Saturday, May 31, 2008

Photo Shoot: Grey Wall

A few more from our dowtown photo shoot a few weeks back.

We found this white brick in an alley a couple blocks down the street from the red brick. Gives a much 'cooler' feel to the photo, but just love her sweet little smile in these two.

Here's some grey tile we found at a downtown storefront...a little sweet...

A little mischevious...

A little toothy...

All adorable. But, wait...I might be a little biased!
Photo Shoot: Grey WallSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Layout: Goof-ball

Been awhile since I've shared a layout - here's a funny one for you. This is one of three that I finished yesterday on my day off.

Adhesive – Duck
Cardstock – Bazzill
Patterned Paper, Rub ons – Fancy Pants
Letter Stickers, Brads – Making Memories
Chipboard – Basic Grey
Ink - Colorbox
Fonts – Ali’s Writing, Palatino Linotype

Kaitlin, sometimes you are just too funny! Between your funny faces and the witty things you sometimes say, you certainly know how to make your mommy laugh. You’re not very successful at telling knock-knock jokes (they usually don’t make much sense), but you can always manage to make me smile and I can’t tell you how much I cherish your silly little giggle.
A Layout: Goof-ballSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day!

As planned, Justin, Kaitlin & I went on a day trip with my parents and sister Lynn. We headed towards Ashfall Fossil Beds in Nebraska and before going in to check out the displays, we had a picnic lunch.

The weather was less than idea - quite chilly and very windy. It was a 'hold on to your plates' type lunch.

The fossil beds were quite interesting. I didn't even know that this park was there, but there are fossils millions of years old. This picture was taken inside the Rhino Barn.

On the way back home, we went for a drive through Ni0brara State Park and for a bit of a nature walk down to a railroad bridge.

Once we got back to my parent's house, we took a couple shots in front of their lilac bushes.

It was a fun day and a great drive in the country...hope you had a great Memorial Day!
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Sunday, May 25, 2008

A little comedy...

Kaitlin was at Grandma & Grandpa Paulson's for a couple days, so Justin and I actually got to go out yesterday. This is a rare invent for Haley's Comet! :-)

Sioux Falls was our destination for the day. We made it up there around lunchtime and Justin humored me while I did some scrapbook shopping at Hobby Lobby and Michael's. I then humored him during his pawn shop visits...he's always on the look out for some 'treasure'.

Not too long ago, I got an email stating that I had won four tickets to Nitwits, a comedy club in Sioux Falls. Initially, I didn't think that we were going to be able to take advantage of them, but when the grandparents offered to keep Kaitlin longer, I thought we'd better take advantage of the opportunity to get out and actually do something together. We invited our friends Bill & Susan out to the show as well to fill the other two seats and it was great to see's been too long.

The main two comedians were Joe Tyler and Jimmie Roulette. Both guys were great...I haven't laughed that hard for that long in quite a while. They also have some darn good Bloody Mary's there, so I'm sure that helped, too! :-)

Afterwards we walked over to a nearby Applebee's for dessert and a little visiting. It was good to catch up a little.

Before we headed home we stopped over at Bill's cousins house who was babysitting and we got to see Bill & Susan's 3-week old boy for the first time who is just adorable and their little girl who just turned three and is growing up so fast.

Today we slept in a bit and Rahn & Ruth brought Kaitlin home mid-morning. She had a ton of fun, but I think she had missed us a little too and was ready to be home.

We weren't too ambitious today...just some picking up, minor cleaning and grocery shopping, but it's stuff that needed to be done.

Tomorrow it looks like we will be heading out for a Memorial Day picnic with my family...looking forward to it. I just hope the weather cooperates.
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Photo Shoot: Red Wall

I realized the other day that it's been a VERY LONG TIME since I've shared some 'photo shoot' type photos of Kaitlin...probably because the weather has just been so crappy for so long that it was keeping us inside and I just don't like indoor photos as much.

However, a few weeks ago we braved a windy, chilly day and went out for a shoot. We went downtown and scoped out a few locations.

This was my the deep red brick.

This was actually the very first shot of the shoot...guess she had to get her goofiness out of the way right off the back, so she could give me a few good smiles. Love it!

