Props Under £20 for Creating Beautiful Blog & Instagram Images

Props under £20 for creating blog and Instagram images

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I’m certainly not a photographer by any means (that is more of The Bloke’s passion than mine), but one of the things that I enjoy doing in my free time is experimenting with props and different flat lay images that I can use for my blog and social media.

I’ve written about creating beautiful flat lay images before, but this was more about the process of how to set them up. Since then, I’ve received lots of questions asking about prop and budget ideas from others who want to create their own but don’t want to spend a fortune doing so.

There’s a million different advice posts and tutorials on the subject, but what I’ve discovered when trawling through a some of them is that many have splashed out on different lighting rigs and light boxes, backdrops and props and use an expensive SLR camera. Continue reading

How to Create Flat Lay Images Using Basic Props

When I first started using Pinterest one of the things that I had to learn how to do were pinnable images. It took me a while, developing my own style over a period of time using either my own pictures or ones that were available for free on stock image sites. However, one thing that I always had difficulty in finding were what I now know as Flat Lay images – pictures taken from above of beautifully arranged objects within a specific theme.

In particular, Flat Lays are hugely popular on Instagram and are a fantastic way to tell a story. I’ve seen absolutely stunning examples of everything from travel, blogging and stationery, to clothing, make-up and food.

I’ve wanted to create my own for some time. However, I’m not a photographer. I use my iPhone and my Canon compact camera to take pictures, but my knowledge doesn’t extend past point, shoot and edit via Instagram or Canva. So, I set out to spend a minimal amount of money on some props and use basic trial and error to see what the end results would be.

And thankfully, they turned out far better than I ever could have expected! Continue reading

Meet ‘The Bloke’ – Instagram Meet and Greet!

imageThose of you who follow the blog regularly will know about The Bloke – my partner-in-crime of the last 6 1/2 years. What you probably don’t know is that The Bloke, as well as being my best friend (and now my fiance after he proposed outside a 13th Century Scottish castle earlier in the year – the boy done good!), he is also a fantastic landscape, nature and urban photographer.

Meet Duncan – The Bloke. Duncan has been passionate about photography as long as I’ve known him, and I’m truly gobsmacked at the stunning pictures that he takes. He seems to have an eye for things that I can’t see, and can easily lose himself for hours with his camera whenever we visit somewhere… Continue reading

Nine Motivational Quotes to Get You Through Monday

It’s been a tough few days, so I thought I would share some of my favourite quotes to help get me through a dark, cold and dreary Monday… Simply click on the images to see them in full size.



I particularly like the Karen Lamb quote – this is something I often turn to when I am feeling low…

What about you guys? What is your favourite motivational quote that helps to get you through the day?


You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page, my Pinterest page and my Instagram page

Wordless Wednesday: La Sagrada Familia




Ok, it isn’t totally wordless… The Bloke and I spent the afternoon at La Sagrada Familia, and despite the fact that neither of us have any religious beliefs, we were quite emotional about the sheer beauty of it…

Want to follow my Barcelona adventures? You can find regular updates on my Instagram page

Balloons and Tunes!

Our local park in Birmingham is holding a ‘Balloons and Tunes’ festival this weekend, and The Bloke and I joined about 14,000 other people to witness the hot air balloon display. It’s not something I’ve ever experienced before, and it genuinely surpassed all expectation – as the sun set they were lit up in time to various pieces of music, with spectacular effect!


Ooh, pretty…




Enjoying the rides…

In fact, the whole event was superb – it was full of people just enjoying themselves on the various rides with friends and loved ones, and it was a great atmosphere…

Even a little pug joined in the fun, although it must have been a bit too much for him after a while as it ended up  falling asleep on top of one of the prizes on a stall… Bless.


Sleepy pug…


It’s the little moments…

How Not To Do a Photography Shoot

imageIt was a long day yesterday.

