Wednesday, February 29, 2012

dslr definitions

I've been reading lots of books, blogs and forums about "how to take great pictures" or "get the most out of your dslr camera" and it's a lot to take in to say the least.  Assuming you are like me, with little knowledge of the technical side of photography, perhaps starting at the begining would be the most helpful.  Here are some terms that you will need to fully understand to get the most out of any of those other things.

  1. narrow opening: a small narrow opening
  2. opening through lens or mirror: a fixed or adjustable opening in a piece of equipment such as a camera or microscope that lets light pass through a lens or mirror
The larger the diameter of the aperture, the more light reaches the film / image sensor.  Many cameras, books, manuals, etc, will talk about aperature as an F stop. And you can see this somewhere on your camera. If I am using the eye piece, which I usually do, it shows up on the LCD when I press the shutter button half way.  Right now it says F5.6. If I zoom all the way out (make the image as far away as possilbe), its F22! The smaller the F-stop number (or f/value), the larger the lens opening (aperture).  This might not seem important or even matter to you just yet.  Once you start to do more with lighting, you will pay more attention to the F-stop.

ISO tells how sensitive the image sensor is to the amount of light present. The higher the ISO value, the more sensitive the image sensor is, so ideally, you can shoot photos in low light situations.  I strongly encourage you to get familiar with your camera's ISO.  Figure out where it is, how to change it manually, note how or if it changes between different settings and so on.  Play around with it.  You will use this much more than you realize.  On my Sony Alpha 300, I am able to go from 100 to 3200! And its all in a button on the top next to the shutter.  Thank you Sony. 

This, along with the flip LCD were extrememly handy during my sister's snow week coronation.  Imagine sitting in the middle of a crowded, extrememly dark gym.  Since I have the fake leg, I can't just pop up and take a great shot really quick.  And I can't scrouch down and slink next to the chairs.  So I sit in my chair, flip my screen down, turn up my ISO setting and shoot away.  Excellent!!
No editing, just high ISO!

Shutter Speed:
This is easy to understand (I think).  Shutter Speed is simply how long the shutter is held open.  Again, this relates to lighting.  It's like how long it takes the camera to take the picture you want.  You will notice this specifically when you are changing your lighting situations.  But also as you start to test out your settings too.  I found a great article about shutter speed that already says what I would say, so I'll work smarter and not harder here and just give you that link.  Before I do, I think you need to remember that if do start to experiement with slower shutter speeds, you MUST use a tripod or rest the camera on a table or something secured.  ANY jiggle, even if you didn't think you did, will blur the entire photo.  Many also use the self timer option with really slow shutter speeds.  But enough from me; here's the link.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tutorial Tuesday - Charts for stuff I hate having to remember

I have been throwing around a new idea for Mondays.  And it's not fully developed hence my lack of post yesterday.  Shame on me.  And I have been scouring my brain and the internet for something post worthy sine last night.  It was a struggle, but if finally dawned on me.  I have so much going on in life and so at least twice that in my brain.  I hate having to try to pull old files I rarely use from the memory bank or things I don't think about often. So today is not a tutorial, sorry! But here are a few handy charts, hopefully you can free up some brain space too.
home sewing projects with fancy stitches and decorative embroidery stitches

If you are like me, you like a visual.  This site also offers explinations to how to create each stitch along with this cool picture chart.  Very nice! No more looking it up in one of my books or online!

I always wonder what size A39 is.  Ok, so there is no A39.  But I do find it frustrating trying to figure out what size is which.  And it happens more than you think.   Like when I'm ordering new blank cards and envelopes or when I'm trying to print something on a different size.  Maybe you have similar frustrations. 

File:A size illustration2 with letter and legal.svg

Print this off and tape it by your computer. 

This next one happened to me just yesterday at Joanns when I went in for more Nylon Strapping.  I needed exactly 75" to finish my bag.  Silly me, I thought the professionals at Joann would know how many yards that is.  I was wrong.  To bad I didn't have one of these in m wallet to give the poor girl. The very nice gal who put this together even did it in a few different colors so you can pink. I had to go with yellow of course! :)

Thank you for a nice job and something every crafter will need eventually!

