Monday, December 9, 2013

Weekly Picture How-To

I tend to fizzle out.  I'll start something strong, then eventually it goes by the wayside.  I think that's just human nature.  Self-discipline is not the most thrilling habit to exercise.  BUT I did stick to taking a picture of Silas every week of his first year of life, and I'm so happy I did!  Totally worth it.  Tuesday just became our picture day, and we made it a part of our routine.

I am not a professional photographer or photo editor by any stretch of the imagination, but here are a few tips I learned along the way.  Oh, by the way, I got this idea from the oh-so-famous Young House Love, so if you really want to see how it's done, you can hightail it over there!

First, try to keep as many things the same, as you can.  The location, the lighting, the angle, and the distance from your child can all be pretty uniform.  I tried to take the pictures by a big window with lots of indirect sunlight.  The time of day that we took the picture varied through the year, just depending on when we could get good light.  It ended up being somewhere in the mid to late afternoon, typically.  Don't forget to turn off that flash!

Silas wore a plain white onesie for every picture.  I just put him in whatever size he was currently wearing, however, I've seen pictures sequences where the same size (like a six month) onesie is used the entire time, so the kid can be seen growing into it.  Kind of a good idea.  I didn't think of it...  You could also put a stuffed animal or something in the picture to show how much your baby has grown.

Take lots of pictures!  The beauty of this digital age, is that you can take as many pictures as you want, and sift through them later.  If you finish, and look through your images only to find you don't have anything that will work, you aren't going to be thrilled to have to drag the fabric and baby back out to try again!  Better too many, than not enough.  When you're going through your pictures, try to find a different facial expression than last week.  Not every picture needs to be an angelic grin!

Be creative with your backgrounds!  I was fortunate to already have quite a bit of fabric on hand, but I also used a rug, a pillow case, one of my husband's dress shirts (I should have used more of his shirts when Silas was little and could fit on them!), a shower curtain, my Christmas tree skirt, a winter coat, several blankets, wrapping paper, sheets, and probably several other things I can't recall at the moment.  Start looking through your'll be surprised how many things you come up with!  I also perused the clearance bins at JoAnn's, Hancock and Hobby Lobby for fabric remnants.  Those were always very cheap.  This can be a very low-cost endeavor if you just plan a little.

I didn't always do this successfully, but I liked to try to think ahead to any holidays that would be occurring that week, and tried to allude to it.  I would change the shape of the circle, or use a special background for those weeks.

Have fun with it!  I always tried to make it a highlight of the week.  If you're dreading another picture session, you probably won't get too many adorable expressions out of your little one.  Pump him up about it!  Play peek-a-boo with the camera, sing silly songs, make funny'd probably be worried about me if you could have seen me taking these pictures!  But the kid loved it.  Give him a few years, then he'll start worrying about me.

Okay.  Here are a few quick instructions for editing the pictures in Picmonkey. is a free photo-editing can pay for a subscription, but everything you really need is free.  I think by that statement, I've made it pretty clear, but if you're still wondering, no this isn't a sponsored post.  Picmonkey is very much not aware of my existence.  I just like pictures and I like free.  Boom.  Found my perfect match.

So, pull up the website, and click on "Edit a photo".

Follow the instructions to upload your photo.  You may want to take a second in the "Basic Edits" section to Auto Adjust your picture, or brighten it up a little bit under "Exposure".  

When you've got it like you like it, Open the "Overlays" page (click the butterfly on the left...why a butterfly??) and choose "Geometric".  Click on the Circle to add it to your picture.  This is where you would add a different image than a circle if you're wanting to do something special for a holiday or special event.  If picmonkey doesn't have the image you're looking for, you can try clicking on "Your Own" at the top of the menu.  You can download an image from the internet, then upload it to picmonkey with this option.

Now adjust the size of your circle, place it where you want it (try to make the circle approximately the same size every time), then using the "Overlay" pop-up tool bar, choose a color.  You can match your fabric, or choose a contrasting color.  When you get it about right, go ahead and "Fade" it a little...usually less than 20%, then under "Blend Modes", choose "Multiply".  This changes your circle's color a tad, so you may need to play with the color a little bit more at this point.  These last two steps make the circle look like it's more a part of the onesie instead of just a bright circle sitting on top.

Now it's time for the words.  Click on the "Text" page (the icon with the letters, "Tt"...makes a little more sense than the butterfly, I suppose).  Choose your desired font (I used "Quicksand"), and click "Add Text".
Here's where I added "43 Weeks", then you need to center it, change the color to white, then center it on your circle.  Of course, if your baby is tilted like Silas is in this picture, be sure to tilt your words, too!

Now just save, and you're done!

I know this is all super simple, but sometimes it helps to see a step-by-step tutorial.  If you have any questions or suggestions for others, please leave a comment below!

