Wednesday, October 31, 2012

WotW: A Healthier Halloween

Happy Halloween. In just a few short hours,you'll be out collecting pillowcases full of candy as you bully your neighbors into giving you a treat in exchange for not vandalizing their homes. What, never thought of what Trick or Treat really means?

Perhaps you won't be out knocking the doors, but your kids will. And when they come home they will have enough candy to keep them occupied for a year. But it won't last that long. Chances are, if your kids are like most, they will devour all the candy within a week or two.


Kids hyped up on sugar: It's a problem for parents and a teacher's worst nightmare. Trust me, I lived the dreadful day after Halloween. Sure you want your kids to enjoy Halloween, but how do you make this holiday a little healthier?

The good folks at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center have a few ideas on how to make Halloween healthier. A couple ideas include eating a healthy, filling dinner before Trick or Treating so there is less room and desire for filling up the stomach with candy. Also, have your kids divide up their candy into smaller portions and place these in small sandwich bags.

For more tips, visit bit.ly/V5yQlW. They also have a sweet infographic about how much candy you can safely eat in a day. Sadly, it's not very much. I've included part of the infographic here, but to see the full thing, visit http://bit.ly/W36pew.


Halloween is a great holiday, especially for the kids. As an adult, it's still fun to see the kids dressed up in their costume of choice (except for the poor kid who was forced to be a ghost for the third straight year). Of course, nobody is as cute as your own kids. That's why you should show them off.


Utah Valley Regional Medical Center has an opportunity for you to visually brag about how cute your kids are with their Halloween Photo Contest. The winner gets a $50 gift certificate to the restaurant of their choice. Not bad for just having to upload that picture of your kid you know you'll take tonight. So go ahead and enter. Oh, and have an amazing Halloween. I'm off to Trick or Treat with my little Captain America. There's a Kit Kat out there somewhere with my name on it.
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Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 Days of Photo Props: Water

 I love using water in photo shoots. It can be a a difficult element to use because you don't often get more than one shot at it. Water elements are best when done at the end of a shoot so they don't ruin the rest of your pictures with water spots on clothes.
Water makes a great backdrop or foreground, even if your subjects never get in the water. I love shooting by water, using its reflective surface to capture another image of the subjects.
 If you have really adventurous subjects, you can have them climb straight into the water. If they are a little wary of that idea, have them roll up their pants and just barely wade in.
Water doesn't work for every shoot, but for summer shots it can be the perfect added element.

Friday, October 26, 2012

31 Days of Photo Props:Special Blankets

 Lovies and blankies, there are lots of names for special blankets, each family seems to have their own. Whatever your name for them, they are a big part of your little one's childhood and should be documented before they wear out.
Try and keep the poses very natural, things that they already do. My two favorite poses for special blankets are a back shot of the child holding the blanket over their shoulder and playing peek-a-boo with the blanket. I also often use the blanket as a backdrop for the little one to lay against.
Not every child has a special blanket, but those who do, love them to pieces, quite literally.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

31 Days of Photo Props: Chalkboards

Have you entered the photo canvas giveaway yet?
 One of my absolute favorite props is a chalkboard. You can make a chalkboard say anything you want it to and so it personalizes a shoot to the maximum. My favorite way to use a chalkboard is to fill it with a list of the subjects favorite things at that age. So many times as parents we forget the little things. This helps us remember.
Here are some of the ways you can use a chalkboard in your shoot.

Newborns- Lay them on a large chalkboard and list their weight, length and time of birth on the chalkboard. 
Children- List their name, age, and their current favorite things. 
Seniors- Year of graduation and clubs and organizations they have been apart of. 
Groups of children- Happy Birthday, Happy Father's Day, Merry Christmas and then use the photos for cards. 
Engaged couple- as a Save the Date with the wedding date on it. 
Families- Saying such as "Our Happily Ever After," or "We are a happy family." 

The possibilities are endless so get photographing! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WotW: View Newspapers Your Way - Digitally

I love newspapers. Always have. Maybe it's because my father read the morning newspaper every day growing up. Maybe it's because I loved reading comics as a kid and the sports section as a teenager. I was the editor in chief of my junior high, high school and college newspapers because I loved newspapers so much.

Unfortunately, newspapers are starting to go the way of the wagon. They were great while they lasted, but they haven't kept up with the times. While it's sad to see printed versions of newspapers disappear, it's also their own fault. They didn't ride the technology wave, got behind and now can't afford to compete with bloggers (victory for the little guys!).


