A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: October 2011
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31 October 2011

Have you been here long? | A Nest for All Seasons BIO

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Many of you are new to this blog, and I would love to formally introduce myself!  
If you have been reading this blog, you might find out something new!

Hello Birdies!

I am Amy Renea and this is my blog!  Welcome!  My blog is a a one stop shop for the modern dilettante (the Modillys!!)  interested in DIY home design, garden, food and photography tips and tricks.  When I am not blogging or chasing my three crazy boys around, I am a professional photographer shooting primarily weddings and commercial clients.  I absolutely love what I do and can only hope to simply keep on keeping on!

I use photography to tell stories on my site.  One of my favorite stories to tell is the whisper of the garden.  I know gardening is kind of out of vogue, but I feel closest to God, closest to myself and calmer than ever when I am working or just resting in the garden.  It is my therapy, my creative outlet, my inspiration and I have embarked on a journey to convince all you girls that love Pottery Barn and adore babies, that gardening really is just the next step.

I am addicted to pinterest, but even moreso to craftgawker.  Please tell me you have heard of craftgawker?!

my craftgawker gallery

  I love submitting my posts to craftgawker (and don't be fooled by the size of that gallery -  there have been MANY rejections!).  
I have had one project really light up on pinterest of my baby's little footprints.  You can see the how to BY CLICKING HERE!  

If you get tired of reading about home and garden, you can skip over to the food or photography sections.  Most of my posts on food and photography are full on tutorials or photojournals, and I love to feature guest posts, so shoot me an email at anestforallseasons@yahoo.com if you are interested in sharing!

I am a big supporter of new photographers and moms learning how to take beautiful photos of their children, so if you are an official MWAC, you might want to read THIS!  If you are new to photography I hope you peek at a couple posts and I even have FREE TEXTURES you can download!

One of my most popular photography posts was a simple how to on creating bokeh.  Prepare for the holidays early by checking out how to make this effect!

All of my photography articles are published on my PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG, but you can find the links at the NEST!  As I start to publish more photo posts this winter, I will be posting them here...so stay tuned!   If you look next door to the photography tab, you'll see the foodies tab!  I don't think I have to say much more than sweet tea and homemade mayo, do I?

SO if I lost you, here is a recap!


I love featuring readers here at the nest and I love seeing all of your projects and photos and culinary goodies.  Feel free to upload yours (up to 3 a day) to the Flickr POOL right HERE!

30 October 2011

Dresses for Romania Update - How you can contribute!

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Hello all!

Some of you had expressed an interest in contributing to the Dresses for Romania package we will be sending.  If you would like to contribute you can do so using the paypal button below.  You can write in whatever amount you wish - every dollar is fabulous and nothing is too small!  If a whole huge amount comes in, I will buy and buy and buy for the little girls and then send a check along with the extra.

THANK YOU to Jen for contributing bunches a hoodies for the little girls to stay warm in those cold Romanian winters!  I just went out today and bought bunches of fun bags with girly stuff like picture frames, cup cozies and more!!  I'm so excited!!!

28 October 2011

Exposure Compensation | What took me so long?

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Seriously! Why did no one tell me about exposure compensation when I was starting out?!?!  I know what you are thinking.  You didn't know about exposure compensation?  ...and you are a PHOTOGRAPHER?  ummm...the answer would be YES.  Resoundingly. 

A few years ago, I was shooting just fine, adjusting my ISO, my aperture, my shutter speed, creating interesting compositions, capturing emotion - I thought I was doing great!

Something was missing though.   I had to shoot in perfect lighting.  I always had to find perfect shade for beautiful photos.  Even when I was adjusting my settings, I couldn't shoot in horrible conditions (like shooting into a bright wall of sunlight and still capturing the people's faces without silhouetting them). How could I shoot weddings where I couldn't arrange the setting to maximize my photography?  I needed to figure out exposure compensation, but I didn't know it.

By now, you probably realize that I was NOT formally trained.  If I were, I would have learned everything about exposure early on.  Now, let me take a short side trail and encourage all of you girls (and guys!) that are learning photography on your own.  It absolutely can be done and there are advantages!  When you teach yourself, you often learn things differently, you grow into your own style instead of being heavily influenced by your teacher and I believe you learn things more deeply and intrinsically when you are heavily invested in studying and figuring things out yourself.  Of course, there are downsides to teaching yourself as well.  One downside is that you might skip something vitally important - like exposure compensation.

