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How I Use Instagram

5 Nov

How I Use Instagram

As the unofficial “memory-keeper” for my family, I’m constantly brainstorming creative ways to get photos off our phones and hard drives and into our hands for enjoyment everyday. One of the ways I’ve done this is to utilize my Instagram for both personal and professional purposes. Personal in that I share snippets of my real life with the goal of posting enough on a regular basis to make a Shutterfly calendar at the end of every year with photos from the previous year. Sneaky, right?? And professional in that I curate my feed to reflect my interests and eye for beauty — two things that come in handy in my freelance work as a writer and stylist.

Instagram Tips

Because my account is public, it helps motivate me to stay on top of my feed to share what is going on in my life in a creative and fun way, on a regular basis. I’ve always found that strict parameters often boost my creativity, and by limiting myself to just using my Instagram feed to make our annual calendar each year, I take a lot more care to capture something worth remembering almost every single day.

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Professionally, I work in digital, so utilizing social media platforms is kind of de rigueur. What distinguishes my feed from others, as I already mentioned, is that I try to be meticulous about what and how I share. You won’t often see birthday shoutouts, photos of me in my workout clothes, or photos of uninspired lunches, because that’s not how I want to utilize my feed. I love and appreciate beautiful everyday moments and curate my feed to reflect that. The difference, perhaps, is that I don’t typically do things “just for the ‘gram,” although I definitely did that when I was still new to the platform (back in 2012). img_8115

In my work, I often talk with clients about “managing their brand” but I don’t view my feed as “my brand” so much as it’s my life, with “my brand” influencing how I edit what I do share. If you look at the feeds for various brands, like J.Crew or Whole Foods, to name two examples, you’ll notice a very specific look and feel. The photos may differ, but often, there’s a stylistic choice in how they’re edited, what is shared, and how things are captioned and that is on purpose. For those of us without massive ad budgets and design teams, you can mimic that same curated look by following some simple rules. Be strategic! It starts with photo curation and is followed closely by how to edit

Part 1: Photo Curation

– CHOOSE ONE (You won’t often see three photos from one activity or event)

– VARIETY OF SUBJECTS

These include: books I’m reading, whatever we’re up to/activities, beautiful landscapes, garden, plants, food, seasonal activities (pumpkin picking, etc) and finally, my family and kids, (though as they grow older, I prefer these not be of their faces.)

Part 2: Actual photographic editing (the technical)

– NO FILTERS

– NATURAL LIGHTING

– INTERESTING COMPOSITION

– MUST BE SQUARE

img_8113.pngBefore Instagram, in late December we used to scramble to get all our photos organized to make our annual photo calendar, but now it’s a simple process.  Instagram is my favorite platform for so many reasons, but more than anything, carefully curating and managing my feed forces me to stay on top of editing and sharing what is going on in our lives which, in turn, makes it easier to create the treasured calendars Brian and I have put together over the years.

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How To Extend the Life of a Bouquet

19 Feb

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I love receiving flowers as much as any girl, but making them last is always a challenge. My husband surprised me with these a few days before Valentine’s Day and they still look amazing a week later. The sweet gesture reminded me of when we first started dating and he’d bring me the same number of blooms as the number date we were on. Aww, right? Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks that help extend the life of my bouquets and thought I’d share.

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How to extend the life of a bouquet in 5 easy steps

1. Prepare your vase
I own an embarrassing amount of vases according to my husband. I tend to favor very simple, low-profile, short types but there is a style for everyone. I choose my vase based on the types of blooms, usually. Tulips are top-heavy and tend to require some support, so a taller vase is usually a good choice, but my general rule for estimating my vase height is the arrangement itself. I like to pull out my favorite vases onto a counter and hold the arrangement near the counter edge, so I can visualize how much chopping-off of the stems I’ll have to do for each. Once I’ve estimated which best suits the bouquet, I mix the floral food packet with cold water, filling the vase a little under 1/2 to 2/3 full. You should NOT fill the vase with water.

