MODERN DAY MARTHA

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    Halloween Door Decoration

    Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

    I have a thing for door hangings. I try to always have a wreath or other door hanging at all times. They are usually season or holiday inspired.

    I saw an idea for a Halloween inspired door hanger/wreath and I loved it.  I haven’t been able to find the original blog post so if you know whose it is please leave a comment and I’ll update this post with proper credit. I have been thinking about making it for a few weeks but couldn’t quite bring myself to do it.  Making a Halloween decoration would mean that Autumn is really here.  I don’t think I was quite ready for that.

    Well this morning I decided that I would put it off no longer.  From my kitchen window I can see the trees in the mountains of Utah beginning to change colors.  There is no denying that Fall has begun.

    Halloween Wreath

    Supplies Needed:

  • Picture frame
  • Twigs
  • Black spray paint
  • Black Ribbon
  • Glue gun
  • Directions:
    Take the twigs outside and spay paint them black. I had the help of my three year old son so we also painted a bunch of rocks, grass and other things we found in the yard.

    My frame was already black but if yours is not, give it a nice coat of paint as well.

    Grab that trusty glue gun and position the twigs in a manner that is pleasing to you.

    Glue a black ribbon onto the back of the frame.

    Voila! Now you have a new spooky Halloween decoration for your door or wall and it only took a few minutes to make.

    Halloween Wreath 2

    A few of my favorite things

    Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

    Fresh produce. We recently discovered a tiny farm with a produce stand close to our home, and I love stopping by for fresh, yummy goodness. Today we got squash, plums, tomatoes, strawberries… it doesn’t get better than that.

    Fun blogs about doing art with kids. These two are my current favorites- SO inspiring!  Filth Wizardry (best name EVER!)  and The Artful Parent.

    Books about butterflies. We’re obsessed with them around here recently. A World Of Butterflies is stunningly gorgeous- an art book more than an identification guide. We found Butterflies & Moths (Smithsonian Handbooks) to be much more helpful in that regard.

    Pruning back our flowers. I don’t even know if pruning is the right word- basically just taking all the dead brown yucky bits off. (We had some casualties around here during the couple day heat wave.) There’s just something wonderful about pulling off all of the deadness to reveal the green beneath… I think there’s a potential post in that, so I’ll leave it for now. :)

    Finding a fun new recipe. I discovered what looks to be a delicious one for curry chicken salad. If it turns out as wonderful as it looks, I’ll share tomorrow!

    What’s one of your favorite things today? Do share!

    Photography Tips

    Saturday, October 10th, 2009

    There is this other blog that I occasionally update called MomShots.  My goal in creating MomShots was to learn how to photograph my children so that I could get professional quality results and teach other parents how to do that too, as I learned.  This October is my two year anniversary of learning photography.  I don’t claim to be a photog expert but I do know that I have learned so much in that short time frame and have transformed my photography.

    I am much more happy with my results since I discovered these five tips.  I want to share with you, dear MDM readers.  These tips helped me take my photography to another level.  Maybe they will help you.  I am much more happy with my results since I discovered these five tips.  You do not need a fancy camera (though it doesn’t hurt to have good tools).  You can achieve results you will love with any camera by following these simple guides.

    Tip List:

    • Get close.  Get real close.
    • Get down on their level.
    • Focus on the eyes.
    • Be aware of your background.
    • Be flexible and take lots and lots of shots.

    My first tip here about getting really close was a huge change for me.  For some reason I avoided taking close ups like they were the plaque.  I just didn’t do it.  Once I broke through my photographic mind block I really enjoyed these new shots I was getting.  You can really focus on one person and get a feel for your subject’s zest for life.
    Summer Fun

    The tip of getting down on their level was something that blew my mind.  I could not believe what a difference it made.  Suddenly my shots of my kids went from a boring “adult holding a camera” view to suddenly seeing the world at the child’s level.  If you incorporate this into your photos, you will possibly jump for joy by how much of a change this brings instantly to your shots.
    Cora at the Beach

    Focusing on the eyes is a great way to make sure that you get the attitude and expression you are looking to capture.  You don’t always have to have the eyes in the center of the frame but if they are a prominent feature and in focus, you will enjoy your results much more.  Sometimes you will get so captivated by the eyes that you will ignore all the gunk stuck to their hair and face!
    Mag_by_chair

    Being aware of your background is a huge subject that takes lots of practice and thought.  The basic idea is that you want to avoid backgrounds that are distracting or detract from your subject.  A classic example of this is to take a photo and then you realize that there are trees or sticks in the background that appear to be growing out of their head or body.  Realistically we know that nothing is growing out of our children but it can be distracting and unpleasant to look at.  Think about the background and a neutral background is not what you are going for, try something fun.
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    Taking photos of children can sometimes get frustrating because they don’t always want to do the things you would like them to do.  Children have a mind of their own and love to exercise that independence.  In order to save your sanity remember to be flexible.  Try new things and if possible make your photo shoot into a game.  The most important thing to remember is to take tons of photos.  With digital photography you can take many more shots then you might have been able to justify with film.  Don’t be afraid to take as many shots as you can.  The more shots you take, the better the odds are that you will end up with a few that you really love.

