Monday, July 23, 2012

DIY Outside: Drying and Using Herbs

Every year I plant herbs in pots on my patio to use primarily for cooking. I use a lot of cilantro and rosemary. While I only use cilantro in its fresh form, I like drying rosemary to use throughout the year. Rosemary retains its aromatic oil and flavor even after it is dried. Today I am drying rosemary to be used in next week's DIY. Here is how I did it.

fresh herbs
yarn or twine

Step 1: Using sharp scissors, cut 3-6 long even branches of rosemary.

Step 2: Using about 10-12" of yarn or twine, tie stems together at one end. Make a loop within your tied yarn. The loop will allow you to hang the rosemary to dry.

Step 3: Hang rosemary in a cool, dry place. Because I live in the southern United States, our weather is too humid to allow the rosemary to dry outside. I hung my rosemary bundle in our laundry room. A small 3-6 stem bundle will usually dry within a week, but drying time may vary depending on humidity.

Storing dried herbs: Small glass jars with tight fitting lids work best. Stored dried herbs are typically good for up to 1 year.

Substitution: Substitute one teaspoon of dried for every tablespoon of fresh the recipe calls for.

Uses for dried rosemary:
-put a few sprigs in your bath or a foot soak
-wrap in cheesecloth and steep in hot water for tea
-infuse olive oil
-compliments potato, chicken and lamb dishes
-add it to fragrance sachets for car or closet

I hope this easy diy inspires you to grow and dry your own herbs and use them in creative and delicious ways!

Happy drying,

Friday, July 20, 2012

DIY Style: Creating a Faux Half-Shaved Hairstyle

I've noticed a lot of celebrities sporting the half-shaved hairstyle right now. I really like unusual and artistic hair, but I can't seem to muster-up the courage to do a full monty on the side of my head. So I came up with a way for you to have the half-shaved look without the commitment of shaving your head. Here is how I did it.

ponytail holder
hairbrush or hands

Step 1: With hair down, create a "deep" side part that starts above your eye. Section off about 6-8" of your bangs. Push hair that remains underneath bang section behind ears on both sides of your head.

Step 2: Take the hair that has been pushed behind your ears and put into a bun. Make sure bun is not directly on top of your head, instead set the bun a little lower to create the faux half-shaved illusion.

Step 3: Let bangs fall to side of face. Now you have a cute and edgy half-shaved look without the shears.

Happy Styling,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

DIY Finds: Beach Bag Round-Up

I'm heading to the ocean soon for a little r+r, so I've had beach brain lately. I love to find great deals on beautiful seasonal accessories. Since stores are clearing out their summer items, you can find some great beach wear for a lot less. Today, I've scoured the web for some great beach totes that won't break the cabana...I mean bank.

I'm in love with this pretty little red beach tote by Roxy!

These bags are so artful and sweet, it would be hard to find another one like it along the beach. 

 This blue and turquoise ombre tote is sophisticated and funky! And, I couldn't have a beach post without throwing a towel into the mix. This one was asking for it :)

Grab your sunscreen and a book and hit the beach with one of these gorgeous totes!
Happy summer,

Monday, July 16, 2012

DIY Outside: Reviving a Planter

This worn out planter and it's dead contents were screaming at me to do something about it. I can't believe I let this mess grace my entryway for the past few months. The 8+ hours a day of sun and heat scorches most plantlife that I put on the south side of my house. I shopped for plants that were suited to arid soil and hot weather to put in my revived planter. I then repainted this existing planter to put my new plants in. Here is how I did it:

old planter/pot
potting soil if your old planter was empty
summer plants/flowers that are suitable for conditions (low light, all day light, heat, dry soil, moist soil...etc.)
spray paint (I used Valspar "Brown Velvet" satin finish about $3 at Lowe's)

Step 1: Find an old planter that needs some "sprucing" up. Dump out soil and any plant material that is in it. Save soil and reuse it in the planter later.

Step 2: Wipe outside of planter with a dry rag, making sure it's free of dust, dirt, or bugs. Spray paint top half of outside of planter. Let dry 10 minutes, turn planter over onto it's top and spray bottom half of planter. Allow newly painted planter to dry for an hour before using it.

Step 3: Fill planter with soil and flowers. Water and enjoy.

I love breathing new life into old items. Now you have a pretty little pot of flowers for an inviting entryway!

Happy planting,

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Guest Post: What to Wear to a Photo Shoot

My sister, Adie from is taking over my blog today. She is a lifestyle photographer with years of experience in natural light photography. Today she is giving great tips on how to be prepared for a photo shoot. Enjoy!

Hmmm, so many choices! Below are a bunch of tips I came up with to help you make the most of your photo session. These tips & tricks come from a LOT of experience, so keep them in mind as you plan for your photo shoot! 

