Friday Links- Happy Halloween!!

Ok, I am not gonna lie, I, in no way need an address book.  These days I have it in a file on my computer or I text whoever I am sending a letter to right before I send it for the address 411.  But, Kate Spade's address book has me flipping swooning and making excuses why it would be necessary...

Gold nail art to blow your mind!

Anyone ever try facial water spray?    It is so dry in AZ, I feel like I need it! Plus, this one is pink.

I want an apple farm picnic!

It is not very pink, do you think my husband will mind it in our bedroom?

This week on A Bubbly Life:  Sharing a little history of my life as an Army wife & a charity supporting our troops!   
Cinnamon Roll Spiked Apple Cider Cocktail
Photoshop Elements 14 GIVEAWAY & My 5 Most Used Photo Editing Tools!

Hope you guys have an AWESOME Halloween!  5 minute DIY for Halloween- Make a champagne ice bucket out of a 99cent pumpkin!

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My 5 Most Used Photo Editing Tools

(P.S. There is another chance this month to win a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 at the end of post)  

Pretty much all my photography requires editing to improve the quality of the photo.  Thankfully, editing is relatively simple- I use Adobe Photoshop Elements for all my photo editing and have for over 3 years now.  Photoshop Elements includes a large range of tools to improve your photos- but I have 5 tools that I use on nearly all my photos that I am sharing so that anyone can improve their photography with some easy steps using Adobe Photoshop Elements!

My first tip is a bonus tip- before sitting down to edit your photos- CLEAN YOUR SCREEN!  Has anyone else ever spent time trying to get rid of a smudge only to realize it is on your screen and not on the photo?  (shamefully, I raise my hand…) A close friend is a professional photographer who I bug all the time with questions about lighting (Thank you Liora, you are awesome) and she says these screen smudges get to her too, so I do not feel AS ashamed ;)

Ok, now that we have wiped clean our screen and can see our unedited image, let’s get started on what we do to improve the photo:  (Note: the only editing on this photo below is I reduced image size to fit the blog)

1) Crop.  My first go-to action is to crop the photo.  I only want to continue to edit the part of the photo I want actually used, so cropping is first.

I crop for a variety of reasons- sometimes I didn't get quite the angle I wanted and crop to make that possible.  I crop out kid hands that sneak into a shot and I also crop out me! I sometimes do overhead shots without a tripod and stand on a chair.  And this is what I need to crop out in the photo above- feet and food are not an appealing combo...

Adobe Photoshop Elements offers crop suggestions when you click on crop.  These are very helpful.  In this case, I did not use the suggested crop and cropped myself.  Click crop button tool and select the green checkmark when done or press Enter.


2) Now that I have the image cropped to size, I go into Brightness & Contrast.  From the top bar menu choose- Enhance- Adjust Lighting- Brightness & Contrast.  I did not need a ton of new light here, so I just added a bit more brightness.  I tend to keep my shots very light on A Bubbly Life and it is rare that I do not brighten up the photo with some help from Photoshop Elements.


3) Spot Healing Brush.  Do you see how in my crop there was just a little space left over where you can see the table ending?  I do not want that showing.  A quick brush over with the spot removal tool and it now matches the white tablecloth.  I also noticed a tiny red dot (from the cherry in the cocktail) on the lime.  Ok, this is a really tiny red dot and you may not have noticed it, but I did and it drove me crazy. Spot removal tool and it is gone!  

I do not have to use the spot healing brush for every photo but it is such a great option to remove spots from a photo.  When I do cocktail shoots like this one, I sometimes spill the cocktail a bit on the tablecloth (not because I drank any, I am just clumsy;  I only get to enjoy the cocktail when shoot is over!)  Spot removal gets rid of it instantly.  I remember when I discovered this tool- not to be dramatic or anything-  but it was life changing.

To use, select  the bandaid icon and choose your brush size, I usually keep it somewhat small to give more control (the red dot was very tiny & I used a very tiny brush pixel size of 6 for it, you usually need bigger).  


4) Sharpen tool.  You can choose Auto Sharpen in Adobe Photoshop Elements under the Enhance Dropdown Menu.  When you choose auto sharpen, Photoshop Elements will sharpen the entire photo based on where the software thinks it is needed.  For this photo, I did not do an auto sharpen and used the tool.  As a rule of thumb, I like to use the sharpen tool whenever citrus is involved.  It makes it look juicier to me :)

Before sharpening:


After sharpening:


5) Dodge Tool. I thought I was done with the photo, but looking at it again, I did not like all the shadows.  I think it gives it a cool effect but there were too many on top for my liking.  Brightness would brighten the entire photo and not just a selected area- so this is where the Dodge tool comes in.  Run the dodge tool over the areas you wish to lighten.


Final Shot:


And a reminder:beforeandaftereditingshot_edited-1.jpg
What a difference editing makes!  

