Wednesday, December 7, 2016

CoffeeShop "Christmas Facebook Cover Set #31!"


Another day, another Christmas Holiday freebie! I am on a roll and enjoying every minute of it.

Today's design is a new set of two Christmas/Holiday Facebook covers. They are both customizable and layered psd files so you can add your images using clipping masks (tutorial and free action). If you want to add a different paper to the background I have hundreds to choose from on my blog.

Check out all of my Christmas designs and actions!

Download the CoffeeShop "Christmas Facebook Cover Set #31". You can also download it here.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

CoffeeShop "Christmas Wreath 5x7 Cards or Photo Storyboards!"


I am working like crazy to get all of my Christmas designs out this week so you will have time to use them in your own work! Everything I am releasing this Christmas can be used commercially, no attribution necessary. I want you to make money using them!!! Just don't sell them as-as (layered templates with no design changes) as I want to keep them free on my blog.

These 5x7 storyboards can be printed as cards/prints or posted on the web. The background, border, and "Merry Christmas" colors can be customized.  You could even add a pretty digital paper or texture. Both storyboards are layered psd file so you can add your images using clipping masks (tutorial and free action).

I used this wreath, garland, and text in this design. I also used some adorable baby images from Jill Wellington (Etsy ShopFacebook, Blog, YouTube Videos) on my examples above.



When you open up the storyboard you will see that you can change the Background and Border Colors. Add your images to the clipping masks.

I hope you enjoy using these storyboards. :-)

Download the CoffeeShop "Christmas Wreath 5x7 Storyboards".  You can also download them here.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


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Monday, December 5, 2016

CoffeeShop "Coffee Christmas" Digital Paper Pack and Photoshop/PSE Patterns!


Today I have a fun little paper pack I designed this morning. I am actually shocked I don't have more coffee-themed designs posted on my site since coffee is my life. So what better way to design than putting coffee and Christmas together!

This pack  today has five digital papers and includes two bonus Photoshop/PSE patterns (coffee cups and snowflakes).


The colors were inspired by a mini session posted on my Facebook page. This reader changed the original colors of my template to these colors and I realized I needed more blue and red Christmas papers.  I did find one other pack on my blog with these colors called "Peppermint".

Download the CoffeeShop "Coffee Christmas" Paper Pack and Photoshop Patterns. You can also download it here.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


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Saturday, December 3, 2016

CoffeeShop "Christmas and Holiday Mini Session #2" Photographer Template!


I am releasing a few last minute Christmas Designs this weekend and early next week. Today I have a professional photographer mini session 5x7 storyboard. It is fully customizable and a layered psd file so you can add your images using clipping masks (tutorial and free action) and it can be printed or posted on the web.

I used Playfair and Freebooter Script fonts in this design. I used this wreath in the design and this image as my Christmas ad background and images from Jill Wellington (Etsy ShopFacebook, Blog, YouTube Videos) in my storyboard example.

Download the "CoffeeShop Christmas and Holiday Mini Session Template #2" You can also download it here.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures. 

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


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Thursday, December 1, 2016

CoffeeShop "Christmas Tree 8x10 Storyboard"!


Today I have a brand new Christmas Tree 8x10 storyboard for print or web. This professional template is a layered psd file so you can add your images using clipping masks (tutorial and free action). The background and star color are completely customizable, and you can even add some pretty background paper!

Thanks to Jill Wellington (Etsy ShopFacebook, Blog, YouTube Videos) for allowing me to use her images in my example storyboard.

Download the CoffeeShop "Christmas Tree Storyboard". You can also download it here.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


More from Rita:
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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

CoffeeShop "Magic WebBoard #2 Square" Photoshop/PSE Action!


The countdown to Christmas is on! I usually have most of my shopping done by now, but this year I am completely behind and just started getting some gifts yesterday. Thank goodness the boys still like Legos or else I would be completely at a loss of what to get them. Everyone else is getting handmade beauty products like soap and lotion.

