4 baby shower ideas

In case you’re new around here, I’m 27-years-old. That’s approximately the time in life that wedding season starts to wind down (as far as I can tell) and baby season starts to wind up (as far as I can tell). I can tell I’m close to transition time because last year I had 7 weddings and this year I only have 1. And this year I’ve been to 2 baby showers, just completed my first maternity photo shoot, and have a Facebook news feed full of little ones.

Now, this is actually a pretty neat transition because all of my friends seem pretty happy about it, and it’s a pretty solid reason to have more parties. (And yet again, in case you’re new around here) I really like parties.

Last weekend I went to a baby shower for Ben’s best friends. It was a co-ed baby shower with the most spread of food (it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing when the table has both Vietnamese and Italian food on it). It was super chill and the games well-thought out and passive. Super into passive baby shower games over here. We wrote motivational/cheeky messages on diapers (I think they were all supposed to be motivational… we may have failed) & guessed stats about the baby.

I wanted to share a few baby shower ideas and inspiriational photos from the event in case you find yourself planning a shower of your own. (Or more likely, planning a shower for someone else, I think I’m the only weirdo-face who likes to think about planning her own showers.)

Make a sock bouquet

Now, I’ve seen diaper cakes before (and there’s an awesome one pictured below), but I had never seen a sock bouquet before. What a fun way to incorporate baby items into the decor. And baby socks are so gosh darn cute. The mama-to-be’s aunt made this bouquet below to be gender neutral, but it could absolutely be geared towards baby girls or baby boys.

Baby Shower Inspiration Ideas 03

Fancy up the food

This was the first thing I saw when I walked in the door. Little fruit bowls! In an orange! With all different colors! It’s seriously the prettiest. One day I hope to make food this pretty in life. I’m pretty sure it involves developing the patience to cut melon into similarly-sized pieces.

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Stick to the theme

There are plenty of baby-themes out there. This page has 65 theme ideas and this one has 100 more. That said, I think this was the first baby shower I’ve been to where the theme meant something more to the attendees. It was monkeys, because 2016 is the year of the monkey on the Chinese calendar. The monkey theme played through the streamers, decorations, and more. The mama-to-be’s best friend was even able to find Monkey ribbon at Michaels. Flipping adorable.

So think about the mama-to-be when you’re choosing the theme and choose something that means something to her (I’m thinking the theme of my baby shower should one day be Rugrats. Because Rugrats.) – and when in doubt go with whatever the theme of the baby’s room is going to be.

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Also, let’s take a moment to appreciate the adorable cake. The theme even stretched to the cake. Yet again, flipping adorable.

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Don’t forget to say thank you

And at the end of the evening there were adorable party favors. (Of course there were!) And they were filled with M&Ms.

Actually, even one step above party favors. The guests of honor went around while opening gifts and said thank you to each person right after opening them. I thought that was really cool. Sometimes showers are too big to do something like that, but this one was just the right size to make it feel extra personal.

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Second baby shower of the year, and I’m sure there are more to come soon. I can’t wait to see what other themes are decided upon, how they execute game, and what other games I get to play along the way. Happy baby shower to the mama-to-be! Can’t wait to meet the newest little one!

What have been some of the best baby shower themes or games you’ve played to date?

summer photography challenge ideas

As many of you may know for the past two summers I have taken on a summer photography challenge. It all started in the summer of 2014 when I did a portrait photography challenge and took photos of a different friend every week (recap post 1, recap post 2, and recap post 3). In the summer of 2015 I did an event photography challenge where I took pictures at different events throughout the summer and quickly learned that wasn’t my jam (recap post).

love doing these challenges because (a) I always learn something and (b) 10 weeks is a short enough time frame to do something that it’s still just as exciting at the end as it was in the beginning.