    The last bit I want to pass onto you is that once you have learned these tips feel free to expand on them.  Feel free to try new things and ways of looking at your subjects.  The old adage about rules being meant to be broken is a fun thing to apply to photography.  Let your creativity guide you and you will love your results!

    Browsing for inspiration

    Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

    Sometimes you just need a little inspiration.

    Some new ideas.

    A fresh approach.

    When I feel that urge, I hit the library. (Oh, how I love the library.)

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    Not only do the ideas inspire me (how would I think of them on my own?), but the  lovely images inspire me to pursue greater beauty. (All pictures within the pictures are copyrighted by the people who, you know, actually took and published said pictures.)

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    The item in the third picture down is a measuring tape cover. How delightfully ridiculously cute is that? I MUST have one. And now I can make one! And I love those cheese grater lanterns. And the blues in that top picture… sigh.

    For me, when the inspiration yearning hits, I have to stick within the areas I know and am comfortable with. Crafts? Sewing? I’m so on it.   Gorgeously written novels  inspire my writing, but also spark creativity in other areas. But the other day I went and browsed the cooking/baking section and came away befuddled and empty handed.  Just as I’m sure Martha Stewart’s 415 page behemoth would completely discourage some of my non-craft inclined friends, I need to take my “learning books” in smaller doses, and not expect them to serve the same purpose  as my “inspiration books”.

    So, two questions. First, what books (specifictitles or general types) inspire you? And second, anyone want to suggest a good, non-befuddling, inspirational cooking book?

    An excuse to not put things away

    Saturday, August 29th, 2009

    I have a lot of crafting supplies. A lot. I’m a collector (voracious hoarder? You say tomato, I say tomato) by nature, and I enjoy 1) having  lots of options, 2) being able to put my hands on exactly what I’m imagining, 3) buying pretty things, 4) looking at pretty things. Add to that my tendency toward dabbling in many different crafting genres, and the end result is A LOT of supplies.

    Did I mention there’s a lot?

    I struggled for a long while figuring out the best storage solutions for all the supplies, and I’ve pretty much hit on what works for me. It’s a strange conglomeration of containers that resides in my closet.

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    The top shelf is the sewing machine and other sewing items- yarn, crochet needles, knitting needles, yarn, thread, scissors, rotary stencils, etc.

    The second shelf holds the Cricut and all related items- as well as paper cutters. And apparently sandpaper and bottle of pink paper flowers.

    Third is scrapbook paper and embellishments, and that section overflows into the  fourth shelf in those lovely Martha Stewart boxes.

    The ground houses all the generic supplies (glue, scissors, tape) and various inks, glimmer mists, and stencils.

    And there’s more in the rest of the closet – stamps, fabric, stationary, chipboard and o-wires.

    (Somehow my clothes, shoes, and bags fit in there too.)

    It’s really nice to have everything in one place and accessible when I need it. But because it’s put away and out of sight, I find I don’t “need” things as often, because I get distracted by the rest of life and forget about the 17 projects I have going and the other 15 I’m thinking up.

    Earlier this week I got out the sewing machine to work on a set of baby blankets I’m making for a friend who is having twins. I got almost done with one blanket and hit a rough patch, so I put it aside. But since the sewing machine was out, I decided to tackle some other projects I’ve been thinking about but hadn’t gotten to, because it was “too much trouble to get the sewing machine out”.

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    Pillows for Z and A to play their favorite game on- appropriately called “Fall on the pillow”. They were later used as stepping stones:

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    A new bag to cart A’s toys to church on Sunday:

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    Two easy, quick projects out of the way and done, and all because the instruments to make them were out and ready. I wonder how many other projects I would magically find time for if the sewing machine (or scrapbook stuff, or knitting stuff) was always out.

    I’m tempted to pick a supply and leave it out in plain sight for a week, and see what comes of it. Will you join me? Let me know what you’re leaving out in the comments.