Inspired by David Meredith

Happy (unstereotypical post about flowers) Halloween. 
I just found out that I married one of those people. You know them. Someone who doesn't like dressing up and promises that if I put leaves in my hair and paint a jack-o-lantern on my face... he will walk 50 feet behind me. Well, we'll see about that.
During my internship this summer I discovered David Meredith's work and fell head over heals. I didn't know who he was however, until he was mentioned in a photo lab because he teaches here on campus. I am currently starstruck. His photos are crisp and clean versions of messy still lifes. He crops into the mess so that it feels as if someone disappeared in the middle of a project. If you think his style looks familiar, its probably because he is a popular photographer for Anthropologie.

I decided to immerse myself in his technique. I knew it wouldn't be easy to style a messy still life, let alone take a successful photo of it. It brought to life many of the tips I've learned in my photo class. I'm no expert and I'm still growing, but I wanted to share six of them with you!
  • Allow yourself time. Rushed projects will show, especially when you are starting out. When you accept the fact that you need to spend hours shooting, it allows time to think about your composition, the concept and to experiment with your camera.
  • Do your best to make the photo perfect while shooting so that you have less to edit in post. Photoshop is amazing, but it can only do so much. It is harder to capture the photo you imagined, the more you adjust the exposure and erase smudges and crop. 
  • Use good (preferably natural) lighting. As you can see in my setup above, I have the still life infront of a bright window, with a simple screen to stop harsh glares and disperse the light. The light behind the camera, in our living room, is off to get rid of the camera's shadow and the florescent yellow tinge. I also have two reflectors on both sides of the image. The one on the left is a dark color to stop the bright light that was leaking through from the left and the one on the right is pure white to reflect some of the bright light back into the shadows. Both of my 'reflectors' are just butcher paper or poster board. The last part of my setup is the tripod. This is a very important tool when you want to remotely take a photo while holding the reflectors with one hand and adjust the manual focus with the other.
  • Pay attention to ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Taking photos manually allows more option to capture the photo you have in mind. To learn more about what these are visit this site. On the other hand, I have found that manually focusing can be deceiving unless you are seasoned photographer or unless you are taking close-ups on details. In the end you could be left with 100+ out of focus photos, and there's almost no way to fix that in post. Auto focus is a miracle that we should take advantage of!
  • When all is said and done... post editing turns an average photo into an amazing one! Find your own comfort level of editing through price and features. Adobe Bridge, Photoshop, Lightroom, Pixelmator, even iPhoto and online editors are great tools. Make small, light changes, a little bit at a time. Step away from the computer for a while to see your changes in a new light to minimize overly-edited images. Find your own style. Do you like desaturation, vignettes or sharp images? There are many ways to get the look you desire when you have done your best to take a good photo and then learn how to adjust it to be amazing.
  • Practice, practice, practice. I'm sure this is obvious. Don't assume that your first photos are going to be your best or that all of your images in the future will look like your first. Take inspiration from other photographers, pay attention to composition and editing techniques and get to know your camera on a personal level.

I'm still trying to keep all of these tips in mind while shooting. Choosing personal projects and setting goals are something that I have found to be important in learning about my camera. 
If you buy a camera and let it sit on your bookshelf, it won't help you get any better. There have to be some scary times at the beginning before you reach the point that you are perfectly happy and proud of your images. 
If you have any other important tips, please share them below! I am always looking for more help!


Inspired by Stephanie Kubo

This semester I am enrolled in a 2D-Design class, and I really enjoy it. Sometimes it makes me wish that I was a studio major so that I could spend all of my time with other artists. I just love making and learning about art! But I have to admit that everyday during my Marketing Management class I am reminded why advertising is my true passion. These gorgeous ink drawings however, are currently pulling at my studio heart strings.

During one of our assignments we were supposed to make three corresponding pieces, each dealing with a different element of art. I found Stephanie Kubo's work a few months ago and her inspiration came to mind immediately. While we all admit to doodling in our sketchbooks, Stephanie's doodles are literally works of art. They involve intricate details and designs that are seen throughout her work. 
I took inspiration from Stephanie to create three pieces to showcase my own interpretations of line, color and texture. Can you tell which is which? I'll give you a hint: they go in order.


