Category / CREATE

Fall Book List

Just give me alllll the fall reads — I’m not sure who is more excited for the season, me or my mini!

Our current list of must-reads:

The Scariest Book Ever has the boldest, most “popping” illustrations that are so fun to look at. This was a big hit last year when he was only two, but loves it all over again this year at three, and it’s funny for the adults reading it, as well.

Gilbert the Ghost I’ll admit, is better loved by Crew than by me. But it’s not too spooky and gets at the moral of being inclusive.

No Such Thing  is probably my favorite of this list — from the beginning the character doesn’t believe in ghosts and explains away all the weird things happening, only to find out maybe there IS such a thing, in the end.

How To Make Friends with A Ghost is a little wordy yet for Crew, so I shorten it as I read. He laughs out loud out the antics of befriending a ghost, and I love the idea that your ghost is “with you” from your youngest to your oldest days.

Thankful is obviously a good read with the message of gratitude — I haven’t found many “Thanksgiving” books but of them, this is my favorite.

The Little Children’s Halloween Activity Book is sure to keep Crew busy when we need a time-filler (restaurants, road trip, etc) and it’s nice to have something fresh in the mix, and relevant to the season. Always love Usborne’s activity items!

Vampirina Ballerina is one we checked out from the library to test run. I thought it was adorable, but based around a girl’s love of ballet, it didn’t hold Crew’s interest. I’d definitely recommend it for the girls, though!

Stumpkin is one I stumbled on at the bookstore the other day and will be going back to pick up. I’d never heard of it, but at first flip through, I love the story sentiments around the idea of being “perfect”.

Ghosts is another on our wish list — I try to add a new title or two each year, and this will likely be one of them!

Which titles did I miss???

The “Crew”Neck — Personalized Patch Kid Sweatshirt

You don’t have to look far to see the patch trend is everywhere — and particularly big in kid’s clothing. One piece of  this trend goes a long way for me, but I thought it would be such a fun way to capture everything that makes Crew, CREW right now, at age 3.

He LOVES to spot the letter C everywhere, and 3 is his current favorite number, so those were easy places to start. But it was when I was able to find a garbage truck patch on Etsy,  that I knew this project was a must-do.

 

 

I pinned a few example pieces to get a feel for arrangement and relative sizes of patches. I ended up ordering this  sweatshirt, as Crew isn’t super big on zip-ups right now (he thinks anything with a zipper is for going outside only, he has yet to understand the heavenly-ness of a hoodie!) and I didn’t want this piece to be limited to outerwear.

The C patch and the 3 patch came from Amazon, everything else was from a variety of sellers on Etsy, although Ebay is a great resource as well if you’re looking for something super-specific. For a 4T sweatshirt, I’d keep the patches smaller, around 1-1/2″ average size. I actually started with a much bigger slice of pizza (admittedly, I wasn’t paying close attention to  the size description) and ended up swapping for something smaller.

When you’re shopping for your patches, I’d recommend varying the sizes and colors and shapes of the patches — I opted to start with a focal point (I knew I wanted the letter jacket “C” to be prominent) — and then built everything else around that. It SEEMS random to throw them all on there, but it took me a few minutes of arranging to get everything to “work” on here and keep it balanced.

Yes, this was a project for my enjoyment, but I’m happy my model is thrilled with it, too.

My Photography Gear

recommended camera gear | www.29thanddelight.com

I’ve done a LOT of purchasing, experimenting, selling, and swapping my gear out since I really started to get serious about photography a few years ago. A huge piece of getting the right gear is figuring how and what you like to shoot. For me, I photograph families, my own included, and a few interior stills here and there. (I’m also a Canon girl from the start, so I’m sorry, I can’t answer many questions about Nikon or other brands!)

Here’s the rundown of my camera gear:

Canon 6D // My very first “real” camera was a Canon Rebel with kit lens (my model is no longer available, but the equivalent is here) and it’s a wonderful camera with which to begin. If you’re just starting out, this dSLR is plenty powerful as you learn the ins and outs of shooting in manual mode. The 6D, my current body, is a full-frame camera (as opposed to the Rebel which has a cropped sensor), which means the sensor is larger and able to “gather” more information from an image. For example, it performs better in lower light (wonderful for me, as I love to shoot without flash when possible). In my mind, the “ultimate” that I’ve never quite been able to justify is the MarkIV, whose most noticeable difference is the ability to shoot images onto two SD cards simultaneously. For photographers who shoot “unrepeatable” events (births, weddings, things you can’t recreate later), this dual-slot feature is a must-have, in the awful instance an SD card malfunctions, the images are backed up on a second card. There are of course other bells, whistles, and improvements in performance, but I’ve found for what I shoot, the 6D is the perfect “mother size” bowl of porridge.

