17 August 2014

Photo Challenge #1: WATER


09 August 2014

Family Photo Challenge

Several months ago I had an idea to try a family photo challenge. Isa has always shown an interest in photography so I thought giving her a topic or prompt might be helpful since 99% percent of her pictures consist of her toys or our backyard. A photo challenge would help her (and possibly others) learn about framing pictures, the rule of thirds, zooming in and out, lighting, angles, perception, creativity etc…

Okay, here are the rules:
Each week (or so) a photo prompt will be assigned and communicated by email & text. I’ll try to make the prompts wide ranging so no one has an advantage. You then have a week to find an image that you feel embodies the prompt.  You can use your phone, your camera, whatever works.  Email that picture to middleson.  Only one picture can be submitted per person and the picture must be taken during the week of the photo challenge. Looking in the your archives for old amazing pictures is not allowed. (Sorry Jake.) 
He will gather the pictures and share them on his blog (and will text you a notification when he does).  If people want we can also vote on our favorites.

Photo Prompt #1: Water
Enjoy your photo hunt and send us your pix by next Sunday.  Good Luck!
If people have ideas for prompts, let me know!

Clever Cliches

On a recent trip to Kansas City we made a stop at the Federal Reserve Bank.  We watched thousands of dollars be processed, learned about the economy and enjoyed some interactive displays. middleson served as our tour guide since he used to teach economics. Before leaving we received a souvenir bag of shredded currency and a money museum fun guide.  The fun guide had puzzles and games to test your money knowledge.  One of the games gave you the first half of a common money cliche and you had to fill in the ending.  Here are Isa’s attempts...  They’re too good not to share.

1.     Money doesn’t grow ….it blows
2.     Put your money where… you know.
3.     Money burns a hole…lot.
4.     A fool and his money …make a robber.
5.     Money is the root …to paradise.
6.     There are some things that ….make money.
7.     Money makes the world…happy.
8.     Money can’t buy …a creek.
9.     A penny for…you.

Sylvia's Comment Today....

"This music is music to my ears."

29 July 2014

Wedding: Printing Recap

In an effort to accomplish several things (restart my blogging habits, capture some of the memories from our wedding before they fade, and share what has been the biggest project of design work for me so far), I give you...a printing recap.
1.  Save the Date: the creation of this seems like so long ago now!!!  I don't honestly remember where the idea originated, but at some point Sylvia saw this old class photo of me and loved it.  She later gave me one of hers.  When it came time to make a Save the Date, we both knew we did not want to do the standard theme, and seeing them both got me thinking of a page in a school yearbook, and it all just evolved from there. I grabbed a layout of a page of photos from the 60's thanks to the internet and plopped us down on it.  I had to work with the backgrounds to get us both to match and changed us to black & white.  And it is the first time I used Comic Sans in a design project.  It provided the perfect classroom feel to the page.  On the back side I used a little logo I had put together for fun months before and also unveiled our wedding website.  We printed these through Vistaprint and they were super affordable.  I think they were ~$30 for like 100 of them.

2. Invitations: there are a lot of great options out there and for a guy who loves design, typefaces, and quality paper, there are a infinite slew of mind-blowingly awesome options that look fabulous on paper that is equally delicious to your fingertips.  And you can really get into some large dollar amounts too.  Luckily, we both wanted a pretty simple invitation suite.  No fancy gauze paper, bow ties, confetti or letterpressing.  (OK, actually I would've loved letterpressed invites but they were not in the range of our budget.)  While I was doing my Skillshare class with Jessica Hische, I explored her website and saw that she has designed some invites for Paperless Press, so I checked them that website and they had several options we loved.  We went with "Macaroon".  Sylvia loved the style and the color palette, just vintage enough for her.  I loved the typeface and the style too.  We ended up having to rush print these and overnight ship them so that inflated our final bill a little but they were still very affordable, and so easy to create using their online tools!

3. Programs:  In fact, I loved that typeface so much that I found it on Jessica's website and purchased it.  The first typeface I've ever paid money for!  Buttermilk.  So rich, distinctive and fabulous, I decided to make it the central font for all our wedding printed items.  Using a few examples provided by the church, I put together a simple half-sheet program.  Again, no frills on this one, but I like the details we added.  The relation to the wedding couple for each of the wedding party members is in Spanish as a nod to Sylvia's heritage. I added a Celtic cross at the top of one page and a Celtic knot at the bottom of the other page as nod to my Irish heritage.  I also included one of my favorite church hymns in Latin, "Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est." ("Where charity and love are, God is there.") [side-note: I did not know until I wrote this that song was used in Prince William & Kate's wedding also.] We printed these on a card-stock at Kinko's and since we got two per page, even with printing front and back, these were crazy cheap. Don't forget to ask about their educator discount!

