Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Printing your Instagram Photos

I am obsessed with Instagram. OBSESSED. Sure, 90% of my photos are of Campbell, but can you blame me? He's so cute! Plus, it has allowed me to capture some special moments and document his life thus far in a handy way.

If you're not on Instagram yet, WHY NOT? Do you live in a cave? Where there is no light? So all your pictures would look like this?

If that's the case, turn your flash on. Then join Instagram. Then give all your pictures the hashtag #inacave so we can follow you.

Annnnnnyway, I'm not sure if you've tried to print your Instagram photos straight out of the phone to a normal sized photo (like 4x6 or 5x7), but if you have, you'll notice how grainy they turned out.

IN FACT, if you've tried to print a photo off of Facebook or other social media site, you'll notice how grainy it turned out as well.

That's because when you have a photo uploaded to a social media site, it automatically loses quality and flattens the image to save space.

Last week, I shared how I updated some old floating frames I had so I could hang some of my Instagram photos.

There are a bunch of services out there that offer to print your Instagram photos and turn them into magnets or photo canvases, etc etc. They're great services, but I just can't bring myself to pay that much for something that I could probably make myself. Especially when it comes to just printing a picture and charging 3x what it would cost to print at a local photo center.

The trick is that they take your Instagram photos and make them look sharper and more high quality. NOW you can just do that yourself and print them at Walgreens/CVS/Walmart/ or your choice of online photo site.

Here are my tips for getting your Instagram photos to look less grainy when you print them yourself.

1. Print directly from the source.
When you take a picture in Instagram with your iPhone, it will automatically save the photo to your camera roll. This is the original source and the best quality you can get of this image. (Not sure about other smart phones, but I'm sure there is something similar.)

E-mail this photo to yourself so you can have the best quality version of the photo on your phone. Make sure you email it as the actual size, and not a smaller version. The larger the file size, the better!

2. Increase the image's resolution using a photo editing software
**DISCLAIMER** I am not a professional Photoshopper!

I use Photoshop to edit my photos. If you have a version of Photoshop, it's really easy to increase your image's resolution. This makes your photo have more pixels per square inch, this making the image sharper.

In Photoshop, if you go to the menu along the top, click on Image>Image Size. This box should pop up:

Pay attention to the bottom half where it says "Document size".  Make sure to uncheck "Scale Styles" and "Constrain Proportions". 

Then, make sure under Width & Height, "Inches" is selected in the drop-down menu. Usually it will be px, so you'll have to change that to inches if you want to make the photo a printable size.

When you change it to inches, the numbers in the box will change, and you will need to manually enter the size you want the picture to be. I printed my photos to be 8x8 inches, so I made the width 8 inches and the height 8 inches.

Then, where it says Resolution, change it to AT LEAST 150. It will probably normally be on 72. 150 will make it a decent looking photo. If you go higher (say 200 or 300,) then it will be sharper but will also make the file size much larger. So it's kind of a balancing act.

3. Resize the canvas size
Go to Image>Canvas size

It will look similar to the Image size box, but it's different.

Because Instagram photos are square, and standard sized photos are not, you will need to change the canvas size to fit the full photo. If you don't, it will cut off the sides of your photo when it's printed.

Here's a little guide for how to set your photos by image and then canvas size:

Image size                                           Canvas size
4x4                                                        4x6
5x5                                                        5x7
8x8                                                      8x10

Basically, the image is the actual picture and the canvas is the whole piece of photo paper. 

Order your photos and pick them up, then trim off the extra space on the sides (i.e. the extra part of the canvas.)

If you don't have photoshop, then it's best to find out how your program allows you to resize an image. The main thing is to increase the image's resolution and resize it in inches to be exactly the size you want it to print. 

Don't leave any resizing to the photo center (especially if it's a drug store photo center) because they just print it as is. If they resize it, they will not change the image resolution, which will result in the blurriness or graininess.

Booyah! I just saved you a few bucks. You can thank me in Dr Pepper-grams. (What's a Dr Pepper-gram? I don't really know, but if you're thankful enough, you'll figure it out.)

Friday, February 22, 2013


Oh yeah, last year we started decorating our dining room, and we've been done for a while. But I was too lazy to clean it. Then I finally did and I was too lazy to take some pictures. Story of my life. Get over it. But I'm here now, and that's what counts.

Here are a few posts about our dining room if you want to create some suspense for yourself before you look at the final product.
Haha, I just looked at them and realized that it took us several major holidays to complete this and share it. And we pretty much just needed to paint in there. That just goes to show you that there's no need to rush to finish a room. Take your time! Take Halloween. And Christmas. And New Years...and Valentine's day.

