Category Archives: DIY

How I Edit My Photos (without photoshop)


Between the blog pictures, pictures from my trip to Europe, and random iPhone Instagram pics, I have a lot of photographs.  I tend to think of blogging as writing, but honestly the visual side of creating a website is much more time consuming. I wish there was an Instagram filter method of editing all my photos in a snap, or that I had the time/money to invest in some Photoshop and lightroom skills.  Since that isn’t happening, I use the default program is already installed on my laptop, Windows Photo Gallery.  Here’s how I edit my photos to give them a bit more of that wow factor.


Here’s a picture I took on my iPhone this past summer.  First, I upload it, or if I’m feeling lazy, I’ll just email it to myself and download it on my computer that way.  Then I go into file explorer and hit “open in photo gallery”, then “edit, organize, and share”. This will be different depending on what computer you have, but mine is an HP laptop that uses windows.


There you go. Open up the picture you want, and go ahead and hit “fine tune” in the upper middle toolbar.  You’ll have the option to adjust exposure, color, straighten photo, and adjust detail.

The next steps will really be up to your taste. I’m sure I’m making the photographers reading this cringe, because I have absolutely no idea what all of these buttons mean technically. I just like the look they create, so I guess it works for me!

The first thing I do usually is increase the brightness and contrast to make photos pop. Brightness is probably the single most difference maker in photos.


You can also fiddle with the shadows and highlights dial to create different types of depths in your photos. See the differences in whether the town (shadowed) or sky (highlighted) stand out?  You can also adjust the histogram if you want an even more dramatic depth difference.  Different photos will do well with different amounts, but my preference is low shadow, high highlight for greater contrast.


The last step I do is to adjust the color.  Color temperature tells whether you want more of a warm or cool tone to your picture.  Most often I adjust it to the right to make it warmer, but lately I’ve been favoring the cool tones as well. Maybe it’s a winter thing?  You can also up the saturation if you want a vivid, colorful photo. I usually ignore tint unless I really need to adjust the colors, simply because only a little adjustment of the tint and your photo can end up looking super green or pink.austria-4

Here’s how the photo progressed as I fine-tuned. Of course the version you like best is subjective. But now you know how to make it look how you want, and with practice it gets faster!


This only takes a minute or two, and I really love seeing the difference.  Who needs photoshop when you can cheat? (: Hope this helps someone out!



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DIY Custom Phrase T-Shirt Tutorial

You know those funny shirts that you see on pinterest? (You know the ones I’m talking about). You can definitely make them yourself at home…no sewing skills required!


I mean, you could always order a custom shirt, but that can get really expensive. This works also for those inside jokes that you want on a t-shirt! Speaking of which…I should probably explain this shirt that I’m using for the pictures in the tutorial. Yes, it does say “Brahms is bae,” and it was a moving-away gift for my amazing friend who is also a classical music nerd. You can read her blog and the post that inspired this shirt here.


Let’s get started!


  • A solid color t-shirt
  • Freezer paper (find it at the grocery store in with the tin foil and plastic wraps)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Fabric medium (can use regular fabric paint instead).
  • A foam spongy brush
  • Access to a printer
  • Masking tape


1.) First, print out what you want to put on your shirt.  I used a text box in Microsoft publisher to print this out, nothing fancy. Whatever you print will be the actual size, so make sure it is big enough!  You’re going to have to cut all the letters out, so keep it fairly simple if you want this to be a quick project.  step1


2.) Freezer paper has two sides: a shiny side that you’ll eventually iron to the shirt, and a matte side.  Tape the words face down to the shiny side, oriented like you want them to appear on the front of the shirt.



3.) Flip it over to the dull side and trace all the letters/pictures.


When you’re done, you can peel off the printer paper. You won’t need it anymore!



4.) Now, carefully cut out every letter.  You’re essentially making a stencil, so the inside of the block letters can be as messy as you want.  To start each letter, poke the scissors through the middle of the letter. Don’t cut through the white space around the letters!


