Backyard Campfire Fun

September 29th, 2016

 

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It’s fallllllll! (Imagine me saying that in my best Oprah voice.) But that doesn’t mean it’s time to hide inside. It’s the most magical time of the year here in New England, where the days are still warm enough to be by the water but you have to close the windows at night or you can’t feel your nose in the morning. There’s chowder and donuts and cider and wine and oysters to enjoy outdoors. And it’s the perfect time of year to have a backyard campfire, right on our own patio.

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You can check out my idea board at the end of this post for links to items (or similar items) from Wayfair. They’ve got just what you need.

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Cozy, easy care cotton throws and fun pillows gave our old furniture new life.

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Lantern string lights add ambiance and warmth while you’re waiting for the fire to warm up.

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Plastic wine glasses = no chance of shattering them on the patio stones.

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Same deal with the tray – looks like rattan, but it’s actually plastic for easier clean up and no chance of breaking it.

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We’ve had this fire pit for years now and every time we use it we think “Why don’t we do this more often?!” Now that the cool nights are mostly bug-free, I see a lot more s’mores and wine in our future.
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This metal wall art makes our outdoor space feel more like a room.

One of the best parts about a backyard campfire is the ability to leave my newborn sleeping in the house while we roast marshmallows. Newborns near the fire pit seem like a poor choice – it’s hard enough controlling a clumsy toddler near the fire pit – so it was nice to be able to relax a little. In previous years, the kids seemed to like the idea of s’mores only in theory, but this year they ate as many as we would allow.

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Those blankets are my new favorite thing and I can’t wait to use them for lots of fall photo sessions. I’m sure the wine glasses will find a way to be useful as well. A big thanks to Wayfair for sponsoring this post and encouraging us to get out and enjoy our backyard campfire!

 


End of Summer Patio Campfire
Keep Calm And Eat A Smore Textual Art Plaque

Keep Calm And Eat A Smore Textual Art Plaque
Click Wall Art
Spanish Wall Décor

Spanish Wall Décor
World Source Partners
Outdoor Natural Slate Wood Burning Fire Pit

Outdoor Natural Slate Wood Burning Fire Pit
Pleasant Hearth
10-Light 7.5 ft. Lantern String Lights

10-Light 7.5 ft. Lantern String Lights
DEI
Lone Star Electric Hurricane Lantern

Lone Star Electric Hurricane Lantern
Leigh Country
Leaf Sequenced Decorative Throw Pillow

Leaf Sequenced Decorative Throw Pillow
Artistic Linen
Multi Diamond 100% Cotton Throw (Set of 2)

Multi Diamond 100% Cotton Throw (Set of 2)
Amrapur Overseas Inc.
Dongan Stemmed Wine Tumbler (Set of 4)

Dongan Stemmed Wine Tumbler (Set of 4)
Varick Gallery
Photoreal Rattan Serving Tray

Photoreal Rattan Serving Tray
TarHong

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My Week(308) in iPhone Photos

September 26th, 2016

So much baby(toddler)-wearing this week! Linc needed the cuddles and Finn was still so sleepy he doesn’t care. He’ll be attached to me all the time soon enough.

Sunday:

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There are approximately 500 of these on my phone

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This is not how you ride a horse

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My super professional newborn studio set up

Monday:

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Post office assistant

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Where’s Lincoln? No really, where did he go? I keep losing him.

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Best photo of the week

Tuesday:

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Linc calls him “Ev” and loves him so much

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New ups!

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He doubts my choices

Wednesday:

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Picture Day!

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More toddler ups!

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Climbers

Thursday:

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Morning light

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Bus stop selfie

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I need to try this shot again, but for an iPhone photo it’s not bad

Friday:

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House status: trashed, forever

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Where is that baby rolling to? (Also, What is resistant?)

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HATES YOU HE DOES

Saturday:

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We need a 3rd Plasma Car

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PERFECT day for a family fall session

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This Pop2K radio channel gives me life

My baby currently hates everyone and everything, so I’m doing a lot of one-handed Facebooking while I nurse him. I keep running out of Internet, so if you know of any really good drama to read about, let me know. I love a good internet drama.

 

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5 Tips For Taking Newborn Photos Yourself

September 21st, 2016

Here’s my first piece of advice when it comes to newborn photography: HIRE AN EXPERT. This is one case where you truly cannot recreate what you see on Pinterest on your own. The time, training, expense, and expertise that goes into becoming a great newborn photographer cannot be replicated with a how-to post on the internet. If really beautiful newborn photos are important to you, they are absolutely worth the money.

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This is professional work. Hire someone for this.