Well, it’s almost summer again (even though the weather super seriously doesn’t feel like it), and so I’m in search of another photography project idea. I decided to bring in the help of some photographers that I’ve admired to see if they have any suggestions. Here’ what they had to say:

Summer Photography Challenge Ideas from Michael James

I’ve been following Michael James Photography for years now. I love his color palette and journalistic approach to shooting. I always feel like I’m able to grasp the story when I scroll through. Not only that, but he did an incredible job brainstorming summer photo challenge ideas for me. He asked me what I was interested in shooting and reminded me that it’s always good to step outside your comfort zone. He’s also incredibly personable, which makes for awesome conversation, and great ideas:

Well, at this point, it sounds like you’ve covered some people – formal portraiture where things are mostly controlled, and event photography which isn’t far from Photo Journalism work.

I’d encourage you to try something landscape oriented but with structure involved. That seems like it’s right up your alley. So, for instance, maybe City scrapes with a focus on geometric shapes. Sounds juvenile, but also amazing. Especially considering how you’re close too Philly. Have you considered that? Maybe even throw in an additional challenge to focus on something emotionally charged with those structures and city scapes. Dang… Now I’m getting excited and I wish I had time to do that!

Please enjoy a few of his favorite photos and don’t forget to check out his work.

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Summer Photography Challenge Ideas from Robert Cornelius

I met Robert from Robert Cornelius Photography two years ago at the first PHLbloggers annual holiday party potluck. I was super impressed how he (and a few other guys) were able to hold their own in a room full of women. I’ve spent so much time watching the videos he makes about the speed edits of his art. (I think we’ve passed photography and gone to art.)

He also had three awesome ideas. And his second one definitely falls into that “getting out of your comfort zone” category Michael was referring to above. Check them out:

One of my favorite ways to come up with an idea for a photo is to find a prop to work off of. It could be just about anything, maybe even something you already have that you’ve always thought was kinda cool…or even kinda boring haha. Try to think about that object and what it could mean or represent and how you could use it in a photo in an interesting new way. I actually have a whole blog post about this if you care to check that out!

Another fun project that you can give yourself is to shoot portraits of strangers. It can be really hard to approach people, especially if you are asking to photograph them. I actually did this very activity in Rittenhouse Square Park just to build up my courage and it ended up turning into a lovely little photo series. It can be quite exhilarating to walk boldly up to a stranger, tell them you think they are beautiful/interesting/cool/whatever and that you’d love to take their picture. You’d be surprised by the amount of people that will say yes if you’re not asking like a total creep-o. I actually have several more of these already shot that I need to edit and get posted. Again, I have a blog post about this if you want to take a peek!

My last suggestion would be to try out shooting creative self portraits. It can be really fun to come up with an idea for a character of some kind and create an image of yourself that tells a story. I’m not talking your typical headshot here – I’m talking about developing a costume/look of some kind, hair, makeup, props, and all that jazz and make an image completely on your own. It can be really fun to get out of your own head space and try something new. Plus even if it makes you feel silly, well, no one has to be there but you! Also if you hate the images, no one ever has to know they exist, haha. 😉

Please enjoy a few of his favorite photos and don’t forget to check out his work.

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Summer Photography Challenge Ideas from Tamara Camera

I found Tamara from Tamara Camera online a few weeks ago when she shared my 102 Verbs to use in Currently Blog Posts post. Her blog takes a photo-journalistic approach to sharing stories from both her childhood as well as stories from her own two children’s childhoods.

After studying photography in college, and then continuing to explore the medium over the years, she was able come up with five great ideas to try:

1. Know the company Best Gift Ever? They have photographs of things out in nature and in objects that look like numbers and letters. We ordered one for my sister’s housewarming that said her last name with letters that had a baseball/rocker theme. The photographers at the company have told me you can eye-train yourself to see letters out in public. I think it’s an awesome photo project because of more access to being outside. A to Z! If that is hard, you can also just do an A to Z project where you take 26 photos, of something that starts with every letter of the alphabet.

2. Golden hour. In warm weather, the hour or two before sunset is an amazing use of light. I think every photographer should tackle doing that a little each day or so.

3. Self-portraits are very challenging and I think it’s a great skill to learn, especially in the age of blogging.

4. A summer photography bucket list – getting all the amazing sights of summer. Make a list and then check them off as you photograph them.

