Friday, August 30, 2013

20 favorite free photoshop actions

I have been loving my birthday present, you guys! I have been scrounging the internet for actions and scripts to use in Photoshop. I have several paid-for actions, graphics and other things on my list, but I found some amazing actions that are all free. I assembled 20 of my favorites in a blog post for you. ENJOY!

How to download actions in Photoshop:
Download ATN file(s) to Program Files > Adobe > Presets > Actions
I usually keep my actions folder open on the desktop so I can easily drag and drop the downloaded file.

To use:
Open Adobe Photoshop: Window > Actions (Alt + F9)
Your actions dialogue box will appear; select the drop-down arrow in the top right-hand corner of the box. All of your downloaded actions will appear. Feel free to select between them.

I hope this little bit of what I've learned is helpful to you all. 

Much love!
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Style Elixir

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gifts for mom bloggers

If you caught yesterday's style post, you read that it was my 30th birthday. I didn't ask for much for my birthday, but Logan did such an amazing job at gift giving, I thought it was only apt to share some of his ideas with others who may possibly be curious about what to get for their blogger wives or girlfriends.

First, Logan sat and helped me with my 30 things about me post. Taking interest in your lady's blogging is important, even if it is a silly post about herself. Support is, above all, most important.

I asked for two things for my birthday: a nail gun and a diamond drill bit. When your lady is a DIY'er, you can never steer wrong with tools and hardware, or a gift certificate to Lowe's. I, however, did not receive either of these two things. At first I frowned a little inside, but then Logan tossed this at me ...

You want to worm your way into my heart, give me Starbucks coffee and Ghirardelli chocolates. I love the fact that this hillbilly man of mine catered to my city-girl standards. And FYI: those "Twilight Delight" chocolates are to die for!

A day off is always a good idea for us mom bloggers. Come on, ladies, admit it, THAT'S HOT! I got permission to do nothing all day. He cleaned the whole house. The most strenuous thing I did was sand down a table I'v been working on. He took care of the kids and refused to let me lift a finger.

Then he confiscated my computer momentarily, and do you know what came next?

Adobe Photoshop CC! The latest and greatest Photoshop program there is! I was in heaven! I have longed for Photoshop for years, but I've never been able to afford it. I have always used GIMP, because it's free. It's a great program, has done the job well. But my little blogger heart has always longed for Photoshop. I would have been tickled to death with Lightroom or other basic program, but this man got me the crème de la crème of Photoshop programs. I have been glued to my computer, downloading scripts and actions and learning how to navigate the progam. If you are aware of any, let me know. This program was only released two months ago and I'm having difficulty to finding downloads that are compatible with Creative Cloud. 

My evening ended with my favorites, crème brûlée cheesecake and a moscato wine. It was a simple birthday, but one every mom blogger desires. Permission to do nothing by indulge, DIY, blog and photoshop. 

What would be your dream blogger birthday?

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Turning 30

Dress: Envie Boutique // Jacket: Ross // Headband: Vera Bradley // Sunnies: Fashion Bug (going out of business sale) // Earrings: unknown

Would you believe I turn 30 years old today? No, I don't feel old. I have not yet experienced that, although I can see and feel the changes in my aging body. I have smile lines around my mouth and crows feet forming around my eyes.

No. Today I sort of feel ... unaccomplished. It's hard to express this without pouring myself out to you. I keep thinking, I'm 30 and where am I? I have a failed a marriage, trying to raise three kids on my own; I am uneducated and possess no skills. Although Logan would tell you otherwise. He says if I can do it, I will. He calls me a self-made woman. I suppose in a way I am. I don't like depending on others to do things I'm capable of. I own a sewing machine to make myself and my children clothes. I loaded the moving truck on my own when I moved here. I do a lot. I suppose this is me being silly. We all have doubts and wonders on occasion, don't we?