Personally, I love reading the news on my phone. It's clean, fast, convenient and updated instantly – things no printed newspaper could ever dream of delivering. Still, there's something special about holding a newspaper and seeing the front page with its large headlines and pictures. Today's post is a tribute to newspapers.

First off, newspapers are one of the great contributions to democracy in this country. Our Founding Fathers knew that when a people can freely gain information without censorship by the government, they can be informed enough to govern themselves and prevent abuses by the government. Whether or not the press has lived up to their responsibilities or not is another issue entirely. Sadly, much of the world does not have a free press.

The website Newseum.org is dedicated to educating people about the power of news. It is a physical museum in Washington, D.C., but their website has some neat features as well. One of them is an interactive world map that shows which countries have freedom of the press and which don't. Not surprisingly, the wealthiest countries tend to have a free press.


On this map, the green countries have a free press, yellow have a partly free press and red do not have a free press. It's probably no surprise that Russia, China and most of the Middle East don't have a free press.

You can zoom in closer to view a specific region of the world.


If you click on a country, you can learn more about the press in that country, which is rather interesting.


Newseum also highlights front pages from around the country and the world. If you go to their Today's Front Pages section, you will see front pages listed in alphabetical order by state. Click on any page to get a full-size view.


You can also filter the front pages by map, which is a quick and easy way to view headlines around the country. Not surprisingly, on a day after a presidential debate, nearly every front page was dominated by the coverage.



But Newseum doesn't just cover the United States; you can view front pages from newspapers around the world. You may not be able to understand what they're saying, but it's still kind of fun to see what newspapers look like in foreign countries.


 Even if you're not a big news junkie, spend a little time on this site to see how different newspapers in different regions cover similar events. It is a small world after all.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mandarin Orange Jack-o-Lanterns

(I am taking a little break from 31 Days of Photo Props, I just can't help but post the Halloween goodness we have been getting into it)

My husband calls me the crazy mom. You know the one that brings fruit instead of lollipops to the Halloween party at preschool. I am totally OK with it. We don't do a lot of candy in our house, that is what our kid has grandmas for. I found the idea for these little orange cups here and they were a BIG hit at preschool. Kids that don't normally like oranges wanted these because of the cute faces. Huge plus, they were so easy to throw together. 18 orange cups and a sharpie probably took me about 15 minutes. I think these are going to be a yearly thing for us. So fun.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

31 Days of Photo Props: Cocoons

Have you entered the Owl Necklace Giveaway yet?
I love baby cocoons. These darling little sleeves surround the baby, scrunching them up, just the way newborns like. They are many different types of cocoons, there are ones that look a lot like a mummy type sleeping bag and then there a cocoons that come in two pieces a little sleeve for the baby and a hat. I personally like the former. I like that the cocoon is one complete set and there aren't any extra pieces to worry about.
I own two cocoons one in a neutral color and one that is hot pink. Although I love my hot pink cocoon, I usually end up using my neutral one, just because it brings more focus to the baby. Cocoons are meant to be used with small newborns. I typically only use a cocoon if we are shooting pictures within the first couple weeks of life when baby is the sleepiest.
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Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Days of Photo Props: Baskets

Have you entered the Owl Necklace Giveaway yet?
 I love baskets. I own more than is probably sane for anyone person. They are simply the best prop for newborns. They are basic and simple and yet they add so much to a photograph.
 In order to photograph a baby in a basket, you need to prop up the baby. I usually use towels. I fold them nicely and then lay the baby on top. If you photographing the baby without clothes, you need to lay them on their stomach, other than that, I usually lay them on their side. You can use another towel behind their back if they roll from their side.
Baskets are perfect for sleeping babies it gives you an opportunity to photograph them while they are snoozing. There aren't too many props you can use with a baby before they can sit up, but baskets give you some versatility with newborns or even the unstable sitter.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 Days of Photo Props: Pearls and Feathers

Have you entered the Owl Necklace Giveaway yet?
One of my favorite shoots to do with small babies involves pearls and feathers. These darling old-fashioned pictures look smashing in black and white or sepia, it gives them that vintage look everybody seems to be looking for these days.

I prefer to shoot these photos with the baby just in a diaper, with a diaper cover on, that way the pearls really stand out. These photos have three aspects, a headband of some kind, I like to use a largish flowers, a strand of pearls to go around their neck and then a pile of feather boas to surround the little one with.

Feather boas are a prop that I plan on replacing often, they just don't hold together well over a long period of time, but the necklaces should last a long time.

