Monday, September 26, 2016

Tips for Monthly Baby Photos

Before I had my first child, I decided that I would make a point of taking monthly baby photos for the first 12 months. I was inspired by others I'd seen online posting about wonderfully cute monthly photos, including Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely. The idea of seeing the progression from one month to one year was also very appealing, and conveniently, I'd also been gifted a set of girl-themed monthly onesie stickers.

By the time I had my second child, there were aspects of the monthly baby photo-taking process that I changed up to make it an easier, more repeatable experience.

12 Months of Parker Project Life Layout | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Camera + Set-up + Photographer

What I did the first time
I asked my husband to help me take photos with his DSLR each month in front of a white studio backdrop. This ultimately turned out to be more hassle than it was worth, because I was reliant on someone else to help me not only take pictures (with a DSLR that I don't know how to use myself very well), but also set up the lighting and backdrop each time.

How I changed it for the second time:
I switched to taking photos on my phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, especially given the improvements in smartphone camera quality in the four years since my daughter was a baby. This meant that I could take the photos at my convenience/desire and not have to be dependent on anyone else to help.

Lighting

What I did the first time:
Some monthly photos were taken at night. Others were taken during the day and in an extra bedroom where there wasn't as much natural light. So in general, the lighting situation was not very good or consistent.

How I changed it for the second time:
I made a point of taking photos around mid-day in the front living room where there would be plenty of natural light once I opened all the shutters.

Pose + Props

What I did the first time:
I didn't pose my daughter with any sort of consistent item for size reference each month (::cough:: rookie ::cough::). I also tried to sit my daughter up for each picture, except for the first two months when she couldn't sit up by herself.

How I changed it for the second time:
With my son, I "flatlayed" him every month on the same blanket, so that he was (a) roughly in the same pose every month and (b) could be quickly sized up against the blanket each month. (You like how I turned "flatlay" into a verb and used it on a person?)

What I didn't change

The couple of things that I didn't change between the two were that they both wore white onesies for each pictures and they both had monthly onesie badges.



For all the work that went into taking 12 months of photos for both kids, I'm sorely behind on the scrapbooking aspect. Using Project Life, I started to scrapbook monthly photos of Evie, but those are still in progress, and I haven't even started anything for Parker beyond the layout above using the Project Life app. I'm slowly chipping away at it during craft nights!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

"Really Big Tote" Pattern

I picked up a tote bag pattern earlier in the year called the "Really Big Tote" by Amy Totty from my local scrapbook-and-quilt store, Etc. Scrapbooks, Fabrics & More (they are closed now :/). There was a sample of the pattern hanging in the store, which is what caught my eye and prompted me to buy the pattern.

I was a tiny bit concerned that the gathered circular bottom was more than I wanted to take on, but then I thought, What they hey, I gots this.

Really Big Tote
Really Big Tote

Fabric

Along with the pattern, there were fabric kits available and I was tempted by a metallic canvas (it was by Cotton + Steel) in one of the kits, but I was ultimately dissuaded from purchasing the kit because the pattern didn't come with it. (Perhaps that's standard and I'm just not hardcore enough of a sewer to have known that).

I ended up going to JoAnn to pick up fabric for this project (with sales + coupons being as plentiful as they are with a big box craft store), and also decided as I was picking out said fabric, that I would make the tote as a snail mail surprise for Greg's aunt, who loves birds.

I left JoAnn's with a solid navy cut of fabric, as well as a cream fabric with a blue leaf and bird pattern. Instead of quilting cotton fabrics, I opted for outdoor fabrics, which I've felt like are more wrinkle-resistant coming out of the wash + dry cycles, and are heavier weight fabrics.

To prep my fabrics for sewing, I washed them in a normal cold water cycle and dried them as I normally do with medium heat because I like any shrinkage to happen before I cut and sew my fabric.

Pattern

Overall, I really liked the foundation of the pattern, but I made the following adjustments to the pattern because of personal preference:

  • Added inside lining. The original pattern is for an unlined tote bag with French seams on the inside for the sides. The seam around the gathered bottom would have been left unfinished. I opted to add inside lining to not only hide any seams, but also give the bag a bit more structure. I considered adding interfacing to the bag for even more structure, but decided against it with the gathered bottom.
  • Widened the binding and the straps.
  • Since the width of the strips in the original pattern were thin for my preferences, especially given the size of the tote, I widened the straps and binding to be about 3/4 inch (it could've even been an inch, it's been a while since I finished the bag).
  • Sewed a pocket to the inside as well as outside. This helped make the tote bag reversible. Never hurts to have a pocket both inside and outside! I also made the pockets lined on the inside by sewing two pocket pieces together before sewing it onto the bag body. Because of that, you can tell that a little bit of pocket lining peeks out, especially against the solid navy. If I did this bag again, I think I'd try making the lining pocket piece a smidgen smaller so that it doesn't poke out when sewing onto the bag body.

The pattern was hand-drawn, which for rectangular pieces of the pattern, didn't matter. I noticed the circular bottom wasn't exactly a circle, but because the bottom is gathered, it's a very forgiving pattern.

I've thought about making another one, but before I do that, I have to make it through all the other projects on my docket!


