I love beauty products so much, like I would marry them if I could.  I started off my once illustrious career in PR/Branding in the cosmetic industry so I know the ins & outs and can speak of quality products with authority (I also am a beauty big mouth so let me have at it).  Above is my new beauty/make-up regime, these are the products I have been using everyday so I won’t scare my husband or the neighbors–it has been working.  I recently ran out of my Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, it’s pretty spendy so I thought I would try a drugstore option that has been getting rave reviews–Garnier BB Cream. I have mentioned BB creams prior (I am a fan), I liked the Smashbox offering but I am in between shades right now so its been benched for the season. My skin is dry, so if you have oily skin this BB cream may not be for you,  it has a very emollient texture, in fact I put it on in the morning without putting on any other moisturizer. BB Creams are different from a foundation or a tinted moisturizer (sort of in between in texture/consistency) so getting the feel for how much to apply may be a bit tricky at first, use a light hand and build. I am using the Light/Medium, it looks much darker right out of the tube (the very large tube), but it’s deceiving, it matches my skin quite well. It’s sheer but has good coverage. I have been using the Neutrogena Night Retinol cream and have been having good results with it lightening the hyper-pigmentation on my cheeks, I don’t think I would have been able to get away without concealer if this was a couple months prior, but today I am happy to say I just use the BB Cream (great because I have been both lazy & busy). Like a regular moisturizer you are going to want the product to ‘set’ before applying the rest of your make-up. I usually put it on and then make my coffee and come back to finish the rest. I have been foregoing the mascara–shocker and just curling my lashes, it’s easy and makes me look more awake than I feel. I think most women could use a little blush, it’s the easiest way to get an ‘insta-pretty’ look, it’s also the most wrongly applied cosmetic or the one one that women skip all together, gah!  My motto?  ‘No one blushes mauve’ so stay away from colors that look dusty, browny pink, they aren’t usually flattering. Tarte makes the best sheer cheek stains that will make you look like you have naturally rosy cheeks (this product will last you forever too). The best way that I have found to apply is with a brush. I learned that trick after seeing this gorgeous make-over and this video, I couldn’t replicate her results with that type of brush but was able to do so with the foundation brush shown above.  With the brush you get sheer, luminous natural looking rosy cheeks. Lastly I swipe Burt’s Bee’s Honeysuckle over my lips, it’s a sheer nude lip tint, it feels nice and moisturizing without the stickiness of a gloss or lipstick. Altogether I take about 4 minutes tops (maybe) to look natural and like myself but without scaring anyone. If you have any questions ask them in the comments I am happy to answer them!


I don’t usually get the pleasure of seeing where the stamps I make end up.  I assume they all go to good homes and are kept clean, happy and are honored to be of service to their new owners.  So, when I do get an email that proudly displays their new addition in its new habitat I am immensely proud like any Mama would be. Juley is the owner/brainchild behind the newly launched MCRN Bar, “an online, subscriptions-only baking company that delivers monthly Southern-inspired French macarons”. Is that genius or what?  I think it’s a sweet idea indeed.  I love the packaging and I am sure the macarons are every bit as delicious as they look, perfect timing to launch in time for holiday! Macrons seem to be the Blogista’s dessert of choice so I am sure we will be seeing MCRN Bar all over the blogosphere soon; I will be delighted to know that Juley’s new stamp will be working hard behind the scenes to ensure that her packages look that much prettier. Congrats + Big Thanks to Juley!

Okay, so what have I got baked up for you today?  I think you should have your own custom stamp with your own artwork on it, don’t you?  Yes, I do believe that would be a grand idea!  To enter to win let me know if you won this prize what you would want your stamp to look like, what would you be putting on it? And why?  Would it be a logo? A Bookplate? Return address? Your childs artwork?  Your artwork? A fave quote?  Leave a comment below or re-pin, tweet, FB Like (or whatever it is FB’ers do).  I am going to make you work hard for this one as I need to get you in ‘shape’ for the next giveaway (a big one).  This prize is (as always) open worldwide, good luck!  I will announce the winner next Monday, December 17, 2012.

P.S. And the Winners are… Last week’s winner is: Lois (she sent me a photo of what she wanted to do, now that’s motivation). And because I can never make up my mind I am going to give prizes of the flags to Michaela, MellieMel, and so you don’t think I am just picking people with ‘M’ names, Susan Hwang. Thank you all for playing!