These sweet pictures are always ones I keep up my sleeve for those beautiful baby girls.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

WotW: Speak the Language of Birds

In the beginning was Facebook. OK, really it was MySpace, but can we just forget about that ugly episode? Everyone was happy and had a great social network to share meaningless updates and go around poking people. Then along came a little bird named Twitter, giving people the chance to tweet shorter versions of meaningless updates.

Fast forward a few years. Today, Twitter is more than just "that other" social network; it's holding a huge market share of the social media world and gaining new accounts every day. Yet, by and large, Twitter is misunderstood. Almost every day I hear someone tell me they don't understand Twitter. So, today's post is designed to help you navigate the world of Twitter.



First of all, you need an account. When you set up your account, you will have to create a username. That seems basic enough, but it's more important on Twitter than just about anywhere else. It's how you are known to other Twitter users and becomes part of your Twitter handle (we'll get to that term later). So make sure you choose something memorable and specific to you, and remember that people will be seeing it, so don't choose something embarrassing.

Before we get any further, let's get some vocabulary down, as this is one of the toughest parts of Twitter.

Twitter Glossary

  • Tweet - a message you or someone else writes that is limited to 140 characters. You can include links, images and locations with your tweets. Your tweet is posted to your feed and to your followers' feeds.
  • Feed - a scrolling list of tweets that is updated as new tweets happen.
  • Follower - someone who has chosen to receive your tweets in their feed.
  • Follow - when you follow someone, you will receive their tweets in your feed.
  • Reply - you can reply to a tweet, just like you would to an email. This is also similar to leaving a comment on Facebook. When you reply, you always start the message with @username. This alerts them that you have responded.
  • @ - the @ goes before Twitter usernames. It is a quick way of identifying a fellow Twitter user and creates a link between you and that user, letting them know you mentioned them in a Tweet. For instance, if you wanted to Tweet about Housewife Eclectic, you would put @wifeeclectic in your tweet. Once you post it, I will be able to see that Tweet, even if I'm not already following you.
    • You can use the @ anywhere in a tweet.
  • # - The pound sign is called a hashtag in Twitter. A hashtag is a way of telling Twitter a keyword in your tweet. For instance, if you were tweeting about the Presidential debates, you might want to use the hashtag #debates. This way, if someone is searching for debates, your post will get pulled up because you identified that keyword. Hashtags are a great way for your tweets to get recognized by others. You can use a hashtag anywhere in a tweet.
  • Trends - topics that many Twitter users are talking about at a certain time. Trends change throughout the day and are usually matched up with a certain hashtag.
  • Retweet - this is much like the share button in Facebook. A straight retweet will just reshare a tweet on your feed so your followers can see it.
  • RT - When you retweet something on a mobile device, it often adds RT to the start of the tweet, letting people know it's a retweet. You can add your own comments to a retweet, though it's tough with the limited number of characters.
  • MT - this is like RT, but stands for Modified Tweet. You use this when you quote someone else's tweet, but modify it in some way, usually shortening it.
  • Direct Message - also known as DM, this is similar to messages on Facebook and is private between you and the person you send it to. Because Twitter is designed to be open, Direct Messages are often looked upon as a novice feature. 
  • Favorite - this is similar to the like button on Facebook, except that Twitter keeps track of the tweets you favorite. I usually reserve the favorite option for really witty tweets or stories that are particularly interesting.
  • Lists - these are lists of followers you group together. For instance, maybe you want to organize a list of your family members on Twitter. Place those members in a list and you can quickly see posts by them.
  • Promoted Tweet - a tweet that a business has paid to be obnoxious and fill up your feed.
  • Handle - your twitter handle is your username, preceded by twitter.com/. For instance, Housewife Eclectic's handle is twitter.com/wifeeclectic.
The layout of Twitter is a little big overwhelming and confusing at first, so let's break it down. At the top of each page is the menubar.

  • Home - This takes you back to your main page, which shows the tweets coming into your feed. 
  • @ Connect - This allows you to see how people are interacting with you and allows you to find new followers. You will see which people followed you, and when they did it. You can also see when someone has mentioned you (@username) and when they have retweeted one of your tweets.
  • #Discover - This allows you to discover other Twitter users and topics that are popular. Joining in on a trending topic or discussion can be a great way to get people to recognize you and maybe gain some new followers. At the very least, it will allow you to see posts from others who might be interesting enough to follow.
  • Me - This gives details about you: your followers, who you're following, your lists, images, etc.
  • Search - You can search for any topic or person in this field and Twitter will do its best to pull up relevant information. This is really nice when a big event is happening and you want to follow what others are saying about it. It's also a good way to find friends and/or businesses you want to follow.
  • The Gear Icon - this gives you options to change your settings and view your Direct Messages.
  • Blue button with a Quill - press this button at any time to quickly compose a tweet.