1. Don’t be afraid to look smokin' hot! Wear outfits that make you feel AMAZING. If you feel like a hottie, you’ll look like a hottie! Don’t force yourself into something uncomfortable that you would never normally wear (this goes for girls AND guys).

2. Don’t be afraid of color. Fun, colorful outfits make your pictures pop! These pictures will reflect your personality, so have fun with your style and show us who you are.

3. Bring a prop. A surfboard, a bike, tennis rackets, love letters, your dog…anything that tells the story of who you are. It’s not required, but its tons of fun!

4. We recommend sticking to no more than two outfits in order to maximize your time with the photographer. If you would like to wear an additional outfit, realize that this has an impact on the amount of time that you are able to spend shooting. Make sure it’s something that can be easily changed into at your chosen location. For example, changing shirts is easy and can be done anywhere, but if you want to change into a dress, things get a little more complicated! (Think back seat of a car…)

5. Wear cute shoes! This is just a selfish fetish of mine – I love to photograph cute shoes! (Yes, that means you get to go shopping!)

1. Pay attention to your eyes! Eyeliner and good mascara are a must! Take extra care on your mascara and really separate your lashes. Your eyes will be the most important factor in many of your images, so spend extra time making them look beautiful!

2. For engagement photos, hold a run-through with your makeup artist. This is the perfect opportunity to get to know your makeup artist before your wedding day and hold a mini practice session.

Day of
1. Leave your purse in the car. You can carry around small items like car keys and lip gloss in the photographer's bag. The photographer will want your hands to be free during the session.

2. Go to the restroom right before you leave. Many "on-location" shoots do not have accessible restrooms nearby, and you want to be sure to maximize the shooting time you have together.

3. Have fun! The photographer will take care of making you look fantastic, so don’t worry about a thing. They should give you plenty of direction and remember to just be yourself!


all photos copyright 2012 Twin Town Studios

Monday, July 9, 2012

DIY Style: Dress it Up!

A simple and beautiful dressy look can be found right in your closet! Dressing up a pair of black shorts and a white tank is easy. Add a gorgeous hairdo and your ready for a summer evening wedding or a night out on the town. Here is how I did it.

white linen tank
black shorts
a pretty chunky necklace
strappy black heels or sandals

Step 1: Put on your white tank and black shorts. Add a pretty, bright chunky necklace.
Add some black heels or dressy sandals. For medium to long hair, style into a  loose updo. For short hair, style with pomade into a slick side swept pixie! Pair with a clutch and your finished!

Happy Styling,

Friday, July 6, 2012

DIY Chef: Zucchini Boats

If you've recently had an explosion of veggies in your garden and you're not quite sure how to use all of them up, here is a yummy zucchini recipe just for you! Here's how I did it.

4-5 small zucchini and/or yellow squash (will feed 2 adults)
ground turkey (or substitute mushrooms for vegetarian version)
red bell pepper
purple onion
bread crumbs
olive oil
fresh parmesan
frying pan
sharp serrated knife
baking stone or cookie sheet
cutting board

Step 1: Wash & cut zucchini and squash in half lengthwise. Microwave on high for 5 minutes to get rid of excess water.

Step 2: Cut 2 shallow slits (don't cut all the way through) into zuchini, to make it easier to scoop out middle.

Step 3: Scoop out middle to create "boat" for delicious filling. I used a measuring spoon to scoop.

Step 4: Brown ground turkey in pan. For vegetarian version, saute mushrooms in a little olive oil.

Step 5: Chop onion, red pepper and parsley. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Step 6: Add chopped veggies, salt, pepper and garlic to browned meat (or mushrooms). Cook for 5 minutes.


Step 7: Fill boats with cooked filling mixture.

Step 8: Prepare bread crumb topping. In a small bowl mix 1 cup breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup olive oil and 1 cup parmesan.

Step 9: Sprinkle topping onto boats. Add salt and pepper to top.

Step 10: Place on baking stone or cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

 Note: You can serve with a balsamic reduction or by themselves. 
Now you have a delicious main course straight from your garden!

Happy cooking,

Monday, July 2, 2012

DIY Holiday: July 4th Canister

Independence Day is a great time to use your DIY skills. From food and drinks to patio decorations and place settings. Here, I have used an empty coffee canister and painted a red, white & blue pattern on it. This canister will hold forks for a bar-b-que. Let your imagination fill it with flowers, sparklers, drinking straws...what ever brings your celebration a smile.

Empty canister (coffee and baby formula cans work great!)
Red, white & blue spray paint ( I used latex paint and brushed it on.)
painter's or masking tape

Step 1: Using a clean, dry can, paint outside white.

Step 2: Using painter's or masking tape, wrap tape around canister to indicate where your white stripes will be. Stripes can be any thickness!

Step 3: For red and blue stripes, paint non-tapes areas.

Now you have a functional and pretty Independence Day decoration, ready for a rockin' bar-b-que!

Happy celebrating!