Rivet & Sway Review

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Last week, I got my home try-on frames from Rivet & Sway. I had such fun trying on the five different frames I picked out and trying to decide which were my favorite (with the help of friends and family, of course!).

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I recorded this video to share the five frames I selected, as well as my thoughts on Rivet & Sway’s home-try on process.

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Peet’s Coffee is my new fave (hello, almond milk lattes!). I wish EVERY coffee shop offered that in place of soy. Also, I am loving this Punchline frame in Neapolitan (how can a girl resist a pair of pink specs?!).

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While helping me decide, my sister even tried on a few of the pairs. Aren’t these such a fun look for her? :)

*NOTE: Rivet & Sway did not contact me about doing this review. I wanted to share this company with you, because I was inspired by their products and because I enjoy reading others’ thoughts when I am considering trying a new company or product. 

Weekending: A Spring in My Step

It is an incredible Saturday morning.

I’ve thrown my windows open to let in the fresh air and sunshine for the first time this spring, and my  heart couldn’t feel happier or more refreshed.

This perfect weather has me dreaming of summer, farmers markets, and tall icy cold glasses of lemonade and Izzy sodas.

Ahhhh. :)

I’ve  also got a new Saturday routine that’s putting a bit of extra spring in my step! ;) (Pun intended!) I’ve been waking up to attend an early-morning Saturday ballet barre class, coming home, turning on the tunes, and dancing around the kitchen, while fixing breakfast. This new rhythm starts my day with intention and energy, and even though getting up so early on my day off is taking some getting used to, I’m looking forward to continuing this new routine of mine. Once the farmers markets start up again, I plan on heading to my favorite one after class to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies for the weekend/week ahead. If you’re local, stay tuned, because I’ll be sharing some of my favorite local markets.

P.S. Speaking of farmers markets and morning work-outs, did you catch this post from Kendie Everyday about workout style that can transition to other lovely Saturday activities like farmers markets and brunch?       

Fun, yes?! I love colorful workout wear (no surprise there!).

Well, as soon as I finish my last few sips of coffee, I’m off to tackle some Saturday errands before a little sister time this evening. Yay for the weekend! And yay for sunshine!

What’s your favorite way to kick off your weekend?

Hello, Spring (A Let’s Catch Up a Bit Post)

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Things have been a bit quiet around here lately (no posts in two weeks!). Whoops.

But my heart hasn’t been quiet — I’ve been working and praying through some new dreams and ideas.

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I’ve been feeling super excited about a new venture/idea/dream God has placed on my heart. I want to take the whole idea of #AnInspiredLife to the next level. I want to help you live * AND TELL * inspired stories! I’m in the brainstorming, dreaming, praying phase of what this could look like…but thinking about possibly working with people on an individual basis to help them discover the heart of their story and then how to tell and share it creatively. Thinking this could translate to working with you to write your mission statement, web site copy, etc.

Over the last few years, I’ve realized how much I love celebrating others’ stories and how inspired I am by what God is doing through each of our stories. I’m also a big geek when it comes to branding and creatively telling our stories, so I’ve realized doing more with the writing side of branding might be a perfect fit for me.

So, YAY!

Spring is such a good time to explore new hopes and dreams, yes??

More on all of this very soon.

In the meantime…

A few random, hopeful, springy things: I bought some blueberry coffee (undecided on whether or not I like it); I’ve been filling the house with fresh flowers (makes my heart SO HAPPY); I’ve been reminding myself to be brave (we could all use a reminder sometimes, eh?); and I’ve been searching for the perfect neon yellow polish.

It’s the little things sometimes, huh? Okay, many times. :)

What’s new with you?

Using Photoshop Actions: A Review of the New ABM Collection

I have long been a fan of Photoshop Actions. I’ve been using Rad Lab from Totally Rad Actions for a few years now. I love the vast array of looks I can create with actions, as well as the consistency they allow me to achieve with each of my images. Using actions has helped me to establish a certain look for all the photos I use on A Place to Dwell.

I’ve been extremely happy with my Rab Lab actions, and I know they will continue to be a staple in my blogging process, but when I read that the A Beautiful Mess gals had created their own set of actions, I was super excited to give them a try (their photography work and photo editing is some of my favorite in the Blogosphere). Plus, I knew that having a whole new set of actions to play with would be a great creative challenge for me that would breathe some new life into my photography.

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I decided to invest in all three collections, given how often I use Photoshop Actions (every time I create a blog post). Actions were also a huge help in creating my eBook, because they allowed me to achieve a consistent look/feel/tone and style throughout.

I love that the three ABM collections have such variety (from the everyday versatility of The Signature Collection to the moody drama of The Folk Collection to the bright, fresh pops of color offered in The Fresh Collection).

