MonthOctober 2014

Inspirational Shots

As I was searching through some of my recent photos, I noticed I have taken a few inspirational shots (not of anyone or anything in particular, just a scene I liked). So I thought I’d share a few today.

Sunflowers - I love the tiny burst of the sun. These were blowing in the wind, and every shot had a different amount of sun.

Sunflowers – I love the tiny burst of the sun. These were blowing in the wind, and every shot had a different amount of sun.

I love a trip to the pumpkin patch and wish I could have a whole bin of these!

I love a trip to the pumpkin patch and wish I could have a whole bin of these!

To get this amazing glow, my husband was blowing on the fire to make it flare up. It took several shots to get it just right.

To get this amazing glow, my husband was blowing on the fire to make it flare up. It took several shots to get it just right.

I use to do this all the time, but now my kids fill my camera card. I hope I can work some more of these in!

My designer takeaway: Keep your eye open for those inspiring scenes.

Fourth Annual Halloween Party

Last weekend we held our annual Halloween party. I wasn’t sure we were going to pull it off this year, but it turned out great! Here is a rundown on this year’s event:

Googly-eye Invitations

Googly-eye Invitations

Decorations: Like last year, I used decorations I already had like the spider webs, the wild wreath my mother made, a couple signs (Boo and Spooky), tablecloths, and my paper bats. We got lots of pumpkins from a pumpkin patch this year, which was a lot of fun. My new idea for this year was to darken one of our rooms with black tablecloths. We hung some purple lights in there and I made glowstick pumpkin bowling available for the kids. Once you add people in their costumes, the room decor is really secondary. Speaking of costumes, I was a frog (using a green hoodie and styrofoam eyeballs)!

Annual Mummy Wrap Race

Annual Mummy Wrap Race

Activities: This was where I slacked this year. 🙂 We started off our activities with the traditional mummy wrap. This was the best one yet because the kids are getting old enough to wrap each other. It was a crazy blast! Then I always hand out prizes. I gave everyone a glowstick/glow-somthing to enjoy in our dark room. As I said, we had glowstck pumpkin bowling in the dark room. The third activity was a craft, making a bat. I was at the store, and craft kits were on sale. They were calling to me. So I picked up a couple build a bat sets, and we helped the kids who wanted to build one. I will say that my best idea was to use glue dots. These things not only saved my floors from being covered in glue, but it also gave instant results for the kids. There was no waiting for things to dry.

Owl Cupcakes

Owl Cupcakes

Cups of Halloween Trail Mix

Cups of Halloween Trail Mix

Food: Of course the food is important. My idea for this year was a variety of soups. I kept worrying that this was going to be messy, but it was fine. We made tortilla soup, chicken noodle soup and black bean soup. We had rolls, veggies with two kinds of dip, fruit, cupcakes with owl faces, and a Halloween trail mix (cereal, pumpkin shaped pretzels, dried apple, candy corn, mini M&Ms). Every year I make witch and skeleton finger dipped pretzels (using pretzel rod molds). Those are always popular. I think it’s the sweet and salty combo. This year, three guests offered to bring treats, which has given me the idea to do a potluck for next year. I think people like to show off their cooking skills! 🙂

I almost canceled the party this year because there were so many other things going on that same night. I didn’t, and instead, I expanded who I invited. It was really a wonderful mix of people in the end. It all came together.

My designer takeaway: This year, I learned that it will all work out in the end, just keep going.

Not Your Typical Yearbook

One of my annual projects for work is a yearbook. Yes, a yearbook. No, I don’t work for a school. No, I never thought this would be part of my job once I left school.

We do a yearbook for the state’s Centennial Farm and Ranch Program. This is a really interesting project. The program’s purpose is to recognize families who have owned and operated a farm or ranch in the state for 100 or more years. The yearbook is a collection of their family-business history as told by the family.

Unlike in school, where the content is generated by the yearbook staff, the content for this is provided by the families. It really varies from lengthy stories well documented with photos, to a paragraph and one image, to nothing at all. In school, we tried to make the layouts full and fun. My goal in putting the books together is to attempt to be uniform in presentation and chronological with photos (which can be daunting at times). It’s such a mish-mash that I hope all the families feel they were given equal treatment. I hope they are pleased to share their history with family and friends through this means.

This goal feels foreign to me. Usually, I strive to pick something to feature, something gets to be highlighted or the focal point. Here, I try to keep it all equal. (But, sometimes it can’t be. Sometimes a photograph just isn’t high enough in resolution to be the standard size.)

Here are a few example spreads:

centennial-ranch-yearbook-2012

centennial-ranch-yearbook-2012---2

centennial-ranch-yearbook-2007

Perhaps to the general public this would come across as boring, but the audience for this is not the general public. It’s for the farm and ranch families. That’s why it’s really important to remember the purpose of a project.

My designer takeaway: Sometimes the goal of a project can mean breaking the standard design “rules/best practices”.

A Creativity Challenge

Every now and then, I think when I’m feeling uninspired, I dream up a challenge for myself — to push my creativity. Do you ever find that when you’re forced to make something out of a limited number of elements, it’s more creative than if you had unlimited resources at your disposal? I do. For example, in college, we would have to make a ridiculous amount of sketches for a layout, say 50 or 100. After those first couple dozen, we’d put any option that came to mind down. Sometimes, those desperate attempts to meet the quota head a great idea.

A few years ago, I dreamed up my “100 cards in 100 days” challenge. This was really good for me. It gave me some great creative, hands-on time each day. And, I ended up with a stack of greeting cards to use. In fact, I still print them out and use them these days. I keep thinking I should do this again, but limit it to one theme, i.e. holidays or birthdays.

From my knitting class, a 24-month cable-knit girl's top.

From my knitting class, a 24-month cable-knit girl’s top.

Then I challenged myself to the once a month knitting class. I loved learning new techniques and growing more confident in reading knitting patterns, but this was a disaster for me. I missed a bunch of classes because of kid commitments. I only finished a few projects (and this really bothers me). The rest are sitting in a tub waiting to be finished or even started. My goal for this winter is to finish the most challenging project, which was a two color cowl with a complicated pattern. It requires me to sit in a quiet place without distractions (kids, hubby, TV) so I don’t mess up the pattern. We shall see!

blog-list

So this year, my self-imposed challenge has been to produce a blog post once a week. When I first started my blog, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to dream up enough content. Then I got a few posts under my belt. It’s not always easy. I do keep a running list of ideas, but I often look over it and don’t have the desire to write about any of them. My goal this week should be to beef up that list! 🙂

The next challenges I’m contemplating are to try a new recipe once a week and/or plan a new craft project for my kids once a week. I’d love to do them both, but that feels like a lot of planning and prep on my part. Who knows!

My designer takeaway: When you’re feeling uninspired, give yourself a long-term challenge to force the issue. You never know what you might come up with!

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