Today I have a brand new professional storyboard Photoshop/PSE action I wanted to share with you. This action builds a 1000x1000 pixel square storyboard, perfect for your website/blog/facebook/etc. It prompts you to load four images then creates a finished storyboard with and without borders. You simply turn on the version you want to post and flatten and save.

I have another Magic Board action that creates an 8x10 storyboard that you can download for free. I plan on writing a series of these storyboard-making actions, they make it so easy and fast to create beautiful and professional storyboards.

Images I used in this post: (wreath, gingerbread, candles, coffee).



When you start the action make sure nothing else is open in Photoshop or PSE. The action will build this nice little storyboard and prompt you to load your images. Just drag each image where you want it and press the check bar.

When you have loaded all images (starting with top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right) the action will automatically add borders and flatten both storyboards. You simply turn on the one you want and flatten and save and post!

Download the CoffeeShop Magic WebBoard #2" Action. You can also download it here.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures. 

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


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Saturday, November 26, 2016

"Homemade REAL Soap in a Day!" Or, "Don't Fear the Lye!"



I wanted to get this post out before Christmas because homemade soaps make excellent gifts for friends and family. If I can make soap, anyone can make soap. And you can have a batch (8-12 bars) of gorgeous homemade soap in just one day using this method!!!

In this post I am going to talk about my experience making homemade soap (I just started this month) and I will link products I love and use in my own soap-making. I have made three batches so far and each one has worked perfectly and I have a few tips/tricks I want to share. I am not an expert at all so please read soap-making books and professional soap-making sites before trying it on your own!


NOTE: I should be wearing long sleeves while mixing my soap, this is not safe! I also lost my safety goggles (the boys were using them as a slingshot) so I put on my sunglasses which is also a big no-no, always wear proper eye protection!!!

CAUTION: I want to add that lye can be very dangerous (it is a powerful base that can burn you), so be sure to read up on it as much as you can before using it and wear safety goggles, safety long gloves, long sleeves and pants, and be VERY CAUTIOUS. Please do not let your children or pets in the area when you are handling the lye or lye water. 

I have wanted to make homemade soap for years. I was going to try the melt-and-pour, but most of them contain chemicals I really didn't want to use on my skin plus it seemed like soap-making cheating. So I bought these two books (Making Soup from Scratch and Smart Soap-Making) and read them cover to cover, exited to make real natural soap with lye.

Unfortunately I was completely overwhelmed. Both books use a cold-process method to make soap and it really sounded complex and time-consuming. I was scared to use the lye (even though I have a genetics degree and spent many years working in labs handling very dangerous chemicals) and I knew that I couldn't wait 6-8 weeks to use my soap. I am an instant-gratification gal.

However, the soap-making bug hit me again this month, so I googled "making homemade soap with lye" and discovered this amazing post/video on making hot-process crockpot soap. Crockpot soap can be used the same day you make it!!! It is not as smooth and pretty as cold-process soap, but I actually prefer the "rustic" look of the hot process. Some of the soaps still need some aging time to make them really hard, but they are safe to use right away.



I was sold and decided I was going to do it. I have an old crockpot (I just use it for crafts and not food since I purchased my instant pot) and a really nice stick mixer. I originally used a normal knife to cut my soap but decided to invest in this crinkle cutter which adds so much to the finished product. You also need a decent kitchen scale like this one.

Many people have dedicated soap-making containers and spoons for fear of contamination.  I wash everything in vinegar water, then soapy water, and rinse with lots of water and run everything but the crockpot in the dishwasher. I don't personally worry about using them later with food, but only do what makes you feel comfortable. Better safe than sorry!


I originally used a regular glass loaf pan lined in parchment paper for the mold, but realized that was a pain in the rear and my soaps weren't as pretty, so I bought this perfect silicon soap mold that is worth every penny.