Also, just to remind you, here is my inspiration photo that I found on Pinterest and decided I needed to have that specific room in my life. But since I couldn't, I decided to just try to copy it a little.

Source unknown

And here is what the dining room looked like when we bought the house.
And here is our dining room now.

On the far left are two framed pictures from vacations we have taken. The top is an art print of a beach in St. John and the bottom is a photo I took on our Christmas vacation to Hawaii a couple of years ago.

Hanging in the window is an antique stained glass window from a church in Omaha. Kennedy got it for me as a Valentine's gift (I think it was Valentine's?) one year when we were living in Sioux Falls. He bought it using gambling money.

In the right corner is a novelty sized plate and fork and spoon. Kennedy hates it, so we compromised. He let me hang it up, but it had to be in a corner that he didn't look at very much.

And on the far right is a grid of B&W wedding photos I hung. It was a real cuss to hang up and get straight and level and lined up. NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN. (Who am I kidding? I'll probably do it again.)

Grid wall straight on.

Love our $25 Goodwill light fixture. It's EXACTLY what I was looking for, and we saved ourselves $225 by looking at Goodwill first.

The only thing I'm still contemplating is adding a couple of curtains on either side of the big window...Not sure it would look ok because of the way the windows butt up to ceiling. Hmm...

Last view of the giant mirror I dug out of a neighbor's trash. I might end up painting the frame, but for now it works, and gives me a place to look in the mirror and laugh at how ridiculous it is that I haven't washed my hair all week.

Ok! That's the dining room! Never to be eaten in or used. NEVER!

And also, while I was looking at photos on our computer, I came across our engagement pictures. Taken 7 years ago. I thought it appropriate to share since you also just looked at our wedding photos. Don't know why, but looking at ourselves from 7 years ago makes me laugh.

I couldn't even fit into those jeans if someone paid me a million bucks.
"You could try, but you would not be successful." --Name that show!

So young. So naive. So thin. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Floating Frames Makeover

Sometimes when you get married, you inherit things from your spouse's single life. And sometimes, if you're lucky, they're salvageable.

This was not so for Kennedy's leather couch and matching chairs and ottomans, or his slate and iron coffee table and side tables (and sofa table.) Don't worry -- they went to good homes.

But when it comes to picture frames, I keep them around. Even if they have abstract asian-inspired artwork with words like "faith" and "spirit" on them. I figure it's a pretty easy fix to just switch out the art.

And I am just now noticing that the glass etched on each of these are 2 different colors. Probably because they have been in a closet for the almost 6 years since we have been married.

I've had this project in my brain for like, 3+ years. Then last week, Sherry at Young House Love showed how to make a floating frame, and I was like "that seems way easier than the way I was gonna do it."

The other dilemma I had was that I had nothing I really wanted to frame and hang up. Until I met you, Instagram ;-). 

Instagram came along and changed everyone's lives. Now we are all super artsy hipster photographers that are geniuses at capturing our every day lives - including but not limited to food, babies, drinks, cats, dogs, and fashion.

Why limit yourself to looking at those masterpieces on your phone? I want to display some. So I formatted two pictures I wanted to enlarge using Photoshop (tutorial coming soon!) and printed them at my nearest Walgreens.

The more I hang things in our foyer/hall and take photos, the more I hate that wall color. I hated it before, but it looks even worse in pictures.

How I did It

The backs of my frames had this plastic thing stapled all the way around to hold the glass in place (since it was a floating frame to begin with, and the asian art was sandwiched between two pieces of glass.)

I got a flathead screwdriver and a pair of pliers and carefully began removing the staples and plastic piece. I went very slow because I didn't want to slip and crack the glass. These particular frames were not wood so they also cracked easily. I pulled a couple of chunks out of the frame along with staples, but it was on the back, so no one will ever see it.

(Unless they're a creep and go through my house taking things down off the walls. If they do that though, I have more serious problems to worry about than a couple of cracks on the back of my picture frames.)

Then I removed the back piece of glass and set it aside for another project on another day. I recycled the asian inspired art right into the recycle bin.

Using the Young House Love tutorial, I superglued the front piece of glass to the frame, and then I secured it a little more with some masking tape, which isn't visible at all from the front.

I measured everything out so the pictures would be centered and then taped them to the glass using scotch tape. Just a little on the top and bottom edge sticking out. (Yet another tip from the YHL tutorial!)

