Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tips for Photographing Your Kids {from Lydia}

Hi y'all! Oh have I got a treat for y'all today! A sweet friend of mine, Lydia, is an amazingly talented photographer, and she's here to share some great tips for photographing your kids. You may remember, from the guest blog I wrote for Lydia, that Lydia and I met in high school and were rivals on opposing conference teams. I remember Lydia was the sweetest one on the opposing team, and had (still has) the prettiest blue eyes. It's great that through facebook, we've been able to stay in touch. Since the holiday season is upon us, and we're making as many memories as messes, I think this is a great time to work on our photography skills. So thank you Lydia for stopping by! Enjoy! 


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Hi, I'm Lydia. I'm Regina's online friend. We initially met in high school and have stayed connected ever since thanks to Facebook. I've always liked her because she is so sweet and down to earth. We both enjoy DIY stuff and love us some Jesus.

I'm am the face behind the camera at Lydia Phillips Photography. I am originally from a small town in Oklahoma, but now I take up residence in New York City. My husband attends culinary school and I like to pretend that I don't eat sandwiches and cereal for dinner every night. Regina and I decided we could help each other out with some fresh blog ideas which is the reason why I'm here.

It's that time of year where a lot of you will be getting shiny new cameras for Christmas. With the affordability of digital cameras, it seems that people's "snapshots" are getting better and better. I still believe that every 3-4 years you should invest in professional photography for your family. The ideal times are after your first child is born, after your last child is born, the snaggletooth years, the preteen years, and then before your oldest child graduates high school. Professional photography is for canvasses for your walls, not screensavers or Facebook profile photos, so you should invest accordingly.

So what about the in between? What about the screensavers and Facebook photos? That's where your shiny new camera comes in. I'll share a few tips with you to take better photos of your kids with any camera. Oh, and always remember, the best camera is the one you have with you.

1. GET ON THEIR LEVEL

This is probably the most important tip, especially for those of you who have fairly young children. After most children's shoots I walk away with dirt on my knees, chest, face, etc because I get on the ground. All the way. If you are standing above your child and shoot with your camera pointed down, you are either going to get the top of their head, or their head will look quite large, while their feet look tiny. Crouch down to their eye level and I'm sure you will be pleased with the results.



2. DON'T SAY "SAY CHEESE"

Maybe I'm just saying this because of my photojournalistic approach to photography, but I think the best photos of kids are of them doing what they do and that doesn't necessarily mean looking at the camera and smiling. You will be able to capture some great moments if you just let them do their thing, even if it's catching lizards, peeing on the fence, having Barbie weddings, etc. These are the times you will be able to catch that expression that reminds you of your sister or maybe your son stands just like his grandfather. These are the moments that matter.



3. AVOID BAD LIGHTING AND DISTRACTING BACKGROUNDS

The best lighting for photos is in the evenings an hour or two before sunset. This helps eliminate harsh shadows and squinty eyes. If you are taking photos of your kids in your yard, try to watch for distracting elements in the background. Move them away from cars, trash cans, etc and it will greatly improve the look of your photos.




4. DON'T FORGET TO TAKE TIME TO PUT DOWN THE CAMERA AND ENJOY YOUR KIDS

This may seem like a no brainer, but please don't forget that your kids will grow up faster than you realize. You should absolutely take photos of your children, but you should also occasionally put down the camera and enjoy your time with them. Make mud pies, chase bugs, have snowball fights, and hug them...a lot.


I hope these tips have helped you and that you soon have some great new photos. 




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Thanks Lydia for those awesome tips! I'll definitely be putting these to use next week when we are spending time with family and the kids are opening Christmas presents!!



Thursday, December 13, 2012

gift guide : gifts with meaning

Hi y'all! Only 11 shopping days left of the holiday season. If you're still looking for a gift for someone but aren't sure what to buy, how about a gift with meaning? 


I still have 4 adoption bracelets made and ready to be shipped. Purchase today and they will be shipped tomorrow!

