One of the biggest questions I usually get asked in regards to camera settings is “Why are my photos blurry?” There are tons of answers to this question, but typically it is a result of a slow shutter speed. Your shutter is what ‘freezes’ action. The faster your shutter the more action you can freeze (think kid jumping into a pool). The slower your shutter speed, the less action that will be frozen (think soft, flowy waterfall pictures). If you are using your camera on Automatic and are attempting to take indoor pictures with your flash turned off, most likely your camera will slow down your shutter speed….leading to blurry movement in your photos. The best way to remedy this is to learn to shoot manually ๐Ÿ™‚ (I know…that is rude…forgive me)

If you can’t shoot manually, try turning your camera to the “Tv” or “S” mode and set the shutter for 1/125 (some cameras just show this as 125) and then increase it to be faster and faster (1/200, 200)…now your camera will adjust the ISO and aperture for you. This is a very brief answer and I admit there are about 100 other things to consider when adjusting for indoor pictures without flash, but maybe this can be a jumping off point for you to play around with.

The first 5 photos below were all taken on the same settings. You can tell how my son is blurry when he is jumping. My shutter speed was fast enough to capture him still, but too slow to capture him in the air without being blurry.

24mm, 1/125, f/2.8, ISO 400


What could possibly be so entertaining to watch while jumping in a crib?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the goofiest kids of all?

Yep, FireCracker is wearing the same hat as I showed yesterday. I took the photos at the same time.

I’ve been getting a lot of emails about dates for the next SnapShops. I have not set any dates and I don’t plan on setting any until the spring. Right now I am looking at only doing 2 in the spring and 2 in the fall. There is still a hope I can get an online version going sometime in 2011, but we will see. I will announce new dates via my newsletter before announcing them on the blog. Typically each SnapShop fills up within a few hours of announcing those dates. You can sign up for my newsletter here.


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  • Alba - I will try it with my camera.
    Yes, here there is a candidate for online snapshops whenever it arrives. by the way, merry x-mas to you and to your family. Petonets, Alba

  • Yanet - So did you get IN the crib for the last shot? Lol.

  • Corey Moortgat - Oh, I’d love it if you could do an online snapshop!!

  • Mandy - Just wondering what lens you used for this – and love that last one!!

  • amanda torres - Man, did you crawl into my head or what? I was just wondering the same thing about blurry non-flash indoor photos. Crazy weird. I will continue to be freaked out the remainder of the day. Which is not unlike any other day.

  • Jen - i would LOVE if you could do an online snapshot.

  • ashley jensen - When I got my DSLR in April my main goal was to only take manual photos. I usually have to take a couple shots before I get my settings just right (which is frustrating if you miss the moment you are trying to capture). I will have the correct shutter speed but my ISO is too low, or vice versa. Plus I love the back button focus trick you taught us! I love seeing your “behind the scene” shots also. EXTREMELY helpful!

  • Krista Lund - i absolutely adore that last photo!!

  • Meadowlark - Who’s
    not whose

    sorry. I’m a grammar nazi, but in a good way.

  • hearttypat - how did u manage to get firecracker so clear with the backlight from the window behind her?

  • Laurie J - tax return = camera upgrade from a point/shoot to something…that can do a little more. Like an amateur fun camera?! do you have a post where you lay out what someone like me should look for in a camera like that? I’d appreciate ANY help on my first camera upgrade ๐Ÿ™‚

  • giozi - Adorable, like always. Are you going to take free days?
    A big hug.

  • Jenny B. - Thanks for the tips! I kept getting blurry pictures the other day, and complained about it to my husband. He, being the brilliant man he is, suggested wiping the fingerprints off the lens. Ha! ๐Ÿ™‚ I did, but I still have trouble with blurry shots indoors w/out flash. I’m learning to shoot on manual, and have upped my ISO to the highest it will go, but they still don’t come out sharp. Sigh… I’m wondering if maybe more than the outside of the lens needs cleaning. I remember you saying something about cleaning your sensor, so I think I might need to look into a camera repair shop. I always love your posts. I hope the online version of SnapShops becomes a reality! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • kassondra - oo i so hope you can do it online!!!!!!!!!! i will def. be using this tip this coming Christmas weekend too!

  • Life in Eden {amy} - great advice!
    I LOVE your daughter’s lanterns and pom-poms. I know how to do the poms, but where did you find those great colored lanterns? And any advice how you hung it on the ceiling like that? I’m finding the hanging part a big challenge (don’t want to put a ton on holes in the ceiling!)

