Friday, February 25, 2011

Lack of Luck

This week has been a rough one. I lent my lovely friend my sewing machine and upon its return I have not been able to get it to work. Ughhhh. That is such a totally awkward situation. According to the hubby you relinquish any right to get mad about something getting broken when you lend it out. I guess this is true. The stick part is that I can't simply head to Joannes and buy a new one. I would have worked on it further except I was SLAMMED with a horrible bug.

I am not going to sugar coat it, it has been awful. It hasn't helped that this week we have a large Congressional Delegation visitng the Embassy and I am the official photographer. I think I gave everyone a bit of a shock when I showed up in sweats this morning, but I quickly told them I would look more acceptable by the time the luncheon rolled around.
Yesterday after following around a 4 star Admiral (and getting sick infront of the motorcade drivers I didn't notice after running around a corner- certainly one of my new most embaressing moments) I headed home and CRASHED into bed.

 I thought after 15 hours of sleep, four "get well soon" notes from Sawyer I would feel better but this is renltless. I am supposed to be out all day tomorrow with the delegation photographing their trips to various USAID sites, so my friends I know there is no way I am going to get a post in. But hopefully I am coherent enough that I can get the pattern for the coat up this afternoon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's To Late T'Apologize...

Okay, actually it is not ha! I am sorry I have been unplugged lately

But when Chris got home Monday morning it launched me into an I-Don't-Want-To-Do-Anything-That-Doesn't-Involve-Hanging-Out-With-My-Family sort of mood. Which is a great mood to be in. So content and fun. Even in the evenings when I usually sew, make patterns or work on pictures I did something bizarre and fantastic, I went to bed early. I know, shocking. That is why I am behind on posts and haven't answered any emails ahhh! I promise I will get back to you by tonight :) 
Now don't get me wrong this doesn't mean I didn't hop on and check out the progress of Project Run and Play. I want to say:
so much for your kind words, your support, for voting etc. At first the competitive side in me really wanted a good long pout but then I read all your lovely words and hello! so many of them are totally right. I am pretty proud of how far I got considering the AMAZING women I was competing with. I remember the first email I got about this competition I thought "Hmm I'll totally do this because guaranteed I will be out the first round!" ha! A big part of the competition that was kept in the background was the silent judging. We would receive scores each week and sometimes comments and this was a great part of the competition for use designers. To know what we should work on for next week and what they liked. Anyway, if you followed along the competition and the idea intrigued you Micalah will be doing it again! You should absolutely keep following Project Run and Play. I expect great things to come out of it. Congratulations to Katy! Her talent for amazing, over the top (in a fabulous way) designs took my breathe away each week. And um, remember she did win EVERY week but 1 so I am pretty sure she 100% deserved her title! Ashley, your designs make me melt. I LOVE how couture they look yet are completely comfy. I don't look at any of your clothes and wonder if she can sit down, or play at the park. Like one commentor said your designs always stayed true to the name of the competition, Run and Play! I only wish I lived near by so you could teach me to silk screen. Anyway I wanted to say thank you to my FANTASTIC readers. I really hope someday to meet you. I honestly do, I was talking to the hubby the other night about a birthday party for my 30th in UT (GAAAAGGGG-- to the 30 part not UT) and that I wanted to invite my blogging buddies. He looked at me just a little funny, but when a girl lives so far away from home who do you expect her friends to be :) Thanks for your support. In return I will get off my bum and get to work on the STACK of patterns I have waiting to share with you! 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

You want a piece of me?

Okay so that sounds like I am looking for a fight or something ha! Which as you can see by the sad state of voting over at Project Run and Play I am not that major of a contender so of course I wouldn't be picking a fight.
What I am doing is getting excited for my visit to the states this May and June.
We are booking flights and figuring out where we are going to stay when. Plus I am working on something BIG I am hoping to pull off. 
Anyway after talking to the hubs about said something BIG I will be offering a VERY limited number of Photography Sessions while I am home in the states.
I really would love to go to some of my favorite old haunts to photograph but only have a few days that are free.
All the pertinent information can be found HERE on my site. Please email me if you would like to set up a session.
This will be first come first serve :) 
I am only available for one session in Southern California (Anaheim area) in the middle of June and the rest of the time will be spent in and around Salt Lake City, UT (although I will be sneaking off to DC and Williamsburg, VA briefly). 
Hope I get to meet you!
PS To keep it more about SINML I used only pictures I have used on this website. To see actual session pics hop on over to my photography site HERE
PPS. If you haven't voted yet Puh-lease pretty please head over to Project Run and Play and vote. Although I think my design is a bit beyond the hope of wining now ha!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Project Run and Play Finale

