Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How to Make Product Collages for Your Blog

I shared some of my tips for editing Instagrams last week and I mentioned that I was going to share more tips and tricks that I've learned over the years for blogging.

While I think it's always helpful to hear advice for blogging and "how to be successful," I do think that there's some tangible skills that can make your blogging experience more seamless. Today I'm sharing my absolute NUMBER ONE most asked question. Seriously, if I had a dollar for the number of times I was asked about this, I could retire

"How do you make collages for your blog?"

The short answer is that I use Photoshop. But I'll walk you through how I do it exactly.

Now, I've been using Adobe products since I was 13. I first was introduced to Adobe InDesign in seventh grade when I joined yearbook. Once you know one Adobe product, it makes it easier to learn the others. I was involved with yearbook/journalism through my senior year of high school so by the time I graduated, I had a LOT of experience with InDesign and Photoshop. One of my close friends from high school and I used to swap tips and advice... teaching each other how to do cool things. This was one of my specialties back in 2006, ha! In college, I even took a digital art class where we learned more about Photoshop and Illustrator, but for the most part I taught myself how to do a lot.

Even if you have zero experience with Photoshop, I do think anyone can learn it. If you're new to the program, don't splurge on the entire Creative Suite. If you're just starting out, Photoshop Elements will do the trick. You can do just about everything you'll need to do with Elements. I used it throughout college before upgrading. 

... Now here's how I do it. Let's pretend like I'm doing a post on fun sandals for summer and want to do a collage for the blog post.

1. Start with a blank document

Everyone will have a different dimension depending on the width of the posts in their blog. My blog post width is 500px and I typically start with a length of 1000px. (I might keep it short, cropped down to 750px. Or long at 1250px depending on the layout and number of products I want to include.)

2. Open your images

I always open images separately, so they're in their own document.

3. Isolate the product (aka get rid of the background)

This is really the biggest thing and probably what gets most people hung up. There are a few ways you can isolate the product. Magic Wand, Polygonal Lasso, or Magnetic Lasso. If you're lucky, the image is on a white background like these J. Crew sandals.

This is super simple and easy. Click on the Magic Wand Tool, set the tolerance to 10, and click on the background. You'll see the background highlight with a dotted line, and the outline of the product will be highlighted as well! While that's selected, right click, and choose "select inverse." This highlights the product only, literally isolating it from the background. Then right click again and choose "layer via copy." This creates a new layer that is the product only.

Once you have the product isolated, drag that layer (make sure you're clicking the layer with just the product) over to your blank document.

Sometimes there is a background that doesn't work very well with the Magic Wand Tool. The Magnetic Lasso is great because it "sticks" to the outline of the product way easily!!! Just click on the Magnetic Lasso tool, make one click to start the trail, and just glide your mouse around the product, you shouldn't need to click... but you can if the trail isn't sticking to the product (like around a shadow).

When you get back around to your starting point, a tiny open circle will pop up, clicking that will "close" the outline. Then you just right click and layer via copy. Drag that layer over to your blank document as well.

Sometimes the product won't cooperate with the Magic Wand or the Magnetic Lasso. Then you have to be a little patient and go with the Polygonal Lasso. You basically create points around the product, similar to tracing.

Then it's the same pattern. Right click, layer via copy, and drag the product to your new document.

4. Rename layers

Once you have all the products in your blank document, rename the layers so you know what you're working with. 

5. Resize the products to be consistent

Resize and rotate layers as necessary! The shortcut (at least on my computer/version) is command+t. This brings the "free transform" up. You can make the product bigger or smaller and even rotate by dragging the corners. Click the shift key while doing this to keep the ratio the same (aka you won't distort the product).

6. Rearrange and save

Once you get more comfortable with the tools and tricks, you can really do anything. You can add text, add tons of products, come up with cool layouts, whatever your heart desires!!! Save the document and then upload to your blog!

Explaining Photoshop is kind of tricky, but hopefully you feel confident enough now to at least give it a try. No one will be perfect when you start. The best way to learn is to experiment, watch Youtube videos, and just simply play around with it! The more you play, the more you'll learn. You may even find a better way that works for you, this is just how I've been doing it for years!

Any other blog-related things you'd love to learn?

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Monday, July 6, 2015

5 Tips for Building a Better Salad

I love a good salad. But I really think I'm incapable of making a good salad at home. I can never quite get a salad at home to taste as good as a restaurant salad! But it shouldn't be that hard, right?! Louisa from Living Lou is guest posting today with her tips and I think my eyes have been completely opened!

Not all salads are created equal and I’m going to share with you five simple tips that you can implement right now to take your salads to the next level. I try to eat salad at least a few times a week and I try to change it up as much as possible. The most important thing about building delicious salads is having all the ingredients on hand. Salads come in so many different forms, there is the classic green salad which is probably what comes to mind, but don’t limit yourself or you’ll get bored before you know it. 

Here are five simple tips for building a better salad. 