You can purchase them in my Etsy shop, or you can leave a comment with your email address and I'll send you an invoice via Paypal. 


I also have more supplies, so if you have a special request (matching earrings, etc.) let me know! Or, if you need a bracelet resized, I can do that as well. 


The bracelets are $15 and shipping is free. The proceeds go to help fund the adoption of our two little foster boys. (We just found out that to get our attorney to take on the case for our other little boy, will require an additional $2500. Which, needless to say, we don't have just lying around.)


And if you could share this post on your facebook, twitter, pinterest, blogs, I would definitely be most appreciative. :) 







Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 in 2012 : final update

Hi y'all! Remember my project for 2012 : 12 in 2012? The project was about coming up with 12 goals for myself to accomplish in 2012. Some of the projects went splendidly! Some of them started great, but fell along the wayside, and even some I had given up on, only to later complete them after all. Here's a recap, and my final update on the project. 

_X_ 1. Learn how to make fabric flowers successfully. 
Check! I know I didn't really specify, but I meant the rolled fabric flowers when I made my list. And did you see the adorable rolled fabric flowers I made? I absolutely loved them! Then I stuck them on a canvas, making the most adorable flower garden ever!




Interested in purchasing? Leave a comment and let me know. 
Price is $40 for one or you can buy the complete Priscilla set for $100. Shipping is $30. It's a set of 3 coordinating paintings, I'll post pictures of the full set soon. Or I'll email them to you if you're interested. And yes, if you buy the set, I'll combine shipping charges. They are complete and ready to be shipped. 

__ 2. Read "Gone With the Wind".
Like I said at my last update, not gonna happen. I read the synopsis of the book, and completely lost interest in actually reading the book. Maybe one day. Maybe. But let's not all hold our breath. 

_X_ 3. Have a savings account with a balance that never dips below $500. 
Done and done! And, it's easier to save up some money when you have a goal. And our goal for some of our savings account moolah is a getaway for just Joey and I. Somewhere nice and fun, just the two of us. 

__ 4. Lose 30 pounds. 
Well, I almost got there. I lost 25 pounds this year, and I know if I would have stuck to my diet, I could have met my goal, but sadly, I've fallen off the wagon. Not that I'm really disappointed in myself, I'm proud of the weight I did lose. And next year, I hope to lose more weight. It may take me a few years, but I'm sure I'll reach my weight goal one day and hopefully stay there. 

__ 5. Run a 5K. 
I think it's safe to say this one isn't happening either. But I still would like to do this one day, so maybe I'll tack this on to my list for next year. But more on that later...

_X_ 6. Purge my life and home of things that aren't beautiful and/or necessary. 
I got a lot of this done early this year. Since getting McCrae I can say I haven't worked at this as much, but this is one of those things that is really a work in progress. I can always do more. 

_X_ 7. Prioritize my time, organize my home. 
Check, check! While I still have a ways to go (it would be so much easier if I had an IKEA near by) I think I've done really well with this. And my lack of blogging recently, stems from this goal of prioritizing my time. I do think I have more of a handle on this now, than I did this time last year. 

_X_ 8. Work on my children's books/games ideas. 
I have worked on my children's book ideas more, still haven't done much with the games. I think I need to re-evaluate this goal and see if this is something I really want to do or not. My heart says yes, my brain says yes, but maybe I'm fooling myself. We shall see...

_X_ 9. Pay off at least 2 "dumb" debts. (i.e. credit cards, etc.)
I know at my last update I posted that I just hoped to pay off ONE debt at this point. But I'm happy to say that we have actually paid off TWO dumb debts! Hallelujah! This feels great and really makes me excited to keep budgeting and keep paying off more debt and adding more money to our savings account. 

__ 10. Read the entire Bible in one year. 
I'm sad I didn't meet this goal. But I'm proud of myself for reading more Bible this year than I had in a while. Hopefully I can continue this goal through next year. 

_X_ 11. Take more pictures. 
Check! I have taken so many more pictures, but sadly, most of them are of the children so I can't show you. :( One day, hopefully I can. I think next year I'm going to try out more of those monthly photo lists, you know where you have to take a picture of a certain subject every day. Those look fun!

