Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Redesigned: Simply Modern Mom


I can’t tell you how excited I am about this design. Chris keeps telling me that this is possibly the best site design I’ve done to date. Chris is great at boosting my ego.

Fellow blog friend, Tiffany, approached me a few months ago to see if I could rebrand her site for her. Her previous branding wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really say anything about her personality or her style.

I modified her color scheme slightly by adding warm grey tones and a couple of pinker maroons in the mix. There’s a lot more dimension than a typical monochromatic scheme. I had fun lettering items for her and I love how the lettering combines with the slab serif font used in her titles. I couldn’t be more thrilled about how it all turned out. Check out Simply Modern Mom to see all of the little details. I’m not taking on any new freelance projects at the moment, but please check out the designers featured in the ad section of the sidebar. They’re all incredibly talented and available for work.

Design Tip #7: Fonts, Fonts!

Most sites these days allow for Google Web Fonts or TypeKit. If you’re unsure what these options are, you need to head over and check them out. Stat. It’s nice having lots of options, but PLEASE choose wisely. Just because it’s available to you, doesn’t mean you have to use it in every instance. It’s great to have custom fonts, but try to avoid using more than two (three MAX) on your blog. Having multiple fonts keeps your readers from understanding hierarchy of information and it’s hard to read!

Pick one font and stick to that. If you are going with one font, make sure it’s readable. DO NOT USE SCRIPT OR HANDWRITTEN FONTS FOR PARAGRAPH TEXT. Can I emphasize that any more? Sans serif and serif fonts are the best for one font choice. If you’re going with two different fonts, choose one font that will be your title font (this can be more ornate, but don’t go crazy!) and one for your main text. Google Web Fonts allows for multiple views when looking for the right font, so you can see how readable your font is in a title instance and in a paragraph instance. Take advantage of that tool.

Also, with web font accessibility, there’s no reason to image your text. For wordpress users, get rid of your TTF titles plugin you downloaded  3 years ago and use web fonts! Your site will load faster and your site’s SEO will thank you.


Keeping Carpet Clean


I consider us pretty fortunate to have found our rental in the middle of the winter. It’s a brand-new twin home that has never been lived in. How often does that happen for rentals?

Our place was one of two listings that I found that didn’t have taupe/tan/off-white walls. It has warm grey paint with white plain moulding, loads of south-facing windows, a large kitchen with a very open floorplan and a gigantic unfinished walk-out basement for my studio. Really, this place is just about perfect. Except for the carpet (and linoleum flooring, but that’s a totally different issue).

I can’t stand carpet. It’s nice in bedrooms, but I don’t find carpet has a place in high-traffic areas. At least not cheap rental carpet that will likely go threadbare in a few short years.

We’re fortunate enough to have a “tiled” entryway by the front door, but there’s nothing to protect the carpet from the door leading to the garage. We have two rugs on either side of the door, but the one on the inside of the door always gets crumpled up, and bunches beneath the door.

As I was fixing it for the millionth time the other day, I had a little brainwave to tack down the rug with upholstery tacks. The subfloor is wood, but not gorgeous hardwood that’s waiting to be revealed. It took me about two seconds to secure the rug and it looks WORLDS better. It’ll also make vacuuming it a breeze. I’ll let you know how it holds up.

So tell me, if you could build your dream home, would it have carpet in it? Mine surely wouldn’t!!

Refashioned: Make Skinnies Bigger


I have a problem when it comes to skinny jeans. My legs are nowhere near atrophed enough. If I want my pants to fit in the legs, I sacrifice the fit in the waist. If I want my pants to fit in the waist, I feel like a stuffed sausage. I find this terribly annoying, I mean COME ON!! My legs are pretty small.

I doubt I’m the only one with this problem. Or am I? I bought these PacSun jean leggings through Groupon at an insanely low price ($5? I’m in.). I was concerned that the fit was going to be a bit tight on my legs, but I ordered just as the size chart suggested. Sure, I fit in my jeans, but they weren’t very comfortable. In fact, they’re too loose in the waist & a bit too tight in the legs.

I’m sure I could’ve taken them back for a bigger size, but unfortunately I had already ripped off the tags. Instead I decided to make them bigger & thankfully it worked! Here’s how:

  1. turn your jeans inside out – make sure there’s at least one non-felled seam down your pants
  2. sew along the inside edge of the surged seam
  3. unpick the inner seam & remove any stray threads
  4. launder & wear

This little tip will give you about 1/4-1/2 inch of extra leg room in each pant leg! Easy peasy! You just need to know how to sew in a (relatively) straight line. For best results, do this on a dark wash pair of jeans. If you do have lighter washed jeans & you want to cover up the unpicked line, you might want to try a tuxedo approach like these J brand skinnies (as seen on Taylor).