It is finally HERE! The finale of Project Run and Play. I am still floored that I made it this far. Every week I have been in awe of the amazing creations made by my fellow competitors. Several times I thought for sure I was a goner. It has been an amazing 6 weeks: 
Picnik collage
This final week was an entirely new challenge. With the hubby gone, the complete lack of supplies on the island, and no theme to spark inspiration, well, lets just say I was a bit stressed out. In the end I LOVE what came out of all that stress, if nothing else it is definitely my kind of look.  
Petite Chouette
My goal was to create an outfit that looked like Anthropologie, Emerson Made, Elias and Grace and Zara all had a baby together ha! I couldn't just make one garment, oh no. This is the FINALE! So lets start with the coat! 
Because Dili does not sell cotton in colors I hand dyed natural cotton to be a deep turquoise. Again this is done with local organic dye so we will see how it washes ha! 
Since there is no where to purchase buttons I commissioned a local wood worker to widdle me some oversized buttons. I love their imperfections, how the holes are just slightly off center on one set so I really had to pay attention when placing them so they would line up. 
The coat is lined with a gorgeous liberty print and natural cotton. Again I only had 1/4 a yard sent to me by a reader, so, when making my own pattern, I cut the liberty print in a way that it was all along the edges and back and then the natural cotton filled the rest. This took some serious fiddling the first time but it was worth it! 
The collar and sleeves are ruffled. Of course there had to be ruffles! This is a signature look and I am ALL about ruffles :) There is a long belt held on by two belt loops on either hip made from the fun liberty print so they pop next to the blue. There are two box pleats on either side of the front panels to give the coat some much needed volume and body. Now what is underneath? First the top. 
The top is made from white cotton, lace and a hand embroidered flower chain. I by hand made each pleat on the bib then tucked a strip of lace in between every other pleat. Once I attached the bib to the main body I covered the seam with the embroidered flowers. 
The sleeves of course are gathered making them super comfy :) 
The back of the dress I wanted to be asymmetrical so I made the right portion button farther on top of the left. To add some "drama" I made 4 button holes and attached tiny buttons on the top and then there are 3 hidden buttons (using the second bottom layer) that button along the rest of the shirt. 
The skirt is a blend of some sort that I purchased a long time ago because the color was so "me". 
I created a high waisted skirt with box pleats all the way around. 
A side zipper on the left and a seam pocket on the right (little girls need places to put their Chapstick too you know!) 
The leggings I made by cutting up a deep burgundy maternity shirt, hemming the bottoms and then sewing up the back center. 
Now for the accessories. I adore over the top hats. LOVE them. 
I have been waiting my whole life to go to a wedding in England just so I can have a reason to don an over the top feathered number (I guess it would help to LIVE in England ha!) This particular hat is made from felt I made (you cannot buy felt on the island either) when I first got here. It's edges are finished with bias tape. 
I went everywhere looking for feathers but could find none so I bought another feather duster and destroyed it. Then I added the one peacock feather I brought back from Jakarta, some velvet ribbon and some bling! 
If you would like to make one for yourself, or your cutie you can find a tutorial HERE. For her feeties I made her some slip on t-strap tweed shoes. 
The tweed came from an old skirt and the bottoms are reclaimed leather. Kierra kept telling me how comfy they were, even if they were a tich wide. 
The buttons are simply for show, the straps have easy on/off snaps hidden underneath. She loved holding the little Owl I brought. 
I kept asking if she wanted to put him down but she refused, so he sort of dominated the shoot and that is where the name of the outfit came from: Petite Chouette or "Little Owl". Plus I thought the colors were very earthy and "owlie?" The field is a partially abandoned lot (with a family living in a little shelter in the back) and Kierra had fun pulling up stalks. 
Then we got lucky and a little goat wandered over. I was worried at first that Kierra might be scared of him but she walked right up, grabbed some grass and made friends :) 
I am thinking about sharing the pattern for the coat and skirt if there is enough interest. If you have a moment I would love for you to hop over and see the creations that Ashley and Katy made. I know the three of us have all worked sooooo hard on these projects we would love if you would head over to Project Run and Play and vote for your favorite! This is the last one so PLEASE take a moment to vote! (Um have you SEEN the cool prizes ha!) Thank you so much for your support through this competition. It has been amazing to take part in. I hope you have enjoyed seeing the creations each week!

