Archive of ‘Design & Technology’ category

8 Free Styled Desktop Photos for Amazing Blog Posts

| Design & Technology

8 Free Styled Desktop Photos for Amazing Blog Posts. Good images are a key part of putting together a great website, blog, Instagram or small business. But finding images to use can sometimes be difficult.  Download these 8 Free photos for professional feminine looking promo material now. Click to download your free photos.8 Free Styled Desktop Photos for Amazing Blog Posts

Today I’m excited to share a fun freebie for creatives, bloggers, Instagrammers and small businesses. Good images are a key part of putting together great visual content for your website, promo material or blog posts. But finding images to use can sometimes be difficult. If you’re not using strong, quality photos, you could be losing potential readers, clients and customers. Not to worry, I’ve got you covered.

If you’re looking for professional, feminine styled stock photos, you’ve come to the right place. Perhaps you haven’t heard of “styled stock photos” before – it’s a term used to describe stock photos that have been organized to capture a particular look and feel. Usually, these are photos of desktops with various business, tech and lifestyle objects laid out together. Photos of objects taken from directly above are called “flat lay photos”. Flat lays are super trendy and all the rage these days, especially on Instagram.

I love fooling around and experimenting with photos so this was a fun little photo shoot for me. These styled photos are my gift to you. They’re versatile and can be used for so many things including social media headers, banner, blog post images, sidebar and website banners, mock-ups, text overlays, desktop wallpapers and more.

I’d love to see what amazing things you do with these photos. Email, facebook or hashtag your photos with #dabblesandbabbles on Instagram or Twitter and I’ll post your images on my social media accounts.

Download your free styled desktop photos here. Do whatever you’d like with these photos. Photos are logo free and not watermarked. Photos are 1200 px wide.

8 Free Styled Desktop Photos for Amazing Blog Posts. Good images are a key part of putting together a great website, blog, Instagram or small business. But finding images to use can sometimes be difficult.  Download these 8 Free photos for professional feminine looking promo material now. Click to download your free photos.

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Learn How to Embroider Simple But Pretty Designs

| Crafts & DIY, Design & Technology

Click here to learn how to embroider simple but pretty designs - so sweet! Bonus FREE embroidery pattern in two sizes included!

Learn How to Embroider Simple But Pretty Designs

Learn How to Embroider Simple But Pretty Designs – BONUS free Embroidery pattern included!

Hand embroidery is so challenging and tedious – oh, and it’s sooooo old school! Let me be the first to correct you on both points.

I’m the last person in the world to take on anything that’s too hard or time-consuming (case in point – my running shoes still look new and have hardly logged any hours on the pavement). I’m more of an instant gratification kind of girl.

As far as embroidery being old school, it’s making a triumphant comeback and soon you’ll see it everywhere – mark my words (you can’t see it but I’m wagging my finger at you). There’s a ton of incredible designers out there who are anything but old and stodgy. Today’s embroidery designers are cutting-edge, graphic and humorous (and often R-rated). If you’re curious, go check out Instagram and search the hashtags #hoopart, #embroideryart and #handembroidery.

I’m now positive, with every new hobby and skill I attempt, that I was an old west homesteader in a former life. My claim to fame is that I seem to be particularly adept at picking up old lady hobbies (my husband teases me constantly). You name it, crochet, soap making, pottery and now let’s add embroidery to the list. The embroidered hoop you see pictured in the photos is my second attempt at embroidery. I’m not telling you this to brag but rather to prove just how easy it is and how quickly you can learn to hand embroider simple designs. Being the instant gratification person I am, I spent all of an hour or two watching video tutorials then, I grabbed the materials, made my design and got down to it.

This particular embroidered hoop art is a birthday gift I made for my lovely mother-in-law Lynda. She’s sweet, kind, generous and caring but she’s also fierce in her beliefs, convictions, and the love she has for her friends and family. As soon as I found this little saying, I knew it was perfect for her.

How Can I Learn to do Hand Embroidery?

There are tons of tutorials and courses out there on hand embroidery. The first place I went was Craftsy where I took the amazing “Design It, Stitch It: Hand Embroidery” class by Jessica Marquez. This is a great foundation course that teaches 25 basic stitches – at this point, I still haven’t even gotten through the entire course – I was too excited with all the stitches I learned in the first 4 lessons.

If you’re looking for some free tutorials, this great YouTube playlist “Beginner Hand Embroidery: Learn Hand Embroidery with Me Series” by TLCinspirations is another great resource.

