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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

October Instagram Challenge

Somehow, I let October slip in and forgot to post my Instagram Challenge for the month. Of course, you can always find it in my posts on Instagram itself, but I like to post it here, as well.  This month, we are looking for signs for fall in the form of nature, activities and sports (or anything else you find, actually).  I hope you will join us----just post a picture for each prompt and use the hashtag #MTFallFindit2017.  When I am posting, I use my phone exclusively since I am working on improving my skills in that area, but feel free to use whatever camera you prefer. I also generally put the prompt itself in ALL CAPS followed by the hashtag----like this:
        CRACKLE - #mtfallfindit2017

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Picture Practice - An eBook

Back in March, our Instagram challenge was titled Picture Practice and each day was devoted to learning about our phone cameras, new techniques for improving our photography and practicing that technique. I blogged for 31 days straight!  I know, right?!?! Well, I have taken ALL of that information, edited it and added to it and compiled it into a downloadable eBook! Whoa! It was quite an undertaking, but I felt like it would be so much easier to review or refer to if it was in a single document.

The name of the book is: Picture Practice: Taking your photos from "so-so" to "WOW"!
This book is 150+ pages of information, photo examples and comparisons and includes information for both iPhone photography, as well as Android phones.

I even added info about the new iPhone7+, even though at this time I am still coveting it in the stores. The book is available for purchase as a single download in the shop over at Dot To Dot Connections. And guess what?  For a limited time, it is also on sale! Hooray! Just in time for those beautiful fall colors, special programs at school and holidays. Just add it to your cart and check out and you will immediately receive an email with a link to the download.

I hope you enjoy the book and will send me some examples of your new and improved photography skills!
Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dot To Dot Connections

I started this blog quite a few years ago. In fact, it is really hard to believe that I have posts dating back to the year 2007!!  Is that crazy or what?!?!  In scrolling back through my posts, it is easy to see that my posts ebbed and flowed along with life in general. If I had a big project underway, or had done some traveling, I posted more regularly. As things got busy in my work or personal life, I backed way off of blogging.  This blog has always been a personal thing--a way to record some of what is happening in my life and to share some of the DIY projects that I always seem to be undertaking.

I plan to keep on blogging occasionally here, but as you know, I have also started another blog related to a small business I am beginning. There, you will find information that is related to the business, as well as ideas for activities to do with kids, product reviews and suggestions, etc.

Today, I am happy to announce that the entire website is now up and running!!  
Along with it, I am introducing my first subscription box---COLOR MAGIC! It is a box full of materials to complete a variety of activities with your child. The directions are all there, with easy-to-follow steps and there is a great book to read as well. Finally (my favorite part), there are journaling cards with question prompts for you to complete with your child. I really love this box of activities, but I'm already working on the next one. I have so many ideas and it is hard to narrow them down!

This whole business thing is kind of a "leap of faith" experience. I have had this dream going on in my head and finally decided to act upon it. I have no idea how it will all turn out---which twists or turns it may take--but, I don't ever want to regret not trying. I hope you will hop over to the website and take a look around and please invite others as well. If you would like a free activity to download for your child, be sure to sign up on the Dot To Dot blog. I promise not to fill you inbox with spam, but I will let you know when new products/boxes are available, as well as future freebies.

Hill Country

Ron's work has been relentless this year, with the installation and implementation of a new software system at each of the hospitals. He has not been able to take off any days for quite some time, so with a long Labor Day weekend looming, and a slight break before the nest installation begins, he was able to take off one day to make a 4-day weekend to visit his oldest son, Terry and family. Then Hurricane Harvey hit and suddenly traveling that far became questionable because of the shortage of gasoline. At the very last minute, after phone calls back and forth and a trip to buy gas cans and gasoline, we decided to go. I didn't take my DSLR with me, so all my pictures are from my phone.

Friday morning we loaded our suitcases and full gas cans in Ron's truck and hit the road. Along the way, we passed lots of emergency sign and vehicles. We stopped for a picnic along the way and to top off our gas tank when we saw stations with gas. Once we got past Waco, gas became more scarce, with most stations closed or only offering diesel.
We stopped at one point to get a better look at  some wildflowers that we'd seen growing alongside the road. While they appeared solid white from a distance, they were actually variegated green and white and were Snow-on-the-mountain. We learned the hard way that they can cause both skin and eye irritation.  Oops!
I took Archer one of the new car play mats I had stitched and he really loved it, playing with it at dinner, through the weekend and even sleeping with it!
It was such a nice, relaxing weekend with visits to tiny Ingram, lunch at Bridgette's Baskets and a visit to Stonehenge.  Wait!!  Stonehenge??? Yep! Who knew that you could find a 60% replica of Stonehenge? A bit weird, but kind of fun, too. And it was the perfect place to let Archer run around.
Terry and Jaylynn have just moved into a new home, and are remodeling parts of it. Ron was able to help assemble Archer's new "big-boy bed", which he LOVED!!!
Jaylynn is a runner, too, and Terry has just begun running, so we headed down to their River Trail on Sunday morning. The temperatures were in the low 60', and the scenery along the trail was great! We saw a bunch of deer wandering around eating their breakfast and wished we had a similar running trail in Shreveport. Of course, we would never get any PR's if we did since we stopped to look at the deer every time we saw some.
We spent the rest of the day just relaxing and playing which was nice for all of us.
Terry put some deer corn out along the road by their house in hopes of drawing out a few more deer. It worked for one buck, and the boys sure had fun watching for them.
Even though we spent a lot of time on the road, it was such a good time. Jaylynn and Terry were wonderful hosts and it was great to spend time with them in their new home.

