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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Photo Credit: TMinspired Photography

Last night as I sat, sipping chai tea and scribbling notes for my book, an old beloved little song came on my Spotify and I just couldn't help but smile. I know it's an oldie, but it's a good one. I love vintage music, like Frank Sinatra. And I was reminded by the Lord in that moment that yes, the best is yet to come. For you and me, friend. So remember today, whatever you are walking through... do not give up. Keep on keeping on. God has a plan. You are so loved. 

And don't you forget it.


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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hey Beauties!

So I have a special treat for ya today. We all love Instagram, right? Well, most of us do. Some of us are even borderline addicted. (Yes, me. Sorry not sorry. If you wanna find me, I'm here) I've actually found it to be this amazing community and I've met SO many awesome people through it. But sometimes, it's hard to take fab photos. And since I know we could all use some tips and tricks, I've asked a pro to give us some hints: my sweet friend Taylor - professional photographer extraordinaire (remember her from this Santa Monica photoshoot we did?) She has such an amazing heart as well as being a talented photographer. She is based out of So Cal, and if you're local then I highly recommend her for weddings, and any and all events or photography needs. Meet her at the bottom of this post and check out her links! 

Grab your coffee, friend. 'Cause we're about to learn how to take some amazing photos! 

6 Tips for Taking Better Instagram Photos

1. Know the camera you’re using 
You don’t need to be a professional photographer to take great pictures. Whether a DSLR or snap-and-shoot, or the camera built in your phone, KNOW the equipment that you’re using, and learn their boundaries! When you know what your camera can do, the better photos you can take and the faster you can get the shot you want.

If using your phone, I would suggest to NOT use the Instagram camera. Instead, use the camera app built into your phone. That way, you can choose what photo you want later, and not be stuck with the first shot. Sometimes it takes a couple times to get the exact one you want, and the Instagram app can limit your timeframe.

2. Find a new perspective
Bored with your current Instagram photos? Take everything from a new perspective. Think about the angles, and unusual ones. Shoot the object from below or above, or maybe off to the side to tweak the lighting. Get creative with the angles you use to bring a unique twist.
 Taking a photo of your coffee mug? Think of your surrounding areas - find a pretty place to set that coffee mug so it automatically looks better, not too plain.
Think about what you can focus and what can be blurred. Remember the rule of thirds (whether or NOT to use it), as well as what colors and what lighting you’d like to feature. Don’t box yourself in - it’s always fun to try a new perspective.

3.  Find the photo editing apps that you love

Sometimes, the photos I take with my phone are just okay. They were meant to just capture the moment, and I didn’t go “out of my way” to capture it. But, when I am given a whole new creative outlet, I take it! You can make almost any photo look a whole lot better through the use of a good photo editing application.

Apps that I personally love:
Afterlight: Definitely my favorite app to use to edit photos through my iPhone. With the ability to change brightness, saturation, clarity and sharpness, ect. As well as the ability to add filters, textures, and borders.

A Beautiful Mess: This new app is my favorite. You can add adorable boarders, doodles, and text. With options to pay and upgrade for more doodle and font options. There are filters you can use, too, to help bring your photos to life.

Whims, InstaQuote, Textgram Free: Add quotes to your landscape or portrait photos! Or, use the backgrounds in these apps to write a note to your Instagram followers.

 Squareready: Have a photo that doesn’t need much editing? Make it “square ready” for Instagram through this app.  With just a couple of clicks you’re ready to post it on your feed.

Photoshake and Pic Stitch: Great apps to create collages of your photos for when you want to share them all, but don’t want to clog the feed.

Or, if you take photos with your camera, you can edit them directly in Photoshop, Lightroom, iPhoto, or any other photo editing application that you use. Then, load it your phone and post away!

4. Build a community with other instagrammers that inspire you

I’m a photographer, and I love following and connecting with other photographers. I love showing them my appreciation of their work. (Same with crafters and bloggers.) It even helps me better strategize when to post, what hastags to use, and what I like to see – which helps me know what types of photos I’d like to feature of my own work to my own followers.

Important: You don’t do this to copy their work and to mimic them. You follow them to help your own inspiration flow.

5.   Think like a square

I don’t mean it the way you might think I do. But the best way to improve is to practice, practice, practice, right? If you’re taking photos specifically for Instagram, remember that you’ll need to crop it. OR, grab an app like Squareready or Afterlight to add in the white borders to make your horizontal photos square. I use this feature often.

Stretch your inner creative square: You can even join in the monthly challenges on Instagram where you have one word/subject per day and your challenge is to capture that in one photo. It helps stretch your creativity and it can be a lot of fun to see what others post, too.

