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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign...

BUT, I bet you never saw a sign like this one - unless you live near me. Making a turn into Hobby Lobby I almost ran up over the curb when I first saw it.

Prepare yourself...

I laughed s o o o o hard. Unique kiddin'!
I can appreciate enterprising new ventures, but really. Is there high demand for portable dancer's poles? Am I living in an area where this is so? Dear Lord.

I know you have questions...
- no, I didn't call the number and no, this is not on my wish list.
- why did I erase the last of the number? My husband, Mr. Sassypants, has a warped sense of humor and practical jokes are his thing. I don't even want to tempt him.
- yes, I have the rest of the number for you, Amanda.

Signing off.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Aromatic Project

Disclaimer: I'm not sure what the duration of these things is gonna be, but for now they smell awfully good!
Materials used:
oranges (get the cheapest you can find - $2.50 at Wal-Mart for these)
cloves (super-sized courtesy of BJ's)
thumb tacks or push pins (what is the difference?)
band-aids (unless you aren't as wimpy as me)

The band aids help push in the cloves. Use the push pin to make holes for the cloves. I found that three holes was my max before I lost sight of the holes amongst the orange dimples. Make different designs - mine were not as fancy as some I've seen...or make a smiley face like Lulu did!Bonus: On chilly days, I like to simmer (bring to a soft boil first) a large pot of water with one orange sliced into rings, add some cloves, a bay leaf, a shake of cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice. Your house will smell like you've been baking all day! A lovely treat without a lot of work.
*WARNING: Be sure to keep an eye on your pot. You can add water if it gets low, but eventually you'll be able to tell that you've gotten all the oomph from your spices that your going to get.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Our little girl turned 7 today.
Born in Russia.
Small, but determined.
Her fiestiness has grown with her.
This is her favorite gift from today, Hannah. A purring lion cub from Nanny.

Happy Birthday, Lulu!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I have been so inspired by the talented photographers over at Lens Us Together, that I have to share what they have motivated me to try and link you up directly to some of their awesome sites!
Some brief background as we start. I value my sleep. With two young 'uns who must be at the bus stop by 7:00 am, my night owl tendencies and a husband who travels Monday through Friday, I covet my sleep. But after seeing the shots being taken by these ladies, I was determined to get out and catch the early rising sun and the fabulous light which comes with it. Yep, I spent two hours one day shooting landscapes and nature shots when I could've been comfy cozy back in bed.
Look what I would have missed:These shots were inspired by Mary over at In a Soft Light and Simple Things.
She is my Landscape Idol. Back when I got my first camera, I was crazy for landscapes, but extreme lighting situations befuddled me. I'm still befuddled, but now I'm digitally learning how to cover up, I mean correct my mistakes. Back to Mary...her photographs have such a dreamy, peaceful feel to them. Check out this one and this one to see a couple of my favorites. She also has a feature called Mosaic Monday on her third blog, Little Red House. I've lost a few morning hours clicking on the links of everybody who comes there to share their own mosaics.

Next up is Caroline from NoWordz and Whimsical Whispers. Her photographs are breath taking! I love her use of textures and the way she finds beauty in everyday objects.
Be sure to check out the black and white of apples on NoWordz which is just awesome (but I can't link up for some reason)! I mean, apples...really? I love it.
I took these:

after seeing this incredible photo of Caroline's.
She also has her first book for sale! You can preview it here or click on the "Buy the Book!" button at the top of her NoWordz site. Talk about a great gift for a photography enthusiast! Are you listening, honey?

Then there is 30 Days of Gratitude as Cora's theme for November on her blog, Heartfelt and Homemade. I had every intention of following Cora's lead on this one, but did I mention how much I love and need sleep? I have so enjoyed reading her posts each day. On some particularly long, rainy days, I have been pulled out of a funk by reading one of Cora's gratitudes. One of my favorites can be found here, but I highly recommend reading them all to find your personal favorite! Of course, each gratitude is accompanied by one of Cora's beautiful photographs.
Here is my precious Ella yet again. You can thank Kate at A Picture A Day for inspiring me to share my dear Ella more often. You see, in addition to her fabulous photos, you will see her fabulous dog, George. Ella was getting a wee bit jealous.

Finally, to see some ridiculously amazing family portraits, you need to visit Michelle (Shell) over at Wildflower Studio Blog. She is one smart cookie - picking a winery for a family session so mom and dad can do some tasting while the kids are busy being photographed. I have no pictures to show you - go visit her site while I pour some wine. See... she did inspire me!

