Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Beginnings Of A New Adventure: A maternity shoot

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My friend Sarah and her hubby, Jon, are counting down the days until Baby J arrives, so I thought I should share some lovely maternity shots I did for them back in December. 

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I was really so happy that she gave me this opportunity to try something new.  I know many of us don’t always feel so pretty during pregnancy…

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However, I think Sarah is the epitome of what they call “pregnancy glow”…something I REALLY lacked during my pregnancies.

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Lucky Sarah…and Jon too I guess. ;)

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Seriously. pretty. prego.

I have to say that it was kind of awkward for the both of us at the beginning of the shoot.  I’ve never taken maternity shots before AND I think it’s a little strange trying to be a “professional photog” with my BFF.

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As you can see, we got over it.  And had a blast.

Jon played a pretty song that he wrote for the babe to be…

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Did I mention that Jon is a total ham???  I mean rock star?

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Sarah took a bathroom break and returned saying, “How did this turn into Jon’s rock star photo shoot?”

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Yeah Baby!

Love them.  They are going to be the best…and coolest parents.

Thanks for letting me share yet another photography adventure with you guys!  In less than a week, she’ll begin adventures of motherhood.  And with each new step/adventure that I take in the world of photography, I fall in love with it all over again. 

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Designing Invitations Using PowerPoint

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As I’ve mentioned before, PowerPoint is a great amateur graphics design tool.  I used it several times in graduate school to create diagrams for presentations and posters.   More recently, it’s come in handy for creating homemade wall art (see here, here & here).

Well, now I’ve found yet another great use with PowerPoint…designing invitations!  I designed these adorable invites for my BFF’s shower earlier this month.

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Since I’ve used PowerPoint to do so many projects, I thought it might be helpful to share some of my tips and tricks for using it as a design tool.  So, here’s the tutorial for making the invites, but the basic idea can be used to create tons of great projects. 

Monkey Themed Baby Shower Invite Tutorial

Step 1:  Size of Invite

I wanted to make a 5x7 sized flat invitation.  Luckily I found this great embossing card stock at 50% off from Hobby Lobby one day. 

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It was a nice thickness and would worked well really well for this project.

Step 2: Background and basic layout

First, open up a new document in PowerPoint.  Resize the page as needed, in this case to 5x7.  I also made the page portrait instead of landscape.

I had a basic idea in mind for the invitation, and started by creating the background in the basic colors of the shower.  I did this by inserting rectangles and stretching them to the size I wanted.  Even the gray line is a long thin rectangle. <Go to “Insert”, “Shapes”>

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Step 3:  Dressing it up

To jazz it up, I added a “J” for Sarah’s last name by clicking on the center of the brown square.  Then go to “Insert”, then “Text Box” and click the brown square again.  A cursor will show up in the middle of the square…type away!

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And then a repeating pattern of stripes and dots.

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In PowerPoint, use can select one or more objects using the mouse and then use Ctrl-C to copy and Ctrl-V to paste over and over to get these repeating designs.

You can also “Group” objects by selecting multiple objects, in this case rectangles, using the mouse.  Then go to the “Format” tab, then Group.  Grouping makes moving items around easier some times.

Step 4:  Adding Clipart

To find a monkey for my invitation, I searched the PP’s clipart.  To access the clipart, go to “Insert”, then Clipart.

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Type whatever you link in the search box.  There are SO many things to chose from!

Step 5:  Editing Clipart

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After finding just the right monkey for my invite, I added him to the invitation.  Then I resized him to fit the perfect spot on the invite.  I didn’t want the entire monkey body and I wasn’t crazy about the color either.  What to do?

Well, I’ve found that you can edit many clipart images pretty easily.  First, with the image selected, right click and select “Edit Image”.

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A window appears…click “yes”.

Then you can click on any part of the image and delete it:

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Or click on other parts,

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Go to the “Drawing Tools” tab and change the fill color to anything you like!

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After a little messing around I ended up with this cute little guy:

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Step 6:  Adding Text, the final touch.

To add text in PowerPoint, you simply add text boxes wherever you want them.

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For this invite, I had three separate text boxes.  This allowed me to move the individual items where I wanted them which makes for easier formatting.  You can click the text boxes and move them where you want using the mouse.  You can also make minor “nudges” using the arrow keys.  This works for all objects in PP.

At this point, I simply printed the images onto my card stock.  Be sure to adjust the page size on the printing properties.  The default is regular paper size.

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Confused yet?  I hope not.  This is a my first tutorial using screen shots.  I thought they would be helpful in understanding exactly what I did to make these invites.

Stay tuned…I’ll be back to share how I made adorable monkey using the same PP ideas from this tutorial.

I’m linking this up to the following parties:

Get your craft on Thurs. giveaways    The Girl Creative 

handmade projectsShow and Tell GreenCreativeShareWednesdays

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Are You Shopping With Ebates?