6Be a respectful square

Take LOTS of photos but don’t upload lots of photos. When you want to, use a collage. Don’t to overwhelm your followers with a whole bunch of photos related to the same thing, or even simply clog the feed with all of your photos – even if they are great! People can get annoyed and end up unfollowing you, and no one wants that. This doesn’t mean to not post your photos ever, but try to not post more than 3 photos a day, and post them all at least an hour apart.

Learn from me: When I went to Vegas recently, I had a ton of fun sharing on Instagram. I made sure they were all at least an hour apart, but for a weekend trip with a LOT of photos I wanted to share outside of a collage (for each one to be featured), so it was quite frequent. I ended up losing close to 10 followers throughout that weekend, and it was a bummer.

So when you’re learning your camera, finding new creative perspectives, testing editing apps, and building a community within your Instagram followers. Remember to think like a square, and always be a respectful one.

Happy Instagramming!

Have a tip to share about Instagram? Have a question? I’d love for you to leave a comment on this blog post.

I also wanted to quickly share with you a little bit about what I have coming up. I’m a Virtual Assistant and Photographer, and my business, TMinspired, is about to have a rebranding launch.

On Saturday, June 8th, I will be relaunching my website with a whole bunch of new content, and a fresh new look. Not only that, but I will also be hosting 7 GREAT giveaways!

So please, head on over to my website now and subscribe to my blog via email. You’ll then receive notifications of each new giveaway and future blog posts. You can even follow me across the rest of Social Media, through Facebook, Twitter, and of course, Instagram! I do NOT want you to miss out on this launch party!

Thank you so much for reading, and God bless!
Taylor Sheuerman

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hey guys! Advertising is open for June here at Sweetness Itself Blog! 

There's alot of fun going on here on this little space. God is doing big things! I'm over at Quite Magazine every week as a contributing writer, working on my e-book that will be released this August, and being a part of the Influence community and preparing to be a community leader at the conference in September! 

I would love to work with you. Helping promote blogs and shops, and building community in this blog world by introducing amazing bloggers and shop owners like you to my precious, beautiful readers! That is my heart. And if you're interested, I'd love to have you here. Lots of different options are available, see below! A few as low as a Starbucks LATTE! Have questions? Don't hesitate to email me - 

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---> Don't have a button? No worries! I'll make one for you for free!

Current Stats // As of 5/28/13

Pageviews last month: 18,000 +
Google Friend Connect Followers: 1,120+
     Twitter: 1,350+                
Instagram: 2,180+
Pinterest: 930+
Hello Cotton: 167+ {featured on Lifestyle blogs of the day in June 2012}
Facebook: 418+ {posts are also shared with 1,000+ personal Facebook friends}

Bloglovin' - #15 of 248 in Christian blog category



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           ---> Sweetness itself! (I had to. ;)  
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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Happy Memorial Day weekend, my beautiful readers!

I pray and hope your days are full of sweetness and blessings. I wanted to stop by and share a little more about my upcoming book! I've mentioned it several times and want to tell you more details! I'd also love your prayer in this project and I shared a little encouragement for you to chase your dreams. If you are pursing a big crazy dream and would like prayer, leave a comment below! 

Have a beautiful, blessed day!
You are so loved.


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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

If my current state is any indication of how this blog post will be, then it will most likely be random. Because, you see, I'm sitting here working on a Quite Magazine website article, and as I work, the last 3 songs I listened to were by the following artists: Miranda Lambert, Frank Sinatra, then Jordin Sparks. I just downed my 2nd cup of strong coffee with soy milk creamer and way too much brown sugar. Ate about 10 Cheezits. And then a pickle. Sorry to gross you out at that combo, but I'm just bein' honest. (And I hate to admit this, but one of Jessica Simpson's greatest hits just began playing on my Spotify. So, yeah...) If you don't wanna join me on this random blog post of the day, totes feel free to bail. I wouldn't blame you. But if ya wanna hop in and join me on this random ride, come on friend! 

In no particular order, here are some things that are making me happy lately that I just have to share....

