Monday, December 31, 2007

pay it forward :: valerie

Finally! I have something to show from my "Pay It Forward" post back in October. Here is the bag with matching tag I made for Valerie - luckily I got it to her before she moved to Arizona!

One down, two to go! Rachel, you're next. And hopefully Angela's won't be too far behind. :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

On Christmas

Taking time

to think about

and enjoy

the wonderful things

money can't buy

and hoping you are, too.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

oh, what do you do in the wintertime

when all the world is white?

Do you stroll down a lane

having fun all the way

becuase it's early Christmas Eve midnight?

Is that what you do?

So do I!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

photo tip :: night shots

I love nighttime in December! The air, the stars, the lights's wonderful!

Taking pictures at night is a lot of fun, but it can also be challenging. Since there isn't as much light at night, your camera has a more difficult time focusing. If it doesn't detect enough light, your camera compensates by taking more time to actually snap the picture, staying open longer to allow more light in. This is great if you can hold your camera perfectly still for the couple of seconds it takes to snap the picture. However, if you move around at all, it can create a blurry picture.

The surefire way to stabilize your camera is to use a tripod. However, like many of you, I do not have a tripod. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can use to minimize movement. While they can be especially helpful for nighttime shots, they can be applied to any situation where you are having a hard time getting a clear, focused picture.
* Hold your breath as you snap the picture. I thought is sounded kind of weird at first, too, but it does help!
* Hold your upper arms and elbows tight against your body.
* Use the self-timer. I love this trick! This way you don't have to move the camera around as you push the shutter button down.
* Create your own tripod. Set your camera down on something stable - a rock, your car, anything that isn't moving. If you can't find something that will work, stabilize yourself by leaning against a tree, lampost, or something else closeby.

* Experiment with the Night Mode on your camera. My camera has extra settings when I press "Menu" in this mode that allows me to let in more or less light by speeding up the shutter (look at your camera manual for details on how to do that). If you don't have Night Mode, try switching off your flash (unless there is something within about 10 feet that you want illuminated).

* Another note on experimentation: depending on what you are taking pictures of, you may find that you actually like the effect it creates to keep the shutter open longer. This is especially fun in pictures where you want to capture movement (see example here). If using the tips listed above takes away from the effect you are going for, don't use them! Be creative!

Now get out there and practice before the season is over!

Friday, December 14, 2007

orange you glad it's almost christmas?

once there was a snowman

Here's how to make him grow tall, tall tall!



Use a small, black ink pad around the edges of the snowman body sections and the aqua and white parts if you wish by brushing it on. Start out with a little bit - you can always add more!

Tie one on and you're ready to go!

Monday, December 10, 2007

merry little tags

I love these festive, little tags. Simple and modern.

Assemble as you please - ready, set, go!

Let your creative juices flow!

Now give them to everyone you know!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Oreo lollipop?

Well, kind of.

What you need:

1 1/2 - 2 bags white chocolate chips

1 package Double Stuf Mint Oreos



*Melt white chocolate chips in the microwave

* Poke an Oreo with a toothpick***

*Submerge Oreo in melted white chololate

*Remove Oreo from white chocolate, let drip, then place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper

*Top off with red and green crystal sprinkles

*Refrigerate to allow white chocolate to set up

*Take them out, let them warm up a bit, then


***NOTE: Toothpick method works well for dunking Oreos in milk :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

photo tip :: macro

Now, before I go headlong into this "photo tip" post, I should probably do a little disclaimer. Although I am not a photography expert, I do consider myself to be a photography enthusiast. As such, I enjoy learning little *tricks of the trade* to make my photos look more polished. I also enjoy sharing the things I learn as I go. What I share here will be simple, practical, and include almost no technical jargon (in part because I don't know it myself!). Hopefully this will help you get acquianted with your camera so you can learn how to use its features to take better pictures.

With that said, here goes...

One of my absolute FAVORITE settings on my little point and shoot is Macro. This setting is denoted on most cameras with a little flower. Going into Macro mode helps you take better close-ups. I love using this mode for pictures of flowers, leaves, berries, and other flora subjects. You can also use it for close-ups of your favorite holiday decorations, treats, etc.
To get started, push the button or switch to the setting for Macro and start framing your shot. When you have an angle you like, press your shutter button down halfway - this will help you determine if your shot is focused. Your camera should have an indicator on the display screen to let you know when you are in focus (I get a little green dot that flashes until it is focused). If you can't get it to focus, let go of the shutter button and try moving a little further away from your subject.

Another thing you'll want to see is where your camera is focusing - it doesn't always automatically focus on exactly what you want it to. My camera shows this with little brackets that appear at the actual point(s) where my shot is in focus. If it doesn't automatically focus where you want it to, let go of the shutter button and press it down halfway again. If that still doesn't work, let it go try moving the camera into a slightly different position before pressing it down again.

NOTE: If you can't get these little brackets to display, reference your user manual to see if you have that function, then follow the instructions to enable it.

Once you are in focus, press the shutter button the remainder of the way down to take your picture. Try to be as still as possible. Use the review button to see if it turned out the way you wanted it to. If not, try again!

NOTE: These instructions about how to focus can be applied even when you aren't using macro.

Something important to note: different cameras have different abilities when it comes to Macro. For example, your camera's Macro setting may allow you to focus on a subject less than an inch from your camera. My camera will not focus that closely - I have to hold my camera a few inches away from my subject. The best thing to do is play around with your camera and see what it can do.

Finally, don't be afraid to pull out the user manual that came with your camera - it should have a good description of how to use the Macro function. Or you can just go here. :)

You'll probably be surprised at the kind of pictures you can take when you actually make the time to get to know what your camera's features are. If you don't believe me, read Angela's testimonial!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

first snow

* There's something about dark trees against pure white that I just can't help but love - nature's own artistry flawlessly expressed.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

christmas countdown

Horray! December 1st is here, which means it's time to start the Christmas countdown! I made this little calendar a couple of years ago. Very simple, but I'll give a little instruction anyway.


* white printer paper

* card stock - 2 solids and 1 patterned

* adhesive

* 25 clothespins

* ribbon

Type numbers 1-25 on your computer - feel free to be creative with the fonts. Print, cut out, and mount on solid cardstock. Repeat with patterned paper, then again on the other solid. Cut a piece of ribbon large enough to fit all your numbers. Tie a little knot at the top, leaving some slack to hang it. Tie another little knot at the bottom. Clothespin your numbers on and flip them over as the days go by.

If you're feeling extra festive, put little messages behind each number. We do small sayings like, "This is the time of year to share - go look for something behind the chair!" Then, of course, there is something like an ornament for the tree or an edible treat hidden behind the chair. It makes it more fun to wait for the big day on the 25th!