What’s Your Color Story?

This is a sponsored post. I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion and review. This post also contains affiliate links.

Do you have any idea how ecstatic I was to be selected as a Launch Team Member for Moll Anderson’s new book, Change Your Home, Change Your Life with Color? As an artist, color speaks to me. I still think one reason I dislike snow is because it covers everything with a boring blanket of white. My favorite time of year is late spring/early summer… when the bright yellow sun shines in a vibrate blue sky. Grass is at its greenest, and flowers bloom every shade of pink, yellow, purple, and orange. I love being outside, taking in all of the colors that nature has to offer.

Little did I know that we all have a color story. In the book’s introduction, Anderson writes, “Color is energy—good or bad depending on your personal color story.” She goes on to explain that by identifying negative connections to colors that we dislike, through childhood memories or other experiences, she can help us to unlock our color stories and create positivity in our lives. Is that not fascinating? I know that I have always loved blue and cared very little for yellow, but I’ve never actually stopped to consider why.

On pages 26 and 27 of this beautiful hardback book, there are 10 questions to help determine our color stories. Questions like, “Did you have a most used Crayon in the box? If so, what color was it?” and “When was the first time you noticed you had a strong dislike for your least favorite color?”

Moll goes on to give a quick lesson in color, discussing things like the color wheel, hue, tint, shade, and tone. It was an abbreviated and simple version of what I learned in Color Theory during my undergraduate days in art school. From there, the book transitions to another series of questions. This time, the questions are a little more detailed, asking specifically about colors in our homes.

By page 49, Anderson begins to dive into color. The photos in this book are phenomenal. The design elements in them, and the excellent print quality of this book, are appealing to the eye. This book is a fast, enjoyable read.  No details were spared in Change Your Home, Change Your Life with Color. From patterns and quotes to fun recipes and Insta-inspiration, every page is informative, motivating, and down-right gorgeous!


I could spend hours in the pages of this book, re-reading the color trivia and drawing inspiration from Moll’s design suggestions. It is written in a way to appeal to everyone, particularly those who feel they lack creativity. If you have been apprehensive about adding color to your home, this book will guide you through the steps of color rehab.

Pages 238 and 239 offer more questions to help us further determine our color stories. I didn’t write my answers inside the book, but instead chose to record them in a notebook. This will allow me to revisit the questions in the future to see if my color story changes. I have a feeling this book will be a go-to source of design inspiration for me as I work toward building my new home in the next couple of years.

If you would like to have a copy yourself, you can order Change Your Home, Change Your Life with Color through Amazon using this affiliate link.

What color makes you the happiest? Do you currently use it to decorate your home? Do you know why you dislike your least favorite color? Please comment below. I would love to hear from you

Message Board

Items used:
Old picture frame (16×20 – purchased for approx $10 already painted)
Screw eye hooks – 3/4 in.
Jute twine
Tape measure
Small craft clothes pins

The first thing that you’ll want to do is paint your frame, if you want it painted and it isn’t already. There are several paint options that I recommend. One is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. This paint does not require primer and covers really well. It is also a great paint if you’re planning to distress the frame. It can be a little difficult to find in some cities, however, and it is a bit pricey. Another paint option that is easy to locate, easy to use, and fits almost any budget is spray paint. I love that spray paint comes in all shades and finishes. You can get a high-gloss black lacquer to a glittery bright pink, and even a metallic gold. Your choices are endless. Latex crafts paints are perfect for this project as well.

After your paint has completely dried, place the frame backside up. You will want to measure your frame (For this project, I would recommend a frame that is at least 11×17, if not larger.) Use a tape measure or a ruler to measure the opening of the frame. Consider how you plan to hang the frame when completed. For me, I needed the frame to hang vertically, so I measured the long side. Once I determined that the opening was 20″ tall, I did simple math – yes, even for someone who struggles with math like me – and decided that if I wanted four rows, they would be 5″ apart. You probably do not want your rows less than 3″ apart because you will want enough space between them as to not overlap the notes, memos, or photos that you eventually clip on the message board.

Use your pencil to mark the measurements. Note: I started the first row 1″ down from the top so that there would be enough room to attach the clothes pin to the twine. If you make your first mark at 0″, you will be unable to utilize the first row. Once you have made those marks, screw the eye hooks into the picture frame at each mark. This may take a little pressure, but should not require any tools.