So what is exposure compensation?!  By definition, "exposure is the total density of light allowed to fall on the photographic medium (photographic film or image sensor) during the process of taking a photograph. Exposure is measured in lux seconds, and can be computed from exposure value (EV) and scene luminance over a specified area.  In photographic jargon, an exposure generally refers to a single shutter cycle. For example: a long exposure refers to a single, protracted shutter cycle to capture enough low-intensity light, whereas a multiple exposure involves a series of relatively brief shutter cycles; effectively layering a series of photographs in one image. For the same film speed, the accumulated photometric exposure (Hv) should be similar in both cases."
Still confused?  It is easier to think about it in terms of film.  Picture the roll of film in your camera.  A large roll of brown of film inserted into your camera and attached so that it will "capture" whatever picture you are looking at through the viewfinder.  When you press the shutter, you allow light in and that light prints a picture on the film.  Yes?   Basically, exposure is how much light is "falling" on the film.  If you allow a lot of light, then your picture will be brighter and lighter and if you have a small amount of light, the photo will be dark.  You can adjust the exposure by adjusting your ISO, your shutter speed and your aperture.  However, to tackle the serious exposure nightmares, you need to compensate - thus exposure compensation!

Take a look at the top of your camera.  There is a little +/- button - see it on the right?.  That is your exposure compensation button.  You press the +/- button and roll the knob on the back at the same time to adjust (this might be different on some cameras...consult your manual!)  Very basically, if you want more light, you adjust to the + numbers.  If you want less light, you adjust to the - numbers.

You are confused again,. aren't you?  
Don't worry...it gets easier when you practice with it - I promise!

Let's move on to the nitty gritty details...

Redbud: Erika Ward of Blu Label Bungalow

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Have you heard of Erika Ward?
If you haven't yet, you will soon!!

She is amazing...an amazing designer, the sweetest person you ever did meet and a fabulous blogger.  It almost doesn't seem fair that she is also blessed with those gorgeous eyes and a football coaching hubby.

You have to check out her blog BLU LABEL BUNGALOW and make sure you don't miss her TASTEMAKER series where Erika interviews some of the top names in the BUIZ!  You also must check out my favorite post on her site: IKEA does it right.  Y'all know I am an IKEAholic, particularly in the as-is section, so I just ADORE this collection of clever ideas with IKEA product.  ...and Erika's little man room is just to die for!

via blu label bungalow
Erika's blog is all about "inspir {ing} you to live well, to live in style, and to extinguish the myth that style and budget are mutually exclusive. I truly believe you can achieve all the above at any price point."  Rock on Erika!!!  I am SO with you!

Want to meet the rest of the redbuds?  Check them out below!

26 October 2011

How to Plant Terrariums that Rival Anthropologie's for NICKELS!

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You know what terrariums are right?  If you walk into Anthropologie right now, you can see a host of them for $48-$298 each.  (WHAT?!  Yeah...I know...ridiculous right!  I'm not kidding though...you can see them right HERE...and um you must excuse me -THIS terrarium is $1450.00  $1450.00!!!!  NO JOKE!).  Basically they are a tiny little greenhouse in a glass container.  You can use any type of glass container, but you have to be able to close up the top, so you want your container to be larger at the bottom, but narrow at the top.  Anthropologie uses regular old glass soda bottles and apple gallon jugs among others, but you can use whatever recyclables you have laying around.  I am using two glass containers that I purchased for pennies at an auction.  (Mine usually have glass plates that cover the top: not pictured)

You can fill them with any type of plant, but I like to use hardy plants that I don't have to worry about.  That is part of the point of a terrarium...very little watering and care and the green just keeps on going.

I fill my terrariums with a very light and dry soil mix.  If the soil is thick, heavy, wet garden soil, it might be too wet and will drown your plants, as a terrarium does not really dry out.  I then line the "floor" of my terrariums with moss.  I harvest it from my backyard under an old pine tree.  If you don't know how to harvest moss, you can see the full technique of how I scrape moss off the soil RIGHT HERE.

