Friday, November 30, 2012

In Focus Friday w/ My Mind's Lens: November Edition

I cannot believe that December is just around the corner.  It is the last Friday of the month and Kaeley is here to help us get our DSLR knowledge on. 


My dream Christmas gift is a shiny new DSLR camera.  Probably not this year, but hopefully sometime in the not so distant future.  And when that baby finally lands under my tree, I am going to be drooling for the kind of info that Kaeley is sharing with us today.  I want to take that camera off of auto, and really attempt to know what I am doing.  Take it away, Kaeley!


Welcome back to In Focus Friday!  For those of you who missed me last month, I talked a little about being creative and thinking outside the box when composing your shots.  This month, I want to focus on a more technical aspect of photography: aperture.

Aperture is one of the three aspects of what is typically referred to as the "exposure triangle".  The other two elements are ISO and shutter speed.  I will talk about these at another time, but what you need to know now is that they all three work together to determine the correct exposure for your photo.

Aperature is the setting on your camera that determines the focusing depth of field.  The various settings are referred to as "f-stops".  A shallow depth of field means that your subject is in focus, while the background tends to be blurred.  For a shallow depth of field, you want to have the aperture set as low as possible (for example, 2.8 or 5.6).  This is going to open the lens as wide as possible, letting in a lot of light.

Using a larger depth of field will result in more of your overall image being in focus.  This would require a higher f-stop (for example, 8, 12 or 22).  Increasing the aperture is going to cause the lens opening to be smaller, letting in less light.

One thing you will want to remember is that when you change one aspect of the "exposure triangle", you will need to adjust the other two accordingly to correctly expose your photo.  Fortunately, if you want to focus on the just setting the aperture, your camera should have an "aperture priority" setting.  It is usually indicated by "A" on the mode options.  Using this mode, you set your chosen aperture, and your camera will adjust the ISO and shutter speed to adequately expose the picture.

The following photos will provide examples of how changing the aperture changes the look of the picture.  You may not notice a huge difference from one to the next, but you should see a difference looking at one with a real low aperture value compared to the one with a very high aperture value.






Here are the pictures with a small aperture (f/5.6) compared to a large aperture (f/22) so you can see the difference a little better.

Utilizing this tool, you can add a lot of creative touch to your photos.  And remember - your camera will help you adjust the other settings if needed, allowing you to channel your energy towards achieving the focus you want.  If you have any questions, or want more samples, feel free to visit My Mind's Lens and send me a quick email!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hey, That's Pin-tastic! - Cork Wreath

I'm so excited....and I just can't hide it!  OK, I guess I just dated myself, because yes, I was singing The Pointer Sisters.  But seriously, I have completed my first Pinterest inspired project and I am stoked!  I think that I would refer to myself as a Pinterest wanna be.  I "pin" all these cute projects and recipes and am never brave enough to try.  Well, when I saw this pin, I was so excited - finally something to do with the plethora of wine corks I have been hoarding saving - waiting for just the right project.  Well, just my luck - the pin linked back to nothing but the picture...GRRRR!  Shortly after finding the picture, I also came across this tutorial on Heather's blog, Our Life In A Click.  She gave great step by step instructions, and although I didn't follow them precisely it did give me the confidence to give the project a try.  I also can't leave out the fact that I had a secret weapon....Megan was supervising.  I knew that it wouldn't end up a complete mess as long as she was there to point me down the right path!

I didn't take enough photos to give you step by step instructions via pictures, but I will do my best to describe how I got to the end result.  I am just forewarning you, some of the pictures leave a lot to be desired - especially the end result, but I am going to try to get a better one once I have some natural light to work was dark last night before I remembered. 

I started out with a white foam wreath form.  In order to keep pieces of the wreath from crumbling off and to help protect the wreath from all of the hot glue, we wrapped the form with tulle.  I had originally purchased ivory, but Megan had a brown color that we decided to use instead.  I could have done this myself, but it was so much easier with 4 hands!

