fall and halloween d-i-y ideas

September 29, 2011 § 2 Comments

I cannot wait to work on fall and Halloween crafts for October, but before I do, here’s a recap of the fall and Halloween ideas I designed last year.  If you didn’t get a chance to make any of these creations last year, I hope you try them out this season!

My most favorite post was the one with the Halloween balloon body parts.  Doodle on balloons to create creepy eyes, bloody brains, and witch’s fingers:

halloween balloon eyes, brain, and fingers

Make cute little phantom place cards by drawing faces on pumpkin seeds:

ghost-faced pumpkin seeds

Cut out and fold an itsy bitsy spider treat box with the very first printable I designed and shared on this blog (and it was my very first tutorial ever):

spider favor box

Grab a tupperware bowl, four corks, scraps of paper, a pen, and some raffia and create this witch’s candy-filled cauldron with broomstick:

candy-filled witch's cauldron

You know I love me my packaging, so here’s another printable!  Fill this harvest corn treat box with…you guessed it…candy corn!  (I think this is still my favorite treat box out of all treat boxes I’ve designed for this blog to date):

candy corn favor box

Your little ones can make art of autumn grains with this wheat and corn décor made of exactly that: wheat (pasta) and corn:

And the most popular fall tutorial I made last year was the carved butternut squash centerpieces:

Oh, and I almost forgot: I did a whole week of pumpkin experimental recipes last year:

         

My favorite from pumpkin week was the pumpkin panna cotta:

And, I almost forgot, I designed and baked a ginormous woven cornucopia cracker for Thanksgiving:

Enjoy!  More fall and Halloween ideas from me coming up in October!  And I have a birthday GIVEAWAY coming to you this weekend!  paper, plate, and plane is very soon turning 1.  And I am very soon turning 1 year older.  I am excited to host a special giveaway to celebrate the occasion(s).  Stay tuned!!!  😀

recycled packaging for cupcakes, cookies, and macarons

September 25, 2011 § 57 Comments

It’s bake sale season!  And soon enough, our kitchens will be converted to cookie factories come December.  So here is an almost-free approach to creatively packaging all of your yummy treats!

This is a fantastic way to repurpose all of those plastic water bottles, as well as to use up scraps of cardboard.  And it’s an opportunity to consume your collection of washi tape or pretty ribbon that have been patiently waiting at the bottom of your craft drawers for the day they are given purpose.

I picked up my 3-pack of washi tape at Daiso for $1.50 back in August when I was in California.  A combined 48 yards!  What.  A.  Steal.  Hundreds of these little packages can be made with a $1.50 inventory of washi tape.  What’s sad is that our households may actually go through that many plastic bottles in a year.  At least this project grants the plastic bottles another calling in their lifetime before they hit the landfill.

For use of two water bottles (ideal for a row of homemade cookies and macarons):

1. Cut off the bottom of two plastic bottles to preferred length.  Fill with treats.

2. Attach the plastic bottles together with tape.

For use of one water bottle (ideal for one mini cupcake, but also great for a smaller serving of cookies and macarons):

1. Cut the bottom of one plastic bottle to preferred height.  Trace on cardboard.  Cut cardboard circle.

2. Place cupcake on cardboard circle.  Cover with bottom of plastic bottle.  Make sure the plastic bottle sits on top of the cardboard circle.  Affix tape around the plastic bottle and cardboard circle.

If you do not have washi tape, you may use double-sided tape covered with decorative ribbon.

Make sure to bake your cookies, macarons, and mini cupcake to fit the diameter of the water bottles.  I haven’t endeavored in baking macarons, so I splurged on half a dozen for the sake of this post.  Really.  Sweets for blogging’s sake!

cupcake liner necklace

September 24, 2011 § 3 Comments

What can you do with a few cupcake liners and a couple feet of brass chain from the hardware store?  Why, make a necklace, of course!

This super easy, inexpensive, and surprising D-I-Y fashion craft is one I wanted to post over the summer before I got sidetracked by summer.  But it’s not too late!  So long as it’s not a rainy fall day, there is still lots of sunshine to be flaunting this fun, feminine, flirty necklace!

Yes!  It is what I wore in my D-I-Y engagement photos in August.  I wore it then with two flowers and wish now, in hindsight, that I wore three.

You will need cupcake liners (waxed is best), brass chain in your preferred length (they are typically around 45 cents per foot; for this project I used exactly 4 feet and paid $1.80), scissors, and ribbon.

1. Trim off about 1/8″ of one cupcake liner.

2. For each cupcake liner, trim off an additional 1/8″ than the previous size.  You will have cupcake liners that descend in size.  I suggest 5 for large flowers; smaller flowers can be made with 3 or 4 cupcake liners.

3. Stack all cupcake liners and align so that they are centered.  Fold the stack in half, with all cupcake liners facing out.  Cut two very small slits, about 1/2″ apart, ensuring the slits are just wide enough to carefully slide the chain through.  Large cuts will cause the flowers to loosely slide along the chain.

4. Carefully slide the chain through one slit of each cupcake liner, starting from largest to smallest.  It is best to keep the cupcake liners 1/2″ to 1″ apart at this stage.

5. Slide the chain through the second slit of each cupcake liner, similar to sewing a two-holed button.  Gather the cupcake liners to form a stack.

6. Fold the stack in half.

7. Pinch and fold towards the center.

8. Unfold to reveal a flower.

9. Layer as many flowers and chains as you please.

10. Thread a ribbon through the ends of the chain.

11. Tie a bow to close the chain(s).

Flaunt it.  Feel fun, feminine, and flirty!

 

D-I-Y engagement photos: part 3 of 3 — beyond the camera and tripod

September 23, 2011 § 1 Comment

At last, Part 3!  It has been too long, here are reminders of the two D-I-Y engagement sessions that O.T. and I had back in the summer (is it really officially fall?!?).

Part 1: Ed Levin Park, Milpitas

Part 2: Napa Valley, California

As mentioned in the previous posts, we used a regular pocket-size digital camera, a tripod, and a heavy dose of post-processing.  In this part, I will discuss the challenges you’ll encounter as well as the techniques of achieving a “dreamy” soft focus to any of your regular pictures, even if you don’t have the most up-to-date equipment (as neither do I) and even if you don’t have Photoshop!

My modest little camera is an old Canon PowerShot SD870 IS purchased at the time of its release in 2007.  I really loved this camera when it came out; its performance outdoes most others in its category of compact digicams.  I am still quite happy with it after four functional years, however, lately I’ve become aware that it doesn’t successfully serve the purpose of this blog.  I do hope to retire it soon for a DSLR (*hint, hint, O.T* :p).  Regardless, this little gadget didn’t stop me from taking our own engagement photos or all the photos you’ve seen on this blog thus far.

I must forewarn: the set-up of shots takes the most time, more so than we anticipated.  We took turns setting up the shots.  While setting up the camera, one would tell where the other should stand, before bolting to take their place in the shot.  The timer was set to 20 seconds (which was sufficient time to bolt and freeze) with three consecutive shots at 5-second intervals.

The challenge of doing your own photography session is that no one will tell you that his hand is totally cropped out of the picture.  Or that your belt is not perfectly centered in the shot.  Or that your sweater is a bunched up hot mess. Or that your cupcake liner flower necklace (tutorial next!) has been turned over backwards by the wind.  You may be disappointed by the number of times you will have to run back and forth from the tripod (though exercise is good for us all).  But all in all, the efforts will be worth it!

We took 15 shots just for the scene with the “love at first flight” airplane props, until we both got annoyed and decided we’ll use whatever is “best”, even though there was none we were truly happy with.  Over the two days (a Friday at Ed Levin Park and a Sunday in Napa Valley), we took a combined 337 shots, out of which we were happy with about 60.  A more discerning photographer would likely be happy with about 6.  A professional photographer would likely be happy with none.  But we’re easy to please!

For post-processing, I found some helpful Photoshop tutorials online at: www.photoshopessentials.com.  I mainly used the techniques in the tutorials:

http://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-effects/soft-focus/

http://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-effects/soft-focus-lens/

The technique for a soft focus effect is incredibly simple:

1. Duplicate the layer, then choose Overlay as a blend mode,

2. Apply a Gaussian Blur filter to the overlaid layer, then adjust opacity, and

3. In most cases, a mask is required to remove the soft focus on parts of the photo that should be sharp, such as the face.

The above Photoshop-edited version has 30 pixel Gaussian Blur with 50% Overlay.

This is the unedited version:

I realize that not everyone has the access to Photoshop, so if you require a free photo-editing program, GIMP is available online for free download.  GIMP is a really impressive imitation of Photoshop, for the fact that it is free.  It offers the same filters (such as the Gaussian Blur that you’ll need) and blend modes (such as the Overlay that you’ll need).

This is the GIMP-edited version:

Of course, cropping provides impact in the composition of shots, as in the final chosen edit for the scene above:

There is also a trick you can do by adding lens flares in the photo-editing process, such as in these shots.  The tutorial is found here: http://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-effects/lens-flare/

Just to give you an idea of how post-processing can change the life of your photos, here are some raw shots and their corresponding Photoshop-edited shots.

Play around with the blur and overlay to adjust the softness as you’d like.

Remember: a bulk of what you pay photographers is to compensate for the enormous time they spend on editing photos.  Some refuse to believe this fact: most award-winning professional wedding photographers heavily edit their work.  Plenty of photographers, professional and amateur, invest in add-on actions and presets, such as those found in Totally Rad!, in order to jazz up Photoshop and Lightroom photos in a few clicks.  I am so impressed by the things you’d find in Totally Rad!

If you already have a great camera, you are already half way there (even more ahead of me in these pictures I’ve taken with my PowerShot).  I suggest taking the time to study the work of your favorite wedding photographers.  Look at style and composition, such as subject placement, angle, perspective, frame.  Especially look at wedding photography trends.  Did you realize the more current wedding photos are composed with a lot of room above the head?  And that often the subjects are cropped in ways that aren’t conventional, such as the cropping of feet or of bodies?  After you analyze your favorite works, with a bit of help from Photoshop or Gimp, you can mimic the styles and save a lot of money.  They are not going to be perfect, but you cannot beat the personal touch of D-I-Y!  How many people have said they took their own engagement pictures?  Now you can!

Click on any of the above to enlarge.

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