Spectacular Embroidered Landscapes

tapestry handmade embroidery landscape Tuscany WHITE STREET fiber art

I'm loving these absolutely stunning hand-embroidered tapestry landscapes by Nerina 52. They're beautifully designed and created by a sweet Italian woman. Tons of detail, tons of color, tons of beauty. Check out the whole collection here. And the Tuscany piece above; and the Tuscany Hill piece below; and the Tuscan piece at the end of the post.

tapestry handmade embroidery landscape TUSCANY HILL fiber art

Wonderfully, Nerina is from Venice. It is one of my favorite places on earth. I lived there for four months while studying abroad during college and found the city and surrounding area to equally embrace tourism and deny it in the most beautiful ways. In the same manner, the city embraces and rejects the sea as it literally gets swallowed up by the water more and more each year. It's just a beautiful dichotomy to live amidst. I can only imagine what it feels like for the locals, despite their best efforts to teach me.

Have you ever lived anywhere you can't help but love passionately with every fiber of your being?

with virtual hugs,

tapestry handmade embroidery landscape TUSCAN fiber art


Artist Crush: Photographer Jenny Flanders Estep

Flames - 8x10 Fine Art Nature Photograph - Abstract Dahlia Closeup - IN STOCK

Jenny is a wonderful person. I had seen her a few times in the Etsy forums, but never interacted with her until today. This wonderful woman took the time out to check my shop's source code.... and to find the link to my other shop and check its source code as well... and then to explain to me how to fix the problem I had.

That's so giving and wonderful! I was very thankful, but assumed it would end there. On a whim, I clicked on her shop, Flandersfield Photography... and found the most beautiful photographs. My favorite is Flames (above, available in a range of sizes and prices) which is a close up of a real flower. It looks so painterly and flows like a ballerina! I adore it!

So since I absolutely love it and truly believe in the pay-it-forward mentality, I think this makes the perfect feature for Let The Real World Begin. Don't you agree? Who's your favorite photographer?

with virtual hugs,


Midnight Blue and Gold Nails!

This is the coolest nail job I've seen in for*ever. That deep, midnight blue is expertly paired with a luxe gold. And it stays away from being tacky by placing the metallic strip at the base instead of the tips.

Recreate the look with matte, dark blue polish. Paint two coats. Then use metallic gold polish and a toothpick to gently swipe the polish in a crescent shape at the base of each nail. Alternatively, cut strips of metallic paper to fit and place them at the base of the nail while the paint is still a little wet. No matter which method you choose, add a clear top coat over the metallic portion and just into the blue to keep it from chipping or falling off.

Found at Alexandra Keller's Pinterest; originally pinned by Krys Cruz.

with virtual hugs,


Put Your Dreams Here: A DIY For Families


I ran across this image on Alexandra Keller's Pinterest today. (Apparently it was originally pinned here and found here.) Alex makes gorgeous repurposed jewelry and sells some spiffy vintage goodness as well.
Well anyway, this image inspired a wondrous idea in my mind! Why not have a family dream jar? Set up a little station (that everyone old enough to scribble can reach) for your family to record their dreams. Here's a quick step-by-step for the set up, including some great ideas to do with the dreams once they're written.

1. Find Your Spot - a space on a bookshelf works just as well as a small side table. You could even attach the necessities to an empty space on your wall if you like. Just make sure it's accessible to everyone in your family and looks inviting for the youngest - or most surly and unwilling.

2. Find A Jar - your jar size should probably depend on the age and enthusiasm of your children. If they're not even school-aged, they'll likely lose interest after a day or two of feverish dream-drawing. So you don't need that big a jar. If they're teens, you'll be lucky to get them to write a dream down at all! But if they're in elementary or middle school, you may have some eager beavers on your hands and you'll want to have a large jar prepared for them so no one's dreams get crushed as people shove more in the jar. How's that for metaphor! (Also, unlidded seems somehow more open to possiblities. I would suggest leaving the lid off your jar unless you have active animals that can get to it.)

