January Round-Up

Well friends, it has been a crazy month in my little corner of the universe. There have been a lot of things that inspire me to do what I do, share what I share, and learn more about it all.

I just wanted to share with you my favorite posts I’ve read this week from other blogs. Some of these are just fun, some of them educational.

Two articles come from A Beautiful Mess and they helped me to understand photography  a little bit better!

1. All about Prime Lenses & Focal Lengths – The first article is a little bit older, but very informative! When I first bought a camera I knew that there would be a lot to be learned and that I would probably be let down by the capabilities of my lens. While the objective of the article is to explain the difference between prime and zoom lenses and what focal lengths are great for certain things. With that this article explains focal lengths well and helped me know what to search for online to learn more about photographing a living room/landscape and up close!

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2.Casual Friday Vol. 23 – The next article shows how Emma uses tile boards to photograph here delicious creations. I had no idea how useful they would be when I first read this until I tried photography food in my own kitchen. WOW. I can definitely see myself finding or creating a couple of options that are versatile like light wood, white wood, and white tile.

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These articles really helped me to know where to begin practicing with my camera and what to look for on the internet for more information. It’s the beginning of a fun journey for sure!

3. Homemade Toaster Strudels – This recipe comes from cooking classy and I am definitely going to try it some weekend! Toaster strudels were my favorite growing up, but the name brand ones were always cold in spots and burnt in others. Who didn’t love the taste of them, though?!  These look like they would be warm and fluffy and fruity an amazing!

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4. DIY: Faux Druzy Necklace – How pretty are these! #hearteyes I’m trying to think of ways you could get a gilded look around the edge like I have seen. I will have to go down the jewelry aisle next time I’m at Hobby Lobby. In the past I have taken jewelry and metalsmithing classes so this speaks to me in the quick and easy way. I would LOVE to get back into making jewelry again that is more involved.

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5. This Outfit on Polyvore – Definitely helps inspire my work wardrobe. Working at a Harley Shop has forced me to change my style to fit in and this outfit shows me that I can still put forth my personality while wearing black leather riding boots. I love the relaxed silky top and dangling necklace. I actually have a similar necklace so I’m halfway there!

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So there are a few things that have inspired me this month!

Hello, February! You are bringing us just a little bit closer to Spring!

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Planning: Dining Room

I thought it was time to check in again with the farmhouse. Today I am sharing my plans/ideas for the dining room.

I don’t think all couples are alike, but I definitely think that we have some quirks going for us! We currently have an ongoing game of Monopoly set up in here!…and boxes EVERYWHERE! This room has a few of little things that I wish were different. Some I can’t change, others I will attempt to eventually once I know what I want. So far we have used it quite a bit and its just the two of us. I am terrified of the idea that we will sit in the living room to eat dinner like we did in my apartment, but so far we tend to gravitate for our meals in here.

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Michael had a very subtle way of letting me know that he really wanted to keep his grandma’s table. This was irritating for me at first because I love my antique Formica table! But, when I saw what people were doing with metal chairs I was sold. The Formica table will make a great craft/game room addition.

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Of course I am adding my chalkboard and gather picture. I think I will place a small console table under the chalkboard so that I can decorate it for the seasons.

I am not yet sure what I will put under the window (above) window. I would like a small cabinet or bar cart, but we will see. I’m not obsessing over yet. The chairs will be the biggest initial expense. I think I want a natural fiber rug, but I’m not sure yet. It’s so easy to sweep up with out a rug.

The cabinets on the one side come into what I consider to be the dining room area, and as a person of symmetry this bugs me, but I am thankful for the extra storage they offer. One thing I want to change is the light fixture. I would love a light that is centered over the table and rustic or industrial looking and put the fan on the kitchen side. Also a funky pendant light over the sink.

These are just things I think about right now… who knows!

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Here is a mock up of the dining room.

Michael MIGHT be digging the chairs!

On the kitchen side of things there isn’t much that can be changed, just small accents. I have already started with the natural runners under the work areas. I want a special command center for my coffee and tea so i am looking for something decorative or functional for that. I want a coffee mug tree and possibly some sort of decorative storage.

Other than these the only other things that can be added to the space are something above the window, window treatments, and something decorative on the long end of the counter! I try to decorate with things that are frequently used like my kitchen aid, pyrex bowls, cutting board, and utensil crock. I like to keep dry goods (flour, sugar, etc.) stored away.

Now… back to unpacking, dinner, and homework!

 

 

Try it Tuesday

Folks, I’m giving you fair warning. I am NOT a chef, not even a decent cook. I am a bull in a china shop in that room they call the kitchen.

