Thursday, December 20, 2018

Christmas Home Tour

The Farmhouse is Ready for Christmas!

Welcome to The Ponds

Come on in!

This year it's all about the red.  We had covers made to all the cushions and pillows on the porch.  

We have so much area to decorate on the porch which usually proves to be a challenge.  We were up to the task this year!!!

Red and Black Buffalo Check took center stage around the swing.  This is the area just outside the master bedroom!

The screened porch also shines with red.  The wooden shiplap tree is still one of my favorite DIY projects.  I love how it looks on the porch!

The red birdhouse was a Hobby Lobby find  

The tablescape for the porch is full of DIY projects.  The twig toparies, the recycled burlap ribbon table runner and the snow flocking on the twigs and pine cones were are projects for the holiday season.  All the tutorials are saved under my stories on Instagram.  

Here's a close up view of the toparies and the twig place holders.  

More DIY toparies and DIY Merry Merry garland.  

I feel this table isn't just for the holidays but can be used all winter long.  

The snow in this scene adds so much to this winter scene.  However, it was a really early snow. 

Close up view of the table runner and twig enhancement. 

Even the baker's rack is full of Christmas Charm.  The cardinal print was picked up for only $1.00 at a thrift store.  

Once inside the house, the added color of red continues.  

More pillows with new red and white covers fill the sofa with warmth.  

Another DIY garland adorns the sliding barn door.  This was made using old music sheets and acron garland.  

This area may be my favorite this year.  The trunk was a makeover that I worked on over the fall.  I've been collecting Vintage Shiny Brite ornaments for a couple of years and finally had enough to fill my tree with nothing but!  The tree is held by a European Grape Gathering Container.  I stacked my shiny brite boxes and used them as holiday decor also.  

I have an abundance of snowmen and you'll see them scattered throughout the house.  

This year I painted a Christmas calf.  We had twin white calves in the pasture this summer and I couldn't resist their cute faces.  This one is Sophie and I love her pout.  I have prints of Sophie available in my online shop.  

Another new addition to the table this year is the wooden folding bench.  I was lucky to find it at Goodwill for only $10.00.  It was in perfect condition except for the many initials carved into the seat and back.  Instead of sanding them away, I just painted over them.  I love leaving the history of a piece in place when possible.  

In addition to my red and white Christmas decor, I decided to add to some gold touches this year.   This was originally inspired by the gold pear place card holders that I found at a thrift store.  When I returned a few weeks later to find the large gold pears that matched, I knew they would find their way on my Christmas Tablescape.  

I also added so music sheets from an old hymnal that I found at the thrift store as my table runner.  

These gold bottle brush trees were a steal at Walmart.

I found the candy stripe plates at Pier One and the clear Christmas tree plates with gold rim, I've had for many years.  I always find a place for them each Christmas.  

I think Sophie likes her view!!!  

Even the island has a tree this year.  This little tree actually is adorned with mini Christmas cookie cutters.  (another thrift store find)

T'is the Season.   One of my favorite items to decorate seasonally is the Pantry Door Chalk Board.  

Even the bottle drying rack (that doubles as our coffee mug rack), has a festive touch with Christmas Mugs and Christmas cookie cutters.  

I love this DIY Jingle All The Way sign over the open shelving.  

Here is a close up print of Sophie.  She's available in this close up version and the full version over the table.  

Again, I added touches of Gold by using the fun rustic Gold bells on my banister.  

Upstairs, in the loft the Coop Bar has some of my vintage shiny brites holding court.  

Here are our new lights in the loft.  I love them shining down on the DIY Garland.  

In the master bedroom, we try to disguise the TV by surrounding it with a lot of vintage goodies.  The Grinch quote is another DIY project.  

My birthday present this past year was the primitive step back hutch.  I love how it looks filled to the brim for Christmas!.  Here you see several of the flocked trees that I made this year.  Check out my easy peasy tutorial on my Instagram stories.  

Look familiar?    These pieces previously were in our master bedroom.  Now they are in the guest room.  I love this little tree with nothing but vintage snowmen ornaments.  The potato sifter also looks nice holding the tree.  

This bed is probably the most photogenic area of the house.  It's all decked out in red and black buffalo check this year, and you can see why!!!

The plaid plates were a end of season purchase from Pottery Barn last year.  They look great on my DIY Book Plate Holders.

We were so blessed and fortunate to have a major magazine want to shoot our house for their next years Holiday Farmhouse Style Magazine.  Here's a sneak peek of the set up during the shoot.  

I'll let you know when the issue hits the newsstands!

Even the Pier got a little Christmas Makeover!  

This has been an amazing year and I so appreciate you for following along.  I can't wait to see what next year holds for us here at the Ponds.  
Please message me with any questions.  Please remember to follow me on Instagram to stay up to the minute with all our DIY and projects here at the Ponds. 