Some of my favorite pictures I've taken this year. And yes, most of them were on instagram, so you should follow me: reginakayxo ;) 


My first instagram pic. And what my living room looks like on a regular basis. Joey calls it a  toynado. ;) 

My favorite drink in my favorite coffee cup. 

I love red lipstick. 
And miss my long hair. 

The first thing I typed on my new (to me) typewriter. 
If you get the reference, you can apply for best friend status. ;) 

Valentine's Day (or any day) self-manicure. 

Fabulously foggy in the morning. 

I still love red lipstick. 
And now I miss my super short hair. 
I'm so fickle. 
A giant sunglasses-wearing duck. This picture always makes me smile. 

Preparing for our fourth of July celebration. 

Fact 1: I never tire of looking at sunsets and sunrises. 
Fact 2: I've never met a sunset or sunrise I didn't like. 

Sketching the design for my Priscilla Owl painting. Part of the Priscilla Series that I mentioned before. ;) 

But not all my pictures were done via instagram, I also got to do graduation pictures for these two lovely girls. One graduating from high school, the other from college : 






_X_ 12. Write more. (journaling, blogging, letters, etc.)
Well, you can look at my sidebar and see my Blog Archive and think to yourself that I haven't written as much as I did last year. But that's not really true. I may not have posted as many blogs, but I did post more blogs that include my writings. And I've been steadily writing letters to Amanda. I've also been journaling again, so the writing is happening, it just may not happen always here on the blog. 

That wraps up this year's project. And yes, I'm planning on continuing this project for next year, only it will be 13 various goals to accomplish in 2013. 13 in 13. That's the new project. But that will be revealed at a later date. And I'd LOVE for you to join in if you'd like. 


What about you? Did you follow through on any of the resolutions you set for yourself? I have to say, doing this project on my blog, definitely kept me more accountable. I remember sitting down one evening with a bunch of fabric, hot glue gun, and my computer opened to a tutorial on how to make rolled fabric flowers because I just couldn't disappoint y'all by not following through with that. It's been a lot of fun and I really feel as if I accomplished some wonderful goals. I also learned a lot about myself, learned how to balance things, learned how important it is to be organized, pushed myself to be creative and to take the time to enjoy the little moments like snapping a quick picture of a sunset. It's been a wonderful experience and really, I hope you'll consider joining me for next year's project. :) 






Tuesday, December 11, 2012

me : foster parenthood : all boy


Growing up, I was surrounded by boys. I had all brothers, my uncles who were around me most of the time were male, my cousins I played with most often were male, many of the kids in town I played with were male. There were some best friends who were girls, but at school, we always played some game with the boys. Even when I got into high school I could be found most often at lunch time playing some pick-up game of basketball instead of sitting on the steps, eating candy bars, and talking about who knows what. So when I was thinking about having children, I always said I wanted girls. Even, maybe, all girls. The people I told that to usually said I was crazy, but I didn't think so. 



And then... we had our battles with infertility, then we became foster parents to a little boy and little girl, and that was a lot of fun. And when they left, I still kept thinking to myself that when we got little ones that we would keep, they'd be girls. Then we got BB. 



I fell in love with him the moment I met him. He was adorable. He was a butterball of a little boy with jet black hair, two little teeth in the front on bottom, and suddenly I couldn't imagine not having a boy anymore. His little boyish charm grew on me immediately and I realized how incredibly fun a little boy could be! Instead of dolls there is cars, instead of dress-up there is dirt, instead of coloring there is loud, rough play with hide-and-seek, chasing, and tickling. And there is laughter. Lots and lots of laughter

We stack blocks, we build huge towers just for him to destroy them and burst into fits of laughter. He wrestles with our dog Lorie and they get so rough with each other but never hurt the other. We let him explore things thoroughly, from the dirt patch under the trees to a water puddle in the driveway. We let him be all boy and he couldn't be happier. Neither could I. 