I thought it would be fun to put together this post to show you some examples of photos I’ve edited using actions from each of the three ABM collections. (Little tip: When using actions play around with the opacity. I rarely ever use an action at 100% opacity.)

I’ve also used the guide on the ABM Action site to help me determine which action I might want to play with, depending on the mood I’m trying to create. (And their descriptions are just super fun. For example, here’s their description of Scout from the Folk Collection: Scout—It’s like a hot cup of cocoa for your photos! Inviting and rustic. I mean, who wouldn’t want a hot cup of cocoa for one of their photos, right?! ;)

Playing with the actions gave me an excuse to take new photos, as well as go back and re-edit some old favorites. (Yay!)

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Alice is one of my very favorites from The Fresh Collection. The soft pastel wash it creates is completely dreamy! Using it on this photo of lavender syrup I picked up at a farmers market last spring makes me long for those sunny Saturday mornings spent browsing the market for food and inspiration.

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Hazel added a beautiful warmth to this photo taken during a brunch date with a sweet friend. I love the way it brought out the glow of the twinkle lights and summer sunshine.

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The actions I chose for this photo were selected to create a soft, quiet, contemplative tone. Actions are such a great way to add an extra layer of emotion to your images. They really do help you tell stronger stories with your photography.

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Editing this photo took me back to celebrating my 30th with my nearest and dearest. It feels so cozy and inviting, doesn’t it?! Just like the evening itself! :)

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Aubra is another one of my favorites. It was the perfect choice for these beautiful tulips that are brightening up my living room this week.

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And finally, a photo from earlier this evening. I layered a few different actions to create this look. I wanted the overall effect to be soft, but with a pop of color. (And yes, these dairy-free “Shamrock Shakes” were quite the St. Paddy’s Day treat!) ;)

What are your thoughts on using actions? Do you have any favorites?

P.S. If you have any questions about using actions, I’d be happy to try and answer those, as well. The ABM gals have a great tutorial for their actions on their FAQ page, too.

Lost in a Book: My Currently Reading List

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I’m the kind of girl who likes to start many books at once, the kind of girl who wants to read ALL THE THINGS. (#ALLTHETHINGS)

But for a while, I was in a dry season of reading. I couldn’t seem to find a book to get lost in. My heart may have just been too restless. Or, I might have needed a season of quiet in the midst of all the ideas and creating I was embracing.

Whatever the case, I settled into the quiet and focused on my own ideas and words.

Thankfully, I’m back to getting lost in books, delighting in inspiring words on the page and that incredible new book smell.

And because it’s been a while since I’ve written a book post, I thought it would be fun to share a few of the books on my reading list this month.

  • Show Your Work by Austin Kleon I bought Kleon’s book Steal Like an Artist a few years ago and loved it. He has such a refreshing view on creativity and art making that I really appreciate. My Show Your Work copy was pre-orderd from the library, and I’m only a few pages in to chapter one, but I’m already wishing I had a copy of my own. The first chapter Find a Scenius is about creating in collaboration and community with others, and if you’ve read any of my goals for this year, you know how passionate I am about that and how important I believe it is for both our art and our relationships with others. :: I’m planning on making a cappuccino later this morning, and I think this is just the book I’ll curl up with. ::
  • You’re Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are and Becoming All God Created You to Be by Holley Gerth Holley’s words are always so encouraging and uplifting, and after reading and enjoying her book You’re Made for a God-sized Dream, I decided to read her book You’re Already Amazing. Lately, the idea of comparison has been on my heart (and it came up in our An Inspired Life Book Club conversations, too). I am interested in really doing my part in discouraging comparison and building community and collaboration instead among women and artists both online and locally. I thought Holley’s book might speak to that a little and even help me to be a more confident creator for God.
  • The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art by Erwin Raphael McManus I’ve only read a little of this book’s intro,  because I’m saving it for a time I can really sit down and dive into it, but I LOVE what I’ve read so far. I’m going to borrow a quote from the book’s description on Amazon, because I think it really sums up why I am drawn to this book. “There are no shortcuts to quality, and McManus celebrates the spiritual process that can help us discover our true selves.” I love to view creativity as a deeply spiritual process, and I’m excited to read what McManus has to say about that process.
  • The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani The only fiction book on my currently reading list (I actually only like to read one book of fiction at a time). This is the third book in a series about shoemaker Valentine Roncalli. I have loved this trilogy about the passionate, creative, very determined Valentine. Each book combines her love for the artistic work she does, as well as how her creative pursuits are part of each of her relationships and the very person that she is. One of the quotes I loved best from the second book in the series was “I am my best self, the most alive I can be, when I’m creating…” In this third book perhaps what I have loved most are the pages that detail Valentine’s creative process — from gathering her inspiration to dreaming up the designs for her beautiful artisan shoes. In a mass-produced world, I so appreciate the handmade and the people who are in love with their craft and the special art that they create (but that’s a post for another time). :)

In looking at my list as a whole, it’s probably pretty evident that my favorite things to read about are the same as my favorite things to write about — art, inspiration, creativity, and living fully as the men and women God created us to be.

