guest post

Tips for Editing Photos (quickly and without hassle)

Guest posts are always so exciting to me! I love handing over the reigns from time to time and I enjoy seeing what others come up with to share. One thing I get so excited about is when the guest post is on a topic that I want to learn more about, like photography! So today, Meg of Me with the Three is here to share some photography tips. We all know blogging and pictures go hand in hand, so kick back and enjoy this awesome post, and make sure and head over to Meg's blog and show her some love!


We've all done it.

Started snapping away and didn't change the camera settings, and out came a really poor photo.

The times I find myself doing this most is when I go from a poorly lit location to a bright or artificially lit location.

I've learned a simple two step fix to help "recover" these photos.

Black and white. 

I know, sounds simple. But it really is! Converting to black and white takes away all the distraction of the colors and lighting being wrong, and creates great contrasting images.


In the photo above, the original was taken under bright florescent lighting and it threw the colors off.  There were also a ton of colors in the photo, which is sometimes good, but I wanted to create a more dramatic effect.

Here's my simple process that can be done in most any editing program (I use Lightroom, but the idea stays the same across the board).

1. Convert to black and white. Most programs have a button you can push to do this automatically.
2. Don't stop there though. More than likely, you now have a very flat, mostly grayscale photo, with not much contrast or drama. The next step is to bump up your highlights and lights, while bumping down your shadows and darks. (This is the language used in Lightroom, but again, you should be able to find the Tone Curve of any editing program you choose.)

Really simple! And it creates, I think, a more dramatic photo that's easier on the eyes and more pleasing to look at.

Here's another example.


What do you think? Or what's your favorite way to edit "bad" photos?

Thoughts on Generosity

Madison is no stranger around here, so excited to have her sharing her thoughts on generosity with you all today! Enjoy this precious friend!

Hey y'all! I'm Madison and I blog over at The Wetherills Say I Do! It's a little ole faith inspired lifestyle blog where I talk about marriage, faith, cooking, photography and travel. I have been overjoyed with the blogging world, growing community and getting to have my own little piece of the internet. I'm so excited to be sharing with you today. Thank you, Rachel, for having me!



Over the last few weeks, our church has been doing a series called Inside Out. The premise behind the series is about what it looks like to be changed by the gospel versus motivated by rules and religion. When we fully realize the magnitude of what the gospel means, Jesus changes us from the inside out and our actions begin to align with the principles of the Bible.

A few weeks ago the subtopic was about generosity. It's one of those sermon topics you don't think you need to hear. But then you hear it and you realize you definitely needed to hear it. Don't you love when God rocks your world a little bit?

A little background info for you. My husband and I moved into our house last August. About two months ago now we had a college student move in with us, after realizing that our house was plenty big for just the two of us and wanting to open up our home to someone who needed a temporarily place to stay. It's mostly been a great experience but it's also been really challenging for us, I think for me especially. How does this situation have anything to do with generosity? 

We tend to think of generosity as being limited to money. But what I have learned over the last few months is that it's more than just about money. A generous heart reaches far past our wallets. Generosity only happens when we realize that the gospel is worth more than our bank account. True generosity only happens when we realize we are called to be generous with our money, our time, our possessions, our gifts, our hearts.



What I've learned from the time that James has lived with us is that I am not as naturally generous as I thought. I'm not generous with sharing my quality time with my husband, I'm not generous with my food (basically because it costs money) and sometimes I'm not generous with my home. But what I've learned even more is that Jesus is working in me and helping me to see these areas of weakness.

When we fully grasp the gospel, there is nothing that we wouldn't be generous with. What I realized is that my view of generosity has been so narrow. If God asks me to be generous with my time or my gifts, I'm quick to second guess it and rationalize having something else to do or my gifts being worth more. 

Instead of being overwhelmed by our greed, we should take heart. When we see our own sin, we see the value of Jesus. When we see our true nature as sinners, Jesus is glorified even more.


So I pray that you'll begin to see where your heart can grow to be more generous. Is it with your time, money, gifts, home? What area is it that God is refining you? What have you learned about generosity lately?


Thanks again, Rachel, for having me today. I hope you all will leave a comment and say hello and drop by my blog to see what it's all about! 

Letting Go of Worry (Guest Post) + Giveaway Winner

Today I am so excited to be over at Wetherills Say I Do! Madison, as many of you have picked up on, has become a dear friend in a short time. We talk a ton, and have developed such a sweet friendship. It is relationships like the one that I share with Madison that make me LOVE blogging and this entire community. She listens to me complain sometimes, or get super emotional, or we braintsorm together...or just talk about dogs and Jesus. All in all, I love her dearly, and hope you will hop on over to her blog today and check her out!