  • sheryl salik - where did you get? or how did you make? the amazing puffy’s above your daughters bed..i wanted to do something similar in my daughters room but ive only found them for $60 or more!

  • phanie - just joined your site today, these are fantastic photos! such a fantastic idea having the mirror placed with the photos so that it’s like a different changeable photo amongst the rest! very clever!

So last week was kind of serious on what I wanted to give my kids this time of year. Well…in the midst of that I wanted to give myself time away from my kids to enjoy a few flea markets, antique stores and junk shops. Not only did I get time with a friend….I got time with Chris….and I got some squeal worthy items. As I was looking over the things I scored I realized I must currently be a fan of a few choice colors because they seemed to pop up in everything I was drawn too. No sooner than I was thinking about it than a package arrived with a hat…and I did squeal over the cuteness and colors – mustard & teal!

I really liked the colors and punch outs on the old gambling punch cards, but I am a little concerned about what they were originally used for. I can’t seem to find their history online, so if anyone knows…please feel me in. I figure it is better to know before I use them in a project! My sister saved the movie tins from a trashcan fate at work. I like what is written on the outside…”you can work wonders”….

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  • Laurie J - mustard yellow and teal are a-mazing together–the hat for firecracker is adorable. i’m curious to see what you’re going to do with those old hinges–they look like butterflies!

  • mandi - Oh my! That is one squeal worthy hat! I love it!

    And your color pallet there- minus the coral- are variations I just painted the exterior of our house with! I love it!

  • Kacy Mehlem - Always fun to treasure hunt!
    Thought you might want to check out this hat for your boys. I photographed them for the artist’s etsy site. She does great quality work. Lots of things in those colors for girls as well, tough to find. Especially love her hair clips.

  • tasha roe - very very cool!!!!
    all of it is so much fun.

  • Jen - so sweet…i am melting!

  • Dawn Nikol - I found this on etsy:

    Some sort of in store lottery game apparently. I couldn’t find anything else on them either, except some more images.

    Love the color combos, too!

  • ashley jensen - I really enjoy seeing all the little random things you find and how you incorporate them into something larger! I LOVE the Tulsa Chapter bingo cards. Anytime I see anything that says Tulsa I snatch it up!

  • Jack - I love the ribbon tins and the fabric. Looking forward to seeing what you are going to make with it!

  • christina larsen - I love your finds, makes me want to hit the antique shops.

  • Haylee - Your color dots remind me of a blog I love to look at.

    color-collective . blogspot . com/

    Anyway, love your finds…. you’re so lucky to have such wonderful flea markets to go to… I’m wish’n Utah peeps would get into that!

  • ashlee - those are the colors of your background too:) great finds!!

  • Casey - You go so much great stuff!!

  • heather - no wonder you squealed! what sweet treats you found!! i love those color combos right now, too but with a nice big heap of gray thrown into the mix. gray still has a pretty solid hold on my heart. ๐Ÿ™‚

    if i don’t get the chance to come back by before Christmas I just want to wish you and your family a very merry, merry Christmas!

  • Liene - Great colour combination. I love the yellow hat! My favorite colour combination now is mustard yellow and grey, it is funny how that works!

  • Lisa - according to ebay (an excellent source of info ha!) the game boards were for church bazaars, carnivals, and such fundraising opportunities!

  • hearttypat - I’m curious what you’re gonna do with all your finds! Does anybody feel like me, when I see something of certain potential out there and I SOOO wanna get it, but I just can’t have a clue what I wanna do with it. Most often than not, I left all those little treasures slip away.

  • elizabeth - your daughter is ADORABLE!! i’m squealling how cute she looks in her little hat :0) i think i must have one for my little gal.

  • kari - These colors are amazing! Where did you get that hat? XOXO

  • amy - swoon. i think i’m in love…seriously. man, what a haul.

  • rebecca - I have the bread box that mathches the yellow tray with flowers on it!

  • Carolyn - I LOVE the hat. So beautiful (as is your daughter!) Please do a post on how to keep cute hats and headbands on a girl is always pulling them off/out of her hair!

  • Lesley - Good finds! Love the new hat too!

  • gina - fun finds!!

  • Amanda-ThriceBlessed - Great finds! I love posting my thrifty/vintage finds too. I found a new flea market this weekend and it was almost 2 hours of kid-free bliss!

  • Ali - Oh my goodness, that hat on that baby girl made my day!! So stinkin’ adorable!

