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Friday Links & Thinks: The Back to Reality Issue

We had a wonderful time in Costa Rica and now we are back home.  Back to reality…and back to another construction project.  Not the fun kind, if there is such a thing. Not the kind where you get something brand new and exciting on the other end, despite some inconvenience.  No, sadly we are doing construction repairsagain

To keep my mind off of the repairs, construction noise and high traffic of workmen in/out of our  home, I’ve been thinking about some small decorating projects that I would like to do.

Like this one,and I’m considering redecorating our built-in bookcases and maybe planning a new built-in bookcase and redesign of our  “nursery” for our youngest two girls.  Because nothing says I’m over construction than planning more construction projects, right?

Am I the only one with Halloween on my mind?  I’ve started my Halloween Pinterest board and
the kids have begun looking through catalogs to select their Halloween
costumes. I generally like to order our costumes in August so that we ensure that we get them all in on time with the beloved accessories that are always on “backorder”.  You can
check out the Trophy Mom Diaries Facebook page for more on our Halloween costumes and where I like to order them.

Interesting Reads:
Parenting an Angry Child is a beautiful post that really should give everyone pause when they witness someone with a child acting out in public.  I think all mothers who have a “difficult” child  or are struggling with parenting a particular child in some way can relate to this post.


Holding onto  grudge: My biggest loss is a timely post with the holidays coming up.

Are you as over the Chick-fil-a drama as I am?  Of all the blog posts, Tweets and Facebook status posts I’ve (unfortunately) read, I think this one sums it up nicely. 
The pictures in this blog post were taken and edited by me on my iPhone.  I’m obviously not a professional photographer by any means but I’m so excited by the skills and apps I’ve learned about from Alli Worthington’s new ebook, iPhone Photography: The Visual Guide.

If you have an iPhone and haven’t downloaded this gem, you’re missing out!

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How to improve your iPhone Photography: Review of the iPhone Photograhy ebook

iPhone Photography: The Visual Guide by Alli Worthington

We take pictures to remember special moments, places, and
the people we share them and life with.  Especially the little people, who grow faster than we’re ready for.
wouldn’t we want capture them beautifully?

iPhone Photography: The Visual Guide is a must have for any iPhone user and parent.  Believe me, I know how much the term “must have” gets overused, but seriously it’s currently only $5  (until July 30th, then $9.97) and is FULL of great tips and resources that will truly change the quality of your photographs.

You will be amazed at what you can do with your iPhone camera. Really.
Think of Alli’s book as a cookbook.  You can read it cover to cover or just flip through and try out what inspires you.  Like recipes, one  delicious tip at a time.If you are a blogger this could really help improve the quality of your posts as well.  We all know great posts with pictures do better but finding the right picture or a good quality picture isn’t always that easy.    Did you know that recently a blogger was sued for using a photograph without permission?  Lawsuits are real.   You can prevent that from happening to you and save time looking for stock photos to match your posts if you just take your own.  
Here is a sneak peek at some of the pages you’ll find inside:
Tips on fun apps you can try: 

Examples of recommended Hipstamatic Combinations: iPhone Photography book- Loftus lens 

Unlike most photography books the instructions are simple and straight forward.  They won’t make your head hurt, I promise. The majority of the apps recommended are very user friendly.  Some take a little more work, but none require a computer programming degree.

iphone photography workflow 

Take my advice and start reading Alli’s book when you will have time to play with your camera.  Otherwise, dinner might not get made as you are busy downloading apps and photographing everything in your house.
I purchased iPhone Photography: The Visual Guide for $5.  I am recommending it because I think it’s a great deal and useful.  The above post contains my Affiliate Links.  Using the links will not change the price of the product you are purchasing but I will receive a small commission which I will then most likely use towards the purchase of some other great product that I can tell you about later!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

For the love of Instagram: How to make the most of the app and your photos

I have a serious crush on Instagram.  As far as social media platforms go I think I would place Instagram above  Facebook and Twitter as my favorite social media platforms.  As my interest (or addiction) to Instagram has grown so has the ways in which I like to utilize it.

Whether you are just venturing out into the Instagram world or are looking for new ways to utilize your own Instagram pictures, here are some ideas on how to get the most out of your Instagram pictures.

Social Sharing

instagram feed isn’t the only place you can share your photos.  The
Instagram App allows you to easily share your pics  via Facebook,
Twitter, Tumblr, Flicker,  and Four Square, however you aren’t limited
to those platforms.

Since photos are saved to your picture gallery you can share your Instagram pictures anywhere you can upload a photograph.

 If you are a blogger consider using Instagram and a few creative photo apps to create photos for your blog.

Create a Photo Journal

 One of the things I’ve recently discovered doing with my Instagram shots is actually printing them out (iPhone Photocube Printer) and putting them into a Smash Journal.  
I particularly like to make travel journals this way, however it also is a great way to keep a photo journal.  I’m also thinking of making one for each of our children which will include funny things they say and special memories.  Need some more ideas?  Read: Stuff to do with all those Instagram Shots.

