Our Little Christmas Gift

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Merry Christmas! I hope everyone had a great one.  We had a beautiful one.  My parents came in from China, my brother and his wife came down from Utah and my sister and her kids came up from Houston.  It wasn’t the whole family and we missed everyone who wasn’t there, but we were glad to see everyone who came!  Christmas Eve was spent doing a live Nativity with the cousins and plenty of scripture reading, as well as a couple performances by the girls from “Frozen.”   Our new little addition (Summer Micheale, born the 18th at 2:34 am) was supposed to play the baby in our Nativity scene, but she slept through it.   Christmas is such a great time of year and we are so blessed in so many ways.

since my son went 12 days past his due date.  As the date got nearer I kept feeling like she wasn’t going to be late like her brother, so when she came right on time I was a little panicked.  We hadn’t packed a hospital bag, we didn’t have anywhere for her to sleep, the car seat was in a box in the garage somewhere, and we actually didn’t have somewhere for my little boy to go.  So, I was having very painful contractions about 8 minutes apart, trying to pack a bag and texting friends to see if we could drop my son off.   We got to the hospital and about 4 hours later, got to meet my little girl.
DSC_0992edit (Large)We have been so in love with her.  I still keep looking at her and thinking, “I can’t believe I had this whole baby inside me…”  I love putting her in a little ball and letting her sleep on my chest.  She is just an angel.  When Tristan first met her he wasn’t a fan at all, he said, “That baby is sticky!” and wouldn’t come near her, he even said, “No, I don’t want a sister.”  It was so funny.   It took him about 15 minutes and then he warmed up and wanted to hold her.  Since then he has been so sweet.  He brings her diapers, binkies, blankies… and always says, “We bring this baby home?”

I wanted to thank y’all for the sweet comments, they mean so much to me!  I am so glad someone is still reading this blog since it has been a little neglected.  I had some friends lined up to post while I am out and then my site security was upped so much it locked EVERYONE out.  *sigh*  But thankfully that is fixed and we are ready to go :)

I hope you have had a beautiful Holiday Season and many warm wishes for the New Year!


York Photo- FREE Prints and MORE

York Photo is offering new customers some great deals! You are definitely going to want to check these out. Free prints, and a free photo book. I am not sure if they stack together but I think they should. I would honestly start ordering these photo gifts for Grandparents and other hard to shop for people for Christmas gifts. They will LOOOOVE them.

I am not sure how many codes you can use at checkout, but if it’s just one I would suggest grabbing the free photobook offer (below), because you will still get 40 free prints when you sign up!

60 Free Prints from York Photo
Shipping will be about $3.74!

The other deal is for new customers is a free 5×7 Photo book!
Use code MYBOOK at check out
Shipping is just $2.99.

An Announcement: Big Changes

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Guess what :) We are expecting the sweetest gift this Christmas. Probably sweeter than anything we could have ever asked for…

We are getting a little girl :)
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I am due right at Christmas with our second baby.  Tristan is pretty excited.  He points to everyone’s bellies and says “baby.”  When we ask him what he wants to name the baby, he always picks the names I like and not the ones Dad likes :) He has my old Cabbage Patch Doll from when I was a kid and changes the diaper and takes the baby for walks.  I think he is going to adjust well to the new baby.

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We couldn’t feel more blessed. Our little boy brings SO much joy into our lives and I can only imagine when we have two that will just double. I have felt really lucky and blessed that I don’t get morning sickness and have had a pretty uneventful pregnancy, with one exception. My last pregnancy with my little boy I got PUPPS at 36 weeks. If you are not familiar with what that is, count yourself lucky. From what we understand, it’s a rash (like hives) that you get from being allergic to your baby. You’re only supposed to get it with your first born son, after that, it’s very rare and unlikely.

I’m super lucky.

