Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tips For Staging Your Own Christmas Card Photo Shoot

For the past 4 years I've made our own Christmas cards using my point-n-shoot camera, digital scrap booking kits, and Photoshop.  I have them printed as 5x7's at Costco and can usually get 50-60 prints for around $15.00.  The pictures for the cards are usually of the kids, and then we grab a good family shot when we are all decked out in our Christmas duds.

We've staged our photo shoots with the kids anywhere from the living room rug to out in the backyard.  We've found a few things that make it easier on us each year, so I thought I would share them here in one DIY Christmas card post!

Getting a great shot really isn't so intimidating once you let go of any preconceived ideas of perfection.  So let's get to it...



Choose a good backdrop
Of course, nature always provides a great background.  You can't go wrong with trees, pathways, beaches, or a cool landscape behind you!  Other interesting outdoor elements can make great backdrops too...think old barn doors, brick walls, cool doorways. 

If you decide to stay inside, find something with little distraction and/or that fits the theme (i.e. in front of the Christmas tree).  Our shag white rug was the perfect backdrop for this pic of Mia (2) and Sully (3 months). Totally neutral, so they were the stars of the show and it felt like a nod to winter snow.



Coordinated doesn't have to be matchy-matchy.  
I personally like to dress the kids (and us) in clothes with a little color as opposed to the standard fare of everyone in jeans and white or black shirts. The key is to stick with a simple color scheme with just a few colors.

Here's a fall family picture from last year.  Between the five of us we're sporting some brown, plum, and green (consider jeans a neutral).  Mia's hand is covering a green flower on her dress.  Wearing the colors of the season are great and if you're still not sure, stick with wearing mostly neutrals like white and grey then add a few pops of one seasonal color....maybe someone wears a mustard scarf and another a mustard cardigan for fall.....or a few pops of red in your outfits for winter.  


Take pictures in natural light.
Most photographers (one's smarter than me) recommend the "golden hour" for the best light outdoors - one hour after the sun comes up or one hour before it sets.  If that's not feasible, just go for a spot with indirect light, enough for a well lit picture but where the sun's not glaring in everyone's eyes.

For indoor photos, avoid using a flash and use natural light whenever possible.  Pay attention to what time of day the room you'll be shooting in gets the best light and plan to be ready to snap your pics at that time. 


Make em' laugh.
Forget trying to get them to look at the camera and say "cheese" or something else with an "eeee" to make them smile. You'll either get blank stares or super-teethy "cheese" grins complete with squinted eye lids. It's best if you can have your partner in crime standing directly behind the camera making a fool of him/herself while you snap away. The kids will be looking right at them, and therefore in the direction of the camera...with big natural smiles.

Sometimes we will ask questions like "What's your favorite dessert?"...a question that they will be excited to answer and again produce a natural smile simply because they are thinking about something they love. Not cheese. Or maybe they do love cheese and that would get the biggest smile of all. You know your kids, go with what makes them smile.

On a side note, this particular card gets me all sappy....we had moved into our new house just a month prior and my baby boy was due on Christmas Day.  He arrived the day after Christmas in all his 9lb 7oz glory, and just missed the photo shoot that year :)


Think about using props.
If you decide to use a prop, go with something that won't distract from your subjects.  We used a wagon for the shoot below.  The kids were all smiles playing in it and the red color worked right into the colors scheme for the shoot (red/navy/grey).

Props can also give you a great chance at capturing the perfect action shot.  A child looking at an ornament on the tree.....opening a big bow on a present....setting up the nativity set...all can provide some really sweet photos.  Some of our favorite pics of our kidlets are simply "life in action" shots....catching their genuine reaction to things around them.


Just keep clicking.
This year we're going with the pj's again.  The kids are just so darn cute and snuggly in them.  I've also been eyeing these flannel Christmas sheets at Target for awhile and finally grabbed them on sale for just $16 for a complete queen set.  They'll be great for winter guests and fun for the kids' traditional Christmas eve sleepover by the fireplace (on our queen size air mattress).   And also good for this year's photo backdrop!

*SPOILER ALERT!  Anyone that would like their 2012 Christmas card from the Crinion's to be a complete surprise should probably stop reading now.*

I pinned the flat sheet to the wall behind our bed with some thumb tacks and the fitted sheet went on the bed along with our white quilt.  We hung some sparkly ornaments from the ceiling, grabbed a Christmas book, piled on 3 pajama clad kids and got to snapping!

