Favorite Posts of 2015

2015 has been crazy jam packed. I seriously outdid myself and I'm very happy with the progress I've made as a blogger, professionally, and most importantly as a mom and wife.

This time last year I was on mat leave with my 6 month old, just starting to introduce solid foods, still breastfeeding while trying to potty train a 2.5 year old. I still had no idea where I wanted to go with my blog and I was worried about going back to a job where I didn't feel valued or appreciated.

Since then, I've returned to work to a new team that I love and respect, had to get readjusted and organized with a new full time work schedule with kids (I miss them so much all the time it's hard for my little heart!), I've also dealt with loss, weaned off breastfeeding and finally took the first step in turning my blog into a business by creating this styled photography course for bloggers and creatives (which is on pre-sale right now, launching Feb 1st!).

Now for the fun part! Let's have a look at some of the most popular posts of 2015 and some of my own favorites (you can also check out my most popular posts of 2014 here).

Super cute animal head planter.

DIY: Clay Animal Head Succulent Planter

Isn't this planter the cutest thing you've ever seen? I've been playing around with a whole bunch of different mediums this year and plan to keep experimenting this year too: felt, clay, watercolor, hand lettering, crochet, sewing... there's just so much to do and so little time to do it all in! This planter was definitely my most favorite project of 2015 and I plan on sharing more adorable little things like this with you in the near future!

Hand lettering, the easy way.

How to do hand lettering, the easy way

Hand lettering has been reborn this year it seems. It's become this new "cool thing" everyone must try. I'm definitely having fun with it (I even made a quick tutorial and video of my process for you!), and now that I know how to digitalize my creations, I plan on selling some of my hand made prints as downloads. I'm super excited about this new venture, but first, I need to finish launching my blog photography course.

Must have photography kit for bloggers.

Must-Have Photography Kit for Bloggers

I've had a lot of questions about the gear I use and how I take my blog photos over the years so I've started sharing some tips and tricks on blog and small biz photography. If there's any question you'd like me to address leave a comment below, you can also check out this free photography course I made just for you guys!

6 simple ways to get serious about blogging.

6 Simple Ways to Get Serious About Blogging

This post was pretty much a hint as to where I'm heading in 2016. I really want to get serious about my blog. What do I mean by that? I want to create a live and thriving community, I want to make more friends and a strong support system. I also want to make more money from my passion (because, hey, who doesn't?). I have so many things planned, like info products, worksheets, guides, free stock photos and a whole bunch of other things, maybe even physical products! Are you ready to get serious with your blog? Is there anything you'd like me to share with you?

Refreshing summer drink sweet coconut lemonade.

Sweet Coconut Lemonade

This drink was one of my summer favorites. Coconut and lemon sounds weird doesn't it? Strangely though, it's crazy delicious. If you haven't tried it already, I dare you too. Try it! I want to know what you think. This drink is packed with nutrients, vitamins and essential minerals. It's an awesome thirst quencher and energy drink too!

Apple upside-down egg free cake recipe.

Apple upside-down egg free cake recipe

In 2014 we started an apple picking tradition and I really wanted to keep that going in 2015. It makes for an awesome day of picking apples, eating fresh corn at the farm, riding tractors and baking yummy apple pies. This year I wanted to mix things up so I also made tons of apple puree and this delicious (and now famous) apple upside-down cake with NO eggs (for those with egg allergies like my son!).

Halloween sugar skull candy bowl.

DIY: Sugar skull candy bowl

Since I got a lot of comments on my Halloween apothecary in 2014. I wanted to do something super cute and original again in 2015 so when I saw this boring skull at the craft store, I was like BOOM! found my idea! The previous year I had dressed up as a "day of the dead" sugar skull girl and I loved it so much I wanted to recreate it as a decor item; which ended up serving as a candy bowl. Don't you just love when things have 2 purposes?

Easter egg hunt game.

The ultimate Easter egg hunt

This year, my oldest turned 3 and it's been so much fun creating new games and activities during the holidays. When Easter came around, I knew I wanted to do a chocolate hunt, but I didn't want to just do the hide and seek game, I wanted something a bit more involved. So I created this ultimate Easter egg hunt. It's super fun, there's eggs just like that, there's plastic eggs with nothing in them, and there's eggs with little notes in them. So much more interesting, especially when there's older kids around (ahem *cough* adults).

12 easy steps to a tantrum free home (toddler edition).

12 easy steps to a tantrum free home (toddler edition)

In my role as a mother, I've noticed that I have quite an nontraditional approach to motherhood and parenting. Both my pregnancies and deliveries were completely natural and unmedicated, I exclusively breastfed both of my babies and made all of their purees at home, and I adopt a positive parenting attitude (read: punishment, consequences and privileges do not exist in my world). I really want to share more of my journey because I truly believe there is no reason to be so harsh with children, or to be scared about all the choices and responsibilities that come with being a mother. 12 easy steps to a tantrum free home is one article of many more to come about how to guide children positively through life.