Next I needed lye (make sure you purchase 100% pure) and litmus pH test strips. I originally tested my cooked soap using the "zap test" (google it) and that was a huge mistake. I ended up getting all of this soap in my mouth and it started burning (probably because it was too hot) and I freaked out. I grabbed a bottle of vinegar and diluted it with water and started gargling with it. I wish I were exaggerating... Duke was helping me make the soap and knows how neurotic I am and started cracking up. My tongue was fine, but I decided I would invest the few dollars in pH paper for future soap-making adventures. :-)

This is another great basic soap-making tutorial, but I don't do the zap test to test for lye, I always cook for one hour at low and then test with pH paper. So far I have only used recipes I have found online, but after three batches I am confident I can make up my own recipes using this lye calculator.

It never hurts to run any recipe you find through the lye calculator to make sure it will work. This lye calculate also allows you to resize batches for your own containers. My silicon mold can hold 28 ounces of oils plus the lye/water combo (I figured this out by measuring it and using this formula), so I can fill it exactly to the top after running the numbers. And the calculator also tells you the final hardness, conditioning, foaming, etc of any oil combo soap. I am a huge nerd and once I figure out how to use it I can't stop playing with it!



This was my first batch of  Coconut Shampoo bars. I cooked them one hour on low in my old crockpot, did the zap test and went through my freak-out (mentioned above), mixed in 20 drops of rosemary and lavender essential oils (not enough, I can barely smell it) and they turned out great. This is the perfect starter soap recipe since you only use one oil (I buy huge jugs of coconut oil at Costco) and lye and water.

They hardened in just an hour or so and I was able to cut them and start using one that day. These bars foam like crazy and are perfect for washing hair. I was paying $5-$6 for shampoo bars online and I made 16 of them for less then $10. I sometimes follow up with a vinegar wash and my long hair is soft and shiny. My husband uses these for his hair and body and LOVES them!


Here is my second batch of homemade Oatmeal and  Honey soap. I cooked this one for an hour after it came to a thick trace, and Duke checked the pH and it was around 8-9 (perfect!). These bars smell lovely but they are softer due to the olive oil concentration so I am aging them a few weeks so they won't quickly melt away in the shower.


I wasn't going to do any crazy colors or scents originally, but now I am addicted and wanted to make a "fancy" soap. My third soap was this Pumpkin Spice recipe that ROCKS! I didn't add the essential oils but otherwise followed the instructions exactly and the soap smells like fresh baked pumpkin bread. Seriously, the boys and I wanted to eat it!

It was ready to come out of the mold and be cut in about 4 hours and we used it the same night. It is very foamy, conditioning, and made our hands smell heavenly. This one was a real winner! I really love the speckled brown color of this soap.


After all my soaps were dried I cut them in half and wrapped them in fancy paper, added some labels, and tied them with kraft ribbons. These are going to my sister Heather today. I hope she loves them as much as I do!

If you have never made soap this huge post will probably drive you bonkers, but once you make a batch you will see that it is so darn easy. And if you stick to simple oils like olive and coconut it is very affordable.

OK, here are some tips/tricks that might help you get started.

1. I have read many soap-making blogs that post about their crockpot soap recipes and after they reach trace they cover and cook for one hour, checking every 15 minutes to make sure the soap is not exploding like a volcano out of the pot. They do not stir or take off the top unless the soap gets too high. After an hour they mix the soap and put it in molds and don't worry about checking the pH. I am going to use this method and will cook all of my soaps for one hour, but I will go ahead and have Duke check them with litmus paper before pouring them in my mold. But honestly I am not worried about the lye since I check all recipes with the lye calculator and any excess lye will be used up after the soap sits around for a while. I don't sell my soaps and can test each batch on my own skin before gifting them. :-)

2. Light trace looks like a soft pudding. I usually go to hard trace which reminds me of a thick pudding/whipped cream. I have read you don't have to be too worried about this step, the oil/lye/water will become soap as long as it is mixed together and incubates (even at room temperature). It is not rocket science!

3. To clean your crockpot and spoon, scrape off all of the excess soap, roll it in a bar, and use it! Then soak everything in warm water. The soap will just melt off in an hour or so.

4. Once you make a few simple soaps, use this lye calculator to design your own. The sky is the limit with oils and flavorings.

I would love to hear your own soap-making adventures in my comments.

Have a great weekend!

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


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