Sunday evening turned out to be very eventful. Originally, I had planned for BB and I to start out walking to church. I thought it would be good for him to play outside and I would take the stroller in case he got too tired. And if we weren't getting there fast enough, Joey could pick us up on his way to church. Then, when I went outside to get the stroller ready, I realized it was fuh-reezing, and that nixed that plan. So, I went for Plan B, which was to get dinner prepped so when we got home from church I could just pop it into the oven and we'd all have a nice dinner together. But that plan got nixed as well. 



As I was in the kitchen prepping dinner, BB was in there with me (as he usually is) playing with various items in the drawers as he's done many times before. And, as he's also done many times before, he got out one of my measuring spoons and stuck his little finger in the hole at the end (I guess where you could hang it up if you wanted). Even though he's done this many times before, he's growing so fast, and this time, his little finger didn't come out. It was stuck. Way stuck. The spoon was all the way on his finger and the more I tried to get it off, the more red his finger got, the more he cried, and the more I started to freak out. I tried lotion, cold water and soap, nothing. So, completely panicked, I took off my apron, grabbed his bag and my purse, and loaded him in the Tahoe intending to take him to the emergency room. 



All that kept running through my head was how I used to watch that show "Rescue 911" and  one episode this little girl or boy stuck their finger in an iguana's mouth and the iguana clamped down on their finger. Not biting it, or breaking the skin or anything, just clamped down and wouldn't let go. The finger started turning colors and they called 9-1-1, and there was a big panic because the circulation was being cut off and there was fear the little one might lose their finger. So here I am, with my little boy with a measuring spoon on a finger that was starting to turn purple, thinking he was going to lose his finger. 

When I left the house, I couldn't help me think for a second how this was probably not going to be my last trip to the ER with this boy. This boy is all boy. He does everything to the fullest. He laughs hard, he plays hard, he cries hard, and one day, all to soon, he'll get hurt, hard. 


Then I had a moment of clarity and called a friend who is a nurse. I asked if her and her husband could cut the spoon off and lo and behold, she thought they could. I figured this would save me the time of driving to the ER and waiting to be seen, so to her house we went. And within a few minutes of getting there, they had the spoon cut off, the finger was returning to normal color, I cried, and then BB was off playing like nothing had happened. All boy



I know that everything ended just fine, and we ended up having a wonderful evening after all, but in the back of my mind, I keep thinking about all the bumps and bruises, scratches and scrapes he's already gotten himself into, and how many more he's going to get. I mean, I got a black eye and broke my class ring playing in some of those pick-up basketball games at lunch. On a mission trip, I broke a finger playing a pick-up game of basketball. BB accidentally head-butted a table Sunday morning before church. I guess he gets that playing hard thing from me. 



My house is littered with cars and trucks of all shapes and sizes. He can sit for long periods of time just lining up his cars, racing them around the room, then lining them up neatly all over again. He's all boy. And even with the bumps, bruises, scrapes, and probably many trips to the ER that we will have with this rough and rowdy little boy, I wouldn't change a thing about him. I'll keep him, all boy and all. 


And for those of you who have been wondering about the status of BB, he's still not ours yet. His mother filed an appeal and we're waiting for the appellate court to decide if she has a case for a new hearing. All of our caseworkers say don't worry, the judge's ruling won't be overturned. But until the appeal process if over, we can't adopt him which means you still don't get to see pictures of him. Soon though, hopefully soon we'll get to introduce you to this sweet, funny, precious little boy. And thank you to everyone for you continued prayers and positive thoughts toward us and BB as we wait for this process to be over. }


Monday, December 10, 2012

inspiration : family photo outfits


Here is a guest post I wrote for a friend of mine's photography blog. I thought I'd post it here too, since some of you may be getting ready for family photos. ;) 

Feel free to check out her stuff, she's awesome, at www.lydia-phillips.com. 