Since the kids would be in pj's I thought it would be fun to do a photo shoot with them in a big bed, playing with pillows and with Mia reading the boys a Christmas story.  I worked the camera and James was on humiliate-yourself-for-a-smile duty.  I just kept clicking away.  You never know if the shot you thought was perfect was actually blurry, or if that shot you didn't think would work out actually captured 3 great smiles. You don't have time to check each shot after it's taken.  Just keep clicking!  I had over 100 shots from this shoot, granted we tried a few different set-ups, and ended up with several good options for our card.  

Some were more posed...
 

And others, great action shots...









Crop and Zoom are your friends.  
Don't discard a picture just because one kid is smiling and everyone else is picking their nose.  This shot of Jack was cropped from a pic where Mia and Sully both had closed eyes.


Zooming in on a subject is always one of my favorite types of photos.  It will capture great details and can give you a really intimate shot with a totally different feel.


All of these points can easily apply to a shoot without kids....mine just made for good subjects today ;)  So, if you've been tossing around the idea of doing your own card this year, just go for it!

And as I was perusing my reader this morning, it seems that a lot of people are chatting about this very thing.  So check out this post here by Centsational Girl and this one by The Girls With Glasses for more tips on getting a great shot this holiday season!

I would love to hear your tips too!  Teach us your camera wielding ways!


*Linking up at Watch Out, Martha!, & A Bowl Full Of Lemons
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Little Girl's Christmas Tree

When the Mr's work first brought us to ABQ, I always thought it would be a temporary deal.  We landed in this desert in the middle of winter, right after Christmas.  I specifically remember the movers asking me to turn on the oven and open it's door to warm up the place. 

We were in a new city, with no friends and no knowledge of the area.  So, we moved when our lease was up to better accomodate our family. Then moved again. And again.  Always at the end of December.  After renting 4 different homes in 3 years, we finally bit the bullet and bought a place of our own.  It's been a blessing in so many ways, but that's a story for another post.

And the point of this post?  Oh right.

After our 2nd house, there was a 90% chance that we would be heading overseas for work.  James would go ahead of us for a few months and then we would join him in Abu Dhabi.  The timing was so lovely.....our lease was up before the contact had the final stamp of approval.  Not totally sure what was happening, we stuffed our belongings into a POD (and gave another POD full of stuff away) and headed out to party crash my parents in CA over the holidays.

Since we knew we would be moving from that house either, we decided not to pull out all the Christmas decorations, just to pack them right back up when our lease expired on Dec 31st.  But Mia was 2 and we didn't want to rob the poor kid of any and all Christmas cheer.    So, we got a little tree and let her pick out some fun ornaments.  At 2 years old she was already drawn like a magnet to anything pink.

The tree has remained Mia's and finds a special spot in her room each year.  This year we decided to get another one for the boys.....well, the boys actually got Mia's old green tree and Mia got a new white one.  Don't worry.  The boys were totally thrilled and oblivious to getting gypped in a younger-sibling-hand-me-down deal.

And after the longest intro ever (believe me, you got the edited version), here's Mia's tree in all her girly glory...

We cleared a spot for it on the table in her reading nook...and now need to install some sort of electric barrier system for the boys.  Kidding.  Sort of.

I snagged this sweet little snowgirl on clearance at the end of last season - blond like my Mia.   The tree skirt she's sitting on is actually Mia's first tutu (size 2) that I found at the bottom of her dress up bin.  I'm a purging/give-away machine, but I couldn't part with it...

 This stackable snowman is from my parent's cabin and was a favorite of the little ones each year.

 Here's the cute unstacked family. 

This one is the smallest and holds the *surprise*......

...Mr Penguin!
 We have a nativity set of these that Jack is just obsessed with too.

Most of the ornaments are pink and silver

With a few princesses thrown in the mix


 We also have Mia's very first stocking that she now hangs in her room.  It's taken over the daily outfit hanger spot for now. 

The kids love having a few special Christmas touches in their own rooms.  I try to edit down our ornaments at the end of each season but this also helps us to spread load the special ornaments we get each year throughout the home.  And gives me a few more areas for adult decor :)


I would love to know....how do you incorporate kid's Christmas decorations?  Do you have any items that you display in a special way for you or your family?   Whose house is totally decorated?  We're about halfway there!





