It’s not every family that would let you pull out the silly props on a stick for their family photo shoot. But when it IS that sort of family, it makes for a REALLY fun family photo session!

Silly prop family portrait fun by Danielle Donders

It wasn’t all silliness, but laughter comprised a good part of the morning. That and a truly lovely family made for a whole lot of great photos.

Adult outdoor family portrait by Danielle Donders

My first love will always be taking portraits of kids at play, but it turns out playful grownups can be just as much fun — and maybe even a whole lot less work!

Thanks to Kerry and your sweet family for a lovely Sunday morning out! :)


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Bright blue eyes, adorable blonde pigtails and a sassy attitude? Check, check, check!

Family portraiture by Danielle Donders

This lovely little miss came with her big brother and big sister for porch portraits early on Saturday morning, and we squeezed in some photos just before the rain started. Isn’t she adorable? Sometimes, the hardest part of taking photos of two year olds is just making them sit still for 10 seconds!

And how cute is her outfit? You think I could rock those leggings and leg warmers? Serious cuteness!


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It went something like this:

**ring ring**

Hello?

DaniGirl! It’s the Universe calling. It’s been a while, so I thought I’d check up on you.

Hey Universe! Great to hear from you. How’s that supernova in Betelgeuse 5?

Shining bright, DaniGirl! Hey, speaking of “shine” – I see you got a tattoo a couple of weeks ago!

I sure did! I was thinking of you – you saw the design? Three stars!

It looks great and I love the design. That red star is giving you some trouble though, isn’t it?

Ugh, yes. It’s been two weeks since I got the tattoo and everything has healed beautifully, except that red star. The skin around it is still swollen and blotchy and you can barely make out the star shape. This is how it looked last Friday.

At least it’s not as bad as you first thought it was.

No, you’re right about that. When a week had passed and the scabs started to heal on all the other parts of the tattoo, I started getting concerned because the skin around the red star was a little *too* red, and sort of angry looking. Here’s a bit of advice for you, Universe. Never, ever do a google image search on “skin reactions to red tattoo ink” unless you want some really horrific images burned into your brain.

Oy, I can imagine. And by the time you’d finished your Internet research, Dr Google told you some things you weren’t too happy about, eh?

I was somewhere between annoyed and horrified when I found out that most reactions to tattoo ink result from the fact that there’s mercury in the red ink and cadmium in the yellow.

Mercury? Yikes! Isn’t that toxic?

You’d think so, right? And I’ve always been sensitive to metals – I can’t wear earrings that aren’t pure gold or silver, and my gums react to metal fillings. When I read that there was likely mercury in the tattoo ink, I was pissed. How could I have missed that in all the research I did on tattoos before I got one? And then I started reading all sorts of stuff about how the heavy metals in the tattoo ink can affect things like MRIs – crazy!

So did you get it looked at?

Yes. By the time I found out about the mercury and whatnot, a week had passed and while the rest of the tattoo was healing nicely, the red star looked more like an angry bee sting. My friends actually convinced me to call Telehealth while I was waiting to hear back from the tattoo shop and the nurse insisted I present myself to a doctor within four hours when I described what was going on and the fact that the reaction seemed to be escalating. I stopped in at the tattoo shop on my way to the walk-in clinic and they reassured me that they haven’t used mercury in tattoo ink in a long time.

You must have been relieved! So what’s in the ink that’s causing the reaction?

The list of ingredients is pretty benign: distilled water, alcohol, witch hazel and “organic non toxic pigments”.

Heh. That’s not too specific, is it?

Not really. But it’s still better than mercury and cadmium! The senior tattooist in the shop took a look at the reaction and said in 30 years of tattooing, he’s seen about five reactions like mine – each time to red ink. I’m special! He said if I were to eat a hundred red Smarties, I’d probably react to that, too. To which I replied that 100 Smarties would send me into a diabetic coma, but I did get his point. It was simply the red dye to which I was reacting, and not some toxic heavy metal sludge.

I’ve always known you were special, DaniGirl. So did you go to the clinic?

I did. While I will happily crowd-source medical advice from the Internet, I wasn’t willing to give the final word to the erudite opinion of a guy without a medical degree. I did feel hella sheepish presenting myself to the clinic, though. To his credit, the doctor who saw me did not make light of the situation. Unfortunately, it was me who schooled him on tattoos and the prevalence of reactions to red ink, but he did say he wasn’t particularly concerned about it and did not see the need to remove the tattoo or the leg. It was clearly, in his opinion, an allergic reaction, and suggested some Benadryl cream would take down the swelling.

So what happens now?

We wait it out, I guess. That was a week ago, and the swelling and blotchyness are down a bit but not completely. It’s hard to tell what the actual red star part of the tattoo looks like, but it’s certainly not as crisp and bright as the blue and green stars. It seems possible that my body will just reject the ink entirely, and it will either push it out or I may react on and off to it for years.