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photo by Alicia Perkins




Hi y'all, I'm Regina, and I blog over at Live Delightfully and I also own an Etsy shop by the same name. I've known Lydia for over 10 years now because we used to be *gasp* rivals. I know, right?! Lydia and I played on opposing teams in softball and basketball back in Oklahoma during our high school years, and since our schools were in the same conference, we were rivals. Luckily, all the rivalry is over, and we've been able to keep in touch via Facebook. Since I love fashion and write about it a lot on my blog, Lydia asked me if I'd share some great family photo outfit ideas and tips. And I'd love to! 

With the holiday season upon us, many of us are rushing around to get family photos done in time for sending out all those Christmas cards. BUT, I don't think it has to stop there. Instead of adding to that ever-growing holiday to-do list, send your pictures out post-holiday madness. My sister-in-law sends her holiday cards out for Valentine's Day, complete with pictures, updates, and stories about what everyone has been up to and the things the kids are in to right now. It's wonderful! She takes advantage of the post-holiday slow-down, and puts everything together to send out. It's a brilliant idea. 

But whether you want you family photos/cards/updates sent out before Christmas or after, here are some helpful tips and outfit ideas for your family, no matter the size, gender, or fashion preferences of the members in your family. 

How to choose your color palette. The days of everyone wearing white or black shirts and blue jeans are over. Seriously over. So choose a color palette, meaning choose 2-4 complementary colors for your clothing. 

1. You want colors that can span generations and genders easily. Hot pink may be a favorite color for your little girl (or a little boy I know), but may not be great for your husband to wear. This might sound difficult, but it's actually very easy when you go shopping for your new outfits or for new pieces to bring your wardrobe together. Store displays and mannequins will have outfits already assembled in complementary colors. Take a photo, then use that as a foundation for your own family's ensemble. Blue is a great starting color. You can find it in so many different shades: pale blue, cobalt blue, navy. It looks classy and chic on you, your daughter, and your husband. And it also pairs well with other colors like orange, yellow, and even neon purple. So, let's say you pick blue as your first color, and since cobalt blue is trendy right now, it'll be very easy to find cobalt blue items to complete your look. 

2. You want pops of color, but you also need neutrals. Greys, browns, creams, these are all great colors to add to your color palette. Maybe your daughter already has a grey sweater, or your son already has grey jeans. Perfect, now you've got 2 colors of your color palette: blue, grey. 

3. Avoid "traditional" holiday colors. Your family might have done the red sweater and santa hat photo when you were little, but that doesn't mean you have to continue that tradition. Is that a picture you're going to want to stare at even in July? Consider picking colors that don't scream Christmas. This will help you give photos to family members that don't just stay up for the season, but that are truly treasured all year around! So let's add mustard yellow (another trending color, and one of my favorites) to our color palette. Now we've got a gorgeous color palette : cobalt blue, mustard yellow, and grey. Perfect!

How to buy without breaking the bank. You don't have to buy an all-new wardrobe for family photos. Just buy a few select pieces to tie everyone together. You've decided on your colors, and you already have a few of the pieces, so how do you get everyone else tied together?

4. Don't over-match. So you love the trendy color cobalt blue. Great! But don't go buy a new cobalt sweater for everyone. Instead, think of including cobalt anywhere from head to toe. Shoes, accessories, jeans, shirts, hats, scarves, all of these are areas you can bring the colors in.

5. Choose now and later over just now. Buy pieces that reflect someone's personal style, and that they will wear over and over again. Buying yourself a pair of yellow skinny jeans is a great idea. You can find them in tons of stores and I guarantee you, for less than $30 if you do a little research. Plus, you can wear them for any season! A sweater and boots for winter, a top and blazer for fall, a tank and sandals for summer, and a tunic and flats for spring. A mustard yellow sweater for your husband may be something he only wears for the family photo, so that's a no-go, but for you, the yellow skinnies may prove to be a valued investment. 