So I decided, especially because I’ve moved in my significant other, that I should begin refining my culinary skills. I can’t eat spaghetti forever!

Even if that means getting some joe-shmoe practice in at the good ol’ stove, I’ll do it. Practice is practice right?

Today I decided to try a recipe from Emma at A Beautiful Mess.

A sweet heat fancy grilled cheese sandwich. If you haven’t heard of FGC yet and you love grilled cheese or grilled sandwiches, oh man! These recipes these ladies are dreaming up are so decadent I can’t even describe it.

In the past I have made the fig and almond butter recipe and it was WAY delicious, scrumptious even.

So here’s how the sweet heat recipe went for me.

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The recipe calls for: good quality bread, pineapple (preferably fresh, canned ok), jarred jalepenos, Manchego cheese, and mayonnaise.

I could not for the life of me find Manchego cheese at my grocery store, so i did a quick google of alternatives and decided mozzarella would be suitable. I have to do this a lot because I live in a small town in the bible belt.

I also opted for canned pineapples because I’m a #lazygirl.

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I think this sandwich was good, but mine was not amazing because I did not use fresh pineapple. sadface. It was too subtle of a flavor. The mozzarella did ok, I’d like to see how it would fair with fresh pineapple.

So in the end I would definitely give it a try. If you are scared of the jalepenos you have control of how much you add!

While this isn’t something I’d dream of making regularly or serving as a meal necessarily, I’m just obsessed with trying new flavors!

So how about you? Any recipes you have tried to branch out with? Are any of you complete newbies in the kitchen? You are NOT alone! 🙂 I’m 26 and still trying to get the hang of it!

*and just a note about the photos, I am practicing so hard taking these, so bare with me! I have A LOT to learn, but I have great inspiration to draw from and lots of people to learn from! So with that the reason I do these posts with the pictures that I have is because I will not let my efforts go to waste because of the small details I fear. 🙂

Yay! I made a Scrapbook! & What I Learned While Making It!

Sometimes I think it’s a strange thing that I want to collect all of my favorite photos and decorate them and then I say “Ashley, it’s a gazillion dollar industry. You are a little fish in a big pond of scrapbookers and cratfers!”.

Earlier I talked about wanting to take the plunge to do this. Part of my new years resolution was to create. I wasn’t limiting myself to any certain projects, but I thought that if I could get myself into the mindset of creating that the possibilities would be limitless. So here is to the start of a good and crafty year!

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I LOVE this page! Ready…Set…GO (then a tiny picture of our friends bolting away) & they’re off!

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I made this scrapbook in 3 nights after I figured out my new Pixma printer and the basics of Photoshop.n  There are 4 pictures left to print, but I ran out of paper! I’ve got more on order, you best believe!

So I have some things to share with you after my first experience.

1.You will read about being overwhelmed with Project Life, and you WILL BE overwhelmed. It’s ok. It’s part of the process! I don’t believe this system was decide to do such a thing, but learn what kind of doses you can take it in! My next project, after our trips, is putting together books for each year we’ve been together, while trying to keep track of the current year. Trust me… these books will take forever, and thats ok. I’m planning on writing little notes about special days in my planner to help me look back. You do YOU!

2. When it comes to the initial shopping for supplies… well we are all in our own financial situations. I had the money at the time to buy more than enough. This is because I have three trips to scrapbook! So I suggest purchasing papers, cards, washi, and stickers that are your style. Go with your gut, something you love. I am a lover of all things turquoise. I also love the chalkboard look, burlap, washed wood, and polka dots. The color scheme worked itself out. I needed natural colors to complement all of the nature things we saw. It just comes together.

3. If you have your own photo printer and editing software don’t freak out about the sizes of you photographs and the pocket pages. They will work themselves out. I ran into several instances where I had to trim a picture down, add a decorative edge to make up space, or cover something up. it all works out. I learned that 4×6 and for some reason 3.8X2.8 worked nicely and I went from there

Here are some mistakes that turned out nicely, in my opinion:

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The picture of the tree turned out too small, but really it just gave it a nice crisp border!

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The pictures along the edge turned out short, so I added some scrap paper behind and washi!

4. When planning and working, I tried to divide things into chucks of events. I would see how many pictures were in the event, decide how many pocket pages I needed and what types would work better for the pictures I had taken (horizontal or vertical). Then I would imagine them in the pages and start printing. Some pictures are easy to imagine as a certain size and orientation. Sometimes I would lay them out, but I did this more with the decorative papers. I tried to have 2 decorative papers per side of every page to allow for a nice quote and some journaling.