Have a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year!


Monday, July 30, 2018

5 iPhone Camera Tips I Wish I'd Known...

5 Camera Tips I Wish I'd Known When I Started Blogging

Yes, I use my iPhone for all my photography.  When I first started my blog and sharing my photo's on social media, I didn't have a clue about my iPhone camera.  I considered buying a real camera several times, but when I would ask "what camera do you use?", I would hear over and over again, I use my smart phone. 

 I want you to know that I DO NOT CLAIM to be an expert.  I have no photography training.  These are tips that I've gathered over the last year and a half from different online sources, blogs and from the iPhone manual.  Recently, I've been more of a student.  I've taken some challenges presented to me to become a better photographer with my iPhone.  I've actually surprised myself with some of the results.  I feel certain that most of these tips will apply to any smart phone, however my experience is with the iPhone.  So with that being said, here are the 5 tips that I've personally implemented into my iPhone photography for sharing on social media.  


Always take several photo's of your subject using the phone camera!  What?  I thought that was what we were talking about!  What I mean is don't take the photo from within the social media app.  You will not have the editing control that you do with the iPhone camera.  Also, professional photographer's take 100's of shots to capture one that's perfect.  This may sound so simple but a lot of posts are one shot and done.


Focus and Exposure are automatically built into your phones camera.  However, as smart as your camera is, it doesn't know what your subject is.  You have to touch your finger to the subject on the screen to show where you want the camera to focus.  Then you can adjust the exposure by moving your finger up or down.

 If you plan to take several shots, you will want to lock the focus by holding your finger on the screen until the AE AF Box appears at the top of the screen.  This will keep the focus until you are done with that subject.

This is particularly important information when taking interior shots.  If the light is coming into the room through a window, the exposure will be set based on the light in the window automatically.  This leaves the rest of the room in the dark.  So you will want to touch your finger to a dark area and set the exposure (by sliding your finger up on the screen) so that that area of the room is visible.  Also, don't over expose the shot.  You can always increase the exposure when you edit the photo.  

This photo was taken without adjusting the exposure

Here I placed my finger on the darkest area of the screen and slide my finger up until the exposure was revealing the items on the table more clearly.  


Don't Zoom!  Don't Flash!  Ok that's two tips!  When you Zoom, you will reduce your resolution.  This has been a huge mistake for me.  Instead of using the zoom, you want to get as close to your subject as possible.  When you can't get as close as you would like, take the photo anyway and then during the editing process, CROP.   This is something that I rarely did until recently.  Cropping will reduce the resolution as well, but not as drastically as the zoom will.  You can purchase zoom lens attachments for your iPhone camera.   This is something I've not invested in.  Most of my photography is home décor, so I've not felt the need for this added zoom.  I've seen OOWA and Olloclip recommended.  Again, I don't have personal experience with them.

Using natural light is best for all photography.  The flash will almost always overexpose the subject.  Just don't use it.    

Here is an example of cropping the photo to bring the subject in closer.  If I had gotten this close to him, his head would have disappeared.


Use a tripod and remote shutter control.  This is one of the best tips I've implemented in my home décor photography.  Here are some reasons why:  #1 - you will not have blurry photo's when the camera is steady.  #2 - you can get level with your subject just by adjusting the tripod up or down.  No more getting down on your knees or lying on the floor.  It's best to be level with your subject, especially when photographing home décor.  Here is a link to the tripod I use.  It comes with a wireless remote control camera shutter for smartphones.  It's light weight and so inexpensive.  I highly recommend it.

Fully extended, the tri-pod measures 49 inches tall

It collapses to only 16 inches long

Wireless Remote Control Camera Shutter for Smartphones
Is include with tri-pod
This assures not movement when snapping the photo.

If you don't want to use a remote shutter control.  You can use the volume button on your iPhone to snap a picture.  Be sure that your body is as stable as possible by spreading your feet apart and hold the phone level with your subject for a more appealing view.  One mistake most people make is holding the phone eye level when snapping the photo.


Edit your photos!!!  I recommend using one of the many apps available to edit.  I personally use Aviery.  It's very easy for an amateur like myself to navigate and I feel I have a lot of control with this app.  I also have Snapseed and find it simple as well.  Lightroom CC is another highly recommended editing tool.  I personally haven't taken the time to get comfortable with it.   Remember, to crop your photo's to edit out undesirable content.  I try to use the same basic edits with all my photo's to keep them somewhat consistent.  

I hope these tips are helpful to you.  I wish I had known these simple tips when I first began sharing on Social Medial and writing my blog.  Hopefully, I will replace the original photo's on my blog one day.  For now, I'll just move forward and try to implement these tips into my future posts.  

I do encourage you to try these tips and practice.  I've known some of these tips for some time but I really started to GET IT when I started practicing.  

Have a great day! 

xoxo, Rachel