Here's some boring wall space at the top of our stairs before...

And here is the after, as seen from my bedroom door. I'm excited to see this first thing in the morning on the way to Campbell's room!

Here's a view from the front entry, and I mostly took it because Elvis was looking at me. Remember how much I used to love Elvis?

I'm so glad I went ahead and hung these, even though we will probably paint soon. For one, my nail holes will already be there. But it also gave me a great idea for something fun I plan on doing to that wall at the top of the stairs. Stay tuned! I'll keep it a surprise for now. 

Because surprises are fun, that's why!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Love & Mumford - a free printable!

I made this chalkboard drawing for February, the month of LOOOOVVVE. It's a quote from a Mumford and Sons song. And I think the time is nearing that I erase it, but I don't want to lose it! SO I made it into a print for myself, and now I'm going to share it!

I'd love to start sharing any of my future chalkboard designs! So let me know in the comments section or on Facebook if there is any interest in that.

Click the picture below to go to the downloadable PDF file. It is formatted for a 5x7, and should be pretty high resolution. (I'm new to this digital print making thing, so let me know if there are issues.)

Other than that, enjoy!

You can get another free printable of a water color here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

3 Mini Mirrors

I think it's no secret that I like cheap things. If I can get something brand new and ridiculously cheap, then sure, I'll buy it. But if I can't? Well then I'll go to a thrift store. And/or I will make it! What's my magic number? I love things that are $3.00 and under. I don't know why, but something that is over $4.00 seems outrageously expensive to me.

Gather 'round children, and I will tell you the story about some mirrors that I made out of plate chargers from Thrift Town.

It goes like this: One day, I was at Thrift Town and I found a set of 4 silver plate chargers. Then, I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some round mirrors in the candle section. 

I glued them together with craft glue and added a hang-y D-ring hanger thingy on the back. 3 mini mirrors were born.

Then they sat in boxes for MONTHS after we moved. I randomly unpacked them one day and decided they were plain and boring. So I bought a white paint pen and went to town.

FACT: The best types of crafts are the ones that take 5-10 minutes and can be done in front of the TV.

What? Yes, they're sitting on the couch. No, I still don't know where I want to hang them. But they look better than they did before, so we're getting somewhere.

And now! Here are some close-ups of the easy doodles I drew on the mini-mirrors!

Does it get any easier than dots?

Chevron. Duh. You can't decorate something these days and not use chevron.

Vertical lines in a brick pattern. Look closely at how imperfect that is! I love this project. A project that looks better the more imperfect it is.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Make Your Own Watercolor Art and a FREE download!

I am currently OBSESSED with an artist whose work I saw (where else?) on Pinterest. The artist is Katie Daisy and her watercolor paintings are beautiful. You have probably seen her work somewhere.

I want to buy every single one of her paintings. But alas, that's so impractical. So instead, she has inspired me to learn how to make watercolor paintings of my very own. I'm cheap like that.

I got some watercolor pencils for Christmas (Faber-Castell Creative Studio Getting Started Art Kit: Watercolor Pencil) and decided to give it a go!

Here is a simple way to make some custom artwork for next to nothing!

-masking tape or painters tape
-watercolors & paintbrush
-white crayon or white paint pen
-pencil (optional)

Step 1: Make a sheet of masking/painters tape as big as the paper you're going to use.

Step 2: Draw a template for the shape you want your painting to be. (Note: This template was difficult to cut out and took a few tries. I haven't quite mastered the best way to cut a shape out of a sheet of tape. Maybe put the sticky side on wax paper first so your scissors don't keep getting stuck?)

Step 3: Place your template on the paper you will be painting on. Make sure all edges are pressed down firmly.

Step 4: Paint inside the template with your watercolors. (If you are using the pencils like I did, you will first have to scribble the colors in, then go over them with a wet paint brush. Scribble step is not pictured.)

Step 5: Remove the tape template and allow the paint to dry. Then write on top of the paint with a white paint pen. 

NOTE: If you don't have a paint pen but have a white crayon, you could write what you wanted to write inside the template BEFORE you apply the watercolor. The wax will act as a resist to the paint and will show up after the paint goes on.

Here's the final product again!

This was so quick and simple, I plan on doing it over and over again. Don't you think it would make a cute housewarming gift or nursery art in a frame? If you don't want to make your own, I am sharing mine! Click the picture above or this link to download a free digital version (5x7) that you can print at home!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Toddler Food: Potato & Egg Scramble

You might remember how I struggle to find food to feed my child. You can read how I freaked out here, and the subsequent menu that came from that freak out session is here.