Today I am sharing my heart about my struggle with worry, anxiety and stress. So if you ever feel like those emotions rear their heads in your life head over and hear what the Lord has shown me time and time again about these worries. 





Also, a big congrats to Jenna of Dearest Love on winning the Noonday Necklace! :) Don't forget it is still not too late to purchase an item and have some of the proceeds go towards the Ragan Family Adoption!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


BLOGLOVIN' // INSTAGRAM // TWITTER // PINTEREST // FACEBOOK 

Check out my sweet sponsor this month! Jenni, of Frankly My Dear!

Encouraging our Husbands (Guest Post)

Good Morning Friends! I hope your weekend was restful and filled with joy like ours. We had Ben's whole family in town for his sister's graduation, and it was such a celebration! She graduated with honors, AND a 4.0! Way to go Rachel (yes, we have the same name) We are so proud of you!!

I am looking forward to this new week for so many reasons...It is a fresh start, I have an awesome giveaway coming up on Wednesday that you can be a part of while helping someone else, and next Sunday is our one year wedding anniversary! Great week ahead! Today I am actually blogging over at A Harvest of Blessing today, about being an encouragement to your hubby. Make sure and check it out!!



Also, I wanted to take a minute this morning to introduce you to one of my sweet sponsors this month!

Meet Amber of Half Pint Prints! I "met" Amber through Instagram, and just fell in love with her Etsy shop. Her prints are beautiful and I now have several hanging up in our home! Her products are well made, unique, and perfect for gifts, happy mail, and gallery walls! Please go check it out! Now for a few fun questions for Amber:


What are you craving right now? 
Right now I'm craving sunlight and warm weather. I live in Northern Indiana and it's been a hard, long and cold winter this year. We had almost triple the amount of snow this winter than normal. I'm looking forward days at the beach with my little guys and evenings on the porch swing with my man drinking glasses of sweet tea. 

What are you reading?
This is so unexciting right now. Currently I'm reading Dobson's Bringing Up Boys. I grew up in a family of all girls...and boys are WAY different. Add a strong willed boy to the mix and some nights I go to bed wondering what I could have done different for the day. Summer is rolling around and when it does, it's prime reading time in our household. This is when I usually break out Pride & Prejudice. I reread it every summer. It's my all time favorite. My man may not want to read the book, but this is one he'll sit down and watch the movie with me (Colin Firth version preferred).

How would you describe your ideal day?
My ideal day would be waking up and having a nice cup of coffee followed by the best donuts ever from Rise n' Roll Bakery. I'm a total homebody, so I'd probably spend the morning playing in the yard with my boys or riding bikes on the trails. I would do some reading on the hammock. We'd have our family over for a cookout and some evening board games. I like to keep busy, but I also like the busyness to be with my family or friends.

Instagram // Etsy // Facebook  

Thanks so much for sponsoring me Amber! You are a joy to know! :) 

Some post you may have missed: 

Other GREAT reads:

Check out my sweet sponsor this month, Jenni of Frankly My Dear!



HTML Basics for Bloggers (Guest Post)

Good Morning Ladies! I am so happy to share this post with you all and have one of my favorite bloggers give us all some really great tips for using HTML when blogging. Jana of Life Could Be Dream is one of my all time favorite ladies in the blogsphere. She helped me figure out how to start my sponsorship program, advertises her sponsors like a pro, and gives the best blog advice around! So sit back and enjoy this treat of gleaning some wisdom from this lovely lady! :)

Hello beauties! I'm Jana. When I'm not chasing my crazy toddler around the house I blog over at Life Could Be a Dream and I'm also the designer behind Jana Tolman Design. I opened my design business last May and I have been creating custom blog designs and pre made blog templates ever since.