6. Assemble the ensemble. So you chose your color palette (gorgeous, by the way) and you know you don't want to buy everyone a brand new outfit (how smart of you), so now what? First, shop your closets. You might have forgotten that you bought your daughter a new sweater when it went on sale in the off-season, or that your husband just bought some new jeans not too long ago, or that your friend sent you a new scarf last holiday season. Go through all the closets in your house and see what you already have. Then compile a list of what you need to buy to complete all the outfits and pull it all together. 

And when you're done....


VOILA!!


Fall Family Portrait 1


Most of these items are from Target or Old Navy, so you know they'll be reasonably priced and (usually) easily found. (If you can't find them in a store near you, check out online, they usually have amazing deals for online purchases anyway.)


And if mustard yellow and cobalt aren't your thing, try something like this: 



Fall Family Portrait 2



A wonderful combination of turquoise and purple, come together in a family portrait that you can mail out to family members at the holidays, or even in late winter/early spring. Have a daughter that is obsessed with purple? That's okay, pair it with turquoise-y blue, greys and blacks and it will tone down the purple hue, while adding some chic sophistication to the ensemble. 


There are so many lovely outfit ideas for you out there, and if you stick with my tips, you'll have a wonderful outfit put together for everyone in your family, while still maintaining there own personal style, all without blowing your budget. It's the perfect family photo trifecta!

If you loved my post and want to keep up with all my shenanigans, follow me here: 

Blog : http://www.live-delightfully.com/
Twitter : https://twitter.com/reginakayxo
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/livedelightfully
Instagram : reginakayxo


Thanks for reading and a big thank you to Lydia for 1) asking me to come guest blog for her, and 2) for being SOOO incredibly patient while I went through a serious writing drought. Thanks girl!


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It was fun to write a guest post for someone else's blog. If you are looking for a guest blogger, now or sometime in the future, let me know. ;) 

Friday, December 7, 2012

me : red velvet whoopie pies




When Joey and I moved to Levelland 4 years ago, I decided to make a little goodie bag at Christmas time. Filled with baked goodies that I had made for the parents of the kids in our youth group. I've done themes, I've done cookie jars, and every year I change up the goodies. When we moved to Plains last year, I decided the congregation was so small, I could just make a goodie bag for everyone. So I did. I ended up doing a bit more baking, but it's still fun to do and nice to give everyone. 

This year, I added a new item to the goodie bags, Red Velvet Whoopie Pies. It's red velvet cake cookies with a vanilla/cream cheese filling. They. Are. Heavenly. And since they're red and white, they are the perfect color for giving out this time of year, or taking to a holiday party. But if you're over-done this season, try making them for Valentine's Day. ;) Gotta love all the red-themed holidays, right?

Anyway, here is the recipe for these delicious treats : 


Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

the cookies : 
1 package of red velvet cake mix
1/3 c. butter, melted
2 eggs
1/4 c. water

the filling : 
1 can vanilla frosting
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese

Mix the cream cheese and frosting together in a bowl, then spoon into a ziploc bag and put in the refrigerator. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl combine the cake mix, butter, eggs, and water, and mix thoroughly until well-blended. Using a small spoon, or a cookie drop spoon, spoon a small portion of the batter onto the cookie sheet. (I don't have a cookie drop spoon, so I just used a small table spoon and tried to create drops about the same size.) Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes. You want the edges to be set and the tops to be more spongy than gooey. Let the cookies cool. 


Pair up the cookies according to size. Since some of mine came out larger, and some smaller, I tried to match the ones together that were most similar in size. Squeeze a dollop of filling onto one cookie and press the cookies together lightly. Put in an airtight container or cover with plastic and place in the fridge for an hour (or until ready to serve or bag) to set. The filling can be quite runny and letting them set in the fridge will help the filling to firm a bit so your cookies stay together better. 


And that's it! You can roll the edges in sprinkles, use food coloring to change up the colors of the filling, use white cake mix and food coloring to create your own color of cookies, go nuts! These are so easy and can be made to match whatever colors you might need. I'm already thinking of new ideas for when I might be able to make these again. 



And the taste? Absolutely scrum-diddly-umptious!! Yum Yum Yum!! 

Enjoy!