3 Photography Backdrops under $3

 

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As an amateur photographer who has shot everything from engagements to family portraits, the switch to shooting flatlay scenes for our blog was a bit challenging because I had to create fun and engaging scenes in a tight space and on a small budget. The perfectionist in me believed that I needed fancy equipment and props to shoot beautiful pictures until I realized how expensive these items could get. Let’s just say things can add up real quick! I basically had to get creative fast, which isn’t hard to do when Home Depot and Michaels are your second home. I’ll never forget how excited I was when I came across these faux stone/marble laminate tiles at Home Depot. At the time we were shopping for our kitchen renovation and my husband was a bit concerned that I was purchasing laminate tile when we were in the process of getting rid of ours. But for the price, could you blame me? I had a similar epiphany at Michaels while browsing the paper aisle (yes I do this for fun) and realized I could get the rustic, wood-grain look that I love without breaking the bank.

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Why use backdrops might you ask? Well, if you’re someone who’s considering blogging or opening a business, one way you can grow your reach is by creating captivating photos to share your story or sell your product. We are by no means experts at this but we have certainly noticed more growth and engagement when we put more care into the images we created for our blogposts and social media accounts. Today, I’m sharing our favorite, inexpensive backdrops so that you too can make beautiful images for your blog or business. For your convenience, I’ve provided links to these backdrops below as well as examples of how I used them.

1. Woodgrain Scrapbook Paper: While not as durable as wood or stone, these papers offer a rustic, homey aura to the scene you are capturing. For only $.69 it’s totally worth getting a couple and experimenting with staging your products/recipes/art/etc…

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2. Faux Stone/ Marble Tile: I especially love these for shooting recipes because I get that authentic countertop look with minimal effort and without having to replace our countertop 😉 The best part is they can be easily cleaned and can be picked up if you are chasing a natural light source. They also come in a variety of colors and textures some ranging from $0.89 to $2.98.

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3. Foam Poster Boards: Foam boards are the largest of these three options so if you’re looking to capture a bigger scene then they are your best bet. Solid boards are perfect for making the objects you’re capturing pop and they’re also handy for reflecting and directing light. Oh and you can find them for $1 at Dollar Tree.

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Of course you can also use these boards for more than just food photography. One thing I love to do is take everyday scenes that happen in our home and change up the backdrop. This allows me to share my vision and retell our story in a unique way. No fancy camera needed. Just your imagination, smart phone, and a backdrop for under $3.

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Eid Festivities and Unicorn S’mores

Happy Wednesday Friends! It’s been a pretty uneventful month here on the blog. With fasting during these long summer days and two babies (and school and work), it has been difficult to find the energy to write. Hopefully that will change as the month of Ramadan comes to an end. There are definitely many things we are going to miss; the spiritual high, eating iftar with family almost everyday, the Dr. Pepper and homemade french fries (we make exceptions during Ramadan only), and the city buzzing late at night. Despite all these wonderful things, we are really looking forward to celebrating Eid with our loved ones. We are also definitely super excited to share our ideas for a fun and stress-free Eid. First on the agenda,  we teamed up with the wonderful Amanda Saab from Amanda’s Plate to bring you a colorful treat perfect for Eid and summer bonfires. Behold,  The Unicorn Marshmallow.

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It’s beautiful isn’t it? Now the recipe, you will find on Amanda’s blog if you click here. We thought it would be fun to assemble it into a s’more kit for your Eid guests so we designed coordinating labels that you can download, print, and attach to your favors for a more personalized touch.

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Here’s what you’ll need to put your favors together:

Graham Crackers
Quality Chocolate Bar
Amanda’s Unicorn Marshmallows
Clear candy bags or small cupcake boxes
String
Labels (download here)
Hole Puncher

The assembly is super easy. All you need to do is pair some graham crackers with a square of marshmallow and a piece of chocolate and then wrap. Not sure what to do on Eid? Invite family over for a BBQ/bonfire in the evening and serve up these pretty s’mores. There are no guarantees in life but these treats may or may not make you the coolest Eid party host 😉

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If all this talk of Eid is starting to stress you out then consider planning your Eid a few days ahead with our Eid Planner. We know how stressful the day can be for us if we’re not prepared and so we already started taking notes of all the things that need to get done. There’s people that we will need to visit (and people that will be visiting us) which means we need to clean the house and bake (or purchase) treats for our visitors as well as purchase gifts/flowers (and take out cash from the bank), etc…Basically, there’s a lot to do! And if you find yourself in a similar boat then you may find jotting everything down will help you not just tackle the day but actually enjoy it 🙂 All you need to do is print and begin filling out the various sections. Knowing what you’ll be wearing or who you’ll be visiting will help you develop a more accurate checklist (like if you’ll need to shop for gifts AND Eid clothes for you and the kids).