4. Escort cards: Setting up a template seemed to be the biggest hurdle with this one.  Trying to figure out how to line up four folding cards on a page, with bleed area, that would need the fewest cuts possible took a bit of thinking.  Once I got it though, I was able to replicate that page 20-some times and then go back and start filling in the names as we got the table seating arrangements nailed down.  I loved the way these simple designs looked once they were finished and put out, ready for people to pick up on their way in.  The focus is totally on the beauty of the typeface.  It made me happy to see people wearing their cards around during the reception or picking theirs up to take home with them.

5. Table numbers:  I got my inspiration for this project from Pinterest.  I liked the idea of pairing pictures of us at different ages and using them for the table numbers.  Each table would have a different pair of pictures to enjoy/laugh at and wandering among the tables to check them out would give people something to do as they waited for us to arrived from the church.  This project actually led to Sylvia and I having a ton of fun when we each pulled out boxes of old family photos to go through.  We shared memories as we shared the photos and got to know each other even better.  We made stacks and I took them to Kinko's (I was a regular customer at both locations) to digitize.  This was actually very affordable.  You can scan in as many pictures as you want and you only have to pay for the CD to burn the files on to (I think it was like $5).  I know there are other, better options if you really want to get serious about scanning in old photos (higher resolution, image improvement, etc) but for the time and cost and for what we needed them for, this worked out perfect.  And we actually ended up adding all the scanned photos to the slideshow that would play on the TV at the reception.  I took the files into Photoshop and put them together (color corrected some, cropped others), added a table number & a little white border that Sylvia felt looked Mexican-ish and fit our reception theme, and that was about it.  Then it was back to Kinko's to print the pictures.  Sylvia found some wire holders online and that was that!

6. Hashtag sign: This one was not really much of a real project.  I put it together the night before the wedding in my mom's hotel room.  I downloaded an announcement card from Vecteezy and moved the pieces of it around, changed the text and was done.  I definitely wanted to try and harness the power of social media and gather all the pictures I knew people would be taking with their phones, so I wanted to share a hashtag.  We came up with #sylviaandjake, by not including the word "wedding", we felt we could keep using it for other fun things.  I also used a fantastic web tool called IFTTT (If This, Then That) that allows you to set it to trigger when something happens and it will make something else happen.  So I created a rule that anyone someone posted a picture to Instagram with our hashtag, it would save that photo into my Dropbox, and I would get a notification on my phone. It actually was a lot of fun to see the pictures as them came in.  I printed the sign at Kinko's the morning on the wedding and stuck it in a wire frame Sylvia had at home.

7. Favor CD sleeves:  We were both so excited and involved with this project.  It was decided that CD's would be our favors very early in the planning process.  It would be our way to say thank you to all our guests, and would be a favor that people could enjoy for years. "Great songs for great people."  Jamming out as we shared songs with each other was a ball and Isa was dancing along with us.  Music is such a personal thing, I won't say there weren't some frustrations when a song got the cut, but we came up with a great list of tracks from a variety of genres.  Country, oldies, rock, soundtracks, folk, etc. Sylvia really took the reins on this one and learned how to sew the paper into sleeves.  The design layout was something fun that I hadn't really done before, finding and incorporating a variety of premade vector objects.  The music, the sewing, the graphics...this was a project that was so fun and one that we too will enjoy for years to come.

8. Large photo & quote print: Pinterest has changed the world of wedding planning (among other things) and it played a vital role on many of our decisions.  This is another one that was born amongst its pins.  I saw a pin that had this fantastic C.S. Lewis quote (from the  end of The Last Battle, the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia series) overlaid on a picture of a forest. Weeks later as we were having some pinning time together, Sylvia randomly mentioned that she really loved that quote.  Nothing else was said about it but the wheels were turning in my head.  I selected a photo from our engagement shoot and set to work creating a print with it that would include that quote.  I framed the finished product in an IKEA frame and gave it to Sylvia at our rehearsal dinner. We sat the print at our gift table for people to see at the wedding and now it hangs on a wall in our house.  Just reading the quote and looking at the photo is enough to put a smile on my face, regardless of how many times I've read it before.

9. Thank You's: We kept it simple for our Thank You's, using Vistaprint again.  We used a fantastic shot by our great photographer, Shana Drake, put together a little banner and a little text, using Buttermilk again of course (along with Hagin Caps Thin) and there you have it.  The picture is the focus and it was one that we both knew we wanted to use for the thank you as soon as we saw it.  The tree in the background was beautiful that day and her bouquet is the perfect pop of color.

