July 16, 2014

There are times when you need to take things up a notch. Today I want to share a bit of a project I worked on recently to take my photos up to the next level. My DIY photo board has very quickly become my favorite photography prop in my collection. And it was easy to create too!

DIY Photo Board

Sometimes I find it humorous to track my photo progression over time. Back when I first started photographing food, I didn’t know much of anything technique-wise. I was taking photos of food when it was still in the pan…steam rising from the food and blurring the image. I didn’t know to use small plates and bowls for photos. I didn’t know how to set up a shot. Then things began to click, I got more serious, and my photos began looking much prettier. I’m not ashamed of the past photos; it is fun to look back and see how far I’ve come.

Anyway, I’d been a bit frustrated with my photo setup for a while. I had a few cloths and boards I rotated, but they just weren’t perfect. I wasn’t getting the texture of a wood table that I wanted. Of course, I have an awesome dining room table that would make the most beautiful photos, but the lighting situation in that room isn’t ideal. So…off to create a DIY photo board to mimic a table instead!

There are a ton of different DIY photo board tutorials out there, and I drew inspiration from a few of them (Love & Olive Oil’s was definitely the most helpful). First – it was off to collect my materials!

DIY photo board wood planks

I picked up 1/4″ thick wood craft boards as my main photo board material. I used 6: 5.5″ x 2ft boards and 4: 3.5″ x 2ft boards in order to create a two sided square board. I’ve seen a lot of tutorials with boards not as wide, but I was drawn to the 5.5″ boards for myself since I thought they looked like the slats of a picnic table.

DIY photo board materials

I also purchased wood glue and paint to complete the project. For my base color, I selected Valspar’s English Tea Party. It happened to be out on the shelf with the pre-made paint samples, so it worked perfectly. I thought the smoky brown color would look great…and I was lucky enough to be right. Whew!

Once the materials were purchased, it was time to lay the boards out! I set them on a few layers of newspaper to work. I laid three of the 5.5″ boards in the center, with a 3.5″ board on each side.

DIY photo board layout

The other set of boards was set in the same configuration, but perpendicular to the bottom layer. To glue, I started with the outer two slats to make sure the edges and corners lined up properly. I squiggled a generous amount of wood glue to the edge area, then placed the perpendicular board on top.

DIY photo board glue

I weighed it down with a few heavy books and let it sit for about 30 minutes (I wanted to make sure the ends were secure first). Then, I moved on to glue the center three boards, placing more books on top and allowing them to dry for a few hours.

DIY photo board painting

Once the boards were dry, it was time to paint! I diluted the English Tea Party paint in half with water (50% water, 50% paint….roughly), then used a brush to paint it across the slats. Then, I used a damp paper towel to wipe down the boards. This process created more of a “stained” look than painted. I allowed the first side to dry, then repeated on the back. I have some colored paint for the next version of the board (two sides, two different treatments/looks), but to be honest, I haven’t had a spare moment to finish it yet! As soon as the “stained” look was complete, I started using the board straight away…I need to take it out of commission for a day so I can finish painting the other side!

DIY photo board stained

I actually repeated the same process with a 2′ x 2′ flat board I’d purchased – it is only about 1/8″ thick, and only a few dollars. I also like how it turned out on that board! It’s a more affordable option if you don’t want to spend the money on the wood slats (which were a couple dollars a piece: the entire photo board cost a little under $40 to create). You lose some of the texture, but you still achieve a similar look! Plus, it’s a lot lighter. Options.

DIY photo board example

As for my photos? I don’t know about you, but I think they look so much better with this new backdrop! As soon as I finish painting the back side, I will definitely have to show it off!

Have you created your own photo props?

July 15, 2014

It’s no secret: I’m a freak for new nail polishes. I really need to stop adding to my collection and start using up some of my bottles, but I just can’t help myself when I see a new hue that makes my heart go pitter patter. My newest obsession: Rue by Zoya. It is hardly ever packed away in my nail polish drawer because it is CONSTANTLY in use.

Rue by Zoya

Now, I have pledged my love for Zoya nail polishes in the past, but this one by far is my favorite nail polish color from them that I’ve added to my repertoire. Rue by Zoya is the absolute perfect neutral varnish (in my humble opinion). It is a blush cream with hints of mauve, and it complements so many different skin tones. Also – it is big 5 free: no formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, dibutyl, phthalate, or camphor, so you don’t have to worry about toxins!