Have a few more favorites from the outing I'll be sharing in separate posts. Stay tuned.
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Reader Question: Rule of Thirds

I recently received a question from a reader in response to my 8 Tips to Better Photo Composition that I wanted to address.
Jill - This is a great article! Thanks! I have one more question - it may be kind of silly, but how does the rule of thirds apply to close ups of people? I was trying to take a look at the witch photo to see how it would apply. I was also looking at the one of your little girl on the steps in the pink coat to see how it could apply here as well? Any help would be great! Becky
Thanks for the great question, Becky!

As for the first part of your question, it is still a good idea to implement the rule of thirds when taking close ups of people. The eyes are key to any good portrait, regardless if your subject is looking at the camera or not. Generally, the trick with portraits is to get the eyes on or slightly above the upper third line. So, in the witch photo referenced (below), I placed my daughter's beautiful little lashes near that upper third line.

As for the second part of your question, Becky, the rule of thirds is also utilized in the pink coat photo below even though I was using it as an example for the vary your angle tip. Now this is a full-length shot, so the most important thing here is the subjects face. If you drew those imaginary rule of thirds lines on the photo you would see that my daughter's face is quite near the upper-right intersection. It might not be exact, but it doesn't have to be exact to get the effect. Also, you would also see that her eyes are again on or slightly above the upper third line.

Side note on the rule of thirds: The rule of thirds is just one of many very effective composition techniques. The techniques that I mentioned in my article can be used individually, in conjunction with other tips, or not at all...sometimes rules are meant to be broken. So, don't get too caught up in always trying to incorporate certain techniques in every photo you take. Allow yourself to experiment and create some new techniques of your own - you might like the results!

Happy snapping!

Stay tuned for an upcoming article on lighting tips!!

Reader Question: Rule of ThirdsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, May 19, 2008

Another busy weekend...

  • soccer game
  • transporting grass clippings to the dump
  • sweeping
  • mopping
  • kitchen cleaning
  • car cleaning
  • fighting with Kaitlin to get her to pick up her toys
  • scrapbooking - completed 3 pages
  • photo editing & uploading to Shutterfly
  • 4 loads of laundry
  • walk (me)/bike ride (Kaitlin)
  • 2 fend-for-yourself lunches
  • 2 dinners
  • pot washing
  • run & empty the dishwasher
  • 3 games of Wahoo
  • 1 game of Uno
  • 1 movie (Bee Movie)

And on with another busy week...

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Who's amazing? Me, I guess...

This has been one busy week!

Soccer game Tuesday, soccer picnic Wednesday, and school carnival last night. I took Kaitlin and she came home with way to many little goodies - including this cute little flower painted around her eye.

She also won a recorder at one of the games and when we got home I was trying to show her how to play it covering and uncovering the holes. I played a scale and her jaw just dropped.

"Mom, that was AMAZING!"

Didn't know playing a scale of the recorder would get me so much admiration.

Even this morning she remembered it and said, "Mom...if we're all good today and we get to have sharing time, I'm going to get up there and tell everyone that my mom is AMAZING because she can play the flute."

Wow, it's not everyd ay that a kid tells their mom that she is amazing...even if it is just for playing a recorder.

Then she said, "Mom, I knew that you had music in you," like she was just SO proud of me...not sure where that all came from, but it sure was funny! :-)

Today I am just wiped!

We decided as an office that we were up for some color, so we spent the whole day painting our offices. We got three of the four rooms done, which was quite an achievement with all the taping we had to do and that we had to do a second coat everywhere.

Our offices are full of tall ceilings so it was lots of up and down on ladders. I'm betting I'll be feeling it tomorrow.

I came home and mowed the lawn...and ordered pizza for supper. No cooking for me today and I don't plan on moving too much for the rest of the evening. Up for maybe a good movie and bed!

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Soccer success...

So Kaitlin finally got to play her first soccer game of the spring last night.

After all the weather postponements, the coach said that we would play rain or shine. Well, the sun was definitely NOT shining and there was a brisk wind on top of about 40 degree weather...but at least it was raining...or snowing, for that matter.

Let's just say it was a good thing that the kids were running around so kept their body heat up, but not so much could be said for the parents watching from the sidelines. It was freezing.

Despite the weather, it was a great game to watch.

Since Kaitlin's coach from last fall decided not to coach this spring, she was switched to a new team, but that didn't phase her much. She makes friends so easily. There are seven total on her new team - 4 girls and 3 boys.

