Navigating the toxic side of social media

It’s been almost a year since we’ve updated this blog and a lot has been going on behind the scenes. Our youngest (baby #3) was diagnosed with multiple food allergies and to say it’s been a stressful journey is an understatement. Never mind that we are in the midst of a pandemic homeschooling a kindergartner while I try desperately to finish writing my dissertation. As much as I love writing and blogging, I’ve had to recognize that it’s just not possible in this season of life. To stay connected and keep a creative outlet for my own sanity, I transitioned to mostly posting on Instagram. It’s been interesting to say the least. As an anthropologist-in-training, I found myself fascinated by the behaviors and beliefs embedded in Instagram culture. But I also found myself mortified.

Even with a strong sense of confidence and contentment, it’s easy to get sucked into feeling negatively about yourself. As I begun to share posts highlighting some of these behaviors and assumptions, many people reached out sharing how Instagram made them feel. Some described that it felt like being in high school all over again; the cliques, the pressure to fit in, the bullying, etc. I began to reflect on this microcosm of reality and how toxic it is set up to be. For example, success is measured by metrics such as follower count, likes, and comments. Bloggers with high follower counts are given preferential consideration for paid work in the form of brand deals and partnerships where they in turn market said products through perfectly curated feeds all while promoting particular (and often quite problematic) narratives of beauty, health, relationships, and success. I soon noticed new bloggers employing a number of deceptive tactics to bump up their stats all the while spewing nonsense about authenticity and community. These experiences, along with multiple conversations I’ve had, inspired this workbook as a way to sift through the toxicity and the rat race that is influencer culture. This isn’t to say Instagram is all bad. I have made many wonderful friends on Instagram (friends I have never met in person but feel like I’ve known all my life) and I have found communities in the sustainability and social justice niches that inspire me to learn more and do better. I think one can find the good on social media platforms like Instagram but I also think it’s much easier to do once you’re aware of how to avoid the poison. There’s no magic solution but I hope this workbook will be a great starting point for you if you’ve ever struggled to stay afloat amidst illusions of the perfect LIEfstyle.

If you found this post and the workbook helpful, it would make me so happy if you shared it with your friends. I’d also love to hear any feedback in the comments below.


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.


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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Our One Year Blogiversary Giveaway


The beginning  of the year is always an exciting time as many take the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and embrace new adventures, opportunities, and challenges. This past year was an eventful one for us; we started this blog, completed our first and long awaited kitchen renovation, and added a new addition to our growing family. It has been a wonderful experience sharing our ordinary lives and passions with such a wonderful blogging community. We have come across some pretty awesome people doing some pretty awesome things and we are grateful for the opportunity to share, inspire, and grow alongside all of you. In celebration of our one year blogging anniversary and as a thank you to all those who have followed along and supported us, we are giving away two $25 gift cards to IKEA.

We chose IKEA because it is one of our favorite places to go to for home and DIY inspiration (seriously we are there all the time), not to mention all the yummy eats that remind my husband of his memories growing up in Sweden. IKEA products are practical, economical, and beautiful and we could not be happier with the latest addition to our IKEA home: our IKEA kitchen. So if you’re looking to renovate, remodel, organize, or just freshen up your home then you won’t want to miss out on this opportunity. All you have to do to enter is:

1) follow us on instagram (if you aren’t already)
2) like the giveaway photo
3) tag two IKEA-loving friends in the comments below the photo.

It’s that easy. Just be sure to read the rules and disclosures down below. May the odds be ever in your favor 🙂 And Happy New Year!! We pray that 2017 brings you many blessings, successes, and joyous moments.

Rules and Disclosure: This giveaway is not associated with WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Google. Giveaway begins Friday 1/6/17 at 9:30am EST and runs through Sunday 1/8/17 until 5:30pm EST. We will announce a winner next week and appreciate your patience as we verify all the entries. This giveaway is not sponsored or endorsed in any way by Instagram or IKEA. US residents only. You must have a valid email address to participate. By entering, entrants confirm they are 18+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s term of use. Giveaway accounts not eligible. We ask that PRIVATE accounts are made PUBLIC during the giveaway in order to be entered.

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Urban Jungle Bloggers: Botanical Zoom

Spring is just around the corner and what better time to zoom in on plants than now! Our house plants are very dear to us. So much so that before we had our baby, we talked about our plants as though they were our children. Yes, they were (and still are) that important to us! We didn’t really know anyone that took their plants as seriously as us until we came across the awesomeness that is Urban Jungle Bloggers. Urban Jungle Bloggers, hosted by the inspiring Igor and Judith, is a monthly series inviting bloggers to write and share anything and everything plant-related. Every month there is a different theme and this month is all about zooming into the hidden beauty that is often taken for granted.

So here’s to taking pauses; to setting aside the chaos of daily routines and endless to-do lists. Here’s to being one with the pieces of earth that coexist with us in our homes.


“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.”
Henry David Thoreau

There is something serenely beautiful about the way the sunlight streams in and filters through our plants. It illuminates the most intricate of details, serving as a reminder that within us lies an unimaginable and incomprehensible vastness. It is truly humbling.


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“Every particular in nature, a leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson



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