Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Favorite Props- Photo Thursdays

I love simple pictures but sometimes a simple addition of a prop can make a picture so much more fun. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Hats. They can completely change a photo. I have sweet crochet hats for newborns, fun hats for little girls and of course Santa hats for Christmas time. They are a simple change, albeit one that usually needs to be used towards the end of your shoot.

2. Mirrors. Mirrors are one of my favorite ways to capture a subject, especially young children. There is something magical about them rediscovering their faces. The tricky thing with a mirror is you will have to be more careful about where you are shooting as it is going to reflect everything behind your subject. 

3. Baskets. Baskets are perfect for sleeping newborns or sitting up toddlers. They are one of my favorite props for small children. Hands down.
4. Chairs. Chairs are wonderful because they can be used for some many different things. They can help a baby who is just learning to stand, stand up for a picture or help you stagger groups in photos.
5. Old Suitcases. Suitcases are usually used for different ages of children. They can be opened with a small baby placed inside or they can be stacked for use as a chair.
6.  Towels and Rubber Duckies. Who doesn't love tub photos? They are some of my favorite photos and they can be simple or complex. Some things to consider having on hand for tub photos include different colors of towels, rubber duckies, small bottles of baby shampoo or powder.
 I usually keep three colors of towels, a gender neutral white, a blue and a pink one depending on the parent's preference.
7. Tutus and dress ups. Tutus are fun accents to girly photos and most little girls LOVE them. 

8. Props of their own. I think this one is the most important. A picture is going to be a million times more special if the prop used has some significance. Items such as sports uniforms, Letterman jackets, special blankets will always make a picture more special.
Search for items that will make the photos unique to that particular subject. For instance, the photo below is of my little girl at about 3 months. Guitars aren't normally among my props, but as my husband is an avid musician I decided to take some photos of her with his acoustic. He loves the images from this session because they were tailored to him.
Use things such as guitars, sports team memorabilia, anything that makes a photograph unique to the subjects will make it a treasured photograph. What kinds of things do you want remembered in your photographs?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WotW: This to That

As summer continues on (or winds up, depending on whether your schedule revolves around the school system like mine), a myriad of fix-it projects turn up. If your house is like ours, some of these are must-do projects, like patching that whole in the window screen so the $#@$# mosquitoes will stop eating us alive (done but the tribe of mosquitoes have very good hiding spots...) or been-waiting-forever projects, like hanging that shelf (also done!).

But with summer fun often comes summer oopses that need fixed too -- split wiffle balls, ripped camping chairs, etc. -- and, of course, the fun summer projects like much-needed bug catchers. As you're fixing and waxing creative this summer, if you're wondering the best way to affix [this] to [that]... check out This to That, the glue advice website.

It's simple: just choose your [this] and [that] materials from the list and click Let's Glue! to see one or more recommended adhesives and tips for working with your chosen materials.

For some situations, you'll also see specific advice for common glue situations, such as rear view mirrors.

The crafters among us may be interested to know that ModPodge and E6000 seem to be missing from the website... and those two will glue just about anything! :)

Despite the missing ModPodge, the site is useful as well as fun: check out some of the glue trivia as well as their gluing philosophy (and tips) -- and don't miss the (partly) random FAQ section!

What are you gluing this summer?

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, July 26, 2011

Chicken Curry

My husband and I like to make a little bit of everything for dinner. We added this simple curry dish to recipe box a few years ago and never looked back.

You will need:
3 chicken breasts, diced into small pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 C. onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt

Saute the chicken in olive oil until cooked through, set aside. In the same skillet, melt the butter and the saute the garlic, onion and peppers until softened. Add the curry powder, thyme, salt and then blend. Then add the chicken and stir until coated. Serve over rice.

How's that for simple?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Canvas Sayings Tutorial

I love vinyl, but I am terrified of it. Terrified of using it because it is way more expensive than some of the other mediums that can be used. When Lu, came to visit me last month, she set out to cure me of my fear, using contact paper instead. I fell in love, it is a simple, cheaper way of making crafts.

For this project you will need:
A canvas
contact paper
Either a stencil and X-acto knife or a craft cutter like a Silhouette

If you don't have a craft cutter, you can still make this project. You can print out the letters in a font you like and then use your knife to cut out the contact paper, using the printout as a pattern. I am lucky enough to have a husband who got sick of my whining and bought me a Silhouette, so I cut my project using that.

Before you apply the contact paper to your canvas you will need to decide what colors you want it to be. If you want white letters, you can skip painting the canvas, if you want another colors letters you need to paint the entire canvas that color before you apply your contact paper letters.

