Friday, November 12, 2010

Random Act of Kindness in the Jardin des Tuileries

So I've been slacking on the post this week. There are several reasons for this, really. But I would like to place the majority of the blame for my laziness on PHB - Post-Halloween Blues. It's a serious condition and it affects thousands of people worldwide. It's like I blew all my creativity in the frenzy and excitement of my favorite holiday. And now, I'm just blllaaahhhh. Oh well, I'll get over it. In the meantime, I'm going to pick up where I left off before the most awesome month of the year took over, with pics of Paris...

Whilst strolling through the Jardin des Tuileries, we happened upon this lovely little scene that was just waiting to be photographed. There's something special about capturing strangers in random acts of kindness. This sweet gentleman brought a big bag of birdseed to the garden just to feed the sparrows. If that doesn't make you make you tilt your head and sigh, "aw" then, well... I don't know about you.

This last one reminds me of a line from the movie "Roxanne". When Steve Martin's character is coming up with twenty jokes better than "Big Nose" one of them is:

 "Complimentary: You must love the little birdies to give them this to perch on!"

That's a great movie, by the way. If you haven't seen it, you should.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween is the fairest of them all...

Halloween is over. Uggh, it pains me to even type the words. But all good things must come to an end, I suppose. I bid my favorite time of the year adeu and leave you with some of my favorite shots of my best (of the three I wore) costume - courtesy of Photo Booth.

me as the Evil Queen from Snow White

Would you like an apple?

Looks like someone had fun in the photo booth! Yes, I know I'm a dork.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Potion Jars

I have time to squeeze in one more Halloween project post, right?

This one was super easy and fun to make with my daughter. Using whatever glass jars or bottles you have (some of these I bought, some were perrier or pasta sauce bottles), just add some dollar store toys or things you find in your backyard and stick some spooky labels on. You can also add a little pizazz to the tops with some burlap, corks, and twine. Some of the labels were rub on transfers that I bought at Michaels. The other labels came from fabulous designer - Kristine McKay - who shares a pdf of these labels you can download for free! I tweaked a few of mine by changing the labels to reflect what is in the jar, but you can just print them out on sticker paper then cut them out and slap them on! My four year old loved adding the objects and drops of food coloring.  Some of the jars contain those bugs that grow larger in water, so every day we check on how big they're getting. Be creative and have fun!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Catacombes de Paris

I thought I'd round out Halloween week with some more creepy catacomb photos. Here's a little history of this not-to-be-missed attraction:

The Catacombs in Paris consist of a network of subterranean tunnels and rooms located in what were Roman-era limestone quarries. The portion of the catacombs open to the public is only a small part of an extensive network of underground tunnels, which spans more than 300km. 

These quarries were converted into a mass tomb near the end of the 18th century. At the time, parts of Paris were suffering from disease, which was due to contamination caused by improper burials and mass graves in church graveyards.  So it was decided to remove the bones discreetly and place them in the abandoned quarries. The process was conducted with reverence and discretion – the quarry space was blessed before any bones were moved there, bones were always moved in a quiet parade of carts accompanied by priests, and these movements always took place at night.  

The Catacombs of Paris now contain the bodies of roughly 6-7 million Parisians.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bubbling Cauldron

Yet another easy/cheap/fun Halloween project to make. Kids can help with this one too!

Recipe for a bubbling cauldron (hee hee):
  • 1 medium/large cauldron (mine is about 14" diameter): $7 from Walmart
  • 2 cans of insulating foam: about $3/each
  • Green paint
  • Newspaper
Crumple up some sheets of newspaper and stuff into the bottom of your cauldron. As you can see below, I stuffed it nearly to the top. Then just spray the foam around in different bursts so that it covers the paper and has some texture by giving it that bubbly look. I don't quite know how to explain this part in writing... hopefully you get the idea. I found out the hard way that this project takes more than one can of foam. A smaller cauldron would probably only use 1 can.

This is what it looked like after only one can of the foam! Not quite what I was envisioning.

Day 2. Ah, that's better - one more can did the trick. Just the right amount of bubbling ooziness. Make sure you spray some over the edges so that it has that 'dripping' effect.

Next just paint it green! I used two different shades of green. The second (darker) green supposedly glows in the dark. We shall see. Here's where the kids come in. My 4-year-old loved painting it and picking out the eyeballs and bugs to decorate it with! No gross additions are shown here because I plan on using it for my work Halloween decor sans bugs. But can't you just see some lovely worms, roaches, eyeballs, etc. laying on top?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Witch's Spell Book

Here's another Halloween project you can make for cheap - your own Spell book! I've been wanting to make one of these since last year and given what my costume is for my Halloween extravaganza at work, this was the perfect opportunity. I was originally going to do the witches' spell from Macbeth, but decided on these two spells because it fits better with my theme. Any guesses on who I'm going to be?

I started by making the two spell pages. I designed mine in Photoshop because that is my software of choice. The internet is such a beautiful thing when it comes to finding free stuff. I got the fonts for free from Dafont (my favorite resource for cool fonts). The skull is courtesy of The Graphics Fairy (love, love, love her free clipart) and the apple was from an artist on Deviant Art.

