We’re actually ahead of schedule with getting the photos done for our annual Valentine photo card. But I’m not sure if I can actually stay ahead of schedule. I’m going to have these printed out in a special way (can’t share yet), so I’ve got to send them in! I’ll have to get on that this week.
You can peek at our Behind the Scenes session from last year. It’s pretty similar this year. Last year I had a wired remote. This year I have a wireless remote. The kids just love using a remote to take their own “selfies.”
I don’t interfere too much. I tell them they have to have at least 12 different faces. One face must be a smiling face. I tell them that if they do a closed mouth smile and an open mouth smile, they at least have 2 photos and they can go crazy on the rest. As you can tell, they get to dress themselves. The girl was getting ready to go skating, so she had her skate dress on. It was coincidental that the boy had a red sweater on. It was probably on top in his drawer when he went to get something to wear.
I use my Nikon D3100 with the wireless remote on a tripod. This is with natural light, the kids are facing a large window around noontime. I set the camera up on aperture mode (F4, ISO 200 and the shutter speed ended up around 1/250). I put the focal point in the middle to match up hopefully, somewhere, near the middle of my child’s face. I tell the children that they have to keep their head in the same spot, but that doesn’t happen! When they are done with their photos, I go through on the small viewfinder and make sure we have at least 12 decent ones. The collage below is just a sampling of their faces.
I’ve already arranged the kids’ many faces into this year’s chocolate box frame. (It’s a new one!). I won’t debut that one until Valentine’s Day, so hopefully family members will get a chance to view the real thing before that day. But, I’ve got the past years ones to showcase now.
Hard to believe we’ve been doing this for 5 years now! I guess we can officially call it a “tradition.” And perhaps, my photography (and the kids’) has slowing been improving.
What do you do for Valentine’s Day? Something crafty? Something store-bought? Something photographic?
I’m attempting a 365 Photography Challenge this year. One photo a day of happenings in my family. This helps me keep track of my progress and what I’m doing.
Day 8: Battleship
The kids played Battleship together. There wasn’t any fighting. It was a miracle!
2pm. Canon EOS M. 22mm lens. Manual Mode. F4, ISO 200, SS 1/160. Edit: Dsisk photograpy action of Simplify One. Matte finish.
Day 9: Beater Licker
This was a Friday. We have “Hot Chocolate Fridays.” I whipped up some cream to top the hot chocolate. The dog was the lucky one to get to lick the beaters when I was cleaning up after breakfast. I liked seeing his little face through the beater and thought I would get a photo. It was pretty dark in the kitchen, with just an overhead light shining down.
9am. Canon EOS M. 22mm lens. Manual Mode. F2.5, ISO 800, SS 1/125. Edit: Color match the whip cream and put in a solid color layer at soft light 20%.
Day 10: Snow Day
We went snowboarding for the day. The girl switched to her skis after lunch. I got this towards the end of the day. It was getting pretty icy and she wasn’t going to do the whole mountain anymore (I had given up earlier than her). So we stuck to the bunny hill together. I didn’t get many photos this day. Mostly, because I can’t keep up with my kids anymore. I get their backsides or blurry photos. I was only able to get this one because she rode up without me while I waited at the bottom.
2:30pm. Canon Powershot A2400 IS point and shoot. Auto. Edit: Cloned out some people. (Yes, I did that.) Dsisk Airy Ways action of Lost in the Sky at 75%.
Day 11: Family Run/Bike
I needed a photo, I had my phone with me. So I took one on our family run/bike. This was the best one I got. Not that it’s great, but the others were pretty poor.
3:30pm. Nokia Lumia 521 phone. Auto. Edit: Dsisk Airy Ways actions with Hot Air Balloon at 75%. Layer Mask to brush original sky back on.
Day 12: Shopping
It was our grocery shopping day. I only shop every 2 weeks. We usually hit quite a few stores and the car is overloaded. But we did the Costco run the day before with Daddy, so we just had to hit the grocery store quickly. The kids are in the car organizing the stuff into batches to unload. I knew ahead of time that this would be a colorless photo. It takes away from all the distraction in the garage and put the focus on the girl in the car (and those gallons of distilled water for our chlorine injection system).
11:15am. Canon EOS M. 22mm lens. Manual Mode. F5.6, ISO 400, SS 1/160. Black and white gradient.