1. Know your greens

Typically, greens will be the base of your salad but not all greens are the same. If you want something with a little peppery kick, try adding some arugula, kale will add tons of vitamins, but add bitter notes and romaine is a steady stand-by that will never do you wrong. Opt for darker leafy greens (stay away from iceberg lettuce) for a salad that is richer in nutrients. 

2. Switch up the grains

I love making grain salads for a filling weekday lunch or dinner, while quinoa is a favourite (try my summer quinoa salad) I’ve recently tried experimenting with farro and barley to add some variety to my meals. Farro is an ancient grain that is slightly nutty with a chewy texture and barley, while also being nutty has a smoother texture similar to pasta. 

3. Add some protein

Protein is an important part of any meal and I always try to include some in my salads, whether that’s from grilled chicken, beans, cheese, fish or nuts, there is always an element of protein. Sometimes I’ll go for a protein-packed salad like my Argentine White Bean Salad. I always try to keep in mind when building a salad is to include three different protein options, usually that will be a meat/fish/beans, cheese and nuts. 

5. Follow a color scheme

This might seem a little crazy, but if I’m ever in a salad funk I give myself a bit of a challenge to create a salad based on a specific color scheme. Some days I’ll go completely monochromatic and make a green salad with kale, spinach, green peppers, green onions and cucumber. 

5. Dry your greens

I’m not kidding, this may seem like an annoying step, but dressing will not stick to wet greens. Try using a salad spinner or pat the greens dry with paper towels and I guarantee, your dressing will cling to the greens perfectly. 

For more healthy recipe inspiration, follow along on Twitter and Instagram

What's your favorite salad at home?
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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Alaska Video

Remember when I said that I had already posted my last Alaska post? I lied! Whoops!

I finally had time to sit down and sort through the hours of GoPro footage we had to put together a fun little video. I think I'll ultimately make a longer version for the four of us, but I decided to spare you guys and compile the best of the best from the trip for Youtube.

I wish I had been smart enough to save all of our Snapchat videos to add... I think those videos were the funniest!

Don't forget to change the settings so that the video is 1080HD for the highest quality!

The video is shot with two GoPros (one on a handmount and the other on a long selfie stick). It's not perfect, but man! It really makes me miss the trip. It was just too much fun!

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Barrington Gifts Giveaway

Barrington Gifts is hosting this week's giveaway! I think I have a slight obsession with weekenders. I love having a stack of options to choose from and I especially love when they really match the type of trip I'm going on. (Anyone else?!)

The Belmont Cabin Bag comes in all kinds of colors and patterns. It's fun to poke around and build your perfect bag. I just ordered the navy and red striped version. You can choose from a selection of colors and patterns here, but there are also options within the different collections. For example, the sorority collection has the cutest color combinations and I simply cannot get over how amazing the nautical flag print option is.

... and did I mention the best part? They all can be monogrammed. Your initials are subtle but it perfectly ensures your bag won't be mistaken for someone else's!

Enter to win using the Rafflecopter widget below:

Good luck!
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Friday, July 3, 2015

Pinodesk Illustrations

I have to share this amazing artwork! Anna, the artist behind Pinodesk, painted this from a photo in this outfit post. She tagged me on Instagram and I was floored. How incredibly talented is she?! I really think she captured the whole thing perfectly, especially my yellow dress! I feel so honored!

I also wanted to mention that she has an Etsy shop where she sells her prints. She even does custom work like couples, fashion portraits, and groups.

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On My Radar

Is it just me or do weeks with holidays at the end move very slowly?! I've been watching the clock, just so excited to be traveling home to Florida. Can't wait for swimming and relaxing! I have a semi-crazy day tomorrow and then we're off first thing in the morning. Lots of packing and prepping to do in the meantime– kind of think I just want to fill my suitcase with bathing suits and call it a day.

Here's how to write with sparklers!

On my radar:

ONE // World Record Zoom

I honestly don't even know if I can believe this video; it seems too crazy!!! Nikon Coolpix P900 has the best zoom. It's funny because my first digital camera, back in 2002 I think, was a 3 megapixel Coolpix. My, my how times have changed!

TWO // Birthday Card Between Brothers

I was cracking up when I read this. Brothers have been exchanging the same birthday card for 40 years! I think it is so fun how it starts off as joke and then turns into a real tradition!

THREE // Ralph Lauren Bathing Suit

Has anyone else been struggling in the bathing suit department? Luckily I have some great ones from year past, but I wanted at least one new suit for the summer! I finally found this adorable bikini from Ralph Lauren! It is fun and bright and fits really well. Not too skimpy and not too matronly!

FOUR // Teen Paid for College With Etsy

I love stories like this one! LeiLei Secor paid for college by setting up an Etsy shop. This article is great and shares some of the ways LeiLei found success. Her shop is really cute. The love ring and the wave (!!!) ring are my favorites.

FIVE // Christian Louboutin Nude Collection

How great is this news?! Christian Louboutin's Nude Collection is expanding to include all shades of nude!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!
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