Instagram Photo Editing Using VSCO App

August 11, 2017

Photography / Photography Tips

Although I wish more people were asking me about where to buy my infamous pink, fuzzy, birth control robe, the most common question I receive via Instagram is about photo editing. Ha! I have done this article in the form of direct messages to many people and I hope it helps you too!

Here i’ll write about the photo editing I do for Instagram photos using the VSCO camera App. The editing I do for print work is done in a program called Lightroom.

If you go back in my Instagram feed, you can see when I was using Instagram as a place to develop my photography business (models etc). The images were taken with a professional camera (Canon 5d Mk II) which makes even challenging light conditions look good. Now I focus on family and lifestyle. I now take 99% of my Instagram photos on my iPhone 7 plus (Mark’s recent bday shot was taken with my camera). 

As a sidenote, photos here on the blog are a mix. Screenshot and DM me if you have a question on a specific image. 🙂 

VSCO Camera

VSCO cam is my favorite editing program. People sometimes ask what filter I use. to get the look you desire, it first starts with subject matter, story and lighting. When you marry those with a filter with the feeling you love then there is magic! I like S2 and A6 VSCO cam filters. They have nice contrast (dark darks and light lights) and tones. 

You can select the strength of the filter by double tapping it and sliding left or right. I like the look of something around 8. If you go stronger than that, the image starts to look very filtery and I like the filters to work as enhancing instead of altering. 

Now that you have your filter, let’s make the look all your own…


The lighting conditions in every location are different. Most of my Instagram photos are taken in our home which has VERY different lighting than our previous home. You can scroll through and see the difference. Our lives center around the kitchen and its when our kids are most photographable. The kitchen faces West. The images have very different colors based on time of day or weather (overcast or sunny). 

Pumping up the exposure can add a little more contrast and adds a cheeriness. 


Bump up the the whites and darken the blacks/dark tones even a little more. If I use this, it’s sparingly.

White Balance

The best advice for achieving beautiful tones in your images is mastering white balance. This means making whites white and having photo that is not too green, blue, pink, yellow…you know?

This starts with the lighting situation when you take the photo. For example, my evening kitchen photos are always warmer with the setting sun coming through the windows while the morning photos have a cooler/bluer tone and then can be tweaked in the editing process. Adjust the TINT on VSCO cam to get those undertone out and whites white!

You might want a rosy/pink tone to your photos. Again, the original or “raw” image is going to make the most impact on your final product but you can give your images a pink tone or green tone with the tint adjustments or with filters. 


I play with the warmth to get the yellow tones out of my image because I prefer cooler tones. If you also prefer cooler tones, you can play between this, filters and contrast to get those golden tones out. 

When the image is too cool (say on a cloudy day), then I add a tiny bit of warmth to make colors pop because they can be drowned out without enough natural light. 


There are many other adjustments you can make like adding grain to make your photo look more like film. Each adjustment changes the feeling. That film look might pair great with a vintage vibe or nostalgic feel you want for example.

Raw iPhone 7 Plus image taken in the evening/West facing room

Instagram Post After Edits

Processed with VSCO with s2 preset +7.5, Exposure +2.1, contrast +0.3, tint +0.3, temp -0.4 and cropped

Another Edited Image 

Processed with VSCO with s2 preset. This was taken in the morning with a little overcast weather.

All three photos in this post were edited very similarly. Each one had a very different raw image lighting scenario. 


1. Arrange your most frequently used tools and presets so that they are all grouped in front for quick editing.

For tools:

  1. Open an image for editing in VSCO cam.
  2. Press and hold down on one of the tools until they all start shaking. 
  3. Hold and drag each tool to set it in the order that works for you.
  4. When you are done arranging, just hit the list button in the lower right of the screen.

For presets (AKA filters):

  1. Open an image for editing and select the filter icon (circle/lens looking icon in lower left of screen).
  2. You will see all the filters lined up at the bottom. the first “filter” rectangle on the left is “shop” and the second is “manage.” Select manage.
  3. Scroll to your most used filters and select the star icon. these will now be moved to the front of all the filters. 