Day 13: Chess
I played a couple of games of chess with my boy. I also played with my camera and focusing on different things. Can you see where this one is focused?
4pm. Canon EOS M. 22mm lens. Manual Mode. F2.5, ISO 400, SS 1/125. Matte finish.
Day 14: Snow
It had snowed the night before. Not a whole lot, but enough to play in. We really haven’t gotten much snow this winter, so the kids take advantage of it while they can. They played outside for nearly 3 hours! I joined them for an hour of it, until my hands were frozen! This is my girl building a fort.
9am. Canon EOS M. 22mm lens. Manual Mode. F8, ISO 200, SS 1/125. Levels layer to brighten a bit and a layer mask to take it off the sky and trees. Solid color layer (color matched to her cheek) in Soft Light mode at 20% opacity. Matte finish.
Day 15: Dog/Lizard in the Sun
The girl dressed the dog up in his lizard costume. The lizard decided to rest in the sunshine on my bed. I tried taking photos with the harsh sun. It was a challenge, especially with a white dog. Plus, he eyes would go funny every time I snapped the shutter. Not completely successful today, but I got a photo!
2:30pm. Canon EOS M. 22mm lens. Manual Mode. F2.2, ISO 100, SS 1/1000. Black and White gradient with a layer mask to take the gradient off of the dog. Just playing with this edit. Not my favorite, but it’ll do.
Day 16: Lunch with Daddy
After some lessons at home, we left to go have lunch with Daddy at his office building. We brought sandwiches to eat in the lobby of his building. We try to do this when we can. Afterwards, we went to the zoo for a field trip to see African Animals. (We’ve been studying Africa). The kids each got to take a point and shoot camera to take photos and we had some photography lessons, while learning about the animals.
Noon. Canon EOS M. 18-55mm lens. Manual Mode. F5.6, ISO 400, SS 1/250. Dsisk Photograph Actions of Simplify Set One. Soft Matte Finish.
Day 17: Saturday Breakfast
I knew I wasn’t going to get much of a chance to photograph anything, so I took the opportunity I had at breakfast. I took 2 photos and had hoped I could get more later. I didn’t, so this was it. We had homemade pumpkin pancakes. We also finished listening to an audio book we had started the week before when we drove out for our day of snowboarding. We were listening to “Chomp” by Carl Hiaasen on the tablet. Great book, we all loved it! We were all entertained by it!
8am. Canon EOS M. 18-55mm lens. Manual Mode. F6.3, ISO 400, SS 1/80. Haze finish.
Day 18: Dinner
This just goes to show how hard it is to do a 365. I think I was a little over ambiotious. Maybe a 52 project would have been easier!? But I’m going to keep this up. So this was, “Oh, Shoot! I haven’t taken a photo today. I’d better get some at dinner!” I snapped some of the kids making each other laughing while eating their sourdough bread slices. Kinda cute, but they didn’t grab me for this project. I have got to get a photo of my boy’s dimple though….another day. I took a slow shutter speed one of our reflections in the picture window. That would be this one. Kinda shows my….”OH SHOOT! I GOTTA TAKE A PHOTO!” It’s blurry and you can see motion due to the slow shutter speed. But, it’s what you would see if you peeked in our window. (Hopefully no one is…only our next door neighbors can see in this window…and they aren’t too close). Oh hey, I’m in a photo.
6pm. Canon EOS M. 18-55mm lens (I’m too lazy to change it). Aperture Mode. F5.6, ISO 800, SS 0.8sec. I thought of going with a black and white gradient for this one, but decided to just leave it. I like the 2 colors of the lemon tree in the actual tree and it’s reflected image. So this one is actually straight out of camera with no edits. Even a poor photo can be a good memory.
You don’t to be doing a 365 (I tell you, it’s crazy), but have you taken a photo lately? What memory have you snapped?
Today I’m rambling about DIY Newborn Props. Specifically, all things knitted and crocheted. Hats, blankets, rompers, pants, diaper covers, and what not. Okay, not what not. Isn’t that some sort of shelf or something? Yes, we’ve read quite a bit of the Laura Ingalls Wilder stories. There’s a what not in those.
And back to newborn props.
Craft them or buy them? I’m all for both. I affectionately refer to myself as a “crafty hack.” I will try crafty things, but I don’t think I’m that great at them. If you’re not the crafty hack type, there are plenty of professionals who work with yarn. Support them. I’m all about helping the small businesses. We’ll talk about them at the end of this post.