The polish paints on smooth (the consistency is thin, which I love – makes for easy breezy application) and is opaque. I use a base coat, 2 light coats of Rue, and a top coat to finish it off. It has looked perfect EVERY time I’ve worn it lately. It doesn’t chip or peel easily either, which is an enormous plus! The pictures in this post were taken three days after application, if that is any indication! I am pretty hard on my nails when it comes to wear and tear – so much work in the kitchen and then at the keyboard tends to wear out nail polish in a speedy manner. However, Rue by Zoya totally holds up.

Rue by Zoya

I love that the neutral pink hue of Rue matches with pretty much any and all outfits in my closet. It works nicely in so many different settings as well; appropriate for work or for play! It has seriously become my go-to polish to wear everyday.

Do you have a favorite neutral nail polish in your collection? What is it?

July 13, 2014

Happy Sunday everyone!

Today, I have the pleasure of sharing an oh so delicious ice cream treat I created in conjunction with Ice Cream Social, happening over on The Kitchen Prep this week!

ice cream social coconut macaroon ice cream pie

For my contribution of frozen goodness, I combined two of my favorite sweets: coconut macaroons and ice cream. The final result was a Coconut Macaroon Ice Cream Pie. It’s good. It’s really good. I’m biased, but please believe me.

Make sure you head over to The Kitchen Prep for the full recipe today!

Also, we have a lovely giveaway running for our Ice Cream Social week – make sure you enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

July 11, 2014

So, there have been some pretty big changes going on around our house lately. One big alteration? The paint color. Yay! At the end of May our house was repainted from the brownish color I was not so fond of to a beautiful blue-ish green. LOVE it. But now that the outside of our house had a makeover, it was time to talk landscaping. Because let’s be honest: it was a bit of a mess.

Let's Talk Landscaping

The previous owners of our home did a great job of keeping up the lawn and some of the other plants in the front of the house, but there was a LOT to be desired when it came to two spots in particular. There was a HUGE vine plant/bush thing on the side of the house, and a half moon shaped area near the walkway to the front door was looking a mess. Thankfully, we managed to spruce it up a bit.


I don’t know about you, but I am such a fan of color. The front of our house had zero flowers on it and I thought it was such a shame. I knew right from the start there was a particular bush/plant/whatever you want to call it that I absolutely HAD to have: bougainvillea.


Our next door neighbor has a coral colored one that has grown to crazy proportions/grown over the fence. The beautiful clusters of flowers are so bright and happy. The farmer’s market we visit on the weekends just so happens to have a nursery vendor who always has beautiful baby bougainvilleas…so we bought three of them to replace the horrible vine/bush abomination on the side of our house.



I absolutely could not resist the hot pink and fuchsia varieties. We purchased a few new fan trellises (in white, so they blend in against our white fence) and guided the vines through them. It makes me smile to see those pretty flowers every day!

aloha lilies

As for the front walkway? That was a bit more work to figure out. That particular area doesn’t get enough sun for bougainvillea (single tear…), so we had to rethink our options. In a perfect world, I’d have bougainvillea growing everywhere. So, Justin and I scoured our local home stores and nurseries to find some plants that spoke to us. As soon as I laid eyes on these Aloha Lillies, I was in love. They have such a unique shape, and their eggplant purple color looks awesome as a pop against our new blue exterior.

landscaping flowers

We knew we needed a few more plants aside from the Aloha Lillies, so we searched for another option to arrange around the outside of the flower bed. We settled on these plants with light lavender and orange flowers. Apparently they are butterfly attractors…and they smell like mint! Bringing them home with us in the car was a nice treat – the entire interior smelled heavenly!

landscaping before

landscaping before

I wish I had a photo of what the flower bed looked like before Justin got his hands on it. He was so eager to remove what was existing that he forgot to let me take the full “before” photo. Not only were these strange grass plants hanging around in the flower bed, but there was also some sort of small tree with red berries that was taking up residence. Sorry tree – you had to go. After pulling up all of the extra plants from the bed, it was time to arrange our new finds!

landscaping setup

landscaping setup

We placed the Aloha Lillies in the back, and lined the outside edge of the bed with the minty plants (we read that they spread out over time, so we’re hoping to see them grow together and form a small hedge-like area eventually. We’ll see.

…and after digging holes, planting the flowers, and adding some mulch to finish it off, that was about it for now! We were happy to tackle a project that added a bit of beauty to the front of our house. Now…let’s hope we manage to keep the flowers alive and thriving! Gulp…

Do you have a favorite flower you use for your landscaping process?