remember about succulents is that they require minimal watering. In fact, it’s best if you leave them alone until their soil is completely dry. (You can read even more care + keeping tips here!)
So there you have it! A quick + easy Springtime DIY that has yet again fueled my thrift shopping habit! I have plans to make a bunch of these for my wedding and display them amidst other floral centerpieces on our tables. Good times ahead!
This DIY could not be any easier: gloves + gold paint + a flat pencil eraser = festive fingers ready to ‘gram at a moment’s notice!
As wonderful and foolproof as gift cards are, their tiny size sure does tend to spoil the surprise factor when it comes to packaging. I am always looking for ways to “throw off the scent” and using books from thrift stores is my definitely my favorite option. Not only does the recipient receive store credit to their favorite shop (if you play your cards correctly), but they get a free book out of the deal! And we all know how many awesome things a person can do with a book: use it for decor, rip pages out for crafting purposes, upcycle it for another gift, or heck, maybe even read the darn thing! Plus, if the cover art is well-designed (I, for one, always judge books by their covers), it can take the place of decorative gift wrap <—-there’s the recycling fiend in me again!
The packaging process is super simple. For my gift, I used a book I found at the DI last year in Utah (chosen for it’s aqua hues), yellow felt trimmed on one side with pinking shears, and faux-tinsel yarn. The letter “A” was cut out with my Cameo + adhered to the cover using washi tape. I like to create my own envelopes for the actual gift card using kraft butcher paper (or any paper that folds well), a few stamps, and a little bit of tape, but that’s completely optional. Pretty much as simple as simple gets, right?
Reusable tote bags are a big thing around these here parts. They’re so big, in fact, that when I went to NYC last March, I excitedly bought my mom a canvas grocery bag from the Zabars featured in You’ve Got Mail (“get in another line”) because I knew she would appreciate both the reference AND the usability. So in the spirit of recycling + good packaging (no longer mutually exclusive!), I decided to create a few tote bags for myself and for others this holiday season. Here’s how to create your own tote bag design:
1. Make a stencil. I designed mine in Silhouette Studio and had my Cameo Die-Cutting Machine do the hard work for me. If you don’t have a machine, fear not! You can always use an xacto knife to achieve very similar results.
2. Place a sheet of chipboard / cardboard / heavyweight paper inside your tote. (Note: If your bag needs ironing – ugh, ironing! – do this beforehand. It’ll be worth it, I promise.)
3. Position your stencil over the area you would like to paint and adhere it to the bag with removable tape.
4. Using a multi-surface craft paint and a foam paint pouncer, dot over your stencil gently yet firmly until the whole area is covered in paint. I only applied a single coat because that was all I needed. Apply as many coats as you deem necessary.
5. Let dry. Slowly lift your stencil and check for any areas that may need a touch-up.
6. Bring your tote everywhere you shop and let the compliments roll in!
Martha Stewart Gold Metallic Paint // Martha Stewart Crafts Foam Pouncer // Tote Bags // Silhouette Cameo
I don’t know if it’s my “recycle, reduce, reuse” California upbringing (anyone else remember that song??) or if it’s simply my personal inclination to hoard anything made from a tree, but the thought of throwing away something that can easily be repurposed pains me. Especially anything from Anthropologie. (Have you ever watched an Anthro employee wrap a gift with the quintessential brown tissue paper + that giant washi tape dispenser? It is a true delight, my friends.) The other day while I was organizing all my various packaging supplies, I realized that the paper quality of an Anthro bag would be perfect for creating envelopes!
The process of turning a paper bag into an envelope is as basic as you would imagine. First, I cut out one side of the bag (the side that doesn’t fold up) and turned it over to the backside. Using a 4-bar Paper Source envelope template as my guide, I traced the shape with a pencil and then cut it out by hand. Next, I folded up all the flaps, adhered with a tape runner, and applied a liberal amount of washi tape. Done and done!
Tis the season to repurpose!
1. Put on your finest pair of sweatpants. Photographing inanimate objects is utterly exhausting. You’ll see.
2. Find the best source of natural, indirect light. For me, it’s right by a sliding glass door with a sheer curtain drawn to eliminate shadows + harsh light.
3. Use a white foam-core board as the background. This board is not only a great neutral for shooting + editing, but it’s strong enough to act as a tabletop.
4. Gather an assortment of “props.” For my latest shop designs, I used a mix of graph paper, a hot pink envelope from Jamaica, a photo of San Diego, and washi tape. Always washi tape. To keep things streamlined for future product shoots, I left two strips of washi tape on the board permanently.
5. Take a quick Instagram break.
6. Style the stamps to your liking. As much as I love elaborate set-ups, I know better than to do that to myself. When it comes to efficiency and personal sanity, the simpler the better.
7. Take several different shots of each product. I always zoom out more than what seems necessary, just so I can crop and rotate to my liking when I edit. Better to have too much to work with than not enough. Trust.
8. Style, shoot, repeat.
9. Take a step back and photograph your set-up. Who knows, it might make for a good blog post (;
P.S. New stamps are up!
Last Friday I saw this pin pop up in my Pinterest feed and within a half hour, I was rifling through the felts + fleece at Joann’s.
I didn’t follow the actual instructions that the source of the pin provided. Instead, I used my Paper Source envelope + liner templates, along with a little hot glue, a pencil for tracing, and some sharp fabric scissors. The bow was a quick + easy embellishment to make as well. All I did was fan-fold the fabric over itself a few times, pinched the center together with my fingers to create a bow shape, and then secured it with a thin strip of hot pink fleece. It was so much fun to make, but really, the best part of the process was giving it to someone whom I knew would appreciate it.
I’ve heard that many people are completely overwhelmed by Pinterest and can only handle it in small doses. I totally see where they are coming from (that’s how I feel about Facebook). But for me, it’s god’s gift to the interwebs. I can binge on it for hours at a time. And I do. Often. I don’t view it as a place to compete with other bloggers/crafters/makers. I also don’t use it as a place to promote myself (although it’s always a thrill when I see one of my own designs being pinned by others!). I simply see it as a much better alternative to saving all those photos on my desktop. That’s so 2009.