Really Big Tote
Really Big Tote
Really Big Tote
Really Big Tote
Really Big Tote
Really Big Tote

Monday, September 19, 2016

First Friday First Impressions

After years (years!) of wanting to check out First Friday, Greg and I finally made a date night of it earlier this month.

It was the Friday of Labor Day weekend, and fortunately, that was a work holiday for me (there are certain holidays where we get a 4-day weekend instead of a 3-day weekend).

We chose to focus on Roosevelt Row, sticking between 1st Avenue and 5th Street. There was also the Grand Avenue area, which we chose not to hit up this time around because we didn't feel like we had enough time left in our night to really be able to leisurely poke around. Instead, we left Roosevelt Row a bit early (8:30ish) and grabbed an ice-y treat before going home (because it was toasty out!).

MADE Art Boutique
MADE is a shop of handmade items, many by local artists. While there, I saw this Flowering Branches tank from MadLove, but they didn't have it in my size (I bought it from Etsy later). We did pick up this amusing birthday card from Unika Collections:

First Friday First Impressions | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Pop-up Vendors
There was a hodge podge of things, from art/handmade goods to food to random things like tarot card and psychic readings. I don't remember which vendor we picked up this magnet at, but we got this as well as another Arizona one and Montana one:

First Friday First Impressions | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

MonOrchid
I've driven by MonOrchid many times, but this was the first time I've been in it. The exhibit showing during First Friday wasn't my jam, but it was nice to get out of the heat and refill our water bottles!

Desoto Market
We had dinner before we got to First Friday, so we didn't have much interest in the food options, but there were also some booths of handmade wares.

First Studio
I've also driven by First Studio numerous times driving to the office, but I never really knew what the building was or what was inside. It's a bit of a walk from Roosevelt Row, but it turns out it was the first television studio in Arizona!

Modified Art
We did a quick walk through this gallery. There were a couple of pieces in Karolina Sussland's exhibit that I enjoyed, from her Sunset Series.

Overall, we felt like we were too old-ish for the vibe and crowd, but before calling it a night (before 10:00 pm, 'cause we're old and stuff), we also hit up Bahama Bucks:

First Friday First Impressions | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

It had been such a long time since Greg and I had been to one. Perhaps high school or early college (so over 10 years ago). It was actually better than I remembered! What I remembered was pretty coarse shaved ice, which does not pick up the flavor syrups well. What we had this time around was more of a snow-like consistency, and it was pretty yummy! Also, the cream is a must.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Tiny Letter Snail Mail and Stamp Collecting

I'll occasionally peruse the Search & Explore tab of Instagram. Back in June, I came across an Instagram post by Naomi Bulger, a snail mailer (among other things) out of Australia.

She'd made a bunch of tiny letters and was offering to send them off, so naturally, I signed up, because I cannot pass up an opportunity to receive neat snail mail.

Tiny Letter Snail Mail | shirley shirley bo birley Blog
Tiny Letter Snail Mail | shirley shirley bo birley Blog
Tiny Letter Snail Mail | shirley shirley bo birley Blog
Tiny Letter Snail Mail | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

The tissue paper used for the envelopes are from old postcard books, and separated each postcard. A canceled Australian stamp and a little handwritten haiku came inside, sealed with a drop of wax. The vellum envelope that the tissue paper envelope was mailed in also included colorful Australian postage.



I'm not a hardcore stamp collector, but over the years, I have saved interesting stamps that I came across and do have a little stash stored away. I've thought about pulling them out just to look through them and maybe take some pictures (like, say, sorted by color or themes), but that requires pulling out a bunch of things from the closet and I haven't brought myself to do that just yet.

I say that I'm not a hardcore stamp collector, but I do remember when I was younger (I think middle school?) going to the library and checking out some books about stamp collecting and flipping through them. From those books, I gathered that I shouldn't actually cut stamps out from the envelope and should actually save the entire envelope with the canceled stamp(s). I don't know if that's still true or not, but that's how I stash stamps away now is with the envelopes they came on.

The other thing that I haven't figured out is how to get self-adhesive stamps off of envelopes (unlike the old ones where you use water to activate the glue). To be fair, I haven't Googled or researched it because it hasn't been a priority, but it's crossed my mind!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Paper Party 2016 Art Print

Back in June, I saw on the Oh So Beautiful blog that they were offering to send out extra hologram art prints created for Paper Party 2016 (it's a party hosted by Oh So Beautiful Paper at the National Stationery Show), so I signed up for one of those babies.

I then forgot about it soon after, because when it finally arrived in July, I didn't know what it was until I opened it:

Paper Party 2016 Art Print | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Ooh, so shiny and pretty . . . I'm not complaining about getting snail mail!



It's been over a month since I sat down and really did any crafting after a busy month of travel in August (both for work and for fun). Although I'm now getting into a busier time of year at work, I'm looking forward to finding some time to scrapbook this month. Last weekend, I printed a slew of 4x6 photos at the Costco photo center, including a bunch of photos of Parker as an infant. Shhhhhhh . . . that I haven't yet finished the set of Project Life baby photo pages that I started for Evelyn's first year . . . shhhhhhh. Oh, and I'm trying to tame the guilt I feel right now associated with not having blogged Parker's 11th and 12th months.

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