Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mortensen Family Sneak Peak

Ned and Patty have 3 children who are all in town this weekend. I had the priviledge of taking their pictures. The Mortensens live in the same house that they raised their kids in. Amazing!





You've raised a wonderful family Ned and Patti! Thanks for letting me take your pictures!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's in my Camera?

I started writing this post with the idea that I could do a Photography Tutorial like I have seen done before. As I began writing, I realized that I am not the best person to explain how to take photographs. I was looking definitions up and thought to myself, "What am I doing?" I should just tell others what I know versus looking up definitions. I could show you if you were here. . .

Being a self-taught photographer, I just learned as I went and practiced like crazy. I still practice like crazy. So to explain white-balance, aperture, shutter speed in words, etc. I am clueless. But, I know how to use my camera. I know how to adjust my settings to get the outcome I want.


Here are few bits of things that I do know:

If you are serious about learning how to take good pictures, buy a digital SLR. It will be more money than your point and shoot, but well worth the investment. I love being able to see the picture I have taken immediately. That way, if it doesn't turn out the way that I want it to, I can adjust my settings and take another.

This is the best thing that you can do to get better at anything. If you have kids, you have models to practice on all the time. I love to just follow them around and capture candid shots. It gives me a peek into their world.

Use inanimate objects around your house to practice on. A fruit bowl, a vase of flowers, books etc. Go outside and take pictures of the leaves, flowers, rocks, the mountains, rolling hills, buildings, doors. . .There are always things to photograph.


When photographing subjects, try different angles. Come from the side, get down on the ground and point your camera up. Or, like this picture, look down on your subject. I think that different angles create unique pictures.

I think most people are used to pictures where the subject is in the middle of the photograph. Try off centering your subject. The picture is more interesting that way.

Lighting is the most important factor in Photography. The best time to take pictures is early morning or late afternoon when the sun is not as harsh and as high in the sky. I hate having to deal with shadows and harsh lighting. I've learned that using the shade when the sun is harsh can work. It's not the best, but you don't have to deal with the shadows. This one was taken in the shade. I did have to playaround with the white balance to make the colors look more natural.


So there you have it. Some of the things that have worked for me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

I thought I would post this early, so you can get ready!

Theodor Seuss Geisel March 2, 1904 - September 24, 1991

Here is some info. about Dr. Seuss:

It was March 2nd, 1904 that Theodore Seuss Geisel was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Today we pay tribute to Dr. Seuss' 105th birthday.

While most commonly known for his children's books (he wrote over 60 of them), “Dr.” Seuss was both the editor-in-chief of the college newspaper and also drew more than 400 political cartoons in two years for a New York daily newspaper. It was as a college student at Dartmouth that he started signing his work “Seuss.” Once he graduated, he started signing his work as “Dr. Seuss” when submitting it to a humor magazine. After marrying, he continued to write humor and illustrate. When World War II started, he began his political cartooning. Eventually he designed and illustrated posters to support the war effort, and joined the U.S. Army where he was the leader of the animation department.

Still, it was his children's books that have helped beginning readers and have been enjoyed by families for several generations.

-By Russ Neumeier

Filled with games, activities, music, biography,events, and catalogs

Gives a few activities to do with many of Dr. Seuss's books.

Themed Lessons

Here's an example:
The Foot Book

* Paint with the kids' feet and create your own Foot Book.
* Count the number of feet in your class, then recount by 2s.
* Play Twister.
* Graph shoes according to characteristics.
* Pile shoes and have a race to see who can get their shoes on first and tied.
* Make a pattern with the kids' shoes.


Make your own,
Cat in the Hat

Here is a link to a cat in the hat printable

This site has great ideas for making homemade books, story sacks, bookmarks,placemats, dot to dots.

It also has activities like guessing Dr. Seuss characters and quotes.

Read Across America Activities

These are greatDr. Seuss Story Printables with titles like:

And To Think That I Saw That on Mulberry Street
Bartholomew and the Oobleck
Dr. Seuss - The Cat in the Hat
The Foot Book
Fox in Sox
Gerald McBoing Boing
Dr. Seuss - Green Eggs and Ham
Hooray for Diffendoofer Day
Hop on Pop
Horton Hatches the Egg
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Lorax
My Many Colored Days
The Sneetches

More fun ideas can be found here

Cat in the Hat Puppet

Materials: Paper bag, red crepe paper or something to make the red bow out of, crayons, scissors

Get the pattern here:

Oh the Places You'll Go

Read the book and then have the kids fill this out of all the places they have been. Have them color and cut and you can hang them up on a bulletin board or attach a strip of tag board and make it a hat.

Oh the Places I've Been Hat


You can teach rhyming words and chunks with Dr. Seuss books. Here are a couple of ideas:

Book: Cat in the Hat
Read the book and introduce the -at chunk. Using the book, find as many -at words as you can and fill it in the worksheet

Book: Sneetches
Read the book and fill out the worksheet with as many rhyming words as you can. Nonsense words would be great too since Dr. Seuss loved using them in his books.

There are really so many fun things you can do with Dr. Seuss! Have fun!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This is a shelf. A what? A shelf. A what? A Shelf. Oh. . .a shelf.


I made my first shelf. A what? My first shelf. Oh your first shelf!

Just kidding.

Let me just tell you. And I am talking to all those amazing bloggers out there. (Yeah, I'm probably talking to you)

Stop making things looks so easy and effortless to do. You give hope to little inexperienced folk like myself, only to be crushed with immediate failure. . . (tear, sniffle, sniffle)

Okay, I'm being a little dramatic and silly. I appreciate all the experts out there who share their talents with others. I sure do learn alot.

