Maya Angelou: What a Gal

Yesterday the world lost a great woman. Dr. Maya Angelou died and we responded. Working in social media, sometimes you see a lot of not great stuff, but then other times, times like these, you see the internet come together in a beautiful way to remember someone as important as Maya. A bright light she was, and a talent that will never be forgotten. Girl had mad skills. She was inspiration to so many, really reminding us to be the best version of ourselves. So because of her awesomeness, I thought it would only be fair to remember her by designing some of quote cards. She’s has so, so, soooo many good ones, but I picked some of my favorites to share with you here.

Of course you’ll pin these babies (wink wink), but if you’re really digging any of them in particular, leave me a comment and I can provide a download link to the high res versions so you can print them out to enjoy at home in your kitchen or as a way to cheer up your sad cube at work!

App Review: VSCO Cam

As you many of you may know, I’m a huge fan of using my iPhone to capture my daily goings on. But sometimes the built in camera just isn’t enough and the filters on Insta are great, but in my opinion are a little too “trendy” for me. So for awhile I was using Camera+ which is a pretty good upgrade from the built in, but still wasn’t getting the job done like I wanted it to, I wanted more! So I found a new solution, enter VSCO Cam.

VSCO (Visual Supply Co) Cam has been around for about a year, but I’ve really only had it for the past six months or so, and really just realized its full potential after I drunkenly downloaded the entire set of filters for $5.99, whoops! Except not whoops, more like, Best. Drunk Move. Ever.

This app is simple. Everything is easy. But I will warn that when you first download VSCO Cam it definitely takes a little bit of getting used to. There are no labels on anything, just icons. So I recommend exploring for a bit when you first download it to get a feel for what it’s capable of.

I’ll start with the camera. I’ve recently started using VSCO as my main camera. The reason for this is that it’s much more extensive. I can touch to focus. I can turn on a grid and I can shoot in 1:1 ratio. Yes all of those things can be done in the iPhone camera. But I can also touch where I want focus my exposure, there is a new Tilt and Level feature that ensures I’m shooting my photos so that they’re properly aligned. I can turn on a mode for if I’m shooting in a darker setting or a brighter setting. Basically it gives you a lot more options to help make your shots that much better. So chic.

Then comes the part I love the most, the editing. There are a bunch of free filters to start off with. They don’t have cool names like Mayfair or Nashville, but their simple names (C2, F5, B6 etc) work just as great, if not better. You can flip over to the store and pick up a few more free ones, or purchase some. Like I said, I decided while drunkenly falling asleep in bed that I needed to have them all. I think they’re still the same price right now, 38 filters for 6 bucks. Not bad if you ask me, and unquestionably worth it in my opinion. It just gives you so many more options and I love options! From there, you can flip through your different filters to see what they look like on your image. Once you’ve decided on the right one, you can tap it again and up pops a slider on a 1-12 scale to let you decide if you want to pull back the intensity of the filter.

Now that you’ve got your filter, you can go even more in depth with your editing. All of your tools are icons like I mentioned earlier, so you have to tap them to see what they are. You start with your mainstays like exposure, contrast, saturation. But you also have your cropping options and your rotation options in here as well. Then it gets interesting by adding in temperature, fade, vignette (and not a gross vignette I’ll add), and tint. You can adjust shadows and highlights and sharpness and grain. And everything is done with an easy to use slider. Check out how different the same photo can look with the use of the different filters and editing tools. The top three are a pic my sister took while she was in Surrey, BC. She only used the tools, no filters needed. The others are mine, and I most def used filters.

I will throw in my two cents on what I think isn’t working for the app. Originally the creator had made a point to say that VSCO was made for editing and Instagram was made for sharing. But recently they’ve made a change and added “Grid” which is there not-so-great attempt at competing with Insta’s sharing capabilities. Unfortunately it’s just not doing it for me. No ability to like or comment. No way to see who is following you. It’s just not the experience I’m looking for when I’m trying to share my images. But honestly, it’s whatever, just don’t use it for sharing, use it for editing, what it was made for.