On the left side of the page are some quick-view options. The first one is information about you. At a glance, you can see how many tweets you've composed, how many people you are following, and how many people are following you. You can also compose a tweet directly from here by typing in the field that says, "Compose new Tweet..."

The field will expand so you can type more. In the bottom-right corner you will see how many characters you have remaining. One of the most challenging things for new users is learning how to condense ideas in 140 characters or less. In the bottom-left corner you see icons to attach an image and to identify location.


When you attach a photo, it doesn't automatically appear with the tweet, like it does on a Facebook post. Instead, it adds a link, taking up some of your 140 characters. So, you have to plan around that when you add a picture. When someone clicks on the link in your tweet, they will see your picture.


When you press the Blue Quill button in the top-right corner of the menubar at the top of the page, you get a similar tweet composition box. It doesn't matter which method you choose to compose a tweet.

Underneath the tweet field is a box giving you suggestions of people to follow. Sometimes they're interesting and you want to follow them (do this by pressing the Follow link under their name). Other times they're not useful. You can also click Browse categories and Find friends to find more people to follow.


A quick word about following. Just because you follow someone does not necessarily mean they will follow you back. This is especially true of celebrities. They have so many people following them that they just don't have time to follow you back. Why should you bother following people anyway? If you don't, Twitter will be a boring place. When you follow someone, their tweets appear in your feed timeline, giving you a never-ending supply of things to read.


Trends are a really fun part of Twitter. You can see what's currently trending in the Trends box. Click on any trend and you will see a feed of all the tweets that are talking about it. Join in on the fun. I've found many new people to follow by doing this and have also been followed by others.

When you look through your Twitter timeline feed, you mostly just scan through the tweets really quickly. If you hover over a tweet, you'll see options to reply, retweet and favorite.


Every now and then, click on a tweet, especially if it has a link. You'll see how many people have retweeted and favorited that post.


And there you have it. That's Twitter. But, wait, it can't be that simple can it? Well, yes. Twitter is designed to be simple. It just seems complicated at first.

Let's go over some commonly asked questions

What Do I Do With Twitter?
You do three things:
  1. Read tweets from those you follow.
  2. Post your own tweets.
  3. Follow others and try to build your followers.
What Do I Tweet About?
Whatever you want. Twitter first started as people just posting about what they were doing. Today, people use Twitter to post interesting thoughts, news stories, and ideas. 

How Do I Get Lots of Followers?
There's no one way to do this, but there are a few things that can help:
  1. Post interesting content.
  2. Post frequently (there's no limit to the number of tweets you can do in a day).
  3. Use #hashtags and @mentions. 
  4. Follow other people. They may not follow you back though, so don't bank on this.
  5. Ride the trends.
  6. Use your other social networks, including your blog, to let people know you're on Twitter (by the way, follow us @wifeeclectic).
Don't get too discouraged if you don't rack up a slew of followers. There are a small number of users with a large number of followers and they make up the vast majority of the tweets on Twitter.

How do I use a hashtag?
Place a # before any word to make it a hashtag. Choose your hashtags wisely. Try to limit yourself to about two hashtags per tweet. Any more than that is overkill and makes you look desperate.

How do I know what to hashtag?
That's hard to say. A good way to determine this is to write out your tweet without any hashtags. Read over it and see what the best keywords are in that tweet. Add a # in front of those words, and you've created a hashtag. You can also look at what others are using as a hashtag and ride the wave.

When should I retweet something?
A retweet is a tribute to someone. Retweet when you feel something is interesting and/or you want your followers to see it too. What you retweet is as much a reflection of who you are as what you personally tweet, so be careful about what you retweet.

When should I reply?
Reply when you have something interesting to add to a tweet.