I LOVE hanging my pictures on the wall because some are just so great I want to see them everyday, not just when I look at the scrapbooks.  But I always end up with an overpopulation of frames and it looks cluttered.  Enter this handy chart!

She even has actual photos of these layouts on the blog post.  So now you can actually see what it might look like.  Very genius!!

Ok. I was going to post some more, but trying to find them is clogging up the new ideas I'm getting.  So this will have to do for today! :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Free Friday

I love winter.  I love snow.  I don't hate the cold.  I do hate the wind that makes you hurt.  But with the extremely mild winter we've had, I have spring fever in the worst way.  I'm ready to see my beautiful flowers and to put in another flower bed! So today I thought it'd be fun to show off my spring fever in some fun ways - free files!


This one is from  Creative Memories - oh how I love them! This download is about half way down - it's from my birthday! :) July 22, 2011.  There are also a BUNCH of other downloads on this site if you don't have spring fever.


These would make a great scrapbook page, bookmark, or easter card.  The file is a PSD file but even if you don't have photoshop, I think you'll still be able to use the file.  If not, I can always convert to an SVG or JPEG (probably) :)

So Stinkin' Cute! Thank you Crayola! There were some other fun free activities from them.  I liked the color, cut out and assemble your own flower.  Very cute as always!

Spring Stickers

How Simple!? put a full sheet of sticker in the printer, print and cut! yay! Home made spring/easter stickers!

Cutest Subway Art I've seen in a long time!

 Enjoy the files! Happy Think Spring Everyon

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

This techy (photography) world

Like a lot of you I'm sure, my mind rarely is at rest.  I often wonder if it has a unique ADD all of it's own.  I will bounce between 3-5 or more topics at any given moment.  Most of which are probly not even closely related or even have anything to do with each other.  I realize I am not supposed to figure out how or why my mind works.  Instead, I just embrace it.

Changes to my blog are one of the things I've been thinking about.  I thought it would be fun (and even healthy) and hopefully helpful to start putting my thoughts to paper, well to web anyway.  One of these things is photography.  Everything from digital cameras to lighting to technical terms to just learning how to get good composition.

I have had a camera in my posession since I was about 10(ish) years old.  It was from the most amazing lady I've ever known - Grandma Taubel.  It was a Kodak 110 film camera and it looked something like this.

I thought it was the greatest thing in the world.  It took horrible pictures.  But it worked.  And it was hers.  What more could a girl ask for!? :)

Since then, I've had several other cameras.  Almost all Kodak Cameras.  Not for any specific reason other than because I am a relatively brand loyal customer by nature.  I never had a problem with a kodak, so I never looked at other brands.  The first point and shoot digital camera I bought on an impulse was a Nikkon and it turned out to be one of my biggest regrets.  Thankfully I wasn't out much and it was a good lesson learned.

Because of that experience, when I decided I was finally ready for a DSLR (digital single lens reflex, also commonly just called digital SLR...don't ask me why...) I knew that Nikkon and Cannon were the two biggest contenders.  And when I resorted to my usual tactics, aka facebook, I was disappointed when nearly every single response I got was "get a nikkon!" 

Of course I did my own homework as well.  I knew I didn't want the top dog since this was my "entry level" camera but I wanted something that I wouldn't outgrow right away.  I stumbled upon some rave reviews for Sony during my many hours parusing forums.  I found the Sony A-300.  I liked it because it was in the higher end of the middle cameras.  If that makes sense.  And some would argue it is even better than that.  I may be one of those people very soon! :)

My main reasons for purchasing it were the ease of use and all of the capabilites it offered.  But my biggest selling point was that it has a flip screen.  So I can remain standing, and hold the camera at my waist and still see what I'm shooting at eye level. This also works the other way.  At my sister's coronation a few weeks ago, I couldn't get past the heads in front of me.  I flipped the screen down, and held the camera up.  Voila! Tons of great pictures, without heads and without standing up in front of others.  I also thought I read somewhere Sony was the only line of DSLRs that had a GPS disable capability.  As a paranoid momma, this seemed really important.  I didn't want any stalkers seeing where I take my pictures of my babies.  And that is important, but I have not investigated this further to do it on my own camera.