First...  Quite Magazine 
Okay, I know you all know about Quite Mag if you've read my blog for more than a day. But if you're new here (welcome!!!) or you just wanna find out more, today is your lucky day! When Morgan, our precious editor and brains behind this whole amazing magazine, approached me about being a contributing writer for Quite, I prayed about it and just knew the Lord was opening the door for me to be a part. It is such an honor and privilege and honor to write for such a positive women's magazine. We need more of those, right? Don't even get me started on the negativity that is thrown at young girls and women today in the form of overly sexualized, airbrushed magazines that promote an unhealthy body image and trash girl's minds. Quite Magazine is the opposite. On lifestyle, culture, and faith - we talk about everything from dating and relationships (my main topic), technology, health, marriage, music, movies, fashion, and much more. We also strive to promote a healthy body image and encourage young women to embrace who God made them to be - and to respect their bodies by dressing modestly and being themselves! 

Our first print issue was released this Spring and let me tell you, it is gorgeous, dahhlings! It seriously is. I may or may not have screamed, hyperventilated and shed a few happy tears when I opened my mailbox and got my copy. Being a part of a magazine like this was a childhood dream of mine and it's cool to see the Lord so graciously answer my prayers :) 
You just have to subscribe, friend. Whether you are a post-25-something like me or a teenager! There's something in it for all of us and I promise it will leave you very inspired. Subscribe to the mailing list and get free stuff, and subscribe to the magazine HERE! 

Also, we recently launched this AMAZING campaign called #QUITEbeautiful. 
It showcases our idea of beautiful - being natural, being ourselves. We want to encourage women to embrace their inner beauty and go sans makeup! Learn more on the website! A fun part of this campaign is that we ask you to post a natural photo of yourself on social media, add the hashtag #QUITEbeautiful, and every photo has the possibility of making it into our next magazine! 

Check out some of the articles I've written on Quite Magazine's website and some of my favorites from our team of women I respect oh so much:

4 Benefits of Not Dating in High School 

Fabulous, Modest Fashion 

8 Great First Date Questions

A Few Gardening Tips! 

What If True Love Didn't Wait For You?

4 Ways to Embrace (& Enjoy!) Being Single 

Ok friends, so alllll of that to say: go check out Quite Magazine. I believe in it. You will be inspired and encouraged. If you're a mama, a grandparent or a guy (I know you guy readers exist! ;) then share this magazine with your daughter, girlfriends, or cousins. Very positive.

Secondly... SHOES.

Okay, I usually don't do alot of advertising of brands here on this little blog. I always want to make sure the things I share are 100% real and from my heart. And I love this website... sooo, have you heard of Shoe Dazzle? They asked me to partner with them to share their fab shoes, and I said yes because I legitimately LOVE their program and know you will too! (full disclosure: yes sharing this is sponsored and I am being compensated.) But if you are looking for affordable, fashionable shoes this is the link you need to check out. It's like having a personal stylist because you take a quick quiz and Shoe Dazzle creates a personal showroom for you. Take the ShoeDazzle quiz to gain access to your showroom with personalized picks just for you. Make a purchase within 2 days of taking the quiz and get 25% off your first item ordered. Check out Shoe Dazzle HERE! 
These are the pretty shoes they styled and chose for me - pretty accurate to my style, loved most of their picks!

And thirdly... not gonna lie, I am still re-living my American Idol front row Keith Urban concert moment via YouTube. Kind of awesome.

Blessings to you this Wednesday, lovely friends. You are SO LOVED by God. Remember that.



PS - and if you're reading along with my randomness still at this point,
 you should get some kinda prize. 

**linking up with the lovely Casey Wiegand*** 
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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Few words today. Many prayers for those affected by the heartbreaking tornado, for those in Oklahoma. 

Reminded of God's grace today. I read this and want to remind you too - Isaiah 61 says He gives beauty, joy, praise instead of despair. Hold onto Him. He is the only One who will never let us down, the only One we can hold onto, the only thing we can never ever lose. 

Love and hope to you and you...and you.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Happy Monday, beautiful friends. 

My prayer for you who read today is that you will be full of new hope, sweet peace, amazing grace.

One of my favorite quotes at the moment is, "Life is beautiful. And life is brutal. It's brutiful" as one of my favorite writers, Glennon Melton always says. I shared this in my vlog Friday, lately my life can be so well summed up by this sentiment, and I'm sure you understand. But God truly does bless the broken road, and there are so many sunshiney moments among the dark ones. Sharing a few of mine today. May we be reminded, dear readers, to look for the good. And if we do, we will find it.

yes, i realize this version of the song is from the Hannah Montana movie. it was the only acoustic version i could find. don't judge. ;) 

A few inspirations, encouragements and little snapshots from my life these past few weeks...

{Malibu Beach Day} 
{Sister's Birthday Celebration}
{Headed to see Keith Urban perform at American Idol! Can you tell I'm excited?
Also, why do I look like a muppet in this picture?!
{Jam Session with my dear friend Rachel}
{This pup is missing his brother...But we're gonna be OK} 

You are loved.
And He has a plan for your brutiful life.
Know that :)



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Friday, May 17, 2013

Hi beautiful friends! 

