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15 April 2014

5 Minute Photoshoot on a Standard Bed || Baby at 6 Months

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I needed a few quick photos of baby girl - she is growing up!!   Instead of spending a bunch of time preparing to photograph her, making sure everything was perfect, she was in the perfect new outfit, complete with headscarf and pointe shoes, hair just so and ducks all in a row -- I made do.  I made do with what she was already wearing (just a onesie!), the light from the window and the blanket on my bed.  From start to finish, this photoshoot took 5 minutes.

Hi baby girl!

So here is the setup:

A.  We had been hanging out in bed, nursing and she was happy and smiling.

B.  I went and grabbed my camera (note:  I always keep a charged battery and room on the card so I can take photos at a moment's notice!)

C. I jumped back into bed, and used what was around me to create a "backdrop" for backlit shots.

(Note above: This is baby after getting dressed for the day - jeans!  Back to the photoshoot earlier though...)

With my legs on either side of baby, I can prop her up to make sure she is sitting without toppling.  This is a prime age for falling off the bed and making sure my legs brace her into place keeps the session safe and fast.  It takes forever to photograph babies when they are rolling all over the place.  At six months, if they think they are sitting up by themselves, they are quite happy and will talk to you without rolling away.

Also note that the main source of light is coming from behind baby.  There is a set of french doors there that gets good light for a large portion of the day.  Since the light was behind her, I had to up my exposure compensation to about +2.3 or more for a light and bright shot.  (If you are clueless what exposure compensation is, HERE is my tutorial.)  Is there a space in your house that gets steady light most days?  Somewhere you hang out a lot?  Consider random, yet common, places for your next photoshoot and leave a cute blanket there.  Seize the moment when you can!

I could also have photographed from the other direction since the sunlight coming through the glass doors is not direct.  It is simply light, not the sun shining into your eyes.  You can see the way I set up a shoot like that RIGHT HERE.

If you want the colored pattern both in the background AND the foreground of your photo, basically sandwiching your subject between the two, 
simply use the same setup with bunched blanket in front of baby.  Legs still brace baby on either side, so she is sitting up, 
but the blanket is piled up against her belly and under her arms (when she lets it stay there!  Sometimes she just eats the blanket).

Time for the biggest DON'T in this shoot!

DON'T DO THIS!  You don't want to shoot UP baby's nose! 

Your angle will be straight at baby and if you snap your fingers above the camera or hold up a toy above the camera, you WILL get a shot up baby's nose.  
Not always the most attractive look :)  Here are a couple alternatives.  1.  Shoot down towards baby while she is busy with her hands or eating the blanket.

2.  Get baby to lower her chin by using a nose to nose movement.  In this case, I used the cover from my lens.  Touch baby's nose with the lens, then bring it back
 towards your nose, moving it out of frame at the last minute.  After 2-3 times of this GIVE THE BABY THE CAP.  Don't frustrate baby or the photoshoot is OVER.

3.  Here is a better shot using the lens cap technique (see photo below).  Her chin is still tilted a little too far up, but this is far better than our first photo.  ....and 5 minutes is up.  I have 5-10 great photos and about 15 throwaways.  Baby is still happy, there is nothing to clean up and I feel like I have "captured" this stage with the way she grabs and eats everything around her, the way that clump of hair falls across her forehead, the chubby thighs, forearms and cheeks and of course the variety of grins from full on HAPPY in the top photo to this sweet little grin below.

Remember when you are doing your 5 minute shoots that the main thing is to CAPTURE the things you want to remember.  That sounds simplistic and ridiculous to say, but I think oftentimes we forget why we are photographing.  We try to get the perfect shot, the perfect light, the perfect angle and the subject is not themselves.  I don't want to always remember perfection, I want to remember THEM.  I want to see the little nuances of their natural grins and the things that make them THEM.  I want to see that angle looking down over baby's head because that is the angle that I see when I am rocking her to sleep, nursing her or carrying her around on my hip.  Don't get so caught up in the shoot that you forget the subject.

For reference sake, here are the links again:

How to Change the Exposure Compensation on Your Camera

My 5 Minute Photoshoot for Infants

My 5 Minute Photoshoot for 6 Week Olds

My 5 Minute Photoshoot for Older Children

I shoot with a D7000 and THIS LENS.  That was it for this shoot!

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11 April 2014

Bring Color to Your Garden with Old Banana Peels and a SPIN!

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Today we are talking compost, thanks to Supplies for this post were provided but all information and opinions are my own.

So you want to add a little burst of color to your living space to celebrate spring. 
 The best way to do that HANDS DOWN is...FLOWERS.

There is no color substitute for the living, breathing saturated petals of a flower and the way to get lots of petal color power is...

Banana peels.  Coffee Grounds.  Eggshells and Poop.  

Chicken poop that is -- NOT human or feline or canine.

What are we talking about?  Compost.  Compost is the natural process of turning waste into fertilizer for your garden and it is fairly easy, though sometimes messy and when badly done; smelly.  I have had a compost pile since I started gardening, but have always wanted to speed up the process and also have access to compost in a more convenient spot.  When Wayfair tasked me with adding some color to my living space this spring, I knew EXACTLY what I was going to do.

Do you see the new toy in my garden?  Over there on the right.  
That is the YIMBY Tumbler Composter and she is ALL MINE.

I considered a couple of other options including The Compost Wizard, the half off ($50) Redmon Compost Bin, and this Suncast Barrel Tumbler.  