Your First Cupcake

Do you remember your first cupcake? I certainly don't. While I LOVE cupcakes (making them, eating them, staring at them on websites) they are not a "rare" thing and thus not really all that special. Yesterday I went with the Ambassador and the Sea Bees to a ribbon cutting at a school we rebuilt. It is always so amazing to witness the incredible work our military is doing around the world and see just how grateful the people of TImor Leste are for their hard work. After the ceremonial speeches and cutting of the ribbon snacks were handed out to the locals who had come to show their support. There are always a ton of random children milling about at events like this, mostly out of pure boredom and lack of anything else to do but also in hopes they might grab a little something yummy. Yesterday they handed out cupcakes and two little girls were positively giddy that they were able to sneak one.
They kept looking at each other, then at the cupcake and would laugh hysterically. The little girl in blue positively stole my heart and I am not going to lie as I left I started to tear up wishing I could take her home with me.
My hubby always reminds me that these children ARE in fact very happy. For the most part they have families who love them and they are unaware that their lives are not "normal", that food being scarce is not the way it is everywhere. I had to snap a picture of the boy below as he walked past. He had such a cool fro, and the boy in the middle walked over and tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to take his picture. He then totally posed it up against the basket ball hoop.
I am telling you I HAVE to order an instamax from Amazon so I can take pictures and GIVE them to the kids. None of them have pictures of themselves and I bet they would go nuts over it! There is a little glimpse into part of our week here in Timor! I hope where ever you are your week was as full of opportunities to serve and share with others!

A Teenie Tiny Sneak Peak

Before a Foreign Service Friday post I thought I would give a teaser from my photo shoot for my finale outfit for Project Run and Play. I am soooooo crazy excited about this outfit and I can't wait to share!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Crying is for babies--other babies

This will be a two part post since there is soooooo much to talk about! 
I have received several emails and comments asking for tips on photographing newborns and babies. As this is my FAVORITE session to do I thought I could offer the few things that I have found make newborn sessions go smoothly.
The first key is to have your clients book their sessions as soon to the babies birth as possible. I know this is sort of out of your hands but it is a HUGE deal. If you are a preggy momma and want to have newborn's taken set a day NOW with a photographer. When booking newborns sessions most photographers understand the date needs to be somewhat malleable to work with the actual arrival of the star of the shoot :) I promise the younger the baby is the better your pictures will be!

When they are brand new they are soooo sleepy that once asleep, you will have no problem molding them into the cute positions that are so adorable. The other plus about completing the session early is that babies often won't have their baby acne yet that seems to set in around 6 weeks. Their skin will be peachy keen! 

Pre-Shoot preparations: I am a firm believer that being overly prepared is what makes a successful shoot. Once i am contacted about a newborn shoot I set up a time to talk to the parents about their expectations for the shoot, what kind of pictures they love etc. If you don't know what you client wants it is pretty hard to give it to them :) Then we talk about location. Would they prefer to do it in their home so they can have some nursery shots and more candid shoots and they know the "germ" situation? You want them to feel as comfortable as possible. If the family doesn't mind I will do a little field trip and stop by their home a few days before and see what I will have to work with.

Or do they prefer a more classic studio look?

If they prefer a studio look I generally ask them to come to my house where I have a mini studio set up (I am so excited to share how easy and affordable it is to make your own little studio). For either location I make sure that an hour before the shoot the heat is CRANKED. I mean to where it is a bit uncomfortable for myself and the parents. If you are hot the baby will perfect! This is especially important is you want the minimal clothing shots

A cold baby is a sad baby. I also ask mommas to feed the baby about an hour before the shoot. This means they won't be hungry but they have hopefully already soiled their diaper. (This is a pretty big "hope" ha!) Since I am a natural light photographer I then have the parents watch for a few days and figure out when their apartment has the best light and that helps determine the photo shoot time. You should also be mindful of their schedule, although at this age that is basically, sleep, all day.  I ask the parents to be mindful of what they are wearing as they often end up in shots. A black t-shirt makes for a lovely background.
Make sure you have SEVERAL blankets, rugs etc because you can count on "accidents". I also ask the parents to have any special blankets, outfits, heirlooms etc. they would like to be in a picture close at hand. 

Props: (I will talk more about the background and support props in the next installment) Some parents LOVE them, some parents do not. I personally have a selection of hats, blankets, ties, bow ties etc. that I bring with me for the parents to look at and chose from if they like. 

I only purchase washable items as they WILL be soiled at some point and I make it a point of washing everything in-between sessions. While I am an accessory fiend and LOVE anything over the top

I love the look of chunky knits next to a tiny baby:

I never push them on parents or rely on them for a good shot

The majority of my hand made props are from Etsy or I have commissioned a friend to make them (I have the patterns for the hanging baby pod and soft white baby pod that my friend made me featured above if anyone is interested?) 
A few final things: I keep large bottle of hand santizer with me and ALWAYS wash my hands before holding the newborn. Then periodically use the hand sanitizer through out the shoot. I find if nothing else this makes the parents feel better. Now I know it helps that I have had three babies so I am comfortable holding them and moving them around but keep that in mind. Parents feel at ease when YOU as the photographer feel comfortable. Don't panic (at least not visibly ha!) Once you have done your first few sessions you will get a great feel for them and they become so much fun. Who wouldn't want to spend lots of time with these gorgeous wee ones?

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