Another fun resource for learning about embroidery is my Embroidery Pinterest board where I’ve pinned hundreds of inspirational ideas as well as great photo tutorials.

Now let’s get to the floral embroidery pattern I used in the photos. Below, I’ve listed some of the specific tutorials I used to learn the stitches I chose for this project (click on each to go to the tutorial)

Embroidery Supplies

Luckily there are only a few supplies you’ll need to get started and generally, they are pretty inexpensive.

  • Embroidery needles (sizes 3-9)
  • Embroidery floss – cotton or pearl cotton
  • Embroidery hoop – there are many sizes available – I used a 7″ hoop for the hoop art in the photos
  • Fabric such as linen, cotton or muslin (great for practicing)
  • Sharp scissors
  • Fine tip marker or soluble pen (I used the Fine Water Erasable Marker by Clover)
  • Needle threader (not a requirement but it can help make threading easier)

Once you’ve gone through a few tutorials and are confident enough to start your first embroidered hoop art, feel free to download my pattern and try your hand at embroidery. Simply print it out and then trace the design onto your fabric (I held my fabric up against a window so that I could see the design behind the fabric more easily).

Get Your Free Embroidery Pattern – in two sizes

  • Download the 6″ embroidery pattern with quote here
  • Download the 6″ embroidery pattern without the quote here
  • Download the 7″ embroidery pattern with quote here
  • Download the 7″ embroidery pattern without the quote here

I can’t wait to hear what you think and how your attempt at embroidery goes. Please feel free to share your stories and photos with me… I may even (with your permission of course) showcase them with my social media community.

Click here to learn how to embroider simple but pretty designs - so sweet! Bonus FREE embroidery pattern in two sizes included!

Learn how to embroider simple but pretty designs – bonus embroidery pattern included.

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you visit Craftsy.com through this link and purchase this product, I’ll get a commission. Don’t worry–the price is still the same for you.

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15 Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Creativity

| Crafts & DIY, Design & Technology

15 Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Creativity - consider these must-follow Instagram accounts to inspire your creativity.15 Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Creativity

I know what you’re thinking…savvy, tech and design loving blogger must have her finger on the pulse of all the latest social media platforms. While I’m flattered by this, I have to be completely open and admit that I’ve been dragging my feet a little on a couple (OK, maybe a few) social media platforms – mainly Twitter and Instagram. But, since one of my goals for 2016 is to broaden my knowledge of social media, I recently decided to give up my unfounded disinterest and dive right in.

Why follow Instagram?

While I’m still trying to sort out Twitter (sensory overload) I’m totally digging Instagram. With over 80 million photos uploaded to Instagram every day, there’s a virtual smorgasbord board of creative geniuses to peruse. What’s not to like? It’s all about photos (one of my favorite forms of creativity); you get to be a bit of a voyeur into other people’s lives and, it’s where “all the kids hang” (you know it’s good if kids like it). Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out… Instagram is fabulous for businesses, entrepreneurs, and marketers – it’s the easiest way to humanize their brands and make them feel relatable!

Since my foray into the world of Instagram, I’ve become enamored with so many amazing Instagrammers (correct terminology?). There are some pretty amazing people in this world, that’s all I can say. I am astounded by the unending, deep vein of creativity that seems to run through so many talented people.

So why chose 15 Instagram Accounts to follow? Well, my list was only supposed to be 10 amazing Instagrammers but I couldn’t narrow it down… so 15 it is. I’ve tried to cover a lot of creative topics so there’s something for everybody. Be prepared to get your creative juices flowing (hope you can spare the next 2-4 hours – it’s a vortex I tell ya).

15 Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Creativity –  in no particular order

(Go to the Instagram Accounts by clicking on their names in blue. All photos direct from each Instagram user’s account.)

1. Geninne – Wow, this Santa Fe artist has mad talent pouring out of every cell in her body. I’ve been following her blog for years but now I get my quick fixes seeing her newest creations popping up in the Instagram feed. Geninne - 15 Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Creativity - consider these must-follow Instagram accounts to inspire your creativity.

2. Femme.Broidery – This fellow Canadian has knocked my socks off. I didn’t even know I liked embroidery until I saw her work…so much so, I just took my fist embroidery class this past weekend.15 Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Creativity - check out these must-follow Instagram accounts to inspire your creativity

3. Dagmar’s Kitchen – I honestly have no idea how I stumbled across this insanely creative food stylist and blogger but her food photos are about the best I’ve every seen. Oh, those colors!15 Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Creativity -  consider these must-follow Instagram accounts to inspire your creativity.