A guide to recognizing food allergies for moms.

A guide to recognizing food allergies for moms

Lastly, since my egg free vanilla cupcake recipe is so popular (like, it has literally gone viral - it's the post that brings the most traffic to this blog), I decided to add an egg allergy guide download to my post and see how many people are actually interested in that... and you know what? I get so many downloads every day! So much that I actually think it would be profitable to write an ebook or a course. Would that be something you'd like to see? In the meantime though, you can check out my guide to recognizing food allergies for moms.

So that's about it. Those are the most popular posts of 2015 with some of my favorites sprinkled in. Which one is your favorite?

6 Reasons Why Your Blog and Business Needs Quality Photos

6 reasons why your blog and business needs quality photos + 12 free stock photos. Click through to read.

Quality photos are a must for your blog and brand.

How many times have you landed on a website, blog or business, and clicked away a few seconds after the page loaded? What made you click away?

For me, it's usually visuals; pictures, colors, and design.

Unless I already know and respect the blogger or brand, I will rarely waste my valuable time if the content isn't well presented. If you don't have time to invest in me, then I don't have time to invest in you.

I will usually click away if:

  • photos are under or over exposed.

  • photos are tiny (or random sizes) and not justified with your text.

  • photos don't speak to me, as in; "eat me" or "buy me" or "make me".

  • photos don't follow a consistent theme or design.

  • photos are blurry.

These are a few examples, but you get the idea

Hello, World!

Photos convert a passerby into a reader and a potential customer into a buyer. It's your best chance to stand out in an overly saturated online world.

Here are a few examples of gorgeous photography:

Tell me you're not converted.

Have you ever made an impulsive online purchase because the item looked so damn good in the pictures?

Or maybe you cancelled an order because the quality of the images on the site were so bad it made you feel like it was a scam.

Let me make this clear:

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

It sucks, but it's true.

In every aspect of our life and even more so online.

6 reasons why your blog and business needs quality photos.

If I haven't convinced you already, here are 6 reasons why your blog and creative business needs attractive photos.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.

Look at the first few pictures on your website right now. What feeling or words come to mind? Is that what you want your reader or customer to feel or think?

Let's be clear here, content is obviously very important; no words = no bueno. People don't come to your website for pretty pictures. They obviously come for content, or a product description.... but they'll never get to your amazing work until they go through that initial picture or graphic. 


You Only Have 7 Seconds to Make a First Impression.

Did you know that? Crazy right? So if content is the only important thing, how do you expect to make that 7 seconds cut? You better have some crazy first sentence!

Having quality pictures helps; A LOT. Sure, if you have no content, you won't retain readers or buyers after the 7 second mark, but if you can't keep them there long enough to read your content, then what's the point?


Pictures Make your Content and Product Shareable.

Um, hello. If you have no pictures (or none of quality) then how do you expect raving fans to share your awesome content?

Sure, there's twitter, but aren't we all more likely to click if it comes with a super enticing picture ? ... and think of the power of Pinterest! You're totally missing out.


Quality Pictures make you Stand Out.

If you're using stock photos that everyone else is using, then you're just another blogger.

Buuuuut, if you take the time to gather props that match your brand, and to style unique photos with items you love and use, then it becomes unique! It becomes YOUR brand.

People will start to recognize it through the way you style, shoot and edit your images. When they see your work on other platforms, they're more likely to click and return to your site because you've built trust...which brings me to #5.   


It Builds Trust with your Readers.

Let's be honest here, a brand looks way more legit when the photos look professional.

If you take the time and plan each one of your photos (or get them professionally made), new readers (and returning fans) are more likely to trust that you are an expert in what you do.

If your work looks like you just grabbed your camera and snapped some blurry photos without even trying, it's kind of a turnoff and makes your brand look very amateur.

Don't get me wrong, everyone loves seeing behind the scenes shots, and real videos of you, especially when trust is concerned, but when it comes to your regular content, you need to put in some effort because first impressions matter (see #2!).


Quality Pictures will Increase Engagement on your Blog and with our Brand.

This one point alone pretty much sums up all the rest. People are much more likely to engage when beautiful, high quality visuals like pictures are involved.

Readers or customers will stick around and browse for your site for longer, they're more likely to buy, more likely to share, more likely to ask questions, more likely to believe you're an expert, and more likely to return!

If you need some help getting started with photography, you can check out my must-have photography kit for bloggers and you can download my 12 free stock photos below. Stay tuned for more!

What's your opinion on pictures on a blog or website? Does it affect how you interact with the brand? I'd love to know! Comment below to share your thoughts with me.

Must-Have Photography Kit for Bloggers

Must have photography kit for bloggers and free stock photos. Click to read!

Photography is a deal breaker.

It either wows your visitors and turns them into raving and adoring fans, or, it scares them away, never to return.

Think about it, how often have you stumbled across a random blog with tiny pictures with bad lighting and immediately clicked away?

