behind the scenes | learning photoshop


I'm going to tell you a secret, the content that I create for this blog is very...shall we say...unprofessional. I basically use a bunch of hacks in powerpoint etc to get my images and collages how I want them. It's honestly, kinda lame but I just never had the time or money to learn Photoshop or any other tool.

One of my favorite blogs recently posted some new "actions" (I had no idea what that meant but they are basically like filter presets) and it fueled my fire to finally learn Photoshop. Luckily, Adobe is currently offering an amazing deal right now - you can get Photoshop (the full version!) AND Lightroom all on the Creative Cloud...for $9.99/month (ends Monday, so don't delay, it's usually at least $50/month). That is an INSANELY good deal especially if you're new to those programs, like me, and want to be able to give them a good test drive. The catch is that you'll always have access as long as you're paying the monthly fee. If you cancel, the programs are gone. Sort of a bummer but especially useful/helpful if you're not ready to spend upwards of $1,000 on those two programs. 

Cool so you can now get Photoshop for $10/month...but now what? I mean, I literally have NO idea how to use it. I think I opened the program a handful of times during a graphic design class I took in high school but I didn't entirely know what I was doing. So, if you're anything like me and need structure/rules/guidelines, you're probably wanting to take a class. I'd recently heard about Blogshop which offers Live classes (for $800!) as well as online classes (around $250). I mean, they classes sound AMAZING but my blog isn't making money and that is a lot of money spend on a class that's geared towards bloggers. After some more searching, I found some amazing classes on Skillshare. This amazing site offers online classes on a wide variety of topics from graphic design to garment making to calligraphy. I started browsing their photoshop classes and knew this was the perfect thing. There are two options for the classes: for $10/month you get unlimited access to almost all of the classes or you can purchase the class outright for about $20-$30 and own it forever. Such a steal. 

I dove right in and started taking Meg's class that came highly recommended: Introduction to Photoshop - Fundamentals for Beginners. I'm already loving it and have learned some amazing skills in just a couple of hours. See below for an example of what I've learned so far! I can't wait to take more classes as well. 

book review // the smartest kids in the world (and how they got that way)


Now that I'm fully immersed in the education world, I've become super interested in all the latest education-related books. I started hearing a lot about this book around the office and knew it would be my next read. 

Amanda follows three American students who go on an exchange program in 3 different countries: Finland, South Korea, and Poland. Finland is currently ranks #1 in student achievement, followed closely by Poland and South Korea - all for different reason, however. This was not your average stats and figures type of book. The author does a great job actually telling a story and helping us to understand why these countries are succeeding and what's holding the United States back. I found the book easy to read and engaging. I wanted to know what these countries were doing that we were not. 

It's easy to finish this book and feel discouraged. But I also felt energized for what was possible for kids in the US. These countries have achieved success and in time, I think we can to. If you have any interest in education, I would definitely recommend reading this book. It's not a boring read and definitely kept my attention. 

PS. I'm currently reading Wild and so far, really like it. I also know that I owe you some posts about our trip. They are coming! 

better life bags


Just before our trip, I wrote this post about great bags for traveling. My Better Life bag arrived just before we left and it was so perfect. It has the right amount of pockets and it's really comfy to wear. I love that it looks casual because of the fabric but the leather is so luxurious!

We took these photos outside of a palace in Istanbul (props to the husband for being such a great photog!). The bag held my camera perfectly as well as all the essentials. It's great to know that this company is helping give a meaningful career to immigrant women.

Take a browse through their site and consider customizing your next bag. They also have tons of other great accessories - all customizable!



I'm back in the states and bogged down by jet lag. I arrived at JFK around 2:30pm yesterday. By the time I got home from the airport, it was 5:30pm and I had a massive headache. I resigned to shower and hit the sheets regardless of the fact that it was 7:30pm. I woke up at about 5am this morning and just decided to head to work and get a jumpstart on the day. 

Overall, the trip was a great experience. The two cities were quite different. It's nothing like traveling in a major city like Rome or London or Paris. We were definitely a bit outside our comfort zone. Full details coming soon!
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