Next, cut strips of twine that are approximately 1/2″ over the outside edges of the picture frame. Tie one end of the twine to one eye hook using a double knot. Then you will want to stretch the twine straight across and secure the other end in the eye hook with another double knot. I tried to keep the twine free from any slack, but I wasn’t concerned about making it taut at this point.

When you finish tying the twine to the eye hooks, used the ends to adjust the tightness of each row. You can do this by pulling the ends and stapling them to the frame. This makes the twine more taut while additionally securing it.

I picked up some small clothes pins at my local craft store (similar to these: http://bit.ly/1Pz58Gp) and added a few to each strand of twine. Now the message board is ready to hang!

This is great for a bedroom, college dorm, office, kitchen, or I put mine by the front door. It’s so easy to use! Just clip your favorite photos, Christmas cards, grocery lists, or any lightweight keepsake to the message board for a quick reminder or fun decoration. You can even change photos often without the worry of removing picture frame backings or having to cut the photo to fit a particular sized frame.

This project can easily be completed in a couple of hours, takes little effort (and supplies), and is very budget-friendly!


Creative Jewelry Storage

Like most women, I have acquired a lot of costume jewelry. I went through a phase when I bought a new shirt or dress, I also picked up a pair of earrings or a bracelet to coordinate. Before I knew it, I was buying duplicate pieces because I didn’t have an efficient way to store everything and had no idea what I had.

Costume jewelry tends to get a bad rep. It’s an inexpensive way to accessorize. Because of it’s low cost, many of us treat it with less care than we would more expensive jewelry. I would never lay down my pearl necklace in the laundry room or have diamond earrings strewn across the bathroom counter top! But I find myself literally leaving my costume pieces lying around the house.

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a nice armoire to hold the insane amount of costume jewelry that I own, but I didn’t want to just throw it in a box either. Thanks to Pinterest and a few things I had around the house, I came up with a couple of creative ways to display my costume jewelry!

At some point in time, you probably owned a ribbon board. Most people used them to display photos. I actually had mine hanging over my desk, to keep all of my important notes in one place. Although handy, I wasn’t pleased with how cluttered the board looked on my wall… with all of those notes. I decided to repurpose the ribbon board into an earring and pin holder. I secured a ribbon to the back, and hung it with a large thumbtack.

I used nice 3M brand hooks to hang some necklaces around the ribbon board on my bedroom wall. I have one necklace that was too heavy for the hooks, so I hung it over the ornamental shade of the lamp on my nightstand. I used a wicker basket, lined, to hold additional necklaces and bracelets. I also used old brass candlesticks to store my bangles.

I had originally used a glass vase to store my rings, but found that it was difficult to select one ring without having to pour them all out each time. I had hoped I would stumble across something better one day. That happened last week, when I went into Goodwill to find luggage for an upcoming trip. As I was checking out, there was an extremely ornate candle holder by the register. It was $2, and exactly what I needed.

Now all of my costume jewelry is in one place! It is not only organized, but it is showcased in a beautiful display. I can enjoy it even when I’m not wearing it!

Start treating your costume jewerly a little differently. Just because it was inexpensive doesn’t mean that it isn’t beautiful. Think of creative was that you can display yours. It will make accessorizing easier, and will give a fun way to decorate a room in your home!

Written by Jenn Bauguss

Powdered Dishwasher Detergent

Guest Post by Kara Cody

I’m really enjoying trying to make as many household items as I can in order to cut back on costs. This is a super easy and pretty cheap method to make powdered dishwasher detergent. This can also be used as a household cleaner to scour sinks and tubs.

1 Cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 Cup Borax
¼ Cup Citric Acid
¼ Cup Kosher Salt

Stir ingredients together in a seal-able container and voila you are done! I also added silica packs in the container to keep it from clumping, but it still does. I just shake the bowl before I open it, and just leave a spoon in there as a measuring tool. Use 2-3 teaspoons per load.

I also filled the liquid reservoir in my dishwasher with white vinegar. Vinegar helps with shiny glassware and spots and all that jazz.

$$$ Cost Breakdowns $$$

Just an FYI – I’m horrible at math, and I used liquid ounce conversions instead of dry ounce because I didn’t weigh each ingredient so these calculations aren’t perfect.

Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda 55oz. box (purchased at WalMart laundry aisle)
Cost: $3.24 per box 6.875 Cups in box Cost per cup approximately: .47cents

20Mule Team Borax 76oz box (purchased at Food Lion laundry aisle)
Cost per box: $4.69 9.5 Cups in Box Cost per cup approximately: .49cents

Ball Citric Acid 7.5oz container (purchased at WalMart in the canning section)
Cost: $2.97 per container: 3.75 ¼ cups in container Cost per ¼ cup approximately: .79cents

Natural Nectar Kosher Salt 24.7 oz container (purchased at Ollies)
Cost per container: $1.99 3.0874 ¼ cups in container    Cost per ¼ cup approximately: .65 cents

Total Cost per recipe: $2.40
Total Product 2.5 cups of powder: (120 teaspoons)= approximately 60 loads of dishes..
Total Cost per load: .04 cents
Not too shabby!

To give credit where credit is due, I obviously didn’t invent this recipe, this is just my version of it. This is where I borrowed it from here.

Outdoor Bird Tree

Growing up we spent a lot of time with my grandparents on my mom’s side. My papaw was one of the most influential people in my life. He always liked to look out the picture window at the Cardinals in his yellow bell bush. He loved his redbirds. I guess that is one of the reasons I like birds so much. I have been a fan of feeding the birds for awhile now, and am so happy to have a porch that has room for lots of feeders.

This year as I was thinking about all of the decorating options I would have at my new house I remembered that I still had the small Christmas tree I had from when I first moved out on my own. It was sort of emotional digging out this old tiny tree, it definitely made me think about the journey to where I am now in my life. I thought this tree would be perfect to put outside and to decorate it for the birds.

My nephews, whom I love to pieces helped me make ornaments that are edible. They helped cover pine cones with peanut butter and bird seed (which I had wrapped floral wire around the ends to make a hanger).

I also cut bagels and put floral wire through the center hole and they covered them in peanut butter and birdseed as well.

I dehydrated orange and apple slices in my dehydrator and put ribbons through them. I also strung popcorn and cranberries to make garland.

The boys painted mini bird houses to use as ornaments and I stuck a squirrel and a bird in there also. They had so much fun painting the bird houses, that when they were all done they wanted to keep painting things so they painted some pine cones as well.

It turned out to be a really cute tree, a little crooked but hey, that’s okay.

Written by Kara Cody

Salt Dough Gingerbread Ornaments

Growing up, one of my favorite aunts always included an ornament on our Christmas gift each year. As an adult, I have borrowed this tradition and try each year to come up with a pretty ornament for all of the kids gift. Most of the time I just buy ornaments, but every few years I will catch the crafty bug and make them myself. Salt dough is a fun, cheap, and easy way to make ornaments. This year I wanted to make a Gingerbread House as the ornament so I decided to make a dough that also looks like Gingerbread.

Salt – 1 cup
All Purpose Flour 4 – cups
Cinnamon ¼ cup
Water – 2 cups
Cookie Cutters of Choice
Drinking Straw
Paint and ribbon or string

Mix all dry ingredients.

Add water, and mix into a ball, if dough is too sticky add a few more spoonfuls of flour.

Spread a couple pinches of flour on your countertop, roll the dough out, and cut into the shape of your choice. Place on an ungreased cookie sheets. Take a straw and poke a hole in the ornament in a place that a ribbon would go through, blow the dough out of the straw between each ornament so you can reuse it.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and bake the ornaments for one hour.

Helpful Tips: Do not fill cookie sheets with more ornaments while your waiting for others to come out of the oven, they will stick like cement to the pan and will break during removal. Wait until right before they are going into the oven to roll the ornaments out and put on the cookie sheet.

Remove the ornaments from the pan immediately after they are baked, cool on cookie rack or foil sheets on the counter.

Don’t put the pan on the bottom rack of the oven, they will burn.

Paint the ornaments any way you choose, the last time I made these I put a clear coat on them after, but since these smelled like cinnamon I didn’t want to coat them so they would still smell. Put a ribbon through the hole and tie it in a loop or bow and your ready to go.

These ornaments last for years. I hope you and your family enjoy.

Written by Kara Cody

Hand-Drawn Posters: Helpful Hints on Creating a Masterpiece

As I sat here coloring my poster for an upcoming Open House, I want to share my secrets on creating this masterpiece with all of you!  So here is the scenario – there is an event, school project, or something you need a poster for, and you don’t have the best drawing skills or handwriting.  So you want it to be legible right?  Here is a trick I learned, although I’m not sure where!  You need to have a computer with a word processing program like Microsoft Word, or a desktop publishing application like Microsoft Publisher, or similar.  Once you have decided what you want your poster to say, type one word to a page. Use a large, legible font that is fun or pretty.  Make sure you use black ink only. Color ink will not work for this project.  Before you print the words, reverse the font so that everything is backwards.  On your poster board (don’t use the glossy side) arrange your words where you want them. Take a pencil and trace, or just rub over, the back of the paper like so.

