Thursday, December 31, 2009

I Will Be Sleeping In the New Year!

Yup, we are pretty lame but at least we wake up rested with none of the side effects of being out late and drinking ourselves into a stupor! We may wake up around midnight when the dogs start barking like crazy because the neighbors behind us like to celebrate the new year with fireworks! Don't get me wrong, I love firework just not while I am trying to sleep!

Take care everyone and be careful if you are out and about tonight! May you all have a blessed New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lots of Photo Stuff!

First, if you look at my sidebar on the right of your screen you will see a couple of buttons that could be very useful to you (oh, and me)! The first is Seim Effects! Gavin is a wonderful photographer and he creates wonderful Light Room Presets and Actions for Photoshop! Check out his site and see all the goodies that you could purchase (he even has freebies) to aid in your photo editing!

The other button that could be quite useful is the button! As the name says, you can rent lenses and camera bodies and flashes and all sorts of cool stuff! It is super great because you can try it before you drop a bundle of cash on something you may or may not like! They also sell off their used equipment for a good price so you might be able to get a good deal on something you have had your eye on for a while!

Yes, I am plugging these sights because if you place an order by clicking through on my blog, I earn some cash! Not much cash for either program but it could eventually help me get the Nikon D700 body that I am yearning for! I hope to have saved enough by May 31, 2010 (my Birthday) to purchase my next camera! When shooting weddings, you really do need two bodies in case one decides to fail so I am going to purchase my backup! Well, actually the current camera will become the backup, but I digress!

Anyway, here is another useful tip! Say you don't have a tripod and you find yourself in need of one don't fret cause I have a solution! MAKE ONE! OK, it's not really a tripod but it works and it is highly portable and costs next to nothing to make! All you need is some fabric (any old scrap you have laying around will work) and some rice (uncooked)! Ha! Sew your fabric into a square and fill it with the rice (not too full cause you need some wiggle room I would say about 3/4 full would be fine) and viola' you are ready!

This works because you can use the top or hood of your car or any stable platform to put the rice bag tripod on and then you set your camera on the bag with your lens aimed at what you are shooting! Now you can use your camera remote or self timer! It really is easy to use since the rice bag conforms to your camera body and stabilizes it for low light situations or times when you want to be in a photo (for a change)! It also works great when you put your camera down so there is no weight on the lens! I don't put my camera in a bag unless I am transporting it because I am always grabbing it to take photos!

Here is a photo of mine! It was made from material left over from the Diva's Halloween costume! Don't laugh, it works!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Sledding We Will Go & Various Other Stuff!

The Moody Teen and I took the Diva sledding for the very first time and we all had a blast! I feel before I show you the fun photos, I should make a confession! We live in a flat part of Illinois with no real hills for sledding so we must make due with what we have and for us that is..............a railroad overpass! There I said it! We must deal with trains and traffic all while having a carefree ride down the man made hill! Here is what we see when we are sledding! Nope, it is not pretty but it is all we have!

The Diva was having lots of fun in the snow! This is the first time she really got what playing in the snow was all about!

This handsome guy is an awesome big brother to be sure! He loves his lil sis so much! That he was showing off for her! And then..........

Get out the tissues because this is one of those commercial moments that always makes me cry like a big baby! He invited his lil sis up the hill for her first sled ride! Sniff, sniff!

And then there was the Moody Teen's buddy who managed to make is snow on himself, just for fun! I promise, if you look really hard you will see him in the self made blizzard!

We know interrupt our fun snow fest for these random thoughts! Sorry but I just had to share these moments too! This morning the Diva wanted to be extra Divaish and what better way than to wear her princess dress shoes with her pajamas! She wore this combination until we got dressed to go sledding! Ha! Ha!

And then there is my first daughter! Yes, I have another daughter only this one has four legs, a tail and looks like a cow and I love her very much! She was the first diva of the house!! She was pleading for us to take her with us on our sledding adventure! How can you resist those eyes!

We are expecting more snow tomorrow so we are definitely going again soon! Maybe this time I will get into it more! I did go down once and managed to hit the big bump that the kids told me not to hit which sent me off the sled a foot in the air and back down pretty hard on my booty! I may be a little on the sore side tomorrow!! Ha!