Apply the contact paper to your canvas. Some people like to use transfer tape, I actually had better success placing the letters individually. After they are on your canvas, flip it over and rub a Popsicle stick over the back to make sure the letters are firmly on the canvas.
After you letters are stuck to the canvas, paint over the entire thing. Be care around the edges of the letters, to not accidentally pull them up.
After the canvas is COMPLETELY dry, pull the letters off and you have a gorgeous canvas to hang in your home. I hung my canvas in my bedroom and I love the way it looks. This saying has special meaning to my husband and I because it was something the man who married us said to us during our ceremony. He told us that it was no longer time to keep trying to find the one we loved but love the one you find.
What sayings would you put on canvas?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

WotW: Take a hike!

It's summer... so who wants to be inside on the computer when we can be outside enjoying the sun? Or at least enjoying the sun as long as it stays tolerable... so in the mornings and evenings...

Anyway, if hiking is your summer pastime, try one of these sites to find a great hike near you. Your results from each site will obviously vary based on your location -- you may find better results on a more local state or city website.

REI Family Adventure Program: Select your state, then your city and the hike you'd like to take to see the details of the hike -- distance, difficulty, etc -- plus driving directions and other tips (such as the all-important restroom availability :).
Natural Wildlife Federation's Nature Find: Enter your location to find parks, trails, and other nature sites near you.

LocalHikes: Select your area or search to find a hike near your home/work. Listings are volunteer-submitted and include difficulty, distance, time, and a scenery ranking.

Sierra Club Trails: Find a trail near your location, or find an outing arranged by your local Sierra Club chapter.

Or, if you'd like an extended hike and a vacation, check out the American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacation and spend a week with a group of like-minded hikers maintaining and creating trails through national forests.

Now GO! Get outside. We'll spend more time online once the rains return...

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, July 19, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays- Tuna Noodle

This simple meal of pasta, tuna and vegetables was one of my mom's go to meals growing up because it is easy and doesn't require one of the more expensive meats. If you love tuna, you will love this.

First you will need to cook a package of noodles according to package directions, then make a white sauce, which is what my family calls basic white gravy.

White Sauce:
1 stick butter
2 heaping Tablespoons flour
Let these mix for a minute
Then add 2 cups milk
Let simmer until thick

When the sauce is done, put it in the same pot with the noodles, add a can of tuna and a small bag of frozen vegetables, no need to thaw, and stir together until everything is nice a hot. Even though there is no need to thaw the vegetables, sometimes I will run them under water so the ice melting doesn't cause extra water in the dish. It is a simple dish, but actually one of my favorites. I hope you like it too.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Doughnut Necklace and how to make your own chains

My husband's family is obsessed with doughnuts. Actually, obsessed might be a little bit of an understatement, so when I saw the cute doughnut necklace over at Lil Blue Boo, I knew that my husband's sisters just had to have them. I made them pretty similarly, first I found wooden discs at the craft store.
Since I am still banned from my husband's power tools because of an unfortunate Scrabble bracelet incident, I had my husband drill two holes in each one, a medium size one in the middle and the smallest one at top for the chain. I then painted the circles brown and once dry painted pink over top for the frosting. I finished the paint job with a toothpick to drag small lines of paint for the sprinkles.
In order to keep the costs down of the necklaces, I decided to make my own chains. They were amazingly easy to make, you will need 12mm Lobster claw closures, chain and 4MM jump rings. I waited for a 50% off jewelry week at Hobby Lobby, so three chains cost about $4.
First cut your chain to your desire length, I just used the wire cutters on my needle nose pliers. Then, take one of the 4mm rings and pull it open with pliers like in the photo above.
Then slide the ring into the chain AND the lobster claw closure, then use pliers to close. Repeat on the other side of the chain. I used a larger 12MM ring to go through the small hole in the doughnut and then slide it onto the chain.
I made a fourth doughnut and just slipped a piece of ribbon through it, for my 2-year-old, because my husband has successfully passed on the doughnut love to the next generation. It was quite the hit, she kept showing everyone her necklace.
Who is the doughnut lover in your life?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

WotW: Let me Google that for you...

Tell me if this has ever happened to you:

You're sitting in a casual social-ish environment and someone asks a random question:

Is George Clooney single?
What is the fastest way to tie your shoes?
Which is cheaper, flying to California or flying to New York?
Define onomatopoeia. 

(Okay, so that last one isn't really a question...)