3. Decorate Your Jar - you can do this yourself or get the kids involved. Decorate with washi tape, decoupage, stickers, or just a piece of labeled tape. Try to make it fit your family's style. Feel free to let little learners slowly write the letters!

4. Prepare Your Paper - find some colored papers. It works best if you don't use construction paper, but rather a smoother paper that is easier to write on. But you can probably use whatever without much problem. You can choose the size yourself: larger sizes for those who can't stay in the lines, smaller for older kids. I would suggest square for younger kids who may have trouble rolling the paper up. And I would suggest long strips for your older children. Leave them in a stack on the table, or in a bowl or basket... or whatever you like!

5. Cut Your Twine - cut it into five inch lengths or so. For kids who can't tie, use twisties! Those wire strips that keep your bread closed.... yes those! You can also make them yourself by gluing two strips of fabric together with a piece of wire in the center. Easy peasy.

6. Find Your Pencils - gather up an assortment of pencils, pens, crayons, colored pencils, markers... whatever you trust your kids with. Add some erasers. Maybe throw in a little surprise or two (like those pens that have multiple color options you use by pushing down the tabs, shaped crayons, or scented markers).

7. Get To Dreaming! - Explain to your family how to use the dream jar. Maybe even name the dream jar. And then everyone write their first dream down together. For the youngest ones, you'll want to discuss what it means to dream and give good examples.

8. And Then... - You could read the dreams on occasion and help each other realize them.
    You could send the dreams up to God by tying them to balloons and setting them free.
    You could have a bonfire and burn your dreams, letting the ash go up to the heavens.
    You could add a bulletin board and allow everyone to post inspiring images.
    You could pull a single dream out for each family member and make that dream happen.
    You could assign a paper color to each member of your family.
    You could make a banner of your dreams each year.
    You could hang your dreams from the Christmas tree like ornaments.
    You could create a dream collage.
    You could send your dreams to relatives.
    You could spend family time reading your dreams to each other and talking about them.
    You could create an amazing vacation for your family using their dreams.

The possibilities are endless!! Just be creative, be loving, and keep dreaming.

with virtual hugs,


Quick Thrill: Pantone Tattoo

I know you've seen this trolling about the internet; it's on practically all the blogs! But just in case you haven't, is a just-launched company selling really hip temporary tattoos. This one is my favorite - Tattone ($5 for six tattoos). It's such clever skin-framing Pantone-referencing fun!

with virtual hugs,

Help! Donut Craving!

Years ago, as a child, my brother and I would go to the grocery store with my mom. As we passed the bakery, she'd sweetly let us grab a donut each. And when I was in elementary school, I always chose the cinnamon sugar "twisty donut". It was a yummy, braided donut. No icing, just a heavy sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar all over. And the texture was perfect.

Now, for about a week I've been having cravings for this particular donut. And alas! It's nowhere to be found. I checked our local Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts stores. I've checked our grocery store. We've just moved here, so now I'm trying to find local bakeries that might have one.

Help! Where do I go for this delightful donut?!

I'm going to take a moment to explain the difference between cake donuts and donut-donuts. Heck, even though they mean the same thing I'll call one "donuts" and the other "doughnuts" for clarity.

On the left, you have a cake donut. It's crumbly and dense, as you can see. It tastes thicker and denser than most cakes, actually. Most donuts at Dunkin Donuts are cake. You can get them un-iced as well and they're decent, as long as they're not too dry. But iced cake donuts tend to be sickeningly sweet, in my opinion.

Now on the right, you have the most amazing airy texture... a yeast-raised doughnut. That's the "beigne-style" from Europe. It's my preference, as I'm sure you can tell already. It won't crumble. It's lighter and if you press on it, it will depress a lot more than a cake donut. Sometimes they're hard to hold because of this. And you'll never see a beigne without icing of some sort. These are the doughnuts you'll find at Krispy Kreme, by the way. The base doughnut is sweeter and tangier than a cake donut's base.