4. Baking a Moment – This girl makes food look way too pretty to eat. I swear I salivate every time I peruse her photos. Simply divine!15 Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Creativity -  consider these must-follow Instagram accounts to inspire your creativity.

5. Niebeskachata – If you follow my blog at all, you know that I’m a sucker for beautiful crochet designs. Agnieszka makes crochet designs look so good you’ll want to eat them.niebieskachata

6. Tell love and party – This is about as fun and colorful an account as you’ll find. Jam packed with crafts and amazing party themes, you’ll want to create an event just so you can use some of her clever ideas.15 Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Creativity -  consider these must-follow Instagram accounts to inspire your creativity.

7. Almost Makes Perfect – Sublime and dreamy, Molly’s photos make me want to paint every room and item in my house white. Sleek, minimalist and downright gorgeous.15 Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Creativity -  consider these must-follow Instagram accounts to inspire your creativity.

 8. Hello Glow Blog – I always want to run to the grocery store and stock up on fruit and veggies after seeing these photos. Hello Glow’s photos can’t help but inspire you to be healthier.15 Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Creativity -  consider these must-follow Instagram accounts to inspire your creativity.

9. West Coast Petrichor – Oh how I love petrichor (look it up)! This is the work of my friend Tana’s incredibly talented daughter. Phenomenal photography and a sampling of images from my favorite part of the planet. Oh, and if you’re a coffee lover there’s lots of caffeine inspiration as well.15 Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Creativity -  consider these must-follow Instagram accounts to inspire your creativity.

10. Ms Craftberry Bush – Elegant, sophisticated and chic home, DIY, crafts, and printables. Lucy’s style and taste will make you want to rethink you living room decor. Amazing!msCraftberryBush

11. Honey and the Hive – Check out these fun, colorful and amazing illustrations and paintings by Kelsey DeLange. Her work is oozing with charm and character.Honey-and-Hive

12. Riva La Diva – This talented diva not only blogs about fashion but shows you how you can make these on-trend styles yourself! She shares her personal style through fashion tutorials, outfit ideas, beauty tips and more.Riva-La-Diva

13. Katie Is A Daisy – Beautiful and whimsical fine art inspired by nature. Her color palettes are always spot on and her hand lettering is magical.15 Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Creativity - consider these must-follow Instagram accounts to inspire your creativity.

14. Studio DIY – Follow Kelly and you’ll find a lot of fun DIY projects, party tips and colorful ideas designed to help you inspire, create and celebrate.15 Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Creativity - consider these must-follow Instagram accounts to inspire your creativity.

15. Kraft Mint – Soft color palettes and modern stylish crafts. Ursula will inspire you with her unending stream of craft and decor ideas.Kraft-Mint

Finally, I have a (currently sad) little Instagram account too. I’m just getting started with it so pardon my lack of images…but bare with me, I’m working on it. Follow the Dabbles and Babbles Instagram Account – I need all the help I can get! Thanks.

Oh, one last thing. I also started a curated Pinterest board called, “Instagram Love” where I pin all my favorite photos and inspirations. Check it out here.

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Mirrorless Cameras – A Change in Perspective

| Design & Technology, My Life

OMD Mirrorless Camera

OMD Mirrorless Camera

Mirrorless cameras – Olympus OM-D E-M1  – They say “the best camera is the one you have with you” and lately I’ve noticed that I rarely carry a camera and have come to rely on my iPhone. Now, as I’ve said before, I love my iPhone but in all reality its not the best for a photography enthusiast.  Photography has been a hobby of mine for over the past 10 years and although I’ve found myself going through spells where I didn’t use my camera that much, overall it’s been a constant in my life. When it comes down to it, I want to try to capture as much of my life on film as possible – my family is so precious and I don’t want to miss one beautiful moment if possible.

I’ve always been a Canon girl and for the last 3 years I’ve been using a Canon 60D.  My camera has served me well but as I mentioned at the beginning of this post I found that I was taking it with me less and less. It’s so heavy and cumbersome and frankly not that enjoyable to carry around. I also noticed that I hadn’t taken it with me on our last few family vacations either because it was too big and took up too much space in my luggage. About a month ago I was taking stock of my all my lenses and thinking about what lenses I was needing for my kit when I had a huge ah-ha moment, “why am I doing this, why am I accumulating more stuff that I never actually take anywhere.”  That was the beginning of the end for my DSLR system.