Anyway, I bought a book at Goodwill for $2. I brought it home and painted the edges with a reddish-brown watercolor (extra water) and tried to rough it up by curling the edges. I also used another brown acrylic paint to give it some dimension. Then I just roughly cut out the pages I had designed and spray mounted them on, working the edges into the curls. Lastly, I added a bookmark which is just a strip of black ribbon hot glued to the spine on the back.

The book is just meant as a display prop, not for people to go flipping through. Otherwise I would have covered the front and hand stained or painted every page, not just the sides. It was kind of fun messing up this book. I can't tell you how many times I've damaged books on accident (reading in the bathtub), but never on purpose! If I were to do another one, I was thinking of a different approach for the pages. Maybe dipping all the pages in coffee or tea and letting it dry out like that? If anybody tries this, let me know what your results were!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stop! This is the empire of Death

The highlight of our trip to Paris was, without a doubt, The Catacombs. Yes, I am weird and I have an affection for the macabre. But seriously, the catacombs are fascinating. If you ever have the chance, you should experience it for yourself. You go deep underground and walk through endless caverns where you are surrounded by walls of carefully arranged bones. It takes about 30 minutes to walk through (of course, we were down there for about an hour). I had done my research before we went and knew that you are not allowed to use flash. So we brought a flashlight and tripod (hoping they wouldn't say we couldn't use the tripod). Luckily it wasn't very busy when we went and there were periods of time when we were completely alone down there with the bones. Very creepy in an awesome way! Of course I took a ton of pictures, so I'm going to spread them out over this week and next week's posts in honor of Halloween. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spooky Halloween Branches Tutorial

Remember, I warned you I'd be posting some Halloween projects this month!

I've been seeing these spooky potted lighted tree/branches around. I saw some at Target for $40/each and thought eh, I could make that. Well friends, not only did I make them, I made them for less than 1/2 the price! I ended up spending $20 on two. Super easy and good outside Halloween decor (or "yard crap", as my husband calls it). Here's how i did it:

You'll need the following (which you can get in one place, unless you're like me and drive to a minimum of 3 different stores to find the best deal and save a whopping couple of dollars):

black branches
floral foam
lights (i used two 50-strand boxes per tree)
black zip ties
2 urns (or 4 pots that you can glue together for an urny shape + black spray paint + glue)

Since urns are expensive and I didn't have any, I decided to make my own urn-looking pot. I bought 2 small pots and 2 medium pots, spray painted them black and hot glued the bottom of a medium to the bottom of a small. Viola, urny-shaped pot! Add the floral foam to the top and then you can prepare your branches.

Cut the branches in various sizes (I used a hand pruner to cut mine) and insert into the foam in a decoratively spooky manner.

Next you just run the lights up and down the branches using the zip ties to tighten them up. I started at the bottom of one branch (remember to leave some length on the end so you can plug it in!) and went up one branch, then about 1/4way down before loosely draping it to the top of the next branch. From there, run the lights down, then up on another branch, and so on.  Once the lights are on every branch, make sure the other end of the plug is at the bottom and then cover it and the foam with moss.

They look pretty cool at night. Perfect for entrances or as pathway markers!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tour Eiffel la nuit

The Eiffel tower at night is a beautiful thing. Seeing it during the day is one thing. But let's face it, apart from it being one of the most recognizable structures in the world and the symbol of Paris, it's really just a very industrial-looking steel tower. But at night it's transformed into something magical. It glows yellowish/orangish just after dark and every hour on the hour it starts to sparkle. I'm telling you, magical.

I love shooting at twilight. There's something so real about setting your camera to Bulb, sticking it on a tripod and holding a remote. I love how the camera perceives so many colors that the naked eye can't. There is no color manipulation in the three photos below. It's just what the camera captured at different shutter speeds. There's something about each one that I like, I couldn't choose just one to show. Do you have a favorite?

Thursday, October 7, 2010


This blog is dedicated to photography. I created it so that I could have an outlet and a place to display the gagillions of images I take. BUT, I like other stuff too. I like to make things, especially during this time of the year. And since I don't want to make a whole other blog for that, I'm just going to post those projects here. Besides, I'm taking photos of these projects. So that counts, right?

Have I mentioned how much I love Halloween? As far as I'm concerned, it's the most wonderful time of the year. There is something magical in the air - like a constant feeling of anticipation. My parents are directly responsible for my fascination with this holiday. When I was a child, my mom always made Halloween feel special with homemade costumes and crafts and my dad would make our annual visits to haunted houses a big event. I think it was from their enthusiasm that my current (minor) obsession sprung forth.

So, I'm big into decorating for this holiday. Every year I add more and more to my massive collection of Halloween decor. Very often, I see something I like and think I can make that!

I saw this really cool Poe crow (hee hee! It sounds funnier than Poe raven) in a magazine and wanted to recreate it.

All you need is a birdcage (I found this one at Goodwill), a crow (good raven substitute), a twig (backyards are good for that), some moss (optional), and a little Nevermore! note that you can glue to the beak. I wanted to give credit to the creator that inspired this piece and in looking them up online I found that not only do they have an awesome store, but a cool blog as well. Check out Curious Sofa here.