The beigne is what I'm looking for here though. A yummy, preferably twisted but I'm not getting greedy here, covered in cinnamon and sugar... beigne doughnut! Does anyone know where to find one? Let me know as soon as you can... the craving is getting too intense!

with virtual hugs,

PS - images in order come from Asvadha, TiaraFly, and RVO Info Central.


Quick Thrill

I've just joined Google+!! You can find me on G+ here. Or let me know your email address and I'll invite you (use a format that the bots can't find... like "name at gmail").

Here's my brief review:
I'm delighted by - the simplicity with no frills, the clean look, how easy it is to post stuff, how easy it is to choose who sees stuff, that you can organize a virtual conference on it as well, that it automatically puts your profile at the top of google search results for your name
I'm disappointed that - it doesn't give you a place in your profile to put links to your web presence, it's so new that many people won't join another social network, it's difficult to build a group of friends when so few people use it, you have to invite by email address rather than searching for friends who already use it

Overall: 3/5 stars with lofty potential.

with virtual hugs,

PS - I think I need new headshots, how about you? Mine are only from a year ago, but I think I look worlds different now that I've gotten out of school and spent a year in the real world...

Impossibly Cool

It’s bearded Newman day. 

I've just run across the tumblr site The Impossible Cool. It's pretty fantastic. *cough* I mean, whatever.... check it out if you like.

Kelly. Gainsbourg. Nico.

Tons of images, mostly black and white, of people being leisurely, perfectly, awesomely cool. Most of them aren't even trying that hard. I like to browse through the archive where I can see all the photos at once.


with virtual hugs,


Color Loving

Ever wanted to know the essence of a word in color? The Color Of is your solution. Type in any word and get a gorgeous color swatch of the total color this word produces in an image search on the internet. I love the mottled, abstract effect it gives. And I really love that you can now get art prints of any word you like!

Some of the words have interesting results: Jealousy looks like a bruise and Jamaica looks curiously like a beach with water and sky.

with virtual hugs,


Back From Vacation!!

We just got back last night from a whirlwind "vacation" of visiting both our families. Just before we left, my new swimsuit arrived! It's the Cosabella Mare Sol One Piece (above), but I got it in a lovely "linen" color, which is basically just a dirty white. It makes me look rather sexy, incredibly. What I'm most excited about is that the suit retails for $135, but I got it from ideeli for just $49! That's quite the bargain, no? So I took the suit with me on our trip...

We started with four days on the Boy's parents' boat just two hours away in North Carolina. But four days on a boat with your boyfriend's parents can be a long time... luckily, I get along well with them! And I started to sport a bit of a tan. Well, I mean I lost my ghostliness. I was happy to see that my new swimsuit was not see through after we anchored and took a dip to cool off. It was a teensy worry in the back of my mind.

And after four days, we set out on the five hour drive to my parents' house in South Carolina. It's always nice to go back to the house I lived in for thirteen years plus college, but so strange. It's always different and reminds me, sadly, that I'll never be able to go back. I do feel so fortunate to be happy, though. I love my life, so I don't mind too much that I can't go back to my happy childhood.

At my parents', I spent loads of time with the family. My uncle and cousin were in from California and I hadn't seen them in three years. Just hours after we arrived, everyone showed up at our house for a big meal. And all the little children swarmed me, which is equally fun and stressful! My cousin is 9, my niece is 4, and my nephew will be 2 in a week or so. The next day, the same crew took to the seas in my grandfather's "party boat", which is really just a little pontoon boat with a motor. And then we switched gears and spent time with my uncle, cousin, and alternately my grandmother and grandfather (they've been divorced since my mom was a kid). That means lots of time at the beach (as my parents live on an island).

This suit served me well as I tanned quite a bit and only burned because I forgot my *ahem* backside where the suit didn't quite cover! I did well and got to spend so much quality time with people I love. It was a joy! And now we are finally back at home and I'm (slowly) catching up on work and reading and all sorts of things that got forgotten amidst the fun.