Next, we attached a very long ribbon to the wreath form.  I am still not sure how I am going to hang it, but at least I have plenty of ribbon when I finally figure it out.  Gluing corks over the ribbon will also help to secure it even more.  Then it was time to bring on the corks.  Honestly, there was no rhyme or reason to it - just started gluing the corks to the form trying to obtain as much coverage as possible.

Once I was about a third of the way around the top, Megan started working on the outside portion of the wreath, using the same free form pattern that I was using on the top.  The only portion that we used a concise "pattern" was the inside. I stood a cork on an end vertically and it was the perfect height to cover the remaining space not covered.  

Once that was done, I filled in any gaps or bare spaces that looked like they needed a little something extra.  For the larger gaps, I glued corks, which in addition to covering the gaps also added a little dimension to the wreath, which I loved.  We tried to save the more interesting corks for this portion since they would be more visible.  We also used clusters of red and gold berries to add a little pop.  The berries were part of full branches that I purchased from Hobby Lobby.  Megan cut them off of the branches but left a small stem on each bunch.  Instead of gluing them on, we were able to push the stem into the wreath form though the small gaps in the corks.

Finally, to add a little more interest to the wreath I purchased a "Noel" ornament and an "F" for my last name.  The ornament was perfect the way it was, but the "F" was unfinished.

Megan spray painted the "F" in a beautiful shade of red.  I then attempted to paint a stencil design in a metallic gold.  It was an epic fail and although another coat of spray paint covered the gold the design was still raised on the letter.  Megan ended up sanding it and giving it another coat of paint.  From the first sanding, we decided that we kind of liked the look, as it gave it a bit of a distressed finish.  Once the final coat dried, Megan sanded the entire letter - we ended up really loving it!

So that's about it....once you get the corks attached you can really make this wreath your own.  Adding whatever details and extras that coordinate with your holiday theme or decorations.  I was thrilled with my results and am chocking this Pinterest inspired project up to beginner's luck and superb guidance from a DIY, crafty super hero - yes, Megan that is you!

In case you are wondering, I am not sure how many corks I ended up using, but it was quite a few.  Luckily some years back a friend gave me an entire quart size zip lock bag full, otherwise I would not have had near enough to complete this. I love wine, but come on!  I would say just on the top alone I used nearly may have to recruit friends to help you stock up.  This was my first time attempting a tutorial, so if you have any questions that I didn't answer or if something wasn't clear, please leave me a comment and I will do my best to help you.

I can finally participate with all those crafty ladies that are busting out Pinterest projects on a weekly basis!  I am linking up with AP over at I Love You More Than Carrots for:

Emily at Sweet Bella Roos ,Kelly at The Grant Life , Jill at Two Yellow Birds Decor, Jaime at CraftyScrappyHappy , T'onna at Navy Wifey Peters, and Savannah & Mallory at Classy Clutter.
Sweet Bella Roos
the Grant life
Grab a button!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Giveaway WINNER!!!!!

Just dropping in for a quick post and then I am checking out until next week.  Congratulations are in order for Jennifer Belcher Balsom....she is a designer at The Paper Plume.   Check out their FB page...really great stuff!  Anyway, Jennifer is the winner of my 200 Follower Giveaway.  Happy Black Friday to her!  Stay tuned, will be hearing from us.

Thank you to everyone that stopped by and entered.  I am so grateful to everyone that is helping my little blog grow as well as my Facebook page Pictures & Pens - it finally passed that 100 "Likes" hurdle.  I am looking forward to many more blog milestones!

To all the incredible ladies that made the giveaway possible, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and hope that I can return the favor.  You guys ROCK!

I am looking for fellow bloggers interested in button swaps for December.  If you are interested, please leave me a comment and I will get back to you....I would love to have you!

That is it from here for today.  I hope that everyone had a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!  If you are out shopping in the insanity known as Black Friday....good luck.  As for me, I am sunggled up in my apartment with my fur babies getting ready to get crafty...I am going to leave the crowds to the experts.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Some "Proof Book" Layouts

My 200 Follower Giveaway is coming to a close.  If you haven't entered, their is still time.  It could be a great jump start to your holiday shopping or you could decide to just keep it all and treat yourself.  Either way, don't miss out - head over and enter....the giveaway ends at midnight tonight.  Good Luck!

