During dark winter days (well, year round actually) I long for tropical beaches and salty sea breezes. I crave the feeling of the warm sun on my face, the humid breeze in my hair, and the aroma of fresh oranges mingled with coconut oil; oh how I love that heavenly scent so often found in tropical places.
Yes, I am a Florida girl living too far out of her blissful tropical element. During the winter months especially, I try to find ways to bring tropical elements into my home and surround myself with the familiar scents and feelings I long for.
One of the ways I have done that is with my handmade Spiced Orange Sugar Scrub. This recipe not only brings the familiar scents of South Florida into my immediate space, but also moisturizes, exfoliates, and rejuvenates my dry thirsty skin leaving it feeling soft, smooth, and well hydrated.
Whenever I use my Spiced Orange Sugar Scrub, the familiar scents of sweet coconut, juicy oranges, and warm hints of clove and cassia transport me to my childhood home of South Florida. I close my eyes, breath in these blissful tropical scents, and feel the warm golden glow of the sun kiss my face and the salty sea breeze blow lightly over my skin. I wanted to share this delectable and incredibly simple sugar scrub recipe with you.
For this sugar scrub recipe you will need:
Add sugar, chia or poppy seeds (or dried herbs if you are using them), essential oils, and carrier oil to the mixing bowl and mix lightly with a spoon to loosely combine. Add coconut oil and mix all ingredients well either by hand, or with a hand mixer until thoroughly combined. I prefer to use a hand mixer as this makes it easier to thoroughly combine all the ingredients. Hand mixing the ingredients for about 4 minutes adds air into the mixture creating a lighter and fluffier whipped sugar scrub.
Once all ingredients are well combined to your desired consistency, transfer the scrub mixture to a sealed container. Your Spiced Orange Sugar Scrub is ready for use. I store my scrub in a tightly sealed container in the bathroom for easy reach when I want to use it.
To Use Your Scrub:
Shower or bathe as usual. At the end of your bath or shower, rub a tbsp or two of the sugar scrub onto wet skin while still in the bath or shower, paying extra attention to problem dry spots such as knees, elbows, and feet. Use more or less of the scrub as needed or desired. Leave the scrub on the skin for a few minutes. Once finished, rinse off the excess sugar and herbs, and pat dry. The sugar and chia or poppy seeds lightly exfoliate the skin, removing dry dead skin cells, and the coconut oil and emollient oil stay behind on the skin to moisturize and smooth the skin leaving it polished and glowing. Use entire scrub within two-three months. Discard unused portion after three months.
Enjoy the warm sweet scent of this sugar scrub while it nourishes your skins and whisks you away to tropical places.
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I often get asked about energetic shielding, and how to do it. There are many different ways to shield. A shield is simply a field of energy that one projects around one's self to keep negative energies from entering one's aura, or energy field. With much practice, you can even learn to project your shield a distance away from you to broaden your shield's reach.
Like many others, the first way I learned to shield is with white light. Shielding with white light is simple to learn.
How To Shield With White Light~
Find a quiet place where you can relax, and focus without being disturbed. Ground and center yourself and just spend a few moments clearing your mind and getting into a relaxed state. If thoughts enter your mind, acknowledged them and then bring yourself back to center.
When you are centered and ready, begin focusing on your Crown Chakra. The Crown is located at the crown of your head, or just above it. Feel the energy there as it flows and swirls in this area. It may tingle, or feel like soft wind in your hair. This feeling can be different for everyone. For me, it is a slight tingling pulse.
As you focus on this Crown energy, visualize it. See it in your mind's eye. For most people, it is visualized as White Light. See how it flows and moves. The sensation you feel may increase or even change as you become aware of the energy flowing out of your Crown.
