My 5 Favorite Creative Resources Online

mastering-mobile-photographyToday I’m spilling the beans on five of my favorite creative resources available online! Hopefully they’ll come in handy and become some of your favorites too!

1. Mastering Mobile Photography / 11 Tips to Better Phone Photos — Artifact Uprising
•  If you’ve ever enviously wondered “how did they manage to do that with a phone camera,” then you’re going to love this incredibly informative article. My favorite tips: Create Blur on Purpose and Master the Movement

ywft-awesome-fonts-and-stock-art2. You Work for Them  | fonts and stock art / featured font: YWFT Belle
•  Most font shops online offer your standard run of the mill options, but You Work for Them is one of my favorites for finding unique choices. The only problem is that I can never choose just one font to buy…they are all so good!

stocksy-stock-photography-source3. Stocksy | stock photography / image by Melanie Defazio
•  The first thing that I can think of to say about Stocksy is: “finally stock photography that doesn’t suck!” Really! You have to see for yourself to know what I’m talking about. If you ever have a project calling for an extraordinary image, but you’re not able to take that photo yourself…be sure to check these guys out.

creative-market-fonts-and-more4. Creative Market | Handcrafted fonts, themes, graphics, and digital resources / image by Decade Type Foundry
•  I enjoy keeping an eye on this site and all the creative content that their community is coming up with. The price for credits to use towards purchases on the site is fairly reasonable too.

skillshare-online-classes5. Skillshare | Creative Online Classes
•  I’ve talked about my admiration for the creative online classroom Skillshare before…and my love has not faded since. I am always signing up for new classes to take over there when I have a spare moment. In fact, that’s one of the best things about Skillshare. You select the classes that interest you, take them whenever it works into your schedule, and learn at your own pace! If only all schools worked that way!

Wandering

wandering-7311My mother has an incredible green thumb. She could plant an oasis in the middle of the Sahara Desert with her eyes closed. Sadly, the same can not be said about me…but it’s not for want of trying. My latest plant project is this gorgeous purple/green gem that my daughter and I found in our local hardware store. I had no idea what it was even called, until a few helpful plant identifiers came to the rescue over on Instagram. Apparent “Lila” (that’s our plant’s name) is a Wandering Jew, and is supposedly “fairly easy to care for.”

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Lila reminds me of the sort of hanging plants that my mom filled our home with when I was small. The kind that can sprout new plants after you soak their clippings in water (we always had jars full of rooting plant stems on our windowsills when I was little), so I’m going to clip a few and see what happens. If nothing else, I can enjoy the nostalgia that I’ll feel every time I see them on my countertop.

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I hesitate to be overly-optimistic, but Lila’s lasted almost two whole weeks and still looks great! This might be a new record for me! Fingers crossed (especially for her sake) that my cursed brown thumb is turning a mottled green. Time will tell.

In the meantime, if you’ve been gifted with the ability to keep plants alive, I’d love any suggestions that you might have on helping this one thrive. She currently resides near a window with filtered/indirect sun, and I’m watering her once a week. Does that sound right?

Making: Gluten-Free Granola

gluten-free-granolaI’m going to blame this all on the Caramelized Peaches + Cream with Toasted Crumble that I shared a couple of weeks ago. Because after gobbling up the extra crumble topping with a dash of milk, I became obsessed with the idea of making homemade granola. Yes, the recipe I’ve been making is a bit like a dessert topping, but slightly less sweet…which is what I use to comfort myself as I scarf down bowl after bowl of it. No, I’m not eating dessert for breakfast…it has milk!

In any case, the basic recipe below is quick and easy to make, hearty, and delicious…and I love how simple it is to customize with different ingredients. Feel free to adapt it to your heart’s content. Some potential add-ins you might try could include:

  • Dried fruit | raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit
  • Nuts | I recommend toasting them before adding them to your granola
  • Seeds | sunflower, pumpkin, etc.
  • Flavored extracts | vanilla, coconut, almond, hazelnut, etc. (be sure to check that they are gluten-free)
  • Spices | cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.
  • Zest | orange, lemon, or lime
  • Alternative sweeteners | Maple syrup, honey, agave, etc.

