Not Too Shabby – My First Amateur Photography Attempts

I’ve always loved taking product photos for my clients but recently I began practicing my photography skills on just about anyone that will allow me to take their picture. My sister asked me to take some baby pictures of my nephew, Clark, so I of course agreed. Not only do I love babies but I was excited for the chance to practice my shooting and editing skills. Now I know I’m far from being an expert, but I was really happy with how the pictures turned out so I thought I’d share my favorites. I’ve found a local printer but I would love to know from the other amateur photographers out there, who do you use for your printing services? I know there’s a lot of big names out there but I was skeptical of ordering a bunch of prints online and I want to get my sister the best deal possible. I’d love your feedback!

~ Rachel

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The Best in Social Media this May

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One of the easiest ways to grow your business and increase your sales is to constantly learn from others. With today’s technology it’s easy to find new ideas, infographics that show recent statistics, or articles written specifically for small businesses. Whether you run an eCommerce store, manage a franchise, or run a local business, staying up to date with technology, best practices, and industry standards is key to your success.

In this post, I want to share some of the best articles and resources I’ve found via social media for both eCommerce and small business. There’s something to learn from each article, statistic or photo and I hope you’ll find them useful!

  • Negative Reviews – If someone was unhappy about a product or service, the internet makes it very easy for them to write you a nasty review for all to see, whether it’s via your Etsy shop or your local Yelp page. Learn how to turn a negative situation into a positive one with this article from Business 2 Community.
  • Mobile-geddon – If you haven’t heard about Google’s new algorithms and how they’re negatively affecting websites that aren’t mobile friendly, click here.
  • Common Twitter Mistakes – Unfortunately, not all social media platforms are created equal and I see lots of people joining Twitter, with little knowledge of best practices. Just like Facebook, the 80/20 rule is key! Learn to avoid sounding overly promotional with these simple tips from Time.
  • Facebook is Still Number One – Don’t believe people who try to tell you Facebook is on its way out, teens aren’t even using it, it’s just a waste of your time… They couldn’t be more wrong and statistics show that Facebook is still, by far, the number one social media network for teens and people of all ages. See what research shows about Facebook’s true popularity and click here to read more.
  • Mistakes to Avoid with Your Etsy or eCommerce Shop – Bad product photography is probably the number one thing to avoid, but you may be guilty of some other bad practices without even knowing it. See what the experts have to say with this brilliant article.

For more small business tips and insights, be sure to follow me on Facebook andTwitter!

~ Rachel

Shabby Chic Wedding – DIY Ideas

8/23/2014 was my big day! My mother and I spent months shopping antique stores, running back and forth to Michael’s, and scouting the perfect venue but our hard work finally paid off!  My goal was “Shabby Chic” and I think we nailed it.

A big thanks goes to The Booking House in Manheim, PA for being the PERFECT event space with their beautiful staircase, exposed beams, gorgeous chandelier and original brick walls.  We were one of the first weddings to take place here and they could not have been more helpful!

Tons of people asked about our decor, where we found things or how we made them so this blog is dedicated to all of the other brides who are looking for the perfect Shabby Chic wedding, but may be on a budget. Without further to do…

DIY Burlap Pennants

DIY Burlap Pennants

Burlap is a must-have for any shabby chic theme. We purchased our burlap from a local craft store and used a regular fabric marker to achieve this look.  We sewed the top of the pennants over, creating a simple way to string them together with twine.  We found attaching a safety pin to the end of the twine made it easier to get through each pennant.   I found something like this at Michael’s for almost $40 – our version cost less than $10.

DIY Ring Bearer Pillows

DIY Ring Bearer Pillows

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Close Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the same burlap we used for our Mr. & Mrs. sign, I made two little ring bearer pillows.  My mom sews often so she had some lace leftover from other projects I was able to use for trim.  If you don’t have lace on hand you can purchase some from a local fabric store for less than $5.  I wove some twin into the top of the pillows and secured with a knot so that we could tie our rings onto the pillows with a simple bow. I purchased the stuffing for the pillows at a local fabric store for less than $5. You can find these kind of pillows on Etsy for upwards of $20 or DIY for less than $10.