Post Number 100!

hello hydrangea
Options: 1. bundle of painted driftwood   2. handful of painted acorns   3. woven watch-belt   4. twine wrapped earrings

One year, one month and ten days ago, I wrote this first post and had no idea what I was doing or what it meant to be a blogger. I was excited by the idea of sharing my projects 'inspired by' different artists that I was learning about in my study of choice. There have been some rocky times since then when I've forgotten why I want to blog... and some pretty poor posts since the beginning... but I'm so excited that I have reached my 100th post!
Obviously, this calls for a little celebration. Ever feel like the world is sad when summer and fall disappear and we're left with snowy, foggy, bone-biting cold? I am getting to that point. So, to celebrate this big milestone and bring some summer colors back into our lives I am randomly giving away 4 of my past projects!
Here are the rules:
-The giveaway will be open for a month (or until I decide to stop).
-Please 'join this site' on the left and follow on facebook and ofcourse leave me a comment so I know which one of these packages you want most!
-Feel free to click on the options above to see tutorials and the story behind them.


Guest Post: Photoshop Vintage Effect

I have a special guest today! Jessica is the lovely lady behind Nerd and Healthnut where she breaks down domestic questions and delivers some gorgeous food photos. Although she is not a craft blogger, she knows a few secrets about making ordinary photos look extraordinary. We met in a photography class this semester, where I fell in love with her dreamy bohemian style in the photo above. Luckily, she was willing to share a tutorial on how to achieve this look. Sometime we'll need her to visit us again with one of her delicious recipes, but for today, enjoy her vintage effects tutorial. 
Welcome, Jessica!
"First, download the Pioneer Woman Photoshop action sets here. Make sure you download the file to the desktop or another place you can easily find later.
After you have downloaded the action sets, look for a picture to use... open the photo in Camera Raw or Adobe Photoshop.
I do basic photo editing in Camera Raw, but you can edit in Photoshop if that’s what you’re comfortable with.
You'll want add some contrast because the action will remove a lot of the contrast from the photo.

Once you've done some basic adjustments, go ahead and open in Photoshop.
Once in Photoshop, open your actions, it will look like a "play" button. If you don't see it, click on the "Window" tab and then click on "actions." This should make your actions easily accessible.

 When you'v opened your actions, you need to load your downloaded actions. Click on the top-left button that has an arrow and lines. Then, click on "load actions." Find the downloaded action set and open.

The action you want to use is Vintage. PW has them organized by color, so it should be in the purple section.

 Once the action has been applied, you can adjust the layers until it looks the way you want.

Because there are a lot of layers open, you need to make sure and flatten your image before saving. If you don't flatten your image it will make the image file VERY large. Good luck and have fun playing with your new actions!"

Thanks, Jessica! 
Now, we can't leave without showing a gorgeous food photo from her site.You know my weakness with food blogs! In the mood for a healthy pumpkin pie? How bout a chicken apple stew? And I know you're wondering what a strawberry lemonade dreamcake is...


Arizona Wedding

This weekend Spencer and I escaped the cold Utah weather to celebrate one of his best friend's wedding. The weather was perfect, the bride was beautiful and the wedding was full of shabby-chic style. It reminded me of our backyard reception in Washington. I can't believe it's been over a year!
On top of their eternal marriage in the Mesa, AZ temple, they had a ring ceremony with a candle lit reception. 
Scroll down for cute-wedding overload!

One of my favorite touches was the way they used the dinner centerpieces (flowers in clear jars) later that night. Once it got dark, they lined them up along the stairs. It gave the flowers a second life, leading the way to the entrance of the party.
(Oh man, I can't end this post without adding a mouth-watering picture of the mini pazookies. They were amazing and have inspired us to have a dinner party!)
During the ceremony, the bride walked down the aisle to a backdrop of lace and embroidery hoops, hanging from a tree. But why forget about this beautiful spot once the rings were exchanged? I loved that the tree was lit up during the reception to welcome guests in as they congratulated the happy couple.
As the warm, Arizona night ended the bride and groom were sent off with sparklers and floating lanterns. Yes, just like in Tangled. Long after they drove away, we could see these glowing balloons drift away. It was a gorgeous wedding!


