February 24, 2012

dream a little dream with me

I am officially smack dab in the middle of the winter doldrums.

When I look outside, this is what I see.

But this is what I want to see.

(Just for fun, I'm throwing in random pictures of my beloved bird house.)

I can't believe I'm showing you this next picture. I feel kind of mean. No one should have to see something this sad on a Friday.

Painful, yes?

If you love me even a little bit, you won't Pin this one.

If nothing else, it proves that there is some actual structure and design to the herb garden, because it's kind of hard to tell when all I usually show you are pictures like this one.

For the record, I hate brown and gray.

Also for the record, I love green.

Birdhouse alert!

Things are starting to come to life in the greenhouse. I've been waging a war against the slugs and the ladybugs are taking on the aphids.

It's all about teamwork.

It's hard to imagine that it will look like this again in just a matter of months.

Dear Princess Diana clematis,
I miss you!

Anyone want to pull a Mary Poppins and hop into this next picture with me?

Where's Dick Van Dyke when you need him.

I posted this shot twice because it is currently my favorite photo. It makes me happy and sad at the same time.

Spring fashions are in the stores and Costco is carrying jumbo bags of fertilizer, so it can't be long now, right?

Have a wonderful weekend!

February 14, 2012

happy valentine's day!

I don't get to spend the day with my Number One Valentine, or any of my Junior Valentines, but I do get to spend it with almost every other blood relation I've got on this planet, and that's the next best thing. My parents, my sibs, my nieces, and my single solitary nephew who has yet to acknowledge that I am his favorite auntie.

He's stubborn that way, but I'm wearing him down.

We are all smack in the middle of one big, long walk down memory lane and we've been having us some fun.

I've been sleeping like a rock, camped out on an air mattress on my niece's floor. We've been having a Jane Austen movie marathon every night, as well as a puzzle assembly marathon. To top it all off, she brings me coffee in bed every morning, so there's a good chance I may never go home.

The timing of this trip couldn't be better, as I am currently on the run from the law. The clothing boutique I take pictures for needed some Valentine shots, and I feel confident that it is considered child endangerment to have a very sweet teen-age girl spend her Saturday morning laying on a cold, concrete sidewalk in temperatures that would make a polar bear cry.

If/when they catch up with me, I'm hoping the judge is a woman, as I'm planning to offer her a pair of these cute aqua shoes in exchange for a light sentence.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

February 9, 2012

love baskets

Gonna have to face it I'm addicted to love.......baskets.

I first made these at Christmastime for my photography clients, and they were so much fun I decided to make them again for Valentine's day.

I gathered all my Valentine appropriate craft supplies.....


Glitter......no project is complete without the glitter.

Chipboard letters covered in the aforementioned glitter.......

Pretty, bauble-y trim......

Teeny tiny paper heart garland.....

Teeny tiny hearts glued back to back on embroidery thread.....

Teeny tiny hearts that would rather stick to you than stick to each other.

(Fair warning....making teeny tiny heart garland might make you a teeny tiny bit crazy.)

Old fashioned valentines.......

Paper bunting.

In addition to being addicted to making paper baskets, I am addicted to every and all forms of bunting.

I heart bunting.

Making mini bunting might make you a bit crazy too, but it's worth it because it's bunting.

After trying and failing to make my own cone template, I got smart and went to the party store and bought a clearance package of party hats. I traced the party hat outline onto heavy scrapbook paper and cut it out.

Cardstock weight paper is a must if you're going to fill it with anything heavier than marshmallows.

I reinforced the seams inside the cone with some tape since they'd be under a little more stress as a basket than they would be as a party hat.

Once they were embellished, I punched a very small hole on both sides for the handle.

Try as I might, my holes were never perfectly spaced so my cones either tilted a little to the front or a little to the back.

I'm pretending it adds charm, but deep down, I'm rather irritated by the tiltyness of my baskets.

I filled mine with candy kisses, as my plans for the great Valentine cookie bake-a-thon of 2012 never became a reality.

These little baskets are so stinking fun to make!

I have a feeling the Easter Bunny just may be delivering something similar this year.

And maybe Uncle Sam, too. Just picture a red, white and blue basket filled with firecrackers.

Hmmmm, Arbor Day?

April Fool's Day?

Administrative Professionals Day?

The possibilities are endless.

Make yourself an upside down party hat basket today!

February 7, 2012

lessons learned

Remember how I just got through telling you that my youngest was a very annoying reluctant model?

We've talked about this before, but it never ceases to amaze me. Add a girl to the mix, and everything changes.

Aren't they adorable?

As I've been cleaning up my computer hard drive and transferring photos off my laptop, I've come across many pics from the beginning of my photography journey. It's made me think about some of the things I've learned about photographing people over the last couple years.

Some things sunk in pretty quick. Others, not so much.

I know that quite a few of you are new owners of your first big girl camera, so I thought I'd share a few of the lessons I've learned along the way. I'm going to assume that many of you are just like me.....easily befuddled by anything even remotely technical.

Learned Lesson Number One:

Probably the most important thing that I learned right off the bat is to manually use my camera's focal points to focus on my subject's eyes. Now, I always use manual selection to choose my focal point....I never let my camera choose it for me. Every one of the photographers that I admired back when I was desperate for tips stressed just how important it is to have the eyes tack sharp, and if your subject is positioned at an angle, focus on the eye closest to you.

So, that was my number one concern when I set out to take a portrait. I learned to change my focal points without looking at my camera, and soon, I was able to to do it without even thinking about it.

That brought me to my next, somewhat quickly learned lesson.

Learned Lesson Number Two:

If your shutter speed is too slow, that tack sharp eye won't be tack sharp.

I know. Duh.

I had and still have many, many duh moments.

When I was learning to use my camera in manual mode, there were so many things to think about and keep track of. My shutter speed was often too slow for hand holding my camera, and my pictures were blurry. Not blurry enough to see on the back of my camera, but when I'd transfer them to my computer, I was very bummed. Those eyes I'd so carefully focused on were not sharp at all, and I couldn't figure out why. I finally thought to check my file information and realized my slow shutter speed was the culprit.

So, these days, the first thing I do in any location is set my aperture and ISO to ensure that my shutter speed is fast enough to handle any slight movement made by either me or my subject.

For some of you, this is probably a given. For me, it was not. Nothing was a given when I was starting out. Except maybe taking off my lens cap. Of all the variables that come along with manual photography, I at least had that one down from the start.

For me, it's easy to focus more on what I don't know. I still have so much to learn. I can visit the blogs of amazing photographers and quickly feel that I will never get to where I want to be.

So, while it's always good to be looking for that next skill to conquer, that next amazing technique to master, don't forget to occasionally take a look back and see how far you've come.

Have a fabulous Tuesday!

February 2, 2012

love crunch

You heard right.

Love Crunch.

From Costco.

Granola with dark chocolate chunks and berries. It reminds me of my long time favorite, Kashi's Cocoa Beach, which is also chocolate granola, but with coconut and almonds. Of course, I can't find Cocoa Beach anywhere around here, but I just this very minute discovered that I can order it from Amazon.

Seriously, is there anything you can't order from Amazon?

I just had to share, because anytime chocolate can be a legitimate part of breakfast, you need to tell your friends.

Happy Thursday!