Weekending: Crafty Mart’s Mom & Pop Shoppe

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Despite the unpredictable (and mostly windy/overcast weather), I spent my Saturday surrounded by color and inspiration — eating good food, drinking hot coffee, and wandering around Crafty Mart’s Spring Mom & Pop Shoppe.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, I love the Crafty Mart events, because they bring together a unique group of local artists right in the heart of Akron. It’s such a joy to celebrate talent and creativity and support people’s passions.

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This is Ashley, the owner and creator of Truckshop. I fell in love with her creatively curated mobile fashion boutique (check out all of the bright color, sparkle, and polka dots!!). She was so much fun to meet and talk with, too. I loved hearing her business story, and talking with her further confirmed my dream to work with creators, makers, and dreamers to help them live and tell their inspired stories.

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So sad she didn’t have the polka-dotted number in my size. I was smitten!

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I did snag these sparkly earrings and fun black-and-white chevron scarf, though.

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Also, did I mention there were mini donuts?!

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I’m still regretting the fact that I passed up sampling some of these sweet treats from DonutLab. They smelled incredible! (And what’s a better pairing than coffee and donuts, I ask you!) ;)

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I also came home with this darling piece of art by Ivy Axe. It’s the perfect addition to my little gallery wall of art. Filling my home and life with beautiful art makes my heart very, very happy.

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It was a great day, and I think it was just what I needed. I feel refreshed and ready to tackle some new creative projects of my own!

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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.

An Inspired Life Book Club — Week #2

Hi, all! Welcome to week #2 of the An Inspired Life Book club! We’re talking about Chapter 2 this week — Fully & Fearlessly.

I’m really excited to dig into the idea of fearlessness with you all this week. I believe that there’s something God is calling each of us to in our current seasons of life, and I also believe there are certain barriers of both fear and doubt that are hindering each of us from moving confidently toward these callings.

In what areas is God currently calling you to be brave?

For me, I feel God calling me to be brave in a few different areas. The first area is dating. God has been calling me to be brave and intentional when it comes to dating and being prepared for marriage. Dating can be scary and overwhelming at times, especially after we’ve been hurt before, but God is helping me to keep an open heart and to trust that He’s going to be faithful and guide me through the entire process. Another area God is currently calling me to brave in is my writing. He’s opened the door to a few new exciting writing opportunities (including joining the Venture Magazine team as a Featured Content Writer), and He is calling me to be brave when it comes to honestly and vulnerably sharing my words and my stories.

I encourage you to take some time to think about this question (as well as the other Prayerful Prompts at the end of this chapter).

Let’s speak truth and encouragement in the face of the fears confronting us, and let’s practice making courage decisions this week (as Jeff Goins would say).

Can’t wait to hear from each of you!

An Inspired Life Book Club – Week #1

Hi, friends! Welcome to the first week of the An Inspired Life Book Club! :)

I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading through the first chapter. I’m looking forward to connecting right here in the comments and on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #AnInspiredLife.

For this first week, I’d love for you to take some time to introduce yourself in the comments below. Share your blog address, Twitter, etc. and what inspired you to participate in the book club. We will also be chatting about some of the questions I posed in the video, as well. So feel free to get the discussion going about any of those. I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone better and encouraging each other to live fully and creatively this year!

P.S. Don’t forget: We’ll be having the first An Inspired Life Twitter party this Thursday at 9 p.m. EST. 

Okay, so, let’s chat, shall we??! :)

How do you creatively recharge?

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One of the things on my January Tending List was to read something inspiring — offline. It was a monthly goal I set to help myself find the balance between creativity and inspiration, doing and learning. It’s been a great addition to a month of firsts in 2014.

As I’ve been working through my goals and PowerSheets for January (and planning February’s), I’ve really been able to see God in everything, and I feel encouraged to keep pressing on. I also believe I’ve settled on a few verses that really give voice to my heart behind the year ahead and every goal I’ve set.

The first one is in Hebrews (10:24): And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. I feel God calling me to create community this year, and I read this verse a few days ago and knew it would be on my heart for the rest of the year. The other verses I’m keeping close at heart throughout the year are verses that speak the truth of my One Little Word: POSSIBLE. Verses like… Mark 9:23: Everything is possible for one who believes. And but with God all things are possible. I love the “but” in that verse, because it basically says, hold up. You know who you’re dealing with here, right? :)

I’m looking forward to the weekend ahead. I have some adventures planned with new friends, books to read, and words to write. The mix of quiet and community is just what I need after a rather hectic week.

How do you creatively recharge? How do you make space for it in your life?

P.S. The candle pictured above is my new favorite. An incredibly bookish, cozy scent. My next purchase from Frostbeard Studio is going to be their Old Books candle. A bookworm’s delight, eh!? ;)

And P.S.S. The An Inspired Life Book Club kicks off MONDAY! I seriously can’t wait!! Are you signed up??

An Inspired Life Book Club Intro Video

Hello, friends!

I recorded this video for you yesterday, but due to some technical difficulties, I wasn’t able to post it until today. It’s just a quick background on what to expect for the An Inspired Life Book club. Please bear with me as I get used to recording the videos, too. ;)

If you have any questions about the book club (which kicks off Monday, February 3), feel free to e-mail me or send me a tweet.

You can sign up for the book club, here.

(And I really encourage you to sign up if you’re wanting to participate, because like I mentioned in the video, I have a fun printable to email everyone who signs up!) :)

Happy Sunday!

Introducing An Inspired Life Book Club

Hello, friends!

I’m excited to introduce the first An Inspired Life book club.

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The beginning of a new year is a great time look at the year ahead with a heart full of possibility. I wrote An Inspired Life to encourage others to live their lives with passion, purpose, and eyes opened wide to possibility. I’m looking forward to going through the book as a blog community. I think it’ll be a great way to connect with one another and really encourage each other to live full, inspired lives for the Lord this year. Also, if you’ve been doing any type of goal-setting this year, this book is a great companion to that.

The details:

  • The book club begins Monday, February 3 and will last 6 weeks (we’ll cover a chapter a week).
  • Book club posts will go up here at A Place to Dwell on Monday mornings, along with a short video that talks about the chapter we’re discussing.
  • We will be connecting with one another and talking about the book in the comment section of each post, and I’ll also be hosting a Twitter discussion party each week, as well. (Those will happen on Thursday evenings at 9 p.m. EST.)

What you’ll need:

  • A copy of An Inspired Life (You can purchase it here.) In anticipation of the book club’s launch, I’m offering a 15% discount. Just use the code: BOOKCLUB Also, please note that you don’t need a Kindle or iPad to read the book. It’s a PDF download, so you can read it right on your computer without an eReader.
  • Pen and paper, if you want to journal or take notes
  • Internet connection
  • Twitter account (optional)

Sign up here for book club reminders (and a few other fun goodies):

P.S. One more detail! Want a chance to win a FREE copy of the book?! Pin, Tweet, Instagram, or Facebook the book club icon above (and let me know that you did in the comment section of this post). You can do all four, and leave a separate comment for each. I’ll choose one winner at random on Friday, January 24.

Yay! Are ya’ll ready to get INSPIRED for the year ahead?!