Well, instead of me rambling on with my silliness, how about 30 things about me:
1. This is the longest my hair has been since I was seventeen.
2. Logan is six years younger than me. *gulp*
3. Despite three pregnancies, I have been the same size since I was 14 years old. No, it is not glorious. I'm 30 and have to buy clothes where fourteen-year-old's shop. *grimace*
4. Nothing "brought" me to NC, other than an apartment for me and my children. I moved solely on faith. God has been so good to me.
5. Right now I am eating egg and bacon sandwiches Logan is making me for a birthday breakfast. Cracker Barrel white cheddar cheese is amazing!
6. I'm 5'4".
7. My hair has grown back to its natural color.
8. I have had the same BFF since I was twelve. I love you, Candace!
9. I used to be a cheerleader. That's how I met Candace.
10. I had a dream the other night Logan was a scientist from the past and came to the future (our present) via my microwave. Three days later I am still laughing as my memory recalls watching him climb out, twisted up like a contortionist.
11. A year ago I was so unhealthy, underweight, and depressed my father cried at the sight of me. I feel so good today! My dad called last week and told me how good I looked in my latest FB photo. It delighted me to hear my efforts working on myself are paying off.
12. Logan says I can cook. Apparently I deceived him into thinking I couldn't.
13. I can thrift with the best of them.
14. Cheesecake!!!
15. Logan says I have to put that I have a great smile. We shall agree to disagree.
16. I have three awesome kids.
17. I named one of my kids awesome. I made Olivia's initials OSM so that when read allowed it would read as Awesome.
18. Nothing screams sold like a good coupon. I'm a coupon clipper!
19. I adore Audrey Hepburn. I watch "Breakfast at Tiffany's" on my sad days, can't sleep days, and days when I just feel like it.
20. I have three tattoos, one a large peacock down my back. It hurt.
21. Bacon!!!
22. I am still in search of the perfect red lipstick. Suggestions?
23. I happily drive Logan bananas!
24. I lose my temper with my middle child on a daily basis. 
25. Every time someone asks, "Where do you get all these creative ideas?" I respond, "Pinterest."
26. I love Downton Abbey.
27. I have a strong dislike for vanilla ice cream. 
28. I refuse to use the southern expression "we might could." It annoys me when Logan does.
29. I smack Logan a lot. He's a smart ass.
30. I love him!

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

God made the sun

What a beautiful start to my morning! 

Coming back from the bus stop, my youngest daughter Olivia stopped and pointed to the hill behind our home and said, "Mom, look, God's making the sun!"

I cannot tell you how this warmed my heart, to hear her delight in God's creation. It developed into a conversation of why God made the sun and the moon, one to rule the day and one to rule the night, separating light from darkness. God touched my heart more as I turned to these verses in my bible, reminding me that at the end, He "saw that it was good."

You may also be interested to know that my mother-in-law has a blog where she has been doing a bible study on the Eternal message in the stars. Her notes are beautiful!

What are you delighting in today?

Much delight from me to you!
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Monday, August 26, 2013

An in-depth guide to mildewy towels

The water is piping, warmth streaming down your back. Feeling clean, refreshed, you shut off the shower and reach for your towel. And there it hits you, that stinky smell of mildew built up in the fibers that you are now spreading all over your body as you dry off. Your clean, refreshing shower is now officially ruined from that putrid stench.

That's pretty much how I felt for a time. My towels smelled horrid. Every time I dried myself off, I felt I was spreading mold and mildew all over my skin. Yes, I said mold. You know that nasty stuff that builds up along the bottom of your shower curtain liner? That's what is building up in your towels, making them smell as bad as they do. I found there were easy ways to clean them, but I wanted to know what caused it and why. So I did some research and here is what I found:

First let's talk towels. Towels are made of 100% cotton. The absolute finest cotton towel you can buy is Egyptian cotton. It has a very expensive weave, making it more absorbent and soft. The next best thing is Pima cotton, also very absorbent. The absorbency is why they make such a great use for towels, they absorb water quickly. These towels can easily run you upwards of $10-$15 per bath towel. Often you find towels that say something along the lines of "made with" Pima or Egyptian cotton. These often contain other low quality materials. It's all about marketing!

Over time, with use (or wear and tear) towels begin to lose their absorbency. Low quality towels do so more quickly. Eventually they begin to absorb bacteria and fungi that build up in the bathroom. An additional cause of towels losing their absorbency is how they are washed. Too much detergent can saturate the close-knit fibers in a towel, and fabric softener coats them. Imagine my surprise to find that little Snuggles bear has been deceiving me all this time with his fluffy basket of towels. Cuteness be darned!