85mm lens // I began with various zoom lenses and quickly learned I’m a prime lens girl. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length, meaning you can’t zoom in and out — you use your feet to get closer or farther away from your subject.  It’s a personal preference and prime doesn’t always fit every need, but they are tack sharp lenses and let in more light (always the ultimate goal!). I LOVE my 85mm for portraits — it creates beautiful background blur and a comfortable shooting distance (not TOO in baby’s face, but not so far away I’m yelling directions at people).

(Honorable mention: the uber-popular “nifty fifty” (50mm) is a FANTASTIC, budget-friendly prime lens with which to start. It’s also nice and compact, ideal for travel. Newborn cutie, above, was shot with this lens!)

28mm lens // This is the best lens for capturing a wide scene (like this family and the cityscape) and it’s ideal for when I need to shoot a group of people in tight spaces. I also think it’s fun for the whimsy of slightly distorted close-ups of children (not as flattering on adults, FYI!). This lens is also great for interior shots, although some prefer to go even wider, I don’t personally care for the shots of interiors that are SO distorted they feel fake and every wall is curved like a fun house. Must-have lens in my book.

200mm lens // I use this the least, but I’m still so glad to have it when I do. I envision using it even more now that Crew is getting into sports and activities where I can’t be quite so close but still want to capture detail. (In the shot above, Page was at the bottom of a pretty big hill, several yards away.) It captures beautiful, crisp detail, and in part because of the length, creates gorgeous background blur. My first telephoto (long) lens was HEAVY and HUGE. I like that I can be more discreet in a crowd, but still photograph from a reasonable distance, with this one.

430 speedlite // Gorgeous light just isn’t always available. I rarely use flash, but this one has been working for me from the beginning. It’s nice to have just in case a room is less well lit than I hoped when I show up to an in-home session, and the ability to bounce the light in other directions (aka NOT right at your subject — hello, deer in headlights!) allows for more flattering final images. (Budget note: If you don’t think you will use flash all that much, I’ve heard from several photogs that they have been very pleased with cheaper, off-brand alternatives like this one.)

Gary Fong diffuser // I’ve had this on my list for a while and after seeing a photographer bust his out recently at an event I attended, I asked for it for Christmas. I had to know if it was all it was cracked up to be as a complement to my speedlite — and it totally is, as I used it on the above interior shot on a VERY gloomy day. To me — it’s a nonnegotiable now, and I love that the images don’t scream “I used my flash in this one!!”. If you’re going to buy a flash, don’t buy it without this counterpart.

wireless remote // A must if you want to get IN some pictures! You can set the timer all you want, but sometimes it’s nice to just know exactly when that camera is clicking. You can easily hold this discreetly in your hand while cuddling up to your favorites and snap away. (Tip: posing yourself without showing the remote takes a little practice — but it’s small, and in the above shot, it’s hidden in my left hand.)

Other Notes:

Camera bag — I don’t have one! I’m that risk-taker who throws a spare lens into the pocket of my vest and goes — for now. (I HAVE tried and discarded a couple options so far. If you have suggestions, please send them my way!)

Editing — I shoot in RAW and edit in Photoshop ACR (although Lightroom is another great option).

Online storage / Business website — For my rather simple needs (ClickSmith is a small part-time gig for me), Zenfolio has been my vendor of choice.

Photography Classes — Online, I loved the 101 and 102 courses at Shoot FLY Shoot when I was first getting started. If you’re in the Des Moines area, I HIGHLY recommend ALL of the classes at Christian Photo in Urbandale.

ETA: Crew does not yet have his own camera (the one pictured came in a happy meal!) — but I’m looking seriously at this one to get him started!

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Our Oversized Modern Floor Mirror

Excuse any gushing that follows (mirror or man related!) but I had no idea how handy the guy I married ten years ago would turn out to be — and more recently, he’s evolved from handy to downright artist.

I mentioned to Page before the holidays that while we were making a few little decor updates in our master, I would love to get rid of the awkward jewelry armoire that stood right inside our bedroom door, and swap it for something more low-profile in the floor space — specifically, a giant floor length mirror.

I had pinned a few inspiration mirrors (West Elm and others), but nothing was quite right. I knew I wanted the clean modern lines, but not too minimal — I still wanted some “chunkiness” and it needed to be large in scale with our high ceilings and not be totally dwarfed by the extra-tall wardrobes on the opposite wall.

This guy can read me like a book. He took my inspo pins, and concocted a design all his own. He even chose the wood — maple — to tie in some of the lighter tones I’ve been using in this room in the form of baskets and jute bins.

I didn’t know or see ANYTHING until it was 95% done!

I’m in love with the legs on this mirror and I would have never come up with these on my own. I wouldn’t have necessarily thought to add legs, period, and I certainly wouldn’t have thought outside the box to angle them the way he did. They remind me a bit of an art easel, and I love that they’re the only white element, tying it all back into our trim and doors and wardrobes.

