Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Tunes

This week's tune is "Saw You First" by Givers. I heard this song on our local public radio station and fell in love with it. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Project 365 - Week Two

Day Eight - The Missing Tooth
My nephew Braylon's missing tooth,

Day Nine - Brotherly/Sisterly Love
My sweeties, being their crazy selves.

Day Ten - Joshuaverine
Joshua's Wolverine hair style just before I cut it all off.

Day Eleven - Gums
Violet's toothless little mouth.

Day Twelve - Mama's New Hat
I found this hat a thrift shop and absolutely love it.

Day Thirteen - Boots
Amelia's snow boots reflected in an icy puddle.

Day Fourteen - Winter Bliss
Nothing says winter like catching snowflakes on your tongue.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Photoshop: Before and After

I do post-processing on almost every single photo I take in Photoshop CS5. I am not the most versed in Photoshop, so I depend on actions for almost all the edits I make. I am a huge fan of Paint the Moon actions and use them almost exclusively for my photos. They are awesome for portraits!

This is my before shot of Oliver playing in the snow this afternoon. It's a decent photo on its own, but I wanted to kick up a few details. 

And this is my after shot....

I used three different Paint the Moon actions to achieve this after photo. I knew I wanted to bring out Oliver's face, the texture in the hat, the texture of his coat and I wanted it to be more obvious that the snow was still falling when I took the picture. 

First I used the Intensity action from PTM's Fresh Wonderland TWO. That deepened the texture in the hat, but made the coat and buttons even darker than before. Next I ran the All Together Now -Vintage action from PTM's Picture Perfect Portrait. Finally, I cropped a wee bit off the right side of the image to help center Oliver in the image and ran the Soft Burnt Edges action from PTM's Picture Perfect Portrait set three times. Ta da!

The second image has more texture, detail and interest than the original and it only took a few mouse clicks.  The big challenge with actions is choosing the right ones for your image.  Two images taken seconds apart can require two totally different combinations of actions. Some images may even only require use of one action to make them great. It all comes with practice and becoming familiar with your actions. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Project 365 - Week One

I'm a few days late posting these, but my first week of Project 365 was a success. I've done a great job remembering to capture a little slice of life every day. 

While I'm taking part in Project 365 to improve my photography, I mostly want to capture a little moment of our lives every day. At the end of the year I plan to have all photos printed into a photo book. 

Enjoy Week One!

Day One - Traveling with Violet
Violet waking up from a nap on a 3 hour drive to my Dad's house.

Day Two - New Snow
The first snow of the season and of 2012.

Day Three - Squishy Face
Need I say more?

Day Four - Playtime
Playing on the floor with Violet.

Day Five - Floating Away
Playing with my new wireless shutter release.

Day Six - New Shoes
My new shoes, taken by Amelia.

Day Seven - Shopping with Mommy
Just picking up some groceries with Oliver and Amelia.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday Tunes

It's only January. The 3rd of January to be exact, but I am loving this summery tune by The Rural Alberta Advantage. Enjoy!

Cloth Diapering 101

Although I didn't start cloth diapering until my third child, I have absolutely loved the experience so far with Violet. I've learned a LOT in the past 8 months and I want to share this knowledge with others. Please ask any questions you may have. Hopefully I can answer or help you find an answer in the cloth diapering community!

There are tons of brands of cloth diapers on the market and new WAHM (work at home mothers) brands pop up every day. For every 10 brands of cloth diapers on the market, there is a different way to wash them and for every 5 different ways to wash them, there's a different detergent. Because the combinations and options are almost endless with cloth diapering, I'm just going to go over the brands, accessories and washing method we use. 

Our methods work best for us, but every method is as unique as the baby wearing the diapers. It's best to keep in mind that with cloth diapering, you have to take the time to find your groove. If the first diapers or the first few washing methods you try don't work, don't give up! 

We use one size Kawaii Baby brand cloth diapers. These diapers cost $6.99 per diaper and come with two microfiber inserts, versus other cloth diapers which, on average, cost between $20-$30 a piece. We chose to cloth diaper to save money. Sure it's great for our baby and great for the environment, but those are additional benefits to us on top of the massive amount we save not buying disposables. Our diapers will fit Violet from birth until she is potty trained. I spent $80 on a package deal of 12 diapers, which is plenty for our wash schedule. $80 versus the $2,000-$3,000 spent on disposables from birth to potty training...it's pretty much a no brainer! 