It's happened to me more than once!

On the other hand, there are many times when I've stumbled across blogs with a very simple design and little content but ended up bookmarking and returning simply because their photos were just so amazing.

Taking the time to create beautiful photos
for your blog or business
makes you stand out from the crowd.

It takes you from amateur to expert in the eyes of your readers.

I've come a long way in terms of photography since I first started my blog, and I really want to share my experience and secrets with all of you.

So today, I'm going to show you how to build your very own photography kit with some peaks at my creative process! Don't worry, there's more to come and I'll get into a lot more detail later on.

I've even been working behind the scenes on something very special which I know for a fact, will be a game changer for a lot of you; my very first e-course, Picture Perfect, a photography course for bloggers!

I'm seriously excited about it. It's going to be jam packed with super actionable content. In the mean time, I made some free stock photos for you guys. Enjoy!

Now that we've gotten that out in the open, let's make you a photography kit!

Free blogging photography kit. All the equipment you need.

My must-have photography kit for bloggers:

  • Camera. This can be anything from your phone's built-in camera, to a point-and-shoot or a DSLR. My suggestion is to start with what you already have and experiment with lighting and composition before making a big investment. I personally started with a cheap point and shoot and now, I use the Canon Rebel t5i most of the time. When I need something more practical, I'll whip out my iPhone.

  • Desk or table. You have to place your subject somewhere! :) The floor is cool too if that's how you roll.

  • Backdrops. A backdrop is something you put behind (or sometimes under) your subject in order to add interest to the picture (or in my case, to hide that mess in the background). You can use pretty much anything: a bed sheet, curtains, a magazine, a colorful board, faux fur... the list goes on. My all time favorites are DIY which I will be sharing with you soon!

  • Props. This is by far my favorite part about blog photography. Props are anything you can use to make your picture prettier. You can buy things if you like, but I usually just search my home for little items I can use. Things like my favorite notebook, a cute pencils, my go-to nail polish, or even the jewelry I'm wearing that day often make it on the list. It's a good idea to be consistent and stay true to your brand in terms of colors and related items. If you're a mechanics blogger, you wouldn't put nail polish in your photos now would you? Have fun with it and experiment!

  • External Hard Drive. This is practically a go-to for your life. If you told me you didn't have one, I probably wouldn't believe you. I use this hard drive and love it. I keep a backup of everything from blog pictures to important personal documents on 2 different drives! I strongly suggest you do the same. You can never have too many backups.

Photography kit for bloggers, 18-55mm lens, canon rebel t3i, notebook and remote. Click through to read!

My nice-to-have photography kit for bloggers:

  • Artificial lighting.Natural light is the bomb. The end. But, if you're like me, and you don't have access to day light, like, ever, then artificial lighting is your new best friend. There are a lot of options, even some DIYs, but my current favorite are my umbrella lights. They're surprisingly super affordable so you have no excuse to have poorly lit photos! You could also invest in a ring light (especially if you're filming videos - there's even a ring light for iPhones - that's a mini photography kit in your pocket, wooo!) or a soft box. All are awesome options.

  • Lenses. Although there are lenses available for smart phones, and they do help take better pictures, like this XXXX for example, I don't own one and take pretty enough pictures without. Where I did decide to invest though, was in a prime lens for my DSLR. I use the 50mm f1.4 (there's the 50mm f1.8 which is also very good and a lot cheaper).

  • Tripod. I don't use my tripod a lot, but they're handy to have if you want to take a picture of yourself or if you're in a very low light situation with no artificial lighting and you want to set the shutter speed on slow mode. They're also fun to have for photo booth sessions at parties! Woot!

  • Remote. A remote is good to have if you're taking styled shots and you don't want to walk back and forth to your camera after moving a prop half an inch in your frame. You'll save a lot of time and frustration. Plus, you can use it for taking selfies and group pictures that include you. ;)

  • Reflectors. I don't have any yet, but this will be my next purchase. They're used to reflect light on the shaded side of your subject to balance the lighting. These reflectors are perfect because they're collapsible!

  • Photo editing software. Technically, if your photos come out perfect from your shoot, you don't need to edit them, but it's always nice to have the option, especially when you can use free ones like My go-to software is Photoshop which I bought a while back. Nowadays you can get if for a $10/month subscription.

Must have photography kit for bloggers and creative entrepreneurs.

When I first started connecting with other, more experienced bloggers, I always wondered why their pictures looked so nice. What I didn't know was that it's all an illusion, a setup if you will.

Professional bloggers actually plan and style their photos.  

It doesn't happen by accident, and it's not because their project and office are super cute and organized (although it could be). Even those pictures of yummy food with a mess of chocolate chips and flour... it's an illusion, the mess was totally planned.

Are you interested in more photography related articles?
What would you like to know?

I've been working on a photography e-course and I'm curious to know what you guys are having trouble with when it comes to taking pictures for your website or your family. Is there anything you'd like me to address?