Wrapping Up the Year!

It has been a crazy year, to say the least, with lots of Diva milestones (potty training, 1st airplane trip) and the Moody Teen getting his first job! My photography business has grown 250% and I look for it to grow more in 2010! There have been bumps in the road that I was not sure we could overcome but by the grace of God, we got through!

I am sure that there are tons of resolutions I should be making for the new year but I am never very good at keeping them so I don't make them usually! This year, however, is different in that I am taking a cue from blogger buddy Liss (who I hope to visit in Australia some day) and choosing a word to live by in the new year! There are tons of great words to chose from: determination, strength, love, grace, forgiveness and the list goes on!

The word I chose is FAITH! Faith stirs such strong emotions because too few people have enough of it! Sure we all have faith in the good times but when things get a little tough it goes right on out the window and we start to rely on ourselves and the things of this earth to get us through when all we need it a little (or a lot) more faith!

I have faith that my marriage will become stronger in the year 2010! We will have been together for so long that we need a refresher on falling in love again! We have begun the process but I have faith that 2010 will make it even better!

I have faith that our businesses (the Knight has his own too) will continue to grow and support our family!

I have faith that we will all get healthy this year! The whole family is going to participate and encourage each other! I want the Diva to see an active healthy group of adults in her family!

I have faith that I will be able to teach the Moody Teen to drive a stick shift and he will be able to drive his new (to him) truck! I also have faith that he will make good choices when he is away from us! (No I did not take the photo, the Knight did)

Most of all, I have faith that God is not finished with me yet and for that I am so thankful!! What will your word be for the new year?

Monday, December 28, 2009

I ♥ Faces Week 51 - "Hilarious Outtakes"

Every photographer gets those photos that you take while your subjects are not exactly ready for their "close-up" and some of these end up being the most fun! Today we could choose 5 photos which was good because it is so hard to pick just one! Here we go:

Here is a little guy who kept me hopping during their family shoot this fall!

And here is a shot of the bride from the very first wedding I photographed this past summer! She had cake in her mouth and cake in her hair, on her veil, on her face and even down her dress!

Not too long after the cake incident came the garter and I am not sure what he did to get this reaction from his new bride!!

But my favorite outtake comes from my very own Darling Diva who was laughing at who knows what while I was doing her Christmas photos!

Your turn! Head on over to I ♥ Faces to see the other great entries!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Really Happened!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Joy of Christmas Morn

First of all, please ignore the messy bed head that is being sported by the Diva and the Moody Teen! In the excitement of Christmas morn there was no primping for the mamarazzi this morning!

While it did not appear that there was much under our tree, when all was said and done the kiddos were pleased and that made me very happy!! The Diva is just now getting the hang of all this Christmas stuff since it is her third and quickly dug into the stocking like a champ!

Then came the presents! A new doll house with a family and furniture, a Dora Doll and blanket (from brother), a Frog and the Princess Doll (also from brother), The Memory game and Candyland, and Jenny her new doll (like American Girl only 10 times cheaper)! Jenny even got another outfit to become a pink princess!

And then there was the much coveted tea set and a book all about having a tea party!

All in all, she made out great and was very happy with everything she got! The Moody Teen also made out rather well! His BIG gift was a 1996 Chevy S10! It is red and has been lowered with new tires and a booming stereo! He is quite pleased! I had already purchased a few gifts for him when the Knight purchased the truck! First, he go a money counting jar (from the Diva)which he will need to collect all his spare change in to pay for gas and insurance for his truck! There are no free rides around here, ya know!!

He also got a couple of new hoodies and tees. Then there was the iPod Touch! I figured this would come in handy for tunes,games and movies to keep in occupied when he goes to New York, NY on spring break in a few months!

I got a new purse (from the Knight) and a coat, iTunes card and a pair of skinny jeans from the Moody Teen! He bought the jeans a size smaller than I normally buy and miraculously, THEY FIT! Go me!! Anyway now it is time to enjoy some good food and relax with a movie!