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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Weekend Wardrobe: Summer Maxi For Fall

We were up last night with a poopin' pukin' baby....poor guy can't seem to fully kick this stomach bug.  A day of pj's was in store for him, so James and I tag teamed it to church individually this morning.

I'm at an awful in-between place with dress pants and I own approximately 1 skirt (which I wore last week), so I went to my green summer maxi.  Normally, I would just throw a cardigan or jacket over a summer dress, but the neckline is completely inappropriate on this.  I snagged it on clearance at the end of summer and planned to cut off the top and make it into a skirt.  Obviously, I'm totally on top of that. 

I grabbed my white sweater and prayed it would be long enough to cover the snag in the dress I found right on the derriere.  Luckily, the rear was concealed, so I dressed it up with some accessories and called it done. 
I'm scheming a DIY black and white project for our office, so I must have black and white on the brain.  I found the necklace at Goodwill for $1.99 on Friday....that's right.  I went out with the die-hard Black Friday shoppers and I hit up the eerily quiet Dollar Store and my short-lined Goodwill. I didn't have much luck with clothes but scored on some funky chunky jewelry!

Can I just sing the praises of a cute and comfy flat?  We can put wearing heels in a sleep deprived state into the 'poor life decision' category, so thank you to whomever thanks is due for cute flats today.


I've always considered myself too short and too curvy to pull off a maxi, so I had never even tried one on until this past year.  And now we're BFF's that can't ever be parted.  Most comfortable thing I own (that happens to hide all my self-conscious areas) and all I have to do is throw it on.  Now, strapless maxi's are a totally different and annoying story, but a maxi with straps/sleeves?  Yes, please!


The rundown....

Dress:  Target clearance rack
Sweater and shoes:  Old Navy online (sale and with coupon code)
Belt:  borrowed from another dress
Necklace:  Goodwill


*Linking up again with the fine ladies at Fine Linen & Purple!




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Thursday, November 22, 2012

What I Wore To Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanks to Grace's "What I Wore To Thanksgiving Dinner Link-up" over at Camp Patton, I'm posting on Thanksgiving Day after all.  The 17th load of dishes is in the dishwasher, so the Mr and I are just waiting with pants unbuttoned to load up the last round.....from the turkey, people. Unbuttoned from all the turkey. Or maybe it was the vat of mashed potatoes I consumed in 20 seconds flat.

Either way, we had a scrumptious dinner with dear friends, our bambinos are conked out from all the excitement, and I will be smothering every meal with left over red chile adobo gravy for the next 4 days.

We actually had a decent cooking plan but I somehow still managed to look like this about 45 min before our guests were to arrive...
That's clean hair in a bun, no makeup and jeans with one leg rolled up twice and the other rolled up just once.  Not even my dirty apron can distract from the random roll of toiled paper on the floor.  I'm blaming it on the baby.  

 I ran a curling iron over my hair, traded up for some trouser jeans, threw on some bling and did some quick makeup.......and went to my go-to leopard print flats that I can't seem to break away from. 

How about a cheesy setting the table photo....

No? How about some with my darling bed-head crowned children that just woke up from their nap.....

 I'm not sure where Jack was at this point but I have a feeling that Sully's face had something to do with it.

The picture of innocence, this one...
Shirt: Old Navy (on sale + 25% off promo code) | Jeans: Merona (Target) | Shoes: discount shoe warehouse | Earrings: The Limited | Gold bangles:  Target | necklace: my Grandmother's 


I did have a bright purple cardi I planned to layer over this but the oven was working overtime, and let's face it....no one wants their green bean casserole seasoned with dripping sweat.  So, no cute layers or scarves this turkey day.

Check out the other gals linking up over at Camp Patton to see more Thanksgiving threads!






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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Our Thanksgiving Table & Pine Cone Name Cards

Most people would probably consider posting about your Thanksgiving table the day before the big event a major procrastination.  At least in the blogging world.  But being as I'm normally scrambling to set the table an hour before guests arrive, I'm chalking up today as a huge victory and giant check off the to-do list!

I had an idea of white/silver/gold with natural elements planned for the table, but we still have this bold red/green fabric on the dining room chairs to deal with.  As I looked through my drawers, I found a red table runner with gold and earth toned details and four red beaded napkin rings.  I decided to work with what I had on hand and go with the red!

I still wanted to add a natural element, so I emptied a vase full of pine cones that we collected on a nature walk.  Nothing like free decor, courtesy of the neighborhood trees.