5. One of my favorite things I came up with was making my own pocket page cards from scrapbook paper. The corner round cutter from Becky Higgins was amazing. (Other brands make these) All of my photos and papers were consistent this way. This also allowed me to have full control over the look of my book. I was not limited to the small supply of pocket page cards available at my Hobby Lobby. So my tip is to make your own cards and buy some! I bought some that were black and white with nice quotes and patterns and a chalkboard look to them, but picked my own colorful papers to use!

6. And with that, don’t limit yourself to brands. A lot of people use Project Life or Pocket Pages by mamBi, and even others yet, but these systems all work interchangeably pretty well!

*Again, I’m working on my photography. I will try to remember to upload photos that are more focused, but have you ever needed to get a post out there because it’s been sitting so long? Here it is, no fears folks! Putting myself out there! Also, The lighting in Kansas is so bad right now because of Daylight Savings time. I have little time to get my pictures taken when I get home! It’s all good though, I’m still learning.

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Greek Yogurt With a Twist

When it comes to breakfast foods, nothing hits the spot on my early mornings like Greek Yogurt. Can you really beat something that is low in fat, has greater than average protein per serving and tastes like dessert?!

Aside from the fact that people rave over how good it is for you (obviously up for debate), I love the versatility of Greek Yogurt because it really gives me the extra bit of nourishment I need with whatever else I eat for breakfast to make sure I make it until lunchtime with out getting hungry. I don’t eat a whole ton of dairy so I don’t feel to guilty eating such a small serving that can provide a good does of protein.

I am always looking for new flavors, however. I’m usually never content with eating cherry and pineapple for very long… but now that I string those two flavors together they might be delicious mixed!

Anyway, as I was looking for something new to try I was in luck! I came across something new from Kroger at Dillon’s.

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Notice anything odd?

They all have veggies in them!

Now, my first thought was “Ashley, you know that stuff with all the added fruit is more sugary and not healthy anyway, just because it says veggies does not mean healthy.”

But, what I think I am most intrigued by are the combinations I NEVER would have thought of! It makes me wonder how I could incorporate them into other recipes.

Wondering how they taste?

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So far I have tried lemon and zucchini and it was just just fine. Fine in that all I could taste was lemon. Which makes sense to me because that is about how zucchini bread is!

This is how they serve up.

There is a separate section for the fruit veggie flavoring that is easy to pour in and spoon out.

I’m hoping I can taste the other flavors better. I may update this post with my findings.

My favorite way to eat greek yogurt is to spoon up some of the unflavored no added sugar fat free kind with a squirt of honey and mixed berries! Hello, Summer!

Have you ever tried strange flavor combinations that turned out amazing? Are you a fan of Greek Yogurt? What is YOUR favorite way to eat it?! Maybe you have a favorite morning rush breakfast food?

*On another note. This is my first blog post using my new camera! I can DEFINITELY see the convenience of using background boards for photographing food. I am having fun finding placements and thinking about ways I can accessorize. So much to learn! 😀

I think I will like having boards that are light natural, barn, and white wood and white tile and marble! oh so much fun to think about.

Holy Haul: Part 2!

Get ready for a really wordy post… OR just look at the pictures and you’ll get the gist. 😉

It’s finally time! I can finally share some news with you that is VERY exciting for me!

While I decided to accomplish some crafts this year, I decided to take my crafting and photography to the next level!

I got myself a Canon Pixma iP8720 printer for all of my scrapbooking needs! This is going to be SO much fun! I will be able to create anything I would like at home!

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This did not come with out a learning curve however!

Im SO embarrassed of the story I have about my first evening with it. Apparently I downloaded or added the wrong driver or printer… and my prints were coming out a dark magenta hue… I WAS SO MAD! This thing was supposed to work right out of the box… RIGHT?! Well… I guess there was a little more to downloading than I had realized… But Canon was a lovely company to deal with, they were happy to assist me and in about 30  mins I was creating amazing prints. Can’t wait to show you my Project Life book!

Now you should know that with every printer you prints will come out slightly different than the computer image…1. RGB =/= CMYK and 2. The computer is literally glowing from behind and printer are ink… basically what 1 is trying to say! But, I knew there was something very wrong with what I had going on and after we re-added the correct printer I was able to access function that I wasn’t able to before. I have turned down the magenta a tad because I think it helps.

 

With this purchase I also decided to subscribe to Photoshop! Big deal for me! and I have no idea what I’m doing but thankfully my project is only simple cropping, adjusting resolution to best, and sizing! WAM! PRINTS AT HOME!

But wait! THERE’S MORE!!!

Here it is, my new baby! Canon Rebel T5i!