2. Cut and paste edits from one image to many

Maybe you have a group of photos taken in the same lighting conditions. Edit one and then cut and past like this in VSCO cam:

  1. Select an edited image.
  2. Select the “three dots” icon in lower right hand of scree.
  3. Select “copy edits.”
  4. Select one or more images and hit the “three dots” icon again then choose “Paste edits.”


I’m working on a post about Instagram lifestyle photography next. I will also be talking about light! Please let me know any questions you’d like answered there. Thanks!

California Coastal Kitchen Makeover

June 11, 2017



**photo credit for “before” shots from agent listing

This post contains affiliate links.

There are few things more delightful or interesting to me than happening on a blog post detailing all the info and shortcuts of a project that I’d like to tackle, so if you are looking to remodel part or all of your kitchen one day and you would like to read a lot of technical “Beautiful Mind” (like the Russel Crowe movie) thinking, please join me in our remodel. Oh, and book your therapist now bc I hear it can read havvov on relationships. Oh, but not ours. Ours is perfect and amazing and all that. Ha! OK…

**At the end of this post will be links to many items in our kitchen**

I’m sharing the photos I used in a feature with XO Mrs. Measom HERE.  I love sharing information and I am bad about responding to individual Instagram comments due to time! I am the thousandth person who asks a blogger what white paint she used in her gorgeous living room, so I get it! lol

When we bought this house, the kitchen was probably about 30 years old. I hoped to be modest and keep the cabinet boxes, replacing the doors and popping in a new countertop. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection after we closed, they were all in pretty bad shape. It seemed like such great craftsmanship in the building of the home but the finishes of the kitchen and bathrooms were very basic and had not worn well over the decades. Luckily, things like the stairs, wainscoting, built ins and ceilings were well done and looked wonderful. 

There are multple ways to go about remodeling a kitchen. This was our approach. 

We met with three kitchen contractors who we found on YELP. If you can get the info of someone’s contractor who has done recent work on a home you’ve seen in person, that would be my first suggestion but we did not have that available at the time. OK..

  1. Independent person. Puts in full Ikea cabinets. He was rated as an excellent planner and installer. We had Ikea cabinets in our last place (rental) and those were about 10 years old and the cabinets had some cracking, fading and peeling (nothing a little VSCO filter can’t hide, eh?) OH! Recently I’ve heard of companies who will do more quality cabinet faces/doors but you use the Ikea builtin boxes. 
  2. Family owned, cabinet company with staff (dry wallers, countertop people etc). Known for quality work and craftsmanship. Made it clear to us that they were not known for speed. 
  3. More of a designer person who also has a staff. Pre made cabinets at different price points. This woman had opinions on style where as #2 did not have many suggestions and when they did suggest, often it was not our style. She is fast/on time. The cabinet quality even at the highest price point was unimpressive (parts seemed cheap/jiggled). Her idea to do an inset cabinet/appleince garage along the long wall of cabinets to break up the “box” was awesome and we did borrow it. Thank you!

Sooooo we decided to go with option #2. Yes, it has taken like 10 months from the day they started measuring for cabinets but the quality is excellent and when something went wrong in the process, they had the people/resources/contacts to fix it. 

Although the contractor did not have much input with design and style, they were helpful with functionality as in planning the cabinets so there were sheet pan drawers and a spice rack. They also had strong opinions on things like appliance brands, how to do a nice looking install of a “half undermount” farm sink. 


The estimate our contractor gave us did not include all the work that had to be done for a complete kitchen makeover. For example, the price included: demolition, cabinetry, installation, drywall, but NOT things like: fixtures, faucets, all plumbing, tile backsplash, electrical work or appliances. 

It was nice to have a general contractor to coordinate the steps and schedule them but often it was Chris or me pushing the next step along. Probably a regular thing when working with a contractor who has many jobs going on.  

