Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Natural light product photography and Christmas stockings

Confused by the title? Hopefully not for long! My mom and I run an Etsy shop, Little Buddy Designs, selling hand knit Christmas stockings. We've had the shop for 4 years. She knits the stockings, and I do the finishing work, photography for the listings and handle customer service. All year my mom knits stockings to build our inventory. She hands them over to me, and I prep them for sale. This is our busiest time of year. You might catch me in carline duplicate stitching names onto stockings ;). 

Here is an inside look at how I photograph them using natural light.

I use white seamless paper and lay it across my dining room table.
I set up in front of a window to get the most natural light.
I use a reflector to bounce the light back onto the stocking, so the lighting is even. I balance the reflector against our light fixture (you can see it in the mirror). I could also use my backdrop stand and hang the paper from it, but I find it quicker and easier to use my reflector. I make sure I'm not standing directly in front of the window when I'm photographing the stockings, so that I'm not blocking the light.
I lightly edit all of the photos by adjusting the white balance, adding brightness and adding contrast.  I do all of this in Adobe Camera Raw. The edit is subtle, as I find it important to get it right in camera.
Have an Etsy shop too? Make sure you're using the Etsy iPhone app - it makes a fun cash register sound whenever there's a sale!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Berry Cobbler | Gluten Free | Sugar Free

This mixed berry cobbler is super simple and quick to make. You can use any combination of fresh or frozen berries. I've made fresh strawberry and raspberry cobbler, and pictured here is a frozen berry mix of strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and blueberry (Trader Joes, of course ;) ). Adapted and slightly modified from this recipe.

about 2 cups of berries (I use 1 bag of frozen mixed berries)
1/2 TBS Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil 
1 tsp lemon juice

1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour 
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/8 cup Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
1/8 cup raw honey
1/4 almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix together the filling ingredients. If you use frozen berries, heat them slightly so you can cut up the larger berries. Pour the mixture evenly between 2 small circle baking dishes. Mix the cobbler dry ingredients in 1 bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Spoon half the cobbler mixture over the berries in each baking dish, and smooth evenly over the top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

The cobbler is delicious topped with whipped cream or frozen yogurt ;)

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Yearly Family Photo Books with MyPublisher

In 2010, I finally followed in the footsteps of my best friend, Maggie, and started the yearly photo book tradition. I couldn't be happier that I did! Each page is unique, designed by me in Photoshop. For each new book, I start with January's pictures. I try to keep up with the current month's pictures. I am pretty impressed with myself this year, because I am up to August 2013! It's around this time of year, though, when I get super busy with back to school activities, holidays, photo sessions, and the book gets put on the back-burner :(. Come January, I start playing catch-up to finish up the year. I have even taken on the monumental task of creating books for 2006-2009! (Luckily I didn't take half as many pictures back then as I do now, whew!)

When I know I won't have enough room in the book for all of our year's adventures (100 is the max number of pages!), I create a separate book for big trips or events.

MyPublisher is my favorite print shop to use for these books. The quality is absolutely outstanding. Their lay flat page option is awesome and the quality of the pictures is superb. I choose the Classic Hardcover (11.25"x8.75") with Photo Finish. They have excellent coupon codes and promotions throughout the year. I order 2 copies - one to enjoy and one to keep safe from the every day wear and tear that books go through.

I love my photo books. They are a labor of love. I don't even want to think about how long each takes me to make, but they are worth every second. I hope this will inspire YOU to create one!

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Flaxseed Wrap | Gluten Free

I've been reading a lot about how gluten free products aren't always a great alternative for those wanting to remove gluten from their diets AND consume foods with a low glycemic index. Gluten free products typically contain rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, etc, which have high GI values. So, I was cautiously excited when I found a recipe for flax wraps. Flaxseed has a super low GI value. I was hoping it would be a good alternative to gluten free sandwich bread. I was beyond excited with the results! The wrap is soft and delicious and I would almost call it a cross between a wrap and flatbread. I love making my almond butter and jelly sandwiches with it.  I've made several wraps at a time and they keep very well in the fridge. I've also made a wrap with hummus, hard-boiled egg, avocado, roasted red peppers and kalamata olives, which was to die for.

The original recipe is from the book Wheat Belly. I've modified it slightly to make it a little less savory. 

This makes 1 wrap:

3 TBS Bob's Red Mill Organic Flaxseed Meal
1/4 tsp baking powder (I use Rumford Baking Powderbecause the cornstarch is non-GMO)
pinch of salt
1 TBS Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, melted
1 TBS water
1 egg 

Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then combine. On medium high heat, spray a non-stick pan with cooking spray (I use TJs coconut oil spray). Spread the batter around the pan all the way to the edges. Let it cook about 5 minutes, then carefully flip and finish cooking the other side.

One note, when making more than one it's best to combine the wet and dry ingredients right before you're ready to pour them into the pan. When flaxseed is mixed with wet ingredients and sits for a few minutes, it becomes very sticky and glue-like and it's harder to spread around the pan.