Edit. note: After I wrote this, I won't lie, I shamelessly tweeted the link to Jessica Hische and she (or her publicist) tweeted back a very kind reply that shows that she at least looked at my work. :)

07 July 2014

World Cupdate

I thought of that witty title all by myself.  :)

How fantastic have most of these games been!?!  So many goals in the group stage games, smashing all sorts of records.  And also setting record marks for come from behind victories and late game (even stoppage time) goals.  When Netherlands brought on a subsitute goalkeeper in the final minute of extra time to set the stage for penalty shootout drama, I thought I'd seen it all. 
Great stuff.  I was sad to see Columbia and Costa Rica go home, but definitely tip my hat to them both.  Same with Algeria and Mexico. 
But, here we are.  Four teams.  And four that many people probably picked from the beginning. Brazil (now without Neymar and Thiago Silva), Argentina (now without DiMaria), Germany and Netherlands.  Two South American teams and two Europeans.
In our friends & family pool, lots of people in the top half with three of the four semifinalists picked correctly. And many with their champion pick still alive.  Well done!

I came across this bit of statistical analysis this morning on ESPNFC.com and was shocked by how far off I would've been if I had tried to guess "How many minutes (out of the full 90+ minute match) is the ball in play?" and I had to share it here...
"It can take them 30 seconds to take a throw-in and the referee does nothing about it." Marc Wilmots' grapes were, in truth, a little sour after Argentina beat his Belgium side in a more comfortable fashion than the 1-0 scoreline suggested, but he had a point here. The ball was in play for 53 of the 97 minutes in Brasilia, a figure that was not too far short of the tournament average.
It's far from the most damning statistic of its kind: of 96 minutes' engagement between Brazil and Colombia, the ball was active for a hardly believable 39; when the Colombians met Uruguay in the second round, the figure was 49 minutes from 94; when Brazil and Chile faced each other for 128 minutes in Belo Horizonte, they only used the ball for 70 of them. Confronted with figures like these, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the nigglier, rotationally fouling sides are seeing the odds stacked in their favour.
There is a mitigating factor to partly explain the mean of 56.8 minutes: it's hot out there, and it is consequently difficult to demand that matches move at 100 miles an hour. But when nearly, and sometimes over, half a game's allotted time is spent standing around and doing nothing, something feels wrong. There is a cultural factor at play to some extent, with the pace of the play in Latin American football tending to differ from that in Europe, but stronger refereeing would surely have given sides such as Belgium and Colombia a better chance of getting back into their games -- and provided the spectacles we'd hoped for."

20 June 2014

Speedy DIY: TV center

As we were watching the Netherlands vs. Spain World Cup match, an impulsive idea popped into my head. Our "media center" is a custom-built shelf space that was constructed for the old tube-style square-shaped TV's.  Sylvia's TV didn't fit into it so it went into the basement and my TV just had enough room to slip in.  We have gathered ideas and talked to a contractor about rebuilding that whole space and making it into something useful and better-looking.  But after a year of watching the little TV and having a bigger one collect dust in the basement, I finally cracked.  I said, "At half-time, I'm going to switch out the TV's and cut out a piece of that wall so the bigger one fits."  So, at the whistle, I was in motion.  Old TV pulled out, new TV brought up, circular saw plugged in.  Problem 1: my circular saw isn't working right. I noticed this the last time I used it.  It doesn't seem to have enough power and the blade binds up all the time.  This caused the plan to go slower than I'd anticipated.  And it also forced me to physical break out the piece after I'd made the top and bottom cuts.  Problem 2: I had not planned on having to "Autoprogram channels" once the new TV was hooked up. That process took like 20 minutes.  So I missed most of the second half.  
The good news was three-fold:  
1- Netherlands went on a goal-scoring romp in the second-half and crushed the defending champions.  
2- Once the hole was filled with the new TV, you couldn't really even see the gruesome hack job behind it. 
3- We are watching A LOT of World Cup and are loving the bigger TV.

All the more incentive to get moving on the real makeover project!

Wedding Crashers

After I tweeted a little love to Field Notes, including a picture from the wedding of my brothers and I with their notebooks, I was surprised to get a reply tweet.  "@jacobwelchans @caboose22 @EronWelchans can you drop us a line at wholesale @ fieldnotesbrand dot com?" 
So I did and we had a little back and forth email exchange, sent them some more pictures and just like that, we are on their website!  Check it out here!

(If you haven't already, check out their films.  The Shelterwood one is amazing.  And I have a soft sport for "From Seed.")

15 June 2014

13 June 2014

And We Are Off!!

A cracking 3-1 win for Brazil kicked off all the World Cup festivities yesterday and (despite a couple questionable referee decisions) it was a triumphant debut for the hosts.  A great lineup of games is in order for the weekend so I had better stock up on provisions.
Here is the family bracket predictor which shows who each person chose for their champion.  Lots of variety and all solid guesses.