As promised, I am going to share some of the layouts I completed this weekend.  I love when I find my scrapping groove and can be this productive in one day - I did 6 double page layouts!  This project has been relatively easy, because there has been no journaling to bog me down.  These are a portion of the pages that I am doing for I what I have named a "proof book".  Each year around the time of  Zachary's birthday, I book a photo session.  Three weeks or so after the session I receive a disc full of pictures.  I pick my absolute favorite and have it printed in black and white and add it to my collage wall.  But then, instead of leaving the rest on the disc - never to be heard from again, I print every single one of them.  It isn't like there are only one or two good ones in the bunch...they are all pretty darn good.  Lucky me to have found such an amazing photographer....thank you Jesse, for being an enabler to my photo addiction!  *WINK, WINK*  But in all honesty, there is no way that I could just pick 5 or 6, much less 20 of my favorites in the bunch.  This way is much easier and causes me considerably less stress.

The following layouts are all from last year's session.  I am hoping to have this book done before I receive the next disc, which should be in a couple of weeks or so.  I will share the entire book once I get it done.

Thank you so much to all of my scrapping blog friends who have inspired me to start posting more of my own know who you are!  I hope that everyone enjoys their Thanksgiving, spending precious time with friends and family.  Not to mention the insanity that is Black Friday if that is your thing.  I hope to do a quick post tomorrow to announce my 200 Follower Giveaway winner and then be back on Monday to share my first ever Pinterest inspired project...I know the suspense is killing you.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mommy Confessions: A Link Up

I am not sure how I stumbled upon Heather's blog, but I am sure glad that I did.  She is super FUNNY and I love blogs that make me laugh.  And, there is this other thing....she has one of the cutest little boys, like EVER.  He runs a very close second to mine: 

Zach at one.....he has excellent taste in beverages, even at a young age.....just like his mamma!
How can you resist that face????

Anyway, I digress....I am linking up today with her @ Cookies for Breakfast for Mommy Confessions.

Your Website Name
Now that my "little" guy is twelve (and just about as tall as I am), there are not many things that I have to confess these days.  We is pretty self sufficient and quite intelligent for a twelve year old - in other words there isn't much that I can pull over on him .  However, I have definitely had my moments.  My confession  has to do with the tooth fairy.   Quite a few years ago when Zach still believed in the tooth fairy (not to mention...Santa, the Easter bunny, etc.) he lost a tooth one evening right before bed.  Now if you know anything about me, you know that I rarely carry cash....huge mistake!!!!  You would think that I would learn.  Anyway, Zach was soooo excited that the tooth fairy would be visiting overnight.  As I listened to him ramble on, as only toddlers can do....I was in full freak out mommy mode.  What in the hell was I going to do????  I didn't even have a dollars worth of change lingering in the bottom of my purse.   And then out of nowhere - divine inspiration (ok, actually I was worried that at any moment lightning would surely strike me dead).I opened my mouth and out poured this atrocious fib - wait for it........
"Zachary, in order for the tooth fairy to come the same night that you lose your tooth, it has to come out prior to dinner.  Otherwise, she can't squeeze all the children into her travels."

And then, I held my breath....he bought it hook, line and sinker! He was concerned that she would forget to add him to the list, but I assured him that not only was he on the list, I was quite convinced he was at the top of her list.  I am also pretty convinced that I am going to hell for that one.  As a reward for his patience, that crazy tooth fairy rewarded him with a brand new $10 bill...a small price to pay to keep the dream alive for a bit longer.

Be kind....I can already hear you guys whispering about the whacked out mom blogging over at A Beautiful Day!  But let me assure you, Zach seems to be suffering no horrible side effects from my epic mommy fail, in fact...he is turning out to be a really awesome young man no thanks to the tooth fairy fiasco.