We wanted to use Ball jars for the centerpieces at our reception but I wanted them to be vintage – not the new ones you can find at any old craft store.  This took some time, hunting them down at local antique shops, but eventually we collected 16 blue Ball jars.  Over the course of 3-4 months we spent about $100 on all of the jars but they were well worth it!  We used some of the jars to hold our favors which were also DIY. We wanted to do something sweet that would look pretty so we purchased jumbo pretzel sticks from Costco and bulk chocolate wafers from Wilbur Chocolates in Lititz, PA.  With pink and white pearl sprinkles the pretzel sticks were a huge hit!

Antique Blue Ball Jar with Chocolate Covered Pretzel Stick Favors

Antique Blue Ball Jar with Chocolate Covered Pretzel Stick Favors

In addition to the mason jars we purchased some antique glass to accompany our centerpieces.  These little bottles and vases were inexpensive and we found most of them at local antique shops.  Instead of having our florist create lavish arrangements for each table, we saved a ton of money by working with a local Amish lady who sells cut flowers by the five-gallon bucket.  We had her fill two five-gallon buckets with flowers of my choice and then we simply divided them among our tables to achieve a beautiful, country yet shabby chic look. You’ll also notice the hat box in this photo – this was an antique yard sale find that we used for all of our cards at the reception.  It only cost my sister 50 cents!

Antique Vases and Bottles Added a Splash of Color and Character at Each Table

Antique Vases and Bottles Added a Splash of Color and Character at Each Table

Another way we saved money was by creating our own programs, invitations and menus. You can spend countless dollars on stationary from websites like Minted, Zazzle or Etsy but at the end of the day no one is going to say, “Wow, my favorite part of that wedding was the programs!” Luckily, I have a background in graphic design so this part was fun for me, but as long as you have an eye for detail and a good sense of style you can achieve the same look.  Pictured below are our programs and menus.  I had the programs printed at Staples and I purchased ivory, sparkly card stock from Walmart for the menus which I printed on my own.

Programs for the Wedding Ceremony

Programs for the Wedding Ceremony

Menus for Each Table at the Reception

Menus for Each Table at the Reception

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving money on our decor and stationary allowed us to book the honeymoon of our dreams and pay for our first choice photographer.  We were able to achieve the shabby chic look we wanted by making smart purchases and taking our time to find the vintage items we really wanted like the blue mason jars. Here are some additional photos from the big day!

Bridal Party at The Booking House

Bridal Party at The Booking House

Mr. & Mrs. Kyle Kline

Mr. & Mrs. Kyle Kline

3 DIY Ideas to Spruce Up Your Space this Summer

(Photos courtesy of Pinterest)

Summertime is a great time to work on those DIY projects you pinned to your Pinterest page and never actually attempted.  Maybe your “Pin-spirations” seemed too complicated or you simply didn’t have the time – either way, we’ve picked three of our favorite DIY ideas for summer that are sure to spruce up your space and all they require is a little creativity (and a trip to the hardware store).  Get the paint smock ready!

DIY Idea #1 – Create a Rain Gutter Reading Corner

This is a great way to create a reading corner that’s fun for the kids but functional for mom and dad.  Simply purchase vinyl rain gutters at your local Home Depot and arrange them the way you like.  For a perfect fit in the corners, you may want to purchase some Inside Mitre pieces.  Use a level to make sure they’re straight and voila! A reading corner that features a unique way to display your books and a handy storage solution. The gutters will look great and are sturdy enough to hold tons of books and stuffed critters too.

