How to create a light box

So I needed ((wanted)) a light box to take some product photography. Holding up a piece of Arches paper with one hand, a camera in the other, and making sure the afternoon sun was just right took its toll on me. [Okay, I’m exaggerating… I don’t get good afternoon sun in my new studio.] So, the idea of a light box was born. I googled how to make one and found a tutorial that I really liked at {Never} Homemaker.

I love do it yourself projects and really enjoy accomplishing them. I thought about documenting the process of making this light box, and sharing it with you (like most DIY projects I do), but here’s the thing… If when doing a project, anything slows me down, that’s a {very} bad thing. Slowing down = losing momentum… aka, losing interest. ((I’m working on finishing projects that I start… that’s a new goal of mine.)) So, when the DIY iron strikes, I’ve gotta get to work. The next best thing I can offer you is an awkward photo that my husband took of my excitement when I turned on all of the lights (I know – I look somewhat constipated – but it’s excitement I promise) – AND – share the link to the amazing light box tutorial.

Let there be light!


I found that building the light box was more expensive than the tutorial mentioned… though that probably has something to do with the fact it was posted five years ago. None the less the light box turned out great and so have the product images that I shot using it.

Thanks again for the wonderful tutorial Ashley!!





Thankful to have some time to do some lettering for our home.

Truly thankful for family, near and far – friends, new and old – a home to decorate – laughing as I hear my husband rap in the other room – Indian corn passed down from my grandma – forgiveness – health – The Elf movie that I already watched – the birds in our backyard – learning a new town – thankful for love – thankful that God first loved me.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Splinters, Pity parties and being Thankful.

I just got a splinter in my finger. Again.

We’re working on our new home and the first splinter came by way of a five-inch piece of severed wood that was driven between my thumb and fingernail. With eyes that bulged out of my head, I pulled that stick out of my finger asap. Now on to today, I was cleaning an old window when lo and behold another piece drives into my finger: underneath my nail – Ah-freaking-gain.

If you’ve never experienced this form of torture, be glad. I’m not a lightweight when it comes to pain…. but this my friends, feels like crap. I’d rather get slapped across the face or forced to do burpees until I fatigue or throw up. To add insult to the literal injury, when I went to pull this splinter out of my finger, it broke off underneath my nail. So I did a few lamaze breathing techniques {or something?} and ran to the bathroom while making little piglet noises.

So, as a reward for all of my hard work, I went on Instagram and got annoyed. (Social media is my kryptonite!) I saw something on there that I wanted and didn’t have, so I became jealous – which lead to feeling inferior – which lead to me feeling discontent. Quickly, I realized I only had two choices:

1. Commit to the pity party and go big, for crying out loud (perhaps literally).

2. Remember reality… I have everything I could want and need (maybe besides a Mercedes G wagon – KIDDING – I am thankful for my Nissan) and I live a pretty amazing life.

I’ve been working on changing pathetic attitudes that bring me no where but down. In fact, in small circles, I am known to throw amazing pity parties – for myself.

As I type this post, this is what I’m looking at:


{#justmoved #nofilter #reallife}

Jealous? Probably not… Mainly because you shouldn’t be.

We are geared to share the lovely, the beautiful and the adventurous with our friends, family, and those who don’t even know us. But is that reality? No. It’s not. My life isn’t perfect. Your life isn’t perfect.  Poop happens. {aka: Splinters break off underneath your nail.}

I have so many things to be thankful for… I SHOULD be the poster child for thankfulness… But am I? -no- Are you?

Media tells us about all the things we don’t have. But why can’t we be content with being us? Wholly who we were created to be? …No mold, not like any other, authentic and uniquely beautiful.

About five years ago, I was really struggling with being content and found myself longing for everything that I DIDN’T have (imagine that). During that time, I started saying the phrase: “Envy your life Samira.” When I thought about all of the things in my life that I have to be thankful for (I made a list), it started to change my pity party attitude into one of gratitude, peace and contentedness.

So, since it’s time for an attitude change – right now, here’s my – this is what I’m thankful for right now, list:

1. I have all my fingers – even though one hurts – a lot. I almost lost one once – and I am very thankful that it was saved/healed.