Needs assessment…

I decided to try to see things from a different point of view. I assessed my needs: I wanted something that’s smaller and lighter that still has versatility and produces amazing quality photographs. While moving to a point and shoot camera was too drastic for me, I came across a relatively new type of hybrid camera called the mirrorless micro 4/3 cameras.  They’ve been on the scene for 5-6 years or so but have only recently come into their own. Mirrorless camera’s are a cross between a compact camera and a DSLR – generally they are simpler, smaller, lighter and as such can be more versatile than a DSLR. Also like DSLR cameras, the mirrorless system gives you a choice of various lenses; you can get amazing prime lenses, fast standard and telephoto zooms, and petite collapsible wide angle zooms. Depending on which brand of mirrorless camera you get, there can be a myriad of lens choices (as with the Olympus OM-D which lets you use Olympus, Panasonic and other 3rd party lenses).

Decision time…

The next task was to narrow it down and make a decision on exactly what brand and model of camera I was going to purchase.  After tons of research, I decided to go for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 which I’ve found nothing but glowing reviews for. This camera has also been voted camera of the year by many photo magazines, editors and websites. I also researched the lenses on this great resource, dxomark.com, which lists the best lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1. From this list I narrowed my choice down by picking something that had relatively high points but was also in my price range. This Amazon.com list below shows all my final choices – click on an image to get all the details.

I won’t go into all the technical specifications but I will say that I’ve been incredibly happy with the exceptional quality so far in the first week that I’ve had the camera. I purchased the camera with the 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens which is simply stunning and I also ordered the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f1.7 and the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 lenses.  The 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens is as nice if not nicer then any of my Canon lenses and the 45mm prime in particular is breathtaking.

It’s taking a while to learn all the ins and outs of the OM-D but I’m catching on pretty quickly. I’m not trying to sway anyone but I wanted to mention a few things about this great camera:

  1. Portability and stealth – easy to keep in your purse.
  2. Great lenses – not that there are more choices than with a DSLR but there is a huge line up of Olympus and Panasonic lenses that you can use with this camera, many with professional quality glass that costs considerably less than other traditional SLR lenses.
  3. Solid weatherproof build – this crazy beast is dust, splash and freeze proof down to -10 degrees Celsius (14° F).
  4. 10 frames per second and awesome auto-focus – blazing fast!
  5. WiFi enabled – control the camera shutter and settings with your iPhone, great for remote situations when you want to jump into the shot and easily send photos to your iPhone.
  6. Incredible electronic viewfinder – there’s nothing out there yet that compares to this amazing viewfinder. See what your finished photo will look like with live-view before you even take the shot.
  7. In camera stabilization – no need to find lenses that have image stabilizers, the camera already has one built-in.
  8. For the joy of shooting – a camera like this opens up opportunities you didn’t even realize you were missing before. No tripod needed in most situations and people aren’t intimidated by a huge camera and lens pointed at them.

Now, keep in mind that while I’m a huge advocate of the smaller mirrorless cameras, DSLR cameras still ultimately hold top place (for the moment). The DSLR advantages list includes: superior image quality, fabulous low light performance, total creative and technical control, huge selection of lenses, optical view finders, larger sensors, extensive battery life, highly customizable, and many offer HDTV quality video.  Keep in mind that these DSLR advantages may only be relevant at this moment in time… I know for a fact that many of the items I’ve listed in the advantages list are things that are being worked on by the mirrorless camera engineers as we speak. I’m sure in a year or two mirrorless cameras will pretty much hold their own against DSLRs.

But why???

You may have asked yourself why I’ve written this post and my point here is simply to say that its OK to stop and take a look at your equipment and ask yourself if it’s really working for you – if you aren’t carrying it with you then it’s not working. Technology changes so quickly these days you may not even be aware of the options available to you. As a mother, my favorite thing to photograph is my child and if I don’t have my camera with me then what’s the point. Now I have a stunning camera that I can keep in my purse and am not burdened by its huge size and weight but also know that I can count on amazing quality every time. I’m looking forward to many more fabulous photographs in my future.

By the way, I’m not affiliated with or get any money from Olympus to talk about this camera… I just love it.

Here are some of my first test shots from the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Below is a cropped close-ups of the moss photo so you can see the great sharpness and detail that this camera and lens can capture.

Olympus OMD E-M1 test photos

Olympus OMD E-M1 test photos

 

Detail closeup of moss photo

Detail closeup of moss photo

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