Right now, I’m going to talk about crafting your own stuff. If that makes you shudder, scroll on down to the end. If you’re a pro knitter or crocheter, again…scroll on down. If you’re a novice, like me, welcome and read on.
My grandma taught me to knit as a child. I remember my dad crocheting when I was a kid. Occassionally, I’ll get in a mood for yarn and pick up a crochet hook or a pair of knitting needles. Youtube, Googling, and books are my friend when it comes to remembering how to knit/crochet and finding patterns. I most often knit or crochet on car trips.
Let me share some of the things I’ve crafted hacked up. Maybe you’ll want to try some yourself. I’ve got a whole Pinterest page devoted to DIY props. I’ve made quite a few of them. I’m not one to pin stuff and not use it. I try my best to use it. So let’s see what I’ve used.
I’ve made this in newborn size and child sized. My daughter loves to wear hers. Seriously, this is the cutest hat. Even cuter on an adorable baby. And owls are in. I think the owl hats are some of my favorites.
This is a lovely hat that you can vary to your heart’s desire. You can even make it in the color’s of your favorite collegiate team. Go Badgers! I’ve gotten quite a bit of use out of the gray one I made. Three different baby boys are seen here sporting it.
Yes, sometimes I can create things. Just don’t look too close. I had a wee bit of this fluffy white yarn left and I crocheted this bonnet. I just made a 12 inch line of crochet chains and then I would single crochet into one chain, single crochet a chain of 4, skip 4 chains on the line, and then single crochet into the fifth chain on the line. Something like that, I made it up on the fly. Then somehow I was able to shorten it in the back and crochet it together to make a bonnet. There’s a reason you can’t see the back. But that beautiful face makes a shoddy bonnet look good.
The wrap is knitted out of the same yarn. I just used some really large knitting needles and knitted away. Easy peasy.
Again, this one was of my own doing. It’s very similar to the Elf Hat, except that I didn’t put a tail on it. I knitted with 2 double pointed knitting needles in the round. The first few rows were alternating knit, pearl, knit, pearl. Then I just knitted the rest and decreased stitches as I went to get a hat shape.
Basic Crocheted Hat
These were some of my first creations. I honestly can’t remember what I did to them. I have such a hard time judging and figuring out sizes. All my hats turn out a different size. But all baby’s heads are not the same size either. These were embellished with another crocheted strap and some buttons.
Oh boy, again…another one of my own. I just knitted a rectangular piece and then sewed it together in the back. That’s why you don’t see the back. If you like to crochet, there’s a cute Little Maiden Bonnet at Danyel Pink Designs. I think I may have to try that one next.
Knitted Blankets and Wraps
I knit quite a few of the knitted blankets you see as stuffers or wrapped around babies. I just get yarn and knit a rectangular shaped something or other.
Now I’m definitely not the expert on knitted/crocheted newborn props. I just like to try my hand at them. And I love to see what other people create, because they are talented, while I’m just a hack.
Some of my favorite sites to frequent for patterns are:
Share your favorite patterns or your favorite places to get knitted/crocheted newborn creations. Give a shout out to your favorite shops or your friends who knit/crochet. If you sell your creations online, by all means….promote yourself and list your link in the comments. Please keep the links clean and not spammy. Thanks a bunch!
I’ll try to keep this lighthearted, without getting too sappy or emotional. No promises. You know how I tend to diverge in my post writing.
We had a kitty. A kitty named Belle. She wasn’t a belle in terms of personality. Some people may have called her something else (aka…spawn of the devil, evil cat, etc…you get the point). But she was our kitty and we loved her. She definitely kept us on our toes.
She came along before the advent of digital cameras. Well, at least before we had one. We got her in June of 1998, just after we got married. She was 2 months old. A little ball of energy and fluff. She would climb our screen door with her little claws, get stuck, and hang there by one paw meowing until we would save her. And we always saved her. We spent forever looking for her the time she got out of our apartment and got lost. We found her in a stairwell cowering behind a heating register and all covered in grease.
I didn’t scan any of her baby photos, they’re all from a film camera. We didn’t get a digital camera until the cat was 7 years old. Already middle-aged. She was an “only child” for nearly 7 years. Then a baby came along.
