Friday, August 29, 2014

Free Halloween Printables Round-Up

My house is cold and I've plugged in my electric blanket, so naturally I've started to think about Halloween.  I'm craving the pumpkin patch, the cool air, and the fun decorations.  So today I've put together a collection of free printables from around the web (ha).  I love the creativity in these designs.  And just a little tip:  chalkboard printables look really good on white or off-white pearl card stock.  The pearl adds a little sparkle to it that I really like.

This adorable 8x10 is available at Sugar Bee Crafts:

I love this one from Persia Lou:

This one is really cute, and a little different.  There are three printables here, and instructions on how to put this fun project together -- at The Graphics Fairy:

Here are three that I completely love, because how could I grow up in the 80's and not be nostalgic about Thriller?  These THREE printables are available at A Night Owl:

Here's a cute one with a bit of Halloween orange in it, from Designs by Samantha:

I love this one because it is such a fun idea for the kids.  This is a countdown to Halloween by Yellow Bliss Road:

Last of all, I thought I'd include one of my own:

With so many spiders, it's not for the faint of heart -- but my kids love it!  This Halloween bunting looks great strung on jute twine.

Happy decorating!

Friday, August 22, 2014

My favorite photographer

I recently did a little shoot at the Draper Temple -- yeah, the one I was cranky about in my previous post.  In spite of the irritation, I actually had a lot of fun.  I owe it all to my second shooter:

This little guy was great to have along.  That's four years of awesome standing there :)  I loaned him my backup camera and a 28mm lens -- doesn't he look like a pro?  He still shoots in full auto, but I guess we should cut him a little slack -- at least until he graduates from preschool.  I loved going through his shots afterward, so I thought I'd share a few.  This is the world through his four year-old eyes:

He took a whole series of flowers for me -- because I'm a girl and I love flowers :)

I didn't really look at the grates around the trees, but seeing this makes me appreciate their texture.

I really loved the way people reacted to him.  There are a lot of photos of smiling, pointing people.  It was unanimous -- the kid with the camera was adorable.

I like his top-of-the-temple picture better than mine.  I think it's more interesting.  His wonky angles and framing make me think I should be more creative in framing my own shots.

This foot picture was his favorite joke of the day -- because what could be funnier than taking a picture of your own foot?  It is a pretty cute foot :-)

He was so earnest about every shot he took -- including 15 pictures of grass and a dozen of mulch.  His excitement about every little thing he took a picture of made it so much more fun.

But don't let me mislead you into thinking he's a novice.  This kid is practically a pro!  See, here's his first shoot, way back when he was 2:

We went up to enjoy some fall leaves while his brothers were in school.

I love that face :)

This kid is my favorite photographer.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Will you think less of me if I rant?

Today I'm going to indulge myself in a rant.  While I would never use my blog to criticize another photographer's work, I feel pretty ok about criticizing their bad manners.  Fellow photogs, I know that most of you understand this because it's just common sense, but the presence of a bride does not exempt you from being polite.

[I'm calling you out, tacky photographer -- and your tacky wedding party too.  I'm sure you'll never read this, but it's got to be said.]

I was on a shoot at the LDS Draper Temple, a popular wedding location here in Utah.  My subject was this adorable soon-to-be-eight year-old boy:

Isn't he a cutie?

This little guy and his family drove a long way, early in the morning, to meet me at that location.  Of course, they'd gotten up much earlier than that in order to get everyone ready.  Photos are a big time commitment for anyone.

We got started right away.  We got the little guy situated, and had just enough time to take 3 shots before an oblivious photographer walked right into our shoot and started posing her bridal party -- without a word to us.  It was like we weren't even there.  My jaw dropped.  A woman, who I can only assume was the bride's grandma, simply shrugged her shoulders and said, "Well...she's the bride."  As if that made it ok.

If we'd been having a picnic in that spot, I'm sure they would have stood on our sandwiches and shrugged it off as a bride's right to stand in that spot.

My group and I took it in stride and quietly walked away to set up somewhere else.

Ok, there were some eye-rolls and a little muttering, but we had a right to.

We got set up and started shooting, but it didn't take long for miss oblivious and her group to find us again.  AGAIN they stepped right in the middle of our shoot and started setting up without a word.  It was unbelievable.  We walked away without saying anything to them.  And yeah, more eye rolling.  Sometimes I worry that my eyes will get stuck that way.

What do you think happened at our next location?  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!  She did it THREE times!  And the last one was the only time she seemed to notice that she'd done it.  She giggled, "oh, sorry" as we watched her set up her bride.  I'm sure we looked appalled.  We WERE appalled.  I've never had an experience like it.

We didn't call her on it.  No one wants to be a cloud on a bride's big day, so we said we were done there anyway and walked away.  But I need to say it:  that was rude, lady!  That family you kicked around had time and money invested in their pictures too.

Yes, I know it won't change anything, but it makes me feel better to say it.

And I'll bet her pictures are crap.  
Feels good to say that too ;-)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Reptile Birthday Party

We threw a reptile birthday party for our oldest son a couple of years ago.  Scales and Tails of Utah came over, filled my house with snakes and lizards, and gave us a fantastic show.  That was the beginning of my reptile party printables -- the first of which was this invitation:

I love these.  I'm so embarrassed about the ones I sent out for that party.  Last minute mom threw something together at, well, the last minute.  It was really, really bad.

Anyway, fast forward two years and now I have a growing line of reptile party decor -- all featuring critters from Scales and Tails.  And when my middle son turned 8 recently, he wanted a reptile bash to rival his brother's.  So I jumped at the chance to style his party with my own products.  It was FUN!  I put more photos in my Flickr photo stream if you love pictures :)

A lot of our guests hadn't been to our house before, so I made sure everyone would know that this was it.  I get my most odd-ball ideas when I'm trying to fall asleep, so here you have paper chain snakes leading the way to the front door.  Why not?  My kids liked it -- and it's something they could help with.

I set up the buffet table just off the entrance, just to get the kids excited.

The paper table runner works great here on the buffet table, but it's also fun rolled down the center of a dining table for the kids to color on while they're eating.  We also wrapped Matt's gift in it -- because it's actually wrapping paper.  You can get it at Melinda Bryant Photo on Etsy ;-)

The party favors were a lot of fun.  I found some great wooden snakes at Oriental Trading Company, as well as the snakes in a can -- but I added my own labels.  The kids LOVED the snakes in a can.

This Michael Carr iguana was the perfect addition to our reptile buffet.

I found the cutest cake on Pinterest and knew it was one I could manage -- and what I lacked in skill I made up for in frosting.  But my cupcakes were a total failure.  I guess frosting cupcakes is a skill I don't have.  I gave up on them two hours before the party and rushed over to The Sweet Tooth Fairy for something pretty.

All of the chalkboard style printables and cupcake toppers are my designs.  They're available at

And then, of course, there were reptiles!  Scales and Tails always puts on a really entertaining show.  Even great-grandma thought it was fun.

They even brought an alligator!  It was expertly handled by the presenter, at a safe distance from the kids.  And it was really cool.

Please feel free to pin my party [pretty please] :-)