Thursday, April 28, 2011

Photo Thursdays- What time of day should you shoot?

It happens with almost every consultation I do. We start talking days and times for the client's photo shoot and somewhere in that conversation the client will say something like, "How about noon?" The sentence makes me cringe. For some reason it always seems easiest time, but it is the worst light during the entire day.

Shooting at noon means the sun is directly overhead. There is no direct light coming from any angle but the top of your subject which often results in harsh shadows and a dead look in the eyes. The sparkle that we love in eyes so much comes from light hitting the eye, so when the light is over head and can't hit the eye, we lose those catch lights that make the eyes of your subject look alive. Let me show you what I mean.

This first image is one of my daughter that I took while we were on an outside walk about 1 in the afternoon. First of all, it is hot, so her face is red. Second, notice the harsh shadows on the different parts of her face and thirdly, look at her eyes. They look like black dots, not the gorgeous baby blues they really are.
 Then let's take a look at this image, this one was shot just an hour or two before the sun set. Look at the sparkle in his eyes and there are no shadows taking away from the beauty of his face. It is obviously the much better photograph.
So when should you shoot? The hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset are usually considered golden hours. The time of day when the light is ideal. If I need longer for a shoot than an hour before sunset allows me, I will start a little earlier in the warm light of the afternoon and let the light get better as I go, or do the opposite in the morning. Start the shoot as early as the client is comfortable and try to wrap up by mid morning, as the sun get more directly over head.

Honestly, I prefer shooting at dusk every time. The light is beautiful and who doesn't love a pretty sunset?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WotW: One year...

Wowza! It has been one whole year since I began this weekly Wednesdays on the Web segment. 52 webby Wednesdays.

A year ago, I was in the best shape of my life and training to run a 188 mile race (split with 11 other people, of course).

Today, I am 24 weeks pregnant and breathing heavy from polishing off a bag of Starburst jellybeans. Before 10 AM.

My how things change... Let's take a walk back down memory lane, eh?

We've talked about fitness, virtual makeovers for you, and virtual makeovers for your home.

We've overcome menu writer's block and found reasons to celebrate EVERY day (especially birthdays).

The web has helped us find our lost phones (and, I use those services at least once a week!), mail packages, shop for vehicles, and get rid of our unneeded things (or pick up a few more).

There have been some random fun things and some random photo fun things and some random word collage things.

We've made some resolutions and goals and tracked them with to-do lists.

We learned that Santa really is watching (and how to give him our lists in a convenient online format), and where our taxes really go.

We created online surveys and created and shared PDFs.

We talked about your Blogger profile and the importance of linking your email to your profile. And later we talked about setting up a blog-specific email address but still only having to check one email account.

We discussed web browsers and how to make them even better with add-ons.

We covered the bases of basic web security and Facebook "privacy" and passwords and what to check BEFORE you click Publish

And did you notice that I'm a Google-phile? So we explored Goog411 and text to Google, free calls through Google Voice, and my favorite features of Gmail, plus how to give Google your two cents.

And Blogger... oh, yeah, we talked Blogger! We talked about the Blogger image uploader (and how Picasa can make your life so much easier), the new email subscription widget, and dynamic views.

We got technical with some basic HTML and creating our own blog buttons (part one and part two).

 We talked usability: what it is and how to organize your navigation, getting to know your readers, seeing what your readers see, and loading times.

We talked links: basics, image vs. text, opening in a new window, and making them visible but not blinky.

We talked (and talked!) about feeds and subscriptions in Feedburner, using a feed reader (or not), using Google Reader, using Feedly, full and partial feeds, email subscriptions and, oh yeah, I wrote a silly story starring me Goldilu, costarring 3 feed readers.

And... that brings us here. To today. To the FUTURE. {insert cheesy inspirational music here}

So... what did you love? what do you want to see more or less of?

Now is your chance. Change the future. And... go! (to the comments, of course!)

