DIY Pennant Banner


Owen’s birthday is in 2 months, so today I finally started working on some birthday party planning! We have known for awhile that we want to do a Lorax themed party, which makes picking out the decorations, plates, and whatnots needed for the party pretty straight forward. The Lorax is a furry bright orange talking animal thing, with a bright yellow mustache. So the main colors are orange and yellow. If you have ever seen the movie its actually really visually stimulating, bright awesome colors throughout the whole thing.

But anyways, in my search to buy already made decorations I found that pricing is ridiculous, not to mention I couldn’t find anything in store that fit my color scheme. A plain solid orange pennant banner is $3.00 plus tax from Party City. That is boring… No thank you. Custom pennant banners from are anywhere from $8.00 to $25.00+! Okay, no.

Well, at Micheal’s they have open stock paper (1’x1′) for a quarter a sheet in every color and design EVER. I went with that. I bought 8 sheets ($2.00 TOTAL) and was able to make two 6 foot long banners. So, if you have a birthday party you are planning for coming up, or do birthday pictures, cake smashes, really anything that could use a little pennant banner touch… Keep reading.

What you need:

1. Open stock paper. Like I said, I bought 8 sheets of Michael’s 12″ by 12″ paper. It was with all the scrapbooking stuff and took up a whole side of the isle because there are THAT MANY colors and designs. If you are planning to hang the banners up against the wall you can go for really any of them, double or single sided. If you are hanging it from the ceiling or out in the open, you should stick to the double sided sheets.

2. Scissors.

3. Pencil or pen. Pencil is safer, no ink blotches. Learned that lesson.

4. Hole puncher. These are also at Michael’s, I have the super cheap one. I think it is normally $4, but they always have a 40% off digital coupon on their website you can to drop that even more;)

5. Ribbon or string.

6. Tape (optional).

7. A ruler.

I like to do my pennants 5″ x 7″ and I can get 4 out of each sheet at that size. So I line my ruler (well, my tape measure because we don’t have an actual ruler) with the corner of the sheet and across the top put a little mark at 2.5″, 5″, 7.5″ and at 10″. That measures out the length of two pennants and their centers. Next I measure down the page and make a mark at 7″… Not going to go too far in depth here, I’m sure you get where I’m going lol. If your sheets are one sided, do the marking on the back white side, just in case.



Once the first three pennants are outlined, cut them out! To save time and sanity I will stack up two or three sheets and cut them at the same time. Then you will still have room left for one more along the side. Here I just take one of thepennant that are already cut out and trace it.Image

Next, hole punch the top corners of the pennants. Again, here I stack up to 4 pennants, that’s about as many sheets my dinky hole puncher can take without having a seizure.Image

And now it’s time to string/ribbon them together! I measure out 10 feet of ribbon, because I like the slack at the ends to tie to whatever. I’m probably going to use these in Owen’s cake smash photos, so I will need to tie them to my backdrop stand. Get them all strung on, and then I like to tape the end pennants to the ribbon. It stores a little nicer without them all sliding out of the center.Image


And once I got through all my pennants I ended up with 2 banners that measure out to be roughly 6 feet long, considering the overlapping corners.Image

And of course I had to try them out for some photos!:D


Easy as that, and so affordable!


DIY Cake Smash!


This post is really for anyone out there wanting to save some money and do their baby’s first birthday pictures themselves! That being said, I am really trying to look out for my November BBC and IG mamas who have babies turning one in the next couple months;) If you didn’t read my last blog post, I recommend you do. A lot of the set up for this cake smash is actually really similar, but I will do some recapping too.

First off, what is a cake smash photoshoot? The basic idea is to celebrate your child’s first year by giving them their first taste of CAKE while taking beautiful pictures of it! Some probably think this is silly, and yeah maybe it is, but its also adorable and creates lasting memories you will love. 

Here’s what you will need for this:

1. Backdrop stand. In my last post I shared a link to the one my fiance made for me. It is made out of PVC pipe and cost about $20. Very useful, and you can easily store it for later use!

2. Backdrop. I have recently discovered seamless paper. For $25 I got a roll that is 52″ wide and it is 107′ long! So it is going to last awhile, even with cutting the bottom few feet off that were covered in frosting handprints lol. There are endless color choices, for this session I used “coral.” In my last post I told you that you could use even a sheet for the backdrop and that is still true. A $7 sheet from Walmart could be clipped to your backdrop stand. You could even tape it up on the wall if you don’t want to invest in a stand. (The seamless paper saved me a lot of effort in post processing, as there weren’t all the wrinkles and folds to try editing out!)

3. Decorations (Optional). I made a pennant banner out of scrapbook paper and ribbon, and we also had a bouquet of balloons. I wouldn’t go too crazy, you want the focus to be on the baby and the cake!

4. Plexiglass sheet. I used this again to help keep the paper from getting wrinkled under Summers wiggly butt. Plus, I like the reflection!

5. Camera.

6. Good lighting. I prefer natural light to flash. So again I set up next to our big glass sliding door in our kitchen. 

6. A soon-to-be one-year-old. Summer’s mom volunteered her to go first!

8. A cake!

Here are a couple pull back shots of my set up! The first is the set up for a couple pre-cake photos, and the second is how I set up for the cake shots:


Image(In the end I actually pulled the pennant banner down more, because that high they weren’t making it into the photos!)

After a little editing in Lightroom and Photoshop, here are examples of the photos I got with those set-ups:

ImageImageImageNow, for some tips!

You are going to need backup. That means dad or a friend needs to be there so you can focus on taking LOTS of pictures, and your backup helper can focus on snatching up the squirmy baby and placing them back with the cake. And just in case your baby doesn’t seem to interested, they can also be there to help them with that first taste, etc.