Also be sure to keep the inside “holes” of the letters, like inside the B and A. This is the most tedious part of the project. I’m sure if you had some exacto-knife skills it could go a lot faster, but scissors work for me!


Ta daa, one custom t-shirt stencil. The rest is a breeze!


5.) Take your shirt and put paper in the middle to keep the paint from seeping through to the back.  Then iron the stencil right on the front (or back if that’s what you want) of the shirt, shiny side down.


Be sure to add back your middles-of-letters!



6.) Mix your fabric medium and acrylic paint based on the instructions on the bottle.  This stops the from cracking when you wash it.  If you are using fabric paint, you can skip this step.



7.) And sponge the paint on the shirt stencil! This is the fun part.


You can see in this weird looking picture how it’s starting to dry.  If your shirt is a dark color you may need to do two or three layers, drying between.  Make sure it is completely dry before removing the stencil.

8.) Peeling it all away is oddly satisfying.


9.) Set the paint by ironing over it, per the directions on the fabric medium bottle.  Your shirt will be machine washable and dryable…and I love how it fades softer after washing it over and over!


Done! Enjoy your super unique shirt…last minute gift idea maybe?

Have an amazing Christmas break, whether you spend it DIY-ing, listening to classical music, or spending time with family and friends!

P. S. Thanks, Eden for letting me try on your present for about five minutes! (:


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Photography Tips for Beginners

photography tips

The hardest part of writing a blog post for me is taking the pictures. Luckily I have a sister who is an amazing photographer.  When she bought a big fancy camera, I thought it was an odd way to spend her money, but she’s since gone on to take hundreds of cool pictures and has joined a photography class.  Most of the time I take my own pictures on my mom’s digital camera, but sometimes I can convince Grace to snap a few pictures for me for a post (like the blue hair chronicles). Today Grace wrote a post for me on the most important photography tips!

Hey guys! I am Grace from over at indigo overalls! I am so excited to share some beginner photography tips with y’all!  You don’t need a fancy DSLR camera to use these, although your results will turn out better if you have one! There is nothing wrong with a point and shoot though!

  • White backgrounds are the best! I love white cardstock or a white foam board to take pictures with. Not only will it look cleaner and draw focus towards your subject, it will reflect light which is always a good thing!

white background

  • Know ISO! On our family point and shoot it has two ISO options: high and auto. Know unless you know your photography terms you wouldn’t know what that means. ISO is basically the sensitivity to light. So, a high number means more light the camera will let in, and a low number means the less light the camera lets in. The catch is that a high ISO makes your pictures look grainy.
grainy iso

Eww! Super grainy!

better iso

Ah so much better!

  • Knowing how to navigate your camera. So you can make changes quickly to catch that perfect shot. Enough said! Fun fact: did you know that the light meter on Canon cameras puts the positive on the right, but Nikon cameras have the positive light meter on the left! Technically Canons’ make more sense but I am still in love with Nikon! What that had to do with knowing your camera, I don’t know. But, hey, it is still a fun fact!

           Canon                                                                                      Nikon


  • “Hold still! I am turning off the flash!” That was a phrase that I hear a lot! But why do pictures turn out blurry when you turn off the flash? There is another photography term that would explain: shutter speed. Shutter speed is how fast the shutter opens and closes capturing time. The longer the shutter speed stays open the more light is let in and the more time goes by. In other words, the more blurry a moving object will appear. How does this relate to flash? When you turn off the flash the camera tries to make up for the missing light by letting the shutter stay open for longer making the picture more blurry.

shutter speed

Ah! The hands are so blurry! Better bump up the shutter speed!

  • The rule of thirds. Best explained with a picture: Instead of placing your subject right smack in the middle, it is more appealing to the eye if you place it off to the side. It is best explained with a picture:

rule of thirds

Okay! Thanks so much guys for reading! Thanks Lane for hosting me!