My succulent "farm" that I take cuttings from. 
This pot comes inside every winter and the plants survive.

I put the soil and moss at an angle to give it a bit of a "hill" effect and then start adding in plants.  I use succulent cuttings that are super hardy and simply stick the tough stems down through the moss.  By using these easy to root succulents, I can make bunches and bunches of terrariums using one base plant.  These 4 types of succulents cost 25 cents each last year at Lowe's, so both of these terrariums were made for under a buck.  That is a bit better than Anthro's 14 HUNDRED and 50 bucks, right?

What creative containers have you used as planters or terrariums?


25 October 2011

10 Tips to Help you Survive a Blogging Conference Alone

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This past weekend I attended Blogalicious in Washington DC thanks to the generosity of the CLEVER GIRL COLLECTIVE and a twitter contest I won.  It was FABULOUS!  I am so very grateful to Clever Girls and Blogalicious for the experience and so very excited to attend more conferences.  They are absolutely delightful!

However, they are only delightful if you have your big girls boots on.  I did a lot of mental prep for the conference because I knew it would be difficult terrain for me.  I knew that if I were my turtle self, all nervous and withdrawn, I wouldn't meet anybody I needed to or anybody that I wanted to.  I knew that I would just wade through the days without connecting with people and I knew that I would probably end up leaving early a lot.  SO I had to put my big girl boots on and get with it.  I figure there are other girls like me, attending a conference for the first time, or attending a conference alone and I wanted to give you a few tips on how to make the most of your time without feeling like a doofus all by yourself.

How you might feel after a blogger conference if you follow my tips...

#1  I'm not kidding about the boots.  When I say put on your big girl boots, I truly mean put on your big girl boots.  I don't know about you, but when I wear boots I feel powerful.  There is something really awesome about a great pair of boots that make you feel like you are walking on top of the world.  So I brought 4 pairs.  4 pairs of boots - black, grey, brown and even slipper boots.  Don't judge...I had a car so I just piled my collection of boots and scarves in the passenger side floor and picked out which ones I wanted to wear that day when I arrived at the convention center.  If you are taking a plane, perhaps 2 pairs would suffice?   The point is not that you have to run out and buy some boots for the conference (though that would be quite fun!).  The point is to have at least 1 item of clothing that makes you feel strong, confident, self-assured.  I had my boots and my scarves.  The scarves serve a bit of a different purpose.  They too can be stylish, but also provide a layer of warmth and a layer of protection.  Whenever I wrap a big scarf around my shoulders, I feel comfortable, warm, and less vulnerable than without.  These clothing items are little things, but they literally set you off on the right foot.  So go through your closet and find clothes that you feel strong, confidant and comforted that look great.

24 October 2011

Rolled Fabric Flower Tutorial

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So last week, I showed you a few more of my projects from my 85 cents scraps.  Now I will show you the final projects I created with the scraps left over!  These are NO-SEW projects!  (P.S.  Don't miss your chance to be featured for YOUR no-sew projects at the bottom of the post!)

The first is one of my favorites of the bunch and you saw it when I first introduced this houndstooth project HERE.  It is a very simple wrap bracelet created by making bias tape from a strip of fabric left over.  I could have sewn the bias tape, but I just used a hot glue gun to make the sides, wrapped it around to fit my wrist and voila - a new accessory!

With the remainder of the scraps I made fabric rosettes.  
Surely you have seen these everywhere, but in case you are new to the train...here is a simple how to!

Cut a scrap into a square...no need for perfection, but it needs to be more square than rectangle.

Now simply use fabric scissors, start at the outside edge and create a curly cue.

Start rolling with the ugly outside edge.  You want to save the nice inner circle for the end.
1.  Roll the ugly outside part into the middle of the flower.

2. Keep wrapping around and around until the petals start to have a nice curled edge.

3.  Every once in awhile press the flower down on the front to even out the layers.

4. Tuck that perfect end piece onto the back with a dab of hot glue to cover up the mess.

...and all together now...

1.  Roll the ugly outside part into the middle of the flower.
2. Keep wrapping around and around until the petals start to have a nice curled edge.
3. I press down on the front every once in awhile to make sure the rose is tight and compact.
4. Tuck that perfect end piece onto the back with a dab of hot glue to cover up the mess.
5. Attach your rosette to a pin, hot glue it on something, sew it on whatever...endless uses for these little girls!
Well worth 85 cents, right!