2. My husband likes me. In fact, he loves me. Even better – actually – he honors me. And I know for a fact, not everyone has that. I’m thankful for him.

3. I’m thankful that when I need help, I can call out to the Lord and He’s there. {BOOM!} He’s not too busy for me. He just isn’t – and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

4. Even though my house is a “work in progress”, I have a house. Um hello….thankful!

5. And you know what? I like the sofa that I’m sitting on. I think it has beautiful lines, and as an artist, I’m very thankful for that.

… and as I go… I’m feeling better… I’m taking the focus off of what I don’t have and placing on what I do have… Where my focus should have been all along.

So, what are five things you’re thankful for? I bet if you start with five, you’ll think of six and then seven… Because thankfulness grows when you water it.

Be thankful… When it’s hard. When you wanna cry. When you wanna kick the window that gave you the horrendous splinter in the first place. Be thankful. Again… And again… And again. Until I – until you – can’t help but be thankful.

Because even though thankfulness doesn’t make the pain go away (finger still hurts), it does keep my eyes on the big picture… that life – MY life… YOUR lifereally is something to be thankful for.

Spice it up!

There are so many of ‘the same’ out there: traditional place cards, traditional invitations and traditional gifts. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of the traditional. I think that traditions can bring out beauty, class and romantic flair for the old world. However, if you want to spice up your wedding, or party, you can still pull in modern elements while staying connected to the traditional.

I calligraphed some place cards for a fiftieth birthday party and loved it! The client didn’t give me normal, rectangular, place cards. Instead these place cards had roses cut out in the design. These place cards matched the theme and pulled in a great personal element for each guest.

When you are planning your wedding one of the many things to think about are your bridesmaid gifts. This wonderful bride knew that her bridal party would need hangers so she customized the hangers and made them a part of her gift to them: practical meets beautiful!

People have been adding bows to their wedding invitations for years and years. However, have you ever thought about adding something else: twine, leather or even Swarovski crystals? I added Swarovski crystals to my invitations and loved how it took the feel of the invite more toward fun and funky – which was exactly what we were going for.

When it comes to spicing up your wedding or special event, there are a lot of ideas out there. Especially now with all of the “do it yourself” ideas floating around. At the end of the day, you can be as formal or funky, reserved or off the wall as you want to be. Make your event reflect the mood you are trying to create and who it is all about. No doubt that your guests or guest(s) of honor will love it!

A new twist on something old

Everyone wants to have an escort (or table) card at their wedding or special event. Escort cards are wonderful to have because they kindly guide people to the proper table as opposed to letting your guests loose on an entire room and creating unnecessary chaos – and guaranteed at least one hurt feeling. Usually, all escort cards are pretty much all the same… I am sure you have noticed that when you go to an event, you find your name written on a standard plain card. Now, don’t get me wrong, I pretty much love the traditional table card with the cute little envelope. However if you are looking to break away from the ordinary, here are a few ideas.

A little over a month ago I calligraphed some shamrocks for a Saint Patrick’s Day themed wedding reception. The couple was having a classy wedding but wanted to really take advantage of the holiday that their wedding fell on. Shamrocks, and the color green, were incorporated throughout their reception. Is your wedding on or around a holiday? Incorporating the time of year is an easy way to spice up your wedding reception.

Recently, a couple wanted to say thank you to their guests for being a part of their lives and wedding weekend. Instead of traditional escort cards, I was asked to calligraph (in all lower case letters) their guests names on the back of their wedding favor. The bride and groom donated, in their guests honor, a monetary contribution to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association.

For our wedding, I wanted something completely unlike anything I had ever seen… naturally – why could I just not order some simple, prepackaged cards like everyone else? Daniel and I had our wedding reception at the Historic Train Depot in Winter Park. We both thought that the building was fantastic. It had old exposed brick and light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. The train even graced us with its presence as it ran down the tracks and blew its horn during our reception. With all of these things in mind, I created a vintage train ticket for each guest that took the place of a traditional escort card. Instead of calligraphing their table number on their card, I punched what table number they were to sit at. I wanted our escort cards to be fun, reflect the environment that we were in, and naturally I wanted them to be unique!