5. A street photography project, especially if you live in or near a city.

Please enjoy a few of her favorite photos and don’t forget to check out her work. And the fact that I asked her to send three photos she loves totally explains how she ended up with three photos of her daughter. #curlyhairisthebest

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Summer Photography Challenge Ideas from Charles S Cerrone

When I was an RA in college my senior year, Charles was one of my residents, except I know him as “Shan,” the S in Charles S. Cerrone Photography. It’s been so cool getting to watch him go from always taking photos in the dorm to doing some awesome shots like the one below. He even led a photography walking tour for PHLbloggers to teach us more about how cameras work, composition, and troubleshooting. Super informative, and super great to work with somebody that I knew in a different walk of life.

He has a little bit of experience in giving photo assignments because whenever he finds time he’s teaching others, which is pretty cool. Here was his summer photography challenge idea:

Outside of composition/framing, I think one of the best learning tools for people just starting out with digital photography is understanding when and how to use color. Photography is all about including/excluding things from your environment into the frame. When you get really selective about what colors from you include in your composition, it tops a black and white photo any day. One assignment I give my students is to photograph “color pairs”, ie blue+yellow, red+cyan, green+magenta, natural blacks+whites, etc. Going out and exploring on a nice day while trying to work in those specific colors, and only those colors to your pictures, can turn up some interesting results – and teach you how to be more selective with what you include in your frame. The more you perfect your use of color, the stronger your work gets.

Please enjoy a few of his favorite photos and don’t forget to check out his work.

Summer Photography Challenge Ideas from Charles S Cerrone 01 Summer Photography Challenge Ideas from Charles S Cerrone 02
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I’m so excited that these awesome photographers had such great ideas to share. I love the idea of finding geometric shapes in city scapes, shooting creative self portraits with hair and makeup, and a summer bucketlist challenge. They’ve also got me thinking a little harder than I originally started thinking. I was thinking about the top layer of the challenge – take photos of things in the city – but didn’t get to the second layer of (a) that look like letters or (b) that look like geometric shapes. I was also thinking about what I was going to be taking photos of as opposed to why I was going to be taking photos of it. Which is clearly just naive. They’re one in the same, and I really need to think more big picture.

I can’t wait to figure it out. In the meantime, make sure to check out Michael, Robert, and Tamara’s sites. Do you have any additional suggestions for me to add to the list? Or maybe you’ve been inspired to start a photo project of your own?

weekly snippets 20

weekly snippets 20

Photo on the way to Steamboat Springs, CO

Another week down. This was by far the longest week in a long time. With the least accomplished? That sounds good, right? Seriously looking forward to the weekend, man. And not setting an alarm on Saturday morning.

That said, here are 10 things that happened this week:

  1. I had an important decision to make in the past week. I decided that my next sitcom of choice was going to be Everybody Loves Raymond. So far, I’m pretty ecstatic with my choice.
  2. I went to a library for the first time in a long time! I got two books! And I finished them both already! Eleanor & Park and The Smart Girl’s Guide to Parties (via American Girl).
  3. I absolutely love reading teen fiction. Eleanor & Park was absolutely wonderful. It made me super nostalgic for high school and first loves and holding hands. Goodness gracious holding hands has never sounded so good.
  4. I got to hang out with a bunch of Ben’s friends on Saturday. That doesn’t usually happen, so it was really nice.
  5. I went to Talula’s Garden with friends from work on Sunday evening. Cheese plate, entree, glass of wine, and dessert. Felt pretty good to spoil myself.
  6. I’m putting it out there. There’s this one fancy party dress I bought two years ago that only has bad memories associated with that I’m looking to wear out again to clear the air. Who wants to take me out? I’ll pay my half.
  7. I addressed a bunch of cards and envelopes before I got on the plane this week and didn’t write in one of them.
  8. This week I spent 8 hours in a plane, 12+ hours driving (or passengering), and an hour in a cab. So tired.
  9. I ordered +$100 worth of stamps because I was running low. I have a problem.
  10. I went to a workout class Thursday night and can’t move. Damn the three flights of stairs between the bedroom and the kitchen.

10 things. The rest is a blur. I’m also hoping there’s more bubble tea in my future. How was your week?

the hamper question

Big People Questions Answered: How many hampers do you have?