I’ve never hired a real photographer for my newborn photos before. All I have from when Evan was little are snapshots. A friend and I tried to take newborn photos of Caroline but they’re mostly Pinterest fails. The photographer I did hire (for so little money it doesn’t even count) was not an expert and our shoot was a disaster. With Linc, I was so confident I could do it on my own I spent an enormous amount of time and effort trying to make what I was picturing in my head a reality. I never even came close. I am very glad I have those photos and some even live on my walls, but I wasn’t (and will never be) an amazing posed newborn photographer.

Newborn photography is also physically taxing and if you’re trying to do it while you should be recovering from birth, you’re going to get tired and sore very quickly. Every time I’ve photographed a newborn I’ve ended up absolutely dripping in sweat and feeling like I’ve run 10 miles (I can’t run 10 miles). Even if you’re feeling pretty good, the bending and crouching and twisting and kneeling and physical work needed to get the results professionals do for 3+ hours is exhausting and you will definitely feel it later. Just one more reason why hiring someone is worth the expense.

So with Finnegan, my last baby, I hired a professional. A professional who isn’t me. Fellow Connecticut photographer Stefanie Cole came to my house, worked super patiently with my cranky baby, and delivered a gallery of absolutely stunning images. They are art. I want them all on my walls. I am so grateful for her and her talent.

 

That being said, with a newborn in the house I can’t resist taking his picture. Since he’s my fourth baby and about the 40th newborn I’ve photographed (even though I’ve moved away from posed sessions) I feel like I have some experience worth sharing. So here are my 5 tips for taking newborn photos yourself.

    1. Pick the right time. Here is one advantage you have over a scheduled session – you can take pictures of your baby 24 hours a day. Newborn sleep schedules change all the time. Be prepared to take your baby’s pictures the next time you’re expecting them to be sound asleep. Get them stripped down to just a diaper, then wrap them in something picture-appropriate, like a pretty swaddle blanket, a plain white onesie, a scarf or a newborn wrap you bought on Etsy while you were dreaming of newborn photos. Then feed them really well, snuggle them close, and wait for that totally-limp-arm stage where they won’t notice you snapping away. tips to take your own newborn photos
    2. Pick the right spot. You want to find a corner of your house where there is a lot of light, but not direct sun shining in patches. If you have just one big window, you’ll get dramatic, directional light like I did in these photos. If you have a corner with several windows, you’ll get more even, brighter light. A room with white/light walls is even better. Turn off your electric lights and try just using the natural light from the window – your colors and shadows will look more natural. tips to take your own newborn photos
    3. Pick the right background. Professional newborn photos are often posed on a beautiful seamless background that fades out in every direction. That look is about 75% skill and 25% Photoshop. I don’t recommend trying it on your own. So instead of trying to recreate it, put plain white sheets and a plain duvet on a bed and use that space. If you have a beanbag chair, throw a blanket over it and shoot from above instead of the side. If you don’t have a beanbag, make a nest of pillows. If you want something fancier than a blanket, the fur throws most photographers use are called “flokatis”. Genuine sheep ones can cost big bucks, but look at Wayfair, Overstock or Rugs USA for deals. Cream, gray or brown are beautiful colors for newborns. Don’t use fleece, don’t use anything with too many bright colors, and don’t use anything that needs to be perfectly smooth (texture is your friend). DON’T try to stuff the baby in a bucket or a basket or on a tiny chair or in crazy poses. Lay them on their back or side, curl them up a little, smooth out their hands until they are relaxed with their fingers flat. That’s all you need. Besides maybe a cute hat. tips to take your own newborn photos
    4. Pick the right angle. This means don’t shoot up your baby’s nose or from their feet. You want them to look proportional and highlight just how tiny and precious they are in their first couple weeks. Shoot from above when you can, or close ups of all their precious little parts. Imagine the light and your camera is water flowing over the baby from their head down and try to follow that angle. Zoom (or move) in close, then take the same shot from as far away as you can. Turn your camera so the baby is vertical, then at an angle, then horizontal. Some photos will work and some won’t, so don’t be afraid to take a lot and look through them later. Trust me, no parent has ever said “Man, I wish I didn’t have SO MANY pictures of my newborn.” tips to take your own newborn photos
    5. Pick the right equipment. In this case, the right equipment is the camera you have. It might be your phone. It might be the DSLR you got for Christmas 2 years ago. It might be your old point and shoot. The best camera to capture an important moment is the one you have. IF you have a fancy camera and lenses to choose from, a 50mm 1.8 is a great newborn choice. You can shoot in A or AP mode with your f-stop set at 2.8 or just shoot in auto with the flash turned off. If all you have is your iPhone, tap the screen on the part of the baby you want to focus on and it will adjust exposure. Editing apps like PicTapGo, Afterlight or Colorstory can help you edit. But keep it simple – remember, you’re not creating crazy effects or fake tilt-shifts or selective color. You’re just capturing your beautiful new baby as they are.

