Butterfly Wedding Favors – Cheap But Beautiful Gifts For Your Guests

From the time you were a little girl, you’ve been thinking about falling in love and getting married so you can have the wedding of your dreams. Now that you are engaged and you’re actually planning your big day you can have anything you want. The best part of planning your wedding is being able to pick out all the things that will make your day extra special.

Butterfly candle holders. There are so many sweet choices when it comes to using butterfly shaped or accented candleholders as wedding favors for your guests. You can find candle holders in any color or size and fill them with different colored candles, scented gels or even flower buds. Butterfly candleholders bring a child-like wonder to your wedding favors and décor. This is something your guests will remember with fondness for some time after your big day.

Butterfly Tea lights. Butterfly tea-lights are a whimsical touch to any wedding. You can buy them to match votives or mix and match the colors to go along with your wedding décor or accessories. They are very sweet when grouped together in bowls, on candle plates or set on place settings for guests to enjoy. You may want to go with some of the butterfly floating tea-lights placed in vases and bowls filled with water to give the appearance that they are “flying” in the air. They give off a wonderful glow when lit and add to the magic of your wedding day.

Butterfly card holders. Place holders in the shape of butterflies, with fluttery wings and bright sparkly colors are simply wonderful to use as wedding favors. And they’re relatively inexpensive gifts that can be purchased or made ahead of time with lots of embellishments. Set them on tables to help your wedding guests sit together in appropriate places or to assign sections for adults and children. Guests can take them home after the wedding and use them to hold photos of the bride and groom or their other happy memories of the big day.

Butterfly bookmarks. Want to enjoy the fairytale long after the wedding day? Then consider using butterfly bookmarks as wedding favors. These can be made or purchased cheaply and set at each place setting for guests or placed in baskets for the wedding attendants or ushers to hand out to guests. Imprint them with the bride and groom names and wedding date so your special day will always be remembered. These are wonderful keepsakes for the family bible as well.

Butterfly picture frames. Love to show off your engagement or wedding photos? Then use butterfly shaped or embellished picture frames to display copies of cherished photos for your guests to take home. These are lovely and can be used later on for anniversary celebrations or to display at home after your dream wedding day.

Better Photo Tips – Photo Filters and More

One of my first award winning photographs was a photo with a waterfall in the background and a stream leading from its base right into the foreground. I was standing in the middle of the stream at a fairly low angle, but what made this photo unique was that I had also managed to capture several stars reflecting off the water. I admit it; it was pure luck, but with so many people impressed by those little stars . . . I started looking for ways to be able to do that whenever I wanted. That was when I first started exploring the world of photo filters.

Photo filters are NOT going to change a bad photo to a good one, BUT . . . they may change a good photo into a great one. In other words; filters are like the frosting on the cake, if the cake itself tastes bad, it doesn’t matter how sweet the frosting is. For the sake of this photo article we are going to assume you know how to make a good cake (take a good photo), and now you are ready to go to the next level.

Star Filters – these are available in 4 point, 6 point, or 8 point variety. These photo filters add glamour to nature or highly reflective surfaces (like someone playing a trumpet).

Polarizer – this type of photo filter is often thought of for enhancing clouds in the sky, but they also give you more control with reflections on water or glass. They also help with extreme photo lighting situations like snow or sand.

Close-Up Filter Set – not everybody can afford an extra $300 to $400 for a macro lens, this set of photo filters is well worth the investment. This gives you the edge to be able to take advantage of, and photograph the unexpected; whether it is a butterfly on a flower or dew on the morning grass.

Split Field Filter – A Split Field Filter allows you to go beyond the limits of traditional depth of field in photography. Half of the lens is basically a close up filter, half is regular glass. Now you can take an extreme close up photo of a flower at the edge of a vast canyon and still have BOTH sections of your photo look crystal clear.

Split Color Filter – This filter comes in several combinations. Similar to the split field filter, part of the filter is just regular glass, BUT the other half is colored. If half the filter is deep orange for example, you can take a photo of any mountain range and make it look like it was taken at sunset.

Spot Filter – The idea behind a spot filter is that a small portion of your photo will appear sharp (usually a spot in the middle) and the rest of the photo looks soft and dreamy. Often used in Wedding pictures or individual portraits.