Random question enters and your response is, "I'll Google it." Because Google has all the answers.

If you're feeling nice and generous and have access to the internet, you Google the question and find out the answer.

But what if you have internet access and you're feeling just a little bit snarky or this person has a tendency to do this all.the.time?

Just changed your answer to, "Let me Google that for you."

Go to and enter your search terms (correct spelling is best but optional, just like with a normal search):

Copy the link and send it to the question poser.

Upon following the link, he or she will receive a very nice and short tutorial on how to use Google... as well as being directed to the Google search results. :) [Go here to see a live example... I couldn't find a good video to embed.]

Quite a nice public service, eh?

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.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Popsicle Stick Bracelets

A little while ago, I saw some amazing Popsicle stick bracelets over at Suzy's Artsy Craftsy Sitcom. I loved them and as mother of a girly girl, they were a fabulous answer. My little girl LOVES jewelry, so I wanted something cute for her to wear that I wouldn't be upset if she lost. They are wondrously easy and one of our favorite things to make together now.

You will need:
the jumbo Popsicle sticks (I got colored once because that is all the store had left, but the color boils out anyway, so you might as well get the plain ones)
cups with small openings

I boiled my Popsicle sticks for about 25-35 minutes, to soften them up. I found bending the Popsicle sticks was easier when they were warm, so I just let them sit in the warm water for a few minutes before I starting fishing them out one at a time.

Bend the sticks slowly into the openings of your glasses. I found that the smallest ones worked the best, so after this run I began using kids cups. They work really well and keep the bracelets openings small enough that they won't fall off your wrists.
Let the bracelets sit in the cups over night and then remove. They should come out very easily. I lightly sanded the bracelets and then painted them with my little girl. She had so much fun adding dots and colors to all of them. They are truly some of her favorite things to wear. I love crafts that allow us to work together!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

WotW: Cleaning out your inbox

My husband and I have a standing "thing" that we do: when I first log in to my email for the day, he guesses how many new emails I will have. He always guesses what he thinks is high. And his guess is almost always l-o-w.

How many of these 40+ new daily emails do I actually read? Most days, 10 at the most. So, in working to simplify my life a little bit before my little one joins us (in, umm, 6 weeks?!?), I've decided to simplify my inbox.

Here's my game plan:

1 - Unsubscribe from the email lists that I *never* read. I know this sounds SO simple, but somehow I find it easier to just delete those emails daily/weekly than to take the few seconds to click Unsubscribe.

2 - Use my secondary email for any form I fill out where I won't suffer from a delayed reading of the messages. I set up a secondary email with Yahoo to basically be my spam email -- the email address I use for requesting free samples, filling out surveys, accounts for sites that I will probably only use once or twice (like those sale sites that offer free credits for signups... after I use that credit, I very rarely go back regularly). I check the account one every day or every other day -- often enough to monitor what is there, since the unimportant mail goes there instead of to my main email. It has worked great, but I've gotten lax on actually evaluating who I am giving my email address and deciding which address to use.

3 - Clean out my inbox EVERY day. I finally cleaned out my inbox last week after months of letting messages stack up here and there. Over 2000 messages in my inbox - yuck! So, my new philosophy is that if it's important and requires action, I will do my best to take that action immediately and then delete/archive the message. If I can't take action right away, the message can stay in my inbox... but I now evaluate the *entire* contents of my inbox every day. If there are more than about 10 messages in my inbox, I start a triage-style system and get rid of some!

4 - Evaluate the emails that I get from other web services (social networks, hosting services, etc) and change my account settings with that service so that I only get the emails that are actually important to me. For example, I don't want an email every time someone sneezes posts a status update on Facebook, but I do want to know when I have a new personal message or friend request. Those are my personal preferences, and I can set my account notifications to reflect that.

What clutters up your inbox? And how do you keep it neat and tidy?

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, July 5, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays- Porcupine Meatballs

This is one of my husband's favorite meals from his childhood. It is a fun and delicious recipe, the one downside to it is that you need a pressure cooker to be able to make it. I finally just bought a pressure cooker, so I have added it to my cookbook.

You will need:
1 lb hamburger
½ cup rice (uncooked)
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
1 T onion
pressure cooker
can of tomato soup
1/2 cup water

Mix together everything but tomato soup and water. Shape into balls. In pressure cooker, place a can tomato soup and ½ cup water. Turn it on and heat it to a boil and add meatballs. Stir in sauce. Place lid and bring to pressure for 10 minutes. Pressure has to go down on its own (10-15 minutes).