2012 is here! And the whirlwind of 2011 has officially come to a close. I’m not a huge fan of the idea of New Year’s resolutions (sounds so daunting!) but we do have some goals this year for our home and our family.
First up is the house. As you know, we purchased our little Spanish bungalow in 2008 and have literally lived in open demolition and construction somewhere indoors from day one. To see a line up of what rooms we tackled in 2011, check out this post. We don’t have plans to stop but we do plan on taking some of the demo outdoors which will be kind of a nice break.
But before we head outdoors, the bathroom is back!
We ripped three closets and a hallway open in April of 2011 in hopes of throwing together a perfect little full bath in the middle of the house (we eventually have plans to turn the current full bathroom into the master bath so the addition of a new one was necessary). More on this soon, but it took a lot longer than anticipated. Inspiration image found here.
Next, I plan to give our master bedroom a serious makeover.
Before we moved it in was hard to picture where it would end up… and after living in it for a couple of years with our furniture and a few decorative details I finally have the start of my plan in mind. The dhurrie rug is a dog hair attractor and the white curtains (while nice and flowy) are not grounding the space really well. No big demo in here but a healthy dose of pattern should update the space.
Our office will still be working its way to the finish line with a few outstanding projects: a big, comfy wingback chair find and makeover, duvet and bedding for the guest bed, new office chair upholstery, neat artwork finds and quite a bit of organization.
Yep, the before was the original kitchen! So the room has come quite a ways, but the finishing touches are always important.
Then there’s the dining room. This room is in need of a new lighting solution, a larger rug, better curtains, new artwork and some serious patching after the bathroom is complete.
The ‘before’ pic is just before we moved in and taken from an angle in the far corner of the room. You can see into the hallway and what it looked like before the new bathroom-in-progress took over! The current state of the room is livable and homey but a design direction is needed. As for the inspiration? The ideaboard is wide open.
When we take it outdoors we’ll completely overhaul our side yard with the goal of creating an outdoor dining spot to compliment the outdoor kitchen we built from scratch in 2010.
The plans are that the new side yard will get a deck, a big arbor (maybe some neat hanging lanterns or moravian lights?), a rustic farmhouse table and right now I’m picturing some cool mismatched chairs. We’ll repaint the blue wall in the current outdoor fireplace area, add quite a bit of greenery (crawling figs, maybe a diy outdoor fountain) and a few kid-friendly details like a sand pit or grassy patch.
If we have time, we plan to work on the breakfast nook and bar area of the new kitchen. But I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves… after all we have to do all of the above on a super tight budget and in full on do-it-yourself style.
That ought to get us off to a good start.
When it comes to our family lifestyle, we have a couple of goals in mind:
1. Time management. Because our schedules are so unusual (with Kev being a full time student and me working from home (which means I don’t ever ‘leave the office’) we tend to let work pour into play and sometimes even vice versa. I think I’m more guilty of trying-to-get-too-much-done and I’m hoping to really incorporate a few simplifying and decluttering solutions.
2. Be healthy. Kevin hopes to take our Going Green to a new level by trying to purchase as much as possible from local farmers via CSA and farmer’s markets. His goal is to rarely visit the supermarket. I hope that means that I’m not the default for that plan…
3. Do something crazy. We know that we’ll be expanding our family soon if we hope for Liv to have a sibling close in age (and it takes 9 months to cook those little additions) so we want to do something fun and crazy in 2012. It might involve some cool traveling on a budget.
I don’t expect this next year to slow down much with what we’ve decided to try and tackle in the ways of our home remodeling project, my job and the expansion of my creative marketing business (I work full time as a marketing director for a motion control company and I’m launching a couple of ventures on the side – it’s going to be fun!), Kevin’s 4th year of school and Liv’s ever growing and developing ways, but that’s the way we like it! but as you can see from our family goal, I hope to manage it and corral it all in with some serious organization overhaul.
I’m exhausted just thinking about it all…
What are your plans for the New Year?
Posted in Construction, Family & Friends, Home, Our Bathroom, Renovating Adventures | 12 Comments »
Happy Friday! I’ve been meaning to post these pictures for a while but I’ve finally had time to sort and edit them during this mini vacation. Here’s a baby shower that friends and I threw for our good friend Diana and her little Noah – who’s due any day now.