Once we signed with our contractor, he came out to do multiple measuring sessions for our cabinets and created basic computer renderings so we could see what it would look like finished. We made our changes and signed off on it. 


This phase is glorious. It’s fast!  The area is gutted just like in Fixer Upper and you see your dreams before you! Well, there are many many steps to come! Use this time to pick out your finishes and details. 


We had the can lights in the ceiling converted to cooler, safer, low energy LED lights and put them on a dimmer (I am addicted to dimmers and want them on every light). The contractor likes to hide electrical outlets underneath cabinets in outlet strips so that was fine with us. The only thing is that you can see my black wire for the toaster oven I always have plugged in on the counter. Otherwise its pretty great/unnoticeable. 

Maybe if i hand’t just had our second baby, I would have been more involved at the time of electrical planning because I would have liked a light fixture over the sink. Oh well. Remodel woahs. 🙂


Chris primed the drywall and we chose a pure “out of the can” white paint in a “velvet” finish otherwise known as “eggshell” depending upon brand. The color is crisp, has zero undertones. The finish makes it easily wipable and it reflects light without being shiny. With the pure white cabinets and cool tones of the marble, we wanted a cool toned wall.

We considered some very light, cool grays but man oh man its hard to commit to anything that isn’t “basic” when time and money are at stake! Also, we were not ready to paint our wooden ceilings white so that funky orangey brown color had to mesh with all of this too. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy the wooden ceilings and if I was a paid designer for someone else’s home, I’d probably say, “Paint that ceiling white this minute!” But i’m just me and I feel it would be a calamity to do something un-doable to that natural wood (please do not remind me of this in a few months when I am painting said ceilings white. 


The cabinets are super sturdy and well made. So the quality for us was worth the wait. We chose a shaker type style with a bit of extra detail so it would look “transitional” which is like trying to update a traditonal home. The contractor had a bunch of cabinet doors in different styles and colors for us to choose from.

I highly recommend trying out the cabinet colors in your actual kitchen. We brought the samples to see how the different whites looked in our space. We selected a pure straight white with no undertones because the light our kitchen gets can really play up any undertones. We were nervous about this wondering if it would turn out cold and modern looking but it turned out great. 

I searched the web for checklists to make sure I had a space/drawer/cabinet planned for everything I needed (pans, pots, baking, utensils near the stove etc). Contractors are amazing but no one is perfect and once its done its so expensive to change. 

Most of the cabinets are soft close. The corer cabinets by the sink are super thick and sturdy double lazy suzans. The pantry has 2 pull out drawers.

The appliance garage has outlets in the back so thats where the blender and coffee maker, mugs and water bottles hang out. We had a piece of marble countertop cut for that area too. 

Floating Shelves

We decided on floating shelves for this area to open the space up and for easy access to daily dishware. There are steel beams attached to the beams in the wall the ensure they can handle a lot of weight. There are electrical outlets underneath the bottom shelf. 

As for lining it up, i didn’t want it lined up with the edge of the countertop below. It is equidistant to the window as the cabinet to the left of the window and it falls a bit short of the countertop below. The contractor selected the thickness and I think the thickness was for fitting in the steel support beams. 


We chose honed Cararra marble countertops. Many contractors will advise against this. BECAUSE: marble is very porous and it etches and can stain. Please read as many articles on this type of thing before you make your final decision. I did and it gave me the confidence to do it. I also talked to Miko Bowen (sweetest lady) who has a beautiful kitchen with this marble and she answered many of my questions. 

Also, when it came time to make the purchase of our slabs, I could not bear to buy anything else. I searched so many alternatives that looked similar to marble but as I read somewhere, “The heart wants what the heart wants!”

My opinion on honed (the NOT shiny kind, its like a matte surface) Cararra marble: I LOVE IT. Nothing is more beautiful. It etches which looks like a water spot or cup ring on the surface in some spots in certain lights. When I go to my favorite cafe who has the same counter top, I see all the etches when I examine it but as I enjoy the space like a normal human, I see the beautiful, elegant, timeless look of marble. I have not had any stains. This is due to an excellent sealing job by the stone installers and care with certain foods. 