Once you have done the first letter, lift your paper to see if you are applying enough pressure.  You will see a faint tracing of the letter.

Repeat this process until you have finished with all of your lettering.  You can even do rubbings of clipart onto your poster board too.  This is helpful if your drawing skills need a boost.  Fill in your letters and clipart with markers, colored pencils, or crayons.

Here is a poster I did for a fundraising event last summer.  All of it was traced, but it looks like it was hand drawn! :-)   Good Luck and happy coloring!

Shaving Cream

I have recently attempted to make better use of my Pinterest account. In other words, after pinning over 1200 great ideas, I’m finally following suggestions, making recipes, and attempting to learn what is trendy. Today, I decided to make use of all of my toiletry leftovers and try the penny-pinching DIY shaving cream. The recipe, as found on Pinterest, calls for shampoo, conditioner, hand cream, and baby oil.

I made a slight variation of the concoction, hoping to create a similar shaving cream with a delightful smell. I used:

1 cup Suave Milk & Honey Splash body wash
1 cup Suave Almond & Shae Butter moisturizing conditioner
5 T Suave Mango Mandarin body lotion
5 T store-brand baby oil

Using an empty 16oz body wash bottle, I added the conditioner first, followed by the body wash, lotion, and baby oil. Let me suggest a larger bottle. By the time I was adding the baby oil, I was practically out of room and it proved difficult to mix the ingredients by shaking. (I think a 20oz bottle would work better.) Aside from that one small issue, the mixture smelled incredible… like an orange dreamsicle. I could hardly wait to use it.

When I tested it out, there were two disappointing factors. The first is that my mixture ended up runnier than I expected. It was hard to control the amount of product dispensed. I felt like I was being wasteful. And my DIY shaving cream never lathered. (I need lather.) I’m not sure if me altering the recipe is to blame or if those things are common of this product.

The shaving cream did have some advantages though. The smell was delightful, it left my legs feeling extra soft and moisturized, and it allowed me to make use of items I already had in my bathroom that would have otherwise been thrown away since there wasn’t enough of the product to serve its original purpose.

If you have the ingredients in your home, I would recommend trying it out. It may not best suit your needs but it is an inexpensive solution worth attempting.

The Basics of Photography

Upon finding out that I am a photographer, I’ve had several people who enjoy photography as a hobby ask me for assistance. They have unanswered questions or need a few pointers. I am always quick to help out. I find that training hobbyist to become amateur photographers will maintain the art of the craft. Too often I see folks who acquire a digital SLR and automatically think they can start charging clients for their services. Granted, there is no law that states you have to have a certain amount of education to be a photographer… but because of that, the market becomes over-saturated with eager, yet untrained shooters and it suddenly becomes difficult on the consumer to weed through everyone.

In this blog, I want to define a few basics that every photographer – no matter their skill set – can follow to ensure you’re producing the best quality shots.

The first mistake that any photographer can make is simply not shooting enough. How much is enough? In my opinion, you can never shoot too much. It is crucial to exercise your skills, just as an athlete trains for a competition. Let’s face it… there are a lot of self-proclaimed photographers out there. Being a consistently good photographer doesn’t happen over night, so being a great photographer requires years of finding your niche, honing your techniques, and continuously educating yourself.

Without a doubt, the single-most important factor in becoming a great photographer is composition. It is all about putting objects together in your frame to emphasize the parts you want and making them stand out in the right way. These objects include anything in the foreground, the background, and anywhere in between.

Have you ever seen a landscape photo with so many objects in it that you’ve honestly had no idea what the subject actually was?  Well, that is the perfect example of poor composition. Successful photo compositions are quite simple. Regardless of the number of objects in the frame, there is never a doubt as to what the subject actually is. Some people have the knack for capturing great composition, while others have to shoot and shoot to hone their  skills. The important thing to remember is that wherever you start, you will only get better with practice.

Lighting and viewpoint play large parts in composition as well. Before you dabble in flash photography, pay attention to direction, intensity, and color of natural lighting. Move around the subject. Look at it from different angles, heights, and focal lengths. All of these things will have an impact on capturing the right composition.

So remember, no matter how expensive your camera equipment is, without a knowledge of composition, you’ll never be able to capture  the essence of a great shot. It is completely possible that someone with a cheaper set-up, who knows about composition, will consistently produce a better photograph. Decide what your subject is, which viewpoint looks best, where to place it in the frame, and monitor the natural lighting before pressing the shutter button!