But when we get down to it, it’s essentially a light room on your camera. And it’s free. Does it get any better than that? Go download this right now or we can’t be friends anymore. Just kidding, we can, but my photos will most definitely look cooler than yours, so it’s really your call.


(Funny) Mother’s Day Cards for your Mama

Mother’s Day is creeping up this Sunday. I’ve already ordered my mom’s gift, she told me exactly what she wanted, which I love! I think that best gifts that you can give someone are the ones that you know they’ll want. So yes, there isn’t much mystery, but you also know that they’re going to use and love what you give them, and isn’t that the end goal anyway?

What I think adds a bit of your personality to the gift is the card. I’m not great at picking up cards ahead of time and then end up having to sift through all the leftovers at Target and sometimes I can find a good one, but other times I’m stuck with the duds. So this year, I thought maybe I’d be a little bit more proactive and make sure that I found a great card that really seemed like it came from me. In other words, something sassy and sarcastic. My mom knows I love her, but I’m not the real serious type, so I tend to sway towards the funny. Enter, Etsy. There are so many hilarious, hand-drawn or written cards that you can order for not too much more than what you’d pay for a card at your local store. Here are some of my favorites! Remember, Mother’s Day is THIS Sunday, so make sure to check the individual sellers’ shipping policies to ensure you’ll get it in time. Actually, because I’m awesome, I even found a few that are instant downloads, so no snail mail required. Download, print and sign. I take that back, don’t be a bitch, write her something nice inside! 


My Top 10 Dumbest Instagram Decisions

There are times that I’m sitting on the toilet in the morning flipping through my own Instagrams because I’m not awake enough yet to process actual information, but not asleep enough to not need to entertain myself. As I flip through I always see a couple that I wonder to myself – Wait, did I really post this? Was I drunk? Musta been drunk. Hold on though, I’d never be drunk at work, apparently I was sober. That’s embarrassing. I should delete it. Then I continue to work through an internal struggle with myself about “standing by my work”. Whatever. But the inability to delete means they’re still out there for the world to see, so I may as well let you all take a gander at the ones I think are my dumbest instagram decisions to date. This post will most definitely be revisited down the road. So without further ado, I present to you my Top 10 Dumbest Instagram Decisions.

This picture actually makes me sad. It seriously looks miserable. There is nothing in the stockings. You can’t see what they’re hanging from because I cropped it worse than a three year old. There isn’t even a fire in the fireplace! The filter I chose is shit. Basically this is all around the worst Christmas picture ever. And to make matters worse, my mother decided to comment “N O P”. I had to text her to find out what this foreign acronym that I’d never heard of meant. Turns out N O P was in fact not an acronym, but the letters following the L and M embroidered on the stockings. “Get it? LMNOP?” No mom, I clearly did not get it.

I don’t know how this got nine likes. I don’t know how it got any likes to be honest. The only thing that is right about this is that someone called me out hard with some brutal honesty and a hashtag. And someone else called me a weirdo. Then again, his name is Guido, so who is the weirdo now? I know, still me, womp womp.

This is a dumb picture. That’s quite obvious. There is nothing written on the envelope, there’s a laptop being controlled by an arm attached to no one (it’s actually attached to the bride, but since I’m a bitch and didn’t tag her, no one will ever know!)  And there’s a hole punch. What about this did I think would be intriguing? Because I see nothing. Then again, I do see an alcoholic beverage hidden in the upper right corner, so now it’s starting to make a little more sense.

This would have been an acceptable post about seven years ago, when I was 19 and underage drinking on the train was cool. But unfortunately this was posted 54 weeks ago. Age 25. How sad. Granted, I was posting it to show off my nails not having polish on them (as if THAT’S a good reason to post?) because that never happens, but honestly, who gives a hoot about that? No one. What makes this train wreck even harder to look at is two fold. One, it’s a Miller Lite tallboy. And two, I hashtagged it with #latergram. Which means that I took the picture and then decided LATER to post it on Instagram. So basically, I was flipping through pictures and thought, wow, this picture is TOO cool, I should make sure to get it into social media land for everyone to see, I think they’d really like it. Not.