Thanks, Grace. Whether you have a blog, want to get more comfortable with a camera, or are just looking to record some of your weekend goings-on, I bet these tips will come in handy. (:

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Easy Marbled Paper DIY

marbled paper

Marbling looks deceptively difficult to create. The pattern is so pretty! Unfortunately, the supplies used for traditional marbling paper are not things you’d usually have on hand, and kind of expensive (marbling ink, or oil paints and turpentine?!).  Here’s an easier way to get the sane results using shaving cream!  I’ll share some tips for doing the craft in a craft camp setting at the end of the post.

marbled paper (1)


  • A tray
  • Cardstock (printer paper works as well, but I think the design on cardstock looks crisper)
  • Shaving Cream
  • Acrylic paints
  • Either a squeegee or ruler to scrape
  • Optional: you can glue your paper to a spiral bound notebook for fun (:

(1). First, squirt some shaving cream on a tray, and spread it out with your hands.  You’ll want a thin layer about the size of your cardstock.

marbled paper (3)

(2). Pick out the colors you want to include in your design, keeping in mind that they will probably mix a little bit.  Dot some paint all over the shaving cream. You don’t need very much at all…a little will go a long way!

marbled paper (5)

(3). This is the fun part! Swirl the paint around in the shaving cream, using your finger or a toothpick for more control.  You want to leave some white, so be sure to go easy (you don’t want a solid color).  That way you can see the cool marble-y texture.

marbled paper (6)

marbled paper (7)

Yum yum….I kind of wish that was frosting.

marbled paper (12)

Oh well. Messy projects are the most fun, right?  (Throwback to blue hands in the hair dyeing adventures).

marbled paper (11)

You could also try a different, less swirly look by pulling the squeegee lightly across the top of the paint/shaving cream.

(4).  When you have marbled to your desire, put your cardstock right on top of the shaving cream, and press down without wiggling the paper around.

marbled paper (2)

(5).  Peel the paper off.  Now comes the cool part that probably has a science explanation that I don’t remember: use the squeegee or the long flat part of the ruler to scrape off all the shaving cream from the cardstock.  The design with acrylic paint will stay on the cardstock!

marbled paper (8) marbled paper (9)

marbled paper (10)

(6). And let it dry!  On the right is the finger swirl technique, and on the left is the squeegeeing over the paint technique.  Those are very official technique names, I know. (:

marbled paper (13)

When I did this project with Creative Chicks, we attached our paper to spiral bound notebooks. Hot glue, tape or mod podge will work!    You could also use the paper to make cards or for scrapbooking.

Some tips for doing the craft in larger groups: depending on the kids age, you may have to squirt the shaving cream or drop the paint colors they want for them (that way you don’t use up all your supplies on the first session. (;).  If you are doing it with elementary school kids, you probably want to do it in a small group, 5 or 6 girls max just because it can get messy if you aren’t watching. One bottle of shaving cream was enough for about 4-5 notebooks if you made sure to use thin layers.  Marbling is really good for camps because it’s fun to make and the results look very nice!

marbled paper (14)marbled paper

If you give it a try, let me know!

happy Tuesday. (:

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3 Tips for Refashioning

tips for refashioning

I love going to the thrift store.  Some of my favorite clothes are from that place, and you know you’re going to get something unique. The fact that you can buy a whole outfit for less than $10 is almost a bonus.  But if you’ve ever been thrifting, then you know that sometimes there’s not anything that’s reasonably or even moderately cute. That’s where refashioning comes in…looking past the 90s or size XXL and seeing how you can salvage something and make it work!  Here are three strategies for imagining ways to refashion tired pieces of clothing:

1. Paint on it!


I turned regular jean shorts that weren’t the most fashionable (instead of back pockets they have these weird side cargo type pockets) into really fun patriotic high-waisted shorts.  I painted them using regular acrylic paint mixed with a fabric paint medium (similar here) and a foam paintbrush. The stripes were blocked off using masking tape. I made a stencil out of freezer paper for the star side, and brushed on top it two or three times, letting it dry between layers. Then once it’s dry, you iron the paint to set it. If you want more details on making a stencil, this tutorial on Made is gold. The paint is really sturdy and has lasted through three Fourth of July’s so far! (and lot’s of wear in between).  The stencil/acrylic paint technique on t shirts works too.