I pray that you are all having a wonderful day!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas To All!

Just wanted to say Merry Christmas as everyone enters the final preps for the big day!! May your Christmas be a blessed one! Here is a video and song that I love! If you are in the area I will be singing this on Sunday! Enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Great Gravy Dilemna

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Club House. All opinions are 100% mine.

I will have to admit to you that I never knew how to make gravy until a couple of years ago! I was terrified to attempt any gravy at all unless it came out of a packet! That is my big confession of this holiday cooking season! Part of the problem was I just never learned and when my mom was cooking I was not interested! So now that I have learned to make gravy, I have discovered a great gravy tips video that would have made my life so much easier! Check out the video for a great little "cheat" that makes your gravy preparation easy and painless!

The BIG secret is to start with a great packet of gravy mix like Club House Gravy! Yes, you heard me right!! Start with a packet mix, prepared to the specified directions and then add the drippings from the meat pan to make it taste homemade!! Now that you know the BIG secret, you too can make great tasting gravy that your family and friends will love. You can even experiment and add your own flare by adding wine or your favorite spices to the gravy that will compliment the meal and make it one to remember. You can sign up for the newsletter sign-up and contest entry and have an opportunity to win a Club House Gravy gift pack! What are you waiting for? Let Club House Gravy make your holiday gathering a huge success!

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My Nose and the Holdiay Season

Everyone know that scent can evoke a strong emotional response right? Well, if you didn't know that you do now and it is a proven fact! Take last night, for example, I lit a vanilla candle that my friend Laurie gave me and it made me think of my mom baking cookies for the holidays! My mom has been gone four years now but I just knew she was in the kitchen doing what she loved......baking! All night I thought about mom and craved sugar cookies! LOL!

I love the smell of Christmas time! You know, the real Christmas trees, the baked goods and then there is a holiday scent that I forgot about until this morning! Several year ago my sister-in-law gave me a "recipe" for a fresh potpourri that make on the stove and simmer all day. I don't remember the exact measurements since I rarely do exact on any recipe so here is what I did this morning with a few ingredients from my kitchen! The only thing I was missing was a cinnamon stick so I just used powdered.

Two oranges, two apples, whole clove and cinnamon sticks (or powdered if you don't have sticks! By the way, I have had this tin of cloves since like 1996! Ha! Slice your apples and oranges and put them in a pot. Pour a handful of cloves on top and add a cinnamon stick or two then add water so it covers the fruit and spices and put it on the stove on low! I start on high to get it going and then turn it down!!

Soon your house will have this wonderful citrus smell that is just wonderful! You may need to add water throughout the day to keep it going and I always add more cloves and cinnamon as the day (or evening) progresses. When you are done, just turn it off and let it cool! You can add more water and turn it on then next day!

I hope you all have a blessed Christmas and a very happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Birthday Party, A Christmas Tea and A Sick Diva!

I know it is a long title for this post but I really didn't know what else to call it! I guess I could have called it Random Stuff but that really is not very creative now is it? Let me explain the title in detail!

Yesterday was our Christmas program at church and it was called Happy Birthday Jesus and we even had a birthday cake! The whole program was too awesome for words! The choir sang and the kids did a really cute drama! Now is the point where I would post some super cute photos but I was on stage the whole time and could not take photos so I only have a few to share! I know you are shocked by this but I am not super woman and I don't even try to be!

There was no nursery yesterday so the Knight was in charge of wrangling the Diva for the duration of the service (remember I was on stage the whole time)! It was fun to watch them interact from my vantage point until the Diva raised her hand in praise while I was supposed to be singing and I began to cry happy tears! What a precious sight! I did great until the little Wise men came in and they sent me into tears again! How cute were they?

By the afternoon, I realized the Diva was not feeling the best! She curled up on my lap in her holiday dress and princess shoes (all of which she refused to take off) and fell asleep! She napped for a couple of hours and only woke in time for me to head to my friend Laurie's Christmas tea party! I left for an hour or so to enjoy time with the ladies and what a great time it was! Lots of tea varieties and LOTS of homemade goodies! It was awesome and it was snowing while we were there! Talk about Christmas spirit!