When you have a strong awareness of the energy at the Crown, will it to move up and around you. Allow it to flow up out of your Crown. Focus on how it feels, visualize the White Light energy flowing down around you, encasing you. It doesn't have to be a bubble shape, though many see it as that. For me it was not a bubble, but a flowing, changing energy field that stayed close to my body. If I moved, it moved. Now feel the White Light as it flows down over your shoulders, torso, and finally down over your legs and feet. You are now fully encased in protective White Light. Spend some time just feeling the energy as it moves over your body. Play with it. See yourself inside the flowing, shifting white energy. It looks like white light, but it is energy. FEEL IT. SEE IT. This step is important, as shielding with White Light is about more than just visualizing it. You need to experience how the energy feels too. Spend as much time as you like in this state.
Practice often, even daily, with this technique. Soon you will be able to use it at will. With practice, you will be able to White Light shield faster and more effectively. Once you master White Light shielding, other types of shielding will come easier. My main point in teaching you to White Light shield with this method is for you to learn to be AWARE of your own energy; to really experience feeling it, to see it, and to begin learning to manipulate it.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and experiences. Did you find this method easy? Was it effective for you? What other questions do have about shielding with White Light? I'd love to hear from you and help you grow.
In my next post I will talk about how to strengthen your shield.
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Listen Lovely, we need to have a little chat. I hear it every day, and I was even guilty of it at times. "Hey girl, you got this!" "Hey girl, how's it going?" "Hey girl, let's plan a lunch date." Hey girl..." GIRL?! Ok, stop. I am not a girl, or his girl, or your girl. I am not a child. I am a grown woman; a Queen who runs her castle by her damn self. I know my worth, and I'm confident in what I bring to the table. I think women need to stop being girls. Women need to step into their power and be Queens.
What does it mean to be a QUEEN? To be a Queen means:
~ To know your worth and that you have value.
~ To walk with poise, eloquence, and self-respect.
~ To be kind, just, and pure of heart; treating all you meet with fairness and grace.
~ To love and care for yourself. A Queen know she cannot pour from an empty cup.
~ To leave people in better condition than how you found them.
~ To know how to love unconditionally and without exceptions, but also knowing when to set firm boundaries.
~ To fiercely protect the ones you love and to stand for those who have no voice.
~ To be true to yourself and live from the soul.
~ To rise from the ashes of failure, disappointment, and pain with humility, determination, and strength.
~ To know that the seat of your fire (personal power) resides in the true soul.
~ To step with confidence in all you do knowing that you have the skills, abilities, and wisdom to achieve your dreams.
Now my lovely, you are not a girl. Straighten your crown and run your castle like the QUEEN you are.
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You see, I wasn't always a fire breathing dragon who lived in balance fully aware of her true self. In my younger years and into adulthood, I didn't know who I was. I placed my identity in other people. I craved validation and placed far too much weight on the opinions of others. My ego (the face I showed the world) could be cold and heartless, but warm and loving. I lacked any kind of self-worth, self-confidence, or purpose. I felt like a reed swept up in the wind, blowing here and there, but never settling in one position or another. I was a hott mess inside, because I did not understand that the true seat of my fire, the resting place of my personal power, resided in the depths of my soul. For most of my life I tried to fit inside a box that the religion I was raised in constructed around me. I longed to be FREE, but FEAR held me there. If I stepped out of line, I was going straight to HELL.
I left that religion and became a wanderlust studying and dabbling in other faiths and belief systems. I saw that many of them aligned in various ways. They all had different "terms" they used to refer to the same thing. I began carving my own path, an eclectic mix of paganism and what I call "Universal Spirituality". I am an Omnist, if you will, one who sees the good in all faiths and choosing not to align myself with any one belief system or religion. I incorporate aspects of many different religions into my path. If someone were to ask me what my faith is, I would simply say: Draconic Grey Witch. What exactly is a Draconic Grey Witch? That is discussion for another time.