If you have a Mommy Confession that you are brave enough to share....come on, you know you want to - head over and link up @ Cookies for Breakfast.  We won't jusdge....well, as long as it isn't any more horrific than the tooth fairy incident.

Tomorrow is the last day to enter my 200 Follower Giveaway.  The giveaway closes tomorrow at midnight...don't miss out!

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Crafty Weekend & It's Not Too Late

Just stopping in for a quick Monday "hello"!  I had a super busy, but very productive weekend.  I worked on blogger event stuff with one of the co-hosts on Saturday - things are really coming together.  Megan was then sweet enough to encourage me through my first attempt at a Pinterest project......ummm, yes she also gave me quite a bit of hands on assistance.  I am really excited about how it turned out, but I am not quite ready to post it so here is a little sneak peak.....

This plus an insane amount of corks, made it all happen

Here is the inspiration Pin......

I also scrapbooked all day on Sunday....I made a lot of progress and was definitely on a roll.  I am going to attempt to get some better pictures, but here is one of the layouts that I did...

I am working on two separate posts, so check back for more details on my super crafty weekend.

Finally, if you haven't entered my 200 Follower Giveaway , there is still time!  The giveaway is running now through Wednesday, November 21st at midnight.  Don't miss your chance to win over $100 worth of goodies!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Show Off Your Shot - Yes, I Am LATE

Happy Friday!  Yes, I am screeching in at the last minute for this link up.  I had wanted to do it earlier in the week, but believe it or not, I already had posts scheduled.

And before we get to the link up...please stop by my 200 Follower Giveaway if you haven't already.  There are over $100 worth of prizes including a $25 Etsy gift card and $30 worth of Starbucks gift cards.

I took this picture last Saturday and I love it!  I really didn't know how I would work it into a post - at least until I got the pictures from the session sometime next month.  Then, I remembered Rachel's weekly link up:

 then, she {snapped}
Jesse has been taking Zachary's photos since he was 9 (yearly, right around his birthday) - so doing the math, this was our 4th session with him.  My how time does fly.  I am proud to be in the group of original customers of Jesse Leos Photography.  He and his wife Rachel are just plain good people - simple as that (not to mention that Jesse is a fabulous photographer).  You can read more about them by clicking on the Photographers that Rock link on my nav bar up top.
I don't know why I never thought of taking their picture together before, but I think it will become a tradition now.  I think my camera phone did a pretty awesome job!  Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Third Thursday Scrapbook Stories: November Edition

Katie is here today for her November installment of Third Thursday Scrapbook Stories. 

I am always excited to see what she comes up with.   Katie is eagerly anticipating her October 2013 wedding to her sweetheart AJ and she is scrapping every step of the way....

Hi everyone!

Can you believe it has been a month since I was last here?! This year just seems to be flying by. Thanksgiving is just one week away! I am still in shock about that!

This also means that our October 2013 wedding is getting closer and closer.

Suddenly, many things that I thought were "in the future" have seemed much more urgent.

One of those things was registering. AJ and I had plans to register during one of Macy's Sip and Scan events a few times this summer, but something always came up.

Finally, in October, all the stars aligned and we were able to get to Macy's and get our registry started!

Of course, I had to make a scrapbook page about it for our engagement scrapbook (you can see more of the layouts for this book here). For this scrapbook, I've been using all divided page protectors.

The divided page protectors have been a huge life saver! They make it so easy to put together the pages, and they create a lot of continuity throughout the entire scrapbook.

Aside from using page protectors, another tip I want to point out is "Registry Item Review" in the center. I really wanted to include this page from Macy's in our book, but didn't like the way the white page looked. IT seemed too stark in contrast with the blue paper I'd used for the title and journaling.

To fix this, I used my printer to photocopy the original page onto a piece of printer paper. Then, I taped the patterned paper over the words I wanted to copy, reloaded the paper and copied again. This time, the words were printed right onto my pattern paper, which I put into the scrapbook!