The biggest and best reason - the price.  I found an amazing used bundle on Ebay.  I got a Sony lens, Sony A300 body, and tons of accessories like a really nice bag, UV filter, car charger, wall charger and other little stuff included.  I didn't know the seller, but he has done photography for years and also cleans and resells cameras on ebay.  So he knows the damage to look for to the camera that cant be seen with the naked (or untrained) eye.  He also offers a 7 day return policy - there truly is nothing more you could want!

Here is an awesome deal - a Sony A200 bundle for 325.00! Awesome deal! He also had other cameras and accessories listed.

Of course, right after I made this purchase, I headed over to Amazon to buy a book.  I found one I absolutely love and read it very frequently. 
Sony Alpha DSLR-A300 / A350 Digital Field Guide

I can easily say that my DSLR camera was one of my best purchases.  And I am quite honestly only begining to learn how to use it.  So even the sky might not be the limit! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

tutorial tuesday - butterfly wreath

It was my second day in a row of non stop mommy/wife stuff.  So I didn't even get to a thought for today's tutorial, let alone actually creating it.  Thankfully, I found a tutorial from another obvious creative crafter who must have been thinking of me when she created it! (Quite the feat considering she has zero idea who I am!)

This simply gorgeous wreath tutorial uses several of my loves: wreaths, butterflies, and lots of bright color! She does such a great job and I love the finished product so much so, I may need to add this to the to-do list!  See for yourself!

Obviously, I haven't tried it yet.  But knowing how I like to do things, I noticed a few things I would change.  I like to make sure that when I make something, its going to have as long a life as possible.  So I would make sure I made it several pages/layers thick.  Probly using a watered down modge podge or school glue mixture? Secondly, while this wreath is perfect just the way it is, I think it would dramatically alter the look if you added just a few sprigs of either tiny flowers, or boutinere (I don't know how to spell that and spell check says that is right - I think spell check may be broken!) leaves or even the pearl sprays.  Or maybe even baby's breath?  I like baby's breath, but in VERY small moderation.  It gets over used a lot, and I think gives it a bad rap... Also, I would TOTALLY get the kiddos in on this one! Just imagine how much better the finished product would be if you each had butterfly on it? Or maybe you do something different.  Like each pick your favorite part of a season.  Like your favorite fall leaf.  Or your favorite thing about spring.

 My mind wont stop. But my body says enough - my lids are honestly closing as we speak, which makes correctly typing difficult! 
So, awesome right? I would love to see your project. (And mine!)

Monday, February 20, 2012

A local true beauty - who knew?!

Who knew a day to celebrate the leaders of our country would turn out to be so hectic! We did not get home from the clinic until 630! We should've been home LONG before that!  We spent an hour and a half in the waiting room.  Usually, I would keep myself very busy being productive crocheting.  However, earlier that day in all the chaos, I forgot my bag.  And my iPod.  And I had zero service and 3G on Mayo 8.

This left me with only my thoughts.  Well, my hubs was there, but like I said, this left me with my thoughts! :) I couldn't help but notice all the beauty that surrounds you at Mayo Clinic.  I've noticed it several times before today.  There is something so peaceful about it when you aren't certain if you'll live to see the next season or not.  You notice every ant on the sidewalk.  Every word quickly spoken in a foreign language.  Every musical note filling the silence.  But today was different.  Today, I didn't see just the peace.  Today I saw the raw beauty.

Of course I did not get any pictures on my cell phone to do justice to what I'm speaking of.  And of course, I want you to all see it, but the images are all copyrighted.  So I am not going to risk pasting them here.  But  I can give you links to some breath taking photos.  And right in our own back yard! Please, take a moment to look at these:
The Retirement Chronicles: Mayo Clinic Art: Part TWO: Featuring Dale Chihuly glass art

This last link, wow!! Talk about an amazing job!! Even if you live around Mayo Clinic Rochester, even if you WORK at Rochester Mayo and you see this every day, I PROMISE you have not seen this breathtaking sculpture this way!  With that much beauty and inspiration, I feel good about ending this post here! :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Free Friday Printables!