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Okay, you’re in planning mode and you have “make unicorn marshmallows” on your checklist. What now? If you’re like us and scramble every year to get envelopes to put the Eideya in and then shake your head in dissatisfaction at the lack of creative Eid stationary then we got you covered with this printable DIY Eideya Envelope. All you need to do is:

  1. Print
  2. Fold
  3. Cut
  4. Tape
  5. Slip in the cash, gift cards, or sweets
  6. Seal

 

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You can even insert some crayons and you’ll have a coloring activity to keep little ones busy as you scarf down brunch. At the end of the day, however you choose to celebrate, we wish you a stress-free and blessed holiday. We look forward to resuming and sharing our DIYing and home projects with you after the festivities have ended.

Printables
Gift/Favor Tags
Eid Planner
DIY Eideya Envelope

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Getting the heart and home ready for Ramadan

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It’s been a busy year for us and we are very grateful for all the fun projects and renovations we were able to do. However, with Ramadan just around the corner, we want to wind down a bit and focus on family and spirituality. It’s hard to believe that our babies are growing so fast (our son is turning two in just a month and our daughter will be turning 7 months) but now that they’re more attentive and communicative, we want to make the month extra special so they can grow up with fond and happy memories of our Ramadans together. For us, Ramadan is a month for reflection and growth. We enter this month as warriors, much like Paulo Coehlo’s Warriors of Light:

“Warriors of light are not perfect.Their beauty lies in accepting this fact and still desiring to grow and to learn.”

I wanted to capture this free-spirited approach in decorating our home and this sort of transformed into a colorful bohemian style tablescape since the dinning area is really where the family comes together to break bread and unwind after a long day of fasting. In this post I’ll be sharing some decor inspiration from our Ramadan preparations, including a family-friendly DIY project and a free printable you can frame to either hang up or place on your dinning table.

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This tablescape looks a lot fancier than it is. At the heart of it is a DIY Table Runner which is super easy to put together. I even had my son help out with the painting and he had a blast! All you’ll need is an inexpensive white table runner, a mandala or doily stencil, acrylic paint for fabric, and stencil brushes. The rest is self-explanatory. I probably could have done a much better job but I was painting with a toddler so we got a little carried away with dipping the brush in paint.

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Besides the table runner, all you’ll need to achieve this look are a variety of colorful vases (and/or ornate lanterns) filled with fresh summer flowers. The vases you see in the images are ones that I thrifted from a local Goodwill for $3 total. The spirit of Ramadan is also about humility so I didn’t want to create a space that was too extravagant or wasteful. I arranged the vases along the table, intertwined with crawling vine garland ( I bought on clearance) and in between these pretty palm leaf placemats. I also created a framed quote art out of one of our favorite supplications that we listen to just before iftar time. I wanted it to be a reminder on the table that aside from all the delicious food we get to eat, Ramadan is so much more than that. It is about reconnecting with God and softening our hearts so that we can be better, more empathetic human beings.

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In the home, I hung up lanterns and garland from the ceiling that I had purchased in a hanging decor kit from Michaels. The colors matched up very nicely with the bohemian color palette I had saved on Pinterest. Decorating with family is such a wonderful way to build memories and traditions. My son was very excited about standing on the table with me to hang these up and it put the biggest smile on my face seeing him gush with joy as he pulled out the tape from the dispenser in an effort to “help me.”

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On the wall behind the dinning table, I hung up a Ramadan advent calendar that I purchased from Handmade Beginnings. Not only is it beautiful but it’s perfect for making each day interactive and for making the countdown to Eid fun and exciting for little ones. Since my children are still young, I am choosing an activity that is simple and age appropriate. I found these free Ramadan coloring pages on Crayola’s website so what I plan to do is get a 30+ count marker or crayon set and put a different color in each  of the calendar’s pouches. Each day we will pull out a new color and work on our Ramadan page and hopefully by the end of the month (and just in time for Eid) we will have a pretty piece of art to hang up 🙂

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There you have it. An expensive and simple way to add a colorful touch to your table and home for Ramadan. I really wanted a space that was special, vibrant, and cozy for our family and our dinner guests and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

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What do you think? What are your favorite ways to make Ramadan special for your family?

Free Download:  Ramadan Printable_Color |Ramadan Printable_Black

 

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Spring and New Beginnings

Happy Thursday friends 🙂 Guess what? Urban Jungle Bloggers, hosted by the inspiring Igor and Judith, is back with another season and this month is all about celebrating the circle of life. As if right on cue, many of our indoor plants have begun to show signs of new life. Our windowsill basil flowered beautifully bringing with it the sweet aroma of summer pesto.

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Our fern and white elephant leaves are unfurling gracefully and it is such a joy to watch. Now that we are parents, we find ourselves more attuned to the growth surrounding us in our home. It is a bittersweet reminder that our little humans will continue to grow up but also inspiring to know that the world progresses through incremental changes. How can we allow ourselves to mentally and spiritually stagnate, when our physical body and surroundings are on a continuous path of growth?

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We are especially happy with our rooting pothos. We now have two living separately in clear glass vases and they have successfully stayed alive in water for over a year now. Not only do they look beautiful but they require very little maintenance. If you’re thinking of bringing plants into your home but think you have a black thumb then this is definitely a plant you should consider starting out with.