The adorable invites were designed by Jennafer of Oh Creative One on Etsy. She contacted me to partner on the project and I love how they turned out! Jennafer was wonderful to work with and turned my broad ideas of a colorful starry sky, cute little owls and a bedtime story book into the perfect invite.
I’m not sure where the idea of a Bedtime Stories shower originated from but I loved that I could decorate with everything books. There was no intended color palette but much of the room ended up in shades of blue by the time decorating was finished.
The ‘sprinkle’ shower was held at night and on a weekday but it was an ideal time to gather the group together during the busy holiday season. Sometimes the best celebrations are the ones that include a glass of wine and yummy appetizers after a hard day’s work – that plus nannies for the evening!
I snapped most of these pics during the day, which means no food or people in these photos but hopefully a few clearer shots of the details.
Decor was simple with a few handmade details. I made two sets of fabric bunting (which I kept in soft, gender-neutral colors because I knew I would use them time and again for all sorts of parties), ribbon ‘flags’ on twine, plus a large pin board for little fabric onesies we all designed. Two friends helped me with cut-out stars which really helped to set the ‘bedtime’ tone.
It was a small shower with maybe a dozen or so of us celebrating the newest member to Diana’s family. We played silly games including one competition where we had to recreate belly bumps with small balloons. Hilarious! We ate delicious food provided by some of the guests (potluck style!), and we created customized little onesies and burp cloths out of fabric and embroidery thread.
Here are a few shots from the night of. A big thanks to the ladies that helped me pull this shower together, and a big welcome to baby Noah who will literally be here this week! (Diana’s due date was the 27th)
More details to come as I break down (and finish editing photos…) of a few of the easy decorations.
Tags: Baby Shower, Blue, Decorating, DIY, Parties & Entertaining, Teal, Turquoise
Posted in Family & Friends, Parties & Entertaining | 4 Comments »
*Update* Images were having trouble loading earlier today – now the post includes all missing photos .
We took our Christmas card pic this last Sunday (yay!) and I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve picked up for producing better family photos.
I should begin by saying that I’m no expert when it comes to taking a great photo (I use a Canon Rebel t3i and I generally try to work in manual mode to capture the best lighting – but I’m really a beginner in this area, as evident by all of the horribly lit indoor pictures on this blog – here’s a great resource to help with those questions!). What I am pretty good at, however, is editing. I’m in marketing by trade, so Photoshop is like my third arm – I use it for everything.
But you don’t need a high powered photo editing program to enhance your photos, in fact there are many free versions out there such as Picasa, Picnik and Photoshop Editor (see my suggestions near the bottom!). Regardless of how ordinary a family photo might be you can enhance it to bring out the strongest qualities.
Let’s start at the beginning. For me, the secret to a creative family photo lies in: the background, positioning of family and candidness of the photo.
Choose a background full of texture and contrast. Living backgrounds work wonderfully – fields of flowers, the bark of a tree, even a red brick wall (not living but equally neat) brings visual interest to a photo. Adjust your camera settings right off the bat without anyone in the picture (here’s another link to Kate’s great suggestions for this).
When it comes to positioning the family, consider taking a few shots from a ‘normal’ angle (photographer standing holding camera up to their eye) and a few from unusual angles. For this photo I knew the positioning that I wanted – all three of us standing and the photo taken straight on. Even a slight angle would have taken away the effect and I’m pretty sure this shot was not taken at eye level but that the camera was held down a bit at the chest or even belly.
As long as your image is in focus (if that’s the goal you’re looking for), start big and then later crop in an editing program. You’ll have the most freedom with how your final image looks. Take a LOT of photos. If you think you’ve captured your shot take 20 more anyways, double that with kids.
Generally speaking, I like it when one family member is looking at another or the whole group is laughing with eyes in different directions (aka not all looking at the camera). We tried a few photos with one of us not looking at the camera:
But in the end both of us looking won out. By the way, getting Olivia’s big grin took about 50 photos and much dancing by our friends. (Thanks, Phil & Trish!)
