Tuesday, July 26

Sucker Send-off

I have a new obsession that has sucked up my time. Its like a vortex whirling around and mesmerizing me. Its Pinterest, a site that you can post things of interest and others can view and share. Kinda like a bulletin board meets facebook.

I have a board just full of things I'd like to make or do. One of those things were these giant lollipops. I saw the photo and thought, "I can recreate that!" but I needed an occasion. Luckily, my friend was leaving our company and I got the chance.

Leaving Sucks

I used gift wrapping paper rolls, wrapped them in white kraft paper (using glue tape along the length) then blew up balloons and wrapped those in cello bags held together with scotch tape. They came out so cute!

Then I made banners with the words: It SUCKS Ur LEAVING.

For kicks, I threw in some real lollipops. My idea was to make the word SUCKS out of the lollipops so I bought this humongous bag. Turns out I didn't need nearly that many.

My friend was really happy with his decorated office, even if he spent the day doling out candy.

Wednesday, July 13

Cooperative Kids or How to Photograph a group of kids

When it comes to photography, there isn't any such thing as cooperative kids. Which is why I thought I would give a little photography tutorial. How do you get a great shot of a group of kids without making it look photoshopped? You have to start with the right kind of shots. Not the right shots. Because if you can get those anytime you want, you wouldn't be reading this.

The first thing you have to do is gather the kids. Here are some key clues:

Feed them

Let them sleep

Tell them what's happening.

Tired kids are cranky. Period. There is nothing more you need to know. No one wants to work with a cranky kid - especially their parent. Trust me.

Same goes for hungry kids. Cranky. See above.

Prepare your kids. As with most things, let them know what is going to happen. If they think they are going to the park to play with their friends, and you suddenly make them sit still and smile - they'll feel duped. Then they'll get cranky. See above again.

Just tell them that you are going to have all the kids sit together, smile really nicely, be happy to be together. Then Mommy (or Daddy - or whomever) will take a few quick pictures. I usually add: If you smile really nicely, look right at the camera, then we will be done much quicker and then they can play longer.

These are pretty simple precepts for doing anything with kids. Eat, Sleep and Information.

Once you get to your location, get rid of any overt distractions. Don't bring balls, bikes, dolls and lay them all out. If having any of these helps focus your child, bring them along. In a bag. Try taking the photos just using your vocal commands. Get other parents to place themselves directly behind you and call to their kids. Try these things first. Once toys come out, their focus is all over the place and you may even lose a kid or two to a truck, never to return again.

Let me go back to the parents helping. If you have many parents trying to take the same shot, you will NEVER get all the kids looking into your camera. Every kid will instinctively hear their own parents and look in that direction. If this is an important shot, have each parent take turns quickly shooting. Or give all the shots to the best photoshopper. Otherwise, if you are the only photographer, its important that the parents who are calling out to their kids is directly in front of you (under the camera) or directly behind or over you. That way, when the child looks up, they are also looking at the camera.

Now for the actual photos.


Get down on their level. Kneel, sit, squat. Otherwise you will get a shot that looks unnatural or uncomfortable. When the camera is parallel to the children, the photos look engaged and the people don't look distorted.


Take a LOT of shots. My unofficial rule of thumb is about 2-4 shots per kid. With digital, thats totally feasible. Your goal is to get one nice shot of each kid so you can composite them in Photoshop later. Above are the photos that I pieced together to make the final layout.


Back-Up Plan When in doubt have an alternate game plan set. For example. I wanted to take a group shot of a bunch of kids sitting down, arms around each other. I decided this when they were all playing. No notice, half of them had not eaten, TONs of toys all over the place. Whats a girl to do?

I tried to get them to sit down. I even got off a few initial shots. Then mayhem. Kids were annoyed, some ran off. You get the idea. So my back-up plan came into play.

Original plan: line up the kids sitting, arms around each other.

Back-up plan: Shoot each kid standing, happy, smiling, then photoshop them together later. More work, but could work.

Then Photoshop.There is a lot of controversy these days about parents photoshopping their kids. This is not what the uproar is about. This is just preserving your mental state, not for the sake of looking perfect. Sanity vs vanity. I addded heads, took away feet, removed fingers, added bodies, took bodies away. But, an hour later, I had a great shot that I could actually use.


Here is the final

NOTE These guys are: Irish, Italian, Chinese, Portuguese, Isrealie, Russian and Korean. Crazy, huh?

Wednesday, July 6

School's over

...and that meansTeacher Thank you gifts. This year was easy (and hard) for me. My son graduated out of The Goddard School (sniff, sniff) so I took pictures of every kid on my son's class, contorted into the letters of the alphabet and made a poster for the school.
For the teachers and staff, I created Thank You cards. It was a practical and personal gift. Some of these teachers have known these kids since they were mearly a few months old. Here is what the card looks like.


and I did hang cards from the wine bottles we gave to the teaching staff. I was pretty thrilled with the idea because even if we just got them a fruit arrangement from Edible Arrangements, we would have spent about the same as 2 cases of wine - once we got the 'case' discounts.

Teacher's Bottle labels

I used paper from MScraps' June Collab: The Things You Do - a perfect kit for father's day. I don't recall where I got the stitching from.

Here is the poster that I made from the photos I took. I presented the school with the poster along with the teacher's gifts.


Food fun - its Grill Time!

Happy Post 4th of July, everyone!

As the weekend approached, I got an email from
Michaels showing these way cool cupcakes that looked like little grills. I put my own touches to it but basically, they are the same. Here are the ones I made.

Grill cupcakes

Here are the 'instructions':

Fill silver foil cupcake liners about 2/3 full with packaged cake mix.
After baking and cooling, level off the cupcakes with a knife so that they are flat.
Ice with dark Chocolate frosting. I used
Dunken Hines' Whipped Dark Chocolate.

Sprinkle Red sanding sugar in the center to simulate hot coals.
Select Black
ready to use Wilton icing. Using a round piping tip, evenly squeeze lines across the icing to simulate the grill bars. (Michaels suggested silver bars using a mix of black and white - I don't know about you guys, but my grill has been black since day one. lol)

For the candies, I used yellow Jelly Belly jelly beans, wrapped with the green part of fruit roll ups. Did you guys know how hard it is to find green fruit roll ups? I ended up having to buy a mixed box of 3 different types, and cut the green part off of a 'double-sided' kind. This is sorta what the box looked like, only mine didn't come with tatoos.

To make the steaks, I cut the caramels into 3rds so that they were thinner and pinched them in at the bottom a bit.

The hotdogs were the pink and red Mike and Ike candies. And the burgers were some random bug shaped gummies I'd found and pressed way into the icing.

To make the grill marks on the candy, used cake decorating pens. They came in a set of 4 different colors in the baking aisle. They didn't have black, so I ended up using blue and they seemed to work just fine.

Scrapbook Pages


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