At first, each etch made my eyeballs hurt but after about 6 months of lowering my blood pressure, I’ve learned to enjoy the “patina.” the marks slightly fade and really as you enjoy your kitchen visually as a normal human, you do not see them. When I do, I get that feeling of my well, lived in cafe and that’s the vibe I want with my house. Oh, but if I see you hovering with your orange juice, I’ll slide a coaster under it so fast, I could start a fire. HA!

As for how thick. Well, our cabinets were beefy, built up to the ceiling so I felt they could handle a thick countertop to balance them out. FYI all slabs pretty much come in the same thickness. These counters look super thick because they cut a piece and glue it to the edge for the appearance of thickness. We also liked the kind of modern look of it. 

I also love the slab thickness size and the mitered edge detail look. Just wanted you to know to consider your options. 

There is some overhang for seating and the counter height is kind of high. If you want, I can measure and put it in here. The high counters are nice for having more cabinet space below and easy work hight above. 

Where to BUY Accessoreis

This is painful to re-live…I bought most of the appliances, sink and plumbing from Pacific Sales (Owned by Best Buy/national chain). Good things about this place: almost always 40% sale on stuff, limited/curated selection reduces choice overwhelm, sales people are very knowledgable.

Things that are the opposite of good here: SLOW, disorganized. After waiting weeks for a backordered item and being called to come pick it up, I get there, wait in line and find out its not there. Where did it go? Doesn’t matter, two more weeks and another trip. Saw other people going to same thing every other time I’m there. lol

ONLIne shopping is awesome but theres nothing like feeling the quality of an item, seeing the finishes in person etc. Again, I think the best thing to do is to ask a friend/blogger etc exactly what they used and just go for it! Too many choices make my hair gray! ha!


Shaw’s Rohl white apron farm house sink. We got the large one. I have the grate in it and use it to protect the bottom from scratches/chips but more so for use as a drying rack within the sink. It’s rad.


Newport Brass is quality. I like the weight of it. The styles we chose are transitional. We went with polished chrome. I feel like a sink looks most natural/clean with a shiny finish. The main faucet has a pull down sprayer head. I really feel some form of a sprayer is needed for these big sinks to wash them down at the end of a sesh. We chose the coordinating, soap pump (with spinning white porcelain “soap”), cold water dispnser (for filtered water), air gap (dishwater overflow thing), and disposal button. So that’s 5 holes cut in the countertop.

remember to buy a garbage disposal. I found a good one at Lowe’s. You may also need to purchase a drain for your sink. 


We chose solid brass cabinet and drawer pulls in brushed nickel from Rejuvenation. I had a coupon and they shipped fast. At first I ordered all black (oil rubbed bronze) parts but they seemed to take all the attention when I tried them out in the room. So, I swapped them for the brushed nickel which I had avoided before because I thought that finish was boring when in fact I liked how it blended into the kitchen and didn’t draw attention. 

The mix of knobs and pulls was what we decided upon. The knobs are 1 and 1/4″ the pulls are 3″. 

Rejuenation also had a great price on there super large appliance sized pulls we got for the fridge, freezer and dishwasher (1/3 or less the price compared to other places). I think 18″ is the size you want for appliances if you need them. 

The ONLY thing here was that they were out of the drawer pulls I wanted so I chose ones that were similar but a bit “sharper” in shape. Not a huge negative but I would have preferred the smoother/less angular pulls. They had them back in stock recently and I got them for our bathroom. Yay!


Some companies offer bundle packages. We got a free dishwasher when we bought the fridge, cooktop, oven and microwave. I didn’t think too hard on this aspect other than quality. 


I even told my IG friend, Patti (amazing remodel/restorer) that I wasn’t going to do a subway tile backsplash. We planned to do a lip around the back in the same honed Cararra marble but the way some obstacles came up, it wouldn’t work here. But you know what works really well a lot of the time??? I love how the tile turned out.