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Have you joined Ebates?  If not, you’re missing out on free money back on many of your online purchases.  Ebates allows you to earn cash rebates when you shop online at a huge variety of popular stores, plus it’s absolutely free and easy to open a new Ebates account in just seconds.

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Online stores pay Ebates a commission (think of it as a finders' fee) on every sale and Ebates shares that with you.  Nice, huh?  

I receive a quarterly Big Fat Check (that’s seriously what Ebates calls it!) just for shopping through links on there site.  There is no hassle, no fees, no anything really…and that’s what I love. 

If I need to purchase something, I just login to Ebates, type in the store name and boom…a link to that store pops up if available.  They also give you various online web discount codes for their featured stores.  From there, I just click the store’s link and shop a usual.  My purchases and Ebates’ percent back, shows up automatically on my Ebates account.  Simple as that.  Again…no strings.

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So, I just wanted to share this little frugal/money back thing with you all just in case you haven’t heard of it before.  I didn’t believe it until I received my first rebate check.  Now, I’m an Ebates gal and maybe its something that could help you out too!  Every $ dollar $ counts, right?

Click this link now to start earning money back from Ebates and receive a $5 bonus after making your first online purchase!

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Using My Flash Again: a holiday shoot

Pin It I’m a little behind on posting photography sessions, but since I posted about my newest addition, the Speedlite, I thought I should show how helpful its been during these dark winter months.
My buddy Carrie asked me to do a quick portrait of her and her siblings as a Christmas gift to their parents.  We thought about braving the snow and doing something outdoors…
Ok, so we thought about that for like 10 seconds and put the idea safely in the trash.  It snowed.  A lot. 
Instead, we opted to use what little light we could get in her sister’s living room from a large window and…my flash.
I’ll admit I was nervous about the outcome, but WOW…this Speedlite is helpful.
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(If she looks familiar its because she’s the pretty mommy in this shoot too!)
Same shot, with a BW edit.
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What do you think?  I have to say I’m pretty impressed that we were able to pull this off with a white sheet, natural light from one window on a cloudy/snowy day and a Speedlite mounted on top, bounced off the ceiling.  Happy dance. 
Thanks to Carrie and her family for winging it with me!  She said her mom nearly cried when she saw the prints on Christmas…success!
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Showering My Best Friend: a baby shower

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In my small group of long term gal pals, I was the pioneer in motherhood.  I’ve watched and waited for the day my best friend, Sarah, would call me and say, “We’re Pregnant!”.  That day finally happened last fall and she and her adorable (and hysterical) hubby, Jon, are about to welcome their first baby next month. 

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I have to tell you that having your BFF prego has all the perks of welcoming a new little one yourself, without all that weight gain, sleeplessness and well….having a newborn in your own house at the end of 9+months.  Winking smile  Sorry Sarah!

Of course, I was all over throwing a baby shower from day 1 and luckily Sarah has a wonderful sister, Lisa, that lives close by to co-host with me.

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Sarah and Jon are big fans of monkeys…long story.  It just works.  They even have a really cute monkey mural in their nursery.

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Monkeys are cute so I ran with it.  Right to my trusty friend PowerPoint.  To get the word out to all of Sarah’s friends and family for the big event, I decided to make the invitations myself. 

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Please excuse my “edited for privacy invite.  I’ll be sure to post a step by step on making these adorable invites in the near future.  PowerPoint really is an awesome tool!

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The big day came and I had my mom and Lisa to help pull it all together.  LOVE them!  I made all of the decorations again using PowerPoint and various blue and green papers.

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I also made these super easy pom poms with tissue paper from a great Martha Stewart tutorial.

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They really filled the house with “baby boy” pops of the color for very little money.

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A friend of mine offered to make a diaper cake for me.  Isn’t is fantastic? 

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It made a wonderful centerpiece too!  Thanks Nicole!

For lunch we served an assortment of sandwiches, salads, veggies and fruit.  And for dessert…

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Cute and tasty!

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When deciding on a beverage, Lisa and I both wanted to make something that reminded us of old school lady gatherings from our past.  Sherbet Punch.  YUM!

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To keep it cool, I made an ice ring for the first time.  

Lisa was in charge of the games/activities.  Everyone had a blast decorating onesies and bibs for “Baby J”.

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After a little fun, we all “showered” Sarah with some great baby gear, a few splurges…

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…and some tear inducing homemade items from her sister, Lisa.

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That blankie is seriously sweet!  Sweeter than the cupcakes.  And fluffy too!

Finally, we sent our guests home with these cute little jars of M&M’s.

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Whew…are you still there??  Hope so.  Thanks for letting me share my best friend’s special day with you.  It really turned out wonderful and now we’re all anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby J.

Check back soon for all the How To’s for the various projects that went into to making this Baby Boy shower!

I’m linking this post up to the below parties!  Check them out for some fabulous inspiration!

handmade projectsShow and Tell GreenCreativeShareWednesdaysGet your craft on Thurs.

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