A few weeks ago I became fascinated with this question: when you move in with somebody, do you have one hamper or two? There are definitely some pros and cons of the situation.

Putting all your laundry together: The Pros

  1. It takes less time.
  2. It all gets done at the same time.
  3. It takes up less space.

Putting all your laundry together: The Cons

  1. You may ruin the other person’s clothes.
  2. Somebody else may be touching your dirty clothes.
  3. Some people are super particular about laundry and others aren’t.

When I started asking around I found out that there were some answers that I hadn’t even considered. I assumed that the answer was one hamper or two hampers? I quickly found out that the answer could be up to FOUR hampers depending on your level of commitment to the system. I was fascinated. So of course, in order to get to the bottom of this I emailed a bunch of my closest friends to see what decision they made when they moved in with their significant others.

“I can’t remember how we did it when we first moved in together, but now we have two hampers. Vinny takes care of most of our laundry. We have one hamper for everything that’s his responsibility. I have a separate hamper for more delicate things – nice work clothes, pantyhose, bras, etc. – that need to be sorted properly, hung dry, and the like, so that if they get messed up I only have myself to blame!
via Victoria

“Ideally, I preferred we still have our three basket laundry sorter that my aunt gave me before we got married/moved in together. Whites, darks, towels/others. All laundry combined. If items needed to be treated differently we would set aside/go in others basket. I don’t know what happened to that sorter in our move, but we currently now have one large basket with combined laundry and it doesn’t work that well… Lol.
via Claire

“My beau and I have always had one hamper and it started that way because he didn’t know that floors/kitchen chairs were not hampers. I didn’t mind having one hamper, but let. me. tell. you. that having a man (any man) empty that hamper- full of your worn unspeakables- and take it to the washer is, well, cringe-worthy.
via Jai

“We have one main one, and 2 “subhampers” for sorting, sorted by lights, darks, dry/line dry, and linens.
via Emily

“I have a 4-bin hamper (similar), because I find that I am much better about keeping up with laundry when I pre-sort everything.  This means one bin for whites, one for lights, one for darks, and one for reds/bright colors.  I also have a separate hamper for sheets and towels.  When I see one compartment getting full, I do a load of just that compartment.  The only part of my laundry habits that changed when my husband and I moved in together was that I do loads of whites more frequently because of his undershirts.
I find it fascinating/bizarre and inefficient when people living together don’t do their laundry together, though I know multiple married couples who still do their own laundry.  I also find the division of laundry labor interesting — I do all of the laundry, because I am OCD about sorting and have lots of clothes that I don’t dry, or that I hang dry for most of the time but finish in the dryer at the very end, etc.
via Catherine

“We have 1 hamper with 3 hanging baskets. When we first moved in together we just threw everything in, there was no reason or logic. My clothes, his clothes, and towels were all jumbled together. Now we separate it out: 1 hanging basket for me, 1 hanging basket for him, 1 hanging basket for towels. This makes the hamper look neater AND prioritizes what goes in the washing machine next.
via Mary

“When Steve and I moved in together, we shared one hamper, and have been using only one (always overflowing) hamper ever since. We do all of our laundry together so, for us, it only makes sense. There is my extremely short, boring, but ever-so-practical answer.
via Stephanie

“Single hamper here.
via Pam

“We currently do our own laundry separately – although we hope to transition to jointly. It would help me out a lot because he does his laundry more frequently to have it done jointly. Sometimes I put mine off way too long and then I don’t have time to do my own because of my crazy school schedule. On the side to keep laundry separate, he also sweats a lot when he workouts so it helps to keep that separate. And the smell is pretty bad.  I also have not had time to instruct him on those items that need special attention when laundering (like the ones that need to be hang dried). We do help fold each other’s and start loads. Long story short: we have two hampers but hoping to transition to joint laundry.
via Anonymous