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This girl is HAPPY!

This is a great entry level camera, I refuse to let you talk it down, because for me this is a dream come true, and while it is a cropped body I think that I will find that it can accomplish the things that I need it to. That, and I don’t have 2-3,000 dollars for a full body! yikes 😦 I can already see the distortion in pictures of my living room so I may consider a couple different lenses, but for now I am going to focus on learning the camera and doing what I can with what I have!

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After reading this article from A Beautiful Mess I had to do some tinkering.

Here are a few tests I did today at work, aka “The Shop”.

 

I did these while concentrating on focal length. The first photograph is at 55mm and the can looks washed out, but it is the least distorted. Perhaps you would adjust the f-stops to help with the color/lighting. I think the background blur achieved is whats generally most desirable when taking pictures for a blog of something like a meal or a collection of items. The second photo is midway between 24 and 35. The can is a more accurate color and the background is still nice. This would be a fun advertisement because you can still get a good glimpse of whats behind. The last picture, at 18mm, is very dark and there is a less depth of field. I think the can looks distorted, but this may be the angle I was at. The fourth picture was taken with my iPhone for comparison.

Here’s another I tried out.

The first is at 55mm the second at 24-35mm. I can see the bottom of the clipboard in the second picture looks slightly more flared or distorted.

I’m learning that you actually shoot things that are close up from further away than you would think. I mean not like from across the room, but maybe 3 feet?

 

Apologies for the roughness of these. We are currently moving in and things are straight up crazy. When I got home I took a few quick pictures to test out how wide I could go… Not as far as I’d like. You can see the walls look as if the are bending backwards and almost twisting to me. these would need cropped. I think the picture of the small chair could be saved with cropping, if for example I was trying to feature the chair and whatever wall art might be on the wall there. For these reasons I’m considering a wide angle lens for shooting a living room. It will have distortion at the edges, but I’m hoping there would be enough room to crop that out and still have the best part of the subject matter. Again the portrait and close-up level pictures look fantastic as far as focus goes.

I also thought that 18mm worked fine for shooting a general picture in the showroom, if say I were trying to get some quick pictures during an event.

I also played with the F-Stops.

Obviously you can see that there is less light coming in for each one subsequently. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th seem nice to me. You can still see enough details of the bikes engine, the 5th one loses that. This was an interesting test because the last picture is what auto mode took and I’m actually not in love with it! I think it looks washed out. The floor is not dark and rich and the bike is more yellow than gold. You can also see the dirt on the tires better. oops! Just goes to show you that you really have to learn some solid basics about your camera to achieve the richest pictures possible!

Gosh guys, I know this isn’t exciting for you, but it is for me! If you have ANY advice on what lenses I should get for shooting a living room and up close with this camera let me know! I can’t wait til I’m able to use it regularly! My vacation picture have changed forever!

Feeling Scrappy: Simple Flower Arrangement

Hi everyone! I wanted to share a quick project I did Monday amidst the whirlwind of things I was trying to get done! I created a simple flower arrangement for two ladies that are special to me that recently lost their husband/dad.

It’s definitely a sad reason for this project to be created, but the whole reason for it is to hopefully bring a bit of handmade happiness.

This arrangement is obviously customize-able, making it suitable for any occasion. I think the way mine turned out would be great for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and any sort of tender occasions.

The whole objective of this “Scrappy” project is that most of the materials were resourced from My hoard! aka “Free” haha.

I wanted to be able to afford a pretty flower arrangement, something that wouldn’t break the bank and was handmade to let the certain someones know how much they mean to me.

I’m obsessed with twine and mason jars so that’s where my Pinterest search began. I found many examples of flower arrangements in mason jars! Most of them had a sweet ribbon tied around them. So I picked out some $10 dollar roses, got a jar from my dad, used some twine, and found some crocheted lace in my grandma’s hoard! I used some hot glue to secure the ribbon and twine where I wanted them to stay.

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I apologize for the poor quality of these photos, they were taken last minute as I was rushing around all day to get everything in! I went shopping out of town with my mom, went grocery shopping, made this, ran to Fed Ex… It was a crazy day! And this is a hint to the BIG post I have been referring too. *wink *wink

So here it is!

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I loved the soft antiqued pink of the roses and I think the decoration turned out perfect. it is simple, but gives the jar some texture and interest.

Materials:

And hey folks! I edited these photos with the new A Color Story App from the ladies at A Beautiful Mess!

Have you tried the app yet?

Are there any projects you have scrapped together in a pinch?

Definitely thinking about continuing adding to this to make a “Scrappy Series”!

Have a wonderful Wednesday folks!