Monday, November 30, 2009

It Took Me a Year to go Manual

A year after taking the plunge and buying our very first DSLR camera, I am finally taking a few pictures in manual setting. And they are . . . ALL RIGHT. Not fantastic, not perfect, not spectacular, but pretty good for a clueless photographer who really and truly doesn't know what she is doing.

I took a course last month at Henrys and although it was very informative, it was the entry level course on the Nikon D60 and I really do already know the camera well. I understand all the menu settings, all the buttons and how to use the preset "chid and pet", "portrait" and other settings. So it wasn't all that helpful for me, and they reminded me that you don't learn how to shoot in manual mode until the second course.

So I decided to save myself nearly $100 and read some good photography blogs and a couple good books (courtesy of my fabulous photographer friend Ben).

And although I am far from having any idea of how to use the settings properly for each shot, I do know what aperture, shutter speed, and ISO mean.

That's a good start, right?

Here are a few shots I took of Thing 1, who was more than happy to be a willing model for me.

And, yes, the last one is absolutely my favourite and probably the best photo I have ever taken in manual mode.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Cards Giveaway!

I presume you realize that if I am having a holiday card giveaway on my blog that my craft sale was not all that successful.

It was relatively fun and I met some nice people, but I did not make millions, and to be truthful, I made just over what I actually paid for the table! So either my cards suck, or this event was just not my clientele.

That being said, I still had a fabulous time making these cards, as I always do, and since I have loads leftover I am happy to offer a set of five holiday cards (including envelopes) to my fabulous readers.

The best part?

You can choose your five favourite cards and I will send them to you! I'll also send you 10 holiday gift tags for some of your Christmas presents. Here are two of my favourite cards, and the full set is here for you to look through.

1. This contest is open to anyone in North America.
2. To enter, you need to leave a comment telling me what you like about hand-made cards.
3. For a second entry, follow my blog or tell me that you already follow me.
4. For a third entry, follow me on Twitter or tell me that you already follow me!
5. For a fourth entry, tweet the contest and tell me that you did it.

I will be drawing for the cards on Thursday, December 3rd at noon because I want to make sure the winner receives the cards well before Christmas!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Craft Sale Saturday

This has been an extremely busy week for me - and, yes, every week in my life is busy with three Things running around underfoot, but this week has been exceptionally busy.

I have been preparing for my first real life craft sale! Here are the details - please try and stop by if you are in the Ottawa area! I'd love to see you.

I will be selling my hand-stamped cards at the Carp Cooperative Nursery School Christmas Craft and Bake Sale this Saturday, November 28th. The location is at 3774 Carp Road, Carp, and is open from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Here are a few samples of my work, and there are much more here.

I had a number of people contact me looking to buy some cards. I have not had time to upload photos and stock my etsy store, so I will be selling whatever is left over from the craft sale as of Monday. Please contact me and I can deliver them, or you can come and browse through them if you like.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Laced Up

Once upon a time, I used to be a figure skater. A real, honest-to-goodness figure skater who wore sparkly, sequent-laden lycra dresses and to this day still has scars on her body from an unfortunate run in with both another skater's ice pick and the boards.

Figure skating was a big part of my life as I grew up. I had patient and dedicated parents who drove my sister and I to and from various rinks all over the province of Nova Scotia. At all hours of the day - and most memorably - in the wee hours of the morning. I loved skating. It became a big part of me. It was a physical outlet and kept me in good shape. It was a creative outlet that allowed me to express myself and channel my artistic energies.

When I moved away from home to go to university in Ottawa, I was able to keep skating a little bit and was fortunate enough to score a great gig coaching. Thus, skating remained a part of my life for another ten years . . . and even helped pay my bills.

So, it should come as no great surprise that I was anxious for my own children to start learning to skate. I jumped the gun a little bit and enrolled Thing 1 in skating lessons a few years ago when he was only two years old. Although it went fairly well, unless you have a ridiculously coordinated toddler I recommend waiting until the child is three or four to register them for lessons. Your back muscles will thank you, because holding a toddler in the upright position under their armpits for 30 minutes wreaks havoc on your posterior.

After spending most of last year doing nothing, I decided it was definitely time to get Things 1 and 2 back on the ice and ready to hone their skating skills. They began taking skating lessons with the City of Ottawa in October and I'm completely impressed with their accomplishments thus far.

Last winter when we skated on our community outdoor skating rink, Thing 2 could barely stand up without being held. Today he skates circles around the other children in his group.

And Thing 1, a nervous and timid skater last winter, is skulling, gliding, skating on one foot and starting to skate backwards!!

It thrills me to have the kids truly excited about an activity in which they participate. They talk about skating lessons all week and wake up early every Saturday because they are so excited to hit the ice. And mommy is secretly pleased as punch that they are not in hockey yet, as she knows exactly the schedules and demands that come along with participation in hockey.

Thing 3 is such a good sport that she frequently comes to the rink to cheer her big brothers on. And mommy cannot wait to enroll her little girl in her first figure skating lessons.