Reupholstery: The Finished Product

It may have taken us a month to finally finish our first upholstery project, but it's done! If you've read along with our process, you will have seen part 1 and part 2 already. Now this little beauty is sitting proper in our living room, bringing our classy status up a few levels. 
The last two steps were a piece of cake. Simply roll the top padding and fabric over and cover it with a long, straight sheet to add the finishing touches. Once the rest of the clavos nails are in place and the bottom is stapled on, it's done! 
We couldn't wait to try it out! 
As always, if you have any questions just shoot me an email or comment below and I will clarify any sketchy details! When we got over the daunting idea of taking a chair apart and cutting up the fabric, it went pretty smoothly. Like I've mentioned before... just jump into it. Mistakes make a great story and some awesome memories.


Chicken Milanese

After too many failed attempts at Pinterest recipes than I care to admit, I have learned one important thing about cooking: keep it simple. You don't need bacon in your cookies, leave thai food to the restaurants and breaded chicken should be an 8th wonder of the world. If you want to serve your guests a meal that is tried and true, this is the recipe for you. The chicken is moist and balances out the crunchy topping with just the right amount of seasoning. No back up plan needed.

1 cup bread crumbs
10 Ritz crackers
2 Tb Oil
4 - 5 chicken tenders or 3 chicken breasts
2 eggs
Salt and Pepper

Directions1. Crunch up the ritz crackers in a bowl. They don't have to be as thin as dust becuase some chunks are good... and just use a cup to smoosh those suckers.
1. Crunch up the ritz crackers in a bowl. They don't have to be as thin as dust becuase some chunks are good... and just use a cup to smoosh those suckers.
2. Spread about a cup of bread crumbs on a baking sheet with the crackers and the oil.
3. Mix it up and then throw it in the oven for ten minutes.
4. While your crumb mixture is in the oven, divide your eggs into one container and your flour into another. Add a dash of salt and pepper to the flour.
Once you start to smell the crumbs and crackers you know it's done. Don't be worried if you pull it out and the edges are burned. It gets me everytime! All you have to do is scrape those parts away - plus, the crunchier the better!
5. Place 2 - 3 chicken tenders in a ziploc bag but don't lock the top. Leave it open so the chicken can breathe while you do the next step.
6. Grab a sauce pan and bang those babies. When my husband saw me do this and knew I was going to post this recipe he announced that 'some people have a hammer for that sort of thing'. Well, if you do, that's awesome but I like using my pan just fine.
The chicken might not be perfectly shaped afterwards, but as long as it's still together, it's fine.
7. Take the chicken out of the bag and flour it, then egg it then crumb it. Then put it on a baking sheet.
8. Cook them for about 20 minutes.
9. Eat them with a salad and some lemon wedges.


Reupholstering: Putting it back together

Before I begin this post I want to share some exciting news. I just did some work on our car by myself. Sure, it was just changing a headlight, and my husband had to walk me through detailed steps before he ran to class, but when it all comes down to it... I did it by myself. And I feel cool about that. Nothin' like popping the ol' hood and getting some grease on your hands - am I right?
Back to the real reason of this post. Remember that ghastly chair we took apart in this post? This is part 2 of how to take an ugly wingback like that to a gorgeous new piece of furniture! I'll rewind a bit to remind you where we left off: we had all of the fabric, staples and padding off of the chair and it looked pretty bare. The next step was probably my favorite. Shopping for new fabric!

We went to a Home Fabric store after running, screaming, out of Joann's fabric due to their extravagant prices. I mean, $30/yard? I don't think so... on our first try.
We narrowed our choices down to four and decided to go with the most complex pattern. It was a beautiful burlap foundation with velvet design on top. We brought our pieces from the original chair to lay out on the store floor and make sure we had enough.
 For this little chair it probably took about 4 yards. We got extra just in case, but we had alot left over. (Maybe a footstool tutorial is in our future.) We found that the best way to measure each piece was to lay the old scraps ontop of the parts of the design that we wanted and cut around them.
Going little by little we cut, stretched over the frame and stapled in place. It is very important to pull each piece tight or else you will have to go back and redo parts because they will get wrinkly! Here are the steps we took: inside arms, seat, bottom rim, wings, outside arms, back, bottom.

 There were two spots that I had to pull out my handy sewing machine and stitch the ribbing along the bottom rim and the edges of the wings. I used our old scraps as a reference to know where the pieces met.
Our original little chair had buttons on the seat and the back, but we decided to forego this step because our chosen pattern was complex and beautiful on its own. We simply stuffed the button holes with extra padding and added another thin sheet on top.
In a few days I'll post the last two steps and finished results!!