Anyway, I got home and the Diva was still feeling bad so I gave her some Tylenol for the fever and she rested in my arms for the evening! We went to bed and in the night she spiked a fever and cried uncontrollably so it was a long night for all of us! I am exhausted and hoping to get her to nap soon so I can too!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Diva's New Christmas Dress

Yes, I'll admit that I am slightly obsessed with playing dress-up with the Diva! She is, after all, my own personal baby doll! I used to have tons of clothes for all of my babies that I played with back in the day and let's not forget all of the Barbie clothes! I could have opened my own Barbie clothes resale shop in my hood and made tons of money to buy new clothes for my favorite doll! Now, since I have a girl, I get to dress her instead and I have to admit that it is so much more fun to dress her than it was her brother!!

I love a good bargain and started at Wallyworld and found nothing cute! The mall, which for us consists of JC Penney, Sears and Elderbeerman and still NOTHING! I was getting frustrated and then I remembered that I had to go to Decatur to pick up parts for my car and there just happens to be a Target (my favorite place to shop) there! I just knew I would find something cute there and I was not wrong! In fact, I found a lot of cute somethings but limited myself to a super cute Christmas dress and a couple of shirts! I did good!!

So, the Diva is going to wear the dress on Sunday to our Christmas program at church but I knew that I needed photos before hand and since I was going to photograph my friend Laurie's 20 Christmas trees (yes I said 20) she said to bring the Diva along and take some shots of her in the process! Some shots turned into tons of shots and tough decisions for me!! LOL! (Angel, I am expecting your email anytime!) Notice the doll that is in every photo? The Diva fell in love with her and Laurie sent her home to stay with us for a while! LOL! So here are some of my favs and please don't ask what was so funny because she was just being a clown!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Sing-Off

OK, so if you have spent any time here in my little world at all, you know I LOVE to sing! Yup, that's me, that's just what I do! A little known fact is that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE me some good accapella music! I am not talking Barbershop stuff here! I am talking tight harmonies and beat boxing! I love it and I am not ashamed to shout it from the roof tops! One of the first groups I fell in love with was the Nylons! They came to perform at Millikin University while I was a student there and they literally rocked the house with songs like "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and "Up On The Roof"!

So, fast forward 20 years and we have the Sing-Off! Oh yeah, a voices only competition and I have been firmly planted in front of the boob tube with the remote hidden from the rest of the family! I love everything about this show, well I am not a big fan of Maxx Factor but show me some Notas or Bubs and I am in heaven!!

I am seriously trying to get a group together! I want to do this! Maybe we can be on the 2nd season! A girl can dream can't she? If you have not seen it, check out the Notas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Eye-Fi Makes Uploading Photos Simple!!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Eye-Fi. All opinions are 100% mine.

Have you ever been searching for a photo that you just knew you took but could not find anywhere? You looked in all your prints and checked every file on the computer only to realize that it was still in your camera on your memory card or worse that it had been deleted! Or you misplace your card reader and are unable to upload it anyway! I think this has happened to all of us at one time or another! I know as a professional photographer how important it is to get these photos off the memory card as soon as possible! When photography was only a hobby I forgot to upload them quite frequently!

I think I have finally found the solution! It is called Eye-Fi and it the the easiest, quickest and most hassle free way to get those photos from your camera to your computer! The Eye-Fi is an SD memory card that has 4 GB of memory AND it also has built in Wi-Fi. The only thing you have to do is set up the location you want the photos uploaded to on your computer and turn your camera on! Eye-Fi does all the rest! Eye-Fi backs up and organizes all your photos and videos on your computer by the date they were taken and you can even upload your photos to your favorite sites like Flikr without the use of a computer!! All you need is a SDHC capable camera and a wireless router and you are ready to rock the world with your photos!! No more waiting until you can find the time to upload!

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

I ♥ Faces - Pets

Another tough week at I ♥ Faces! We have several pets and I have cool shots of other animals that I have come across over the past couple of months but I really wanted to share one that was personal so here is Zoe!