1. Clutch        2.  Eyeglass Case       3.  Dickie      4.  Rosette      5.  Broken Candle

Now it is your turn!   
Go find something cute in your closet or at a thrift store that you can't wear, 
but you can turn into a bunch of fun new accessories!  
Upload your project to the POOL 
and you might be featured here at the Nest for All Seasons!

Did you miss the other projects from this little bit of houndstooth?  You can check them out here:

Bias Tape Bracelet and Vases
Clutch and Dickie
Eyeglass Case and Candle NO-SEW Fix
Rolled Fabric Flower Tutorial

23 October 2011

3 Easy Flavored Oils from the Falling Garden

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Creating flavored oils is not the most difficult of culinary pursuits.  In fact it is quite simple really.  Gather spices and herbs from your garden or your local bulk food store, a giant tub of olive oil, a few pretty bottles from your recycling bin and you are good to go!

After cleaning and drying your bottles, simply add your dry ingredients to the bottles.  The photo below is a leaf of bay that joins about 9 other leaves in this old olive oil bottle.

Next on the list was lavender.  I've always wanted lavender - lavender has such a weird taste in food.  It is almost too fragrant, too "gardeny", but I feel like it is just right in small doses.  Like you are eating a freshly drawn bath (I know it sounds weird, but it is nice).  Although if you ask Alex, he will say it is absolutely too "gardeny" and makes things taste like "grass", so use lavender sparingly at first and test your tastes :)

Last but not least is allspice.  I found this fabulous old gin dispenser and I love the contrast of the rectangular shape with the roundness of the whole allspice.  If you are wondering, (and if you are any kind of fan you most certainly are) you recognize this bottle from the first season of Mad Men.  It is the exact dispenser in Don Draper's office.  Too bad I couldn't fin the other 3....gin will be it for now...well, allspice oil will be all for now...but I digress.  Dump about this much allspice into your bottle.

Isn't the contrast of shape fun??  ...it's the little things for me...the little things...

Now comes the hard part.  Fill those puppies with your olive oil and DO NOT let them overflow.

Now, please don't think that I am talking to you like you are a simpleton, but seriously when pouring oil, you start getting a bit bored and it never seems like the oil is as close to the top as it actually is and spilling oil is SUCH as mess.  So please, don't get offended.  Don't think I'm a dunce.  Just don't spill your oil.

Now see how those spices are all gathered at the top?

The spices will float to the top and every so often you should give your bottles a gentle tip to distribute the flavors.  
Continue this when you think of it for a few weeks while storing your oils in a dark, cool (no cold) place.  

After a few weeks, your oil will be flavored about as flavorful as it will get, so you can strain the solids out 
or leave them in the bottles for prettiness.  What do you think I chose to do?  Yeah...

What have YOU been creating this week?

If you enjoyed this post, I would ask one small thing of you.  
I have the honor of being one of five garden bloggers Better Homes and Gardens is considering as their premiere garden blogger.  

Would you please help me by voting?

19 October 2011

Your path isn't special. | TRIPPED UP THURSDAY

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Everyone's path to success looks like this:

Muddled, impassable, no steps to be seen, just an upward climb with no visible way to reach the top.

...but you have only one choice if you are determined...

Your path isn't special.
Your path is no more encumbered than anyone else's.
They just hide the climb better.
They just seem like they have conquered the mountain already.
Know that they are just beginning another climb.

What makes your path special is the way you climb it.
SO get going - success is waiting...

...and remember to look around you while you are climbing.  
You might miss the full picture, and wouldn't that be a shame?

Has your path been tripping you up? Sometimes mine does. A lot, a lot alot. ...but not this day.  This day I got it.  I got that the climb was simply a maze of obstacles for everyone.  An overwhelming muddle of challenges that aren't even defined clearly.  Who could climb that?  Well, it is not supposed to be easy, now is it?  I'd love to hear about your path - where are you?  What is challenging you?  What is tripping you up?  Write and share by linking up below.  No buttons, no hoopla this week, just sharing your trip ups.  Won't you join in?

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