I couldn't resist these Martha Stewart metallic paints last time we were at Home Depot.  I knew I could use them for holiday crafts and they were the perfect way to bring our pine cones up a notch.

I borrowed a paintbrush from my kids' art supplies and with a small amount on the end of the brush, dabbed a bit on all the ends. 

We are having 2 sweet families join us for our Thanksgiving meal tomorrow, which means we'll have 6 adults at our dining table (and two babies strapped in highchairs), and 4 kiddos over in the kitchen nook.  For the adult's place holders, I took 6 of my favorite small pine cones and blinged them out with a bit of gold paint.

Then I printed name cards off the computer and slide them right in between the notches.  This is how the kids decided the names.  They don't call me Miss Deme...that would be weird...but our little friends do.


 The pine cones that fill the vases on the runner are a mix of sizes, shapes and silver and gold paint.

The stick pumpkin in the center was a gift from my mom...the gal has great taste :)





Since I only had 4 of the red beaded napkin rings, I decided to place them on the plates at the sides of the table.

I didn't have any other rings, so I wrapped a couple of my stretchy pearl and crystal bracelets (you know, the Target variety) around the napkins at the ends of the table.

The plates are an imperfect set I picked up from an outlet store probably 10 years ago and they're actually our everyday dishes.  The leaf imprints and creamy white worked right into our fall table.  The cloth napkins were a wedding gift and also have a great natural feel to them.

The silverware will stay off the table until right before eat; otherwise, our guests will sit down to fingerprint and slobber laden forks.

And just so you don't go getting any ideas that my house is anywhere near ready for guests, here's a reality shot for ya...
Ironing board in the dining room - classy. I know. 

Living states away from the rest of our family makes us so incredibly grateful for the amazing friends God has blessed us with here.  They are like a home away from home and we are so thankful to be sharing such a special day with them. We hope each of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by the ones you love!



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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Reader Spot: Inside & Out Kitchen Tour!

I couldn't wait to share this Reader Spot with you all today!  Thanksgiving is two days away (what?!?!?!), and many of us will be spending a big part of the day cooking up yummy goodness in the kitchen.  If I had Chloe's kitchen, I would be that much more excited to jump on our Thanksgiving meal!  Her original kitchen is probably a familiar site to many of you and with just a few simple (and inexpensive!) updates, it's now a dreamy spot in the heart of their home.  Here's Chloe to tell you all about it!


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I am so excited to be featured here at Fresh Coat of Paint! My name is Chloe and I am visiting from my own blog Everywhere Beautiful. I am always striving to create a peaceful, functional, and beautiful family home. Deme had the idea that I share these two posts to give you an "inside and out" kitchen tour. My goal is to make (as my blog is titled) everywhere beautiful, every cupboard, every drawer, under beds, you name it! As you may have guessed, I am still far from my goal, and I don't even mind that I probably will never completely reach it. I am just enjoying the progress so far and I hope you enjoy my kitchen tour!

Crisp white kitchen cabinets have been my dream ever since I can remember (I couldn't have been the only 12 year old dreaming of remodeling my future kitchen? Right?), So when my husband and I were shopping for a house I was specifically looking for a kitchen with potential. I was hoping for icky looking cabinets that were sturdy and in good shape, plus a layout that would work.

 When I saw this kitchen I knew exactly what I needed to do to make it look like this...
I have learned that there are a few very important (in my opinion) things that are often overlooked during a remodel. Of course there are the big changes like painting the cabinets and installing new countertops, but it's the smaller details that can make all the difference.


 1. Add crown moulding to builder's grade cabinets.

Before we bought our house I began to notice that cabinets in high end kitchens usually had thick beautiful crown moulding along the top. This is an easy change that I think has the biggest impact of any of the updates here. I also added bead board to the sides of my cabinets but that is just a personal style choice.






2. Stager upper cabinets

We raised the cabinet above the microwave and popped it forward a couple inches too. I think it gives the kitchen more of a custom feel. I wish now that we had also raised the cabinet above the refrigerator but that can be done another day I guess!



3. Cut out the center of a cabinet door and add glass

I had no idea how simple this would be! We just cut out the center panels then took the doors to a glass place (I'm sorry, I really don't know what else to call it!) and they installed a pane of glass in each. The best part is that it only cost 20 bucks for the two of them!