Soft Focus Filter – As the name implies this photo filter gives the entire image a soft focus or dreamy effect. Use this VERY sparingly or people will think you can’t focus.

Besides photo filters there are some other small items that you should tuck into your camera bag to help you improve photographic opportunities. The cost of these photo gadgets are relatively small but can give you big time (professional looking) results.

Double Sided Poster Board – For many years I carried a 10 inch x 12 inch poster board that was black on one side and white on the other. This can be used to make a small subject stand out from

the back ground. A small tree frog on grass is much harder to see than one against a black background. This can also be used for controlling light like a small photo reflector.

Spray Bottle – having a small spray bottle of water means now you can take a “flowers with morning dew” photo, even if it’s the middle of the afternoon. You can make athletes sweat when you want them to; or wet down wild hair that is blowing in the wind for better outdoor portraits.

The last fairly cheap item for big results is a Tripod or a Monopod. Tripods don’t have to be built so a man can sit on it to be of good quality. And if you are worried about space as you are taking your wonderful photo trek into the wilderness consider a monopod. It offers stability as well as making a good walking stick.

All of these items are considered photo add-ons. None of them are required to make a great photo, but when the opportunity arises it’s good to know you have the right tools at your disposal. Of course there are hundred of other photo gadgets and gizmos that you can get, but I advise sticking with the basics. Far more important than anything you can add to the outside, is the vision you have on the inside. Learn the elements of design. Practice leading lines, balance, repetition, framing and the rule of thirds . . . these are the ingredients of a great photo. All the rest is just frosting on the cake.

Butterflies And Hiccups – A Guided Pregnancy Journal

Butterflies & Hiccups (New Beginnings Production Company, 2002)was conceived by Laurie J. Wing during her two pregnancies when she could not find a comprehensive journal for those who do not like to blank journal-keep.

Butterflies & Hiccups is a guided pregnancy journal that allows you to document everything you experience during your nine months of pregnancy. The questions are designed to elicit thought-provoking responses from the moment you find out you are pregnant up until you bring your baby home. This type of pregnancy journal is not just for the mom- and dad-to-be, but when your baby gets older, Butterflies & Hiccups makes for good story time reading. Kids love to hear stories about themselves, especially when they were hiccupping in their mommy’s belly and how much they would kick and make their moms crave crazy foods.

The connection between Mom and Baby begins before a child is even born. How many pregnant women ask their own moms if they felt this way or that way during their pregnancy and how many moms actually remember the details of their pregnancies?

Here are 10 of our favorite journaling prompts from Butterflies & Hiccups:

o If you heard the baby’s heartbeat, how did you react?

o Have people started treating you differently now that you’re pregnant? How so?

o How many times have strangers touched your belly?

o Have you felt Braxton-Hicks contractions yet? If so, describe the feeling?

o Have you had any daydreams about your baby?

o What’s the best piece of pregnany/birth advice you have received so far?

o Estimate how many times you have had to recite your due date so far.

o What are your thoughts about returning to work after the baby is born?

o Have you been nesting? If so, what have you done to prepare for the baby’s arrival?

o What’s the craziest question you wanted to ask your practitioner, but were too embarrassed to ask?

Butterflies & Hiccups provides a section each month for practitioner visits to document the first time you heard the baby’s heartbeat, your first ultrasound, questions or concerns for your practitioner, special tests and other important issues addressed at your practitioner visits. “I wish I could prescribe this book to every pregnant woman!” says Dr. Donnica Moore, a women’s health specialist who recently appeared on Oprah and The View.

Pregnant women know the many different symptoms that occur during pregnancy from morning sickness to breast changes and heartburn. Each month you can document how your symptoms changed throughout your pregnancy.

Your baby’s development progress also is exciting to follow. As you learn about pregnancy and your baby’s development, you can write about the different stages. There is room to include a photo each month of your growing belly. The weight measurement chart allows you to record your weight each month and, if applicable, you can document the dad-to-be’s weight gain.
Butterflies & Hiccups offers reminders including a hospital bag checklist for Mom and Baby, a birth plan checklist for you and your practitioner and questions such as “Did you strap an infant car seat in your car?”