It was on my current path that I was able to find my fire and really step into my personal power. I realized that my TRUE identity lies within myself. I found the FREEDOM to be who I AM. So, who am I? I am beautiful, magickal, creative, trustworthy, honest, kind hearted, and honorable. I am a QUEEN and I run my castle with grace, love, integrity, peace, and harmony. I take no shit, and those who would seek to harm me, or those I love, in any fashion are met with eyes of fire and breath of flame. I am kind and gentle, and full of peace, love, and light, but do not trifle with me or those I love, for I am also the most viscous and relentless creature you have ever known. And yes, I realize that is a little scary, but that is okay. I will walk in both the whitest light and blackest night, for I know what it is to be balanced. Even nature itself is a balance of light and dark, black and white, Yin and Yang. And oh what a beautiful thing it is.
Please feel free to introduce yourselves in the comments and share a little...or a lot about yourself. I'd love to get to know you too.
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In an already saturated online market, you need to put your best foot forward. When shoppers visit your online shop or store, the product photos will determine the shopper's first impression of your product, your brand, and the quality of the products and services you offer. Ah yes, that carries a certain amount of weight to it, now doesn't it? When shopping online, you don't get to touch the product, or view it in person. You have to rely on the photos and product description to tell you everything you need to know about the item. You count on that item being accurately represented in the photos you are viewing and in the description you are reading. This is why good product photography is of great importance when selling anywhere online.
3 Common Mistakes That Ruin Product Photography
Many of you know that I make handmade jewelry and herbal skin care products, but what you may not know is that I am also a professional photographer. I attended Savannah College of Art and Design majoring in photography. Photography is a huge part of my life and it is important to me to produce photos that accurately represent the items I make and sell. As an online seller, 90% of my marketing and selling is done online. Like many online sellers, I use social media to market and sell my products. I also maintain several websites on which to sell my products and services. Facebook and Instagram are the main social media outlets I use to market and sell. I come across countless posts from fellow sellers who are also using social media to market and sell their goods and/or beautiful creations. I have noticed 3 common mistakes many sellers are making when photographing their products for sale online: images that are out of focus (blurry), improper white balance (do not show correct color), and images that are under exposed or over exposed (too dark or too light). These are all too common mistakes that are easily fixed with a bit of basic photography education. You don't need an expensive interchangeable lens DSLR camera to take great product photos. A good point and shoot camera can get the job done nicely. It's even possible to get decent photos with a good cell phone, although I do recommend a using a good camera for best results.
Achieving Proper Focus - Don't Be Just A Blur
Clear, sharp images best showcase any product. Images that are blurry are unattractive, and do not clearly show the details of the subject. Many focus issues are caused by camera shake when hand holding the camera. Some focus issues are caused by incorrect aperture (shallow depth of field), but the subject of aperture is a bit more complicated than what I want to discuss in this article. Let's start with camera shake, as it is usually the issue and is the easiest to fix without more in depth knowledge of photography.
Camera shake is movement of the camera when the shutter button is pressed, most often caused by unsteady hands and improper body position. The best way to fix this is to shoot with a tripod. There are many small inexpensive tripods available on the market today. A quick Google search brings up many results. You can even find tripods for use with cell phones. A tripod greatly eliminates camera shake by holding the camera securely so the camera does not shake or move when the shutter is pressed.
It is not impossible to get clear in focus images when hand holding the camera. Body position, camera holding technique, and having a steady hand all help one achieve proper focus when shooting hand-held. Hold the camera in both hands and look through the view finder rather than using the screen on the back of the camera. Hold your elbows close to your sides and lean or prop yourself on something to help keep a stable position while moving as little as possible. This allows you to use your body and correct hand position to keep the camera steady when the shutter button is pressed. Many photographers, myself included, hold their breath the moment the shutter is pressed to even further reduce movement of the camera.
Shooting with a higher shutter speed also helps prevent out of focus images. A higher shutter speed allows for more stop motion by increasing the speed at which the curtains close when the shutter button is pressed. A study of how the camera works and the exposure triangle would be of benefit here, but that is a topic for another time. I don't want to induce information overload, so for now, I'm keeping things simple. Below is a graphic that shows a simplified outline of the exposure triangle for those who may be curious.