4. Add new hardware

New pulls and knobs give you a chance to personalize your kitchen a little more. Replacing old knobs may be a given but if your kitchen doesn't already have any to begin with I would definitely add some. When it comes to hinges, they will  make cabinets look fresh and clean (plus hinges are totally cheap so  you really can't lose!)


5. A new faucet

A pretty faucet will liven up the kitchen! I got mine at Costco for a great deal and it had all the practical features I was looking for.
 


6. Backsplash

We went with tile but there are lots of options. All the tile for our backsplash cost about $200 which I thought was a good deal but you could definitely spend a lot less and still have good results. Shop around for your tile, don't just choose from the selection at the big chain stores. I prefer a more neutral colored backsplash as opposed to a fun, trendy colored one that may not be trendy for long. You can always add color with accessories that can be changed out whenever you feel like it.


7. Remove outdated features
In my case I had one of those...what are they called? Appliance garage?

Not really sure. All I knew was that it had to go, and look at all the extra counter space I've got now!
 




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Amazing right?!  It looks like a completely different kitchen and with such easy updates that pack a big punch!  I love how that coat of fresh white paint immediately lightened and brightened the whole room.  All Chloe's choices were neutral and classic, giving her a kitchen that will stand the test of time.

Now for the bonus - a peak at the inside of all those lovely white cupboards and drawers.  It's just as beautiful inside as it is on the outside...and organized to boot!

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1. First up is the space beneath the kitchen sink.

Before
After
This is a space that gets used all throughout the day. It's where we keep our trash, along with cleaners, soaps and dish gloves. 
I started by cleaning out the cupboard and getting rid of any empty bottles or unneeded items.

Next I put down some cute contact paper I picked up at the dollar store. I love that contact paper can make the normally ugly space under the sink pretty!
I had an extra Antonius wire basket left over from when I organized my hall closet that was the perfect solution! It holds everything I need and can slide out like a drawer, so even the things in the back are easily accessible.

I also added a 3M Command hook to the inside of one of the doors to hang my dish gloves.


2.  In our kitchen we have very limited drawer space. There is one huge drawer and 4 tiny drawers. I have come to really like my giant everything drawer and I like it even more now! It holds every cooking utensil I have plus all of our silverware. Making sure everything has a specific place has been the key to keeping this drawer efficient. Again, I used the same contact paper from the dollar store along with a few wire containers also from the dollar store.



3. I have finally figured out how to keep a junk drawer organized! So what's the secret? Don't treat it like a "junk" drawer! Instead of it being a catch-all, be more thoughtful about it. Before I stick anything in there I think to myself "Is this really the best, most efficient place for this item?" and it really has worked! Of course my husband will throw just about anything in there but it's nothing I can't handle. If I happen to see something that doesn't belong I take it out right away. It has been great being able to find a clothes pin or pair of scissors so easily!

4.  Next is a simple one. I like to go through the mail as soon as it comes in the house. Most of it goes straight into the recycling bin but what about the rest? Here is our handy place to keep mail from cluttering up counter space.




5.  Lastly, we have some organized upper cabinets.

Keeping our canned food organized was always hard because the cabinet is so deep and I could only see what was in the very front.  I found these can organizers for a buck each (there are two in there), they make every can visible so I can easily see what we have. We keep the bulk of our canned food in a food storage room in the basement, so the kitchen cabinets don't get too cluttered.


Our spice cupboard had the same problem as the canned food but since the spices are so much smaller than the cans, I needed a different solution.

Now, don't laugh (Okay, I guess you can laugh) but I have been using a few spaghetti boxes to raise the spices. It actually has been working out perfectly!
















As for everything else in the cabinet, like with the junk drawer, it all has a specific place. It's easier than you'd think to just put the salt or whatever you used, back in the same place. I love opening an organized cupboard everyday and I never would have thought that it would be so easy to keep it this neat!


The more spaces I organize the more I realize how easy it is  to keep it that way.  Going the extra mile to make the space pretty is just more to motivate you to keep it nice and neat.


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Thank you so much for the full tour, Chloe!  How sweet is that mail holder?  Pull out drawer under the sink?  Yes!  Getting creative with spaghetti boxes?  So resourceful!   I'm completely motivated to go finish my half-done kitchen now!  What was your favorite part?  Let's chat kitchens!

And be sure to hop over to Everywhere Beautiful for more details and other amazing projects!




*Have a space of your own you would like to share?  Hop on over to the "Contact Me" page to see how to get your transformed spaces, crafty projects, or tips & tricks featured right here on the blog!


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