This cat would stalk visitors and us. She would hide behind a corner and jump out snarling and swatting at people. That’s a little frightening in the middle of the night when you’re headed to the bathroom in the dark. I think it was a fun game for her. I may have screamed more than once when she did that to me. Perhaps, she was the reason people would only stay with us once. Or maybe it was because she just loved the bathroom. She thought the bathroom sink was her personal water bowl.
This “evil” cat tolerated a new baby. It was amazing how a little guy could lay his head on the kitty, but no one else could. Though we did have to teach the children about the kitty’s moods. She wasn’t a cat you could just pick up and play with. Sometimes you couldn’t even pet her. Temperamental. We had to warn people who came to visit to not pet her. My children are leery of petting other cats, even friendly ones. They have good reason to be.
Belle even tolerated 2 children. And then a dog. She was definitely the alpha in the family, even the dog was afraid of her. The dog also loved to play with the cat. He’d jump and run in circles trying to get her to play. Occasionally, she’d oblige and pat at him like crazy or even chase him, other times she would just ignore him and act like he didn’t exist.
She had her affectionate times. She loved when my husband would whistle. If we couldn’t find the cat, my husband would whistle and she would always come for some attention. Towards the end of her life she became much more affectionate. The kids could even carry her around, which they had never been able to do before.
She had diabetes and was getting pretty scrawny. We thought she wasn’t going to make it when we had to leave for a trip in October. We took photos with her, thinking it might be the last time we saw her alive. Somehow she popped back with some TLC. I’m pretty sure she used the nine lives of a cat. She always popped back.
But we knew she couldn’t last forever. She was 16, closer to 17 and was diabetic. I knew when the final day had come. The kids wanted to take teary photos with her again, even though we had already taken the “last” photos with her two months ago. It was a teary day, she was still doing well during the day, but I knew it couldn’t last much longer. She went downhill fast in the evening and I never got the chance to take her into the vet the next day. The kids got to spend some time with Belle before they went to bed. She had just enough energy to meow at them and bat at their fingers, just like she was saying goodbye. I stayed with her until the end, it was the least I could do. Even if she wasn’t the nicest kitty, she was our kitty and we loved her.
Go figure…we’re all allergic to cats. So Belle gets the honor of being our first and last kitty.
Belle April 1, 1998 – December 18, 2014
I’d encourage you, if you have a pet….grab your camera and go take a photo. You’ll be glad you did. We celebrated Belle by telling stories of her, looking at photos and videos, and eating a bowl of good ice cream. Because Belle loved to lick out a bowl of real ice cream, none of that cheap stuff for her.
I’m attempting a 365 Photography Challenge this year. One photo a day of happenings in my family. This helps me keep track of my progress and what I’m doing.
Day 1: Snow Date with My Boy
New Year’s Day fun at the local ski hill. Snowshoeing up and snowboarding down on the hill that is still closed due to lack of snow. My boy had me narrate the newest Spider Man movie to him so he wouldn’t think about how tired he was.
10:30am. Canon EOS M. 22mm lens. Aperture Mode. F4, ISO 100, SS 1/2000. Edit: levels edit with increase in light using a layer mask to paint it on snow to retain blue in sky. Increase contrast. Matte finish.
Day 2: Hot Cocoa Fridays with My Girl
We have hot cocoa every Friday morning. My girl has always been one to wake up happy, ever since she was a baby. Those two top teeth have been missing since the summer and one has finally poked through! She loves yellow and she loves her kitty mug. I got that Michigan t-shirt when I made a quick 24-hour trip to Michigan for my Grandma’s funeral a year ago. I was born in Michigan, but my kids have never been there. My daughter wears that t-shirt as a night gown. Her fingernail polish is starting to wear away. She got to paint her fingernails at Thanksgiving for the first time ever because she finally stopped sucking her thumb! She would only do it when she was ready!
9:30am. Canon EOS M. 22mm lens. Manual Mode. F2, ISO 400, SS 1/160. Edit: (input and help from my girl). Levels layer to increase light. Dsisk Hollywood Actions with base at 70% and Audrey at 26%. Eye edits. Matte finish.
Day 3: Doll Hair Salon
The boys left at 6am to go snowboarding all day, so it was just the girl and I. We made it a whole day of doing things that the little girl wanted to do. The morning involved playing princesses, playing doctor, and then styling dolls’ hair. Here she is brushing my old Kimberly doll’s hair on her bed. That bed is usually covered in toys, books, pillows, and stuffed animals. I shoved a lot of it to the side for the photo, but some of the pillows are still seen on the sides. Otherwise, this was the scene as captured. The doll’s face was covered with a wash cloth because we were spraying the hair to help get the snarls out.