2. Trim stems
Next, I unwrap the entire arrangement, taking care not to muss it too much if I like how it’s arranged. I like to unwrap on a large flat surface, leaving the paper right underneath as a work-space. Next, I’ll grab one stem and hold it up next to the vase as I did in step 1, and trim the bottom on an angle with sharp scissors to the desired height that best suits the vase. This stem will guide me as I trim the rest of the bouquet. Placing the stem back onto the arrangement, with the head of the flower aligned with the rest, work stem by stem, trimming each.

3. De-leaf to the waterline and a bit above
A lot of people don’t know to do this. The less bacteria you introduce from murky bouquet water up into the blooms themselves, the better, so I like the remove a good portion of any remaining leaves on my flower stems. I like a little green up at the top, but removing excess leaves helps encourage airflow among the blooms at the top. Remember, these aren’t growing plants anymore, so you’re trying to preserve and extend their luster.

4. Keep them cold
There is a reason why floral cases are refrigerated. Cold extends the life of cut flowers. At night, I’ll sometimes pop an arrangement into the fridge or the coldest part of the kitchen instead of keeping them in the bedroom where we blast the space heater in the winter.

5. Maintain
To really extend the life of a bouquet, change the water every three days, re-trim the edges, and immediately remove any dead or dying blooms. They release a gas once they’re on their way out that will quickly cause the rest of the bouquet to die, so as soon as you see one start to go, toss it.

I hope some of these tips help you to extend the life of your bouquets as they have mine. I’d love to hear any tips or tricks you have!

How to: Digitally Organize and Prioritize Projects

9 Jul

Project Organization System for Creative Types/ a few of the many places I stash ideas + inspirations for projects /

I think a lot of creative types tend to inundate themselves with ideas for projects without any systematic plan for prioritizing and approaching them. Writing about those kitchen stools the other day reminded me that I should probably resuscitate my monthly “To Do” list (first posted back in February of last year — ack!) and turn it into a monthly series to keep me on track and accountable. But first, I need to get organized. I tend to jot notes for project ideas EVERYWHERE which only adds to this chaos, so I want to establish a new process for organizing and tackling them.

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First, since I’ll always be a paper-lover at heart, I’ll still scribble ideas as inspiration strikes (or type them into the “Notes” App on my iPhone), but I’ll use Evernote solely to organize them. Then I’ll post to a Master List on a dedicated page here on the blog for a peek at what is on the horizon. Each month, I’ll share my prioritized monthly project list and hopefully stay on track with all the projects I want to cross off my list. Woo woo!

Here’s a sample of what was leftover from that February post, plus some items that have been floating around in my mind to accomplish this summer:

Priority

– Upgrade computer hard-drives so I can finally update and backup
– Create a usable office space for working from home
– Buy an AC window unit for the office
– Find a blog post ideas organization/schedule solution

Creative

– Print best 20 photos for Hawaii photo album
– Decide on a photo management and storage solution
– Instagram Coasters
– Finish Wedding Photo Albums
– Decide about making annual photo books
– Annual Shutterfly calendars
– Kitchen cookbook art
– Tea towel recipe art

Kitchen

– Get kitchen-organized:

pull everything our of the kitchen and clean-out
find a space for everything
jar organization/labeling system

– Find a shelf system for the horribly underutilized wall-space in kitchen
– Install that Ikea rod/storage system in the kitchen
– Hang tea cup rack, black shelving, tea holder, and fruit basket

Dining Room

– Pull everything from the buffet sideboard and assess
– Look for some china cabinet alternatives
– Look for dining room set re-furb ideas, including recovering chair upholstery
– Finish framed photo collages (Hawaii, Italy)

Bedroom

– Refinish nightstands
– Refinish headboard
– New bedding (?)
– Need art for over the bed

Office
– Re-think the office layout; try a smaller desk maybe
– Need a more comfortable office chair

Living Room
– Clean out the wall-unit
– Think about a new coffee table and side-table(s)

General Clutter Control/Maintenance

– Remove all non-current magazines from our living space
– Unsubscribe to magazines we no longer want
– Resuscitate all dying house plants

Non-Priority

– Find more attractive trash barrels for the bedroom, office and bathroom

Phew, I’m amped up and exhausted all at the same time. So that’s a taste of what’s on my monster “To Do” list right now. Stay tuned for a cleaned up version of my “July To Do” list series start next week!