This project barely justifies a blog post. It was stupid easy and completely free, but inspiration is priceless so I hope you’ll take away something, at least. I needed some boxes for my laundry room shelves, so I begged a bunch of diaper boxes from my non-cloth-diapering mama friends. These two were the same size and fit nicely on my shelves, so they got selected for a makeover.

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First step: spray primer.

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Then I painted them. I went through a whole process of deciding how to paint them and that’s a post in and of itself–how I get inspired. But in the end I decided to do a casual colorblock/painterly stripe combo. Easy was important since I’m just trying to pretty up some storage boxes, not create a family heirloom. I used paint I already had and didn’t even bother painting the inside.

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I’ve been working on making the laundry room shelves a little prettier slash more functional so I can finally update our house tour page. More on that tomorrow. The diaper boxes are perfect for storing lightbulbs, rarely accessed cleaning products, etc.

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Looking pretty, right? A few weeks ago I was thinking of ditching these shelves entirely because they were just not working for me, but my love has been rekindled.

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Both colorblock and painterly effects are very trendy, so I’d probably only use them on something like this that can be changed easily or thrown away without a second thought. But for now I am totally loving the bright and functional addition to this space.

I’ve managed to evade the succulents trend until recently, but they’re slowly starting to pull me in. They’re just so low-maintenance. I’ve begun a small collection. This corner of my front porch just cries out for a small container garden, but the protection from sun and rain is too much for most plants. Happily, these seem to be doing okay so far. On the left I have aloe, which has also been growing happily on my kitchen windowsill for some time so I feel good about it, echeveria (I think?) in the middle, and hens and chicks over to the right. I’m not so sure about the hens and chicks. I think maybe it gets leggy in the shade.

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The pots on the ground have been there longer and I’m amazed at how well they’ve held up. Bird’s nest fern and snake plant (sansevieria?) have proven nearly impossible for me to kill! There’s ivy growing in the bed nearby that I’ve trained to come up onto the porch. When we first bought our house the ivy was out of control, but we keep it in check now and I actually kind of like it.

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That metal birdcage thing was a gift from my friend Laura and I love the way it looks with the ivy. I’ve got a pot sitting inside it but nothing’s planted there. I need something easy that’s shade and drought tolerant, and preferably a creeper or climber. Any suggestions? It’s so nice to have some plants that aren’t dying on me. I’m trying to get better about watering, too. Maybe I can keep the big ferns by my front door looking nice for a while instead of allowing them to die a slow and painful death before replacing them with new ones.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! We got some stuff done around the house and spent time with friends. It was really nice!

I’ve hardly changed anything in Jack’s nursery since he was born last summer. I’ve tweaked my organizational strategy a few times and added a soft fabric cover to the changing pad, but overall the room that I put together while pregnant has worked really well for us. Lately, though, I’ve brought in a few sweet and sentimental touches from friends and family that make it just that much more awesome. First up: these two items that my friend Cassie gave me a looooong time ago. Like when Jack was a newborn, I think. I just never got around to hanging them up! The J is a vintage find and the drawing was done by a kid with autism that Cassie knows (he is into animals and art and enjoys creating stuff like this for people). The letter J was originally black, but I painted it using some random paint from my stash.

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I was not really digging the black frame I got at the Dollar General, so I painted it gray (again, just using paint I already had) before hanging it alongside the other items already clustered together on that wall. I used command strips to mount the J. I really love the way it looks!

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Moving on, this adorable wooden airplane is from my friend Jane and her son Ollie. Jane lives in my neighborhood and is new to town (her husband is working on his PhD at LSU). They are going home to Portland for the summer, so she dropped this off as an early birthday gift to Jack before leaving town! So sweet!

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It fits right in with the vintage wooden toys I got at an estate sale, and the third new addition that I wanted to show y’all–the children’s rocker from Nick’s mom. I think she said it was hers when she was a child. Now that Jack is crawling, he makes a beeline for this spot whenever we’re in his room. He loves playing with the wooden toys and gets a kick out of pushing the chair to make it rock. Someday he’ll be old enough to sit in it and maybe then I can pop a basket of books nearby.

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It’s so sweet to have these little meaningful touches in the room, especially since none of them are so precious or fragile that Jack can’t enjoy them. It still totally feels like a little boy’s room. I can’t wait to see how the space continues to evolve as he gets older and puts his own mark on things.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! We’ve got a pretty low key few days planned, which will be soooo nice as we gear up for a busy summer. Hopefully the sun stays out so we can enjoy some time outdoors!

I am not a fancy photographer. I used a basic point-and-shoot camera for a long time, and even now that I have a DSLR I shoot in auto mode 99.99% of the time. If I’m away from home I use my iPhone–no way am I gonna be lugging around a bulky camera and worrying about it getting broken the whole time. I snap a few photos and move on with my life. But I do like to think that thanks to this blog my photography skills have improved measurably, and I’m pretty confident these days that I can take a decent picture of my kid or my house. I thought it’d be fun to share some really accessible and easy-to-implement tips with y’all. You CAN take great pictures even without a fancy camera or Photoshop.

The biggest, number one, most important thing I can say is to never, ever, ever, EVER, use flash. Leave it to the professionals and their fancy bounce cards and diffusers. Even with my DSLR flash goes very wrong, very fast. Below is a photo that I took this morning in one of the darkest corners of my house on an overcast day. The left is with flash, the right is without.

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That one on the left is BLEH, am I right? I have yet to meet a camera that didn’t have an option to turn off the flash while still shooting in auto mode. It’s usually a little lightning bolt with a line through it. On the iPhone it’s in the upper-left corner of the camera screen.

Now if you’re thinking that your photos will be too dark without flash, you might be right. Welcome to the wonderful world of photo editing. I use the basic program that came with my computer. On the left is the photo straight out of the camera and on the right I’ve tweaked it a bit.

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Check out the difference between the photo lit with flash, and the photo brightened on the computer. There is so much more depth and just overall not-suckiness to the one on the right.

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As for what I did, here’s a screenshot. I used the “fine tune” feature to up the brightness, increase the contrast and shadows just a smidge, and lower the highlights. I just play around until it looks good but most photos get a similar treatment. I also often increase the saturation by clicking on “adjust color”, but not for this photo.

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Now that we’ve got that under control, the next big frontier is embracing the crop. This is a photo that I took of Cassie and her mom at the baby shower I hosted last weekend. In addition to brightening it a smidge, I cropped it to get rid of all that wasted space around the perimeter and focus on the people. It’s an easy step that can really make a photo more frame-worthy.

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Here are some more photos that I cropped from our visit to my sister’s baby goat. It’s a subtle change that can really make a difference. (btw these were both taken with an iPhone!)

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And now for the final whammy–skipping flash, playing around with editing, and cropping to take a photo from “eh,” to “impressive!”

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Big difference, right? And it takes maybe 1-2 minutes per photo (and of course turning the flash off takes no time at all). So, in summary:

  • abolish the use of flash
  • say yes to editing
  • cropping is your friend

I hope you find these tricks as easy and helpful as I do! Like I said, I’m certainly no expert and I’m actually really lazy so if I can do it you can do it. Even a cell phone camera can churn out frame-worthy pics if you’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve!