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For fun!

A few weeks ago I participated in an online photography event called “synchronized watching” organized by Else Kramer. Around 1250 people participated, me included. The premise was simple: sign up and for a whole week you get a new assignment or theme every day. Then you post the pictures you’ve made on various social media and tag them appropriately.

This was the first time Else Kramer organized this, but it was so succesful she is already looking into the future of doing it again in the Netherlands, as well as worldwide. Not only was it succesful in the number of people that participated, it was mighty fun as well! The themes were very varied, there were all kinds of ways to interpret them. Here’ are my results:

Day 1 : Socks
The first one was pretty straightforward, to ease us in. I chose to use my macro lens (a very cheap add-on to your existing lens, but it does the trick!) and get a nice close-up. I tried out various arrangements till I was satisfied with this one.

sok

 Day 2 : Something that you made yourself
Another subject that is pretty easy to interpret, but this time it already has a slightly wider range. There were pictures of children, sandwiches and grocery lists. I photographed a necklace I made a while ago. I had some plans to sell them, but I never got to making a whole line. This is what I would picture the product photography would look like. I’m very pleased how it turned out

yellow-collar-necklace

Day 3 : Summer
This theme was tricky all on its own, because the day (actually the whole week) we got this assignment it was lousy weather all around. So how are you supposed to use that in your expression of what summer means to you? I did it by picturing something that is my go-to summer refreshment: homemade iced tea. It’s a simple concept and I added frozen raspberries for extra freshness and summer feel.

ice tea

Day 4 : Blue
A very broad theme once more. I didn’t want to make a staged photograph so I biked around the city until I found this door with the gorgeous knocker and snapped it up with my phone. It’s simple, but I like it.

DeurDay 5 : Void
Now were talking! A very deep theme indeed. Some participants really laid their life bare with this one. It’s very interesting to think about picturing something that’s not there. The only way to do that is to make it visible in some way. So I bought a bubble blower and started experimenting. Not as easy as you think when you’re on your own! You can’t hold the camera to your eye and blow the bubbles at the same time. You don’t really have the time to alternate the two (especially if it’s windy, which it was). So after over 200 pictures I was lucky to have snapped a few that had both and interesting composition and were sharp.

leegte

Day 6 : Something small
Ah, I got to combine two of the previous results in this picture! I set out with my macro lens, but didn’t really find anything interesting. I had the idea to maybe take a picture of a bubble’s reflection or something, but it didn’t really work out nicely. There aren’t really much interesting flowers or plants around here so that plan was out as well. Then I had the idea of sticking a bubble to a flower. Now this was even harder than my attempts of the previous day! My boyfriend was with me to assist me and it took a few tries but we eventually managed to do so.

kleins

Day 7 : Self portrait
Now this was the scary one! Would you just show yourself to over a thousand other people you’ve never met? Of course you were allowed to only show a small part of yourself, like feet or hands. And there were some who took selfies, used mirrors or photographed shadows. But I went for the all-traditional and quite simple head shot. It turned out dark since I was home late that day and light was scarce, but I kind of like that. I use it as a profile picture now.

zelfportret

As for the verdict: it was a fun and very interesting week! It really forces you to get out your comfort zone to photograph things you normally wouldn’t (or didn’t have time for in the past). Moreover, it motivates you to keep up so you can share your pictures with the other participants! And that was truly the most fun part: to just browse through all the pictures and like or favourite them and strike up a conversation with another photographer. I will definitely try and participate again next year.

story books from recycled paperIf this looks a bit familiar you are not wrong: this is a tutorial to make a story book like this one here. The workshop during the Etsy Craft Party was a success and I was simply amazed by all the little variations in outcomes and creative uses of material provided. That’s the best part of this technique: it’s simple, but very versatile.

To start you will need the following items:

DIY story book tutorial

– One big piece of paper to fold into a story book. Magazine pages work the best because they are quite thin and fold very well. Plus you are bound to find a nice colourful and interesting looking page to use. You can download a free folding guide here.

– Washi tape for decoration and seal off the edges so that they look nice and straight. I simply adore washi tape and it’s become more and more common to find in ordinary shops. There’s also a brilliant selection available on Etsy.

– For the story itself I use pages from old books that have fallen apart. You can also just skim a magazine to find the words you need. However, book pages do give a nice atmosphere to a story book. If you don’t have any ready you can order a packet of 20 pages with a variety of colour, typefaces and languages on Foregone Finds.

– Glue for sticking all the interesting bits and pieces into your book.

– Scissors or an x-acto knife for cutting all the interesting bits and pieces out.

– Optional: a pencil to press and slide over all the folding lines so that they are extra sharp and neat.

2a

– Also optional is a piece of sturdy paper to cut a nice envelope packaging from. You could also print out a nice image on sturdy matte photo stock to use if you can’t find anything else. I have uploaded a free template to use here. This envelope is for (gift) packaging only as it is too small according to post regulations!

2

Now the most important part is picking out a nice piece of paper to fold into a booklet. Like I said, magazines are perfect for the task. Just keep in mind that you’re going to fold it into eight pages (counting both sides) and every page should have something interesting on it for your background. In the image above I’ve drawn a rough guide to keep in mind how your pages are going to look like.

3

Once you’ve picked your paper it’s time to fold. Keep in mind that for step 1 and 2 the side you want to use needs to be visible from the outside when you fold.

1. First you fold it lengthwise. Use the pencil to press and slide over the fold to accentuate the fold.

2. Open your paper and now fold it crosswise.

3. Keep your paper closed and fold each end towards the centre to make a sort of a harmonica.

4. If you open up the paper again it should look like this.

4

5. Cut alongside the first fold from step 1 until you reach the crosswise fold from step 3.

6. This should show how far you should cut. Now hold the paper on both ends of the cut and carefully pull it open…

7. Until it looks like this. You have now basically made your own booklet and the possibilities are endless.

8. Look through your booklet to decide what the cover should be. The orientation of your story book could be both portrait or landscape, so you can weigh that into your decision.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the edges won’t align. That’s okay! It’s pretty impossible for it to do so no matter how careful you are because paper always has a thickness. I go around this problem by taping up the edges with washi tape.

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9. You can tape up as many edges as you want. Personally I like to mainly tape up the cover and leave the inner pages be.

10. You can use the same colour tape for your project or mix it up. If you mix it up it might be fun to carefully make a cross cut with an x-acto knife where the two tapes meet so that the transition between two tapes looks more smooth.

11. And you’re done! Once you’ve taped the edges it won’t be possible to choose a new cover, so choose wisely the first time.

12. You can now trace the envelope template over the paper you want to use for packaging and cut it out. The thicker paper will be harder to fold so you might want to go over the inside of the fold very lightly with a scissor or a bit harder with a pencil. You can use glue or washi tape to close the envelope.

Now that you’re done it’s time to decorate the inside. I can’t really tell you how to do that; it’s up to you and your imagination! But if you need some help here’s an example:

DIY story book tutorial

As you can see I’ve kept the text quite minimal. I made up a short story myself and then went on to look for the words in the book pages. You will find that it is extremely hard to find the exact words, so it might be best to look for parts of words or even individual letters. If you’re consistent in the pages you use it won’t look too much like a ransom letter! For the story book above I only used two pages. It’s best to keep it short and simple or you’ll be browsing for the right word for a week!

The story is (with bookpages mentioned):

1. Op een nacht zat Rena voor het raam 2. de sterren te tellen. 3. Toen ze bij 70 was 4. viel er een ster uit de hemel. 5. Ze wenste om een vriend 6. en kreeg een schat.

Translation:

On one night Rena was sitting in front of the window counting the stars. When she reached 70 a star fell down from the heaven. She wished for a friend and received a treasure.