Not only did my sister get it with her 7th baby, a little girl, I got it with my son and then at 24 weeks, got it again with this baby girl. Thankfully, I am now 32 weeks along and the rash is gone. Later this week I want to share with you what I did so if anyone is dealing with that, they can find some comfort. But for today, I just wanted to share our exciting news :)

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I took these pictures myself :) I am a photographer in Lubbock!  I had to use a tripod and a timer for some of these, but hey! It worked :) DSC_9934edit3 (Large)

My Other Hobby

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Occasionally I post some tutorials on little things I have done with photography. Last year I lucked out and got a hand me down camera, and since then I have completely fallen in love with taking portraits. I love, love taking portraits.  It’s something I have always enjoyed, but getting a decent camera has really made a difference.
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I have made quite a few mistakes.  Last April I decided to not just shoot on auto.  I turned my camera to the manual mode and took a bunch of blue and blurry pictures.  Ugh.  They were a mess.  Not only was I dealing with lighting and setting issues, I don’t have tons of experience posing people.  I have mostly worked with my toddler.  This is the third newborn session I have done, and wow. They’re hard. They are really hard. But in the end, I think they’re so worth it. Who doesn’t want to remember what an angel this little one is?
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I also couldn’t afford an editing program, so whatever pictures I took needed to be pretty decent to start with or they weren’t going to look great anyway.   I finally had a chance to get Photoshop Elements for a great price, and just installed it a couple months ago.  So far I haven’t figured out very well how to use it, but if you have a zit I can make it go away now :) I always worry I will over edit something or not edit enough.  I worry ALL the time if people really like the pictures I took, or if they’re just being nice about them.  Of course, I always post my best ones, but don’t you doubt for one second I have a folder of mess ups.
collage (Large)Anyway, I just wanted to encourage you to do things you love to do.  To start before you are ready, to go out and follow your dreams.  I know, I know. Cliché. And this is a coupon blog, but really.  Try it out.  Whatever it is that you want to do, go for it.  I look at the pictures I was taking a year ago, and the ones I have taken recently. I still make mistakes, I still get home and put them on the computer and think, “Oh darn it! If only…” But I am so glad that I took that leap forward and tried something that was really hard for me.  Whatever it is in your life, find the courage to do it and just go for it.  You might make a mistake, but keep going.

If you want to see more of my pictures, you can go to www.annamicheale.com and see what I have been up to.  Or follow me on Instagram @cutemomstuff

DIY Dollar Store Angel Wings

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DIY Dollar Store Angel Wings 2I saw the cutest Valentine pictures on Pinterest and thought I’d subject my poor little boy to some as well.  I didn’t want to spend a whole lot, and I can’t find my Valentine decorations as they’re packed in a box somewhere so I knew I’d be taking a trip to Dollar Tree.  I grabbed those cute heart picks, 2 garlands and some poster board.  I originally was going to see if I could grab some fairy wings and glue some white feathers on them, but they didn’t have the wings OR any feather boas, so this was my next option…. make my own wings with poster board and tissue paper.
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I took the poster board and folded it in half so I’d have a perfect pair of wings. Then I drew what I thought was a good wing shape-you can see where I redrew them about 3 times before deciding which style I liked.Dollar Store Angel Wings DIY (4)This was the final result.  I meant to cut a little more shape into the bottom, but I totally forgot-thankfully they still turned out cute enough for me.Dollar Store Angel Wings DIY (5)Next I grabbed some tissue paper.  It probably took about half a package.  I am not sure, as my tissue paper was left over from baby gifts!  I still had a TON that I had saved in a box.  I am well stocked on baby boy gift bags :) I folded the tissue paper into squares and used 2 sizes.  The larger squares were for the tops of the wings and the smaller ones for the rest of the wings.  Towards the end when I was working on the shoulders I used even smaller squares at the top so it’d have a layered affect. Dollar Store Angel Wings DIY (6)Then I just started to glue them to the poster board kind of the way you would shingle a roof, working bottom to top.  Big squares on the outside, little squares on the inside. I used hot glue because it’s quick and easy and wanted to use them right away, but you could also use regular Elmers glue.  I drew lines where I wanted to glue the feathers, that way they’d roughly be the same length.   What I found to work best for me is to sort of roll the tissue paper into a cone shape and then glue the end to the poster board.  That created a point at the bottom of the tissue paper that I think looks “feathery.”  I glued tissue paper to both sides of the poster board.  One side is more full than the other but it’s not noticeable.Dollar Store Angel Wings DIY (7)The last couple steps were to trim the tissue paper that was too long and then add some straps.  I wish  that I had elastic, but I didn’t…. so I used some Valentine ribbon I have had for a really long time.  To get the ribbon to stay securely on the poster board I moved some tissue paper around so that I could glue a square of left over poster board to the center of the wings.  Then I measure how big the straps needed to be and glued them on.  I was worried that since they need to be tight against his body he wouldn’t be able to get them on easily.  If you look close, you’ll notice one of the straps has a piece of Velcro.  That way I could slip one arm on and then Velcro the other so they would be snug against him. DIY Dollar Store Angel Wings 1
I am pretty sure he is going to hate me later on for these pictures but I couldn’t help myself!