10am. Canon EOS M. 22mm lens. Manual Mode. F2.8, ISO 200, SS 1/200. Edit: Levels layer to darken. Dsisk Hollywood Actions with base at 50% and Ingrid at 20%. Eye Sharpen. Matte finish.
Day 4: Lunch Still Life
I was not having good luck getting photos today. I tried to get some of my boy with his slinky, but my vision just wasn’t working out. Only Day 4 of this 365 and I’m finding it difficult. I guess I expect all my photos to be amazing, and well, they aren’t. I have to remember that my aim in this is to find joy. Yes, I want to work on composition and getting a great photo, but my aim is to find joy in our everyday. Easier said than done. So, I went for a still life photo. Maybe I’ll do a still life every Sunday. This is our dining table. It’s usually covered in a mismatch of stuff. I rarely have a clean table. This day it was covered with the kids’ soup bowls (they said they would finish the soup later and never did), crackers, water, pepper, bananas, a wrapper, and a wooden mammoth that the girl built. I purposely overexposed the photo. It kinda hides the mess.
3:30pm. Canon EOS M. 22mm lens. Manual Mode. F2.8, ISO 200, SS 1/320. Edit: Dsisk Hollywood Actions with base at 70% and Rita at 50%. Matte Finish.
Day 5: Boy Doing Math
Again, I was finding it hard to compose photos. Something in the background was always distracting me. My house is an open floor plan, so we don’t have many blank walls. Plus, while I try to minimize and get rid of stuff…there always seems to be stuff everywhere. I try to not let it drive me nuts. So I couldn’t seem to compose a shot of my boy without distractions around and behind him. So I went for the close shot. I even cropped it closer because I kept getting drawn to his ear and I wanted to be drawn to his eyelashes. Oh well. This is my boy doing his math work in the sunshine.
1pm. Canon EOS M. 22mm lens. Manual Mode F2.8, ISO 100, SS 1/160. Edit: Decrease Red Saturation to -10. Dsisk Hollywood Actions with Base at 70% and Ava at 30%. Sharpen eyelashes. Matte finish.
Day 6: Video Game
I thought the two earlier days were harder to get shots, I was having lots of trouble today. I knew I needed to get a photo and I was just lacking on time and inspiration. The boy had paid me $10 school bucks to play a video game and kindly let his sister join him. I grabbed the camera quickly and tried a few shots at different angles. Yuck. I wasn’t fond of many of them because of all the clutter. So I decided to try and embrace some of the child clutter and took the shot from above. I had to stand on one of our scary tall barstools to try and get the dog in. Turning the photo to black and white makes it better. That’s what I tell myself.
3pm. Canon EOS M. 22mm lens. Manual Mode. F4, 1SO 400, SS 1/125. Edit: Layers level to increase light. Dsisk Airy Ways Actions. Fly On at 100% with Cream Tone layer turned off.
Day 7: Library
After the holidays, we got back to some library time. Though this day was a cloudy and cold day, so rather than play outside, we spent some more time inside. I took 2 photos of the kids outside, but they were far from amazing. I just snapped. I quickly took 2 photos of my boy inside (who wasn’t a willing participant, I might add). Yep, that’s it. No composing or thinking. It was a cloudy day, so light wasn’t great and I just wasn’t feeling it. But I have a photo of my boy in his favorite aisle at the library. That’s worth something! Joy, I have to remember the joy.
1pm. Canon EOS M. 22mm lens. Manual Mode. F2.2, ISO 400, SS 1/125. Edit: Layers level to increase light. Dsisk Hollywood Actions with base at 50% and Rita at 30%. Soft matte finish (less than the others).
That is my first week. This could be a long project. Insightful, but long. Then again, it could be quick. Because for some reason, I think time goes faster the older you get.
Are you doing some sort of photo project? It doesn’t have to be a 365. Feel free to write a link to it in the comments. Just make sure your comment and link isn’t spammy, because I’d like for it to get through the filter. I get more than enough spam everyday. Some of it is rather amusing, when I take the time to peek at it. I hope you find something amusing in your day. Happy Weekend!