Sunday, March 29, 2015

The 70s are Back

















Happy Monday everyone,

How was your weekend? Are you all ready for Easter? Spring break? We are gearing up for both.

I may look put together in these photos, but don't let that fool you. This week I was in survival mode because we started potty training our little girl. It's pretty all-consuming, and a part of parenting that I just hate. I don't hate many things, but potty training... hate. Hate. Hate. Hate.  However, - - - I have noticed that I am a different potty trainer this time around. I'm handling things SO much better than I did with my boys. Maybe it's because she's a girl (rumor has it they outperform the boys), or maybe it's the 3rd child. Whatever the reason, this time around I just have this easy-going, we'll-all-live-through-this attitude. It's funny, the things that change you for the better sometimes.

Have you gone through things you really dread, and handle them easier the next time around?

Oh, and PS- the 70s are back
(Have you noticed?)

Jacket // Thrifted
Blouse // Thrifted
Jeans // Gap (old)
Wedges // Thrifted

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Decorating Treats with Edible Flowers


Last fall, I made a cake and just decked it out with backyard clippings. Mostly fresh herbs, and some hosta flowers. We didn't actually eat them, but it sure made for a beautiful and natural look. 

With wedding and shower season upon us, I thought I'd gather some inspiration for decorating with edible flowers. I just love what they bring to a pretty dessert, and how adding something so simple turns out to be such eye candy. Eye cake?

Here are some of my favorite interpretations:

Rustic and loose...



Thyme twigs-  The Vanilla Bean Blog


Bright and modern...


Ultra-simple...


Mixed with berries...




We're not limited to cakes here. Look at these charming cookies...








Torts and ice cubes...




Even shredded on ice cream!



And my favorite of all - - - lollipops!


Don't forget about the toppers:


So many options and styles, all pretty and simple.

Before you pull out the sprinkles, you may want to check your backyard ;).



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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Snapshots {Snowy Park Day}


Yesterday we got our 1st spring snowstorm of the season. The longer I live in Minnesota, the less I mind spring snow. It is the prettiest snow, and the most fun to play in. 


Adventuring in a snowy 30 degree March day is much more fun than a snowy 10 degree January day (or, lets be realistic here, minus 10- haha).


I planned on just shoveling the driveway with my 2 little ones, which satisfies their "snow play quotient," but thought we'd better bring out the sleds 1 last time.



The sledding didn't last long, but romping through the snow, eating the snow, falling and giggling in the snow, and experiencing a playground covered in snow filled up the rest of the morning.


And mom got to play with her phone a bit...









We came home refreshed and ready for a hot lunch.

Any snow still in your town? Or have the blossoms taken over?


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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Polka Dots and Passions











Happy Monday everyone,

I hope you've enjoyed the last few days of spring, sunny or snowy!

Right before St. Patrick's Day, I had the opportunity to see a traditional Irish band at Orchestra Hall. Nothin' like a fiddle to get you in the mood for some green! It had been a while since my last live music experience, and it was sublime to be in the same space as these talented people. The musicians were just pouring their whole selves into the performance - physically and emotionally. I thought about the hours and hours of tedious work behind that performance. Sitting in the audience and absorbing every strain, I very much felt like they were handing me a gift.

I think any creative pursuit is a gift. Those who create with passion leave pieces of themselves in their cookies, writing, paintings, and rooms. They labor and strive to bring to life something worthy to share.

This week I want to open my eyes to the gifts of others, and show appreciation for them. Just as I did in Orchestra Hall, I want to applaud those who pour themselves into their work. No matter where we are in our creative journeys and skill levels, we all deserve some applause, right?

Have you been touched by someone's creation (artistic or non-artistic) lately?

Polka Dot Blouse // Nordstrom (old)
Jeans // Gap
Boots // Target
Sunglasses // Target
Bracelets // Thrifted

Have a good week!