I know I haven't been around on this little space the last week, and that's just because other life stuff has been a bit crazy and time consuming, but I wanted to stop in and say happy weekend and share a little bit about my experience this week at Keith Urban's American Idol show and how God has been speaking to me about how He sees, hears and knows...  So grab some coffee & let's chat about life.

Sending love, prayers and a hug to you this weekend.
You are loved.
Don't forget it.


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Monday, May 13, 2013

Love to you this Monday, my dear readers. Thank you for all the sweet words and prayers after my sweet pup passed away last week. It's still stings, but the Lord surely is faithful to mend our wounds and heal our hearts. 

I want to share a little encouragement for your week... last night as I cleaned out my desk drawers, I happened upon a piece of ripped white paper. A few years ago when walking through a heartache, I took a purple Sharpie pen to a piece of cardstock and I scribbled this as the title, 

"Erin - You are going to be OK, because...." 

and then I wrote out a page of Bible verses to remind myself of truth when I felt like I was sinking in sorrow and drowning in tears. Working as a nanny at the time, I would slip that paper into my purse and pull it out as a reminder in difficult moments. The Lord knew I needed to be reminded of those same truths last night. And so I want to also share them with you: 

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18 

"Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." -Psalm 34:10b

"You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you." -Isaiah 43:4 

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." -Psalm 84:11 

"He redeems my soul in safety from the battle I wage." Psalm 55:18 

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you." - Isaiah 26:3

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. -John 14:27

Be encouraged this week, my dear friends.
You are oh so loved, special
and beloved to God.
Your life matters and your heart is a gift to this world.
Remember, it's all going to be OK with Jesus.

What are some of the verses that encourage you the most? 
Share them in the comments below!




PS - Happy Anniversary tomorrow to my sweet Mom & Dad, who are celebrating 30 YEARS of marriage! A post on that and an announcement coming in the next days :)

Also - the Lord was so sweet to me this week. He knows when we have bad weeks, losses and heartache. And He is so evidently faithful, even in the littlest and seemingly silliest ways- this girl gets to go see a Keith Urban show tomorrow... for free! And I am so excited. Will be back to share more this week :) 
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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Celebrating my mama today: thankful for her godly character, best friendship, sacrifice for me and my sister, beautiful heart, kindness and love. 

 "For anyone who's ever loved a child... or hopes for one someday.." (Kelle Hampton) Happy Mother's Day!

5 Generations // me, my mama, grandma, great grandma and my great great grandma ;)

Hug a mama today.


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Thursday, May 9, 2013

                                                       I Am by Nichole Nordeman on Grooveshark

If I were to be honest with you, I would tell you my heart's all achy tonight. It's been one heck of a week. Actually, it's been one heck of a year so far. Life comes at us fast and hard sometimes. And looking back on my last weeks and months, it kinda feels like a haphazard whirlwind/wild rollercoaster ride mixed with lots of change, some just-staying-the-same, and honestly - a lot of hot messes of tears. And friends, I have to admit, I've done "the ugly cry" a couple times. Here on our little blogs, we must share only what we are comfortable with, only what our boundaries allow - for our hearts, families, and personal convictions. And so, I have not divulged everything I've walked through lately, because it's not always my story to tell. I share this to let you know, though sometimes our Instagram pictures and Facebook profiles, our Tweets and blog posts may look glammed up, perfect and happy all the time - those are just little slices of our lives, little snapshots of our whole pictures... small tastes of our whole story. And I think it's OK to share the lovely things, the blessings - to look for the good and share it. It's not always appropriate or right for us or our families to share the good, bad AND the ugly. So I hope you know that, though bloggers can seem all put together and perfect, we are not. Or rather, I am not. When I talk about heartache, I know it. Even if I don't share a laundry list of reasons why. I know. And you are not alone, my friend, in those struggles, heartaches, and quiet "underworlds" of your life you walk through - the things you do not share on social media. The struggles you face, that you don't or cannot talk about with friends. You are not alone. We all face heartaches, in our own unique ways, and no one's life is picture perfect.

