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Kicking ass at Instagram 101

Oct 31, 2012

Instagram is basically taking over the world. Whether you're a newbie or you've had the app since it was iPhone-only, there are still plenty of tricks you can learn to enhance your photos, get more Instagram followers and get more likes on your Instagram photos. (Screenshots are from the iPhone app. Follow me @wtfab1)

1. Hashtags. If you aren't already using hashtags effectively on Instagram, prepare to have your mind blown. Similar to Twitter, hashtags help your photos get seen by other users. Instagram allows 30 hashtags max per photo. A few important #hashtag tips:

- Only use a few relevant hashtags in your caption. Otherwise it looks spammy.
- If you used 3 hashtags in your caption, add a comment with 27 more of the most popular Instagram hashtags in a comment.
- You can find the top Instagram hashtags that will get you the most views here.
- I've taken the top 50 or so hashtags from the above link and copy/pasted them into a note on my phone. That way, when I want to add some hashtags in a comment on a photo, I can quickly just copy/paste some into the comment box. 

2. Combining photos. Sometimes you want to combine multiple photos into one frame. Instagram doesn't have a way to do this, but there are tons of other apps you can download. My personal favorite is Pic Jointer, but there's also PicStitch, Instapic Frames, Photo Collage Free and lots of others. I use Pic Jointed all the time for ootd posts, like this one:

3. Deleting comments. Instagram has gotten a tad spammy, so being able to delete annoying comments (or embarrassing ones about last night's endeavors?) is key. Below, you can see that I have a lovely spam comment. To get rid of it:
- Click on the "Comment" button
- Swipe your finger from left to right over the comment you want to delete
- Hit delete and voila! Clean, unspammy photo

4. Tagging peeps. Always a good idea. Tag not only your friends, but brands and products. I've tagged CookingLight, Restaurant.com and RedCarpetManicure. They now follow me and comment photos I tag them in.

5. Blur tool. This will make you feel artsy-fartsy with little to no effort. Touch the water drop icon and select whether you want your blur effect to be in the shape of a rectangle or circle. The X will get rid of the blur effect. Tips:

- You can change the size and location of the blur effect on your photo by moving the blur around with one finger, or using two fingers to increase/decrease the size of the blur. In this second pic below, I've used a medium sized circle blur in the center of the pic.
- You can change the angle of the blur rectangle. Place two fingers on the screen and twist them clockwise or counter clockwise. In the third pic below, I've used the rectangle blur and changed the angle of it so it matched the bar in the corner of my photo (that's actually part of the golden gate bridge).

6. Liking photos. Everyone likes it when people like their photos. That's sort of the point of being a photowhore on Instagram, isn't it? Engaging with other Instagrammers is the best way to get likes on your own photos and gain Instagram followers. A super easy way to like someone's photo from your home screen is to double tap it. Easy, huh? 

7. Geotagging. Another way to get more people to see your pics. When you post a photo you'll be asked where it was taken. Add that info in, same as you would when you check in on Facebook or Foursquare. Here, you can see Monroe, a club in North Beach, has been geotagged in a bunch of people's photos. There's me n my girls in the top right!

8. Connecting online. Instagram recently connected with Twitter, so when you tag someone or a product, brand, etc, on Instagram and share it on Twitter, that person/product/brand will also be tagged on Twitter (if their Instagram account is connected to Twitter). Instagram makes it really easy to share your photos on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, but if you want people on your blog or website to be able to view your Instagram photos, you'll need to use an Instagram web-viewer, like web.stagram. For example, on WTFab, I link up to my Instagram photos via web.stagram.

9. Use other photo editing tools. If you're sick of the same ol' filters and want to spice things up a bit, use another photo editing app on your photo before you run it through Instagram. Again, there are a ton, but my favs are Pixlromatic and Color Splash.

10. Fitting vertical pictures. Always a bit tricky due to the fact that Instagram only allows square pics. Here's my solution. 