Her team is the Jackrabbits and I think (in fact, I know) her team made more goals in this one game than her team made in all six games last fall.

The second girl from the right has some mad talent...I think she made at least half the goals for the game.

Kaitlin didn't make one yet, but her coach is confident she'll get a goal before the end of the season. I received an email from him today and he said, "She has a good spirit and I could tell she enjoyed herself. For her size she sure is not intimidated by the others."

Yup, she's a wee one, but she's got spunk! :-)

So, we barely just got started and could be just about finished as all the rescheduled games have been set and we have one Saturday, next Monday and next Wednesday and that's it.

The weather was much nicer today, so hopefully it's finally turning around for good. Mother Nature's sure had a hard time figuring things out this spring.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

A update on a little bit of everything...

I've been a little silent on the everyday life side of things lately...not because nothings been going on, that's for sure.

Things have been a little crazy at work and at home lately which doesn't leave a whole lot of time for anything else.

When my grandma passed, that derailed me for a bit, I think. It just took me a while to get back in the groove of life.

Two Sundays ago, we had an auction at my Grandparent's house. This had already been planned before Grandma passed and it had to get done. Although I didn't help out much Saturday, we were there bright and early on Sunday to get everything moved out of the house and prepared for the sale.

My family snatched up quite a few sentimental items during the sale.

Some happy news is that my sister and her fiance are buying my Grandparent's house here in town. They are already both working here and have been commuting every day, so it was about time that they found something here. It will be very nice to have them so close!

Kaitlin's spring soccer season has been less than eventful. Although the season started about a month ago, all she's been to so far is one practice! She missed the first game due to Grandma's funeral and every scheduled game since then has been rained out!!

She has a game rescheduled for tomorrow, so we're hoping that the weather holds out.

I think that she is ready for school to be done for the year...not that she doesn't like school, but she is excited for all the summer activities that she is signed up for: Safety Town (a safety class for children) in June; evening storytime at the local library, dance class, and theatre lessons in July; and swimming lessons in August.

It's going to be a busy summer.

Not to mention that my baby is going to turn 6 in just 4 short weeks...I'm not going to talk about how that makes me feel right now.

Work has really been picking up speed as it always does this time of year for me. This is the time frame that my adult learners really start thinking about attending school or transferring for the fall term, so apps are starting to pic up and the work is piling up a little.

I actually broke my new year's resolution for the first time two weeks ago when I didn't even get one layout completed that week. But, I jumping right back and hopefully can keep my crafting momentum going from here on out.

The 2008-2009 MemoryWorks catalog is finished and I should have the print catalogs in my mailbox in the next few weeks. I've seen the new product lines and they are gorgeous! I am so thrilled with the new manufacturers that they've added to their offering this year - adding over 20 more pages to the catalog!!

I can't wait for the home parties that will be coming up for that. It's going to be tons of fun! If you're a local and interested in having a home party and earning some FREE scrapbooking supplies, be sure to drop me a line.

RTEC also got good reviews of my Scrapbooking for Beginners course that wrapped up a few weeks ago and are happy to host me for any other classes that I might like to teach, so that is great news also. I have a few ideas, but need some time to flesh them out a bit more.

A belated wish, but I hope that all the mothers out there had a great day. I got to do a little scrapping, visit my mom and mom-in-law briefly, watch 'The Brave One' (a very good movie, by the way) and play a few rousing rounds of Wahoo! with Justin and Kaitlin. I'll have to tell you a little more about this game's a family tradition for Justin's family.
A update on a little bit of everything...SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, May 9, 2008

REVIEW: The Designing with Recipe Book by Autumn Leaves

If you're the type of person who loves to cook with recipes, I'll bet that you'll also love The Designing with Recipe Book by Autumn Leaves. It offers the ingredients and preparation instructions for a great layout EVERY guess work involved here!

The book contains 6 chapters based on the number of photos you wish to include in your entree (aka 'layout'):

Chapter 1 - One Photo Layouts
Chapter 2 - Two Photo Layouts
Chapter 3 - Three Photo Layouts
Chapter 4 - Four Photo Layouts
Chapter 5 - Five Photo Layouts

I bet you caught the pattern there. :-) And for those of you that just love scrapping up a storm with a ton of ingrediants -

Chapter 6 - Multi-Photo Layouts

In the final chapter, there are layouts with as many as 15 photos!!