White Balance - Achieving Correct Color
The main culprit of incorrect color in photographs is improper white balance. Improper white balance can actually change the color of a photograph and make the color of the subject being photographed appear different than it really is.
The temperature of light is measured by the Kelvin scale. The light in a shaded area or on a cloudy day is blue, or what is considered cooler in temperature. Daylight is white and is considered neutral or natural. Sunset, sunrise and tungsten light is yellow, orange, or red, or what is considered warmer in temperature.
Many point and shoot cameras have a setting called AWB which stands for auto white balance. AWB means that the camera evaluates the available light and determines what color temperature to capture the image in. The problem is that many times the camera gets it wrong and accurate color is not achieved. When shooting outdoors in cloudy or overcast conditions, use the white balance setting represented by the shape of a cloud. This setting can also be used if shooting in shade if your camera does not have a separate setting for shade. When shooting outdoors in full sun, use the daylight setting. If shooting indoors under tungsten or incandescent light, use the tungsten or light bulb setting. If shooting under fluorescent light, use the fluorescent or radiating rectangle setting. See image below. If using the flash, use the setting for flash. Most cameras all use the same symbols to represent the white balance settings, but you may need to consult your camera owner's manual find out your camera's white balance symbolism.
Controlling Light - Achieving Proper Exposure
Proper exposure is governed by the exposure triangle, but as I mentioned earlier, I want to keep this relatively easy to follow and understand. I know many of my target audience are not using cameras with manual settings, or they just prefer to shoot in auto mode. A very simplified explanation of exposure issues is an image that is either too dark, or too light. See the image above for a break down of each. A properly exposed image allows the perfect amount of light in through the lens to reach the camera's sensor. It is well lit and not too dark and not blown out. A blown out image has highlight areas that are white or near white and lack detail because too much light was allowed to enter the lens and wash these highlight areas out. A blown out image can sometimes be caused by the use of flash when flash was not actually needed, the flash was too bright, or the camera was too close to the subject when flash was used. Using a flash to light a set up creates harsh shadows in the image which takes away from the aesthetic of the image.
Bright diffused lighting is best. Diffused lighting is the same principle as the clouds diffusing the sun's light on a cloudy day. The light on a cloudy day is soft and produces muted shadows. Using a lightbox is a great way to properly light your set up and achieve a nice soft lighting. Proper lighting is crucial to achieving correct exposure.
To avoid under exposure, make sure your subject is well lit. Using a light box or shooting outdoors in natural light can help with this. You can purchase a small light box or make one yourself. Making one is actually quick simple. Here is a simple tutorial on how to make a homemade light box.
HOW TO MAKE A LIGHTBOX
Editorial Photography vs Product Photography
Part of the fun of doing your own product photography is that you are in control of your style. It is up to you how you present your products. Some people prefer product photography that is clean and simple with products displayed against a white background with no props or other elements. This is called standard product photography. Then there are people, myself included, who prefer a more editorial approach to product photography. Editorial photography is a more artistic approach to product photography with the use of props and interesting background while still placing the focus on the product. The three photos below are examples of editorial product photography. There are some differing schools of thought when it comes to what style of product photography is best. I feel this is a personal decision. Standard product photography is simpler and less complicated to produce. Editorial photography is more time consuming, but allows you to be creative with how you present your products. As an artist first, I choose to use an editorial style photography to represent my products and my brand. When using an editorial approach to product photography, you must take care that your images do not not become cluttered and distracting with too many props and busy complicated backgrounds. What ever style you decide, just have fun with your photography. Keep your focus on the products you are photographing and you will do great!
I hope you have enjoyed this article and found it helpful in producing better product photography.
If you are anything like me, you love to accessorize. I love to accessories according to the season. With summer right around the corner, I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite summer jewelry accessories. These are three of my favorite style combinations for you to try this summer. I'd always love to hear your thoughts, so please share them in the comments section below. What are your favorite style combos?
Bold Earth Tones
Stack 'Em Up
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