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cajun Pasta #2- Tasty Tuesdays

I have always loved Cajun pasta, it was a recipe that always found its way onto our menu every couple of weeks. We used to make the recipe, this way until I discovered this one from the Pioneer Woman. This delicious combination, my husband agrees is the best Cajun chicken we have ever eaten. Here is my version, I have edited the recipe to use forgo the wine, use less chicken and added some mushrooms.

2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces (You can use more or less than this, depending on how much chicken you want. This is also a great meal without the chicken.)
Cajun Spice- I usually end up using somewhere around 5 teaspoons
Olive Oil
Red Bell Pepper, seeded
Green Bell Pepper, seeded
2- 4 tomatoes, diced
5 or 6 mushrooms
1/4 an red onion
2 cloves of garlic
Noodles, cooked according to package (I like linguine with this meal)
2.5 cups of chicken broth
1 cup cream

Cook the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon Cajun spice, olive oil AND butter (One or two tablespoons of both) until chicken starts to brown. Meanwhile, chop your onion, peppers, mushrooms and garlic. Remove the chicken, add more olive oil and butter and cook the vegetables with 2 teaspoons of Cajun spice. I usually cook the veggies for  two or three minutes on high heat, the last minute or so of the cooking, adding the tomatoes. Remove everything from the pan and add 2.5 cups of chicken broth and stir until hot. Reduce to medium heat and add the cream, whisk together. Cook until the cream starts to thicken. Add a couple teaspoons of Cajun spice to the sauce and stir before adding vegetables and chicken. Stir for a couple of minutes before adding cooked, drained noodles. Serve hot and enjoy.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lace Trim Flowers- Stashbusting Craft #4

You can read about my previous stashbusting entries, here (Stationary/Car Organizer), here (No Sew Zipper Roses) and here (Flower Pens).
Remember the flower pens from yesterday? Today I will show you how to make the cute lace flower, using just some lace trim, hot glue and a button. The second I saw this cute lace in my stashbusting box, I knew it was meant to be a pretty flower and after a few previous fails of this type of flower, I was very happy that this one turned out they way I wanted it to.

First fold a loop with your trim.
 Fold the lace over the bottom of your loop and fold another loop.
 Repeat until you have three loops. Cut the trim and hot glue the bottom of the piece so it will stay intact.
 Repeat four times until you have four groups of three loops. Your flower looks the fullest when you separate it into four groups, I have tried to do this as one piece of trim before and it just doesn't look as nice.
 Arrange your groups until it looks like a full flower and then hot glue together.
 Add a button to the middle, then you can add your flower to a pen or an alligator clip for your hair.
My daughter loved the pink lace flower so much that she ended up ripping it off the pen, so I put in on a clip for her hair, she actually likes the flower enough to leave it in her hair for about 5 minutes, which is three minutes longer than normal, so I would say a success. :)

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tutorial Flower Pens and Pot- Stashbusting Craft #3

I wasn't feeling very snap happy this morning, so I decided to forgo Photo Thursdays today, in order to post another stashbusting craft. I personally love flower pens. They make my desk brighter, my husband however thinks they are too girly. I need to make him manly pens or something, but alas that is for another post.
Here is what I used for these pens:
Lace flower (I made this with stuff from my stashbusting box. The tutorial is coming tomorrow.)
Fake flowers
Green Duct Tape (From the stashbusting box)
Green Pipe Cleaners (From the stashbusting box)
Spanish Moss (From the stashbusting box)
Brown paint and hot glue
I made my non-lace flowers like this, minus the alligator clips.
I wrapped the pens in green duct tape and then hot glue a pipe cleaner to the back of my flowers. After the pen was covered in tape, I attached the flower, by the pipe cleaner with another strip of the duct tape.