It’s also important to remember if your baby is grumpy, fussy, uncomfortable or otherwise unhappy you can call it quits and try again some other time. Do it tomorrow. Do it next week. ALL the day with a newborn are both so long and so short, you will barely remember them in a couple years. It’s not like if you don’t get these photos when your baby is exactly 2 days or 2 weeks or 2 months old you’ve failed. Just do the best you can so in 5 years when you send your tiny newborn off to kindergarten you have something to look at and cry over. That’s totally normal, right?

Good luck! Let me know if you take any newborn photos, I would love to see them!

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My Week(307) in iPhone Photos

September 18th, 2016

I thought I did really well this week, but a) my mom was still here and b) I somehow totally forgot Wednesday? The real test will be this current week, when I’m left with 4 children all day. Will they make it to school wearing clothes?!?! Will Linc try to sit on the baby??? Will the cat finally give up and run away forever??? WHO KNOWS!!

Sunday:

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That’s how you know it’s good ice cream

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Sitting so politely

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WHICH CHILD EVEN IS THIS IT LOOKS LIKE EVAN BUT IT’S TOO SMALL

Monday:

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She’s so fancy

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Tantrum toddler is tatruming

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I should probably just burn it down

Tuesday:

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Checking out the other patients

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Is he sleeping yet??

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It was less than 80 degrees, so she needed a blanket

Wednesday:

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All I have from Wednesday, which explains itself

Thursday:

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So nice

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Cider Mill haul

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But WHY can’t the cows come home with us???

Friday:

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I caught you helping!

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Tired baby

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All wrapped up

Saturday:

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Soccer is boring

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Go Blue Monsters!

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New lights!

We got SO many things organized/cleaned/put away/straighten/throw out/fixed while my parents were here. It’s always amazing to have them here and my house no longer looks like the trashiest one on the block. Now all I have to do is stay on top of laundry and dishes for…the rest of my life. That seems unlikely, but at least now the ice maker works, I have a wine fridge plugged in, and my guest room is useable.

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Game Night Get Together with Ellio’s Pizza

September 14th, 2016

Thank you Ellio’s Pizza for sponsoring this post. Visit your local retailer to pick up your own Ellio’s Pizza for a pizza night in!

Once a month – or more often, if we can manage – we share a game night with one of E’s coworkers and his family. We taught them a card game called Hand and Foot, which I was forced to learn before I was allowed to marry into the Davis family and which we now force other people to learn as a requirement for friendship. I mean, we don’t make ALL our friends learn, but if you hang out in our general vicinity for more than 6 hours at some point E will volunteer to teach you because he probably has the card box waiting right over here just in case there is a card-playing emergency. He’s prepared! He made a special box to keep the cards in! Don’t worry if you have never played, there is a cheat sheet right in the box to help you!

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I’m teasing a little bit, but I absolutely love our game nights. With 5 (now 6!) children between us, babysitters are expensive and hard to come by so hanging out as a family is much easier. Plus Amanda is an amaaaazing cook and baker and always feeds us super well when she hosts.

Since I was 84.5 months pregnant at our last game night, my desire to spend two days in front of the oven making a gourmet dessert for game night was missing. My desire to eat lots of delicious food was still more than available though, so I was thrilled with this chance partner with Ellio’s Pizza for a fun family dinner option.

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The husbands – who are not from New England – were puzzled why Amanda and I were super excited about frozen pizza. Amanda, who is from here, said “This tastes just like my childhood!” And it’s totally true. Ellio’s Pizza is a Northeast tradition, founded on Long Island in 1963 and one of the things parents have been feeding their kids as a quick dinner or after-school snack for the last 5 decades. Available in six different flavors and made with 100% real cheese and zero artificial flavoring, it’s super fast, super delicious, and super kid- (and parent) approved.

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Along with a plate of veggies, it was a balanced meal everyone enjoyed and I didn’t waste any precious card-playing energy to make. That’s probably why Amanda and I TROUNCED the guys in the first round (we won’t talk about the second round). I’m stocking my freezer with more Ellio’s Pepperoni Pizza (our favorite) for the back-to-school craziness combined with the end-of-summer laziness and the having-a-fourth-baby insanity that is all about to hit us at once. Frozen pizza is exactly what those situations call for. Get in on the goodness yourself and check out the store locator at the top of the Ellio’s homepage to see where Ellio’s Pizza is sold near you.

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You can follow Ellio’s on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Dr. Oetker USA LLC. I received compensation for this post, however all opinions stated are my own.

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