Friday, December 6, 2013


I feel like I'm breaking some sort of rule.  It's been an entire week since Thanksgiving, and I'm going to bring it up again.  Go ahead.  Feel free to gasp.  Every other person in the universe has charged full steam toward the glittering, pine-scented, stocking-stuffed, hot chocolate-y, Rudolph-infested day we like to call Christmas.  "Infested" makes it sound terrible.  You know what I mean.  I'm in love with Christmas, I'd just like to have at least a week to properly procrastinate on my Thanksgiving musings, without feeling like the lone beacon of Thanksgivingness.  Can a girl catch a break?  I mean, I still have leftovers in my refrigerator!  Granted, they're probably no longer good, but they're there!  This is turning out to be less about Thanksgiving, and more about my motivation problem...

So we had family!  Lots of them.  And instead of cleaning my house in anticipation of their arrival, I whipped out some gold glitter spray paint and created a Thanksgiving wonderland on my mantle.  Behold.

Is "wonderland" too strong? 

Really get in there and soak up some of that glitter.  Don't really.  I'm sure it's hazardous and not intended for soaking.

It's hard to properly portray that extreme glitteriness of this spray paint.  You know what isn't hard to portray?  The price tag on the back of my chipboard letter that I was too lazy to remove.  This "project" took approximately ten minutes.  Plus drying time.  I just sprayed the letters not very carefully, then took some extra linen material, burlap and a ribbon I had on hand, and cut out my flags and letters for the "Give" banner, and hot glued them to the ribbon.  Sooo quick and easy.  

I got my extra fancy (and extra free!) Thanksgiving printable, from here.  Oh, and I stuck a Command strip to the back of that frame and just smooshed it in a approximately the correct place.  Don't tell my husband I didn't use a level...

So where were we.  Ah yes.  Festive mantle, dirty house.  But hey, it wouldn't feel like company if I weren't dashing about mopping or something as they walk in the door.

Is it just me, or do you feel like this post is turning into a gigantic confession?  Lack of motivation, laziness, procrastination...

Well, things got cleaned, and we had a grand time.  Here's a representation of most of the party animals occupying my house.  We're missing Grandma...she came the next day.  We've got Anthony's twin brother, Andrew with his wife Rachel, and their three girls: Alayna, Hannah and June.  That's Anthony's sister Angela in the middle.  Lots o' Johnsons.

Rather than give you a play-by-play of the week (though I'm sure it would be riveting), I'll leave you with a few of my favorite pictures.

And by "favorite pictures", I mean mostly pictures of my adorable nieces.

Hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

14 Months

Silas is learning and growing so fast.  Still no walking, but he's pulling up now and then, and scooting like a little champ.  He discovered cheese this month and loves it with all of his little baby heart...gets it from his Mom.  Favorite food is still probably clementines, but he loves him some beans, kiwi, bananas,  salmon, plain yogurt, and just about anything else we offer him.  His newest trick is scooting around the house, pointing at things he's not allowed to touch and saying a very solemn, "No, no, no." He also learned how to blow kisses and say "thank you" in sign language recently (confusing, as those two things are strikingly similar).  Love this kid.

Monday, November 18, 2013

13 Months

After fifty-two weeks I couldn't very well stop all together, could I? We're going monthly, y'all. Yeah...stole that idea from Young House Love, too.  For your viewing pleasure...October 18th.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Black Bean Soup

We will eat beans around here.  In a second.  It took me a little bit to come up with a good black bean soup recipe, but I think this is a winner.  Take the extra time to make it from dried beans rather than makes a huge difference!  Plus, having soup simmering on your stove for an hour or two, will make you feel like you've got this domestic thing down.

Black Bean Soup

Printable Recipe

1 pound dried black beans
1 Tablespoon oil (coconut or olive)
1 onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1 Tablespoon cumin
5-7 cups water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Sour Cream (or plain yogurt)

In a large bowl, cover the dried beans with a few inches of water and let them soak overnight.  Over medium heat, saute the onion, carrot and celery until soft (around ten minutes).  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Next, add the beans, salt, cumin and five cups of water.  Bring to a boil on high, then reduce to medium high and simmer until the beans are soft (around an hour and a half).  Add water if needed, to keep the beans covered.  Add the lemon juice, then transfer the beans to a blender or use an immersion blender to create the desired consistency.  I like to leave it a little chunky.  Add up to two more cups of water while blending if you would like your soup a little thinner.  Just before serving, add a spoonful of salsa, sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

1 Year!

It flew, y'all.  I just can't believe (even now over a month later!) that this year is gone! My baby isn't such a baby any more...and I think I'm okay with that.  I am in love with every stage of his cute little round life.  This kid is truly a joy.

We love this boy.  So much.  So happy he's one!