I pulled this container out of my stash, I was only too happy to use it. I have had it for probably 4 years and it has moved from house to house with me. I have tried to throw it away many times, but it finally found its place  full of Spanish Moss. The wonderful thing about the Spanish Moss is that you don't have to put a foam core in the middle of the pot for you pens to stand up straight.
I seem to have some sort of writing theme going on here. You can check out my other stashbusting posts, a stationary/car organizer and no sew zipper flowers, that were originally supposed to go on the pens too. A special thanks to Dollar Store Crafts, for allowing me to play along with the stashbusting boxes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

WotW: Where'd my taxes go?

By now, all of you living in the US should have filed and paid your taxes (or, gotten a nice refund :). You even had an extra few days this year! If you haven't yet... umm... run and hide?

Now that you've paid your taxes... where does the money go? We can probably all agree, regardless of political affiliation, that the hands of our government may not be the most responsible hands to put billions of dollars of tax revenue into... but at least they (theoretically) track it and tell you where it goes... right? There is no "black hole of debt" category though ;)

The information about where federal tax money goes is available at, but the figures are presented in rather bland (although colorful) charts. So, Google teamed up with a company called Eyebeam to host the DataViz Challenge, inviting programmers and artists to come up with creative ways to show the information contained in the charts from WhatWePayFor.

As expected, the entries are awesome. And MUCH more visually interesting than a chart. My 18-month old just begged to watch this over and over again. And danced to the music. Google for the win!

(if you're in a feed reader or it bugs you that the movie is cut off since I couldn't resize it, click here to hop over to YouTube and watch the video.)

You can see and interact with the winning apps (and all the other entries) here. The judges came up with some very creative honorable mention awards. :)

The winner of the $5K grand prize was Anil Kandangath who created an app called Where Did My Tax Dollars Go? -- an interactive pie chart showing you actual tax numbers based on your filing status.
Based on our approximate salary, $109 went to education...
(which I think is pretty pitiful, personally)
and $25 of the $109 went to Federal Pell Grants.
That's a cause I'm okay with. :)

The runner-up was Fred Chasen and his app Every Day is Tax Day. Based on your income or approximate hourly wage, the clock shows you how many hours you spend today working just to pay taxes, as well as how many minutes you spend working for the taxes for each department or office.

Other finalists include
  • TaxMapper, an interactive charted slide show
  • Budget Climb, which shows the budget and your contribution as a cityscape that you can climb and explore using Kinect technology
  • Visualize Your Taxes, which tells the "story" of how well your individual tax priorities line up with the actual federal budget
  • What Do You Work For?, a yearly calendar break-down of how many days out of each year you work to provide for the different government entities, and how many to provide for yourself
You can view all the contest entries here. Open and explore each by clicking the Launch Project button.

So, now that you can SEE where your taxes went... do you feel better about the whole thing? :)

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays- Hush Puppies

My husband has been craving hush puppies for weeks. So of course, I decided to make them on a day where we had a million other things going on and I didn't need anymore stress and guess what? They weren't anymore stress. I love this recipe because it is simple, quick and of course delicious.

3 Cups Cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 and 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
1 beaten egg
1 small minced onion
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped

Oil for frying. Heat your oil to 365 degrees. While your oil is heating combine the corn meal, baking powder, salt, water and milk. After this is mixed, add the egg, onion and jalapeno, mixing until well combined. Shape the batter into balls, I make mine about the size of a tablespoon. Add to the oil, cooking until they are golden brown. Dry on paper towels and serve. Even though I have a fryer with a basket, I cook my hush puppies without the basket and just a slotted spoon. The hush puppies are still very fluid when you add them to the oil, so trying to place them in a basket usually just makes a mess.
So, do you like my husband, just get random cravings for hush puppies?

Monday, April 18, 2011

No Sew Zipper Roses- Stashbusting project #2

The second I pulled zippers out of my stashbusting package, I knew I wanted to make zipper flowers. My problem was the last time I went with the sewing route, my flowers turned into a total craft fail, so I decided hot glue was going to be my best friend. I made the roses two different ways. 

