Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness

 Need some service ideas? Here's a little inspiration.

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How cool would it be to leave little notes on coworker's desks or in friend's lockers?
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If I ever work at disney land, I am so doing that. :P
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Aren't random acts of kindness so inspiring? I think they really show the true meaning of service because each deed is performed out of true love. They are random-- the giver won't receive any outside recognition or praise. Just the knowledge that one has brightened another's day is enough.

I'm thinking about doing something like this for my birthday, you know, like an act of kindness for each year I've been alive. This blog has lots of great ideas.

What do you think?


Beyond the Blackboard Movie Review

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I love me a good comedy, but every now and then a great, inspirational movie is exactly what I need. I like my sappy Hallmark movies to be clean, motivational, and moving. Beyond the Blackboard didn't disappoint me. 

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In this movie, Stacy, a 24 year old young mother and beginning teacher, gets her first job at a school for homeless children in Salt Lake City. However, she arrives at work only to discover it really isn't a school at all, but rather a run down warehouse with no desks, books, or teaching materials. As if that isn't bad enough, the parents of the students don't take their children's schooling seriously and are very hard to work with. Stacy is tempted to quit, but finally decides to give it one more try. 

Armed with paint, posters, and books, Stacy eventually wins her way to each student's heart. Uniting the parents together and fighting for help from district administration, Stacy not only changes a school-- she changes lives.

I didn't catch any swear words or crudeness in this movie at all, so it definitely has my stamp of approval. 

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Beyond the Blackboard had a wonderful message about acceptance and perseverance that can and will change your life for the better.  

Pop some popcorn and grab the tissues! This Hallmark movie is definitely a winner. [Just don't cry too much. ;)]


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to Take Better Pictures at the Zoo


I'll be honest. Sometimes they're photographer's worst nightmare. However, by following these tips, they can become a dream come true [that is, a good dream, like swimming in a pool of pudding. Not a bad dream like getting chased by a giant vacuum cleaner].


It's the golden rule of photography-- when possible, shoot when the lighting is good. The main difference between awesome and, well...not so awesome photos is usually lighting. Choose your time of day wisely. Usually in the morning before 10am and in the evening after 7pm is the best time to take photos. During other times of the day, the lighting is too bright and harsh. Unfortunately, there's not a lot even the most experienced Photoshop user can do to fix yucky mid-day lighting. Try to go to your local zoo as soon as it opens. The animals will be more active and the highlights and shadows will be nice and soft [plus it smells better, too ;)]. 


Wildlife photography is an artist's paradise. But, since not all of us can afford to travel to Africa, zoos are our next best bet. Nothing screams amateur like a cage showing through a picture, so this tip is key. Do whatever you can to get "through" the cage. Zoom in, step closer, put your lens right up against the chain-link, or try standing on a park bench to see over the fence [just don't do anything dangerous or harmful to yourself or the animals]. When glass is available, turn off your flash and use a polarizing filter to get rid of reflections. You may notice your photos look really washed out because of the light's reflection on the glass. To fix this, you can in crease the blacks and contrast in your photo via Photoshop.



Don't be afraid to zoom in on your subjects. Capture the detail on those butterfly wings or try a head-shot of that zebra. When you have to zoom in to avoid cage lines [see above] sometime you can't fit the entire animal in the shot. It's ok. Own that telephoto lens, girl. [I love my 55-200 mm. It's enough zoom without being too heavy.] 


As you already know, animals move. a. lot. To compensate for this, try using your camera's sports setting [or on manual, a fast shutter speed] and take lots of pictures. I like to do about 15 shots of each type of animal. Of the fifteen, usually only 1-2 turn out in focus and with the animal's face looking in a desirable direction. [Yes, I do have my fair share of shots of animal backs and tails. haha]

Following these easy steps, your zoo photos can go from drab to fab.

Happy photographing, and enjoy the zoo!


Monday, July 29, 2013

Beyond 5

Recently I was able to attend a live Beyond 5 concert. I was totally amazed. Get ready for this ladies....It's an LDS One Direction! Yes, that's right. You heard me correctly. It's a Mormon boy band.

Let me get things straight. I'm so not the type to get celebrity crushes. However, I was impressed with these teen's talent and I'm super excited to have found another band that I can trust will have clean lyrics. 

According to their post on, the band was formed "in 2012, [when] Tyler Castleton and Russ Dixon teamed up to create a boy band that would inspire youth all over the world. After months of rigorous national auditions, Tyler and Russ chose 5 OUTSTANDING young men, ages 15-18".

They recently postponed recording their first album to do a charity tour for youth in Asia. In the mean time, you can get a glimpse of their awesomeness through this music video.



P.S. You can also purchase Beyond 5's "The Right Place" on Amazon, here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Off to a Conference

Hey Everyone!

I hope you're having a great summer! I sure am!

I'm heading off to a conference for the rest of this week, so unfortunately we'll have to bid a temporary farewell for a few days. Normal posting schedule will resume first thing on Music Monday. :)

Take care!


P.S. To dry your tears [just kidding ;)] here is a picture of a zebra I took at the zoo. You're welcome.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to Create Your Own Custom Watermark in Photoshop CS5

Whether you're sending proofs to clients, writing a blog post, or selling prints of your photos online, a custom watermark is a great way to promote your business and protect your photos all at the same time! However, they can be quite tedious to manually apply to each photograph. Here's how you can avoid that tragic monotony:

Drumroll please......

Photoshop Actions!

I know. When I first heard this, I was like "Oh my, that sounds way to technical." It's not. I promise.

Hold onto your hats ladies and gentlemen, because the ease of this tutorial is going to blow. your. mind.

