Category Archives: diy


real instagram hacks

July 9, 2016

I wanted to try out a new topic for my blog where I share little Instagram hacks I’ve learned along the years. It’s no surprise I’m a huge fan of everything social media, and because of this, I’ve learned a handful of useful tricks and weird quirks I started doing to save on time.

So follow along, step by step on how I go about posting a photo on Instagram because let’s be honest, it’s never really that instant.

1. CULLING – I guess a precursor to this would be to mention that I only shoot in iPhone’s Camera app and I typically never shoot in square mode just to give myself more room to crop. Also, my grid is always on to help me level and I never shoot HDR. Back to culling! When I finally go through a day’s photos to determine which photos I want to eventually edit/post, I use the ‘favorite’ button at the bottom of each photo so that it goes straight into its own folder. You can absolutely make your own folders and move photos into it, but this option is super quick and easy because of the ♥ button. This is also a huge time saver to find the photo later on instead of scrolling through your entire Camera Roll.

A look at my own Favorites folder right now and all the goodies I have yet to share on Instagram.

2. EDITING – My favorite photo editing app these days is Priime– an SF based company with filters developed by photographers. Aside from the many styles and clean layout, I love the the ‘Automatic Style Suggestion’ that analyzes your photo to suggest filters it thinks would work best with your photo. Priime also gives you the ability to save over your original photo to reduce space in your Camera Roll. I know the fear of not having an original is scary, but your history is all saved in the app and your can revert back to the original at any point.

Priime is free to start and the only costs are the additional filters you purchase, which I highly recommend buying. I edited this shot with #priime_flock.

3. TWEAKS – I do the bulk of my editing in Priime (about 95%) and I like to use Instagram to edit the rest. The tweaks are usually pretty subtle and the gradual intensity level is just what I need to add a little extra to each photo. The last 5% of editing is usually spent on: brightness, contrast, warmth/cool, and sometimes sharpness. You can skip this step and the next if your photo is good to go.

4. SAVING – Instagram back in the day (I feel like such an old lady saying that) used to save your photo once you got to the caption part, but this isn’t so anymore. In order to save an edited photo from Instagram, you have to either share it to your followers or send it as a direct message. I’m usually not ready to share it live, so I always use the direct message option. You can send it to someone who doesn’t mind you using them as your own personal Dropbox or do what I do and share it to your dog’s account. Yup, you read correctly! I have an account for my dog Tobias and since I know he doesn’t mind it, I send my dog ALL of my edited photos. Once you do this, the edited photo saves to your Camera Roll. I then like to  the final image and delete the unedited ones from my Favorites folder.

5. PLANNING – This step and the next are completely optional if you want to pre-plan how your Instagram feed will look like before you post them. My favorite app to do this is Snug and it only costs $0.99. It allows you to load in your Instagram feed and add in photos to see how they look with your overall grid. This is crucial for those looking to create a ‘look’ for their brand and like to keep things cohesive.

Planoly is a great alternate, but you’ll have to pay after your trial. This app does go the extra mile and tracks stats and data for you as well.

6. SCHEDULING – I don’t always do this step, but this one is a great time-saver if you know you won’t have time to draft something up in a time crunch. Currently there is no actual app to post Instagram posts for you, so you have to get a bit creative. The first step is to get your photo all prepped with the caption, photo tags, geotag location and hashtags like you normally would (and should be doing) with every photo. Instead of hitting that blue button “SHARE AS ____” at the bottom however, carefully swipe up to show your iPhone’s Mission Control and turn Airplane Mode ON. If you’re on Wifi, make sure this is OFF. Basically, you want to disconnect from the internet for a second and go back to share your photo. You should see a bar pop up on the top of your feed that says “Failed” next to the photo with a circular arrow and X to the right.

You’re more than welcome to turn Airplane Mode off, kick your wifi back on and continue doing whatever you need to do. Whenever you’re ready to submit your photo, just hit the circular arrow and it’ll post with all the goodies you drafted up. You can stack a few on there and plan your week out, but keep it mind it may get kind of cluttered if you overdo it and be careful not to accidentally

Pro-tip: if I have a post I need up at a certain time, I like to set a timer or two on my phone to remind me when to hit submit.

I usually like to go back and as a second comment add in the appropriate hashtags (that’s a whole new topic for next time). Remember to be engaging! Take the time to not just like, but comment and follow actual people and companies. Hard work will pay off and you’ll see results! I’d love to know if you guys found this helpful at all, and please share to friends you think might benefit from a few Instagram tips.


diy dog teepee

June 20, 2016

Slowly but surely bringing over all of my DIYs from my old design blog over to this one. I can’t bear to leave them disappear into the internet abyss. Follow along below to learn how to make your own dog teepee! Or cat, small human, whatever!

My husband and I have been looking for an alternative dog bed for months and have had zero luck finding something unique that wouldn’t break the bank. We had this ugly crate up since we first got Tobias, but he’s been so good we haven’t had to use it very much. For months it’s just sat there being a catch-all for his dog toys. Something had to be done! After hours of scouring Pinterest and Google (I know, such hard work), I stumbled upon teepees!

Now granted, these were teepees for children, but Tobias is pretty much our child at the moment, so I figured it’d work. Plus, it’d be at a smaller scale! The possibilities are endless depending on what kind of fabric you use or how you decorate, but we kept it as simple, easy and cheap as possible. Everything came out to be about $30 give or take and we love the results!