Now that the photo is all done, I can easily share it with Photoshop Elements 14, I just click Share & choose where I want it to go!  When it comes to my kid’s photos, I am all over that Facebook share button, makes it SO much easier to show off my kids!


Do you need a cocktail after all that info?  Try the coconut cherry lime vodka cocktail pictured! (with many more photos for your enjoyment ;)

Any questions?  Please let me know in comments or feel free to email me!

I am a Photoshop Elements 14 Brand Ambassador, all thoughts and opinions are my own.  Thank you for supporting brands that keep A Bubbly Life going!

Win a Copy of Photoshop Elements 14!

Spiked Cinnamon Roll Apple Cider Cocktail Recipe

When the cold weather hits (which in Arizona is when it hits 78) I crave warm apple cider.  I just love it!  We make it every year and occasionally spike it. And by occasionally I mean all the time. After trying a few variations, my husband chose this version as his favorite.  Also, this is ridiculously easy to make.

Spiced Apple Cider (we like Trader Joe's) or you can make your own- just be sure to use REAL apple cider not from concentrate
Cinnamon Roll Cinnabon Pinnacle Vodka*

*Also, I want to clarify this is not sponsored, the Cinnabon Pinnacle Vodka was our favorite to spike the cider with and it happens to be a very specific brand.  We tried cinnamon and caramel liqueurs, but who does not love a warm cinnamon bun? It was a match made in cold weather heaven.  

Warm up your spiced apple cider on the stovetop and keep on simmer.  Pour yourself a cup and add half a shot to a shot of cinnamon roll vodka.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick and apple slice.  Be careful of poking your eye out with the cinnamon stick if you have too many of these.


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Comforts From Home- A Way to Support Our Troops!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Marie Callender's. The opinions and text are all mine.

We all know any charity that supports the troops is near & dear to my heart!  And, I have an amazing collaboration to share with you today. Marie Callender's asked me to help spread awareness of their cause- Comforts From Home- a project that helps bring a touch of home to our troops.  My husband has been out of the Army for approximately 4 years now, and after 8 years as an Army wife, I realize the importance of sending our troops a touch of home while they are away from their loved ones.

The care packages I sent my husband when he was abroad were filled with photos, his favorite tea (pumpkin spiced!) and all his favorite snacks- anything to remind him of the comfort of home.  When we lived in hotels, I insisted on flowers and candles.  Even in a small hotel glass, the flowers were a beautiful touch of home. Every new place we moved (and there were LOTS of moves) the first thing I did was hang photos of us.

Home is where my heart is, my girls, my husband, a cozy night snuggled with tea (or a glass of red) and candles everywhere (I love candles)

There are a couple ways YOU can help bring the Comforts From Home to our troops with Marie's!

What is home to you?  Maybe it is a favorite recipe or a cozy blanket?  What makes you think of the comforts of home?

- Upload a photo to their Facebook page with the tag #comfortsfromhome and show them what home means to you!  For every photo $1 will go to the USO. Your photo could appear on Kitchen Crashers on the DIYNetwork & HGTV, American Heroes on Travel Channel or Guy's Grocery Games on Food Network & Cooking Channel.

- Every time you enter the code from specially marked packages of Marie Callender's meals or desserts, a donation will be made to support the USO's Operation Celebration program.  (Look for the colorful, Support Our Troops packaging!) This program helps service men and women celebrate holidays and celebrations when they are away from loved ones.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Marie Callender's. The opinions and text are all mine.

Thank you for for your support!

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Friday Links- Happy Weekend!!

Haha, print for my office?

I just love Oleander & Palm's rose gold pumpkin planters. Gorgeous.

Plum & Thyme Prosecco Smash.  I love every word in that sentence.

I'm a dog person through and through.  But these cat wineglasses are flipping cute.

I may have to DIY these pumpkin lanterns by Design Love Fest.  So beautiful.

Teak wooden cutting board. Ugh, I have a problem, I want every cutting board.

Still time to win a swag bag! 

In case you missed anything else this week:  Halloween Pumpkin Surprise Balls & Cinnamon Honey Apple Chips

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DIY Pumpkin Halloween Surprise Balls

 Halloween pumpkin surprise balls! My last Halloween DIY of the year, I thought I was done, but decided to slip one more into the blog calendar...

Katie from Twin Stripe guest posted when I had Colette about a year and a half ago- Valentine's Day surprise balls.  When she sent me the idea, I had no clue what surprise balls were!?  I was missing out! And, I loveeee hers!!

Such a cute, simple, thoughtful gift idea!  And, I always thought it would be perfect to someday make them for my daughter and that time is here!

I did include some candy in the surprise balls, but mostly non-candy treats (including my DIY Halloween chalk), so these are an adorable candy alternative for Halloween.