The image in its current state is ordinary. It’s now time to edit to enhance.
1. First, crop uniquely:
The goal here is to avoid symmetry. By leaving my outer hand out of the shot and including Kevin’s, I’ve broken up the symmetrical feel of the shot – now Kevin is in half and Liv and I are in half instead of third, third and third. Play with cropping for your cards, tighter then wider then some crazy ones just for fun.
This one is unexpected but adorable! Pair that with another shot of all of us grouped together and smiling and that could be a cool Christmas card.
2. Next, I adjusted the contrast:
Pop up that contrast to really pull out the shadows (you can play with brightness as well).
2. And then the exposure:
The photo already feels so much more alive!
I would approach editing this photo differently if we were planning on hanging it on the wall, but because it’s for our Christmas card I’m taking the editing of contrast, exposure and lighting a bit to the extreme. You can get away with it for holiday cards!
3. Here’s a subtle edit that packs a punch. The photo was getting a little top heavy in color (with those brilliant greens above and the soft greys below) so I used a red filter over the bricks. See how much better this is?
Unfortunately that’s a Photoshop edit, not available in the free editing versions… (see more on that below).
4. But adding just a touch of sepia (or ‘temperature’ as some of these programs call it) is!
Much more worthy of a Christmas card!
More on Free Photo Editing Software
You can make nearly all of the edits that I made above in a free photo editing software like Picasa, Picnik or Photoshop Editor. I have each a spin and here are some of my favorite features:
First up is Picasa, a free photo editing software that you download on to your computer (no need for internet) and that automatically uploads every photo on your hard drive into the system. It also connects easily over from Picasa Web Albums if you use this program to store your photos online.
The photo is imported with all of it’s specs (ISO, f-stop, aperture – even a histogram) for those of you looking to see what went well and what can be improved next time you use your manual setting on your camera. The tool allows you to adjust lighting, contrast and exposure (and will even do an auto correct if you’re wanting a quick fix) – but my favorite feature was the ‘Temperature’ which adjusted color to achieve a white balance change or even an allover warm/cool look. I was able to achieve the same semi-sepia look that I did in Photoshop using the Temperature feature.
Picnik is a great little tool that works right on the internet (no editing when you’re not connected though) and probably the most user friendly. You simply upload a photo and you’re immediately presented with a wide range of options just like the above. They have a Temperature tool as well, and also many effects presets. I would say Picnik and Picasa are near identical with the one exception that Picnik allows you to upload a solo file to the internet and Picasa scans your entire computer and becomes your ‘editing software’ that’s on your hard drive.
Picasa will upload any existing font (that’s on your computer) to its database, but Picnik’s font tool is easier to maneuver.
Last but not least is Photoshop Editor. This is the most complex of the three and allows for more advanced editing. What I love about this tool is that it offers you a selection of photo options for each effect:
The terminology is similar to advanced photo editing programs making it easy for me to navigate through (no ‘temperature’ button here), but it gets a low grade in my book for user friendliness. The screen is dark, the editing buttons are a little confusing and if you don’t take time to learn the tool you might be lost. On the plus side it offers features such as ‘burn’ and ‘dodge’, which are very neat enhancement tools that the other two don’t have.
The conclusion? I use Picasa Web Albums to share my high res photos with family and friends (the only free program that I know of that does this!) and because it links automatically to Picasa editing and Picnik I’ll probably use these first to edit quickly when I’m not in Photoshop itself. Because Photoshop Editor is designed by Adobe though (which all of my graphic design programs have in common) I’ll probably continue to check in on its list of growing features offered .
Difficult, right? They have a ton of adorable and contemporary designs to choose from in their selection of over 500 Christmas cards, but to me the best feature is the ‘Favorite’ bar located at the bottom of each page. As you find a style you like, you simply add it to the bar (I had something like 40 in mine) and then you can narrow down your results by comparing just the ones you love.
Tiny Prints is offering 20% off + free shipping on orders of $49 or more with coupon code: holba20 through 12/11!
There you have it, my thoughts on shooting, editing and creating a photo card for the season. Happy Holiday Card making!
Tags: Christmas, Photography, Tutorial
Posted in Family & Friends, Holidays | 9 Comments »