Couples Photo Map

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This was a fun project! I can’t wait to make one for Tony and I, but this particular one was a Christmas gift for my parents. You’re probably wondering, “Wow, Christmas was months ago. What took so long?” I couldn’t figure out how to get this present to them, so they didn’t get it until the kids Spring Break. I couldn’t post about it until they had seen it. So here we go!

This pin has been on my photo display board for a while now. Honestly, until today, I didn’t even look at the actual blog. I had seen the picture on Pinterest and fell in love with the concept. The original blogger used push pins, attached to the back of her photos to hold the pictures in place, giving the map more depth. Not having read the blog, here is what I did:

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I started with this 24×36″ map from Amazon. I love Amazon! If they don’t have it, it’s not to be had! I went with that size because I wanted to be able to see the pictures when they were all in place. Then the fun started. I had to sift through my pictures, thousands and thousands of pictures, to find pictures of my parents in different states. I wanted pictures with just the two of them, but the Missouri picture included my kids (mom still loved it!).

Then the tricky part. Cutting the pictures into the shape of states. Certain ones are easy, like Ohio. Others, like North and South Carolina can be difficult. Especially considering you have to cut the photo in such a way as both people are still visible.

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Some states, like Hawaii, there is nothing you can do, so make up your own mind what to do with the special states. I just did a cutout around them and put it by the state.

Once I had placed all of the photos I had, I framed the map and considered it complete. There is always the option of adding more photos, I definitely want to add a picture of them from Alaska when I find one!

Mom was very happy with the gift. I haven’t heard what dad thinks yet, but I picture a smile, a nod and a “looks good”. Sweet and a little shy about it, just like he’s always been.

If you travel, if you take pictures, even if you wanted to do a family map instead of a couple map, this is a fun, and only slightly complicated craft!

Happy crafting all!

Family Year Books

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Hello, my name is Stephanie and I’m a picture freak. Living in a digital age, it’s easier to take more pictures, and less need to print them all, especially since I can pull them up on my computer at any time. I do print some for photo albums, like Disney World and Hawaii, as I purchased special photo albums for those photos.
Of course now I have all these great photos of my family and no way to show them off. I already have a ton of photos hanging on the wall, but my little house only has so much wall space. Since Tony has vetoed the idea of papering the walls in photos, I had to come up with something else!
Enter the DeSantis Family Yearbooks.

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I start going month by month, this is easiest because it’s how my photos are sorted on my computer. The May page featured here has a few of my favorite pictures from that month and a brief explanation of what’s going on. Chiara turned 2 and moving into a big girl bed, Arthur’s preschool field trip and a goofy trip to the mall. Nothing life changing, but still good memories.

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Aside from the regular month pages or spreads, I also do pages for specific events. Vacations usually get their own page as well as big life events. The above spread was about when Chiara broke her arm. Just over a year old and she broke her arm in a fall. It was more traumatic for me than her, but it was definitely noteworthy in 2011!

I get my books printed at Shutterfly. They have a very user-friendly website that let’s me use pre-designed pages, with the option to adjust as needed. I get the hard covered 20 page books, which allows for sturdiness and I also get to design the covers. I find 20 pages is enough for monthly pages, and it allows extra pages for the spreads.
The books can be pricey, $40 with shipping, but I use my coke points, you know those codes on your bottle tops and in the cases of coke products. One of the rewards you can cash your points in for is a free 8×8 20 page book, meaning I only have to pay $11 and change for shipping. 

If you’re a picture freak like me, hopefully this has inspired you to start your own family yearbooks. Enjoy!

Beginning of Year Pictures

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This year, and it’s already been a few weeks, my little man has started 2nd grade. I can’t believe it keeps happening! I know all parents say it, but I’m not sure how he keeps getting bigger.

This is a very easy photo to set up, in fact no set up is necessary, except printing another photo in advance. As we all know, I’m a picture nut, so of course, I take pictures at the beginning of the school year.

My original plan was to keep the same background for these yearly photos, our blue wall and standing in front of my curio cabinet. No this wasn’t a very visually appealing background, but it seemed to be working. Photos of this style tend to work best with the same background, so you don’t get distracted by the different backgrounds.

I would recommend going with at least an 8×10, if not bigger. The bigger the picture is, the better your details will be, especially when you get 3 or 4 pictures in. Even with the 8×10 I use, his preschool picture is difficult to make out.

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I can’t think of anything else to add to this post except this awesome picture of my baby girl’s first day of kindergarten.

Happy photographing!

Glitter Girl Photo

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I know it has come up before, but Chiara is a total girly girl. She’ll run around the yard and play fight with the boys, but she loves dress up, jewelry and glitter. She’s my princess that can rescue herself! I was looking at several options for her five year old pictures, and this struck me the same day as Arthur’s Lego photo did. They also both required a clean floor, so it was good to get them both done in one day!