Never fear, for there is an easy solution:
Wash no more than three large towels at a time with 1 1/2 cups of white vinegar in HOT water. Run the load again with 1/2 cup of baking soda, also in hot water. Dry them until they are completely dry. Not just hot, but dry. Do not use fabric softener. Mine were pretty bad smelling and this washing technique helped get almost everything out. If only you could have seen me standing in the laundry room, sniffing my towels as they came out of the dryer. It was like heaven, and people thought I was strange. If only they knew ...!

You can also make your life easier and use some preventative measures to keep this build up from forming. After each shower leave a window open or the bathroom fan running to allow the moisture in the room to escape. Don't wash your towels in large quantities. Continue to wash them in vinegar, as the acidity gets the really dirty things clean. Do not wash them in detergents (unless it is anti-microbial) or dry with fabric softeners. A fungus-free, smelly good towel is far better than a Downy soft towel in my opinion.

I hope my bit of research is useful to you. Do you have any natural ways of cleaning mildew around your home?

Much love from my home to yours!
Image courtesy missmac
Graphic design by NewlyMynted
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

First day of school

It has been a busy week. It was the first day of school for my kiddos. Am I the only parent that gets overwhelmed with back-to-school? I feel relieved it's over. 

Of course now I officially have a first grader and a kindergartner.  My son doesn't really like me taking pictures of him, but daughter will smile all day long for the camera. Her first day outfit was handmade (she even helped sew it), so she was happy to show it off. I plan to give more details about it soon.

I also wanted to take a moment to send out an update. Just as this week was busy, next week will be too. It's my 30th birthday and Logan took three days off work, and has quite the extravaganza planned for me. I kind of want to set blogging aside and devote my time to him since he's gone out of his way so much. I may not have a ton of time to post, but I will be back in the swing of things soon. I have a long list of upcoming blog posts. I'm actually working on one of them right now! We are even going to have our first giveaway here on the blog. I have annoucements coming up, including some information about our upcoming shop. That's right, NewlyMynted will be for sale. But with a great purpose!

I can't wait to share to all of these things with you lovelies! Have a great Thursday. 

So much love!
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Friday, August 16, 2013

Color Crush: Cobalt

Cobalt Booties Cat eye frames Chandelier Earrings Velvet Pillow Double Breasted Military Coat Wave Wrap Bleu Cobalt Laquer Safety Clutch Envelope Clutch iPhone Case Cobalt Vase Image Map
For almost the past year I have had the biggest crush on blue handbags. Bright, striking blue handbags! Cobalt blue. Electric blue. Although I have yet to find one I absolutely adore with a price tag that's within my budget, I have not relented my swooning. My fascination has expanded to nail polish, jewelry and clothing, and a desire to expand my blue joy around my home.

This is what I like to call growth! For most of my adult life I have avoided blue like the plague. Navy blue is a terrible color on me, and because I couldn't wear navy, I just avoided blue altogether. My bigotry caused me to lose out on all this cobalt blue richness. No more though. This fall I plan to embrace blue as much as I can!

What are your color crushes?

Oodles of love today!
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Blogger Blooper Photos

When I take photos of myself for the blog, I try not to make them too posed. Who really gazes far and wide out the window, as if searching for their long lost soul? When I gaze longingly out my window it's usually because a cop car has pulled up across the way and I'm wondering why they're here. Then I remember our Lady Etiquette and draw the blinds closed. So when Logan and I head out to snap a few photos, we usually keep it as natural as possible. We talk and laugh and joke and act like goofs, and he snaps away almost candidly. These are all head shots, since that's what I was aiming to update.
Note to self: Just because it's overcast outside in the morning, don't wait till the middle of the afternoon for the sun to come out. That's a lot of shadows. At least it was warm!
 I have no idea what I'm staring at. A bird? A plane? Superman?
Must've been Mr. Freeze, from the looks of it. Why else would I do this if not for brain freeze?
 Earth to Stephanie!
Since there was so much sun overhead, I decided it would be a good idea to move under a big tree so that all light and shadows would be even. It worked. Sort of. Anyone else notice the tree reflecting its splendid colors off my hair? Photography do's and don'ts!
Hmm? Oohhhhh!
Ahhh, just right. Naturally windswept hair and all!

I hope this gave you all a little laugh. Thanks for goofing off with me today!

Love and hugs,
Camera settings: f3.4/ISO 400
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