My friend and I participated in a photo shoot – we had been stopped in the centre of Birmingham last month and offered a promotion (at a huge discount) for a new photography studio that had recently opened. As part of the package, there was champagne, a hand massage, manicure, professional make-up and hair and an hour long photography session, with a free photograph at the end and the opportunity to purchase further prints if we liked them.

We were excited, but a little apprehensive – neither of us had experienced anything similar before and didn’t know what to expect. However, we did as we were asked and arrived with some of our favourite outfits, no make-up and natural hair.

I’m not one for complaining when I go out – after years of working in various jobs within the service industry I know how awkward, demanding and rude the general public can be – so I always try and be as polite as possible. However, if I had paid the price that they are usually charging for the package that we had I would be demanding my money back, and then some. While I’m not going to go into too much detail, I want you to imagine that a couple of students woke up one day, hired out a couple of tiny rooms in one of the roughest areas of the city and employed their mate with an SLR camera to take pictures. The studio wasn’t a new one – the company ‘opening’ this new place had in fact arranged some sort of deal with an already existing, run down business.

My make-up artist was very inexperienced, and despite asking lots of questions about the sort of style and colours I liked she completely ignored everything I had said and proceeded to make me look like Jack Nicholson’s Joker in Batman, sticking bright red lipstick on me and putting one of my false eyelashes much higher than the other, which I then discreetly adjusted and improved in the toilet afterwards. Don’t believe me? This was the before and after…


It’s amazing what your own make-up, toilet lighting and Instagram can do isn’t it!


The saving grace of the day was my friend. I’ve known her for a long time, and she’s one of my favourite people. Neither of us were happy with the service we received, but she put a brave face on it and kept me feeling positive throughout the day. She’s a much stronger character then I am, which I was grateful for as she politely put the photographer firmly in his place when he was inexplicably aggressive with us when we first walked in. To be fair, by the end of the shoot he was laughing and joking with us, and we were making each other laugh by pulling silly faces at each other and after a while I was able to relax and enjoy myself. She’s a glamorous woman and was a natural, taking things in her stride and striking different poses in the beautiful outfits she had brought with her.

After waiting for quite a while after the shoot, we were given the opportunity to look through our photographs. I have huge body confidence and anxiety issues and I while I wasn’t expecting the camera to remove 60lbs from my frame, I was hoping for images that would make me feel a little more confident about myself. It had the opposite effect – the angles in most of the pictures actually made me look bigger than I am, and I was completely deflated. I did purchase a few of them (after lots of bartering as they initially attempted charge an extortionate amount of money for them), mainly because my friend looks great, but there was only one of me that I thought was ok. Here’s one of us together that I liked – we look like we are auditioning for the new series of The Apprentice…


I’m not going to include many of the pics, but this was the one that I originally liked. Unfortunately, when I got home and put it on my tv screen (which was much bigger), it looked totally different than during the viewing process. There’s a few issues that bug me… My left eye (which looks totally black) and The Hand. The poor lighting looks like a random person has shoved their arm in front of my face. The more I look at it, the more I hate it. It’s a dead hand.


I tried to experiment and cut it down, even adding an idea for a potential logo, asked for advice in Instagram and from my bloggy friend Steve, who is good at graphics and design, and The Bloke went to work on Photoshop, but it still annoys me.


Stupid dead hand.

However, it was an experience. I enjoyed spending time with a good friend and we had a laugh.

And the next time someone asks me to go and try out a new photography business, I’ll save my money and take more pictures in the toilet instead!

What about you? Have you ever received any poor services or had your expectations dashed?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page and my Pinterest page

Im now on Instagram too – check out my page

On Being Vanilla



In the world of ice-cream, my friend is definitely Rocky Road with extra sauce and sprinkles. She’s striking. When she walks into a room, people don’t just notice, they stop what they are doing to stare, and some will even get up and walk over in an effort to speak to her.