2. Re-imagine it into a different piece of clothing

tips for refashioning

As you can probably tell, this dress was made from a thrifted men’s button-down shirt. Very few guys in this world could have pulled off a pink stripey shirt, but be on the lookout for odd pieces like that.  The buttons made it a very cute sundress for my little sister! I cut off the sleeves and used the fabric to make a ruffle, and then chopped off the top and re-cut it to sew it way smaller.  Then I gathered the bottom half back to the top to make a skirt, and added some teal ribbon for fun.  It took some creativity to make it work, but ultimately I’ve found that pretty close is good enough. You can just wing it and make adjustments as you go…don’t stress about cutting it perfectly. All people are going to comment on is “what a brilliant idea it was to make a dress out of shirt”, not “oh look at that weird gather on the side there”.  (:

You can use any nice patterned piece of clothing for fabric if you know how to sew, which opens up so many options at the store. There are so many tutorials that you could find through a pinterest search that can help give you ideas of where to start.

3. Recycle it into a non-clothing item

DSC_0118purse straps

Last fall I started getting into sewing purses. Belts made great straps!  They were ready made with buckles to adjust the length, and only cost $1-$2.  Try thinking of more than just clothing items that you could use your thrift store or hand-me-downs for. Denim from an old pair of jeans makes sturdy change purses.  Knit t shirts can be cut up into strips and made into t shirt yarn.  You have many options, even if you can’t figure out how to wear it!

Hopefully those three tips will help you think outside the box in how to use thrifted pieces that aren’t working that well in their present state.  It’s really fun, so I hope you try it.  And the beauty of refashioning is, if a project doesn’t end up working out, it still only costed you a few dollars. Win-win! (:


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DIY Temporary Hair Dye

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to dye my hair crazy colors (and yes! August is still summer!). Maybe because bright colors seem to be a summery staple, or maybe because I always feel like an artsy rebel. Because super-temporary (one day) hair dye is obviously extremely rebellious. (;

Here’s one way to do it that works great for streaks or the top of your hair. The underside will work too, but it’s a bit messier to execute.  So many options!


You’ll need two things: chalk pastels and a bowl or spray bottle of warm water. If you aren’t familiar with chalk pastels, they are kind of a hybrid between those crayon-like oil pastels and sidewalk or chalkboard chalk.  You can get them from any craft store or online.  It’s best to do this project outside and in clothes you don’t want to wear all day as it can get a bit messy!

The first step is to get your hair wet.  A spray bottle would work best, but if you’re like us and don’t have one, you can drip/dunk the part of your hair where you want to add the color. No exact science here, as you can see from the pictures…

square - wet hair

Next, take whichever color pastel you want and dunk it in the water.  After it’s nice and wet and probably dripping colored water all over your front porch, take it and start coloring on your wet hair. It’s so simple!

square - dyeing

square - dyeing again

Hold one hand behind the lock of hair you’re working on, and pull the pastel down sideways over the hair.  That method works the fastest for me! Keep re-wetting the pastel often and go over and over the same section of hair three to five times. The more you color, the brighter it will be. Be sure you’re covering the back of the hair and the very end of the tips too!

puddle of color

The goal is to make a little pool of thick pastel colored water in your hand from wetting and coloring over the same section of hair over and over.

final product

Finally, enjoy your beautiful mermaid-like hair (and blue hands!).  Once it dries, you can try styling your hair, but be careful because the dye will probably rub off onto your brush or hands a little bit. It’ll come off your hair with warm water and off of your skin with soap. And it won’t stain if you had any laundry mishaps like I did. (:  Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried it or if you have any questions…this is still my first DIY post so I’m just learning the whole explaining thing.

have a good week!

Photo credz go to Grace. Besides the editing and pastel photo, which I will happily take credit for. 😛  


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