Throughout each chapter, the examples come with four basic componants:

  1. a sketch of the layout
  2. a beautiful example from one of the 11 very talented scrap artists featured in this book (see list of artists below)
  3. details on any special techniques used on the sample layout
  4. and finally, a detailed 'recipe' which acts as a guide in explaining the process of creating the layout in easy to follow steps
At the end of each chapter, there is also a 'bonus' layout with a recipes for two variations. It's always nice to see how the same sketch or recipe can be tweaked and modified in creative ways to have a completely unique look.

The book includes work from the following amazing artists: Cathy Blackstone, Emily Falconbridge, Jackie Bonette, Jennifer McGuire, Kelli Crowe, Leslie Lightfoot, Lisa Russo, Margie Scherschligt, Mellette Berezoski, Robyn Werlich, and Tia Bennett.

In all, there are 93 layouts - some traditional, some hybrid and some entirely digital...and all inspiring!


??? I am always curious and open to hearing the opinions of others. If you own or have read this book, please feel free to share your opinion of it in the comments below.

Visit the The Designing with Recipe Book by Autumn Leaves page at (not available at Amazon). You can also read more of my reviews for other recommendations.

Upcoming Review:
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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Quotes to ponder...

Harvey S. Firestone:

"Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself."
e.e. cummings:

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
Greta Garbo:

"Every one of us lives this life just once; if we are honest, to live once is enough."
Quotes to ponder...SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, May 4, 2008

REVIEW: Scrapbook Max! Digital Scrapbooking Software

I was recently asked to review the digital scrapbooking software called "Scrapbook Max!" by Indigo Rose Software Design Corp.

I am not a digital scrapbooker - hybrid certainly, but not digital. I have been collecting beautiful free digital kits from various online sources for a couple years now, but still haven't made the switch to pure digital.

So, even though I'm not a digi scrapper, I am always interested in the software and technology and software available to scrapbookers. I wasn't sure what to expect of Scrapbook Max!, but was pleasantly surprised by its abilities.

The installation was SUPER simple - just put in the CD and within a few minutes the software is installed and a short video tutorial gives you the basics of operation. This software is very user friendly - no big learning curve here.

As I said before, I'm not a digi scrapper, but within 20 minutes of popping in the CD for installation, I had created this layout:

The software comes with numerous pre-designed scrapbook templates and hundreds of additional backgrounds and embellishments. At first glance, I didn't really care for the layout of many of the pre-designed templates, but all elements are fully customizable and require a simple drag-and-drop to move them around to more pleasing arrangements. Elements can also be easily added and deleted to produce truly unique creations.

Another great thing - if you use up the templates and elements provided or just want to try something new, you can use any of your saved digital kit elements by simply dragging them from their file on your computer to the layout window and backgrounds and elements! I made the following layout in just a few minutes using a free kit called "Echoes of Asia" by Jessica Sprague that I downloaded sometime last year:

Your creations can be shared in numerous ways in just a few clicks by converting scrapbooks to jpeg images, photo CD, PDF documents and more. You can also add music to personalize your scrapbooks even more.

Do I like this software? YES!

Am I likely to switch completely over to digital? Probably not...

Even though I certainly see the benefits of digital scrapbooking (less space required, less mess, easier sharing), for me there is just something about have pictures and product in hand and the act of physically moving them around a page that has yet to lose its attraction and fascination for me.

However, if you're someone who's just getting started with this wonderful hobby or an old paper pro for whom the draw of digital is undeniable (and their are many of you out there), Scrapbook Max! is definitely a great program with which to start! It will have you up and running and creating beautiful layouts and complete scrapbooks within minutes!

If you interested in learning more about Scrapbook Max! or would like to give their free trial a whirl, you can visit their website here.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

National Scrapbooking Day Challenge

As with basically every other online scrapbooking community, there are big plans for National Scrapbooking Day (which is tomorrow, by the if you didn't know) on the International Scrapbooking Association website - challenges, games, make-n-takes, prizes and more!! It all starts tonight, so stop on by.

Here is the challenge that I posted for the event:

Jill Marie's "N-S-D" Challenge
Isn't it great that this wonderful hobby of ours has it's very own day?? In honor of that, I decided to present you with a challenge based off the National Scrapbooking Day acronym.