Archer took this group photo of us.  Not bad for a 3-year-old!
Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Special DIY Baby Shower Blocks

Earlier this year, I helped host a baby shower for a sweet lady from our church. Jessica and her husband had been hoping for a baby for a while and everyone was thrilled to learn a new baby was on its way. They chose to be surprised as to the gender, so we wanted a gender neutral hostess gift for the baby. I also wanted to do something special that they would be able to keep and enjoy for a long time, so inspired by a shower that Jana recently gave, we decided to make baby blocks at the shower.

I gathered all of the supplies for the craft and tried to make things as easy as possible for those attending.  Here are the materials you will need:

  • Unfinished blocks
  • Patterned or solid scrapbook paper
  • Old children's books that you can cut pages from
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Glue
  • Fine-tip permanent pens
  • Mod-Podge
  • Small Foam brushes

I ordered 2" wooden blocks from Glitz Star from Amazon as the base for our design.
These blocks were perfect! It might have okay to use a slightly smaller block, but I really liked this size. In addition, the blocks came in a drawstring bag that was perfect for gift-giving!

Since her nursery colors were gray and yellow, I spray-painted the blocks light gray. They required two coats for even coverage since they were unfinished to begin with. (I set them inside the Amazon box to spray them so I didn't get the paint all over my carport.)

Each person at the shower was to make a block by adhering colored paper to each side, and signing their name on one piece of paper. I chose some simple dotted scrapbook paper that coordinated with the invitations I'd made. While it would be very easy to cut squares with scissors, I used my Silhouette to cut squares (with rounded corners) from the paper.

For the signatures, I used the print & cut feature of my Silhouette to make a signature square. I just printed it onto the same patterned paper (similar shown here) and then fed it into my machine to be cut into rounded squares, as well.  You could also just let each person sign one of the squares of scrapbook paper, if you'd rather.

Last, but not least, was my favorite part. I purchased some classic Golden Books, The Poky Little Puppy and The Little Red Hen and cut small squares from them as well. Because I wanted to be sure I included the faces, etc., I fussy-cut these by hand rather than using the die-cutter.

On a table, covered with a plastic tablecloth, I had set out all of the painted blocks, plastic plates with Mod Podge in them and a cup to hold pens and paintbrushes. I divided the blocks into patterns pieces and book pieces and had directions posted on the table, but I also supervised the table to be sure everyone understood how to do the activity.  (As another part of our hostess gift, we gave a set of melamine dishes that matched the books, so I used these in the setup of this table.)
Directions for the blocks that were posted on the signs were:

  • Pick 4 pictures from one of the books.
  • Pick 1 patterned piece of paper
  • Pick 1 piece of paper with "Made by"
  • Sign your name on the "Made by" paper and glue to one side of the block with the Mod Podge.
  • Glue the other pieces to the other sides of the block.
I took all of the blocks home and gave them another coat of Mod Podge before delivering them. That was it! Super simple, but they turned out really cute and made such a sweet, memorable gift for the new baby--who turned out to be a baby girl!! 
Thursday, August 31, 2017

1000+ Pictures

I can't remember exactly when we started doing this, but our Instagram challenges have been going on now for several years! That's a picture a day for at least 3 years---That's over 1,000 pictures documenting our lives.  Pretty cool when you think about it!  My phone is full of them (I really MUST clean it up some!!) and so are the folders on my computer and the cloud! And now it's time to snap away again in September!!

This month, we'll be playing a little bit of I Spy!!  The prompts are pretty easy this time-especially compared to those wacky holidays of last month! Have fun and be sure to use the hashtag so we can all see your snaps. Maybe it's time to invite a friend to join us as well---you know how easy it is and everything is more fun with a friend!!


P. S. Speaking of photography, I have now compiled the Picture Practice Phone Photography course into an eBook that can be purchased and downloaded. The 159-page book includes tips and techniques for using your phone camera to get the "Wow-worthy" photos. If you are interested, it will be listed on my new website in the next couple of days. You can sign up for email updates here.
Sunday, August 13, 2017

Gone Exploring

With no major plans for the weekend, Ron suggested we go exploring on Saturday. After getting a few things done around the house, we set out a little before noon and drove over to Carthage first. We stopped for a catfish lunch, then drove a few miles down the road to Jonesville, where we found T. C. Lindsey's & Co., a general store that has been in operation since 1847. There really isn't much of anything else in Jonesville, but it was a fun stop.

Walking through the front door was like taking a step back in time. 
While there were new items for sale, there were also some rooms that seemed to be completely untouched since their last sale, which was likely in the 60's or 70's.
It was fun to look through their historic items, as well.
Naturally, Ron enjoyed the guns hanging overhead.
There was a little bit of everything---including hornet nests. If you know our story, you know that always conjures up a laugh between the two of us.
Leaving Jonesville, we drove to Jefferson for a bit of antique-ing. It was a warm day, but many of the antique shops had no A/C, which made them almost unbearable.
We didn't buy much of anything there, but it was fun to look.
I did sweat through one shop and found this cute basket purse for a steal. I think it will be perfect to corral some of my painting goodies.

Our next stop was at Caddo Lake State Park, near Karnack. Once we got to the boat launch, I realized that this is the place I learned to water-ski many years ago. I went with a couple of my older brother's friends for a day on their boat and they taught me to ski. I had completely forgotten where we were until I saw the "river" there. 
We wandered around a bit, then checked out the campsites, visitor's center and such.
The large cypress trees made it feel like a typical Louisiana park.
The cypress knees that stuck up from the ground reminded me of gatherings of gnomes or something.
Sometimes you need to just put work, housework and other stuff on hold for a while and spend time soaking up your surroundings. Even better, we got home just as before the storms began rolling through our area.

Did you do anything fun this weekend?

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