(For the handy ones interested, they are 2.25” square legs made from three pieces of wood laminated together. He routed them with a roundover bit to then cut them at 15 degree angles at both ends.)

Because you truly do see the mirror from the side first walking into our room, I love the chunky profile he gave to it. The glass sits halfway back in the frame, so from the front it doesn’t feel as deep, making the side that much more “wow” factor.

Even with its simple lines, the details are still there. To fit the mirror inside, Page routed a groove inside each side, then added the little square filler notch in a contrasting piece of oak to plug the routed grooves so they wouldn’t show from the outside.

Love. Love. Love. Happy birthday to me! (And yes, the builder and his faithful project manager both “signed” it for me!)

Classroom Valentines: Heart Crayons and 3-D Suckers

I have to say, I’ve loved every stage, but three is proving to be particularly fun with all of its enthusiasm. When I started to explain Valentine’s Day to Crew, and that we were going to make valentines to give his friends, he was ON. BOARD. to say the least.

I started with something he could truly make — you’ve seen these all over Pinterest — heart-shaped crayons. I will say, grouping these into like colors is key…they look like a hot mess if you just mix random hues. Also — tip: Soak the crayons in warm water to make the paper wrappers easier to remove. Once bare, break them into pieces and bake for 15 minutes at 250, popping them out once they’ve cooled. We used this silicone mold and it was the perfect size and super easy to remove the hearts.

I thought about making the crayons part of his cards, but instead we focused on the holy grail — suckers. Another idea I can’t take credit for, as it already exists around cyberspace: 3D sucker cards. I put Crew in his VDay shirt and among MANY outtakes, (so much “cheeeeese” and eyes closed lately — coupled with holding his arm the right way!) we finally got a shot we could use.

If you attempt this, definitely ask your kiddo to hold his/her arm out in FRONT of them (so the hand is as large as possible to give you space to poke the sucker through) and also out to the SIDE (so the sucker doesn’t end up in front of their face). Don’t shoot too close, allowing plenty of room on the sides to hold both the weight of the sucker and any message you want to add. I laid my text out in photoshop, sampling the red font color from his shirt. I can’t say enough good things about printing with Mpix — I send all my photo clients there! — and when wallets didn’t seem quite big enough to support the suckers, but 4×6 seemed like overkill, I went with 3.5 x 5 prints.

You might say we’re suckers for a good holiday project. 😉

 

Trash Bash Garbage Truck Party

This past weekend, we celebrated this guy. <3

The theme, of course, was “Trash Bash” and featured a lot of garbage trucks and trash — a tall order for making things “cute” and “appetizing” ha! The details had to be rather mobile this year, as we rented some space as opposed to hosting in our home. This definitely limited set-up time, and the chance to get more than some quick snapshots, but it was a TOTAL win to not have to clean our home (before AND after!) and having the indoor playspace all to ourselves was the perfect way for the kiddos to burn off some energy (especially after we’ve had days on end of temps around zero!). It was a team effort (thanks Mom and Dad for all the help!) and of course Page pulled out some tricks to make my hair-brained ideas become a reality, such as whipping up a 2×4 frame to keep my photo prop truck standing.

As always, I save the pics with the kiddos just for our friends rather than share them here on the blog, but know that I DID to my heart’s delight get a shot of three cutie boys smiling at me through the window of this truck painted on — what else — an Amazon box. The road was a cheap black wedding runner and I stuck pieces of yellow duck tape down the center.

I set a kid’s table with reusable plates from Target that went home with each kiddo. I’ll link all supplies below, but these garbage truck cups from Etsy were a huge hit with Crew!

The idea was to keep it “trashy” right? So crumpled newspaper, tissue paper, and balloons made a wonky garland across the table, and silver tablecloths and little metal pails everywhere added to the “trash can” vibe.

I pulled the 3-foot print of Crew and “his” truck off his bedroom wall to add some last-minute backdrop (again — quick setup time so it had to be easy!) and we set up the food…

My favorite part is always naming the food and making the signage 😉

(More duck tape…this time ripped and wrapped around the bottled water!)

The babies went home with applesauce pouches (green, of course!) and the big kids got trash cans with candy, silly straws, and jars of slime.

At the last minute, I couldn’t resist adding more candy. Worms and bottles both seemed gross and trashy — and okay, those wax bottle candies actually ARE kind of gross — but both were a big hit with this crowd!

We kept it simple with pizza and after debating having the kids MAKE slime as a party activity, I vetoed in favor of just letting them wear themselves out in the playspace. Mission accomplished!

While he’s ready for both some present and spotlight detox after the Christmas-Birthday one-two punch, Crew truly enjoyed his party and all the fun surrounding his birthday in general, talking about each friend and activity all weekend long.

Happy birthday to our favorite THREE year old!

 

black aisle runner // green reusable plates // garbage truck cups // garbage truck and trash can cutters (cheese) // mini garbage cans (favors) // large white can with lid

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