As far as graphics and web design goes, I'm completely self taught. I've learned a lot since I started designing blogs and I've come to have an incredible appreciation for the aesthetics of blog design and good blog maintenance. I think it's imperative that bloggers know a little bit of basic HTML so they can give their blogs a little TLC DIY style. :)



Lesson 1: Centering

Centering sidebar gadgets

In order to create clean lines on your sidebar, it really helps to center. There is an incredibly simple HTML trick to center content: <center></center>. To use it, simply place the content of your HTML between the <center></center> tags. For example, if I wanted to center an image on my sidebar I would use: 

<center><img src="IMAGE URL HERE"></center>

Center your page list and header

template available in my Etsy shop

To center your page list and header, you will need to go to the template designer, click "Advanced" and click "Add CSS". In the CSS field, copy and paste the following to center your pagelist:

.PageList{
text-align: center !important;
}

.PageList li{
display: inline !important;
float: none; !important;
}

The following to center your header if it's an image:

#header-inner img {
margin-left: auto;
margin-right: auto;
}

Or the following if your header is text only:

#header-inner{

text-align: center;
}


Lesson 2: Links and Images

Say you wanted to add text to your sidebar, but you want it to click through to a link. Easy peasy. This is the code you would use:

<a href="LINK HERE>TITLE OF LINK</a>

But what if you wanted to have an image that is clickable to a link?

<a href="LINK HERE"><img src="IMAGE URL"></a>

Lesson 3: Adjusting Margins

This is probably one of my favorite tricks for cleaning up a blog design. If you have sidebar gadgets that are too close together, or for some reason one of your gadgets just isn't centering, this is the trick for you. It might seem a little complicated, but I'll walk you through it. 

First, you need to find the Widget ID of the gadget you are trying to move. You can do this by opening the gadget by clicking "edit" from your blog's layout page, or by clicking on the tool icon next to the gadget from your blog's homepage. 

From there, expand the gadget window. Look at the very end of the url to find the Widget ID. 


Second, we apply the CSS using the Widget ID. Go to the Template Designer, click "Advanced", then click "Add CSS".

To adjust the margins of the gadget you want to move, use the following CSS:

#WIDGET ID{
margin-top: 0px;
margin-right: 0px;
margin-bottom: 0px;
margin-left: 0px;
}


Simply adjust the pixel value until the widget is moved where you want it be. Positive numbers will move the gadget farther from the specified margin and negative numbers will move it closer. 

I hope this has helped you a little bit! For more blogging tips, feel free to stop by my blog and say hello. Thanks for having me! :)







Check out my sweet sponsor this month, Jenni of Frankly My Dear!


The Art of a Charming Southern Thank You Note (Guest Post)

My Southern heart is so full as I read this post! Excited to introduce you to my in post sponsor, co influence network member, and new friend Jenni of Frankly My Dear! Jenni is a joy to know and her blog is an endless resource of creativity and encouragement! Thanks for taking over today Jenni!

Hello New Friends! My name is Jenni and I blog over at Frankly My Dear! I am so excited to be guest posting on Oh, Simple Things & just adore Rachel for allowing me the opportunity!


If there's one thing we southerners learn from an early age, it's etiquette. From proper table manners to respect & everything in between. After all, we are most known for our Southern Hospitality & it's because of our deep tradition of holding to the golden rule - treat others the way you want to be treated!

One of the earliest lessons I remember learning about etiquette was the art of the hand written thank you note. As a kid I was obsessed with all things paper (some things never change) & as a result, thank you notes became my favorite thing.


Today I am sharing some of my most charming tips on the art of writing a charming southern thank you note.





Handwritten

In this day in age everyone is all about convenience. A quick phone call, text message, or email always seems to be the first option to express our gratitude. But I am here to tell you that while it may be quick & easy, it's not the most genuine or sincere option. After all, someone was polite enough to give you a gift or invite you to an event - it's only natural you that you put some time into showing your appreciation. Handwriting a note gives the impression you truly appreciate their generosity. Putting in that extra effort can really go along way!


Personalization

I have received several Thank You Notes and I can always tell those who truly appreciated their gift and those who just had a generic note they wrote to everyone. Don't get me wrong, I totally get that if it was a shower or wedding gift they have lots (and lots) of those notes to write. But it never hurts to add an extra line about how you will use the gift or that you're looking forward to seeing them again.

 A side note to this personalization point is that you should never disclose money (or gift card) amounts in thank you notes. Most likely these will be the most difficult notes to write but a simple line such as "We greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness. We plan to use the money for..." or "it will go to great use in our upcoming marriage/move/etc." will suffice. 



Personality

This is one attribute of a thank you note that I am passionate about! Let your personality show through your writing & your note. Don't be stiff or uncomfortable. You're writing to someone you know, so be polite, sincere, & thankful. Add an inside joke or something special between the two of you. But, don't ramble. You're writing to express gratitude, not give a life update. There's a time and a place for everything!



Timeliness

As with most things in life, the sooner the better. Following an event or soon after you have received a gift it's proper to send your note immediately. However, it's better late than never. It never hurts to say thank you...no matter when it is! There is also a 3 month grace period for all you brides out there!