  • libby - Oh my gosh that hat is incredibly cute!!! love it!

  • the whyte house - i love picking up old ric rac when i hit our local antique mall. i immediately go to the same booths during every visit. there’s 10 of them that i constantly buy from, so i stop at their booths first. i bought an old movie reel and put movies, candy, popcorn in an old crate with some filler, placing the movie reel at the front. makes for a great family movie night gift for my brother-in-law’s family.

  • Yolanda - Hereโ€™s some information of your punchboard: They have photos of your actual card on their gallery here: . Iโ€™ve never seen them before. Now I think I might have a new obsession.

  • Kelly - I love the yahtzee cup and the typewriter ribbon cases. I really respect that you want to find out more about those cards before you use them in a project. Kelly

  • Kelly - p.s. your sister knows you well. I love a rescuer like that and I too really like what’s written on the outside. Kelly

About 6 years or so ago my grandpa built my niece (Chris’ sister’s daughter) a dollhouse and matching one for her wall. She has grown into a beautiful young woman and has outgrown the dollhouse. She decided to pass them both down to FireCracker…which sounded perfect to me since it is FireCraker’s Great Grandpa who built them. From what I remembered the dollhouse was a perfect size and the smaller one would work on her wall.

They dropped the 2 houses off…I thought this was the bigger one.

Ummm….yeah….I was wrong.

We had to do some rearranging in FireCracker’s room to fit it. I will admit I am excited we got the dollhouse before my girl is old enough to really know what it is. Since she isn’t into dolls or dollhouses that means I get free reign on the dollhouse makeover. I’ll be painting, wallpapering, and decorating up a storm on this big dollhouse. I already made a trip to a favorite vintage store to pick up some furniture. I plan on repainting the furniture and covering the chair cushions with fabric from FireCracker’s bed.

Until then…..the dollhouse has become home to several cars and LegoMen. The smaller dollhouse is going to get a manly makeover to appease my boys who want it for their Legos. It won’t be near as fun making over as the big dollhouse!

I’ve mentioned before that my grandpa has built a lot of what is in my house. Between him and my dad I think we have only bought a handfull of furniture items. Here are just a few of the other things around my house he has built. He’s pretty talented….obviously.

Happy Monday!

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  • Reidunn - Amazing work done by your Grandpa.
    And the photos of your children in the dollhouse is funny!
    Good luck with decorating Ashley

  • RachelC - I didn’t realize he had made that nativity. That’s cool. Love the dollhouses. Looking forward to all you come up with in the makeover. Great job Grandpa!!!!

  • Tess S - oh my! that IS one HUGE dollhouse! i love handmade furniture.

  • andy - wow
    that doll house is huge
    that is funny that your kido’s fit in it
    can’t wait to see the makeovers your have in store. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Yanet - I LOVE it! I’m such a sucker for things with sentimental value. I’m a little jealous you get to have a doll house in your house. I’m minus a FireCracker so it’s Lego and Star Wars world here. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Here’s a link to something my grandpa made for me many, many, many years ago.

  • amanda torres - I’m pretty sure you’ll have the coolest doll house in town! The only problem if I got a doll house all ready the way I wanted it, I think I say things like, “No honey, the credenza does not go in bathroom,” or “Sweetheart, you switched the rugs. This on matches the kitchen and this one goes with the wood floors in the livingroom.” Obviously, I should not design a doll house. Control freak.

  • Mariah - Aren’t Grandpas the best?? Mine built an amazing rocking horse for my oldest when he turned one. It’s beautiful. They live in Colorado and I don’t get to see them enough. You are very blessed to have him close by!

  • Seamingly Sarah - The picture with them inside the dollhouse rooms is hilarious! Way to show scale! Your grandpa IS talented. Puzzles! Wow. I too have benefitted from the woodworking from the men in my husband’s family (not to mention their professional painting skills). Word on the street is that I’m getting a custom made tv stand this Christmas!

  • bethany - JEALOUS! How fun is that for you, her, and soon your boys. Love the look on Littlest Brothers face. We have a couple of handmade things around the house from my childhood…mostly doll furniture. It’s so fun to see my girls playing with stuff my dad and unacle made and I remember playing with. Can’t wait to see the big reveal!

  • Julie B - Since the kids are home on break they are blog reading with me. My 5 yr old thinks your blog is beautiful! She loves the background especially. She also thinks your kids are cute :). I am jealous of that dollhouse! Can I borrow your Grandpa?

  • Danielle - I love the pictures with all of them in the dollhouse! That thing is huge, awesome!