When should I use Direct Message?
Really, you shouldn't. Unless this is the only method you have to contact a person and it has to be a private message, find some other way to contact them.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask, either in the comments or follow me on Twitter @nxtitan.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When We Strengthen Women We Strengthen The World (Night out with Katherine Nelson)

 Last week I was having one of those days. Not one of those days where your favorite shirt rips or your lose your keys, I was having one of those days that knocks the breath out of you and you wonder how you are going to get up the next day. By two in the afternoon I had used every ounce of emotional strength I had and I laid down and cried myself to sleep. When I woke up, the last thing I wanted to do was get dressed and leave the house, but I pulled myself together and I drove to Salt Lake City to attend a small private concert given by Katherine Nelson, I am so glad I did. I couldn't have asked for a more uplifting, healing, inspirational experience.
 I walked into that concert feeling like I had the hardest life in the world. I walked out feeling strong, able to conquer anything and able to help other women conquer anything. Katherine might seriously be the most beautiful person I have ever seen up close. She is beautiful and genuine and she sings the music that women need to hear most. She sings about being brave, hurting and healing, she sings about the wonderful joys of being a mom. As women, we all too often forget how important the things we do are. We think they are so little and maybe they are to us, but to the sweet children they care for, they are so important, we are important. I have said so many times in my life that I want to change the world, I don't think I will ever change the world as a whole, but I know that I have changed the world of the sweet 4-year-old who calls me mommy. That is what Katherine helped me remember.
(Whitney, Me and Tara)
In between songs, Katherine shared some of her life experiences with us and I marveled at our similar we all are. We as women may have very different challenges, but we are not all that different. We all want the best for our children, we all want to be happy, we all want to be heard. Women need each other, I think more than ever before. Women are incredible. There is nothing we can do when we work together. "When we strengthen women, we strengthen the world." -Katherine Nelson, never were truer words spoken.
 (Me and Cobi)
 I am so lucky to be apart of the most amazing community of women. We are moms, cooks, nurses, our children's biggest fans and each other biggest support. These women are proof that when women choose to build each other up and support one another instead of tear each other down, we can do anything. 
 (Me and Isabelle)
 If you are feeling down, or even if you are feeling amazing, I can't recommend Katherine's music highly enough. Music is powerful and Katherine's is extremely so. This is the kind of music that I want my little girl to listen to to, that I want her to live by.
 (Me and Katherine)
Katherine made us laugh and cry that night, she is an incredible person and musician. She knew how to reach out to every single one of us through her words and her music. I left the concert that night smiling and feeling so blessed for all that I have. We are all so blessed to be women and to have each other. As Katherine said that night. "Women need men, but we really need other women."

31 Days of Photo Props: Toys

Have you entered the Owl Necklace Giveaway yet?
 When I worked in a portrait studio five or so years ago, one of the things they always pushed us to do was to get people to bring their own props from home. Why? A photo means a lot more if you are hugging the teddy bear you have had since you were born than if it is some random studio prop.
 When I schedule appointments of children I always ask if they have a favorite stuffed animal or doll. Even if you just snap a few pictures of them with their favorite toy and the majority of the session focuses elsewhere, they are going to be happy one day to have those precious childhood memories.

Monday, October 15, 2012

31 Days of Photo Props: Santa Hats

 Around Christmas, I like to pull out Santa hats for the kids. Although I tend to stay away from putting the entire family in Santa hats, I think they are really great for individual and small groups of children. They are smile makers because kids love them and they are really cheap to find and keep on hand. I have even seen them at the dollar store.
 When it comes to Santa hats I love to do close ups, just far enough away to be able to see that it is a Santa hat. Pictures in Santa hats are great for Christmas cards or ornaments. Although the hats are fun, I usually only try to do a small portion of the session in them because nobody wants Santa hats on their walls all year round.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

31 Days of Photo Props: Musical Instruments

 One of my first questions when I am scheduling a senior portrait session is "Do you play an instrument?" While not everybody plays an instrument, those who do have spent a lot of time with it and it is worth capturing.
For a lot of people, the playing an instrument ends when high school does, but for some, the love is life long. Don't limit instruments to just seniors. My husband is a very talented musician and while it isn't something he does to support our family, it is something he does on a daily basis. When I was taking pictures of our infant daughter I wanted to do something he would like, so I photographed her leaning up against a guitar. Almost four years later it is still one of our favorite pictures because it is so personal for my husband.
 Although I sometimes photograph babies and other subject with instruments, it is mainly seniors who bring their instrument to a shoot. With instruments I try to use new angles and focus points. In the photo above, the subject was in marching band, so I photographed him at attention.
 A lot of the times I photograph their hands while playing their instrument. I ideally like to have their face somewhere in the shot, but I also do close ups.
 Try to think outside of the box with instruments, just because playing an instrument is often see as nerdy, you don't have to photograph it that way. How about a little Men in Black instead?