Monday, November 16, 2009

All Five Things Together

It is so incredibly rare that the five of us are ever photographed together, that we basically have no family pictures at all. Having three young Things so close together in age literally leaves me breathless and constantly feeling like I am running behind a train trying to catch up. A family photo shoot has been on my mind since we had Thing 3 (almost TWO years ago now) and we finally had a chance to make my wish come true this weekend.

The very talented Anna from Anna Epp Photography joined us for a fun and relaxing morning of picture taking. I was so pleased that the entire morning was effortless and non-stressful. Other photographers in the past have been very hung up on posing and requiring that we sit still for minutes at a time - completely unreasonable for us with three children five and under. Anna takes a very natural approach and prefers to capture her shots while everyone is at ease and candid.

I'm completely happy with our photos! You can preview more shots from our family photo shoot at Anna's photography blog.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Get Ready for a Few Extra Minutes of Sleep

Ever wish you could grab just 10 or 15 extra minutes to sleep each morning? Is your baby an early riser? When Thing 1 was a wee little thing in his crib, he liked to greet the mornings far too early for my liking. You know what I mean - like, *way* before the newspaper hits your doorstep. I used to wonder what I could do to just have him either a) sleep a bit longer so I didn't have to get up before dawn, or b) find some way to for him to remain happy and occupied in his crib for a good chunk of time.

A mom-to-mom chat with my good friend Kelly soon left me a changed woman. She offered me the gold nugget of parenting tips.

And I am about to offer this tip to you. Drum roll, please.

Find yourself a small container with some sort of clip or edge that will enable you to attach it to the edge of a crib. Those plastic cleaning containers work well (the ones that carry your cleaning bottles in it) although I found this composting container for a couple dollars at Zellers and really liked its sturdiness and size. It also happens to fit perfectly on our crib.

Each night after Thing 3 goes to sleep, I fill up her "crib bucket" with surprises for her to find when she wakes the next morning. I usually include a couple books, her favourite Little People . . . anything small and safe for her to play with on her own in her crib. In the picture below you can see I've also included her Auntie Steph's Monchichi, and our Playmobil pterodactyl.

Later in the evening, when I tuck her in as I embark on my own bedtime routine, I clip the bucket to the edge of her crib so it will be there waiting for her when she wakes up. In the morning, she opens her eyes and is pleasantly surprised by a bucket-full of goodies with which to amuse herself. She pulls out different toys and books each morning, keeping her occupied for a good 30 minutes or so before she begins to call out for me to come get her! I rotate the toys/books quite often, almost every night if I remember, because that seems to be key to keeping her excited about the bucket - the fact that there are different items in it each morning.

I try not to put the bucket in the crib with her at bedtime when she falls asleep, because it does seem to foster a little too much "playing" at bedtime and her crib is strewn with toys and books as she pulls all the items out. Be very careful which items you place inside the bucket - no sharp edges or dangerous toys of any kind. I never put in any books other than board books, as I wouldn't want Thing 3 to rip paper pages and potentially chew on them or choke. I sometimes put in several chunks of Lego, as she just loves putting four or five pieces of Lego together.

Yes, this little trick worked for all three Things. As babies, they grew to really look forward to their "buckets of fun" and ended up being very content and happy each morning as they woke up. Rarely did we ever hear fussing from our babies in the mornings, and to this day they are still all content and cheerful when they get up in the mornings.

I do not recommend adding the bucket to the crib of a younger infant. It is too dangerous until a baby is able to sit up on their own very well, hold toys, flip through the pages of a book, etc. I did not use the bucket for any of our children before they were at least nine or ten months old. And it is perfect for ages 15-20 months, when they are very curious and love reading books and are beginning to play with toys on their own.

So there you go . . . grab yourself a crib bucket, fill it up, and grab some zzzzs (or an early morning cup of coffee!) before your little one gets up.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Leaf Extravaganza

Monday, November 09, 2009

Is it Christmas Card Time Already?

I can hardly believe it is that time of year already. It seems like just yesterday it was summer and the Things and I were dipping our toes in the frigid Atlantic Ocean. But alas, reality has hit and Halloween is behind us (which wasn't very exciting around these parts as two of the Things were quite sick with bad colds, hence the lack of photos), signaling the green light for retailers round the globe to deck their halls, decorate their winter wonderlands, and inaugurate the never-ending rotation of Christmas advertisements that we will inevitably be forced to endure over the next seven weeks.

That being said - I do love the holidays! The festive season, the baking, the traditions, trimming the tree, late nights wrapping gifts and, of course, the Christmas cards. I am selling a few of my cards at a small craft fair here in Ottawa later this month, so I've been trying to come up with a variety of different styles that will suit everyone's needs. And I'm experimenting with some different "non-traditional" holiday colours, just to be different. A couple of the cards I made at a class a few weeks ago. My days are so busy lately, I really hope I can complete enough cards . . . and maybe even manage to make enough for us to send out this year!

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