Thursday, May 21, 2015

Simple Farfalle with Sausage and Peppers

This recipe came into our life as most favorite recipes do - through good friends. We couldn't leave our dinner date without all the details on this flavorful dish. The best part is its simplicity: pantry ingredients with robust sausage and fresh vegetables. It is perfect for a quick weeknight meal, or a large summer gathering. You may need to make a few copies of the recipe for your inquiring friends ;).

1 lb. uncooked Farfalle pasta
6 sausage links, or 1 lb. of ground sausage (we prefer mild Italian)
3 c. chopped red, yellow, and/or orange peppers (we use mini peppers)
2 chopped medium red onions
1-2 T. olive oil
1 T. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 T. chopped fresh basil, or 1 1/2 T. dried basil
1 c. fresh, grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in salted, boiling water according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Cook sausages on the stovetop over medium heat until no longer pink in the middle. Remove from pan and set aside. If using links, cut into slices. Add chopped peppers and onions to the pan, and cook on medium high in the sausage drippings until peppers are slightly tender and onions are transparent. Add the pasta and sausage back into the pan of vegetables. Drizzle olive oil over mixture, and add salt, pepper, basil, and parmesan. Stir until seasonings are evenly mixed, and add more to taste if necessary. Serve while hot.

Serves 6

I will be taking Memorial Day off from blogging, but hope you all have a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

iPhone Photography Tips: How to Edit Photos {and VSCO Cam}

I shared some basic iPhone photography tips a little while ago, and wanted to build on that post with more tips on editing. I am not a professional photographer, but my phone is my main camera (for blogging and real life), and I have done a lot of research on how to have the best iPhone photography.

Even though these tips are geared toward the iPhone, hopefully you Android users can gain something from the overall concepts.

Here are my tips for editing iPhone photos:

Overall- remember that photography editing should be like applying makeup. It's best to enhance what is already there, and not drastically change the photo.

If you photograph was taken using these basic principles, you already have a good foundation. Only light editing is needed.

My general editing process is:

1. Crop and Rotate
I try to take the photo as perfectly as possible, but sometimes it is necessary to crop and rotate, or straighten, the picture. Be sure to straighten things like horizon lines or strong vertical and horizontal features. As you become more experienced, you'll start to notice a lot of crooked photos out there. *Remember-these edits can reduce your resolution, so set up the shot as best as you can.

2. Enhance by Brightening and Boosting Contrast
These 2 steps are often all the editing I need. A picture always looks better brighter (or more exposed), and with a bit of contrast to make it pop. *Remember-a little bit goes a long way. Just boost exposure and contrast slightly. I often push the limit, and then scale back to get the perfect adjustment.

3. Sharpen
Again, just a bit. Sharpening too much creates a strange, fake effect on your pictures. Just enough will make them nice and crisp. The iPhone does not provide a sharpening tool, but you can use another app like VSCO and Instagram.

4. Color Correct or Boost
If the color is off, you can often correct it with temperature, tint, or saturation adjustments. Play around to see what works for your style.

Let's see some of these tips in action. For this post, I'm using the VSCO Cam app because it is my absolute favorite, other photographers rave about it, and it won't reduce the resolution of your photos. Be wary of other apps that WILL reduce resolution, and create a shoddy photo.

**Extra tip: you can check your phone photo resolution size with a free app called Photo Size**

Okay! We will start with a little flat lay picture. I applied my basic principles while taking this photo. The subject is nice (who doesn't love a hosta leaf?), but the photo is just -- eh.

On with the enhancing...

I skip the filters (left icon), and go straight to the editing tools.

I already shot this in square mode, but I'm cropping this photo, just slightly, to even out all sides. No rotating necessary this time.

Next, I'll boost the exposure a bit. Nice and light.

On to the contrast. The subject is starting to pop.

I move on to the sharpen tool to make it nice and crisp. Notice I only go to a 4.

I felt like it needed something more, so I went over to the filters, and found one with a nice green color.

This filter is way to strong - filters always are - but VSCO gives us the great option to adjust that.

Take that baby waaaaay down. 

And----- Voila! Our beautiful, enhanced photo!

Here's a before and after:

Pretty simple, right? Even if you don't have VSCO Cam (which is free, BTW), you can use these concepts in other editing apps. I've heard great things about Snapseed and Camera+, and there's always Instagram and the iPhone native app. Practicing these steps a LOT will help refine your eye, and studying other's work will also help you notice differences in editing elements.

Like I said, I'm no professional, but I hope these iPhone editing tips were helpful! If you have any tips of your own, I would love to hear about them in the comments.

To see my iPhone successes and failures, you can check out this series, this series, or my Instagram feed. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Purple Scarf and Kindergarten Concerts

Happy Monday,

Isn't May the best? I always tell my parents to visit Minnesota in May, because it is the most beautiful, pleasant month (unlike those crazy winter months we have a reputation for). We had our share of walks around the park, spotting baby geese, and throwing rocks in the pond. This week was also our first Kindergarten concert, which was the cutest thing ever. When my little man walked into the room and caught our eyes, he got the biggest smile which will be imprinted on my memory forever. Watching him sing with his classmates about letters and counting and months of the year made me feel so proud. Fun times, fun times.

Hope you have a great week!

Scarf // Thrifted
Shirt // Thrifted
Jeans // Target
Sandals // Target

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

The True Secret of Happiness

Image via The Glad Girl

William Morris was spot on. 
Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Watercolor-Inspired Decor

Do you ever get an element in your head that you can't shake, and it inspires something in your home? For me lately, it's been watercolor.

Something about the softness, the paleness, and how the forms just meld together.

So soothing, right?

As I've been tweaking things around the house, I've been drawn toward softening and neutralizing, and wanted that paint-bleeding-into-water look somewhere. I made a painting here that satisfied my need.

Here are some other ways to incorporate a watercolor-inspired feel, without necessarily using watercolors:

-Misty Art:
(In all kinds of forms)

My Scandinavian Home

-Fabrics that change color and sheen:

Modish Store

-Texture, such as plaster walls...


...and distressed, painted furniture:

Tidbits and Twine

-Faded, antique rugs:

Cote de Texas

Architectural Digest

-Faded tile and wallpaper:

House Beautiful

Apartment Therapy
and Walker Zanger

A little softness adds a lot to a home, don't you think? Hope this post has given you some inspiration beyond the watercolor paints.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

White Flowers

Happy Monday everyone,

Did you have a nice Mother's Day weekend? I was sure spoiled with chocolates, waffles, drawings, cards, a nap, my husband doing the dishes... it was a great day. Whether you spent the day with your mother, your kids, or other loved ones, I hope it was great too.

This is a shirt from last fall that I'm still wearing a lot this spring. It's one of my favorites, with lots of unique little details. It goes right along with the pretty white flowers popping up all over the neighborhood.  

Have a great week!

Shirt // Thrifted
Jeans // Thrifted 
Sandals // Target