We used 3 X 6 inch H-line Cotton subway tile from Arizona Tile. The edges of the backsplash area are finished in a pencil tile by the same company.

We chose white, sand grout with 1/8 spacing. 

Well, that’s what comes to mind now! Please let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll let you know as well as add it to the post! Good luck and send me any photos of your remodel stuff. Love it!

Shop Our Kitchen

These will also be available in the “shop” dropdown menu in “shop our kitchen” at the top of the site where I’ll add things as they come up. 🙂 I hope you’ll follow along as I continue to style this space and make it our home. Thank you.

Select the arrows to scroll all the items.

My Galentine Rossmore LA

February 8, 2017


Years ago (before kiddos), Chris and I were renting a vacation condo in LA for a few weeks. One of my very good friends from high school lives there and we had gone out for lunch at a healthy cafe nearby. As I waited for her to return from the restroom, I saw Suzy (of Rossmore LA) sitting at a table, sorting tons of these beautiful, delicate silver rings in a million sizes. 

I wanted some! So, I introduced myself and asked her if they were for sale. She was separating them before delivering them to a boutique and offered me a good price. “These little rings keep my lights on,” she told me. I just fell in love with her. I bought a set of 5 silver rings- 2 I gave to the friend with me and I kept the other three for myself. Suzy’s story of her jewelry line, Rossmore LA, is wonderful from selling all her stuff to get it going and nearly giving up to finding her jewelry on Kate Bosworth and Jessica Alba to recently being on (and winning) the show Billion Dollar Buyer. 

Each piece is hand made. She calls her jewelry, “The broken noses,” as in each is not perfect and that is why they are beautiful. 

I have a skinny ring in gold and the few in silver. Now I wear them low in the traditional spot but the smaller sizes are meant to be worn on the higher knuckles and they are so super cute. The Heron ring is also a fave!

All her earrings are versatle and I love the small size. 

All three necklaces are so dear to me and you see that I am wearing one of them at all times. I wore them here together to give you an idea of scale. I love how the heart one is meant to be worn off to the side. 

You can shop her website: Rossmore LA

Or visit her on Instagram: RossmoreLA

Mark’s Birth Story and Family Photos with Jack & Lola Photography

January 7, 2017

LIFESTYLE / Motherhood



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I wanted to share these newborn photos Lyndsey of Jack and Lola photography took in our home when Mark was about 3 weeks old. Lyndsey came over with donuts and presents along with her super happy cool attitude. One especially awesome gift was a set of glow bracelets that were intended to be used in a night time bath for Grant (BIT HIT). Anyhow, we had scheduled the session for two weeks post baby but around the two week mark I did not feel well enough to put on real clothes let alone fix my hair due to the C section this time around (what some of my friends call “belly birth” -love that). The session was super fun and we are so happy to have these beautiful images.  

It’s funny how I look back at the birth story of Grant from a couple years ago and it seems so dramatic to me now. This time the unexepcted Csection and recovery was intense but played a smaller character in the story of bringing baby Mark into the world. HA!

As for this birth story, I had intense close contractions starting around 12:30 a.m. one night. Chris asked if he should call his father (who lived 40 plus minutes away) to come over and watch Grant so we could go to the hospital. I knew many people locally but do you know how hard it is for me to ask people for help? So, even in labor I hesitated in asking for Grandpa to come over. Well, Chris saw the frequency of contractions and made the call. 

Oh just a few moments later I said, let’s all get in the car and go to the hospital right now. We woke up Grant and headed over together. Twenty minutes later as I got out of the passenger seat, my water broke. “Oh cool,” I thought, “No mess in the car but wait…now i’m a mess waddling into the hospital.” Lol. Grant was so interested in what was going on. He had a look of wonder on his face as we checked in. He was so excited and it was an adventure. Soon enough grandpa arrived and took Grant home. I missed him immediately. 