Many women are on bed rest due to complications during pregnancy. There is a special section for the expectant mom on bed rest to record her experiences while also offering a section of things to do while on bed rest since lying in bed could get boring when it is for any length of time.
While the journal asks questions about registering for baby gifts, there is also a baby shower section that allows you to record the memories of your baby shower along with the theme, menu, games, guests who attended and a gift list, if desired.

Butterflies & Hiccups throws in a bit of humor to make journaling a little fun and frivolous. Here are some of our favorite humorous prompts:

o Is it difficult to polish your toenails or tie your shoes as your pregnancy progresses?

o Have there been any UMPs (Unidentified Moving Parts) across your belly?

o Have you ventured out in a maternity bathing suit yet, weather permitting?

o Have you received unsolicited advice or comments about pregnancy?

o Do your rings still fit?

o Has your shoe size increased?

o Are you feeling clumsy?

The “Fun Ideas to Pamper Yourself” section offers just that – ideas to pamper yourself during your pregnancy. After all, your body is going through some major changes while you are providing nourishment for another little life. You deserve a little special treatment!

There are blank pages within the journal for you to add your own special thoughts. If some questions or pages do not apply to your pregnancy or life situation, simply use one of the blank pages to journal. The same goes for the holiday section. Since families celebrate different holidays, this section can be tailored to reflect the holidays and beliefs of your own family and how you celebrated during your pregnancy.

Julie Tupler, R.N., B.S.N., certified personal trainer, certified childbirth educator and president of Maternal Fitness, works with pregnant women on a daily basis and says, “Butterflies & Hiccups is a beautiful, yet thorough journal to help you remember those wonderful moments in time – for many years! I recommend it to all my pregnant moms.”

Animal Photography Basics – How to Get Great Photos in Your Backyard

Often when we think of wildlife we think of animals far away from home, but many people take amazing wildlife photos in their own backyards.

Photographing Furry and Feathery Wildlife

Depending on where you live, there are many ways to turn your yard into a wildlife haven for squirrels, raccoons, birds, deer, frogs and other critters.

While it’s true that we rarely do wildlife a service by feeding them from our cupboards, if you follow the wildlife attraction and sustainability tips from the National Wildlife Federation (they’re online) you can feel good knowing that you are giving back to wildlife.

You will also be creating an environmentally friendly landscape as well because what is good for the animals is also good for the environment.

Take a bit of time to read about the habits of the species you want to photograph and you’ll find it much easier to capture them with your camera. And you will be better able to avoid attracting potentially dangerous predators into your yard. You might also want to check out the code of ethic posted for professional nature photographers by the North American Nature Photography Association.

Just as with photographing pets, when you take a picture of a furry or feathery wild critter, follow these guidelines:

  • Use natural lighting to your advantage
  • Fill the frame with the subject
  • Focus on the eyes
  • Shoot from various angles
  • Capture personality

Photographing Insects

Wildlife photography also includes the miniature world of animals. Butterflies, dragonflies, snails, ladybugs, honeybees, bumblebees, spiders…these are all popular subjects.

Photographing insects can be tricky. Here are some tips from the pros to help:

  • Like with larger wildlife, it will help to know your subject’s patterns of behavior. Do the butterflies frequent one flowery shrub more than others? Then stake it out and wait for the subject to come to you. And be ready!
  • To get the best shots of small creatures at rest, use macro mode and fill the frame. Your camera’s manual will tell you how close your macro mode works. If you stay within the proper range and hold your camera steady, you will get some nice, crisp shots.
  • Unless the insect is very still, use sports mode or flash to freeze action.
  • Most insects are very sensitive to carbon dioxide and will run or fly away if you breathe directly on them. So when you lean in close for your close up, hold your breath! There are a few exceptions – some beetles will freeze (they won’t say “cheese” though.)
  • Keep in mind some insects and spiders pack powerful, even deadly venom, so know your bug before approaching.
  • Because insects slow down with cooler temperatures, early morning and twilight are easier times for capturing them with your camera. Insects can see shadows very well; so don’t approach from the same direction as the light casts.

Photographs of wildlife can make for beautiful fine art, the type that you’ll want to frame and display proudly and give as gifts. Another way to use your animal photography is in photo crafts – greeting cards, calendars, iron on transfers for t-shirts and much more.