Rain Gutter Reading Corner

 

 DIY Idea #2 – Spruce Up Your Filing Cabinet with Chalkboard Paint

Give your old filing cabinet a makeover! Purchase chalkboard paint at your local Home Depot and create a whole new look.  Whether you paint the sides or just the front so you can label the drawers, chalkboard paint can turn a dingy filing cabinet into a hip piece of office furniture.  A 30-oz. can costs about $10 and can cover your filing cabinet and more.  Chalkboard paint creates a usable chalkboard on surfaces including wood, metal, concrete, masonry and drywall. Use the extra paint to make a chalkboard in the kid’s room and see how excited they get when you tell them it’s okay to draw on that part of the wall! Chalkboard painted areas erase easily and can be cleaned with soap and water.

Chalkboard Paint - Filing Cabinet

DIY Idea #3 – Creative Storage Solutions for Kitchen and Bathroom Products

It’s hard to stay clean when things don’t have a “place.” Create a place for everything this summer so that even the kids know where to put things away.  An inexpensive way to create storage in the kitchen or bathroom is with desk organizers.  Wire desk organizers come in all different shapes and sizes and the holes in them make them easy to hang with just a few thumb tacks that won’t cause damage to your cabinets.  Measure your cabinet doors and then take a trip to your local office supply store or Home Goods where you can find tons of discount office and kitchen items.  The desk organizer in this photo is perfect for kitchen wraps and foil but could also work well in the bathroom for curling irons, straightners, etc.

Kitchen or Bath Storage

 

Originally written for the Re-Bath & More Blog. Find out what great copy writing can do for your business! Contact HighleyDesigned today.

Host a Summer BBQ to Remember

It’s That Time of Year Again…

Summertime in Lancaster County PA means campfires with the kids, catching lightning bugs, and barbeques with family and friends.  Whether you’re hosting a picnic for the 12 and under softball champs or throwing a 4th of July bash for all your closest pals, here are some of our favorite ideas to make your barbecue one to remember!

Make Your Meal an Experience

target kabob sticksGet your guests involved!  Instead of making hot-dogs on the grill for the kids, make a campfire and allow them to roast their own hot-dogs (with adult supervision, of course).  This is a great way to keep them busy and it’s also a fun learning experience.  We love these adorable colored roasting sticks from Target! Kabobs are a fun way to get your adult guests involved as well.  Cut up your choice of meat, veggies and fruit and allow guests to build their own kabobs.  Have the grill master heat them for a few minutes until they’re fully cooked and voila!  This is a great way to please even the pickiest eaters.

Put a Twist on the Classic S’more

summer smores cone Instead of using graham crackers to sandwich your marshmallow and chocolate, try making s’more cones! Not only are they delicious, but they’re less messy than traditional s’mores so your guests can enjoy casual conversation while enjoying dessert. Purchase waffle cones from your local grocery store and instead of purchasing large roasting marshmallows, pick up a bag of mini marshmallows.  You’ll also need chocolate chips or fun-size Hershey’s chocolate bars to do the trick.  Simply fill the cones with your favorite treats and wrap in aluminum foil, then place on the grill until melted to your satisfaction.  Consider fresh strawberries or bananas and Nutella or peanut butter as additional toppings or fillings.  Photo Courtesy: Free People

Skip the Fireworks – Begin a New Family Tradition

Fireworks are noisy and even sparklers can be dangerous for kids.  This year, end your BBQ with a beautiful, new family tradition – Chinese lanterns.  You will need an open area and a long reach lighter.  Don’t worry, the lanterns will only come down after they burn out so they are not a fire hazard and most are biodegradable.  For an inexpensive and memorable experience, check your local superstore or order online.  Photo Courtesy:  All Things Are Ready blog   summer lanterns

This blog was originally posted on ReBathandMore.com by yours truly!  Hope you enjoyed the BBQ tips.  If you manage a company blog remember to mix it up.  You can only pitch your business so many times before people get sick of hearing about it… Create content that will keep them coming back to your website.  Become an expert in your industry and a resource for clients and prospects.  And remember, an up to date blog can provide awesome social media content!  This blog was shared when it was first posted and will be shared again near July 4th on the Re-Bath & More Facebook page.