  • 5 48″ Wooden Dowels (we got ours at Home Depot)
  • Painter’s Canvas (again, Home Depot)
  • Jute Twine (would you look at that? Home Depot has them too)
  • Scissors
  • Clothespin(s)
  • Power tool (to drill through the dowels)


  • Drill 1/8″ holes into each dowel, about 3-4 inches from the top. This step is to ensure that the twine is securely tied into one another. This step may be omitted if you tie strong bands or rope together and can be sure it’s tight.
  • Line them upright and space out evenly. Have one opening be larger than the order for the “door”.
  • String the jute twine together and secure tightly.
  • If you have time, wash the painter’s canvas so that it’s soft and not as wrinkly. (You can substitute this with any fabric you’d like.)
  • Drape the canvas around the dowels and secure with the clothespin.
  • Trim the bottom excess so that it isn’t as long.
  • Decorate accordingly!

Of course if you were a master sewer, you can do a lot with the opening, the trims, etc., but let’s be honest, I really don’t think Tobias cares! I added a bunting banner because it reminded me of camp and it really screams, “Hi, I’m a teepee and a fun dog lives here.”

Check out this gem that I snapped on his Instagram. Yes, I said his Instagram. I’m that person.


diy instagram matchbook photo album

June 4, 2016

Throwing this one back to my DIY crafting days! I created this DIY Matchbook Photo Album for a company I used to freelance a few years back and it became one of my most pinned and reshared DIYs. I wanted to carry it over to this blog so that I wouldn’t lose it and forget all of the things I’ve done. I wish I had more time to do crafts like I used to!

List of supplies and instructions are below:


  • 4×4 Instagram prints (PostalPix, Artifact Uprising & Parabo all do square prints)
  • 12×12 sheet of corrugated cardboard paper (or any other kind of the cover)
  • Cardstock paper (amount depends on how many pages you’d like to make)
  • 2 small brads
  • Twine
  • Photo corners
  • Ruler
  • X-Acto knife
  • Bone folder (optional)



  • Since this album is for 4×4 prints, trim the cardboard paper it down to be 12″ x 5″. You are able to make 2 covers with 1 piece of 12×12 cardboard paper.
  • Use the bone folder (or something to indent the paper so it’s easier to fold) to fold it at the 5″ mark and again at the 10″ mark.
  • This makes it that “matchbook” look with the 2″ flap that will eventually fold over.
  • You will have an extra cardboard paper which you can cut into a circle (or use a 1″ paper puncher) to use for the rings outside of the album. Save this to the side for later use.
  • Trim down the inside pages (white cardstock used here) to be 10″ x 5″.
  • Use the bone folder again to mark the middle of the paper to make them 5″ x 5″ pages. Make as many pages as you’d like or as many as you can fit.
  • Once ready to bind together, line up the inside pages with the cardboard paper
  • Use a needle or something sharp to make 2 holes in the center of inside pages and the cardboard paper.
  • Take the twine (whatever you have on hand) to tie it all together (see photo #3).
  • Making this project with kids? Skip the previous step and just staple it down!
  • Use the brad to adhere the circles in the front of the flap and towards the center of the cover.
  • Attach twine to open and close the flap.
  • Use photo corners and place each 4×4 PostalPix print to each page and decorate it any way you’d like. You can easily replace any material out with whatever you have on hand.


free mason jar hang tag downloadable

January 28, 2016

Had to bring this oldie, but goodie over from my old design blog–a free downloadable of mason jar hang tags! It’s from an old design blog I used to run, so here it is in all its glory. There’s a download link at the bottom. Enjoy it and tag me on Instagram if you use it.

These little guys can be printed on anything, but best on recycled paper bags. I had a kraft gift bag that had a broken handle, so I ran it through the printer with a sheet of paper and success!

I recommend hole punching them towards the top and using your choice of string to tie the tag onto your gift. If you don’t have a hole puncher handy, just use a paperclip or in this case, a clothespin to attach it to the string of your choice.

Conditions of use:

All photos and artwork are © Tina Ly Johnston for The images and/or documents you download in this post or across my entire blog are free for personal use only. Please do not use them commercially. If you re-post or re-use them in any way for your site or blog, please credit my blog. If you would like to use the printable for any commercial projects of yours, feel free to email me Thanks!

Download: Click here.

PS. I’d love to see what you use the tags for! Please tag me in your Instagram photos @tina.


brit+co x rocksbox

January 22, 2016

My New Year’s resolution has always been pretty generic — travel more, eat well, the basic stuff. This year, I wanted to focus on documenting things in my life a bit more and branding more of myself. What better way than with a REAL blog that I can document more of our lives AND brand myself, and what better start than about things I love: jewelry and DIY.

Meet your new BFFs Brit+Co and Rocksbox.

I teamed up with Brit+Co and Rocksbox on this darling DIY Marble Tray for your jewelry collection. Admittedly, I haven’t done a DIY in a while since my freelancing days, so I was a bit worried about screwing up. I can’t express how easy Brit+Co made the DIY though and how forgiving this particular project is.

There are only 2 things you’ll need for the DIY and Brit+Co provides it all in the box for you. Once it arrives, just head over to to get all the nitty gritty details on how to make it.

So which color will you get? Make your own set of Marbled Jewelry Trays at home and share on Instagram how you would style them to match your own unique vibe. Be sure to tag @rocksbox and @britandco and use the hashtag #iamcreative when you finish yours!

Note: if you haven’t checked out Rocksbox yet, don’t fret! Use my code tinadesignxoxo to get your first month’s free. It’s like Netflix for jewelry and so much fun.