Girl’s Night Out & A Birthday Weekend

The past several days have been so fun! On Thursday, I had a “Girl’s Night” with my friend Anna. We had a delicious Italian dinner and then went to the comedy club! It was a blast…and long overdue. I LOVE the comedy club. It was really fun, although I’ve seen better comedians. He was funny, but a bit of a misogynist…I mean, I can enjoy a vagina joke here and there, but seriously, his entire routine was about vaginas. (Actually, I lie, there was one joke about an uncircumsized penis looking like a snuffaluffagus. Classy.) It was entertaining, but it’s just got old after like 10 minutes. But we still had fun (in part, thanks to the 2 drink minimum)! Ha.

Then, on Friday we made the 5 hour drive to Minneapolis to visit my sister (Jessica) & her family for my niece (Abbey’s) 4th birthday party! She and McKenzie are exactly 2 months apart. We went to the Mall of America for dinner and McKenzie and Abbey went on a carousel ride. Then on Saturday we went to Abbey’s Halloween-themed dance class…McKenzie dressed up like a princess, and Abbey was a fairy. They danced and frolicked. It was so much fun to watch. *Mental note: Get McKenzie into classes of some kind.*

On Saturday afternoon we went to Jessica’s in-laws for Abbey’s party. There was an obscene amount of presents. And an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen (yum!). McKenzie got some “un-birthday” gifts. That was always a tradition in our house when I was little…because once I cried when I didn’t get any presents on my sister’s birthday. It’s like the song from Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland,” get it?…”A very merry un-birthday to you!” Anyhow, McKenzie got a walking/barking puppy, dress-up clothes, a puzzle, and a painted glass project. Fun! She loves the puppy a lot. She named it Snowball, since it’s all white.

Then on Sunday we went to their cabin. It’s always so fun! They wanted a photo session there, to which I happily obliged…although, Dan was not a willing participant (*cough, cough*), so it’s not my best work. Haha. Buuuut, I love that my sister always poses for me! She’s such a good model, and helps me get my portrait practice! I told her that when she publishes her first book, I get to take the photo for the back cover. =) Other than that, McKenzie and Abbey played in the leaves, and our dog (Logan) followed us around on the ATV. Then we drove back to Madison. Long day, but a very fun trip! I always love to watch McKenzie and Abbey play together.

My crazy weekend! Who knew working was…work?

I was SO busy this past weekend! It was the busiest weekend since I started my photography business (which is good), but it was utterly exhausting…if I could do that every weekend it would be like a real job! ;) I had four photo sessions, 2 Saturday, 2 Sunday. And being me, I hate having things hanging over my head so I did all the editing right away…plus, people like getting their photos quickly. *sigh* So the past two days I caught up on much-needed relaxation. I’ve become obsessed with the series “Revenge” on Netflix. I’m a Netflix junkie, remember? ;)

On another note,, I’m thinking of changing my logo to something more family/kid friendly. I just think it’s a little “dark” (check out my FB business page for reference…it’s the cover photo) and I want something more light & fun. I loved it at first, but I don’t think it reflects the feel of my photography or the direction I want it to go…maybe if I were a wedding photographer, but I’m not, nor do I have any desire to be. What do you think about a logo change? I’d love some input. I love checking on Etsy for ideas (search: “photography logos”).

Since all I did was photograph & edit this weekend, I thought I’d share some of my favorite photos…I just love adorable kiddos!

How to create a custom Facebook “cover photo.”

In my last post, I mentioned how I create custom Facebook “cover photos” for my photography clients. I’m going to give you the step-by-step that I use in Adobe Photoshop (CS5) if you’d like to create one for yourself! Here’s how:

  • Step 1: Find 4 vertically-oriented photos (or 1 horizontal, 2 vertical) that you feel reflect you, your family, or your interests!
  • Step 2: Open Adobe Photoshop. To begin, go to FILE>NEW.
  • Step 3: Name your new project, and set the width to 851 pixels, height to 315 pixels, and the resolution to 300 pixels/inch.
  • Step 4: Now you’re ready to insert the photos! FILE>PLACE. Hit enter (return) to place the photo. Repeat with the other 3 photos, and arrange as desired.
  • Step 5: If the photos don’t perfectly fill the new project, adjust some of the photos to make them wider. Do this by going to EDIT>FREE TRANSFORM. Transform 2 photos so it doesn’t distort the images too much. Once you have the photos properly placed and inserted, make sure you like how it looks! You’re done!
  • Step 6: FILE>SAVE AS…Now save wherever you want! Just be sure to save the format as .jpeg. Upload as your new FB Cover Photo, and voila! You’re done…wasn’t that easy?! Let me know how it works, or if you have any questions! =)

I had a great idea for my business!