Thank you ladies, for sharing your gifts and talents, for inspiring me to try new things and to look at things in a new light!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ann - Maternity Shoot

It was such an honor to photograph our friends/neighbors who have since welcomed their baby girl into the world. Ann was just so relaxed and flexible regarding the scheduling (two bouts of the flu hit our house the week we were to shoot) and was wonderful to photograph.
Here's a sampling of our shoot:
Photographing adults was sooo much easier than children. Cooperative and highly photogenic subjects - what else could I ask for?
I think their happiness is so obvious in these shots and we couldn't be happier for all three of them! Congratulations Ann and Paul!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jack, Memories and 5 Tips

Jack has been very eager to have his picture up on my blog. My mother asked for a recent vertical picture of Jack for her to frame and hang up. The stars aligned and Jackie-baby and I had ourselves a photo shoot this week while sister was at gymnastics. (Our last shoot did not go so well and I flat-out refused to take his picture for awhile after that.) Mean Mommy.
However, my refusal seemed to help my cause. You see, Jack likes seeing himself. He's never met a reflective surface he didn't like. Really. And here's the proof:
Just turned two, Jack in front of our fireplace watching his reflection as he sings to himself.
Five years and eight months later...
Jack without a reflective surface, but have no fear! He's equally entertained by his own shadow. (It's still him, after all.) They had been watching tennis with me and ever the imitator, Jack is shifting his weight from foot to foot like the pros do waiting for a serve.
Another imitator photo I found in storage that shows the real Jack. Jack also loves music. This photo is also from March 2003 at the age of two. Jack is singing along with Dean Martin. He obviously didn't know the words, but boy, does he love a good duet. It was an hour long special and I bet he stood there close to the full hour! (He's wearing the head piece from his red Clifford pajamas given to him from Aunt Paula.)Thanks for sticking with me as I strolled down memory lane. Here is one of the best photos from our shoot this week.I think it captures Jack in all his young-boy sweetness. Looking handsome, cooperating with his demanding photographer and hoping she got some good shots. (Which he begged to see once we were done...and asked if I'd be putting one up on my blog.) Here you go, Buddy!

Tips for Photographing your Own Children
Tip #1: Jack does much better by himself than with his sister. If you have a child who distracts easily, they may cooperate better on a solo shoot.
Tip #2: Scout out your location before you go and if possible, let them do some climbing/ jumping/exploring as a reward for being such a good subject.
Tip #3: Work quickly. I shot 40+ shots in under 45 minutes. Twenty were keepers.
Tip #4: Don't be afraid to give some simple directions - Jack was unsure of what to do with his hands while standing, so I told him to stuff 'em into his pockets or cross his arms. Sometimes, I actually did the pose myself...just leave it up to your
little imitator!
Tip #5: If things aren't working out today, bag it. Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Saving Face...

...faces, that is for another post. This tip may be something you've never considered doing before. Exclude faces to emphasize a different part of your subject and to give a twist to a portrait shot. This type of photo is a terrific addition to more traditional portraits and can say something totally different about your subject.
Here are some examples:
This ballet photo puts the emphasis on the three girls being in-sync. Quite an accomplishment for five-year-olds, if you ask me.
(I did a cross-processing treatment-why the color may look wonky to you.)

Bob, our neighbor's cat and our daughter. Listening to the birds together.

Baby P's feet in Momma, Bethany's hands. See his toes wrapping around her finger? Shows how baby is a snuggler - right down to his toes!

So the next time you're clicking off a bunch of shots, try to add a bit of the unexpected to your series and exclude the face of your subject.

Happy picture-taking and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

Where to start? An apology because I hate that I went so long without posting. Our daughter came down with the flu...while my husband was on an eight-day road trip...I then caught it...while my husband was still gone. I recovered in time to work down at the apparel mart for my husband, but the "ick" (coughing) lingers. My appetite is still gone - however, the only weight I may have lost is in the fingers.

Fortunately, I recovered in time to photograph my pregnant neighbor. It went very well and I'm hoping she's happy with the results. I've just started processing them, but will be sure to post a few soon.