Journaling: On Friday, Oct. 12, we went to Macy's for their Sip & Scan event. Macy's has a dj, vendors, food and mocktails set up on the wedding registry floor. It was a fun way to start our registry.
We did a lot, but we were not able to finish our registry that night. Some of the vendors were a little too pushy. We put some things on our list just to please them (aka. make them leave us alone!) We removed those items as soon as we got home! Also, we found the dj to be too loud. We registered for 2 sets of china b/c we could hear each other to discuss them!
All in all, it was a fun evening and I'm glad our registry is on its way!

Well, that is all for me today! Thank you Jules for sharing your space with me again :)

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I'll leave you all with a question...

Did you create a scrapbook dedicated to a special time in your life that isn't "normally" scrapped? If you haven't, what time would you have liked to document?

Have you entered?  My 200 Follower Giveaway is running now through Wednesday, November 21st at midnight.  Don't miss out on over $100 worth of prizes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chinese Lantern Festival October 2012

DISCLAIMER:  Please prepare for a photo dump of epic proportion.  However, there are no persons present in said photo is ALL about the lanterns.  There was a bit of a download snafu and all the original pics were lost, but things happen and life moves on.  Luckily, Megan knows people that know people and she not only got back to the fair, but she was able to land free tickets to the exhibit and photographed the whole thing all over again so that I could blog and or scrapbook it all.  Thank you, Megan for all of the wonderful pictures.  Hopefully someday I will have a big girl camera and I can do this myself.  And yes, I am aware that this post is seriously past due - better late than never.

The Chinese Lantern Festival debuted at the State Fair of Texas this year.  I am not a HUGE fan of the fair, but do enjoy walking around for an afternoon taking in the sites, a ride or two and some crazy fried food.  In Texas, it is kind of a rite of passage....seriously.  Megan and I decided that we were going to spend a  girl's afternoon at the fair this year and in browsing around the fair website, I came across information on the CLF....I was intrigued and hoped that Megan would be interested in seeing the exhibit as well.  She was on board and even though it is an additional fee, I couldn't wait (and it was TOTALLY worth it)! 

Here is a little information on the festival from the official site.

The artful pieces that make up the Chinese Lantern Festival are a collection of lanterns made of silky cloth, glass, and porcelain. Among the exhibition's 22 lantern sets are giant pandas, lotus flowers, and a porcelain dragon stretching 330 feet, made from 15,000 bowls, spoons, and wine cups...all tied together by hand.

When the sun goes down, the lanterns come to life, lighting the Texas night like never before, as the art illuminates, moves, and takes on an other-worldly life of its own.

Construction of this exceptional exhibit originated in China, where a team of more than 100 artisans and technical staff did preliminary work in Sichuan, the cradle of Chinese lantern-making. Small completed pieces and raw materials were shipped by sea to the U.S., then to Dallas, where a team of more than 40 arrived from China to construct the majority of the exhibits on-site. Working long days in 100-plus degree heat, they succeeded in creating a showcase of the world's foremost lantern-makers.

Come see the fruits of their labor, a place where giant pandas frolic near a herd of longhorn cattle; where dinosaurs rear their heads, blink, and growl. See the Fair Park lagoon transformed into a carpet of blossoming lotus flowers, a kaleidoscope of butterflies, and a mermaid guarding a precious pearl in her underwater garden. In a word, welcome to an enchanted place.

I am officially going to put a sock in it and let the pictures speak for themselves.  Grab a glass of wine or a mug of cocoa....this could take awhile!

This impressive guy spanned 330 feet and was made entirely of porcelaon plates, spoons and glasses

I was in awe of these...they were created with tiny medicine bottles...see detail below


The giant lotus flower opened and closed

The longhorns wer a nod to TX - the host state of the exhibit

Pretty spectacular, isn't it?  The exhibit has reopened since the fair closed and will remain open through January 6, 2013.  If you are in the area, I highly recommend checking it out.  Again, thank you Megan for capturing these beautiful this case, my camera phone may not have cut it.

If you haven't already, please enter my 200 Follower Giveaway.....running now through midnight November 21st.