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Meanwhile outside, our backyard is blossoming with life. A variety of birds including woodpeckers, cardinals, and blue jays have returned to our feeder. We are really excited to finish our bathroom renovation and turn our attention to our garden and landscaping. We have a garden inspiration board on Pinterest that we have been adding to and we can’t wait to make our imagination a reality. Anyone have any grand garden/landscaping plans? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Celestial Themed Nursery

Today we are doing something new while throwing it back to a project we completed before we started blogging: the nursery. When we first found out we were having a baby, we knew instantly that we wanted to create a celestial-themed nursery. My husband and I have always been astronomy nerds; we own a telescope, we’ve dabbled with astrophotography at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park, and we just love the sense of peace and mystery that the cosmos invoke (insert Interstellar Soundtrack here). The theme for the room really started coming together when we started thinking about words to describe the space we wanted to create: whimsical, colorful, adventurous. If those words were a color scheme, it would kind of look like this:

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We thought of children’s books that could fit in our theme and exemplified these adjectives. The one that stuck out was Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Although we both didn’t read the book until we were adults, it really left a deep impression on us. We loved the profound wisdom and simplicity of the story but it was the childlike innocence and way of looking at the world that we found most beautiful. We wanted the nursery to inspire the inner-child in all of us.

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Naturally, I turned to Etsy for Little Prince inspiration and I found it in the form of a watercolor print based on a scene from the book. The colors in print were just so pretty so I contacted the shop owner and had a custom order made that included one of our favorite quotes from the book.

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Everything else in the room was pretty much designed around this print’s color scheme. We ended up painting an accent wall with Behr’s Rise and Shine and putting up silver and deep yellow star and moon decals. We went with white furniture, a plush silver rug, and celestial-themed bedding from Babies R Us. While many people use design boards to collect inspiration for designing a space, we’ve put together a design board based on the space we created for those who are interested in designing a whimsical, celestial-inspired nursery. This board was created in part by things we do have in our own nursery (which is basically a playroom now) but it also includes things that we don’t have but find inspiring and beautiful. It’s fascinating to think that all of this was sparked by a piece of artwork based off of a children’s book but it just goes to show you how amazing the human imagination is.

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Sources
1. Petite Tresor Nuit Bedding Set
2. Rocket Shelf
3. Silver Shag Rug
4. Delta Bennington Bell Crib
5. Pallra Light Blue Box Set
6. Star Pillow
7. Cape Cod Rocking Chair
8. Believe Wall Decor
9. Le Petit Prince Watercolor Print
10. Star Wall Decals
11. Skojig Ceiling Lamp
12. Dream Ring Moon & Stars Mobile
13. Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost Watercolor Print
14. Colorful Watercolor Pillows
15. Moon Night Light

We will eventually get around to doing a house tour but until then this design board will do. Not only was it super fun to make but it is great practice for when we start to brainstorm and think about the bathroom that we will be remodeling later this year. Have you ever put a design board together? Share your experience in the comments below and…

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Inspirational Wallpaper: December

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Ahhh December…one of the busiest times of the year. Don’t worry, we will make this brief. We just wanted to wish all our readers a very blessed holiday season (no matter what you celebrate) and to those of you that are students, we wish you the very best of luck on your final exams (we know how you feel). We will have a few more posts to wrap up 2016 but we are looking forward to sharing another wonderful year with you (God willing). And believe it or not, we are actually hoping for some snow. Cheers!

For download and Printing: letitsnow

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Inspirational Wallpaper: November

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November is flying by as fast as the leaves are changing color and falling to the earth. This month marked a new transition for us as we welcomed baby #2 into the world and we are just beyond happy.  With Thanksgiving around the corner, we thought we would channel this happiness into a wallpaper that captures both the beauty of the season and the spirit of gratitude that comes with it. May we always journey in this life with a thankful heart for the infinite blessings we have.

For download and Printing: soverythankful

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Inspirational Wallpaper: October

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October. It’s the beginning of the end but also a beginning in its own right. Despite the earth slowly decaying before our very eyes, it’s a magnificent site to behold. Brilliant fiery hues of red, orange, and yellow take the place of green as the air becomes crisper and cooler. Let us welcome all change as we welcome the warm colors of autumn. Because autumn is so much more than pumpkin-spiced lattes and apple crisp (those are nice, don’t get me wrong). It’s about preparing for the growth and rebirth that will come after the cycle of life and decay has completed itself. What a thought to end the week on huh? Happy Friday and Cheers 🙂

For download and printing: hello-autumn

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Inspirational Wallpaper: September

With labor day weekend behind us and work and a new school year ahead, let us remember to be kind and empathetic to everyone we encounter. It’s difficult to imagine sending my baby off to school, but if today was that day I think I would share these wise words:

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life is difficult enough as it is so let’s embrace our uniqueness and allow others to do the same. Happy September! We wish everyone a wonderful, fresh start to autumn 🙂

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September Wallpaper


Inspirational Wallpaper: August

As summer slowly winds down, we are making sure to relish those sun-filled moments of peace and carefree joy. It might be a busy time with school starting around the corner but take a pause to delight in the warmth, sounds, and smells of August. Your heart will thank you for it.

Be Still

Be Still