In the meantime, let me show you who was the best behaved in our house while I suffered.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall/Halloween Decorating Done Cheap

You'll notice I lean towards fall decorations versus Halloween decorations. It all has to do with being lazy. That's the truth. Sad, but I know myself. I'd rather be able to leave things up through November than go through the whole process again on November first. A BIG thank you to Amanda who was so generous and thoughtful to make this fabulous FALL banner for me. I love it!(I was shopping the house and was encouraged to move something from one room to another {via the Nester}. This picture is usually in our bedroom, but I like its vibe for this season. Not sure its the right size, but whaddya think?)
This year I got a bag of various smallish pumpkins at BJ's for just $6.99. I love how they look on top of my urns, candlestick holders and mantle. Add a little reindeer moss and...instant, inexpensive fall decor.goblin is a sales find from Michael's
I buy my stuff when things go on sale - lots of times they are on sale before the holiday. I found these feathery picks half off at Hobby Lobby and they added some punch to a premade garland I already had and look terrific with this urn - gives it more presence up on that top shelf.I did have to wait until after the holidays for this cornucopia, though. It was originally $50 and went down to $10 - again at BJ's.
There are a few cutesy things I have for the kids including this wooden Halloween tree and the countdown calendar I shared with you here. I also put up tacky orange lights on the front porch the week of Halloween. Honestly though, they seem to enjoy the change of decor no matter if it's Halloween themed or not.
Thanks for stopping by and happy decorating!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Quickie Card

Good news - I've kept my August resolution and am 4 for 4 in sending out birthday cards! Hardly a stretch to get 4 cards made, but maybe it's better that I'm eased into this deal.
I'm sharing this card because I just love this new stamp. It has incredible details! (Click on the image to enlarge.) I got it over at addicted to rubber If you don't have a local stamp store, you should check out this place. They run different promotions and sales weekly. Thousands of stamps to choose from - thousands, people! If you need a place to start looking, I'd recommend these companies: Impression Obsession, Inkadinkado, Magenta and Rubber Romance Stamps. No need to thank me - I'm happy to help! (wink)
Once stamped, I used colored pencils to color in the cake. Who doesn't love to color? I actually think it's therapeutic. But I digress. Here's the inside:Cake Stamp: Impression Obsession (sorry there is no company name on the "bloomin'" stamp)
Patterned Paper: ki memories (quite old actually)
Edge Punch: Fiskars
Scalloped Punch: Stampin' Up

Thanks for stopping by and happy-stamping!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Photography: Angles, Part III

This is the last of this series, unless I learn something new and then I'll be sure to pass it along. This recommendation is also easy-peasy.
Instead of always shooting your subject straight-on, tilt your camera a bit.
Just be sure that your subject doesn't look like they are about to fall down a steep slope.
Here are some examples:
Our Godson
The angle of Baby S. here works well, but would not have worked if the top of his head had been tilted towards the bottom left corner. Can you picture what I'm talkin' about? (I am somewhat biased, but look at those sweet little lips and cute wittle nose...isn't he beautiful?)

Our daughter, Daniella
She's a cutie, too. (Again, I'm pretty biased.)

This week I have the distinct honor of photographing our neighbor who will be giving birth to their first child sometime this month. It will be my first maternity shoot, so send some good thoughts my way as I am a bit nervous.

Thanks for stopping by and happy picture-taking!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Photography: Angles, Part II

Amanda's oldest stinker-boy
Part II is simple: Shoot from above your subject.
One of my favorite angles because it eliminates double chins. (Not that any of these subjects suffers from the dreaded turkey neck.)

My Ma-Ma and our kiddos
I really adore these first two photos. However, in my effort to continually improve, I often critique my own work. In the first one, I am so mad that I cut off his toes. In the second one, I would have adjusted the glasses on Jack, so as to not have the top of his frame cutting right through his eyes. Mind you, it doesn't keep me from enjoying these photos, it just reminds to pull back a little to include tiny toes and double-check where glasses are sitting on a subject.

Our daughter, Daniella and our fur-baby, Ella

This shot of Daniella and Ella is one of my all-time very favorites. I love how it looks like Ella is smiling and I just remember what a joyful afternoon that was - our little girl playing with her new doggy.

Happy picture-taking!
P.S. Sorry my font sizes are all over the place! I've tried correcting it and have just about burst a vein in my neck trying to fix it. My apologies.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Photography: Angles, Part I

Disclaimer: I am not a professional photographer. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Noooo. Just kidding.
I am constantly learning and my goal here with photography posts is to share what I have learned through my experiences or have been taught or have read with you so you may learn how to make a better photograph.

This post is about using the background to tell more of the story. Backgrounds can either be a distraction or a vital part of the story. A lot of times when I am shooting a portrait, I get in close to eliminate anything which may take away the focus from my subject. This results in a tight shot. Like this:
Bethany's youngest cutie-patootie
However, you (as a photographer) will become bored looking at the same kind of shots over and over. Not to mention that some of us might not be as fond of such a close-up of ourselves. Why can't chipmunk cheeks be cute in adulthood?

So my challenge or tip for you all to try is to pull back a bit and consider including important background elements.