I'm attempting to figure out a layout schedule for the crafty blog (like Tutorial Tuesdays) and I'm thinking to make Friday's a little more awesome, I should have something free.  I love free so of course free stuff turns up other places on other days.  But today I was feeling a little inspirational.  Unfortunately we've had a busier-than-normal week here (those happen often) and being inspirational did not turn into being creative yet.  So I turned to other's creativity.  Here's what I found!

This is from the blog A Step in the Journey.  There are several printables there.  I thought this one would  be adorable in a kid's room or a play room.


I have been searching second hand stores tireslessy for some old books that I could use for craft projects.  Like I always say, the best idea are the most obvious! (and usually overlooked) So if you need some sheet music, or old book pages, why not just print them off yourself!?  There are more on this blog!
I think it'd also look great in a frame sitting on the book shelf!

This one is super cute also! I thought it would make a great scrapbook page title.  Or of course in a frame as a gift for dad's birthday or father's day.  (which will be here before we know it!) Get it here!

Design 8
When I was a kid I LOVED to color these! They were so fun to do over and over and change the patterns or designs.  Now that I'm a mom, I will print off enough for one for each of us and then we all color it without looking at each other's.  When we are done, we compare each other's pictures.  Simple fun!  You can find TONS of other designs if you do a web search for something like "geometric coloring pages".  I found 15 of them at  Love Better Homes & Gardens!!

It's nearly lunch time, so this post must come to an end as my mommy duties are calling! :) Enjoy these great fun printables and hopefully you dont waste an entire morning browsing all the great ones out there!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuesday Tutorial - clorox cover

Its still tueday right? I love clorox wipes! I have them in nearly every room.  And as great as they are, sometimes they are a bit of an eye sore for me.  I've been wanting to come up with something to hide them, and I finally did! And it didnt even cost much! With all the contact paper out there these days, I'm sure you will find one that you like.  And there will be plenty left over for future projects.  I did not have any on hand, so I had to buy some.  I couldn't find any in stores I liked so I went to  and bought this one.  I ordered a large roll because I knew I would use it for other stuff.  So my total for this project was 11.78. 

You'll need a scissors, tape measure, contact paper, your clorox wipes and at least 3 paper towel tubes along with packing tape, which I just noticed is not in this picture!  I use the larger container of wipes, so that's what I used here.  Waiting for the paper towels to get used up so I would have enough seemed to take forever!

Here we go! Ok, so first you need to cut all the tubes.  2. Place the first one around the container.  And then roll it over and place a second one next to it.  3. Start taping the seams. I did both sides of all the seams.

At this point, I only have 2 taped together.  I cut off the excess at the top of the container.  I left it a little high, but not to high. I wanted it to be tall enough to keep it concealed, but still so I was able to get the container open without ruining it.  Hopefully that doesn't sound to complicated.

I put the third tube on the same way as the first two and taped both sides of the seam.  Then I measured around the tube.  I cut the piece out of the contact paper to the exact size of the cover so that it wouldnt be so hard to roll on and so I wouldn't have to cut so much off when it was on.

Now I didn't put this in the begining as it is not a must.  But based on the contact paper I selected, I didn't care for the way it looked against the brown tube.  I wanted a nice bright, crisp look, so I painted the tube white for a good background.

Pic  A. I just wanted to show how I started the paper.  Even doing it this way was still a little tricky keeping it positioned, but it was easier to keep pushing the air bubbles out.  B) is just starting the roll and C) finished putting the contact paper on the tube

I didn't need to cut down the paper since I pre measured it to the same size as the tube.  But I did take an exacto knife just to clean it up a little.

Ta-da! A finished, re-usable, clorox container cover! I love the way it looks! It came out much better than I thought it would.  And now that it's on my counter, you don't even hardly notice it.  And you definitely do not notice the big bright orange spot on my counter in my red, white and blue kitchen!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Quiet Books...officially added!

I've probly missed the boat on this one as far as my own kids go.  But I've wanted to make a quiet book for quite some time now.  And starting today it's officially on the list.  I have lots of ideas of things I would like to put into said book, but when I sit down to plan each page and make my materials list, I always draw a blank or feel overwhelmed. 