- If you've taken a vertical pic on your phone that you want to put on Instagram, edit it within your phone's regular photo viewer and rotate it so that it is horizontal. The pic will now be sideways. 
- Open up the pic on instagram. You can either leave the pic as is with black side borders (like in the first photo below), or scale the photo so that it fills up the entire square (like second pic below--some of the top/bottom of your pic will get cut off).
- After you hit "Choose" hit the curved arrow in the top bar until it rotates your pic back to vertical. Ta-da! 

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Pumpkin carving! (Here's a tip: Use a stencil)

Oct 27, 2012

When your boyfriend is an architect and ridiculously artistic, it's easy to get discouraged when he whips up stupidly awesome pumpkins like this Billy Mays one...
I mean come on. It looks like something Martha Stuart would put on her website. Geez. 

If you're not as handy with the pumpkin carving tools as he is, fear not. The Internet is here to help you. Just think of what/who you want to grace your pumpkin, and do a Google search for a stencil. Last year, I found this Princess Jasmine stencil, and it made it much easier to carve a decent pumpkin. I just taped it on my pumpkin and used a pushpin to make holes along the lines where I should cut. Here's the result. Cute, right?
Here's the full-size stencil, for those of you who want to download it and use it on your pumpkin this year.

Tweet me a pic of your pumpkins! I wanna see! @wtfab1

Happy Halloweenie! 

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Sea Spray

Oct 25, 2012

Last month my boyfriend and I went on a mini-vaca with my family in Gualala. It's a sleepy little beach town just north of Sea Ranch, which is about a three hour drive north of San Francisco. The house my parents rented was absolutely gorgeous. All of these shots of the ocean were taken from our patio (where there was a jacuzzi--score!) and the house had huge floor to ceiling windows that looked out over the cliff to the ocean. My dad used to dive for abalone a lot back in the day (when he and my mom were just out of college and dirt poor, they didn't have anything in their fridge, but a ton of ab in the freezer; not too shabby). While we were in Gualala, my dad ended up meet and befriending Abalone Jones, who happens to be THE ab-diving expert (scroll down and check out this amazing pic of him with a record-breaking 14lb ab). They went out diving and brought back a few abs for dinner. If you haven't tried abalone before, it's amazeballs. Delicate flavor, and absolutely delish. Abalone Jones also shared with us his homemade abalone ceviche, which may be the best thing I've ever put in my mouth. We finished dinner off with my mom's peach cobbler. Between the great food and the incredible view, it all felt very decadent.

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Homemade pumpkin spice lattes

Oct 24, 2012

This time of year means fall favors, which of course means pumpkin errthang! I love me some pumpkin spice lattes almost any time of the year, but they're especially satisfying when there's a certain degree of crispness in the air. The only problem is, I feel a little guilty spending $5 bucks and 300 calories on a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks. So I set out to find a yummy recipe for a smidgen of the price and cals. This is a combo of a few recipes I found and experimented with:


2 cups Milk
3 tablespoons Canned Pumpkin (Even better if you can find the kind that's pre-made for pumpkin pie and already has spices in it. I found one at Whole Foods)
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
4 Shots of Espresso (2 cups of coffee if you don't have an espresso machine)
Whipped Cream

1. Combine milk, pumpkin, and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir continuously. Heat until it starts to steam, about 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and spices (pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon). Whisk well.
3. Whisk in coffee or espresso shots
4. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle a little cinnamon and nutmeg on top. Relish in the fact that you just made a pumpkin spice latte for a fraction of the usual price.

Makes enough for 2 large cups.

Also for your entertainment: 

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OOTD ~ Flower power

Oct 23, 2012

I just got these pants from Urban Outfitters and I'm mildly obsessed with them. They're super comfy, and I love the floral/paint splatter pattern. After my mint pants I've been feeling more ballsy with funky trousers. I love these because they instantly take my outfit from plain to POW, with very little brainpower or coordination. For pants that are patterned/busy like these, I like to keep my top simple, and add a few jewelry pieces that play off the pants without being too overwhelming. 

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