What are you doing this summer to take a break and spend time with the people who mean the most? Are you stuck without them and pining for some quality time? I'd love to hear your experiences too.

with virtual hugs,


Red Hair!

I ran across this spectacular site the other day: redhead. I have always had a love for and fascination with red hair. I've been thinking about dying my own red for about three years now but can't force myself to take the plunge (or spend the money). But this blog gives an amazing array of redheads of all types and I love flipping through it.

Maybe I will go to the salon after all............


Fashion Photography for Indiepreneurs: Final Tips

Audrey top - kelly green

I've got a few final tips for you to help conclude our week of Fashion Photography for Indiepreneurs! First off, I love when a model finds an interesting pose. You really can't get around how fabulously enticing that is. People are way more curious when the pose is odd or they can't figure out if you're selling the top, the skirt, or the earrings. Play to this and have your model strike slightly unnatural poses like Melanie of Device has done with this Audrey Top ($82).

In most photo editors, you'll be shocked to find the "levels" button isn't that techy, but rather a quick and amazing tool to fix your lighting and contrast. When you open it up, you'll see a grid with a curve (the curve may or may not be jaggedy and un-curve-like). There will be little triangles to slide underneath the graph. You'll want to take the right slider and slide it until it's just under the part of the graph that starts going up toward the center from the right. Then take the left slider and slide it until it's just under the part of the graph that starts going up toward the center from the left. Press the ok button and checkout that new photo! Brilliant!


If you want photos without a background, don't slave over your photo editor for hours. Go to Foto Fuze! You'll want to prepare your image by shooting against a solid background if you can. White works best, but any neutral will manage alright. Use their uber-simple, completely free tool to highlight your product and then press the button. It will cut the background out and leave white in its place.... and it will adjust the coloring of your image instinctively. It's incredibly accurate and oh-so easy! Much faster and easier than any other photo editor I've used, but that is all it does. You'll have to crop and adjust colors and whatnot in your regular editor afterward.

Got any other tips for us? I'd love to hear them! What works for you best when shooting your products? Tried any of the tips for this week? What happened?


Fashion Photography for Indiepreneurs: On Location

SALE coffee and cream dress ready to ship size small

The trick to this strategy is creating a mood that evokes emotion... and specifically an emotion people want to have. Seek out a special place to shoot. It doesn't have to be something most people think is "beautiful" per se. It just has to be interesting. And really only a little part of it needs to be interesting. Just enough that you can frame your model/garment. I love how Kasey of kay em kay has done this with the Coffee and Cream Dress ($94). She chose a place with lots of character and then added in a boy and some balloons, and softened the colors a little. She's created an irresistible feeling of burgeoning romance.

Full Circle Polka Dot Skirt and Petticoat Combo---------Custom Sized

You can also create familiarity, which becomes utterly enticing. Who wouldn't want to jump into the fifties with this couple? And all it took was a great prop (the car), a boy in a tee shirt, and some smart hair and makeup! You can get that color tone when you edit, making the image look older and more nostalgic. I just love Diane-Marie of Miss Brache photographs the Full Circle Polka Dot Skirt ($189).

Beach Ponchos Fabulous Sparkling Blue Green Beach Poncho Cover Up

And of course your location can evoke coveted emotions like Josephine of Beach Ponchos has photographed their Fabulous Sparkling Blue Green Beach Poncho ($50). In this image, you get a sense of freedom, lust, play, adventure.... these are all things customers want and you can give it to them simply by putting your clothes in the right location. Think about what emotions your garment evokes and how you can intensify those. What places can help create that feeling? Pay attention when you're driving around town too! The graffiti you pass every day on your way to work or your kid's school could be the perfect backdrop to your architectural blouse or urban-inspired pants.


Fashion Photography for Indiepreneurs: Style Down

Little black lace dress couture

And now let me completely contradict everything I said yesterday with today's tip: style down. Both methods are useful to achieve different looks. Try taking pictures both ways and deciding which fits your brand and your demographic if you're not sure what to go with initially.