Stationary 

A traditional letter pressed monogrammed stationary is always my ideal vision of the perfect thank you note...but it certainly doesn't have to be. I have sent various kinds of stationary ranging from that tractional look to simple thanks cards you can find at any store. My point is that just as the person you're writing to put time & effort into your gift, put effort into what you send them. A piece of notebook paper or plain white printer paper may work, but it doesn't really give the impression of much forethought. 

Visit The Stationary Studio or Southern Stationary for some great stationary finds!

via

Hospitality & grace may be ingrained in southern tradition, by anyone can write a charming thank you note like any southern belle using these tips!


Thanks so much for joining me here today! I enjoyed my time with you & if you haven't already visited my little corner of the blogging world, I would love to have you!



Have a great Wednesday, friends!

Frankly my dear...add some charm to your thank you notes!

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When God Uses The Unexpected (A Guest Post)

I am so excited to introduce to you one of my sweet sponsors. Madison from The Wetherills Say I Do has become so much more than a sponsor. She has become my friend. We email, text, and ask each other for advice. And most importantly we encourage each other. It has been the sweetest thing to get to know this lovely lady, and it is with great joy that I hand over the reigns to her here at Oh, Simple Thoughts today! This is an insightful post, and such a testimony to the hand of our God. The blog is all yours Madison...

Have you ever thought about how God has orchestrated something in your life? When I think back on the timing of events in my life, it blows my mind how obvious it is that God's hand was in it. Of course at the time, it was never so obvious.

Best friend stories are always heartwarming. I want to tell you a story about how God used someone and something completely unexpected to bring together me and one of my best friends.


At the end of my sophomore year, I was looking for a new living situation. I knew it would only be for a semester because I was studying abroad in the spring. That basically meant I could make myself content with any living situation since it wouldn't be permanent. A friend had an open room in her suite for the fall and I took her up on the offer.

The next semester I moved in and met my new roommates. Within the first few days or weeks, Kelsey and I just clicked. We bonded over our love of coffee and music. Eventually our talks grew deeper and deeper and we stopped talking about our favorite songs and started talking about our favorite Bible verses. Our late night chats about my fiancé and her boyfriend eventually turned into sitting on my bedroom floor reading through 1 Corinthians together. Kelsey told me on a few occasions how I was challenging her faith, something I had never done before with a friend and something I honestly had no intention of doing. We grew a lot that semester and have continued growing together ever since.

I don't bring this story up to brag about my friendship or to make myself seem high and mighty. I bring this story up because the more time that passes, the more I realize that God completely orchestrated our friendship from the start. Kelsey was randomly put in a room with that mutual friend freshman year. Our friend was an art major, but I hadn't ever interacted with her until we both ended up on a 10 day trip to Italy during my freshman year. Had I not been going to Italy for that semester, I probably wouldn't have opted to room with strangers. Do you see where I'm going here? You could call it coincidence but I see God's hand in this relationship.


The Bible says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time..." (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and it reminds me of how perfect God's timing really is. He is in the inventor of time so it only makes sense that he would use time to play out His plans for our lives. It's not always easy to comprehend or accept, especially when death, sickness, divorce, etc, ever comes at a good time. But when we look at the good things He has done in our lives, doesn't His timing seem good? Even when it's hard, we have to choose to believe it's also good, perfect and right in the bad as well.

The other thing that completely fascinates me in this situation (and many others in my life) is how God uses unexpected people. We expect God to use His people for His glory. But what about when He uses nonbelievers? God is capable of all things (Matthew 19:26) so why is it that my mind is always blown when He uses nonbelievers in some part of His plan? The mutual friend we had was struggling with her faith and I don't believe that she felt "called" to ask me to be her roommate, for her, it was just coincidence. But again, without that friend, I wouldn't be friends with Kelsey, we would have never even met. We always think of God in the big ways, but the little places I see God working are where I feel most close to God. The fact that He cares enough for me to put me into a living situation that is not only good, but also leads me to meeting one of my best friends, is just a testament of how God is working in all situations of our lives. Not just the big praise worthy ones, but the little details of our lives too.

 "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Think about an unexpected time in your life where you saw God working. Does God surprise you sometimes? Was there a time in your life where God clearly orchestrated the events of your life?

Thanks again Madison for sharing your heart today! It is a joy to know you, and I am so thankful to have you here today! Y'all please go check this girl out, she is a killer designer/photographer! Go check out her awesome space and amazing talent!!