This girl is 65 pounds of energy and fun but I caught her in a moment of quiet contemplation which is highly unusual! She was our deployment dog in 2005! We got a dog for each of my husband's two deployments and she was # 2! She was only 4 pounds when we got her on March 10th of 2005! She is one of the most loving animals that I have ever had the pleasure of calling family! We love her so much!

Now scoot on over to I ♥ Faces to see the other great pet photos but please do not drag your booty on the floor as you are scooting!

Weekend Wrap up!

What an odd weekend it was! It started Friday with our 16th wedding anniversary and taking the Diva to see the Princess and the Frog! Yup, that is how we spent our evening! It was fun to take her to her first movie ever and to see all of her fun reactions to the big screen and the music in surround sound!

Saturday was Help-Portrait day and I joined photographers from all over the world in giving portraits to people who would not be able to afford them otherwise! We had a group of 5 or 6 photographers who did several events including Shop with a Cop and several nursing homes in addition to individual sessions! My favorite individual session was with a single mom and her two boys! The oldest boy is getting ready to undergo surgery in January to reconstruct his spine from other bone in his body and rods! It is a 9 hour surgery for such a little guy! He is constantly in pain and is medicated but always has a smile on his face and plays like any other young boy! Here are some shots from that session!

It was a great way to use my talents to give to others and I have some great ways to improve our event next year! Thanks to my friend Laurie for letting me use her wonderfully decorated house for these photos! This girl is the queen of decorating for the holidays and has between 10 and 15 trees up in her house.

I won't go into Saturday evening because it was not one I would like to remember! Just pray for my family as we have hit a huge bump in the road that brought up some really bad memories that are threatening to destroy my family! I know we can get through it with lots of faith and prayer!

Sunday dawned with a very bad cold for me!! Lots of coughing and feeling really tired! My chest really hurts! If I am not better by Monday or Tuesday I will call the doctor to see what I need to do to get better! I have to get better because I have been hired by the city to do some photos of the light display at the park! I will be taking photos of the displays that are sponsored so the photo can be sent to the sponsor in a Christmas card from the city! I am excited to be hired to do this but I need to feel better to be able to complete the assignment in a timely manner so they can go out in the mail!

Monday is looming over my head with stuff that needs to be done and just feeling blah!! So here we go to start the week! Hope it is a good one for you!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Say it ain't snow! - Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Shooting Christmas Lights

Everyone is wanting to get pretty pictures of all the holiday lights and with the snow coming, I thought I had better share some tips to getting those enchanted photos that we all dream of! Keep in mind these are just starting points and you may need to make some adjustments along the way! The first thing to make your holiday light photos perfect you will need a tripod. It is hard to handhold your camera and get great shots in low light situations! So a tripod, the roof of your car with books under your lens, whatever works for you! I have done both when my tripod was not with me!! Next you want to set your white balance to tungsten! This will give you the color pop that you are looking for! Set your ISO to somewhere between 400-1600! I play with this by starting at 400 and boosting it as needed! Now lets go to your f stop. You are going to want to set this between f4 and f6.7 to get that star effect from the lights you are shooting. Now we move on to shutter speed, you will need this to be between 1/10 and 1/30 sec. Of course, you need to be in manual mode to get your speed and f stop where you want them without your camera choosing one or the other! You can even use your flash for a little fill light if needed. This last tip is important because people usually wait too long for the good shots! So when is the best time to capture amazing Christmas light photos??? Twilight is just right!!

So, go out and play and take lots of photos of your pretty lights! Send me a picture of your work if you like!! I will be sharing some light photos soon because I have been hired by my city to photography our lighting display at the park! Happy shooting!

Monday, December 7, 2009

I ♥ Faces - Sweet Dreams

Just kick me now! I have so much to get done yet here I am again searching for a photo for I ♥ Faces! Every week I say it is the last time and yet my addiction gets the better of me and before I know it, I have posted a photo and am hopping all over the net to look at other great photos!

This little guy slept through most of the photo shoot late last summer! Sleeping on dad's motorcycle is just proof positive that some little ones can sleep anywhere! Now drift on over to I ♥ Faces to check out all the other sleeping beauties!!


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