A Little Flare…

So I’ve been practicing some new photography techniques lately, and these are photos from one of the sessions I did with McKenzie:I really like how they turned out, and there’s a totally different “feel” to them from my other photography. Although, it’s tricky since the sun only gives this light for a 30 minute window before sunset. I was going for the “sunflare” effect. Although, she looks like a teenager to me in some of these pics, so please tell her to stop growing up so quickly. Thanks.

Anyhow, we had a fun weekend at our house. My sister and Abbey (my niece) came for an impromptu visit. We had tons of fun. McKenzie and Abbey played a lot, and we just sat and talked. On Sunday, we went and saw Breaking Dawn Part 2…which I really enjoyed. I thought it was well-done, although I haven’t read the books in 3 years, so I might not be as critical as a “Twi-hard.”

Then, yesterday, Jon and I went with our friends Anna & Scott to see Dan Savage (a witty, hilarious sex columnist), speak on the UW-Madison campus. He’s awesome. It was almost like a comedy show! The entire lecture was a Q & A from the audience, and there was some funny stuff. I wasn’t disappointed. I have his “Savage Love” app on my phone, and frankly, it’s fascinating to read some of people’s strange sexual practices. Very entertaining.

On another note, I’m working on writing down my love story with Jon. It’s in a creative writing format, but it was fun to do! I’m done, I just need to add pictures. I will make it a post, but also a “tab” at the top. I’m looking forward to hearing input about it! =)

Monty’s Blue Plate Diner

Here in Madison there’s a delicious local eatery called Monty’s Blue Plate Diner. The food is absolutely amazing! All homemade, and it’s the perfect diner “feel.” I particularly love the breakfasts, fish fry, and desserts. ;)

We discovered it about a year ago, and we made it our “Tuesday Tradition.” Every Tuesday before Jon’s classes at UW we have breakfast, and then McKenzie and I head over to the Madison Children’s Museum, where we have an annual pass. So much fun! Did you ever have any restaurant traditions when you were a kid? My family always went out to dinner when we (my sister and I) got good grades on our report cards…because we were smarty pants’ like that. ;)

Anyhow this is a picture of McKenzie at “Blue Plate” this summer…they always have chalk out in the summer, so her shirt is covered in chalk. Haha. =)

In other news, my sister is coming for  a visit this weekend with my niece, Abbey. McKenzie and Abbey are going to have so much fun! And I’m keeping it a surprise for Kenzers, so tomorrow she’ll wake up and Abbey will be here…I can just picture the joy on her face! But I love surprises, Jon hates them. I think they’re fun.

So for dinner tonight I’m making an amazing pulled pork recipe we had at a friend’s house, with homemade rub and sauce. It’s SO good. I’m not sure where the recipe is from (because she just texted me a picture of the recipe), but it’s called “South Carolina Pulled Pork.” YUM! I already made the sauce, and it was all very easy. Probably less than 20 minutes of prep. I’ll post the recipe & pics tomorrow, because it’s definitely worth sharing!

Getting an early start on the holidays…

Today I decided to get an early start on the Holidays and ordered our Christmas Cards! I used Shutterfly and I love how they turned out. I think they look like artwork! And you all know how I love a deal, so I used 2 coupon codes: 40% off holiday cards (code: holiday) and free shipping on orders of over $30 (code: ship30)…my order of 50 cards went from $97 to $57. Score!

Also, this past weekend Nina (grandma) came to visit. ((“Nina” used to be called “Nana,” but when McKenzie was a wee toddler she couldn’t pronounce Nana, so she’s been Nina ever since.)) Anyhow, we had a girl’s morning and went to the farmer’s market together with McKenzie, while daddy stayed homeand did homework. McKenzie had a ton of fun climbing a tree on the Capitol Square, and Nina got some delicious, local whipped honey. Yummmmm. And as you can see, they maintain the grass very well there…it’s so green. =)

At the last farmer’s market of the year with Momma & Nina.

Later that day, after Nina left, we made the 2 hour drive up to Wausau to visit Jon’s cousin and his family. I just love to see McKenzie play with her cousins, and frankly it’s fun to get just out of the house and chat with other adults.

I also love visiting their house simply because they have such a lovely home. It makes me SO excited to buy a house someday. I love that we own our condo, but I can’t wait to have my own home and yard. It will be so nice when I can just let the dogs out the back door! *sigh* Someday. So tell me you guys: is home-ownership everything it’s cracked up to be?

A break from all things political…

Here is a short, heartwarming story…at least I think so:
When I arrived at school today, McKenzie’s co-teacher approached me and said, “I just have to tell you something that happened last week. We were all walking back to the classroom from outside, and I fell behind because of my bad leg. All the students and the other teacher were already around the corner, and McKenzie came back for me and said ‘Don’t worry Miss Mary, I’ll wait for you.’ I just had to tell you, she is such a little treasure. The most genuinely caring child I’ve ever met.” This woman has been a teacher for 30+ years…talk about making a momma proud! Maybe it’s because her Daddy’s a Marine: “leave no man behind.” Haha. ;) But seriously, I am so thankful for that little princess. She is literally our pride & joy.

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!

 

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. =)

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!