Poster Board $.50
Scissors $1
Tissue Paper $1
Glue $1

If you had to buy everything brand new at Dollar Tree $3.50

Taking Your Own Pictures – a VERY Basic Tutorial

I don’t know if y’all have seen this post before, pardon me if you have, but I can’t help myself. It’s full of pictures of my baby :) And, I just wanted to encourage y’all to find your artsy fartsy side and have a little fun. Part of living life on a budget means I don’t get to hire a professional photographer to take pictures as often as I’d like, or in our case, not since we have been married. I know. That’s almost 5 years of no professional photos. As my baby’s Mom, I think he is the cutest thing I have EVER seen, and I’d love to take professional pictures of him weekly. (Yes, this is my first baby.. did I give that away already?) I decided pretty quickly I was going to have to learn how to take decent pictures on my own. I just recently took these photos for his first birthday, and I really loved how the pictures turned out. I didn’t use any special settings on the camera, I shot all of these on “auto.” The trick was the lighting-the sun was out nice and bright, but I had him in a fully shaded area. I didn’t buy any special props, either. That’s my honey’s hat, his own blankey, my guitar, and our boots. I think they turned out cute! I am no professional by any means, nor do I want to be… but I do want to share with you a few things that I have learned through a little googling, asking people who know how to take pictures, and my own trial and error:

LIGHTING: Lighting is important. Don’t take pictures in the middle of the day-the sun is far too bright. Aim for the morning, evening and cloudy days. Be aware of where your light source is coming from, and try to avoid strange shadows on your subject’s face. You can get great pictures if it’s bright outside by finding a shady place where your subject can hide from direct sunlight.

ANGLE: Get up close to your subject. Don’t be afraid to have close ups. If you’re taking a child’s picture, lean down and get on their level. If you are taking a picture of a tall person, avoid being lower than their face, it can cause a double chin effect that no one wants in their pictures. If there is a car or something not adorable in the background, leave your subject in place and YOU move around, see if you can’t angle that car out of the picture.

KIDS: Keep it fun. Don’t take pictures right before nap time or dinner. They’ll be hungry and tired. I wait until my son has just woken up and eaten and is at his best. And then bring treats. Bribe them into good behavior! This isn’t always the time to lay down the law, although that sometimes works for older kids.

EDITING: I don’t have photoshop, but you don’t need it for good pictures. You just need practice taking good pictures. I do have a very basic program called “Windows Photo Gallery.” It’s available for a free download, and it gives me basic tools like cropping and brightening. You can also edit pictures for free if you upload them to Photobucket.com

PRINTING: I just printed over 50 4×6 and 3 5×7 photos for $5.33, including shipping. When I upload my photos, I sort them into ones I’d print and then “The Others.” When Snapfish.com or Shutterfly.com has a print sale I just have to upload my photos and order them. This time I had a free $10 credit to Shutterfly. Costco and Sam’s Club offer 1 hour printing that is quality, fast and readily available to most people if you don’t have time to wait. This weekend WalGreens also had a deal where you could print a free 8×10.

COMPOSITION: What makes good composition? Follow the rule of thirds… basically, if your photo had grid lines, you would want the interesting points (eyes and such) to come to the intersections (click the link above for better explanation). Or more simply, don’t put horizon lines in the dead center of the photo. Don’t have a telephone pole in the dead center of a shot-things like that.  Try to remember not to cut people off at their midsections and leave a giant empty space above their heads… get their at least half their thighs or somethin in there.  Also, if you are taking pictures of people, think how you have them “posed.” Ever see the website for awkward family photos? That’s a good reference of what not to do with them. Instead, try to capture natural postures for people, having them bend at the joints makes them not feel so awkward, like a hand on the hip (bent elbow), sitting on the ground knees to their chest (bent legs).  Also, try not to notice that there are two “Should” in the above photo. Always, always spell check. I will fix this one day, I swear!

There you have it. My completely unprofessional tips on how to take your own pictures! You might surprise yourself on what you can do if you try!