Remember how there were so many great resources on Pinterest for pureeing and freezing your own baby food? I mean, toss something in the blender, pour it in an ice cube tray and call it a day. Man, feeding a baby was so easy.

Now that I have a toddler, I can't just give him pureed green beans forever. I have to mix it up a little, for the sake of his palate! I also prefer to make a lot of food ahead of time, so I don't feel like I'm cooking all. day. long.

I have fruits down. He eats tons of fresh fruit. Mixing fruits is easy too. Fruit goes with fruit. Done-zo.

It's the veggies and proteins that continue to stump me. SO, imagine my excitement when I realized a super easy way to get him to eat these things!

Toddler Potato & Egg Scramble

First, I went out and bought 2 packages of these Glad-ware containers:

Notice that they are BPA-free. Now, I know there are other chemicals used for plastics that are probably in here, but you can't win 'em all. They were pretty cheap, too. Maybe 3-4 bucks per package?

I love these because they're a perfect serving size for Campbell. That way I don't make a ton of food for him that goes to waste. Yay for saving money! I plan on freezing the extra so they last a little longer.

Red Potatoes
Scrambled eggs
Shredded cheese

Boil the red potatoes until soft. Scramble some eggs. Sprinkle cheese. Mash & mix in these little glad containers. DONE.

I also plan on mixing in different things here and there like black beans, diced avocado and tomato, etc. I will probably also add plain yogurt to make it a little smoother for Campbell to swallow.

I'm not sure if he will like this or not, but I have a plan B! If he refuses to eat it, I will just dump it onto a tortilla, put some salsa on it and eat it myself! YUM.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

People Magnets

I'm a level 2 craft hoarder.

What this means is that I keep things I could reuse or "recycle" to make something new, and I tell myself that I'm saving the environment by doing so. Things I have hoarded with intent to craft later on: glass jars (homemade soy candles?), magazines (photo collages! Which I actually did use in my classroom once), pillow stuffing (for new throw pillows, duh), and those magnets that you get in the mail with your local pizza place's phone number.

What separates me from a level 1 craft hoarder is that I NEVER save cardboard tubes from toilet paper or paper towels.

I just had a thought that if I died, what would happen to all my closet of craft supplies? Let this blog post act as an official legal document stating that in the event of my death, I hereby leave my craft estate to a local art teacher.

Poor Kennedy. Even in my death, he can't throw out my hoarded craft supplies.

GOOD NEWS! I found something to do with all those pizza magnets I've been saving for years ( I can't believe they survived the move), as well as this year's Christmas cards that I can't seem to throw away.

(DIY personalized magnets)

This project was FREE TO ME! I used some of that spray adhesive and mod podge left over from my Super Cheap DIY Pop Art project.

I gathered Christmas cards from family members that Campbell knows. He's obsessed with faces lately. Not in a Silence of the Lambs kind of way, but I mean he likes looking at people's faces. Quit associating my sweet baby boy with a serial killer.

Christmas cards

Here's my magnet stash!

I cut out the pictures from the Christmas cards and also cut out a matching magnet piece for each picture. Then I laid them all out (pictures are face down, magnets face up) and gave them a light spray with my spray adhesive.

Side note: Is it still important to keep magnets away from computers and electronic devices? I'm not super-vigilant about it, but am I the only one who is still a little worried that all my data will get erased if my phone is next to a magnet?

Stick the picture to the magnet and give the picture side a coat of mod podge.

Put the magnets up in an aesthetically pleasing and visually balanced arrangement.

What will you make with your hoarded pizza magnets? If your picture is up on my dishwasher, you best be leavin' a comment.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Super Cheap DIY Pop Art

Our office is a wreck, and it's time to give it some attention! So this weekend, I whipped up a cheap art project (totaling about $25.00) to fill one huge wall. The possibilities are endless with this project! Enjoy!


  • 1 Large sheet of insulation foam (Can be found at Lowe's or Home Depot)
  • Mod Podge
  • Spray adhesive (optional)
  • Acrylic paint and paint brushes
  • Engineering prints from Staples (or other printing center)
You're going to want a background of some sort for your art. Thanks to Pinterest for the idea of making large (cheap) B&W prints at Staples! I uploaded 3 images to their print center website and placed my order. They emailed me when they were ready and I picked them up/paid in-store.

