Archive for 'Tips & Tutorials'
Have you found your home’s “sweet spot” when it comes to light? One would think the sweet spot in my house would be my sunroom, where it is literally wall to wall windows. Actually though, perfection comes in the form of a tiny corner in my living room. The sun sets on that side of the house and the catchlights I can get in my kids’ eyes are exactly what I look for every time I set out to take photos.
Find that spot in your home, maybe it is a place you never thought of before, the bathroom, over the kitchen sink, the entry way, just find it and take some photos there…you will be surprised at how much such a small place can give you the most cherished images.
So…A little known fact about me…I make my own laundry detergent. I’ve been doing this for about a year now and it has saved us about a billion dollars over the course of a year. Ok, not that much, but it’s a lot. I know there are tons of recipes out there in web land about how to make you own laundry detergent, but one more recipe couldn’t hurt right?
Now I do this solely to save money. One of the things I hate buying the most is laundry detergent. Every time I fill a cup of laundry detergent and pour it down the washing machine it’s like pouring quarters into the basin and washing them away. Now I just wash pennies away, not quarters :)
You can get all the ingredients for laundry detergent at Walmart in the laundry aisle (NOT Target, apparently Target is too good to supply home-made laundry detergent items).
What you’ll need:
Super Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda…you don’t want to BAKE your clothes, you want to WASH them.)
Fels Naptha bar soap (A quick note about Fels Naptha, you can really use any bar of soap you would like. I used Zote before, a pink bar of soap, and it smells like mosquito repellant, so Fels Naptha is my favorite.)
Other things you need:
5 Gallon bucket
Something to stir (I use my husband’s BBQ spatula. Sorry Babe.)
1 cup measuring cup
Clean milk jugs or empty detergent bottles to hold your new detergent
Grate up the bar of soap…ALL of it. None of this 1/2 or 1/3 business, grate it ALL.
Mush up all the little soap particles until they are tiny. Remind your kids this is not cheese and to not sneak up behind you and eat a handful (this may or may not have happened to one of my kids).
While you are grating, boil some water, maybe 1/4th of the pot or 1/2. Eyeball it…don’t stress.
After the water boils, turn off the heat and mix in the soap. Stir it well until the soap is dissolved.
Add in 2 Cups of Super Washing Soda…stir until dissolved
Add in 2 Cups Borax…stir until dissolved
Pour all of it into your 5 gallon bucket
Add water to your bucket, stopping about a 1/4th of the way to the top.
Stir it up…basically you’re done.
Now…by the recommendation of my sister I have added an extra step. I had about a half bottle of Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent that I was using because I was in a pinch and had to buy laundry detergent last month (Oh the horrors!!) I love the way this stuff makes my clothes smell and so I added the rest of the bottle to the 5 gallon bucket.
There is no reason for you to do this or to go out and buy a thing of Arm & Hammer (or whatever detergent you love). But what this WILL do is add the missing lovely clothes smell that the DIY detergent doesn’t add, it will also stretch out your detergent even more.
Anyway…once you’re done making the detergent, there’s only one more step…fill the bottles.
Now I have a genius way of filling the bottles without having to pick up the 5 gallon bucket and pour it over a tiny funnel. Simply place your entire milk jug into the detergent. Yep…get your hands slimy and immerse the jug. The jug will fill, wipe it off and you’re done. Repeat this until the bucket is light enough to lift over the funnel.
Don’t fill your jugs to the very top. You’ll need room to shake them if the detergent starts to clump and congele (which it will).
There you have it…I now have detergent for the next three months at least. If your family is smaller than mine, you may have enough detergent for a year :)
I have done the math for my own family and it costs me 3 to 6 cents a load of laundry depending on how much detergent I use. The only thing you will need to buy every time you make detergent is the bar of soap. The Borax and Super Washing Soda will last through almost 3 detergent making cycles.
Lastly…stand back and admire the loveliness that is cheap detergent.
Next up…how to churn your own butter and spin your own thread from tiny grains of rice… :) :)
As a very busy mom, wife, friend and photographer, I don’t always have a lot of time to photograph exactly what I want to in my personal life. Sometimes I only have a few minutes here, a few minutes there…more importantly, sometimes my kids will only give me 10-15 minutes of good picture taking time before they are bored and off to the next fun thing to do. Of course I love taking photos where I am just a fly on the wall and the true “lifestyle” portion of my photography gets a good workout! But sometimes I do want those posed photos where I have my kids’ full attention.
I’ve been photographing in quick bursts for quite a few years now and I have to tell you, it works. I don’t necessarily set a timer, but I am very aware of how long I am taking with a child (whether my own child or a client). It’s important to not tire your child out with the camera so that every time you pull it out they run the other direction. If you make it a fun time, and it is quick, they will be more than willing to be your little model.
I hope to make this an ongoing series of what great things can happen with you and your camera in just 15 minutes. Now, I was able to get 15 minutes out of my 8 year old, but next time I will demonstrate how to work in less time with a younger child.
Our goal in these little sessions are not to get earth shattering photos, but the goal is to get good photos. If you come away with something that is portfolio worthy, big props to you, but don’t go into your mini-mini-session thinking you are going to get an award winning photograph. Don’t stress yourself out and get upset when your child doesn’t “cooperate”. Just approach your 15/10/5 minute session with ease and relaxation and you might just end up with a photo you truly cherish.
Here’s 15 minutes with Abby…
Christmas time is the best time to practice your bokeh making skills (the blurry background of your photos, usually looks like circles, see yesterday’s post for an example.) Bokeh happens when you use a wide aperture, all the following photos were taken at 1.8f. Making different shaped bokeh can be achieved with special filters you can buy and place on your lens, but I prefer to spend zero $ and just made filters myself.
Use a black piece of paper, cut a shape into it (like a tiny heart for example) and place it in front of your lens. Take a photo through the shape, and your bokeh turns into the shape that you cut out. Super cool isn’t it? Try it out! Difficulty level on a scale of 1-10 is about a zero :) Just remember to use a wide aperture or you can also manual focus your lens, which is what I did to the next photo.
Christmas isn’t Christmas without a play-dough snowman with heart bokeh…
I happen to love wreaths, but unfortunately didn’t own a single one…until I made one :) I don’t consider myself a very crafty person, but I am making an attempt to change that! I love my new little Christmas wreath!
What you need to make this wreath:
A strong piece of wire, I used a wire hanger
About 60-80 christmas bulbs, in various sizes
Strong string or rope
A glue gun & glue sticks
There are so many tutorials out there that you can look up on how to make this wreath, so I’m just going to tell you what mistakes I made so you don’t make them!
Make sure you glue gun all the little tops to the bulbs, I thought I could skip this part…but when I started putting them on the wire, they would all pop off and a few even broke, (shatter..on the concrete when I was trying to hang the finished product, so all the bulbs came off and had to be glued.)
Forget trying to make a pattern out of the colors (if you use multiple colors like I did). It isn’t worth the time because the bulbs fall naturally where they want.
Grab a helper, Abby was super helpful and put the bulbs on with me after the 4th time of trying to get this wreath to work.
This wreath is not held up by the ribbon, a thick piece of string is holding it up, the ribbon is just for show.
The bulbs are not strong enough to be put on a door. I wanted this to hang on the outside front door, but every time the door would shut, I am sure a bulb would break or fall off. This wreath is hung in my living room on a wall.
So! If you skip all my mistakes, this wreath can be made in about 15 mns! This craft cost me $0, I had all the supplies at home and the blubs were being given away last year by a local store and I kept them all year waiting for a good idea :)