What have you been reading lately? What kinds of books are your favorite to get lost in?

::photo edited with the A Beautiful Mess actions; review coming soon::

As Seasons Change

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Spring’s approach has me daydreaming about color and creating, new growth and new adventures. 

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As the season changes, I hope to continue to explore the art of typography, take more photos that capture the beauty of everyday life, shop at the local farmers markets, and spend many afternoons collaborating with creative friends at favorite coffee shops.

What about you? What does spring’s approach have you daydreaming about?

:: photos edited using the new A Beautiful Mess Photoshop Actions ::

An Inspired Life Book Club – Week #6

Hi, friends!

I can’t believe it’s our last week for the book club! I look forward to talking about celebrating and sharing our stories this week! I’m also excited to invite you to celebrate your story and all God is doing on the An Inspired Life Book site. You can add your story, here.

A few things:

1. I’m rocking polka dots again. Thank you, Stitchfix!

2. I recorded two videos, and I actually liked the first video better than this one I’ve posted, but in the first video, my cat is doing some acrobatics in the background (including leaping through the air — seriously — so it’s a little distracting. Hilarious, but distracting. ;)

3. I’m including the Rend Collective song below. Hope you enjoy listening to it this week!

4. We will have our last Twitter party this Thursday. 9 p.m. EST.

5 Ways to Live More Creatively

1. Discover

Discovering new things — artists, writers, musicians, restaurants, farmers markets, shops, boutiques, etc. — is something that makes my life feel full and vibrant. To bring a sense of discovery to your everyday life, consider trying one of the following: Make a list of restaurants you’d like to try in your city, shops you’d like to visit, etc. Switch up your normal grocery shopping routine and try a specialty market, local shop, or farmers market instead. (I love to shop local, because it gives me a chance to make healthier choices and also meet the people who have grown and tended my food. It’s a pretty cool, inspiring experience.)

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2. Learn

I love to challenge myself to learn new things. (Right now, I’m learning all about hand lettering, and I’m excited to immerse myself in this new art form.) Is there something that’s piqued your curiosity? Check out your local library to see what books you can find on the subject. You can also find a lot of affordable classes online. Skillshare is a great resource on a vast array of creative topics, for example.

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3. Create

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Spending time dreaming and creating is super important to me. Think about what inspires you… Is it drawing? Painting? Gardening? Knitting? Writing? Cooking? Finding time for the things that make your heart happy is an important component of living creatively. And remember, you don’t need an entire day to devote to creating. Look for small ways to create every day. If cooking is your thing, can you try a new recipe? If you love writing, can you spend a few moments each morning or evening penning a few thoughts in your journal?

4. Add color

I am a big fan of living with LOTS of color. I find that when I surround myself with color and art and pattern, I feel happy, inspired, and creative. Even just wearing a colorful outfit can change and brighten my mood.

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5. Connect & Share

Life is so much sweeter when we share it, yes?  I love to plan adventuring dates with friends and loved ones — and sometimes just with the Lord — so we can share the experience of discovering fresh new joys together. Being in community and sharing our stories, our art, and our lives with people we appreciate and connect with on a deeper level is such a HUGE part of living fully and creatively.

:: I hope this post gets you thinking about some new ways you can bring joy, creativity, color, and inspiration to your everyday life. If you enjoyed reading about this topic, you can find more in my book An Inspired Life: Living Fully & Creatively in Every Season. ::

Happy Weekend!

An Inspired Life Book Club – Week #5

Hi, everyone!

Welcome to week #5 of the An Inspired Life Book Club!

We’re talking about embracing our current seasons this week — and living creatively (one of my favorite topics)!

Looking forward to chatting more and discovering new ways to add inspiration and creativity to our everyday lives!

How To Be Brave In A New City

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Siempre verde. Always green.

I scribbled those Spanish words and their translation into my art journal, pasting a magazine clipping of bright green leaves next to them.

A reminder of hope, right there on the page.

Always green. Always growing.

At the time, I felt anything but.

I was 24, living in a city that didn’t quite feel like home, and learning to accept the end of a relationship that was never going to be right.

After dating on and off all through college, my boyfriend and I had reached that place of determining whether or not there was a real future for the relationship. As painful as it was to realize, we were two very different people, heading in two very different directions.

Standing on my own, in a new place, watching my story unfold much differently than I thought it might, I had an opportunity to choose growth, an opportunity to discover my roots and what they might be preparing me for…

Hop on over to Venture Magazine to read the rest. :) I’m super honored and excited to be a part of their writing team.

Happy Saturday and Happy March, friends!

Hope you’re off having some fabulous weekend adventures!