I was at 5 cm (1-5 cm is the part that takes relatively the longest) so they said, “Great, you’ll have this baby in no time.” Hours went by and I think the amazing body makes you truly forget that pain. I kind of moaned with each contraction and time flew.

Well, that is until I got to 8cm where I stayed for hours. My very cool and natural doctor said the baby’s head was at an angle and stuck, not allowing the head to sort of condense in size during delivery. They told me to start pushing to see what would happen. Many more hours passed and I asked for an epidural. “Oh, wow I thought, this is going to be a breeze now, cmon baby!” Oh but 8 cm stayed put so a C section it was! Wow that was a surprise especially since my first birth was vaginal. 

I remember shaking from the medication/cold room and my left arm kept hitting one of the doctors. He would say with each taps, “Hey, stop touching my butt.” I was so grateful for that because it actually embarrassed me and distracted me. HA! Loved it.

Oh I cried when they brought him to me. “He has blue eyes like Grant. A Korean kid with blue eyes,” Chris said. He was HUGE (for little ol me) at 9 lbs. 5 oz. Oh I was in heaven. I noticed Mark had quite a chin dimple (like my dad, Mark). The nurses and doctors were so surprised at how happy I was because they knew I was hoping for a totally natural birth and the opposite happened. I was just overjoyed with my big gulp full of passionfruit juice with all that great hospital ice (small like Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf) and this huge, sweet baby.

Grandpa and Nana brought Grant to the hospital to see us the next day. I felt guilty, joyous, you know al those things. Chris brought sushi for us to eat at the hospital. The nurses were SUPER nice and I drank about 400 gallons of that passion fruit juice. We had wonderful visitors over the couple of days there. It was a regular party. 

Recovery was really different from the vaginal birth. It was two weeks before I could really walk around the block but I relished in being “bed bound” and all of us being at home together. I took some medication for a few days then weaned off. It really helped. I lived in the chair I’m sitting in right now. Its a big comfy leather chair with an ottoman. I slept here too for 2 weeks. Our bed is memory foam and when you are not supposed to use your abs, its near impossible to get out of a sinking foam bed. 

This is such an amazing and interesting time of life to be growing a family. I don’t know how it’s possible that six months have gone by. I keep reminding myself that I want to start solids any day but it just seems so soon! Surely the same feelings I will have when it’s time to get the kids their driving permits. Ah!

Paris, The World

November 16, 2015

HAPPINESS / Uncategorized

IMG_1954This was a peaceful breakfast we had in Paris a couple of years ago. I join in the movement for choosing to push away fear and bring love and strength to the forefront. My mother and her siblings grew up with parents who endured a war and a third world society. Teaching survival from robbers, abductors etc. was an integral part of their upbringing from parents who had experienced such things. They grew and thrived as a family as Korea came up but still, these lessons were passed on to us. My sister and I were taught to be brave, not fearful. We were strong and kind. We used to roll our eyes when our mom would tell us ways to defend ourselves in case of trouble because we always lived in super hokey-safe neighborhoods. Chris and I want to show Grant that the world is a good place. Sometimes bad things can happen but the world is still good and he can make a difference in it.We are praying for all the people lost in Paris and their families.

What have you been thinking about after the events in Paris?

Creativity Sprints

November 9, 2015

HAPPINESS / Uncategorized

IMG_9857My mom has been here all week. She cooks us meals, does our laundry and takes Grant to the park many times a day. I feel so spoiled! I had a huge list of things I wanted to get done and then I ended up mostly sleeping. HA! Glorious.

I made this plant hanger for our bedroom from some macrame rope I got at Micheals a few weeks ago. I’ve been making a point to fit in a tiny bit of time each week to work on a fun project. I used to want large blocks of time to dedicate to creativity and now I’m finding ways to fit in little sprints of it. 

I’ve even been knitting again (yes, still the same baby baby blanket for Grant) a few minutes every few nights and it’s awesome! 

Is there a little fun project that you could fit into a few minutes here and there? It makes me immensely happy!