Fortunately, like nearly everything else on the internet, there are TONS of other people who have already posted about it. :) Yay! So for my (and maybe your) crafty motivation, here are some great books.


This one is a really cute book for little boys.  And I like the way she did the binder rings/eyelets inside the binding so they don't show on the outside.

This is just a part of this adorable book! What an adorable version of a quiet book.  It's a flip book featuring a bunch of cute characters. Very fun idea!

Ok - love this one for 3 reasons.  1) It looks like a scrapbook 2) NO SEWING! and 3) this particular one blends religous pages and other pages for a perfect church book

Another NO SEW book, this crafty mama used her cricut! One of the greatest inventions ever made.

Hide and seek pages among other things on this blog.  This post is only mid way through - so you might find some other ideas there too.

If you are interested in doing a quiet book for a little someone in your life, you may already have found the go-to quiet book blog.  But if not, you are in luck! All things quiet book found here. 

So let me know if you are adding a quiet book to your list of to-make items.  I'd love to share ideas and see your progress!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Savers? You betcha'!

Forgive me for my absence this week.  I did not properly schedule my time.  And I forgot about 2 important events... whoops! Going to work on getting better about not forgetting to write things in the mom planner.  If any of you moms are Girl Scouts mom, you know how crazy cookie season can be!

So last week, during some errands, I decided to stop into Savers to see what I could find.  I hadn't been there in awhile.  My husband is laid off right now, which mean we tighten up the purse strings a little.  So those exciting finds are even better!  And boy did I find some great things - much to my surprise!

This might not be that cool to some.  B ut I thought it was pretty neat! I don't know what year it's from, or if it works.  It was priced a little high I thought at 15.99.  But if it works, and you are a beginner or looking for a child's machine, it might be worth the purchase.

Next I found this adorable little shelf!

It was pretty short.  Maybe 2 feet high or so.  I thought it would make a perfect hall shelf, or for plants, or even a night stand.  It needed a little TLC, but all in all, it was in good shape.  And it was a steal at 4.99!!

This was rather expensive, nearly 100.00, but it was amazing! So beautiful and so rare! I have no idea how old it was or if it worked.  I don't watch a lot of those picker shows, but who knows, maybe it's worth a pile! Either way, I can't believe someone would just give/throw this away!

I left the store with a large batman toy, a little people garage, a large littlest pet shop play center & the most amazing thing in the entire store, this chair! (without the cat! :)
Its shorter and smaller, but perfect for my 1st grader.  We are going to recover the seat and refinish the frame.  At a future, undetermined date of course.  Since it was Monday, my Savers offers 25% off your total purchase.  So the chair that was marked 4.99 was actually 3.74! Sa-weet!!!

All in all, I left with all my treasures and my total was 8 dollars and change! Second hand is any crafters dream!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Handmade Valentines for the Kids to pass out

I talked awhile back about making Valentine's this year.  And we are finally done.  We used my favorite program ever - photoshop  because we like to work smarter not harder.  And it's a lot easier to control cost. 

I used blank 4x6 cards which were about 1.46 for the entire pack which we used 30 of.  We got the pencils and the heart mazes from the dollar store, although I've seen them online even cheaper still.  But I'm not always known for patience.

Here is what the cards looked like after we printed them out:
(I apologize for the poor picture - 3, 4 & 6 year old children do not want to wait for mom to take weird pictures of their stuff)

I used my Creative Memories Personal Cutter (available from your's truly!) to quickly cut them in half.  They aren't perfect, because apparently I passed on my waiting skills to my kids.... 

Even though they weren't cut perfectly, they still got the job done...

I made half of them to color and half of them ready as is because I anticipated that it wouldn't still be fun to color when you are on your 39th card (we made them for all of the valentine parties she would be a part of) Ever the efficient little worker bee, she decided only to color the hearts, and to make them all green, "so no one got mad" :)

I taped on the maze to those cards because getting it lined up just so was a little tricky. These were also the ones I designed to not need coloring, she just needed to write her name.

I let her tape the pencils on.  (I should warn, this ended up costing me a nearly entire roll of tape!) When I designed the cards I intended to have them all taped on the side where there is a little extra room, but half way through she decided she wanted some variety.  So she taped them on any of the sides.