Aperture is nothing more than the unit of measurement that defines the size of the opening in the lens. This can be adjusted to control the amount of light reaching the image sensor. The size of the aperture is measured in F-stop. What is slightly confusing with F-stop is that with each increase in number (for example f/5.6 to f/11) the amount of light passing through the lens decreases. Therefore, the higher the F-stop number, the smaller amount of light that will reach your image sensor.

F-stop plays a huge role in determining depth of field, or the zone of acceptable sharpness in a photograph. When you shoot with a DSLR, you have the ability to control which subjects in certain distances are sharply focused and which are not. Since the human eyes cannot distinguish small degrees of unsharpeness, some subjects either in front of or behind the object in focus can still appear sharp. Increasing the depth of field increases the sharpness of an image. Using smaller apertures (higher numbered F-stop) will increase the depth of field.

Shutter Speed:
This term is used to discuss exposure time – meaning, the length of time a camera’s shutter is open. This length of time determines the amount of light that reaches the image sensor. In addition to its effect on exposure, shutter speed changes the way movement appears in a photo. Very short shutter speeds can “freeze” fast moving subjects, where very long shutter speeds on the same subject create a blur. Some common shutter speeds are 1/60, 1/125, and 1/250. A good rule of thumb for hand-held cameras to reduce noticeable noise and blur caused by camera shaking is to select the shutter speed numerically closest to the lens focal length. For example, if you are shooting with a 50mm lens, the closest speed is 1/60. Any shutter speed below this may require a flash or a tripod to reduce your risk of blur.

ISO is actually a common short name for the International Organization for Standardization. ISO settings date back to film cameras. Remember those? When you would purchase film, the box usually said 200, 400, or even 800 on it. That number indicated the film’s sensitivity to light. The higher the number, the more sensitive the film was to light. In other words, the film with the lower number had to be exposed to light for a longer period of time than a film with a high sensitivity in order to properly expose the image. However, the lower ISO produced a better quality image. Film rated at 100 or 200 worked beautifully outdoors, but take it inside and photos – without a flash – would be quite dark.

Jump ahead to digital cameras. Instead of being locked to a certain ISO for 36 frames, you can now change the ISO setting for each shot you take. However, I wouldn’t recommend this… especially for a hobbyist. It could get too confusing. So why would ISO even matter now that there is no film? ISO still plays a key part, when combined with aperture and shutter speed, to get a great shot. As I stated earlier, the lower the number (100-200) the better quality your photo will be. In film days, you may remember a sort of grainy effect on some images. Digital images can have their own grain too. It is referred to as noise, and can be seen as a flat block-y area, typically in very light or dark shadowy areas. If you see this in your photos, check your ISO. Always shoot at the lowest ISO possible, using your aperture and shutter speed to get the right exposure, and then move up to the next ISO setting if your previous settings didn’t work.

Ultimately, the best way to better yourself as a photographer is to begin shooting outside with the automatic settings on your digital SLR camera. Play with all aspects of composition until you understand what to look for, and how to do it quickly. As you shoot, and composition becomes more comfortable to you, start taking notes of what settings your camera uses based on your location It isn’t a bad idea to take a notepad with you, or keep track of your favorite photos’ settings in your smartphone. Use these settings as a basis for you to advance over to the manual mode, remembering the tips I mentioned above.  Above all, SHOOT!! Take every opportunity to photograph in random environments. It will allow you to get more comfortable with your camera, to develop better compositions, and make faster decisions.

Name Art

This past Christmas was my sister and her husband’s first as a married couple. I wanted to get them a gift that was a family gift.  Something that would go well in their home and something that could be kept around. I decided on Name Art.  I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures that are taken or cropped to look like letters.  Well, there is a whole site that has different shaped/colored fonts of letters and they are free to download. Click here to view that website.

I chose two recent photos; one was from their wedding.

The other was from a recent family photo session they had done.

Then I chose the letters.  It was really hard at first to choose the right ones but after spending a couple of hours on the first two letters, I finally just picked a random page and made myself choose a letter off of that page.

I meshed them together in Photoshop, did a little fancy erasing and blending, then turned the whole thing black & white. I had the photo printed as an 8×10 at Walgreens.  I framed it in a nice black frame that had a nice double matting, which I bought at Walmart for an inexpensive price.

And this is the finished product – without the frame.

This is a great, inexpensive, personalized gift perfect for upcoming weddings!