I went with non-traditional colors, because it is me and pink was necessary.  These little pumpkins are ready to be unraveled and are filled with surprises for your littles! (Kalia & Colette unraveled as soon as I was done shooting)

Crepe Paper Rolls in variety of colors
Candy, Small Toys, etc for filling
Double Sided tape

Begin your wrap with a small toy and continue wrapping around, inserting more toys/candy as you go along.  Shape into a ball and when finished tape final piece down.

Cut out your pumpkin faces using crepe or tissue paper (tissue paper is all I had).  Take double sided tape and tape the pumpkin face shapes to your pumpkin.

Using green (or another color if you like) crepe paper, cut a small piece off and use it to create a pumpkin stem.

Tape pumpkin stem to pumpkin surprise ball.

Happy Halloween!! Hope you enjoyed this year's Halloween crafts- I only do two normally and I went a little crazy this year, I think it is because my oldest is 4 and super into it!

Check out all the Halloween posts here:
Marbleize Pumpkins  Halloween Chalk  DIY Crush Pumpkins  Skull Cake Plate
DIY Sequin Animal Ears  DIY Discoball Jack O Lantern

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Craft Workshop Wrapup!

P.S. There is a giveaway of the swag bag at end of post! 

Had an amazing time at this past weekend's craft workshop for a geometric pin board!  It was a mashup of two of my DIYs- DIY Geometric Organization Board & Mud Cloth Pin Board.  My theme for the party other than geometric was pink, white and yellow.  Chestnut AZ has yellow everywhere, so I wanted to include their signature color within the workshop.

Darby Smart tote bags filled with some swag awaited attendees.

Everyone enjoyed tea lattes from Teaspressa and enjoyed her amazing latte art- she has more on her instagram, so cool!

Tablecloth was a geometric design loosely based on my geometric diy here.

Chestnut is awesome, I loved this old school phone they had! (and it works!)

Alison from Teaspressa with her amazing pin board.  I LOVE her design!

My awkward pose, I hate being in photos by myself. But, I am obsessed with my shoes and love staring at them.  I wear heels anytime I am not with the kids, it is one of the things I miss as I am a shoe addict.  Anyhow, I am digressing...

Fun story- Kristi Murphy from Kristi Murphy DIY attended & she went to high school with my sister in law (pictured above) and this is the first time they had seen each other since high school! Small world!

A group shot of some of the attendees and their completed pin boards!  I love the variety of designs.

Thank you to Teaspressa, my partner for the workshop.  And Chestnut Fine Food & Provisions for providing pastries & an awesome place to have our workshop.  If you are in AZ, check them both out!! Teaspressa has a ton of events in her calendar- if you are into crafty, local art workshops served with delicious tea lattes, follow her for more work shops.   And if you are not in AZ, you can still order her special teas online!

A special thank you to our sponsors:
Glitter & Bold
Darby Smart
Zoya Nail Polish
Social Print Studio

Who not only provided enough swag for attendees... but a swag bag for a reader!

Glitter & Bold included a hand lettered print You Are Beautiful- for the giveaway!  Thank you so much!!  Zoya Nail Polish naked manicure set & a popular Fall color, Sia.  Jewelry making kit and tote bag from Darby Smart. Includes special bonuses from me as well- like glitter pills for example, the rest will be surprises  :)  But if you follow me on Instagram, you can probably make some educated guesses on what to expect from me.

Swag Bag Giveaway!

Recipe Cinnamon Apple Honey Chips

Anyone been apple picking this Fall yet?? I would love to go but the closest place is four hours from Phoenix (where just last week it was 100, but we are getting the cooler temps now! Like 80! That is awesome for us!!)  Anyhoo, I cannot go apple picking but instead will live vicariously through photos on Instagram and buy a big bag of apples at Trader Joe's and make these apple chips.  Only 4 ingredients- and I am revealing my secret one to make them extra tasty!

Honey (I used a raw, organic honey from a local Arizona place called AZ Rango Honey)*
Coconut Oil Spray (thats the no longer secret ingredient ;)
* Raw, organic honey is so much better tasting than that cute little honey bear bottle at the grocery store.

Thinly slice your apples.  I use a mandolin for this, if you have the knife skills give that a try instead. I still cut myself using a mandolin (I really should use a hand guard), so thinly slicing with apples with a chef's knife is a skill I lack.

Preheat oven to 225. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay apple slices down in one layer.  (You can also use aluminum foil and grease the pan with the coconut oil spray.)  
Spray the apple slices with coconut spray, shake cinnamon all over, & drizzle with honey.  
Place in oven for an hour and flip and cook for another hour until crispy.  I like to add more cinnamon when I flip, but that is optional ;)

Cooking these for 2 hours makes your entire house smell like a perfect Fall, apple, cinnamony (not a real word) afternoon and I can almost feel like I am back East soaking in Fall.  It also makes your 4 year old and husband ask every 5 minutes when the apple chips will be ready and ruin your perfect Fall blissful dreams...

The coconut spray is my secret ingredient- it adds a very subtle flavor that when you skip the spray you notice the difference! Enjoy! 

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