Although Kawaii Baby diapers are considerably less expensive than most other brands of cloth diapers, they work great! I did a lot of research and read a ton of reviews before deciding to go with Kawaii Baby. We've had some leaky moments, but it's generally been user error and not a deficit in the quality of the diaper. 

Kawaii Baby diapers are what is commonly called a "pocket diaper" The diapers consists of a waterproof shell, a soft fleece inner lining and a separate microfiber insert. I prefer pocket diapers over AIOs (all in one diapers where the shell, lining and insert are all sewn together) because I feel like they get cleaner when I remove the insert, they dry faster and we're able to add additional inserts if we need to increase the absorbency when Violet gets older. 

I love these diapers and definitely recommend them to any parents looking to cloth diaper on a budget or maybe just give cloth diapering a try. If you can afford the more expensive brands, knock yourself out, but these diapers have served us wonderfully so far and for the price, we couldn't ask for anything more! You can check out the Kawaii Baby store here. They have package deals and singles up for grabs and it even looks like they have a holiday sale going on right now!

We started cloth diapering when Violet was about a month old. In the above photo she is two weeks old and, as you can see, the cloth diaper is swallowing her up. We used disposables for the first month and still use disposables on occasion (mostly when we travel). 

For our wash method, I use Rockin' Green cloth diaper detergent. Rockin' Green comes in a number of great scents and I have used it since we began cloth diapering. It's usually around $14 a bag, but you only need roughly 2 tablespoons per wash so the bag lasts quite awhile. Violet is almost 8 months and I've only gone through two bags of detergent so far. 

I wash diapers every 2-3 days (I shoot for two, but with three kids and a million things going on, it just doesn't always happen as planned). My method is:

Full Wash Cycle - Cold/Cold
Full Wash Cycle with 2 tablespoons of Rockin' Green - Hot/Cold
Rinse - Cold
Rinse - Cold

Yes, I rinse twice. Although Rockin' Green is all natural, I still like to rinse as much residue off as I can so it doesn't have the chance to irritate our little one's bottom.

I line dry the diapers and inserts. I do this for a few different reasons. First off, it saves money! Air drying is cheaper than running the dryer! Second, I find that it makes our diapers not have a smell. Sometimes after I dry them in the dryer (which I started out doing on rainy days) I found the inserts and sometimes the diapers had the unmistakable ammonia tinted scent of pee. Yuck! The final reason I air dry is because the sun your best defense against staining. All natural and all free! Since it's winter now and line drying isn't really an option, I use an indoor drying rack like this one:

It cost us around $15 and folds up very small when not in use. I really can't wait for the spring, though! I miss the freshness of drying our diapers outdoors.

Like most things, cloth diapering comes with some extras. 

One extra you'll definitely need is a diaper pail or wet bag to hold your dirty diapers between washings. You want something waterproof and, preferably, smell proof (or close to it). We use a wet bag because it just made more sense to me than a diaper pail. 

I recommend Planet Wise wet bags. They come in three different sizes (you'll need smaller wet bags for traveling or just in case!). You can find them on Amazon here. They may seem a little pricey, but the quality is great, they're very durable and you're going to use this item for 3 or so years (maybe more if you cloth diaper more than one child!) so its worth it!

Something else you'll need is a cloth diaper friendly rash ointment. Traditional ointments such as Desitin will cause your diapers to repel liquids rather than absorb them, which will lead to leaky diapers. I recommend Grovia's Magic Stick:

Finally, you have options when it comes to wipes. Most cloth diapering parents use cloth wipes, but not all. We use a combination of my handmade cloth wipes and disposable wipes. Because I handmade my wipes, I can't recommend a particular brand of cloth wipes from experience, but I've heard great things about the OSO Cozy wipes. I've used other OSO Cozy product and had a good experience with them.

Overloaded with information yet? I know it seems overwhelming, but once you find your groove it can become second nature! I am so glad we chose to cloth diaper and I've learned so very much.