See how you can’t even tell that I added 1/2 inch of leg room in my pants? I know for sure I’ll get a lot more use out of these ridiculously cheap jeans.

Click here to see outfit details.

Black & White & Loved All Over Redesign


During Chris’s two and a half weeks of Christmas vacation, we spent our time redesigning a few blogs. WE had a grand time working together & making the interwebs a tiny bit prettier. I’ll be sharing a finished project each week along with a design tip (or two) for a better blog.

Ellen was an absolute dream to work with. She’s been commenting over here on ISLY for some time, so I was familiar with her adorable family-centered blog: Black & White & Loved All Over. When she signed up for her bloggy face lift, I was SO excited to do it for someone I was familiar with!

Her before (above) wasn’t terrible, but it lacked a lot of cohesion. The font she had chosen for her header wasn’t bad & I definitely appreciate that she used it only in the header. With that in mind, I hand-lettered her masthead & used organic elements to keep things cozy & familiar.

I didn’t want to do a literal translation of Black & White the color, so I leaned more towards grasping opposites and mostly in font weight. The color palette we kept slightly muted to create more warmth & I included a large profile picture to add a personal touch. As someone who reads a lot of personal & commercial blogs, I want to know what the writer looks like. I want to see his/her face so I can get a sense of who they are. I love the about picture of Ellen. I don’t know her in person, but I feel like her picture embodies someone approachable, creative & kind. Which I assume she is, since she was awesome to work with.

I’m totally in love with the vintage handkerchief teeshirt update pictured above. Ingenius! I’m a firm believer that clean & cohesive design elements will help make her already awesome projects shine. So on to the first design tip:

• Blog tip #1 : COLOR! •

Don’t be too literal with your color scheme, but not so over the place, either. Find an image that inspires your style & glean your palette from that. I head over to Color Collective frequently for a starting point for color palettes. Lauren is great at picking very inspiring images (she credits them all correctly, too). It’s a fantastic resource for cohesive, beautiful & unexpected color combinations.

White Balance Lens Cap Review


I’ve got some exciting stuff to share with you soon: A ginormous giveaway & the big reveal of Penelope’s & Felix’s room. Their room is coming along quite nicely (well, that is if Penelope will ever stop destroying it long enough for me to clean it up & take pics of it). I’m also excited to share with you my new toy: White BAlens Lens Cap. This (besides my wireless remote), might be my favorite camera gadget so far.

I took 5 minutes to find this white balance in Kelvin. BAlens did it in 10 seconds.

I’ve never been happy with the white balance presets that any of my Nikons have had to offer & the auto can get so frustrating when in mid-shoot you have different color corrections. It’s especially annoying when batching photos to find the colors all over the map! Seriously, I’ve spent hours editing poorly exposed/balanced photos before. It’s misery.

Almost exactly two years ago I took Nicole’s table top class, where she emphasized heavily on shooting in manual & mentioned manual white balance. Since then, I’ve gone completely manual when shooting and I’ve been using my Kelvin setting for white balance. I’ve been using that for the last 1+ years and it’s MUCH more consistent than relying on presets. I’m sort of getting the hang of it, but I’m nowhere near consistent enough; especially when in dark situations with multiple light sources.

I forgot to adjust my white balance from earlier in the day. BAlens fixed that.

 This little lens cap has seriously solved all of my problems. Not kidding. You can see a huge difference in these photos, right? I sure do. No matter what, the BAlens is going to be consistent. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Unlike a greycard. It’s also pretty seamless to use this while capturing fleeting moments.

The lens cap is always with you – as long as you have your lens that you bought the cap for, at least . You just turn on your camera, follow your white balance preset instructions & take a picture with your cap on. Then you take the cap off & shoot away. It’s genius.

This is close, but still too orange/red.

I love that I don’t have to worry or guess anymore to find the correct color balance in low/artificial light settings. No matter the light source, this thing helps my camera properly adjust for the lighting & gives me perfect skin tones every time. That’s huge. I hate it when my pictures make me look like Snooky.

Since using the BAlens cap, I’ve cut down on  my photoshop time by 90%. No joke. SO worth the $45-65 price. This is the least amount of time I’ve spent in photoshop since I started blogging. I have better things to do with my time – like nap with my kids. Or actually do the laundry. What’s your favorite photography gadget?

BAlens provided by Photojojo – THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

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