Keep shooting. I took about 200 pictures of Summer and ended up with about 15 really good pictures.

Take before and after pictures of the cake. Take pictures from different angles. Take distanced photos, up close photos. Change up the focus, instead of just focusing on her face, focus on the cake, messy fingers, toes and tummies! Take pictures of the grumpy faces too, they can be just as cute!

Have a bath ready. This IS going to get messy. Somehow I even had pink frosting on my own face.



Of course, these wouldn’t look nearly as nice without a little help from Photoshop. Up next I am planning a DETAILED Photoshop editing tutorial specifically around cake smash photos. So watch for it!

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope I helped out with your own at-home, DIY cake smash shoot. If you have any questions, leave me a comment:)





DIY At Home Studio (Plus Editing Tips!)

Okay here it is guys!

I believe that everyday is just another day to capture more memories, as most of you probably already know from my endless photo posts. I LOVE having my candid shots of my son doing his own thing, playing with toys, trying a new food for the first time, etc. But, sometimes its nice to have some of those really cute studio-looking pictures too, right? And I don’t know about you but I’m not about to chuck out a couple hundred dollars to Target Photo Studio when I can do them myself! Now, its not free to get pictures like this but it is relatively cheap considering what it can end up costing for you to go out and get them “professionally” done.


So let’s go ahead and start off with the needed supplies:

1. A camera. I have A NikonD3100, but really even before that I managed to get similar photos (much lower quality of course) with my iPhone 5 camera. In addition to the D3100 I also have a 50mm f1.8 lens. I could go into why that lens and that camera but that is enough for a whole other post another day. Basically, it has better focusing capabilities and I can shoot in lower lighting (like indoors).

2. A backdrop. There are so many cheap options… In these photos I used a $7 black bed sheet from Walmart. Yeah, really that simple. You can spend $75 on a black muslin photography backdrop if you want, or I have heard seamless paper rolls are relatively cheap and work well. All I know is they aren’t sold in store and I don’t have to patience the wait on shipping!

3. A backdrop stand. This really depends on how creative you can get. My fiance built my backdrop stand out of PVC pipe. This is the one we did: It was about $20 to make and I have used it many times already. Totally worth it, and then it breaks down for easy storage. Honestly, you could tape the sheet up to the wall if you wanted…

4. Optional: Acrylic sheet. That is what creates that reflection across the bottom of these photos. Mostly I needed something to keep my floordrops (most of which I use sheets for) from crumpling up underneath my squirmy 8 month old boy. This was also about $20 at Home Depot.

5. An adorable subject. I prefer my son.

6. Photoshop or a similar editing program. That’s what I use to edit my photos, it’s what I know and what I am comfortable with.


I took these in my kitchen with our big sliding glass door behind me and slightly left, so that I could get some good natural light in the pictures. I don’t like using flash because of the harsh shadows it can cast amongst other reasons. Still I had to crank my ISO setting up to 800 and bring my aperture settings up to f2.0 to get the shutter speed fast enough (to avoid blurry pictures) without letting the photos be too under-exposed (dark).

Looking at my set-up, there are a lot of imperfections and I am totally okay with that because Photoshop and I are very best friends. I got my sheet set up on my backdrop stand, laid down my acrylic sheet, gave Owen a cookie, set him down in the middle of the sheet on the floor, and grabbed my camera.

Right out of my camera this is what I ended up with:


If you will notice, there is lint and hair (thanks Bentley) all over the black sheet, under the acrylic sheet, not to mention the wrinkles you can clearly see across the back… Yeah, not too attractive. Plus that ugly white line the back of the acrylic sheet leaves across the middle of the photo. Oh well! Photoshop! If you don’t know Photoshop, this part won’t make much sense to you (but hey, I am open to any questions you might have, just leave a comment or shoot me an email!).

First thing I like to do are all the touch-ups and cropping. Using the spot healing brush I smooth out that white line across the middle, the wrinkles, the lint, the hair… And I also used the patch tool to clean up those stains you may or may not have noticed on Owen’s shirt (blueberry applesauce for breakfast). Then I cropped the picture to put Owen more centered. After all that I ended up with this:Image

Already looks so much better! Next I wanted to smooth out the background a bit. If you are familiar with layering and layer masks, this should make perfect sense… If not Google can lead you to many great layer and layer masks tutorials, that’s how I learned! So I first duplicated the background layer and then applied some blurring effect to it (I like the look of the Gaussian Blur best). Using a mask layer I removed the blur only from Owen so he stays nice and sharp and the background looks much smoother. I also darkened it a little using a new layer, filling it all in with black, taking opacity down to 50%, and again used a layer mask to erase the fill background from Owen (and his reflection). This is what I got at that point:


Then I like to draw a little attention to his eyes and pull out the highlights in his hair. Also, applying a little skin softening effect can look really nice. To pull of these effects I actually use Photoshop Actions. If you don’t know what they are… They are awesome. Any questions let me know; if you want to try any of mine, let me know. On this I used the PTM Picture Perfect Actions “Creamy and Smooth Skin” and “Hair and Eye Highlighter.” Subtle but nice:


And you can totally leave it at that if you want. I added a very soft color adjustment and cranked up the sharpness for my final product:



Might be too much work for some, but I love it! Once you are used to PS and all the tools, something like this can take just a couple minutes to edit. And there are SO many looks you can get with this set up. For example, our 4th of July picture was done the same way, in the same spot, edited the same! Just with a white $7 bed sheet from Walmart HA!


I am pretty sure I will end up using a similar setup for Owen’s cake smash pictures! I want to get some really good ones that I can use on his birthday invitations… Should be fun.

Thanks for reading guys and I hope this helped some of you out!