6And this is basically it! Above are some more examples and variations of how it can look. I like to stick a white square on the back to write the name of the recipient or add a small message. You can buy all of these booklets in a story book kit that comes with loads of recycled material to decorate them with in Foregone Finds. Each kit contains a booklet and envelope packaging, 2 book pages in English and 2 book pages in a different language, various interesting bits and pieces to decorate and a piece of matching washi tape to close the envelope. These kits are like the minimal effort for great results!

If you finish your story book I would love to see the results!

Hey everyone! Today is my 25th birthday and all in all it is a fantastic day! To explain the title: I lost my voice last night, but it’s not stopping me from talking or singing! I even did a little serenade for all the people who have congratulated me for my birthday. Listen to my rendition of Margaret’s Thank you very much; it’s pretty bad and hilarious.

Anyway, for the occasion I wanted to bake something nice. However, at the moment I’m following a keto diet. This means I can’t have many carbs and especially no sugar. This is kind of tricky, since carbs are in so many foods I love. Luckily there are many wonderful recipes and sometimes the no-no ingredients can be substituted by something else. I still browse through normal recipes as well, to save them for later when I’m not following the diet so strictly.

So there was this very yummy looking picture that came by of raspberry lemon bars. I am a professional grade cake, pie and pastry eater. My mom is an amazing cook, but her desserts are from another planet. All my life she has served me the most delicious dishes. Even so, I have never been a fan of tangy desserts. I like, no I love them sweet, sweeter, sweetest. This recipe really shouldn’t be for me, but the pictures really won me over. I needed to try them. So I substituted the flour for almond meal and coconut meal, the sugar for artificial sweeteners and cut back a bit on the butter. I also found out that I did not have any (frozen or other) raspberries present; I must have used them all for smoothies. I did have strawberries and blueberries so I used those.

strawberry blueberry lemon bars

Look at those beautiful colours!

They taste amazing! And they look so good too… And best of all: they are super easy to make, just follow the instructions and everything should come out fine. Just do not make them in a metal pan because it reacts badly with the lemon juice. One recipe should give you 16 servings. They may seem like small servings, but they are really dense and fill you right up. And a mere 120 calories a piece too! You could even add a bit of whipped cream guilt-free.

Strawberry Blueberry Lemonade Bars

adapted from The IMPROV kitchen

Ingredients:

For the crust:
1 stick (125 grams) butter
1/4 c. sweetener
1/2 c. almond meal
1/2 c. coconut flour
>1 t. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the filling:
1 heaping cup frozen strawberries, thawed
1 heaping cup frozen blueberries, thawed
2 tbsp liquid sweetener or 1/2 c. sweetener
4 lemons worth of lemon juice
2 lemons worth of lemon zest
3 medium egg whites
1 meduim egg
1 c. coconut flour
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350º F (175º C). Line a non-metal baking pan, about 20 x 20 cm or 8″ x 8″, with parchment paper so you can easily lift the bars out once they’ve cooled. 

To make the crust:
Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer, then add in vanilla. Add flour until just incorporated. Dump dough in baking pan and press with your hands until it evenly covers the bottom of the dish.

To make the filling:
Blend the berries up in a food processor or blender. Add sugar, egg whites, egg, lemon juice + zest, flour, and salt to the bowl and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake for 25 – 30 minutes depending on your oven and the sized baking dish you use.

Let cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator for a few hours (or until they’ve cooled completely).

cake2

I have never used a nutritional calculator before, so this might be a tiny bit off:

16 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 121.0
  Total Fat 10.8 g
  Saturated Fat 6.5 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.7 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 3.0 g
  Cholesterol 29.1 mg
  Sodium 23.9 mg
  Potassium 94.7 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 5.5 g
  Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
  Sugars 2.4 g
  Protein 1.9 g

After a long leave of absence I’m slowly ready to start getting back into action. However, let’s start nice and easy and let me show you this awesome llama font!

llama font

Click on the image to go to the web application that lets you use the font for free. Don’t forget to have lots of fun with it!