Anyways, making this simple shelf, wasn't as simple for me to make. Precise measurements are SO IMPORTANT! And after I had everything cut out, don't get me started on putting in the hardware. You would think that was the easy part!

Backing up a bit, I painted each piece separately before I put it together. After doing that I thought to myself, "Man, I just wasted so much time and effort, what was I thinking?!"

Oh well! I know what to do next time! Our home teacher was over yesterday and we were talking about success and that the only way to success is to have some failure first. He added that we should try to "Fail Fast" so we can move onto the success!


Oh, by the way, the giant letters stand for Xander and Mia. I got the letters from Joann's and mod podged some scrapbook paper. I was trying to think of something more creative to put on the letters but I think the shelf exhausted my creative part in my brain.

Here are some other things around their room. There room is a disaster right now and so I am not showing the entire room for your eyeballs sake. It resembles the city dump. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get their kids to keep their rooms cleaned? I am open to suggestions.

I cannot take credit for this first one. My friend made them for a church function and was giving them away at the end. I thought, "Hey, I'll take them home and let my kids play with them." They were too cute and I changed my mind and hung them in their bedroom. They are tissue balls and are super easy to make.


Everybody needs a chalkboard.


A pegboard to hang essentials.


One day, when the room can stay clean for longer than a few minutes, I'll post some pictures of their entire room.

I wonder when that will be. . .?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

David and Henna Sneak Peak

Although it's been raining all week, the weather cooperated and we had a rain-free session. I think Mother Nature is a fan of "love". She was on our side today!

David and Henna were wonderful to work with. I love, love, love taking engagement pictures. There is nothing more fun than to capture a special moment like this.

CAUTION! Beautiful people coming your way!





Thanks again for letting me take your pictures! Can't wait for the big day!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Project 7- FOUND!

I am on a roll! Katie Edwards is a dynamite kid! She is going to a highschool that is on a college campus, so when she graduates highschool, she will have her associates degree! What a smart kid!

She told me I was still the best teacher! That made me happy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Project 7- FOUND!

Dunt, dudda, dah! (I am always confused when it comes to typing noises:) I am triumphant once more. I found another student, Nicole Mantas. I think it is amazing what you can learn about a person from their pictures. I love it when pictures capture personalities and tell a story. From Nicole's pictures I learned that she is an artist, likes David Archuleta, and enjoys being with family and friends.

Here's Nicole in 1999:

And now:

Congrats Nicole!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bird Apron Hook

My poor apron has been hanging on the wall with a tack for the last year. I decided that it needed a better home. I had some scrap wood and a hook from an old door that we got rid of awhile ago. I kept the hook, because I knew it would come in handy some day.


I added a vinyl bird and ahh. . .much better.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Happy Val Day Sign

I designed this sign, just to be funny. Thanks to Poppies at Play for doing the vinyl! Since my name is Val, I have told my kids every year that Valentine's day is MY day. Back in my single years, I told people they could call me "Val your Pal." I even had a roommate one time, give me a Valentine with Barbies on it that said, "We're Val Pals."

Just to be goofy, Val-Day became my day.

The thought occurred to me recently. What if my kids come back to me when they are older and tell me that when they were little, they thought Valentine's Day was just for THEIR mom, only to find out later in life, that Valentine's Day was for everyone?!

How selfish am I?

This sign marks a new era in my life. I shall share this day with EVERYONE starting. . .next year!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Duct Tape Valentine's Day Wreath

Poppies at Play made this duct tape rosette wreath:


So clever right?

I saw my SIL, use that idea to make this:


Love the beads and grey duct tape she incorporated in it.

I got so excited seeing both of their creations, that I had to get in on the fun.


I decided to make a heart wreath because I was feeling the love!

I used 12 " strips of red duct tape to make the roses with. Check out Poppies at Play to see how she made them.


It was a time consuming task, but I didn't mind at all. It was fun creating something out of duct tape. By the way, you can make anything out of duct tape! I believe MythBusters made a boat using just duct tape and it was usable!


I'm grateful for all the creative people out there who are willing to share their ideas. It's hard to think of an original idea all the time. Now that I think about it, how many people actually come up with an original idea? I used to think when I was creating things in my classroom, I was the first one to think of this idea only to find out later that someone beat me to it.

One of the biggest compliments I think, are when people want to copy your idea. Your idea was THAT GOOD!

(This photo was created using this texture.)

Here's a big THANK YOU to all those unselfish, creative people who have jump started my creative juices.

Once you're in the zone, you can take those ideas and MAKE IT YOUR OWN!

Project 7- FOUND!

I was so happy when I found Katie. She is such a sweetheart and it was fun to see the Katie I remember 12 years ago, is still part of the Katie today. She was goofy and fun then and goofy and fun now!

Here she was then:

And now:

Doing this project makes me feel a little old. I graduated college 12 years ago!?! Can't really be that long?? Man, time sure flies.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Playing with the Flash


Not too long ago, I bought a Canon Speedlite 430 EX II flash. I wanted to take better indoor pictures when optimal lighting is not an option.

I'm still learning how to use it and have been practicing on my kids, which is always fun. I like capturing their personalities.

One thing that I do know when purchasing a flash, is that buying rechargeable batteries is a must! The flash drains the batteries so quickly.

I'm still learning and can't wait to get good at it. It's a pretty tricky art learning how to use a flash.