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Gluten-Free Granola Recipe

Loosely adapted from How Sweet Eats
Makes approximately 4 Cups of granola

Ingredients:
2 Cups rolled oats (gluten-free)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 Cup packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup honey roasted almonds (we buy ours from Trader Joe’s)
1/4 Cup toasted sweetened coconut
5 dried apricots, chopped
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract

Prep:
▪ Place sweetened coconut in a pan over medium heat and stir regularly until toasted. Remove from heat.
▪ Chop dried apricots and set aside
▪ Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside

Instructions:
1. Melt butter in the bottom of a large saucepan, over medium heat
2. Add in oats and stir until thoroughly mixed
3. Allow oats to cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly
4. Add in brown sugar, and stir thoroughly
5. Allow oats and sugar to cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly
6. Stir in coconut extract and turn heat off
7. Mix in almonds, toasted coconut, and apricots
8. Pour granola onto your prepared baking sheet to cool
9. Once fully cooled, serve and enjoy!

Store granola in an air-tight container

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I’d love to hear what creative adaptations you come up with it you make a batch! xo

Oh Cats!

we-cant-have-nice-thingsSo this is what our couch looks like (both arms)! I don’t even know what to say!

catch-scratch-couchSeriously though…I could use your help! Do any of you know of any great ways to keep a cat from mangling the furniture at every possible moment? We trim her nails regularly, play with her often, and have scratch pads and posts galore (which she does use). We’ve tried repellent sprays, and even aluminum foil at one point (that was a cute look), but despite our best efforts, every day our couch is steadily being shredded into ribbons. Buying a kevlar couch isn’t really an option…so if you know of a solution (no declawing), I’d love to hear your suggestions! Thanks in advance!

Tried + True: Homemade Salt Water Taffy

tried-and-true-salt-water-taffy-2If playing with a wad of hot sticky bubblegum for 15 minutes sounds like fun, then have I got the project for you today! I’m kidding…kind of.

This past Saturday my daughter and I decided to try to make salt water taffy for the first time. I read through a bunch of recipes online, and one thing became immediately clear; making taffy is hard work and sticky…very very sticky! But I wasn’t going to be so easily scared off. I finally settled on a recipe (which we then adapted) from Cupcake Project. I chose her recipe, because she did a great job photographing the steps, I like the fact that her recipe calls for a lower final temperature (since I read on several blogs that their taffy turned out far too hard after using a higher final temperature), and lastly, because she said that the whole project could be done in an hour. That’s my kind of recipe!

For our adaptation, we used 1/2 teaspoon raspberry flavoring (we found it at Michael’s craft store) and 4 drops of blue food coloring; instead of the vanilla bean paste and candy sprinkles in her version. Once cooked to the correct temperature, we patiently waited for the candy to cool just enough so that we wouldn’t scald ourselves (we couldn’t stand to wait any longer than that), we then buttered our hands up, split the candy in two, and each started to taffy pull.

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Right away I had problems with the taffy staying together. I think I might have had too much butter on my hands. But then when the butter wore off of my fingers the taffy stuck to my skin…and I mean really truly stuck to them. It was nearly impossible to remove. For some reason my daughter didn’t have the same issue. While I was getting frustrated with my portion, and in a near panic trying to remove the glob of candy from my fingers without losing a layer of skin, she was quickly turning her piece into a beautiful bit of candy magic.

In the end we determined that my hands were much warmer than hers, and this might have been the cause of the overly sticky situation. At one point I started working with my hands over the air conditioning vent, and that seemed to help quite a bit. Unfortunately my arthritic joints eventually gave out, so my daughter stepped in and finished pulling the rest of mine for me, while I wrapped the cut pieces of taffy in parchment paper.

tried-and-true-salt-water-taffy-3They say that all is well that ends well, and in this case that is most definitely true! Even though my particular batch was stubborn, my daughter managed to salvage it, and we had a great memory making experience. Oh…and the finished candy turned out deliciously too! A winner in my book! Find the original recipe we used right here. Just prepare yourself ahead of time for a thorough arm workout!

Photos taken with iPhone 5c