The Suncast was actually the closest runner up, but I chose the YIMBY because:

A. The price was right -- at $100 it was the least expensive tumbling version.  The Redmon bin was cheaper by half, but it doesn't turn.  Turning is the part of composting that I always forget, so turning was a must.  You see, I typically have a big pile of compost that only gets turned when I dig out the finished compost on the bottom.  The more compost turns, the faster it goes from waste to wonder.

B. The composter is at arm level when standing.  Many composters required bending down.  While gardening requires a lot of bending and reaching, a composter that doesn't is an added bonus.

C. The YIMBY is split into two compartments, with the front door sliding completely off.  Game Winner - DING DING DING!  With the door sliding completely OFF, I can change the compartments from "add-to" to "wait" easily (more on this later).

***BONUS - YIMBY stands for "Yes in my backyard" which I really liked :)

The one big downside that reviewers on Wayfair mentioned is the amount of time it takes to put this sucker together.  They weren't kidding.  It is IKEA-esque.  Luckily I had help.

The composter comes in a bunch of pieces with two bags of hardware.  I am going to walk you through the setup as quickly and thoroughly, hopefully helping you avoid the pitfalls.  Case in point: Make sure you set the metal stand up first and put the METAL pole through the end pieces, THEN slide the plastic pieces on.  The instructions don't tell you this upfront and it means taking several steps back to get things in order.  The instructions included are actually quite uninformative, and there is a link online for full instructions, but just hang tight.  I will show you the basics, ok?  It is easier than it seems at first.

Once the base is screwed together, you start adding the plastic panels that go all the way around the perimeter of the composter.  Start with any piece that is NOT the front "door".  In the photo below, the first piece has been screwed on the bottom.  The composter will roll "bottom up" when you let go of it, so hold tight to it while assembling!

The MOST IMPORTANT step now is to make sure the center turning divider (circle) fits in the groove on the plastic side panels.  See the groove down there?  That round piece pops right in.  Make sure you double check it is aligned as you assemble each side panel or you will end up with a wonky middle piece and have to take the panels apart to fix it.  There are a LOT of screws, so you do NOT want to have to do this.  Trust me.

 This is one of the bags of screws:

Don't say I didn't warn you...

The plus is that entire bag of screws has identical hardware, so no sorting and getting the wrong bolt, etc.

In any case, one hour of listening to 'Stuff I Missed in History' Podcasts later and....


OK, see that door?  Remember when I said that was one of the deal winners for me to chose this particular composter?  The + sign means "add more stuff to me" while the clock sign means "wait".  That pesky middle piece that we had to align in the groove while assembling keeps the sections separate and allows you to have a "cooking" batch of compost and a new batch.  Otherwise, you would fill your composter and then have to wait-wait-wait weeks until it is done.  This setup allows you to double up that time with smaller batches.

My plan for the YIMBY is to add my super "hot" ingredients like kitchen waste, chicken waste and a little bit of brown garden clippings to balance it all out.  The bigger compost pile will still remain and large brush and leaves can take their time decomposing.

Not very attractive is it?  You can see why the compost pile is out of the way and behind some bushes.
The YIMBY is a few steps from the back door/kitchen entrance.  Much better.

If you have any qualms at all about the difficulty of composting, let me show you via Kindergartner demonstration:


Want to learn more about composting?

NOW.  Onto the fun part.  Would YOU like a brand new composter?  

Perhaps you would just rather take your $100 on Wayfair and go crazy in the throw pillow section?

Your choice.  One of you will win!  (Very, very sorry, but US only and Florida, NY and RI residents are not able to participate.)

 IMPORTANT -- The first entry is to visit Wayfair -- CLICK HERE -- and leave a comment ON THIS BLOG with a LINK to your favorite item on Wayfair.   
See my sample comment in comment section!

That will unlock all the other options for you!

No purchase necessary. By leaving a comment you agree to the rules of this sweepstakes. Each comment to this post equals one entry and must include a name and valid email address to be eligible. A comment must link to a product from to be considered for this sweepstakes. One entry per household. Limited to entrants over 18 in the US and Canada, residents of Florida, New York, and Rhode Island are ineligible to enter. Contest begins as of the time of this post and ends on May 2nd at 12 PM. The winner will receive a Wayfair gift card/promo code, a retail value of $100 US. The number of eligible entries received will determine the odds of winning. All comments will be numbered in the order they are received and the winner will be chosen randomly by A Nest for All Seasons using the Random Number Generator at  Winner will be notified by email at the address given in their entry and must respond within 72 hours to receive their prize. If the winner does not respond within that time, a new winner will be chosen. The prize will be provided by A Nest for All Seasons is not responsible for any problems with receipt of the prize. This contest is governed by the rules of Massachusetts, void where prohibited. This sweepstakes is sponsored by Wayfair LLC, 177 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA, 02115.
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10 April 2014

Start planning for Mommy Camp NOW! ::::: Bug and Garden Week

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Will your kids be home all day, every day this summer?  Will you be looking for SOMETHING to keep them occupied?
Need some ideas?  I have GOT YOU COVERED!  Let's start with a good old bug and garden week, shall we?

Mommy Camp will be starting up again soon! Let's get READY!

Bug and Garden Week Ideas

Want more ideas?  THIS BOOK has proven invaluable for fun, easy and cheap garden craft ideas!  I actually started off with Laurie's 'More Than Moccasins' when we were doing a Native American week and was instantly hooked on her series of kids' crafts books.  Lots of simple, easy projects that can be made with recyclables.  Some are messy -- some are not.  All are imaginative.

Still at a loss?
Let the kids loose in the garden (or woods or the beach or a park).  They will discover on their own.




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