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Happy 4th of July!

god bless america

{Print this cute sign at Yellow Bliss Road, I did last night!}

We don’t have anything major going on at our house today. No family in town, no BBQ’ing with friends, just my own little family of 6. At first I was bummed about that, but then I got on my Pinterest July 4th page and decided I just need to make the best of it.  I then got excited about the mellow day ahead. There are activities all about town, a parade or two that we could attend, but the crowds (and the heat) don’t entice my hubby or I. So we thought we’d give our own little history lesson to the kids on why we celebrate this day (and dad gets off work), and why we are blessed to live in a country that lets us choose the important things. Oh, and work on a project I’ve been wanting to do for THREE years–eeks, I’m so excited!

Here is what I found on my Pinterest page that got me excited for the day. I ran to the store yesterday and picked up some Patriotic M&M’s (if you can’t find them, just pick out the blue and red and use white choco chips) and Pillsbury cookie dough to make cookie ice cream sandwiches like Our Best Bites shared.  SO simple for the last minuters like me!

Ice Cream Sammies

I got some root beer bottles so I could slap on some cute patriotic labels I found at The Idea Room.

fourth-of-july-bottle-labels 3

Because I can’t resist a good blondie, I made this patriotic yumminess from Your Homebased Mom

M & M Blondies

I also grabbed some oreo’s and sprinkles to make these cute Oreo Pops from Makoodle. The sprinkles just make me smile!

I think we’ll play one of our favorite games: Scrambled States of America.


I’m excited to play this “Don’t Eat Uncle Sam” game with the kids that I just printed that I found at My Sisters Suitcase.

Also printed this fun United States map from my friend Mique at Thirty Handmade Days. I study the map and states with my kids around meals, so I’m curious to know what they know on a blank slate!

4th of July Kids Printables

I pulled out a few Hobby Lobby Americana items I got a few years ago and slapped them on my mantel just last night, too. I didn’t get crafty.

Here is a cute mantel from my friends at Eighteen25

I also liked the festive mantel at Landee See, Landee Do and I heart Nap Time.

I’m thinking I may need to run out and grab stuff to make this firecracker slingshot from Lolly Jane, my kids would LOVE it!

foam firecracker slingshot tutorial #4thofJuly

If you haven’t got anything festive planned, and want to–run out now and grab a few items. You can whip up some of the above in under an hour–seriously, I did it last night–the stores are open this morning!

I’m excited to eat some yummy food, maybe swim at our neighborhood pool, and hang with my family for the day. I’ll share some pics on my Instagram feed if you want to see a play by play;)

Here is one thing I don’t love about the 4th of July. It kinda steals the thunder from my birthday every year! Just three days later, people are often out of town–they take advantage of the only free day of the summer that people get off of work! But it’s ok, I’ve made my peace and remind myself that it’s not about me, the 4th just can’t help it.

P.S. Watch for something fun on my birthday, you don’t want to miss it;)

P.S.S. Let freedom ring, my friends.

America the Beautiful

I am grateful for my country. Grateful for those who fought for freedom. Grateful to practice my religion how I may.  Here are a few snaps of the morning of our Independance Day, July 4th in Texas.  My summer mantel centerpiece is a shot I took under a pier in Puerto Rico 4 years ago.   I found the printable in the frame at Landee see, Landee do (cute blog by the way) and the stars (and cake toppers) all ready to cut out at Tip Junkie. I just added the blue backing to them.

I already had the 16×20 red frame from Christmas and remembered I had a blank canvas to fit it.  I quickly cut out a star out of blue fabric and mod podged it on the night before…voila!  3 Americana knick knacks from Hobby Lobby last week. The bike I got a while ago at World Market and sprayed it white.

This was our church outfits yesterday…my oldest wanted to jump in even though he had already changed.  Notice the laundry bomb in the background? Nice.

Our neighborhood had a bike parade…most of my kids were excited to decorate their bikes.  Can you spy my 4 little heads in this shot?

Famous Round Rock donuts….I love these bad boys.  Better than Krispe Kreme (and they do ship).

Me, watching the parade.

Our kids do this a lot at home, drive the “3 wheeler” as they call it and attach a rope and pull behind the razor go cart thing (not sure what its called). My baby loves it.

I love my oldest carefully watching his baby sister as she rounded the corner.  She is actually about to get her foot caught….

..and ended up on bubby’s lap.

 We had a family swim at the pool, and will enjoy a bbq with  games and friends tonight. I love having my hubby home for the day, too;)

P.S. I love so many things about this day, but just one small thing I don’t love….that it totally. steals. the thunder. of my birthday.  I can’t imagine what those late December people must feel like. Call me a selfish birthday lover. It’s true.

5 tips in Photographing Fireworks this 4th of July

This is a re-post that I wrote at The Idea Room last week;)

{Source} Fireworks with reflection in the water

Unfortunately, I won’t be photographing any fireworks in Texas, because we have a burn ban in our area due to extreme drought conditions.  But I can still offer you tips with images I found online with their sources.

#1 Use a tripod.  To capture evening light, you need to leave your camera  shutter open for at least a few seconds, and no matter how still we think we are, we move, and then the image moves. It is helpful to have a remote to trigger the shutter on that tripod, because when you press the shutter, it will move, but you can still try this without a remote. Your camera timer is an alternative, but it would be tricky to time that, but with a big firework display, it could work.

{Source} Fireworks from above, capturing the scene of the land below (with a little silhouette)

#2 Manual focus.  This is something I don’t often do because of vision issues, but in this case, you can’t use the cameras focus when the fireworks go off because a) they are too fleeting and b) with your shutter open a few seconds and multiple fireworks going off, the focal point will keep changing.  The auto abilities will go haywire and you’ll keep missing the shot.  You will need to look for something in the distance to focus on, or just focus on the open sky.  You will likely be able to set the focus once and not need to change it during the fireworks, so set that before the show begins.

{Source} Double firewworks here!  For this affect, you will need a constant light source on the couple while using the settings I have suggested for the fireworks behind.

#3 Set your ISO–Though you are shooting into a dark sky, fireworks are pretty bright, so shooting at ISO 100 works well, and will produce the least amount of grain as well.

{Source} Awesome silhouette of people watching fireworks in the distance off of a pier on the water.

#4 Set your Aperture–Shooting at a low aperture (higher number) is ideal.  Something like f/8 or f/11 would work as a good place to start, and will have the landscape in focus.

{Source} I love the skyline in this shot. This shutter was longer because you can see the falling fireworks dragging downward.

#5 Set your Shutter Speed–Last but certainly not least, how long to keep your shutter open.  You will have to experiement a little, and it depends on the effect you are going for.  At least 1 second (1″), but up to 4 seconds (4″) I would try.  The shorter amount (1 second) will be crisp lines while the longer (4 seconds) will produce the streaks more.  Like when you are using sparklers to “draw” something.

{Source} I have one of these that I can’t seem to access on my external hard drive, but you gotta try to hold still while “drawing” with the sparkler in the air.

 {Source} This is shooting up to the sky, just capturing the fireworks, which is nice to fill the frame with them.

P.S. Don’t use your pop up flash….not gonna work.

Have a great 4th of July!