I started with sweeping the floor. Even though I had just done so for Arthur’s picture, I had to redo it because the dogs were fascinated by what I had going on. Needless to say, dog hair, everywhere! I had her put on this dress, a cute hand-me-down that she’ll be wearing to wedding this fall. She loves it, but it’s still a little too big to wear out yet. I wanted the color pop in this shot though, especially with the color of our floor and the glitter I had on hand.

I had her lay on the floor, then spread out the glitter. I started with a white ‘diamond dust’ glitter, spreading some on her and around her, just for a little shimmer. Then I went to town with the gold glitter! Her hair was a little interesting to adjust. I started with it spread around her head, but it looked a little silly. Then I pulled it down to be both sides of her head, but it still wasn’t quite right. I finally settled on her hair being pulled off to one side and thought it looked adorable.

As with Arthur’s picture, I had the perfect quote in mind

Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle

I used PicMonkey to do my editing. It is an amazing website that lets you play with contrast, exposure and a lot of other little things to enhance your pictures. I somehow managed to muddle through before this website, but it is so much easier with it!

Do you have a glitter girl in your life that deserves some sparkle? Make her day with a fun and easy photo shoot. Even if the pictures don’t make it to your wall, it’ll be a nice memory for both of you because during a photo shoot, you are completely focused on each other. That can be hard to do these days!

For other photo options, please check out:

Lego Photo Op

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I do have to start by saying, Arthur loves Legos. He had loved them since my parents got him his first sets at the age of three. Too young for them, but who cares! I’m fairly certain he’s going to grow up to be an engineer or something because he lives building and making up his own designs especially. He’ll build a new set, first following the directions, then the pieces become building blocks for whatever he can imagine.
This year for his annual pictures, I was at a loss. I had taken a few nice shots at one of the local parks, but nothing really screamed ‘this is it’. Then, yesterday afternoon, inspiration struck, for once not having come from Pinterest!
I swept out hardwood floor, which collects pet hair worse than a carpet, then grabbed his Lego bin and made a circle of them on the floor. He had a few creations put together already, so I also staged them around the circle. I put him in an outfit I like, then it was picture time.
I tend to say ridiculous things to my kids to get the look I want. “Think about how funny a fart sounds” I’d actually what got me this silly face. Normally I want something a little more sedate, but as soon as I looked at this shot on my camera, with a new creation forming in his hands, the quote jumped into my head.

Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality

I knew then that the smile was perfect, just like the rest of him.
I did some searching online and found picmonkey. This is an amazing free photo editing website that allowed me to play with the exposure, contrast, etc. on the picture. After that it was a quick 1-hr developing at Walmart and now it’s on my wall.
As always with pictures of my kids, I love the time with them. They know they are your absolute focus during this time and you know they’re at least fully aware of you, even when engrossed in Legos.
Do you have any fun shots of your kids playing with Legos? I hope Arthur never loses his fascination with them because I love seeing what he can dream up.

For other boy photo op ideas, be sure to check out:
Train Photo Op
A Boy and his Cars

Christmas Family Photo

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I’ve mentioned this before, but I love Pinterest. Not just for the ideas they have posted, which my blog is based on, but for how it sparks your own creativity. The original idea for this photo came from here, and it depicts two young children in a bed, dressed in jammies, oversized ornaments on the bed and they are reading a book. I fell in love with it!
I started by buying a prelit strand of greenery from Walmart and wrapping it around my headboard. I love my bed frame! We put on our most Christmas-y bed sheets and comforter and dressed in our jammies.
We used the book The Polar Express as it is a family favorite and the edition we have is beautiful.
I set my camera up on a small tripod and positioned my family with the book opened. We took many photos, as little kids are prone to wiggle. I didn’t want to use the flash, keeping the light muted. No fancy techniques for that, I just unscrewed a few of the lightbulbs in our ceiling light to get the right light levels.
At first I tried getting everyone to look at the book, but quickly realized Chiara couldn’t handle it. Arthur and Tony were watching the book, Chiara needed a focus, so we smiled at each other.
After I finally got the winning shot for our Christmas card, I wanted to try another one, for fun.

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I loved the way this turned out, although I did have to do a little fiddling around to lighten it up. I don’t know what I will do with this photo, but it turned out so beautiful, I’m sure I’ll find the perfect spot. I love how close we are in this one moment in time. I think this is why I love taking photos, because a moment can never be recreated exactly. You can come close, but never perfectly recreate, but a photo can at least preserve the moment forever……..

Keepsake Memory Jar

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As I was completing this craft, I looked up the original pin and realized I scaled this craft down a lot! The original idea was a lot more fancy, with more scrapbooking type stuff in it. I was still very happy with my final project!

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When we were in Surfside, SC for my friend Mia’s seaside wedding, I gathered a bunch of shells and sand, with the intent of completing this pin when I got home. The above picture is my kids’ yellow bucket full of sand.