Your challenge:
Create a layout using numbers, products types, and product lines/brands that correspond with each letter of the acronym NSD. Confused??

Here are some examples:

Create a layout using the number Nine in the title.
Create a layout using Nine buttons.
Create a layout using the Narratives line by Karen Russell.

Create a layout about your daughter's Sixteenth birthday.
Create a layout using Staples.
Create a layout using Scenic Route papers.

Create a layout using a Digital kit.
Create a layout using Doodlebug papers.

You only need to have one element for each letter (although you could do more if you're really ambitious)! :-) Remember, these are only examples...there are tons of other possibilities. Get creative and have fun with it with this "N-S-D" Challenge on National Scrapbooking Day!!
If you'd like to participate, head on over to my challenge post in the ISA forum for instructions on where to post your creations.
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Thursday, May 1, 2008

:ARTICLE: 8 Tips to Better Photo Composition

The International Scrapbooking Association May Newsletter issue went was published today. Like last month, I contributed a photography article to the newsletter.

8 Tips to Better Photo Composition
A huge part of creating a successful scrapbook layout is the photos you choose to use on that page. That’s why photography has become a secondary hobby to most scrapbookers. Last month, I shared with you several tips to improve your photography skills by simply getting to know your camera. This month, we’ll focus on improving your shots through eight composition tricks.

#1 - Use the Rule of Thirds
You’ve probably heard of this principle in reference to designing a scrapbook page (and it’s a great one to follow), but the concept actually began with photography. Imagine a grid, like the one below, dividing your photo. The idea is to have the key elements of your photo off-center and on the lines or, even better, on the intersecting points of the grid…it makes for a much more visually appealing picture.

#2 - Use Leading Lines
You can use many things to create leading lines in your photographs – a road, fence, river…even an airplane wing. If used correctly, these lines help to draw the viewer into the picture and toward the subject. They can also help to create depth in a photo and are often most effective if the leading line begins in a corner of your photo.

#3 - Watch Your Background
We’ve all taken them…the shots of a loved one with a light post sticking out of their head or where the beloved subject is overwhelmed by the clutter of your untidy living room (or maybe that’s just my problem). Try to be always aware of the background when taking photos as these types of problems can generally be easily solved by moving your subject or changing your angle (see #8).

#4 - Fill the Frame
AKA – Get Close…no closer! Whether you do this by physically moving closer to your subject or utilizing a zoom lens, filling the entire frame with your subject can have a stunning effect and allow you to pick up details that would be missed in a full-length shot. Although much of my daughter’s witch costume is not visible in this shot, it is still my favorite from the shoot. There’s enough to get the idea…and just look at those lashes!!

#5 - Frame Your Subject
A fun way to draw attention to your subject is to frame them in a window, doorway, or even elements in nature. In the shot below, my daughter is framed by the overhanging trees. Since I was going for somewhat whimsical, distant look in this photo, she is rather small, so I also used the rule of thirds to help draw the viewer’s eye to her in the photograph.

#6 - Don’t Amputate
When going for a full-length shot, don’t cut someone off at the ankle (or worse yet, the neck)! Always be aware of what you are ‘cutting off’ in your photos and where. Of course, when taken a closer photo, you have to cut of something, right? Of course. The general rule of thumb is to not cut your subject off at a joint, which makes them look unnatural (as if they’ve been amputated). It’s generally best to crop between joints.

#7 - Vary your angle
Any angle can get a little boring if you use it all the time…switch things up a bit by varying the angle from which you take your photos. Try taking shots from above your subject, while lying on the ground, at eye level, or from the side. I shot this picture of my daughter from above and not only is it an interesting angle, but also allowed me to highlight her beautiful dress in a way that no other angle would have. This can also mean varying the angle of your camera itself and giving your photo a tilted effect as in the second example below.

#8 - Go vertical
Just because your camera is built in a horizontal orientation doesn’t mean you can put it on its side and go vertical. Vertical shots can work very well when taking portraits and can really add interest to a shot of something that is generally viewed in a horizontal nature, such as this picture of a quilted American flag that I took at the Air & Space museum in Ashland, NE.

5 Books to Help Enhance Your Skills:
1) The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos
Composition Photo Workshop
3) Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography
Mastering Composition with your Digital SLR
Basics Photography: Composition (Basics Photography (Numbered))
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