The thing is, there isn’t anything specific about my friend that makes her stand out. She’s pretty, but couldn’t anywhere near be classed as model quality, she doesn’t go overboard with her clothes and make-up, she’s intelligent, but not a genius, she’s classy and well-spoken. She possesses that ‘something’ – that special X Factor quality that separates her from the pack. Even more frustratingly, she’s genuinely a very nice person and has no idea about the power that she holds. Her life, to me, seems exciting – she likes to travel and experience new things and isn’t scared of taking risks. She’s a natural leader without being bossy or rude.

I have always been, and always will be, vanilla. This isn’t said in an attempt to hunt for false compliments, it is simply fact – at the age of 33 I have had plenty of time to realise my own strengths and weaknesses. In a group of people I have never been the one to stand out from the crowd – I am that person that merges into the background, the one that blends in. I am not the risk taker – I’ve always been more of a follower than a leader.


Vanilla is used as a derogatory term to describe someone, or their lifestyle as unexciting and conventional. Boring. I used to feel that being thought of as vanilla was a negative thing. Indeed, I used to feel a little short-changed when I was offered ice-cream and then handed vanilla. However, vanilla surprised me. I discovered that:

  • Vanilla is the second-most expensive spice after saffron.
  • It is thought to have calming effects and reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Vanilla is used throughout the baking and cosmetics industry and is often placed in certain foods to eliminate acidity.
  • Despite its labour – intensive growth and expense, vanilla remains a popular spice in the western world.
  • From the thousands of ice-cream flavours that exist, vanilla is still consistently voted as the favourite.

As I have aged, I have grown to like being vanilla. It may be a standard flavour, a basic flavour, but to me it is a dependable one that doesn’t change, and yet can be incredibly versatile at the same time in that it compliments the flavours around it. Vanilla doesn’t pretend to be anything else, it is what it is. I like my life and it’s vanilla existence.

And besides, this means that us vanilla girls get to add a cheeky topping occasionally!

What about you? What flavour of ice-cream are you?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to visit my Facebook page

#1000 Speak: Acts of Compassion and Kindness That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity


Today is #1000 Speak for Compassion, a blogging event that was designed by Considerings, and Yvonne Spence, and today sees over a thousand bloggers from all over the world coming together to talk about compassion, kindness, support and caring for others.

The world can be a harsh and depressing place, and with the thousands of daily stories of violence and cruelty that are flashed across the media on a daily basis it is easy to forget that there are still good people out there – millions of good people who do beautiful things for others on a daily basis without ever asking for anything in return. In celebration of the event, I thought it would be a nice idea to show you some of these examples of human kindness.



After thousands of people were left without electricity when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, people allowed strangers to charge their phones to allow them to contact their relatives and let them know that they were alright.  Image



This local dry cleaners will dry clean an outfit for free for an unemployed person going to an interview. Image



A New York Police Officer gives some boots to a barefoot man. Image



A soldier rescued a baby rabbit and raised it, dedicating hours of his time to make sure it was healthy.  Image: Joshua M. Bisnar



A couple with a newborn baby were given this. I’m sure that there are thousands of new parents that understand how wonderful this is.  Image



A world class marathon runner slows down to help a disabled man drink some water.  Image



A man stopped running to catch his train so that he could help an elderly lady who was struggling with her bags.  Image



A police officer handcuffed himself to a young woman who was attempting to commit suicide. He saved her life.  Image



This young boy won a huge scavenger hunt contest. He donated his winnings to his neighbour that was battling leukaemia.  Image



This pizza place, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, is renowned for it’s $1 slices of pizza. Customers also get the opportunity to ‘pay it forward’ by purchasing a slice of pizza for a homeless person – the initial idea was that a customer wrote a message on a post-it-note and it was stuck onto the wall as proof of purchase. However, the scheme has now become so popular that there are no longer any room left on the walls, and so the owner, Mason Wartman now has to keep track of the purchases using the till. Over 8,500 slices have been given to the homeless in the last nine months alone.  Image:Reuters

Compassion is not just for the old, or the young. Showing kindness does not depend on what colour, or religion, or sexual orientation someone is. We’re all human, we’re all unique, but we’re all equal.

What could you do for someone today?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page