  • Valerie - Love the kids in the dollhouse. That’s awesome!

  • Jane - What a gorgeous dollhouse! My mom made me a little one out and decorated it with the wallpaper we had up at home and I loved it! It made seeing the patterns and colours we had in our own house so much more fun.

  • Krista Lund - when you are done with your doll house makeover, can you please makeover our life size doll house in our backyard? it needs a fresh coat of paint, curtains, a good scrub down and some TLC. It already has bamboo flooring, double pane windows, electricity and a second story balcony.
    oh and there is also another doll house in there ๐Ÿ™‚
    ok, maybe i will make it a summertime project ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anna - Wow, that doll house is beautiful. That is so wonderful to have such talented men in your family to build you furniture…something I wish I had! Can’t wait to see the makeover!

  • ashley jensen - WOW. That is massive! We bought my daughter a tiny doll house (just a fisher price one) and she absolutely loves it. Of course the kids in the house is an awesome shot!

  • Kari - You two are very lucky girls…what fun!

  • giozi - I love this house is really great, but the best is your children’s faces, ha ha ha. you little boy and the second on are a clows and your princess charmy like always. Lovelies all of them.

  • Jen - How AWESOME… I LOVE family builders that make things you can treasure… I can’t wait to see what wonders you add to these beautiful houses!

  • Lori - I love the fact you have a legacy of furniture and that your Grandpa made it! What a blessing to have someone that talented in your life…who also adores you – I’m sure. Love the pics of the kids in there. hilarious! Every girl’s dream – a dollhouse. how awesome for her…more awesome for her mommy – i have a feeling. ;0)

  • Desiree - How fun for you! I have a dollhouse at my parents that my dad and I have been building together for too many years (we only work on it a couple times a year). So far my favorite part was picking the wallpaper and the carpeting! Have fun! I love the pics of your kids inside!

  • Missy - Oh my goodness! Your kiddos in the dollhouse are so cute! What precious treasures; to have all those things in your home that were made with love especially for you!

  • Aunt Sandy - I love the pictures of them inside the house! How cool is that? Sounds like you are going to enjoy the house more than Breese right now. Well, have fun and I can’t wait to see how you decorate it.

  • Jessica @ My Ardent Life - What talent! You and FireCracker are going to have years of fun with that dollhouse. My grandparents made a dollhouse for my oldest cousin over 30 years ago and since it always lived at my grandparent’s house, we all got to enjoy it. We had a canopy bed in the dollhouse exactly like the one in your pictures! Brought back memories.

  • christine - i have a number of very cherished pieces my grandfather made too. i am looking forward to the day when my son is old enough to understand that those pieces of furniture were made by his opa’s father, with his own hands. there is something beautiful about woodworking in that way, how the furniture or carving is there the whole time, but it takes the knowing hands to bring that out.
    thanks for posting, ashley.

  • Melissa - Those are awesome doll houses!Have fun!

  • Leanne - I LOVE the kids inside the doll house! so cute! Those will be so fun to make over!

  • Keshet Shenkar - Oh my gosh, where did you find that tiny furniture? Love!

  • Liene - That is so funny! Wow, great grandpa who can make all those things!

  • mandi - haha! That’s funny! We have a very similar house that was built for our daughter by a friend. And yeah, it houses cars and books- and occasionally a Calico Critter or two!

  • the whyte house - yes!!! i like i how mentioned dollhouses and they just “poof”, appear in your living room!! awesome!! ๐Ÿ™‚ i need to borrow your grandpa. i have long to-do list for him. ๐Ÿ™‚ haha.

  • hearttypat - yep, men like that are nearly extinct! I really wish the ones around me are handy like that!

  • Amber - oh my word, I think your grandpa might be Santa Claus, or an elf! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Lesley - Yay for Grandpa!! The pics with your kids in the house cracks me up!

  • Erin Lee - ahh!!! that is just too cute!! what a blessing to have a grandfather who’s hands are so anointed hehe. i guess he passed down those creative genes to you!! and that picture of the kiddies in the big dollhouse is priceless!

  • Jenny - Can’t wait to see the remodled version… such amazing talent your grandpa and dad have!

  • ali - ?t s beatiful.Your kids so cute :))))

  • Carla - My father-in-law made my girls a doll bed for their babies but it was big enough for them to lay in. Now my granddaughter uses it for her babies. Such a wondrous keepsake to pass down through the generations.

  • Becky - Any chance I can get some specs to send over to our handy grandpa??