Yes, they still exist Lauren, you wouldn’t be taking a picture of it if it didn’t. Don’t be so stupid! The lighting and/or filter usage makes me feel like I was outside a strip mall in 1998. Total bummer that I took this too long ago to be able to tag a location, so who knows where I was…a dive bar? A bowling alley? Like, where are payphones still located? Is there a payphone removal service? Where did they all go? I have so many questions. Excuse me while I go GTS (google that shit).

So I had my work friend take this picture when I read about Baby Mugging. If you don’t know what it is, please educate and enjoy yourself here. Problem is, I did not do a good job of mugging. Or rather, my photographer did not capture me to the best of his ability. I don’t blame him, I blame myself for still posting it when clearly my whole body does not look like it’s inside the mug! Like, I can see the chair handle. Which means so can everyone else. Additionally, my hair is flatter than my chest was until about my freshman year of college. To the 21 of you that liked it anyway, bless your hearts.

While writing this post I’m really starting to see that I need to chill out on the inanimate object shots, or the ones that suck at least. Honestly, why did I think posting how much tupperware I’ve collected at my desk would be Instagram worthy? It basically makes me look like I’m an overeater. A sloppy human. And…a hoarder. Unfortunately for all you interested men reading the blog, I’m off the market.  At least the pictures in the background prove I have friends…?

I think that the chemicals in the dye mixed with the heat in that helmet like contraption created a brain-frying combination at the exact time I posted this picture. And the sad part is, that probably isn’t even true because this is the second in a two part series. The first is a mirror pic taken ten minutes before this beauty. You’d think one is more than enough. but clearly I needed to make sure you were aware that I was STILL getting my hair colored…ten minutes later. Also, what is that filter? It is terrible, along with the face I’m making. This is what we call an all around fail. Thankfully my hair did not end up the same way.

I’m all for the artsty posts of random objects if you do it right. I tend to post these a lot, as seen above. But majority of the times I compose them in a way that they’re actually appealing. This is not one of those cases, nor are any of the above examples. Why did I take this? And more importantly, why did I post it? It’s a picture of doorknobs. With price tags. At what looks to be Menard’s. Bad angle. Bad light. Bad filter. Bad everything. And to add insult to injury, I used tilt shift on it. Woof.

This one might take the cake. A classic case of “I Haven’t Insta’d in Awhile, Better Not Miss My Weekly Quota”. I’m seriously laughing out loud at how absurd this photo is. The caption is terrible too. You’d think if I’m going to post such a bad photo I’d make sure the caption was decent to at least bring something to the table. No such luck. We won’t even bring up the fact that the entire right half of the picture is too dark to even make anything out. Good. Night.


Gallery Wall Inspo

I’ve been in my new apartment since September and really haven’t done much in terms of decorating. But over the past few months I’ve really been itching to prettyify this place. I’m actually really lucky because I have a ton of closet space in this lil ol’ one bedroom. But this also means that there isn’t a ton of wall space, especially with a big bay window and a fire place. But ther IS one big empty space right above my TV. And I’m pretty sure it’s calling for me to create a gallery wall around it. And I’m pretty sure it’s right. 

So I’ve decided that this will be my new project. I’m doing it. I’ve already got a couple pieces that I know I want to use like a big canvas of the Chicago skyline that I took while Max and I were sailing on the lake two summers ago. I also have a couple smaller ones that I created myself with cute quotes. I ordered these adorable guys from Etsy a few weeks ago that I think will fit just perfectly. Because you who doesn’t love zoo animals eating noodles? No one, that’s who. I think I’m going to spend a weekend thrifting (which I’ve actually never done – two birds, huh?) looking for unique frames, then once I have those I can figure out what exactly will go in them. Is it so wrong to used the framed and signed photo of Oprah that my ex-roomie left behind two years ago? The answer to that, is yes, yes it is. Which means, Katie, you can have your picture back, I’m sure Ms. Winfrey is just dying to get up on a wall in the nursery and watch over the sweet baby that will be here soon. #creepy

I’ve found some great inspiration that I thought would be worth sharing. I really love the ones that aren’t just photographs. I think it just makes for more of a conversation piece.  If you have any tips or suggestions on creating a gallery wall, please let me know in the comments.