This was not only the first day of school, but their first time riding a school bus. A simple smiling shot with new backpacks would not suffice.

This is Christmas morning and lucky us! Santa left presents and a thank you note for the cookies. Ahhhh. Mexico. Our first vacation (won by my awesome salesman, hubby of mine) without children in nine years. Sunshine, a cabana, frozen fruity drinks, beautiful blue water and palm trees. This shot takes me right back there...
It can even work for a family portrait, as seen here:
Aren't my nieces adorable? I give all the credit to my super sweet SIL, Kristin.

I hope this was helpful. Let me know if you have questions. I always appreciate your comments!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

While here...

...we saw a plaque with this printed on it: "I'm not mean. You're just a sissy." My dear friend said (while laughing) "That is SO you!"
A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.
How true.
I have friends who have seen me at my worst, friends who have been with me through tough times and still they are my friends. If you're lucky enough to have a few friends like this, then you're lucky enough.

I want to introduce you to the friend who inspired me to start blogging - the same friend who declared that sign to be "so you." Friends, meet Bethany, of Borderland Traveler.

Her writing is thought-provoking, witty, entertaining and for me, educational. If I make it through a post of hers without copying a word down to look up, I feel like I've won the lottery! Words I've learned from reading Bethany's blog: detritus, gustatory, poultice (which has nothing to do with chickens - so misleading) and tincture. She probably does crossword puzzles with a pen. If you already were using these words - good for you! You
really need to take a looksy at her blog.

See, B. has a gift for putting words together. Her stories about her four, yes, four children
(feel free to gasp) are riotous. Check out this one for proof. How about this conversation recorded between three siblings? What a hoot!

In addition to being a talented writer, Bethany is a bold crafty girl. This is a recent fabulous project for her youngest one's room. While we've explored our crafty talents together, she is a perfect match for my "let's see how we should do this" attitude - saying "oh, let's just do it"! For her take on our crafty adventures, check out this post, where she so generously introduced me to her blog readers.

She's a true friend. A spirit-filled cheerleader, an encourager and one who always manages to see the silver lining. Who would have thought years after playing an ill-fated game of Pictionary together, we'd be such good friends?
Remember I said I have friends who've seen me at my worst? During that game of Pictionary, poor Bethany was on the receiving end of "I can't believe you can't tell what that is!", from yours truly. Yeah, I'm lucky this girl hung around. Lucky enough.
In honor of B., I'm passing along this fabulous bookplate which I found here.
You can find loads more there and they are free for personal use. My son pointed out that the black and white ones would be fun to color in!
Thanks Bethany, for inspiring me! My writing will never compare to yours, but I'm so glad I caught the blogging bug!


Thank you for coming back!
I really do want to be more consistent with my posts..I wish I was a better writer.
Until then - here is a card I made for our friend and neighbor, Ann, soon due with a baby girl.
And I promise I'll be posting again soon!

Card: My Mind's Eye, boxed set (Hobby Lobby)
Ribbon: Archiver's
Embossing plate: Michael's (long time ago) and I can't remember the brand
Checkered paper: A Muse Art Stamps (I think) - came via my local stamping store

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Are you ready for some FOOTBALL?!?!?!

Steelers Pictures, Images and Photos

I AM!! I'll keep this post brief since I know I've lost many of you already...the season begins tonight and you will find me glued to the game. That's right, your crafty pal is a tomboy at heart. I watched football with my dad growing up and now love watchin it with my honey! I have my own Terrible Towel and have been known to scare children and dogs with my cheering at times. I had pictures of Jack Lambert (he's the guy at the bottom of my blog) on my wall in college. My roommate did ask that I take down the one showing him without his teeth. I don't believe I did, but we remain friends.

I also want to mention the button I've put up for the blog
I'm so excited to be part of this talented group of people! Each week is a different theme, picked by one of the contributors to the blog. Our assignment then is to take a photo to go with that theme. Many write about the photo or include a poem. Some photos speak for themselves. It's fascinating to see all the different perspectives on one topic. I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think!

So much for keeping it brief. :D

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Another Halloween Countdown Calendar!

How cool is this?!? My good friend, Amanda, made a countdown calendar for Halloween! I love how it turned out. All her dates have glitter or some fabulous treatment. She painted her baking sheet (bought for $2.99 at Target) and modge podged her calendar on it. She used Dollar Store goodies she'd had in her stash.
Here is a close-up of some of her cutie-patootie dates:I'm thrilled by everyone's responses and sweet comments and so flattered I actually inspired some people! Thanks for sharing your calendar, Amanda! You rock!