So I started my photography business less than a year ago, and I currently provide my clients with digital copies of their photos. Frankly, it’s just easier for me right now. I’m still growing as a photographer, and I have a lot of room to expand price-wise as I develop a client-base.

Along those lines, I’m still experimenting with marketing techniques, and I primarily use Facebook and other online mediums. Facebook has been a huge help…word-of-mouth is essential in photography! The ability to “tag” clients in their photos and have all their friends see my work has really worked well.

I recently came up with the idea to create Facebook “Cover Photos” for my clients. They love it, and it gets my name out there. Here’s an example of one I created for myself. If you were a client, would you like this? If you’re a photographer, what do you use for marketing techniques? I welcome any input/advice!

 

Hey y’all, I learned how to curl my hair!

How sad am I? I’m 26-years-old and I’ve never known how to properly curl my hair. I always thought it wouldn’t curl because I have long, fine hair, but I found this tutorial which had some great tips!

And I recently bought a new ceramic curling iron for $19.99 (at Best Buy of all places)…it hadn’t occurred to me that my problem might be an old iron, but I was using a $10, 10-year-old iron. That probably didn’t help! My hair always went flat in minutes. Seriously. So between the new iron and the new technique, it really worked well and I was pretty pleased with the result (forgive the camera-phone pic).

In other news, there’s a lot going on in our lives right now that I’d love to discuss, but I just can’t yet. Have you ever been at a point in your life where there are SO many imminent changes, and you just don’t know where you’ll end up in 6 months? Even a year? That’s us right now.

My hubbs is graduating this December, and we originally had our hearts set on moving back to California  (Jon was stationed in Twentynine Palms, CA during his 4 years in the Marines). It’s the amazing weather! We planned on getting grown-up jobs and looking for a home and what-not, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to play out that way. And I’m being intentionally cryptic here…I’ll be happy to share our plans when they’re set in stone, but I don’t really want to jinx it right now! Big life changes though. *sigh* I wonder where we’ll be in a year! It’s both exciting and frustrating.

Starting a New Family Tradition & An Easy Pumpkin Seed Recipe

Can you believe McKenzie is four and we’ve never carved pumpkins? We’ve done the whole pumpkin-picking-&-hayride-on-a-farm thing, but we’ve never actually gotten around to carving the pumpkins…until now. Didn’t they turn out cute?

2012 Pumpkins: Daddy, Momma, McKenzie

So our new tradition is carving pumpkins while watching Hocus Pocus (albeit, it’s a little above McKenzie’s age group right now). Regardless, we had a blast. I think traditions make holidays so much more fun, don’t you? Do you have any fun traditions for Halloween?

Anyhow, of course we saved all the seeds and baked them…what a treat! If you don’t know the recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Boil the pumpkin seeds with 1 tsp salt for 10 min.
  3. Spread seeds over a greased baking sheet and salt generously.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes (I like mine crispy.)

They were SO good…it tasted like popcorn…YUM. And it’s healthy too! Lots of fiber. ;)

Parenting Tips & Tricks: Pandora Lullaby Station

I’m going to be starting a section on this blog for Parenting Tips & Tricks…just things that I have found work very well with our daughter. I understand these tips/tricks might not work for every parent, or every child, but they have helped me immensely and it would be selfish of me not to share!

“Parenting Trick” number 1: Create a “lullaby” Pandora station to help your kids fall asleep.

By the time McKenzie was two weeks old she was sleeping through the night. She was an angel baby, and she’s still a really calm, mellow kid. We are definitely fortunate! ((Does that make us bound to have a hellion when we have a 2nd child?! Crap.))

Anyhow, I know it’s a developmental “independence” thing for children to have sleeping issues around age 3-4, but getting her to sleep at night can be a nightmare. [Insert tantrum here.] We keep the same routine every night: bath, brush teeth, read 3 books, go to sleep. She gets 1 “protector” in her room (aka dog), and multiple hugs & kisses. Yet she still comes out of her room 4-5 times, and sometimes screams & cries. It’s so frustrating!

It occurred to me that music might help soothe her to sleep more easily…so I created a “lullaby” Pandora station on our iPad (you could also use a laptop computer) and set it up in her room. I just typed in “lullaby,” and a bunch of wonderful songs popped up. I prefer the piano ballads because I think some of the songs can be a little shrill for a child who is trying to fall sleep, so I just kept giving a “thumbs up” to the soft piano ones.