This week, I faced a loss and it cut deep. It's honestly been a really, really rough few days. (Hence my lack of posting here.) When I was 13, my family adopted two of the sweetest Labrador Retrievers ever: one chocolate, one black. Dad named them Joshua and Caleb. Those two precious pups lived through so much life with my family. Nearly 13 years of ups, downs, happy days and sad ones. They were always there - through every one of my teen years, and many of my 20's. So many memories. And they represent so much in my life and my family's life. Early this week, sweet Caleb, our black lab, began to struggle to catch his breath. Being elderly dogs, I knew this day was coming, but just wasn't really ready. Caleb, the once frisky and always hyper dog we loved, laid quietly and peacefully on an old quilt....breathing in and out. Slowly. He wasn't sick. Just tired. And Tuesday morning, I sat down next to him. I whispered what a good dog he was, a good friend. And how sorry I was that I wasn't there... when I was in college, in the last few I missed him. He just propped his chin on my leg, as if to say he forgave and forgot it all - as dogs do. Tears falling softly from my eyes onto his graying head. The sky outside was heavy early this week... cloudy, gray and rainy. Strange for Southern California in May. As if the weather matched the sadness in the air. Yesterday morning, he quietly passed away. My dad buried him under an old oak tree on my family's land. We cried, alot. We knew it was his time to go, he lived long and happily. His sweet brother pup is rather lost without him, and that is so heartbreaking to see. Joshua laid on his brother's freshly laid grave yesterday. He knew. And we will all really miss him. 
caleb & i, last spring

Quite honestly, this morning, something in me rose up - angry. Not just over this natural loss but all heartache. I hate loss. My spirit really does. And I know it may sound silly to someone, my heartache and pain over losing our dog, but it's real and it matters. The pain and loss you are walking through may be far greater than this loss, and it matters... oh so much. I hate endings. Change. Pain. Disappointment. Death. 
But then I remember the hope I have. The true, phenomenal hope - because death does not win! I've read the end of the Bible. Death loses! Jesus wins, through His death on the Cross. Yes, we experience loss and disappointment, heartache and death here on this broken earth. But death does not have the final say - Jesus has the final say. And He is LIFE. 

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,
but I (Jesus) have come that you may have life
and have it to the full." 
John 10:10

Friend, if you are searching for hope in loss today - the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a pet, a dream, a job, health, a home, anything....know there is a Heartache Healer. He loves you. And He offers you life - eternal life. 
(Also, I really believe God takes care of animals... as my dad (who is a Doctor of Theology ;)  says - if God creates a place for animals here on the earth, wouldn't He take care of them in heaven?)

I am thankful for the I Am, tonight.
For hope in loss.
For the Heartache Healer. 

And thank you for the sweet prayers for my aching heart. 
If your heart is aching too, please share in the comments so we can pray.
Also - next week, I have some really exciting stuff to announce.
A project I've been working on for a year, something I am so thrilled to share with you.
Until then, love and hug and be loved.
Life is short.



I love this thought on loss:

"You will lose someone you can't live without,
 and your heart will be badly broken,
and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved.
But this is also good news.
They live forever in your broken heart that doesn't seal back up.
And you come through.
It's like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly -
that still hurts when the weather gets cold,
but you learn to dance with the limp."
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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

You know that passion in your heart? The thing that makes you feel like you're gonna fly. The thing you're really good at. Maybe it's something you used to do, and now it's not in your life anymore. Something that you just love, that doesn't feel like work at all, that gives you a sense of fulfillment. Maybe it's a ministry or a talent or a dream. Maybe you used to love painting, but over the years, you've stopped putting brush to paper. Perhaps your passion is playing soccer, but somehow over the years and obligations of life, you haven't played since college. 

Maybe for you, like me, it's music. Playing piano and singing are such a part of my soul, such a big part of my life growing up, something that truly shaped and molded who I am today. And yet, in the past few years, it's something that was really removed from my life. I've grieved over the loss of it, like an old friend. I've missed it. I've felt a little hole in my heart in it's absence. And for a while, I avoided it. But tonight, I pressed down the black and white keys and sang again. 
Friend, I want you to think today about those things you've always wanted to do ... 
And the things that you miss.
You should do them.

You are loved, friend.
And the dreams God has given you matter.


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Monday, May 6, 2013

The prettiest, sparkly headband arrived in my mailbox last week. It's from my friend and sponsor, Lilla Rose - Jackie Adams who graciously sent me the headband and asked me to review and share it with you all! Visit her link to see more beautiful hair pieces, clips, headbands and hair jewelry! I chose this sparkly headband and have been wearing it in the bohemian style. It is truly the most comfortable headband I've ever worn! It's so well made clearly high quality, and the back is stretchable elastic so it stays and fits perfectly in my hair. Wonderful company - click below to learn more and get one for yourself or as a gift today!
Lilla Rose
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