I usually don’t like to post a d.i.y. that I didn’t create myself, but this one by Angela Ligouri (if you haven’t seen it) is so simple + beautiful that I felt it warranted some attention.  This would be a perfect project for a gift (if you are stumped or stressed), it doesn’t take a long time and most of the supplies are readily available at your local art store.  I always give gifts of photographs to people that are hard to shop for or have ‘everything’ already.  I take photos over the year and get massive complaints of never seeing the images and then I gift them on special occasions.  I don’t like to frame, because I think that interior design decisions are best left to the individual, it’s so personal and I would hate to get it wrong, but an album is a great way for the recipient to re-live the experience.  I love to see the wistful expressions that emerge, when they flip through the photos (a.k.a. memories).  It’s such a thoughtful gift and if you make the album as well? Not only would it be that much more special, it will also keep you on a budget.  On Angela’s album she featured some of her vintage stamps, but I do think the addition of (shameless plug here) a custom postmark stamp would be a nice touch too. This is a beautiful and easy project (Angela Ligouri herself assured me).  You can find it in the latest issue of Martha Stewart and can also find it on the Craft’s Dept. blog.  Have fun!

Below I made a little list with links so it’s easy for you to find the supplies for the project.


Paper for the inside
Cutter or
Sharp Craft Knife (for cutting the sheets)
Waxed thread
Bone Folder
Glue Stick


Vintage Postage Stamps 
Postmark Stamp


I love this piece by Illustrator Amy Borrell, the palette is exquisite but it’s the lettering that had me at hello.  Look at that ‘B’, it’s so cheerful and floaty, like a champagne bubble of ‘B’s.  It’s apparent that she is loaded with both talent and keen wit and I think you should leave me now to pay her portfolio a visit as it will delight your eyeballs to no end. Visit Amy’s site Cake with Giants or buy some of her amazing prints at her shop with the same sweet name!


I have had a tidal wave of desperate emails recently that I wish I could answer one-by-one, but my time is limited at the moment because of holiday madness/goodness.  The pleas are about shooting products or images for their shops or blogs when the days are shorter and darker.  How? And please help are the cries.  I asked my co-professor Michelle P. if I could re-print this tutorial that we featured in our Food + Foto class, I hope this helps, let me know if you have any questions! And for the record all the recent D.I.Y. photos on the blog have been shot in the middle of the night!
I know a lot of you have asked about shooting at night and have been afraid of not having available light when you finally have a free moment to shoot. I am hoping this little behind the scenes opens a new shooting-op for you!  I used to be a natural light snob, but then I got a job where I worked from sun up to sun down (and then some). If I wanted to shoot (and I really, really did) I had to change this natural light only thought process and just embrace ‘light’ in all its many facets. That is why I saved up some extra dough and bought myself the Lowel Ego light set.  I did buy the set with two lights, but ended up giving one away (I still regret that decision).  This little light is perfect for tabletop photography and allows me to get beautiful natural looking light at any time of day. The samples below were shot in a complete black room, at night with only the above set up. The reflector set up above is not so much to add light to my set but to be able to manipulate the light within it.  I use the reflector to move where my highlight will be more pronounced or to cut down on a glare, etc.
50mm | f/ 4.5 | 1/160 | iso 400. Below in the first photograph you can see that my iso was set at 400, not too high and my aperture was not open too wide so I could ensure detail. Would you believe this was shot in the middle of the night?

Below silverware: 50mm | f/ 4 | 1/250 | iso 400. I wanted to show that with this set-up you can manipulate the light to increase the detail on your subject just by moving your reflector at different angles. This takes practice and I feel is just a creative decision so use this tip if you like, don’t if it stresses you out.

Below teacup: 50mm | f/10 | 1/60 | iso 800.  Here I wanted to show you that even in a blackened room with a dark subject + a dark background, very small aperture that with the Lowel Ego light you could get beautiful natural light results.

I hope that this post opens up more shooting options for you and you aren’t a slave to the notion of only shooting in optimal lighting conditions during only certain times of the day. In my my photographic journey I have learned to embrace all sorts of lighting conditions and really enjoy the challenge of shooting in light that I would formerly not have looked at prior. Light from the television or a computer screen? Yes, I will use it to my advantage if I think I can get a certain mood/tone from that image. I think the goal for me is to feel confident that I can shoot in any light and not ever lose a memory that I want to capture + keep.

P.S. If you shoot with your Iphone/Cameraphone the Ego lights (or whatever light set-up you choose) are really helpful since most of those types of cameras have a hard time with lowlight situations and introduce a lot of noise or blur if there isn’t enough light in the room.