So styling down is pretty great. It's a lot less stress because there are fewer pieces to worry about. And it creates a really beautiful simplicity that allows your garment to shine. I love how Tatiana of TZain has styled down when photographing Little Black Lace Dress ($185). Sometimes all you need is a bracelet and some red lipstick. Try picking one or two little things to accessorize with that will make the outfit come together.

Polka dots skirt............................ Cotton chiffon airy skirt......................... Sale (usual price is 99.-)

Or you can let your set be the accessory! All Jenia of Jen Fashion needed for her Polka Dots Skirt ($69) was a simple top and shoes and this great painted arrow on the road. The skirt is definitely the star here, but there is enough going on to make it interesting and a customer can definitely see what they would wear with the skirt.

Summer tank top  cream

But my favorite way to style down is to use only the necessities. You don't really need anything to make your beautiful clothing shine, do you? It shines on its own. So take those pants and put a simple black tank on them. Give you model neutral makeup and watch the garment speak for itself. I love how Yael of Andy Ve Eirn masterfully accomplishes this with the Summer Tank Top ($95). Simple, beautiful, and sexy. Who wouldn't want to copy the look?!


Fashion Photography for Indiepreneurs: Styling Up

Puffins Circle Scarf in Youthful Sage

Here's a trick few people use to highlight their clothing: styling up. Giving your garment a lot of other garments and accessories to play off of is a technique that allows your customers to imagine your product in their wardrobe (or an ideal wardrobe at least). That makes your item way more appealing.

See how Yokoo of Yokoo has done it with this Puffins Circle Scarf ($50)? Adding a hat and giant scissors on top of the clothing might seem like a lot, but it really helps pull the outfit together into a statement, which is typically much more appealing than just seeing the product itself.

Wrap Dress made from Neck Ties

Jewelry can really change which demographic you'll find success with. Take a tip from Tatterdamelion in her Wrap Dress Made From Neckties ($275) photograph. She chose bright, eclectic jewelry that makes a bold statement. This helps cement her product in the niche she's looking for. It gives a unique, quirky vibe and attracts all the right customers!

The Lion

Hair can transform an outfit. We all know this from our regular lives. But it works on a whole new level with fashion photography. Try to match the model's hair to the style of your garment and your location, just like Natasha of Temna Fialka has done with The Lion ($1,000). This makes your pieces look more high-end because they're editorial shots... they look just like they came out of a magazine! And that allows you to charge more and still make sales!


Fashion Photography for Indiepreneurs: Shape

Pheasant Tale fashion Headpiece

As part of our Fashion Photography week of tips for indiepreneurs, today we're talking about shape. If you take your photographs against a plain background (unlike yesterday's images), then you'll need to pay attention to the shapes you're making. The negative space (the background showing from behind the product and model) is incredibly important and can really highlight the artistic quality of your garment.

Like this Pheasant Tale Fashion Headpiece ($169) photographed by Arturo of Arturo Rios. Since the product is so dependent on shape, movement, and direction, it looks amazing with a neutral background allowing it the edges of the piece to shine. And that gives it the perfect shape!

Vintage Honey In Lavender And Periwinkle  Eco Love dress

Another trick is to let the shape soar! If you have an item that looks great when you twirl, jump, run, or move.... then do it! Have your model hold the skirt out or get her dance on! Let the item move if that's when it shines the most. Just be certain your camera is set to accomodate the action. Many digital cameras have self-explanatory settings for this, but if you can't figure it out just make your shutter speed faster in the manual settings.

I love how Leah of White Romance got her model moving while photographing Vintage Honey Eco Love Dress ($105). It makes me want to walk in a field wearing that dress, just like the model!