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Friday, March 20, 2015

iPhone Photography Tips: The Basics



(These photos were taken with my iPhone 4S, and haven't been edited yet)




I am an (incredibly) amateur photographer. I've never had a photography class, and I wouldn't know how to handle a DSLR camera if someone handed me one. When I started this blog about a year ago, I began caring about the quality of my pictures. I saw what amazing things others were doing with their phones, and I knew there was potential in this little tool of mine. iPhone photography has turned into a passion for me. At this point, it can't compare to the ultra-crisp images of a "real" camera, but it has given me blog-worthy images, an artistic outlet, and a few compliments along the way :).

I want to share what I've learned with those of you who wish to get something more from your hand held devices. I have several posts in mind, but thought I'd start with the very basics. My apologies to those experienced photographers who already have these basic elements down pat. Also, even though these tips are geared toward the iPhone, hopefully you Android users can gain something from the overall concepts.

Here are some important things to consider when trying to achieve the best photography with your phone:

Clean the lens

You know, the one that gets bumped around in your purse, and smudged with fingerprints when your child grabs it to play angry birds? Give it a good wipe-down. 

Take time to set up the shot

Obviously, when shooting kids or events on the fly, this is not always possible. However, if you are shooting for a blog, or just personal photography enjoyment, take your time. You would if you were holding your expensive DSLR, right? Evaluate the composition, lighting, angles, and focus points. Clear away that background clutter, and straighten those linear elements (like horizons). You can crop and straighten in editing, but remember that it decreases the resolution.  

Know your phone's photo functions

Let's take a basic tour of the iPhone photo function, in iOS 8. 




On the top row, we have the flash options, HDR option (that's for another post), a timer, and a reverse camera. On the bottom, we have different image modes. The two I use the most for photography are photo mode and square mode. Photo mode is the bread-and-butter mode, and square mode is for all my Instagram photos I don't want to have to crop later - #lazy.

Did you know you can tap the screen to adjust focus, and that focus location inevitably lightens or darkens your image? You can also hold your finger down on the screen and lock the focus. See that little sun on the right side? Sliding it up and down increases or decreases the exposure (the lightness/darkness). This was all news to me, and tremendously helpful.

On the very bottom is the image thumbnail, the shutter button, and filters (which I've never used). You can hold the shutter button down for burst mode and take several quick pictures, and you can also use the phone volume buttons and headphone volume buttons as a shutter. Don't forget about that handy timer I mentioned earlier as a shutter option.

Get the best natural lighting possible

If there's one point to take away from this post, it is that iPhones do not perform well in low lighting. Don't expect much from it in "good enough" lighting. To get the best iPhone shots, you need strong, natural light. For most of my staged images, I open my front door on a sunny afternoon, and prop up a piece of white foam board to reflect and provide more even lighting. 


Fancy, huh.


With this setup, you can get a pretty decent photo...


With a few minor edits, it can look like this:



Notice the square mode. This will show up in my IG feed for sure.


Now that we've covered some basics, let's move on to some DO NOTs. Here is a list of things that, in my humble opinion, you should never, ever do with your iPhone camera:

DO NOT...

Zoom

Everything I've read about iPhone photography says zoom with your feet. The quality goes down once you zoom with your fingers, which is done by sliding them apart diagonally across the screen. 



Use the flash




Turn that baby off. This is so engrained in me that I forget the flash is an option (in desperate times).

Use the reverse camera



I mean, if there's no other way to capture that selfie, then fine. But you can see the decrease in resolution. The front-facing lens just doesn't cut it.

Shoot in low light

We've already covered this, but here is a visual to hammer it home. Get the best lighting you can. 




My last tip is to be as steady as possible. I usually hold my breath before pressing the shutter button. There are also lots of tripods out there for phones.

Hope these basic iPhone photography tips have been helpful! With some effort and practice, you can capture amazing images. The best thing about a phone camera is that you almost always have it with you, and it's so fun to find photography opportunities in everyday life. If you have suggestions or experiences with smartphone photography, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!


To see my iPhone successes and failures, you can check out this series, this series, or my Instagram feed. 

More tips to come...



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