1. Open a new document. [Sorry. That was lame...Thank you, captain obvious. ;)] But seriously, this is important. Make sure your file size and resolution is similar to the photos you'll be applying your watermark to. It doesn't have to be exact at all, just getting it in the ballpark will make your life way easier later on. I like to use 4x6 inches at 300 px.

2.  Figure out your design. You can keep it really simple or jazz it up. Don't be afraid to experiment, just remember what you did. You'll need that in the next step. [Note: As far as color's concerned, most people use white because it shows up the best on all photos. :)]

Here are some watermarks that I love:

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3. Now, here's the "magic" part. Merge all the layers [except the background] that are part of your watermark. Copy it. Clear your canvas [don't hate me!]. Open your actions panel [if it's not there, click "window --> actions" or alt +F9]. Click the "new action" button. Name it whatever you're little heart so desires. Then, press the "record button".

Now, you can paste your watermark [or create it again from scratch] and the computer will save what you did so you don't have to do it over and over and over again.

4. While still "recording", position your watermark where you think you will use it most and re-size it until you like it. You'll be able to adjust this each time you use the action, so don't stress about getting it perfect.

5. Don't stop recording yet! Change your oppacity. This is what gives watermarks that professional, half-see through look.

6. When you are finished, end the "recording" by pressing the "stop" button [the square]. 

Now whenever you want to apply your watermark to a photo, all you have to do is press the "play" button [the triangle]. Photoshop will automatically repeat all of the steps you recorded. From there, you can adjust your watermark to fit each individual photo.

Here's an example from my personal portfolio. See what a great addition a watermark can be?

Like this Photo? Buy it on our Etsy shop, here. :)

Make sure to save your watermarked images in a separate document from your originals! You don't want to get stuck only being able to print photos with your logo on them. [Not that I've ever done that before....;)].

Let me know if you have any questions or tutorial requests! I love hearing from readers!

Have a great day!


Monday, July 22, 2013

True Colors by David Archuleta

Warning: A odd, cheesy analogy is forthcoming. Bear with me. 

The world is like a cookie jar. [I already like where this is going....yum!]

Some of us are sugar cookies, some snicker-doodle, some chocolate, some with sprinkles. Thick. Thin. Soft. Crunchy. Star shaped. Round. Square. etc. etc. etc. 

However, often we feel like we have to all be the same cookie cutter duplicates. It's simply not true. 

That's why I love True Colors by David Archuleta. It has the same great message of the original song by Cindy Lauper, but in a fresh new way. 

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In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness, inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show

Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

You don't have to be like everyone else. Please don't feel like you have to conform to the metaphorical cookie cutter of society. Be yourself. Your true colors are beautiful. 

Happy Monday, everyone!


P.S. True Colors can be purchased on Amazon MP3, here.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Quotes to Inspire: Comfort in Adversity Part II


Friday, July 19, 2013

Free LDS Kindle Books

I love to read, but books can sure add up fast! This button from Bean Forest on Etsy describes me so well.

Reading doesn't have make your bank account as dry as the Sahara desert [or even my chapped feet ;)]

I love Amazon's Kindle book selection because you can find a lot of really great ones for free!

Here are my favorite LDS ones:

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The Holy Bible

Book of Mormon | Doctrine and Covenants | Pearl of Great Price

For the Strength of Youth

Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service

Ensign May, 2013

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith

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Forget Me Not by Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Your Happily Ever After by Dieter F. Uchtdorf

The Remarkable Soul of a Woman by Dieter F. Uchtdorf
[I wrote a review on this one, here.]

Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage

Happy Reading!


P.S. These prices are subject to change. Order these books now while they're free. :) If you don't have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle Reading app for your smartphone or tablet.

Fries on Friday: The Sweet Things in My Life

Wow! I can't believe it's already Friday again. Where does the time even go? [Not that I'm complaining. After all, Friday's are one of my favorite days of the week.]

I really need to come up with a consistent number of sweet things for this post...some weeks I do 4, some 5, some 6....hmm....who ever invented organization anyway? ;)

Well, despite my lack of decision making abilities, here are the top 6 things that made my life sweet this week:

1. Pink Camo Earbuds

It's no secret that I love all things camouflage. It's all I can do to stop myself from dressing exclusively in camo pants. forever. [I know...please don't call the fashion police. :D] I picked up these earbuds last time I was in Hastings. You could say I'm in love.

2. Wild Peach Poppies Lotion and Body Spray

I love Bath and Body Works! When they had their Semi-Annual sale a couple weeks ago I bought some lotion and body spray in their Wild Peach Poppies scent. I'm hooked. It's a light floral fragrance with just a hint of fruity sweetness. It's perfection. [And the design of the bottles is super cute! What's not to love about orange and peach?]

3. Summer Squash

I shouldn't be as excited about this as I am, but I'm so glad that summer squash is finally in season. Our garden is starting to burst, and I love it! I can't wait to fry these 'lil babies up in some olive oil and oregano. [Who would have ever guessed I would ever be craving vegetables....this is weird for me. lol] 

4. Matching Sunglasses

I had a fun afternoon out with one of my friends yesterday. We both have a mutual love for clearance racks and sales, so it was no surprise when we ended up cruising the mall. We found these cute sunglasses at JCPenny's on clearance for only $7.99 a pair. We both loved them, but what makes it extra awesome is her favorite color is teal and mine is yellow. Of course, that was an obvious sign that we had to get matching friendship sunglasses. Se we did. :)

5. Oreos

We got a super fab deal on Oreos last week, so I've been eating way more than I should. I'm thinking about eating this for lunch.

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Just kidding! But seriously, I am going to eat that someday. ;)

6. You!

Thank you to all of our great readers. You make my day. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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