First you will need to split your zipper apart. ( I used a 10-inch zipper.)
For the first zipper, I cut a small circle of felt. I folded the small part of the zipper that had no teeth on it, as my center. I glued that to the felt and then slowly began wrapping the zipper around it, hot gluing as I went.
After you get around your center once, you are going to want to start laying the zipper flatter to get more of the edge. I did this by squishing the non-teeth edge of the zipper closer to the center so the teeth would pucker out a little bit more.
When you have all of the zipper glued down, cut away the excess felt and you have a pretty zipper rose. I made this rose using half of one zipper but you could make a larger rose by using a longer zipper or both sides of one.
I wanted a smaller rose to use for earrings, so I came up with this second method. Using half of one zipper, cut it in half again. Take that half and make a loop, gluing the loop down.
Turn the loop into a sort of figure 8, gluing it down again.
Wrap the remaining half of zipper around the figure 8 to give it a rosebud appearance. 
I love the first rose the most, but the little rosebuds are perfect when you need smaller roses for your project. I put the larger rose on a headband for my daughter. What would you do with your zipper roses?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tutorial: Stationary or Car Organizer- Stashbusting tutorial #1

If you follow me on facebook, then you already know that I was selected to be participate in Dollar Store Crafts stashbusting event. Basically, Heather from Dollar Store Crafts sent 10 different people a box of random craft supplies and we have to put together crafts and tutorials from what she sent us. I may or may not have gasped out loud when I found a package from Heather on my doorstep. I am really excited to come up with several crafts over the next week or so featuring some of the items from the box which included fabric, yellow felt, green duct tape, foam letters/sheets and pipe cleaners from Creative Hands and Spanish Moss as well as a crafting knife and scissors from Westcott.

Anyway, without any further adieu here is my first craft using some of my stash busting supplies. This project features the fabric and the cameo hair elastic, as well as some quilted fabric and bias tape that I had in my stash.
First I cut a piece of fabric and piece of single sided quilted fabric to the same size. I used single sided quilted fabric because I wanted to give the organizer some stiffness.
I cut the pieces to 18 inches wide by 13 inches tall.
After those pieces were cut, I set aside the pink fabric piece and cut another pink fabric piece. This piece was also 18 inches wide, but only 5.5 inches tall.
Hem the short piece of pink fabric on one side and then sew it to the quilted fabric on the three side that you did not hem. Make sure your hemmed side is on the top and that you do not sew it down to the quilted fabric.
After the short fabric it attached, decide what you are going to keep in your pockets. Since this is going to be a sort of stationary organizer for me, I measured items such as envelopes, pens and note cards. 

Place an item in your pocket and then pin the fabric down on the other side of it. You are basically trying to see how much room each item will take up so you can make a pocket big enough.
Sew along the lines you have pinned, making little pockets.
Add you big piece of fabric to the back of your quilted fabric.
Sew the two sides together, finishing the edge with bias tape. This was actually one of my first times working with bias tape, although I have been working up quite a stash of it. I learned my lesson after some serious unpicking to check and double check that you have caught both pieces of fabric while you are sewing. So learn from my lesson, double check! :)
After you have reached this point, you should have an organizer that will look like the one below.
Fold the organizer up. The top should come down over the items and then fold one side in half way and the over again. Mark the middle of the back of the organizer when it is all folded up, this is where you will sew the hair elastic that will keep the organizer shut. 

I used a hair elastic to ensure a tight closure of the organizer but you could just as easily sew a piece of ribbon to the back and tie the organizer up. I used embroidery floss and a couple of hand stitches to secure the elastic.
I use my organizer to hold envelopes, stamps and the note cards I use to write letters but it can be used for many different purposes. For instance, you can make it to fit your scissors, rotary cutter, measure tape, seam ripper and other notions for sewing ease.
You could also make it to fit scissors, pens, insurance cards and tire pressure gauges to be kept in the glove box of your car. The possibilities are endless. What would you keep in your organizer? 
Stay tuned for more stashbusting crafts to come.