What’s In Your Camera Bag?

I had an awesome birthday present this year…which considering I’m entering a new decade, makes COMPLETE sense to me.

Anyway….Dave bought me this:

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Canon 5D Mark ii

Isn’t it pretty?! Oh! And he got me this (it was part of a kit):

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Canon 24-105 f/4L

It has brought back my passion for photography again. I still get crappy photos, but the quality has dramatically increased. Prior to this, I had a 50D with a 28-135 lens. So not like going from a point and shoot to a professional grade camera, but still an upgrade.

I’ve been over-loading my Facebook feed with photos of the girls and am currently working on action shots. Dude…that’s HARD. I’m not talking running or playing…it’s the bubbles and jumping on a trampoline that is testing my abilities and I LOVE it.

So in light of my amazing gift, I’m going to give my loving and awesome husband ideas for the next few years. My wish list of camera gear. (And he’s laughing incredulously at me!)

The very first thing I’ll be buying is a new battery grip and a couple of batteries. I’ll probably get an off-brand, but I’d love to have the Canon version.

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Canon Battery Grip

Next is a new flash. I’ve been working with lighting for just a little while (I’m primarily a natural light photographer) and I’ve seen what a good flash can do. This one would be awesome:

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Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT

I have a “cheap” flash that works with the new body, but it’s slow and eats batteries like it’s its job.

Next would be to upgrade my memory cards. I’ve used all kinds (the current 2 I have are SanDisk and Kingston), but I’ve heard great things about the Lexar professional cards.

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Lexar Professional

My current cards can snap about 8 or 10 shots before they slow down considerably and I’d like to beef that up without having to decrease the quality of the photos. Now, if I could get Eye-fi to make a CF card, I’d want that. But alas, I’ve only seen the SDHD cards. (link me if I’m missing something!)

So once I have those…on to glass. This is the seriously not cheap part. I’ve seen the difference between L lenses and lower quality glass and I’m not going back. Sorry babe.

First up would be a good portrait lens. I know quite a few photographers go with an 85 or even a longer lens, but I don’t like to be that far away from my subjects. So this one would be perfect for me:

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Canon 50mm f/1.2

HOWEVER, for over $1000 less, you can get this one (and I’ve heard fantastic things about it):

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Canon 50mm f/1.4

There are some pretty significant difference, but this is one of the only lenses I would be okay with not owning the L version of. I don’t do so much portrait photography that I could get by without the best.

I would also take this one instead of the 50mm, but I don’t see it being a top purchase 😛

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Canon 16-35 f/2.8L

If I could have my absolute most-wanted lens…it would be the following…

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Canon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6L

This lens would be a fantastic walk-around/all-purpose lens, but it costs as much as my camera kit did. And I would love for the f-stop to be lower…I’m actually torn on this one or my last lens

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Canon EF 70-200mm 2.8L

I love the lower f-stop, but I’d like to have a little more zoom for those times that I’m photographing sports or really want to get close to the kiddos.

 

SO MANY CHOICES! AAHHHH!

What do you shoot with? I’ve worked with Nikon (I used to want a D2X when I worked in a studio), but I’m a Canon girl through-and-through. Even my point and shoot is a Canon Digital Elph (and it takes fantastic photos for being as tiny as it is!). And if you had unlimited money, what would you get? I know I could drop some SERIOUS money if I had unlimited funds, but I’ve posted stuff I might actually own some day. For what I do, it’s more than sufficient!

Kelley’s Cakes (The 1st Edition)

Have you started planning your child’s birthday, find the cake you want, and then realize that you would have to pay more than what you’re spending on the party JUST FOR A CAKE?!

Yeah, that stinks. So between my mom and myself, we’ve always done the girls’ cakes. I don’t have photos of them all, but here are a few.

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This was for Paige’s Rockin’ 2nd Birthday Party. A guitar cake pan, icing, Rolos, mini-Oreos, and chocolate cut-outs decorated it. It was cute, but the icing was bitter. I’ve since learned how to deal with that, thank goodness!

 

Kira Christening

My mom actually made this cake (where do you think I get my talents?), but I did the flowers. Mini-Oreo’s in the middle were a hit with all of the kiddos.

 

3-D panda panda cup cakes

These were for Kira’s 1st Birthday. She’s our little panda bear, so a panda theme. My cupcakes could totally go for mice, but they were cute. And once Kira got over her screaming fit (very typical of Kira), she loved her panda smash cake!

 

practice gabba cake

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This was my first attempt with fondant. While not professional, it looked so much better and was actually EASIER to decorate than the ones I’ve done with just frosting! Top was a practice cake I made (and then passed off to our neighbor’s to eat) and the bottom are two photos of the actual cake.

