Wednesday, March 26, 2014


This blog is moving to:

Maison des Jeunes FrenchRobin

Hope you come by to visit.  New look, new topics, photos, tips, and articles.

Cheers --

Friday, March 21, 2014

5 Great Teen Boy Parties

In my last post I shared about my son's upcoming birthday.  He's turning 17 and it is such an awesome age.

But throwing a party for a 17 year old boy can be a challenge.  Parties themes of the past (trains, army, and Lego no longer hold an appeal.  Wonder why?  Jumpy houses are fun but what teenager wants one for their birthday party?

Here are some of my ideas for a great teen boy party.  No parents allowed unless absolutely necessary.  I know my son loves me but he doesn't want me hanging out at the pool with him and his friends.  :D

1.  Pool Party and BBQ

My kids love to swim.  If your teen has a birthday during the warmer months a pool party and BBQ is a wonderful solution.  No decorations necessary, just music, sunscreen, towels, and food.  Lots and lots of food.  Don't forget the squirt guns, soakers, pool toys, and pool rules.

2.  Gaming Marathon

What teenager doesn't like to game?  Ask your son's friends to bring their gaming consoles over, network them, and the kids can have a group gaming party.  The majority of teens are very knowledgeable about networking -- so don't worry -- let your teen do all the work.  Don't forget the food.  Did I say lots of food?

3.  Beach Party

Send the kids to the beach for the day.  Pack deli sandwiches, drinks, and snacks.  The teens can pack all their desired accessories:  shovels, buckets, towels, whatever they want to have a day at the beach.  My son and his friends love to dig holes and build "sandcastles" and act like goofballs.

4.  Game Day

Does your child have a favorite sports team?  Buy him a few tickets to an upcoming game.  He and his friends will love to see a live game, dinner, stadium food, and a night away from home. 

5.  Concert Time

Just like the sports team, purchase tickets to an upcoming concert for your son and friends.  You may not like the band but he will!  Even if your teen drives you may want to attend yourself as a chaperone -- especially for an overnight trip.  You never know, you may find a new band to love!

Hope these ideas help you plan your next teenagers birthday! 

Cheers -

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Teen Boy Birthday Challenge

Teen boy birthday gifts are a challenge for me.  I have four kids.  Yes. Four -- two girls and two boys.  And I have always struggled to purchase gifts for one of my boys.  He is my second child (first son), is about 6' 2" tall, turning 17 in a few days, and one of the most difficult people to shop for -- ever.

This year, as he approaches adulthood, he is very clear about his latest passion.  His truck.  His exact words, "Mom, my life is all about my truck."  So true.

We agreed to help him pay for some kind of new exhaust thing on the truck.  I have no idea what it is; I'm sure it is loud and annoying, but I'm just glad I don't have to shop for the kid.

However, he must have some kind of gift to open on his birthday (I can't wrap an exhaust system). 

To the rescue is my  9 year-old daughter (the little sister).  She and I put together a wonderful bag of treats that every 17 year-old boy wants and needs for his cool vehicle.  There is nothing more fun than shopping with a tween for her teen brother's gag gift. 

Hee hee hee.


We found fantastic Elton John glasses (here's a fun video about the history of Elton John's glasses),  a great battery-operated fan (because his truck's air conditioning is not working), glow sticks for night vision, and a train horn.

Yes, a train horn.  Because the boy keeps asking if he can put a compressor-operated train horn on his truck.

The answer is no, you may not.

I'll be picking up the dashboard hula girl tomorrow.  Promise!

I must say this is one of the funnest ages for a teen boy -- especially my son.  His sense of humor and fun is delightful.  I know he will be puzzled and then laugh at his birthday treats.  He may even use most of them.

Hope you have fun with your teen son as he matures and develops a good sense of humor.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Great Photography Part 2

This week I devoted much attention and time to reading my new book "How to Create Stunning Digital Photography" by Tony Northrup.  I LOVE this book.  Just a few chapters into the book and my photos have improved tremendously.

Tony Northrup is a great instructor and writer.  The book includes several video clips that expound on the chapter information.  These videos of Tony Northrup are very helpful with example photos, demonstrations, and other tips and tidbits.

Here are some photos I've taken this past week.  A few of these photos were taken while practicing aperture (Chapter 4).  Others were photographed after reading Chapters 1-3 on controlling the background.

This week practice will include aperture, ISO, shutter speeds, and exposure compensation.  Wish me luck!!

 Going on a photo walk downtown was so much fun.  This photo was taken early in the morning before many of the tourists and business were up and going.  This is a very old building on our downtown square.  I adore the foreground focus with the blurred background (aperture!!).  

I think this part of the process will require more time and patience.  Fortunately, the book provides great "homework" and practice projects.  Yea!

This photo is of my daughter and her best friend.  They are standing on a cement wall dated August 5, 1911 looking into the overflow from our lake.

Here I practiced flower close-ups (aka simplifying the photo).  I think concentrating on the flower rather than the background really captures the beauty of the center and petals.

Next up, for me is to starting taking photos of new products.  I am so excited to use my new skills to take amazing product photos.

An added benefit is I am addicted to photography outside the shop.

This is a fun photo.  I never expected to "freeze" the water from the fountain.  The water drop and splashes really make this photo.

I ADORE my new hobby.  Looking forward to seeing your new photos.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Learning Awesome Photography

Of late I have been yearning to learn how to use my new camera properly.  I received a Nikon D3100 DSLR camera last year for my birthday.  It is the first DSLR I've owned and seemed like a great camera to start learning.


To date I have relied on the auto settings only because I don't know how to use the manual settings.  It is a completely foreign language!  Aperture, IOS, depth of field, and f-stops

But I am determined.  I love photography!  I love art and beautiful, interesting images.  And I want to capture some of those images myself.

Since receiving my camera (which I LOVE!) I have been fortunate to receive two more great lenses and a great tripod. 

Searching the Internet for "DSLR photography for beginners" brings up a slew of options.  But I really want something more than what I found.  I really wanted a at-my-own-pace course -- with assignments.  And I was looking for something that is easy to understand and teaches -- not tells - me how to take fantastic photos.

I really liked reading this course but wanted something with more practice and interactive options -  Digital Photography School

I am feeling pressure and a time crunch, however.  My niece is getting married in a few months and the bridal shower in right around the corner.  My goal is to learn and practice indoor shots to capture the shower while honing my outdoor shots for the wedding.  Tall order!

To help with the learning process, and after a visit to my local library, I found a highly recommended book with video on Amazon. 

So, to start my learning process I downloaded "How to Create Stunning Digital Photography" by Tony Northrup. 

Starting Chapter 1 I already love this book.  In the download copy I can click on videos to get more information.


Today, I am out in the field with my husband with the intention to practice what I'm learning.  This should be a lot of fun and I can't wait to share with you.

This learning process will be terrific for my Etsy shop and photographing jewelry pieces to show their best attributes.