Create Photo Gifts & Products

 In addition to sharing your pictures virtually, via social media platforms, you can turn your Instagram pictures into real works of art or just print the photos to use and share  the old fashioned way.

Become  an artist and you 
can curate your own Instagram gallery and allow others to purchase your pictures.  Another
alternative to is Canvas Pop where you can also turn a picture into multiple split canvases or select from various frame styles and sizes.  While you’re at it, don’t forget to purchase your own art and create your own custom wall art for yourself or gift to others.

Casetagram allows you to take your favorite Instagram pics and turn them into an iPhone case. 

Postagram allows you to send real or virtual postcards using your Instagram pics. I particularly like this for my travel photos (alternative to purchased postcards), but they also work great as a thank-you to a hostess for a great party you attended, or use them to create thank-you notes for your children.  Your first 5 Postagrams are currently free, so give it a try!

Printstagram allows you to print virtually anything using your Instagram photos. 
My personal favorites are the:

Memory Box where you get tiny prints in an archival box. This is a great way to showcase your children’s artworks and favorite childhood things.  Just take a picture and you’ll have it forever.  Alternatively, just get an  memory box full of everything you’ve ever taken on Instagram and sort it by year. You’ll have an instant photo record of your year and you won’t have to worry about what losing your pics if Instagram ever gets taken down or changed by Facebook.

PhotoSquares come in 2 sizes and can be used in scrapbooks, photoalbums or Smash Albums.

Mini Books are 3.5 x2.4 books of your favorite pictures.

Take better pictures

The ultimate way to get the most out of your pictures is of course to take better pictures to begin with.  If you have an iPhone the smartest thing you can do is learn to master your iPhone camera technology.  Lets face it, most of us take the majority of our pictures using our iPhone.  Why? Because it’s handy, its easy to use and its always on us! 

From practice and watching what friends do I’ve seen  SOME of my iPhone pictures take on an almost professional quality. Who doesn’t want to take pictures like a professional? If you would like to learn to take better pictures grab Alli Worthington’s ebook,  iPhone Photography: The Visual Guide (currently only $5) and you’ll be taking better pictures after one Chapter!

iPhone Photography: The Visual Guide by Alli Worthington

Do you enjoy using Instagram? What are your favorite tips?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Friday Links & Things: Summer Vacation Issue

I’m posting this today (I know it’s not Friday) because I didn’t post on Friday…because we  are still in Costa Rica and I have to admit the days are getting away from me.  So, let’s consider this both a belated post and an early one!

Palo Verde, Costa Rica

 Interesting reads:

Can Moms take Sabbaticals too?  I know it’s next to impossible to get away, but I’ve been pondering Mommy Sabbaticals for the past two years and I’m beginning to think it’s both possible and a necessity.


 If you are a blogger you really need to read:

Blogger Beware: You can be sued for using pics on your blogIt really has me wanting to comb through my archives and cancel my Pinterest account.

I feel a design project coming on and Conquering the Antique Mall may have inspired it a bit. I think it’s time for me to call up some girl friends and go thrifting.

Are you a Starbucks junkie? After reading: Sabotaged at Starbucks I may be reconsidering my morning (and afternoon) habits.
yes, the snake is real—all 250 lbs of it

Giveaways & News

Did you see my post on Summer Skincare and the Murad Sunblock giveaway?  This summer I’m getting serious about skincare, protecting my skin, and eliminating the factors that speed up aging on my skin.

The Trophy Mom Diaries Facebook page has launched.  Confused?  I’m launching a new blog in September called, Trophy Mom Diaries. I’m very excited about the new space.  I cannot wait to share it with you. In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me on the TMD Facebook page or subscribe to be notified of the blog launch.

I’m not ashamed to say I’ve been struggling with finding my voice, my place and my footing in life lately.  Especially on this blog.  When you’re dying to live radical:  Fight the Middle Ground really spoke to me and where I am right now. I want to be radical. Except, I don’t do anything that is really radical.
Laura recently announced that she is going to Sri Lanka with World Vision  and it filled me with expectation and joy.  our family sponsors 3 children from Compassion International and I enjoy following along on the stories from the Compassion Bloggers.  I cannot wait to read Laura’s stories, hear how the experience inspired her and see if it changes her.  See if she discovers something that I can do.  Can we both be radical with the lives we’ve been given?  I have to admit I wish I was going on the trip with her. Instead, I’m going to be praying for her and her family.  And celebrating the trip.

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Our Costa Rican Family Adventure

After delaying the trip one year we are finally here, in Costa Rica.  I cannot stop pinching myself.

Costa Rica is everything we wanted from a vacation destination with the kids and a little bit more.  Who knew we’d have pictures that made us feel like we were National Geographic Explorers?

Or  Crocodile Hunters?

Or Adventurers who can do anything—even ziplining across a rainforest?

Beginning in August I’ll post more on our travel adventures including our tips and suggestions for planning your own Family Adventure in Costa Rica.  In the meantime, you can follow along on my Facebook page for more pictures.

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