Here’s a video via YouTube that shows how to make the fondant. I have started to put in a packet of gelatin and it seems to make it even smoother, but totally your call!

(a tip if you use fondant – steam it before you put icing on it! Makes the fondant shiny and pretty!)

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This next cake is Kira’s. We call her our Care Bear, so I went with it when planning her party. This was the first time I worked with adding something in between the layers and it was fantastic! Top layer was a basic french vanilla with lemon frosting (it tasted like the lemon Girl Scout cookies, I swear!) and the bottom with chocolate cake filled with strawberries and whipped cream. Everyone said it was amazing and we didn’t have much left over.

 

pirate cake

I did this pirate cake for my friend’s two little boys. The sand was brown sugar! Once she put the pirate duckies and figurines on, it was super adorable!

 

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This was probably the most time-consuming because of all of the cut-outs, but I made it for a sweet 16 party. The top was caramel with homemade caramel sauce. middle was french vanilla/lemon, bottom was chocolate with strawberries/whipped cream. I really like how I did the tie-dye ribbons around the base of each of the cakes. One of my favorites!

 

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Tangled! This was for my niece and she loved it. 🙂 Instead of doing strawberries, I caramelized pineapple and filled the top layer with that and whipped cream. Again, amazing. One I’m going to remember to do later.

 

flower cup cakes

They needed 3 different types of cake/icing combos for my niece’s party, so I also did some flower cupcakes. Way easier to decorate than you realize!

 

So you can see…I’ve definitely progressed over time and I’m sure I’ll continue to do so. It’s fun and I love being able to be so creative!

 

~Kelley~

On Bullies

It’s a common problem lately. It’s on the news, the radio, written about on blogs. And yet, it’s still a major problem.

Bullying.

You would think that we would have some time before this becomes a problem in our house. After all, our children are 4 and 2….not exactly ages that invite bullies. Not to mention the fact that we home school Paige. So interactions are limited.

But we recently had a situation that has me still shaking my head.

After Paige has gymnastics class at our local YMCA, I usually tend to let her play with the other children in the “family” gym. You’re not supposed to have children over 6 in there, but it was spring break for many of the local schools, so the rules were being bent. No biggie. I was annoyed by the older boys throwing the blocks at the younger kids, but it wasn’t a huge issue.

Paige found a group of girls and went up to play with them. I sat on the bench…messing around on the iPad (free time! yay!), but was still keeping an eye out for her. Not more than 10 minutes later, she comes up to me crying. Apparently, these girls were being mean to her. My normal response is typically along the lines of “I can’t fight your battles, but here is something you can say to them”.

So I sent her back and started monitoring the situation closer. What I saw was horrible behavior out of these girls. They flat out told her that they didn’t have to listen to her when she requested that they stop what they were doing and then ramped up the intimidating actions. I waited. Watched my child crumple into a sobbing mess as the girls continued. I held my breath, hoping that a parent of one of these children would step up.

No one did.

So I did. I was polite. Asked them to please use nice words and nice actions because how they were acting was really upsetting Paige. I wasn’t mean, they needed to learn that how they treat other girls really does matter.

I figured it was a teaching experience for all. And as I walked back to where my stuff was, one of the girl’s parents called out and asked if they were being mean. I responded that they were, but I had taken care of it and the girls would work it out. I even smiled!

And then I heard them talking. The looks in my direction confirmed that they were talking about my child.

“What’s she going to do when she goes to school?”

Umm….seriously?

MY child needs to learn how to deal with bullying? At 4?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

Since when do the bullied have to be the ones to “deal with it”. When are the bullies just shrugged off?

Are we, as parents, really failing our children in this regard?

I agree that my child does need to learn to walk away from the situation or learn how to deal with a bully…but why are you not placing the blame on your child who was tormenting my child? When a group of 5 or 6 children gang up on 1, there is a VERY large chance that the 1 child is not the issue.

I wasn’t upset until the parents started defending the actions of their children. And then that made me incredibly angry. I tweeted the words that I just couldn’t say, cried tears on the way home, spent the day absolutely aghast that I actually witnessed what I had.

Parents, putting the blame on the bullied and not the bullies.

Come on people.

We can do better and our kids deserve it.

No parent wants to be that parent, but you need to be. You need to be a parent, not a friend. Teach your children. After all, they learn by example. If you push off their actions onto another, you are letting them be the bullies.

“Mommy? Can we go now? I’m not having any fun”

Heart. Broken.