Black polish sexy jacket

And my last tip today is another one for your model! If your piece has great shape but it's mostly in one spot, have your model put the focus on that body part. Like the way Ella of Ella Lai did with her Black Polish Sexy Jacket ($119). The shape is mostly in the shoulders, so she had her model cock her shoulder a bit to  direct our eyes to it. It's a very subtle technique that most viewers don't notice, but really draws their attention. So it's the perfect way to sell a special garment! This technique works with pockets, hips, the chest, arms, legs, feet..... anything. Just get creative!


Fashion Photography for Indiepreneurs Blog Week!

Alchemy Dress - light grey

This week I'm talking about taking amazing photographs of fashion designs. I know many of you are indiepreneurs (solo designers starting a business to sell their creations on their own) and I think this series will give you some good advice about taking the perfect photos! While I'm focusing on fashion photography this week, most of the advice is helpful to almost any product you're hoping to sell... so pay attention! haha!

Today is all about light. The most important part of getting a good photograph is finding the right light. And the absolute best light you can find is outside. Try to schedule your shoot in the daylight, but not between 10am and 2pm. The light is harshest in those hours and can create bad shadows, glare, and bright spots. You want to get the softer light as the sun comes up and goes down. And be sure to go out early enough that you'll finish before that hard light comes or before darkness sets in. I think 7am or 3pm are perfect times to get a lot of light.

You'll notice how great Melanie of Device did with this Alchemy Dress ($138) above.

RESERVED - SILK Georgette Ethereal Water Dress - by RawHemline on etsy

Another great way of using the light is shooting just as the sun goes down. This can create very warm colors in your image and the light can be manipulated to highlight certain aspects of your garment. Holly of Raw Hemline photographed this amazing Silk Georgette Ethereal Water Dress ($225). I love the way the model turns away from the light here, allowing the sun to hit the beautiful detailing on her left shoulder. It lets the shadows fall into the lower portion of the floral components so you can see a lot of depth.

Head In The Clouds

And for our last tip on lighting: don't forget that you can adjust the coloring in your photo editor. Make sure you get plenty of light when taking the photograph so you have more flexibility when you edit, but don't worry too much about the colors and lighting be absolutely perfect. You can fix that the way you want it during the editing process. Make sure you learn your photo editor! Copy the file of your favorite image and use the copy to play to your heart's content. If you mess up the photo, just delete it and start again with a new copy of your original!

See, Corina of Wild and Free probably didn't take this picture of Head In The Clouds ($22) exactly with that greenish hue and post it online. Most likely she had an editing process that created the color tone she wanted. And that can be very useful for branding.

Take a lesson from these indiepreneurs (just like you!) and use your light to create those perfect, stunning photographs you covet!


Drama: Black and White

 Drape Blouse

Looking for some drama in your closet? Go with statement-making black and white pieces: dresses you can wear for special events and toned-down separates to spice up your everyday looks. Go structural with the Organza Bow Black Dress ($125) by Kelly Ewing at Coggles on the left and the Drape Blouse ($165) by Rachel Roy on the right. Both pieces are on sale!

Image of On the Town 

Consider being sparkly with this On the Town Dress ($700) by Sarah Seven or the wildly affordable Rocker Chic Mini Skirt ($12) from Love Culture.


Or use ruffles and feathers to set yourself apart, like this Cashmere Feather Tank ($100) by Vivienne Tam or the Cashmere Ruffle Coat by Nellie Partow ($425) at Plum.

Image 1 of ASOS Linen Mix Shrunken Notch Lapel Blazer 

Another way to reinvigorate your dramatic side is using highly architectural garments. I love a crisp white blazer in an interesting cut like this Shrunken Notch Lapel Blazer ($78) at ASOS. And some strapping creates a great structured dress in this Contrast Framed Dress ($26) at Love Culture.

And of course, we can't forget the tiny powerhouses of the accessories world. Amp up your wardrobe with this cute Beaumont Meadows Crossbody ($69) from Ruche or the wild Hair Idris Heels ($182) at AllSaints Spitalfields.

beaumont meadows crossbody bag in ivory