“We currently have 2 hampers…one in the laundry room (his) and one in the second bedroom (mine). I moved into his house after we got engaged, and just moved all of my stuff, including clothing and hamper, into the spare bedroom. He had a system in the master closet, and at the time I was getting up way earlier than he was for work, so it made sense for my stuff to be in a different room anyway. It worked just fine, however I believe we will eventually combine hampers when we purchase a place together (and become real married grown ups!)
Also…I’m a bit particular with my clothing, and prefer different settings for different articles of clothing, etc. My husband would be ok washing everything together, same temperature, mixed colors and fabrics etc, and that just throws my OCD for a loop!  For him, as long as it’s done, that’s all that matters. I on the other hand, need mine sorted, some hung, some in the dryer, and I have too many rules to expect him to want to understand or follow. So again, separate has worked out just fine. When I do laundry, I’ll include his as he’s not particular, but it doesn’t really work in reverse.
Yes, marriage is all about sharing…but this is one area we have not combined yet! Maybe in our third year of marriage…
via Chelsea from Chelsea B Designs

“When we moved in together in Providence, we had 2 hampers. I did my laundry, Nick did his. Once we moved to LA, we had one hamper. I do all the laundry. I’ll be anonymous so that my very personal hamper habits stay private (haha).
via Anonymous

“When you’re single and childless, you have one hamper. Then you move in with someone who was also single and childless, then you have two hampers that stay independent for a while. Once you get comfy with everything, you then have one hamper for colors and one hamper for whites. Then when you have kids—well—don’t even get me started on that!
via Jenn from Hello Brio

“Pretty much as soon as [my partner] moved in, we adopted a 2 hamper system, one for colors and one for whites. Mostly because for the most part I do the laundry. I was also worried about him potentially shrinking/ruining my clothes. Fun fact, I had to teach him how to actually do his laundry – he never had to do it when he lived at home. I’m thinking it was a cultural difference, woman’s roles are more housely. We still argue about that….. but that is neither here nor there.
Having the two hampers reinforced the reminder that you actually had to seperate colors. To this day, if there is something that needs to be hang dried or washed special (cold, etc) I wont place it in the hamper because he just throws as much as he can in the washer without looking at anything. I can only imagine the lack of sorting that would occur if we only had hamper. All of his work shirts would be either pink or grey…..
via Anonymous

“My boyfriend and I have lived together for three years, and we’ve still got separate hampers. We never discussed the matter, but there are a couple of reasons I’m sure we’d both agree on as to why we didn’t combine. First, he plays soccer and his clothes are often smelly. It’s just a fact of our lives. Second, because of the above-average smelliness of his clothes, he washes his weekly. I, on the other hand, only wash clothes when I run out of undies! If you want to know my real dirty little secret, it’s that I actually have two hampers to myself, one for clean clothes and one for dirty, because I’m also terrible about hanging my clothes back up once they’ve been washed. #noshameinmylaundrygame
via Nicole from Writes Like a Girl

“How many hampers : 4 : 1-Regular clothes, 2-Special handling clothes, 3-dry cleaning, 4-towels; We agreed to this once we moved in and were figuring out a process to keep us organized and not ruining each other’s clothes. I do most of the laundry, but the bins are really for us to identify what we can and cannot wash when we are not there to confirm with each other.
via Lauren

“Ever since Steve and I moved in together we have had separate hampers. So, for those counting that would be two. I’m not really sure why or how this came about. We definitely never talked about it specifically, but it works for us. Plus, one of the fun parts is that it is obvious who makes the most laundry (that would be Steve in our case)!. So, if you’re doing laundry all the time you can blame it on the other person in a totally fun way…but also be thankful that they’re clean I guess. 🙂 [and then after further clarification…] We keep the dirty clothes separate but do all of the laundry together. Which, now that I type that, seems kind of strange? But why mess with the system? haha
via Sara

I started to realize very quickly after hearing people’s answers that I was definitely going to be the person to ruin somebody else’s clothes in my relationship. Whites, colors, towels, sheets – they all go in the washing machine together (sorry, mom). So overall, no conclusions here. Ben [essentially] asked if I was trying to figure out what the majority of people do to follow suit, and I said no, I’m just trying to be aware of all of the options. And now I’ve got way more than I know what to do with.

So just to keep adding to the fun – do you (or do you think you would) share a hamper with your person?