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Once home, and after inventory at work was past, I raided my stash of glass jars. *I have some tips on recycling old pickle jars and such that I’ll be covering later* I also got 2 wallet sized pictures of Tony and I to feature in my memory jar, I taped the pictures together, back-to-back so the picture would be visible no matter how the jar is positioned. The lid is just spray painted white. When I start making some of these up as gifts,  Tony will be doing the spray painting, as I still suck at it!
After getting your supplies together, it goes pretty much as you would expect. Sand in the bottom, picture set down into the sand in the center, shells scattered around the top of the sand and some scrapbooking stuff to reference the date and location of the trip. Then you seal it up!
I can’t wait to make up some more of these, but sadly, I am dependant on Tony to complete the painting. Until then……..
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A few weeks after completion, I decided to add Tony’s brightly colored boutonniere to my memory jar. It is artificial flowers and peacock feather, so I didnt want to get rid of it, and most importantly, it adds a bright spot of color!
Happy crafting folks!!

Writing with Sparklers

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I love playing with my camera! I love taking photos to capture moments in time. Once something happens, it will never be quite the same again. This moment will probably happen again, but I was excited nonetheless, that we could capture it on camera!
I have a nice camera, it’s nothing ultra fancy, but it works great for me!

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Not the best picture of the camera itself, but it is a Canon Powershot SX130. Favorite feature overall is the 12x optical zoom!
Again, not the best picture, but on the right hand side, about half way up the camera, you may see the option for ISO. This is the feature I utilized to photograph the sparkler writing.
If your camera has this option, what you want to do is set it to the lowest possible number. I’m sure an actual photographer could tell you exactly what ISO is, but all I can say is that it slows down the shutter speed.
After a but of experimenting, I realized I would have to do one letter at a time. Fancier cameras will enable you to slow down the shutter speed even more, doing longer phrases or designs, but I managed to have fun with mine. Especially utilizing a collage maker afterwards!

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This one was a little trickier. I actually used 2 sparklers, one for each side. Took several shots, with Tony manning the camera, but I was pretty pleased with it! For those of you who are Mortal Instruments fans, you can just see Jace inside the heart. It was a coincidence, whether you believe me or not!
Fourth of July has just passed so keep an eye out for good deals on sparklers! Have some fun outside, and bring your camera along!

Train Photo Op

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This was a fun, albeit chilly time spent with Arthur. He has been a big fan of trains for as long as I can remember. My theory is that the interest came genetically from my Papa! I saw some different pictures on Pinterest that inspired this shoot. I’m not referencing them because I didn’t use their actual ideas. The photos featured boys on train tracks. When I was discussing the idea with Tony, he suggested this retired train in Valley City, OH. When we drove out to see it, it was perfect!
The night before we were set to take pictures we made a trip to Walmart for his suit. I thought it would look really sharp (right as usual), and my poor boy had no dress shoes, so he needed a pair of those too. When we were heading to the train, I was looking for a hat to tie the look together. I was leaning towards his fedora, when Tony suggested the chapeau. Score one for my honey!
When we first got there, I let Arthur wander around and just take it all in. He was so excited because hello, train, and I wanted him to be able to focus on smiles for the camera.
The photo up top is the one that will be his 7 year old photo. We did however get a lot of great ones! I am pretty lucky though and have a good looking kid! 🙂

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The only one taken at the engine. It’s obviously not a working train. It looks really good though!

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This photo was probably my personal favorite! The only reason this one won’t be his 7 year old shot is I want to be able to see his face clearly. Doesn’t this look like it could’ve been taken decades ago?
For another great option for boy pictures, check out https://superstevied.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/boy-picture-options/
Happy picture taking!

Belle Photo Op

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The only reason I get a little sad as spring approaches is because that means my kids birthdays are coming. Don’t get me wrong, it’s exciting that they’re growing up and we get to celebrate the coming year, but at the same time, we’re approaching the time when they won’t want to spend the day with their parents.
The original idea for this session came from a pin linking to https://plus.google.com/app/basic/stream/z120sj14lpzky1kwh04chpqzjtfru3yhntk0k which is an adorable image of a woman dressed as Belle, browsing the shelves at a bookstore.
I went back and forth on it, but decided to use the library instead of the bookstore. It was no big deal getting my little darling to put on her Belle dress for a few hours. She got the dress from the Disney store (thank you Nana) and it is just gorgeous! We weren’t a big fan of the Belle shoes, and not that you can see them in the picture, but she’s wearing her Rapunzel shoes.
She even cooperated before we left and let me attempt the Belle hairsstyle, but that’s another blog for another day!
Before starting with the camera I browsed the shelves and found a Disney Princess book for her to “read” during our shoot. I took maybe 20 pictures, switching poses quickly as her attention span isn’t the best at 3!
I’m looking forward to what her fourth year brings to my little diva, but I hope she doesn’t outgrow this dress up phase too soon!
For other girl photo ideas, check out last year’s photo shoot at https://superstevied.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/wedding-dress-alternative/.
The original, pre – editing picture for the above shot was this:

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This one was a little goofy for her 4 year old picture, but was cute not to share! All I did to prompt this smile was ask her “what do you think of when I say ‘tickle the baby’?”

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Enjoy your own photo sessions. Remember that the best memory you’ll have won’t be the pictures you take, but the time spent with your baby. The picture will just be a reminder of that time!