It has worked like a charm! She falls asleep much, much more easily! It’s so wonderful. And it’s nice to have more time with my husband too. ;)

If you don’t have an iPad or laptop (or if you’re using it after your kids are in bed!), a CD player or iPod/dock would work just fine. I just like having the variety of Pandora! All in all, the lullaby music has made our lives much easier at bedtime, and I highly recommend it!

A Fire Truck Parade.

We are fortunate to live in Madison, an amazing college town where the community is super-involved and there are always TONS of fun events planned. This past Sunday, there was a firetruck parade from campus to the Capitol building. Since McKenzie currently wants to be a firefighter when she grows up, it was the perfect thing to do on a Sunday afternoon!

There were over 30 trucks from surrounding cities. During the parade, the firemen passed out candy, and afterward, the trucks surrounded the Capitol Square and they opened up the trucks and put up the ladders so the public could have a peek. McKenzie even got to sit in two firetrucks! She had a blast. Annnd she got to roll down the hill at the Capitol with her awesome Daddy. =)

How to scar your child for life…

Yesterday, I got the great idea to decorate for Halloween. Nothing big, I just wanted to get some festive vinyl window stickers and some spider webbing for our balcony. Fun, right? Wrong. Little did I know, I was permanently scarring my child for life…or maybe a week. Whoops! =/ Bad momma moment #5192.

The second McKenzie and I walked in the door of our local “Party City,” we were greeted by a giant, creepy, robed creature with exposed brains jumping out at us. Yikes! I should turned and walked out when that happened, but I kept shopping anyway…she seemed fine.

As we perused the store, searching for those damn vinyl stickers, she got more and more scared as she slowly realized what everything was. The giant, moaning mummy. The zombie with worms coming out of its eyes. Skulls and tombstones. Severed hands, feet, and eyeballs strewn about. I mean, you guys, this place was decked out. Creepy as hell. For a 4-year-old, this was the equivalent of taking her to a really good haunted house.

I’m not gonna lie, I thought it was a little comical at first, but then she started getting legitimately scared and shaking. (!) She said (in the most pathetic, terrified 4-year old voice she could muster), “This place is freaking me out. It’s spooky!” Soooooo I picked her up and carried her, while assuring her that everything was pretend. After I eventually found the window decals (99¢ for a sheet of 15!) and spider webbing, and we got out of there ASAP. Needless to say, I won’t be taking her there (at Halloween) again.

Have you (or your kid) ever been seriously freaked out by something at Halloween? (Mine has! Ha.)

THE END.

DIY Chalkboard Tutorial

A fellow photographer (Megan at Megan Ramminger Photography) used some chalkboards in a recent photoshoot…and it turned out so cute! So of course I had to give it a try…after all, “imitation is the ultimate form of flattery.” Or so they say.

Anyway, I can’t believe how incredibly simple and inexpensive this project was! For around $20 (and that’s very conservative) I was able to make 5 chalkboards (3 are pictured)…and I would have made more if I had more frames! There was plenty of chalkboard paint left. Here are the materials & steps:

MATERIALS: 

  • Wooden picture frames (I found these at Goodwill for $1.99 each)
  • Chalkboard paint (I got mine at Home Depot, $9.79)
  • Newspaper (to avoid a mess!)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Hammer
  • Nails (and maybe a pliers & screwdriver to remove staples from the frames.)

Step-by-step:

  1. Open backing and remove photos or pictures from frames. The ones pictured had staples in them, so I used a flat screwdriver to pry them up and pliers to get them out. Keep cardboard backing for later use.
  2. Carefully take out glass and set it on the newspaper…start painting the glass! Be sure you have adequate ventilation.
  3. Do 3 coats, let dry completely between coats.
  4. Once dry, place glass back in the frames, followed by the cardboard, and reattach backing. If the previous photo was held in by staples, use 4 small nails and hammer in securely (see photo below). Be careful, thinner frames might crack, so be very gentle!
  5. And you’re done! According to the paint can, let the paint set for 3 days and then your new chalkboard is ready! Condition the surface of the chalkboard before use by rubbing the entire surface with the side of a piece of chalk. This will provide the best erasability.

I plan on using these chalkboards for my photography business, but the possibilities are endless! I also made one for McKenzie’s room, which is larger. I plan on making another one for our kitchen, too! Do you have any other ideas for a chalkboard? Gook luck!