The images I used were 2 scanned pages from a Spanish-English dictionary and a scanned page from a 1993 Wall Street Journal. (Why do we have a Wall Street Journal from 1993, you ask? BECAUSE I WAS ON THE COVER, that's why. But I used the business section because it was more office-y.)

I saved them as PDF and sized them in photoshop to be 24 inches x 36 inches (the size of print I was ordering.) 

1. Cut your insulation foam to size.

I got an 8ft x 4ft sheet of insulating foam from Lowe's. It was about 1 inch thick. My options at this particular Lowe's were limited, but I know I've seen insulating foam at Home Depot that wasn't as thick (and therefore cheaper.) My sheet was $13.00, but I only used half of it.

The other cool thing is they cut it for me at Lowe's on their giant saw. It made the cuts really smooth, and I could fit it in the car. But I did have to cut it more when I got home, so I just used a T-ruler (is that the technical name?) and a non-serrated steak knife.

This is the hardest step, because you want to get the cut as straight as possible. The foam could break in a weird way, and then your edges aren't as smooth. So I scored the foam several times and got about half-way through the thickness of the foam, then applied pressure along the score line using the edge of our kitchen table.

2. Use spray adhesive or Mod Podge to attach the print to the insulating foam. I made sure the printed side of the foam was face down, just in case the print wasn't thick enough to hide a big blue "LOWE'S" logo.
Velociraptor hand

Cons of using spray adhesive: Aerosol sprays tend to make the foam disintegrate. There were a couple of little divots in my foam, but I side-stepped this by making sure I kept my spray adhesive about a foot away from the foam. It was also very fume-y, but didn't work as well outside because it was cold. So, Mod Podge might be the way to go.

Cons of using Mod Podge to attach the print: Your print will wrinkle up a little when you use the Mod Podge, but if you're careful, you can just smooth it out.

A couple of the prints after mounting. My prints were slightly larger than the foam, so I had to trim it off. You could also wrap it around the edges of the foam, which would make a nice canvas look. I just didn't have enough width to do that.

3. Sketch your art out with a pencil, then fill in with acrylic paint.

4. Finish the art off by applying a layer of Mod Podge all over the top and sides.

To hang, I used 3M command strips. This art is like less than 1 lb each, so they're pretty secure up there!

So I basically got 3 2ft x 3ft pieces of art for under $25.00. Total time spent making it was maybe 2 hours. MAYBE.

I love this idea because it's cheap, and easily customizable. You can scan and upload ANYTHING for your prints, and then paint right over it. I'm thinking a giant B&W pic of a dog's face with a wig or sunglasses painted on it could be kind of cute...

Creating with the Stars
I entered this craft in a contest! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Making the Most of Your Kid's Toys: Phase 1

Umm, hello Rude Awakening. Nice to meet you. Thanks for coming in the form of a TOY EXPLOSION in my house.

We have a two-fold problem here.

Problem #1: We have kids books/toys/clothes EVERYWHERE. In every room. I literally have no space on my bedside table because it is full of stuff like baby socks and baby monitors and books.

We temporarily turned our dining room into a playroom for Campbell's birthday party 3 WEEKS AGO. We've been playing in there every day, but it usually looks like this now:

I'm getting a headache just looking at it.

Problem #2: Many of his toys are not getting used and are taking up space. Plus, he isn't spending any significant amount of time on one activity. I realize he's only 1, and baby-children tend to have short attention spans, but I have been doing some rogue research lately. 

I noticed that when I clean up every other toy and only put one out, he actually plays with it! Amazing discovery. Did any of you parents already know this? And you didn't tell me?

Campbell got so many great gifts at Christmas and his birthday, and I really hate for them to go to waste because I haven't taken the time to organize it for him. I also think it will be easier for him to focus on one activity at a time, and help him (and me) to not feel so overwhelmed with choices.

So today during his nap, I am implementing phase 1 of my Toy Organization Project. My end goal is to be able to easily plan semi-structured activities for him during the day so we can avoid the rut of playing in a junk room.

I had a few of these milk crates in the garage from my teaching days, and they are perfect for organizing. You can find them at Wal-mart (ugh, I know) and probably Target. Or use what you have!

Here's how I've organized the random toys I found on the main level of our house:

1. Wheels and balls (stop laughing. Get your mind out of the gutter.)

2. Music/Noise box

3. Puzzles and blocks

4: "Imagination" box - (This sounds really exciting but it's basically all the miscellaneous toys he had left over.)

5. Books

Feels so good to have these sorted! I'll keep you posted on how well it stays that way and works for a more intentional play time. 

Next phase: "Lesson" planning!
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