So for less than 5 dollars (more if you count the tape), and about 35 minutes give or take, we have nearly 60 home made valentines! And she loved the play on the words!

If you want to try make your own, here's a JPEG of the Pencil one.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Free Samples, Rebates and Coupons - not craft related!

Happy Friday Saturday Morning! Oopsie! Life just gets so busy sometimes! 

Occasionally I like to do a post that is more life related than craft related.  Today is one of those days.  The post was supposed to be craft related but quickly morfed into something else.  I have a family on a tight budget. Every little bit helps.  To get by on the months when our budget is reduced even more (medical expenses, those life things, or hubs is laid off) I resort to free samples/products. Its two fold really. It saves money obviously (every little bit adds up) but also because I don't usually like to buy new products unless I know they are going to work better than the product I'm using.  Here's one everyone can use.

More Free...Burger King is giving away Onion Rings today and tomorrow - feb. 4 and 5.  (at participating locations) Prepare for long lines, but they are good!

I just downloaded this today, so I'm not sure how it'll work, but you might want to give it a try... It's a coupon/online shopping toolbar.  Once you download the toolbar it takes you to a seemingly pretty cool website filled with free samples, free products and of course coupons. (ok - the toolbar for the coupons alone, is worth it in my opinion)

A new craft company, (but not yet launched I don't think) is sending out free ornaments and catalogs.  I know you can all think of something to do with the ornament. 

Here's a Pam Cooking Spray Rebate offer for $4.00.  I shop at Walmart, and I just bought the other day for $3.00 and change (I think) so that means, you'd actually make money with this one.  Remember, every little bit helps!

I love the magazine Parents.  Here are 7 free issues.  It says if you just had a baby.... but you do what you want with that!

Here's a cute for the husband Valentine printout.  It's technically free. ;)

I LOVE Gooseberry Patch Cookbooks! So this one made me very happy! Here's a free one for you!
FREE Cookbook: Gooseberry Patch Fall Favorite with Sun-Maid Raisins & Dried Fruit

Here is another rebate for Kid's N Pets.  I actually have used this for years.  Its great for accidents of many kids.  And obviously safe for the kids and the pets after the fact.  Give it a try for free - any size bottle, not just a sample!

Most of you are on facebook, and even if you aren't you may still be able to do this. Its nothing free for you, but it is free for someone in need if your participate.  You can donate a breakfast for free.  All you have to do is type in what you had for breakfast and Kelloggs takes care of the rest! Easy and a good thing to do!

One last note - I was in Rochester (Minnesota) earlier this week at Shopko North.  I picked up a pair of those techy gloves for 2.99 on clearance.  These are the gloves that you can wear and still operate your touch screens.  Very happy about this purchase! They had several colors left when I was there, so if you want a pair - don't wait!

On to the rest of my to-do list! Enjoy the sunshine!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Free SVGs - Yes please!

I use Sure Cuts A Lot and my cricut for so many things its not even funny.  I never pay for SVG files.  I suppose if there was one I wanted bad enough I would, but such a situation has never arose. With all the warm weather we've been having, I have been really anxious for spring. So today I thought was a good day for some fun spring/summer/I-just-like-them FREE SVGs!!

I love the flag. And pinwheels remind me of summers with my grandma. Here's an adorable one!

Flip flops are used to be a staple in my summer wardrobe.  And you see it carried over into many things these days. So this next file seems appropriate.

Next is a summer must. You'd be hard pressed to find another who loves smores more than me. This one is pretty cute!
Smore SVG

If you were up to buying a file, this one is pretty cute and worth the price in my opinion.  (please do not attempt to render this file, pay the 4.50  and support her good work) I should also mention there were 696 hits on etsy when I searched "svg"
Lickin Good Summer paper piecing pattern digital cutting file and pngs

Lastly, I wanted the sun SVG I made using the Inkscape Tutorial I blogged about previously but it seems as though my blogger will not upload it as an svg file.  So while I investigate that a little further, enjoy these cute sunglasses which I think would look great in pink with some purple rhinestones for little miss! :)

Enjoy this summer svg sampler! Happy Crafting!