Huh. That’s annoying. What will you do if your body does push the ink out?

Well, the whole idea was to get THREE stars, and getting rid of one kid to better match the deep symbolism of my tattoo is probably not an appropriate course of action. The tattoo shop said they’d be happy to retouch it for me in a couple of months if that happens, but I’m not convinced that’s a smart idea. I suppose I could get the third star re-tattooed in a different colour, say a nice maroon or a non-cadmium yellow.

But then you lose your clever “RGB” symbolism?

Right. And I do hate to circumvent my own cleverness.

Uh huh.

So I guess I’ll just wait and see and hope for the best.

I gotta say, DaniGirl, you do find the most unique ways to find bloggy fodder, don’t you?

All in the name of a good story, old friend. I am a cautionary tale.

Indeed. Well, take care of yourself, DaniGirl. We’ll chat again soon.

I’ll look forward to it, Universe. I always do.


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Steady yourself. This photo has dangerous levels of adorable in it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

This lovely little lady came to the porch on the weekend for portraits for her first birthday. Is she not the most precious thing?

Portrait of one year old girl

But oh, if you think THIS photo is cute, you should see some of the other ones. We’re talking pink tutus, fairy wings and chubby little baby toes, people. I’ll share more once I finish editing the rest of them, but this is one of those galleries that I can’t wait to share with the family.

You really have to work hard to get portraits of a moving baby (equal parts patience, silliness and sore quadriceps from getting up and down off the floor!) but with a beauty like this, they’re more than worth the effort! And lookit those eyelashes…. *swoon*


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Sea glass mobile tutorial

by DaniGirl on September 1, 2014 · 2 comments

in Fun for kiddies

Remember this? This was the bounty of sea glass that turned us into junkies way back in 2010 on our trip to Nova Scotia.

512:1000 Our sea glass collection

Since then, we’ve added to our hoard from PEI to Vancouver’s Stanley Park, but I never did do anything more creative with it than keep it in glass jars stashed around the house. Not even terribly nice glass jars. Oh the shame! Every now and then I’d pull it out and sort through it, feeling rather like Gollum muttering “my precious sea glass” as I sniffed the last vestiges of salt from the pieces.

Three things happened to inspire me to finally do something with our collection. The first was adding to our collection in Souris, PEI. The second was a bit of spare time on my hands, thanks to the vacation entitlement that comes with 24 years of service. And the third was — Pinterest. One day it occurred to me to search for sea glass crafts on Pinterest and I was immediately smitten with the idea of a sea glass mobile. I didn’t want to start drilling the glass or playing with wire (although I’ve still got a LOT of sea glass so I’m not ruling that one out!) but I did love the idea of simply using string and glue. Easy peasy, right?

Of course, actually executing the plan turned out to be a lot more complicated than I’d anticipated. I set out to get some stretchy filament like you’d use in making a bracelet from the Sassy Bead store downtown. The clerk there recommended against stretchy filament (more prone to breakage) and instead sold me a couple of meters of what seemed like very fine fishing line. I also picked up some E6000 adhesive. I’m not sure where I got that idea from – probably a random Pinterest link. The idea was to tie a piece of glass, tap in a blob of E6000 to hold the knot, tie on the next piece, etc etc etc.

Ha. Not so much. The fishing line nearly drove me batty as I tried to tighten and knot the loops around the sea glass. I tried on two separate occasions to make it work, and got frustrated before I could get three or four pieces on the line. Finally, I reached out through Etsy to Rebecca Long, whose work had inspired me in the first place. She was nice enough to point me in the direction of this episode of Martha Stewart Living (confession: first time I have every watched this show!) with a sea glass mobile tutorial.

So here’s what I learned about making sea glass mobiles from Rebecca and Martha:

  • use braided fishing line. It’s way easier to knot, but also difficult to cut. I got mine at the Manotick Bait and Tackle shop – first time in four years of living around the corner I had the opportunity to visit their taxidermy-filled shop. o_O
  • use a glue with a built-in brush. I gave up on E6000 and a tooth pick in favour of Lepages with a brush and it made a world of difference. And miracle of miracles, I did not once glue my fingertips together.
  • lay out your pieces of sea glass ahead of time.
  • leave twice as much of a lead (for tying to the driftwood or other frame) as you think you will need, and then double it again.
  • take your line and make a simple loop over your fingers, pulling the end through the loop to start a knot. Slip your fingers out and the glass in, and make a knot tight against the top of the piece of sea glass, then fold the tail down alongside the thread. Brush from the knot to the bottom of the glass along the two threads with glue.
  • move on to the next line and repeat on all your threads, then go back and put the second piece on the first thread.

sea glass mobile-2

In the end, I bought three types of twine and two types of glue, and it took about four hours of futzing about before I finally started making progress. What you see here actually only took about 60 minutes, once I got a good rhythm going. I love how it turned out! That’s an authentic piece of PEI driftwood, by the way. I picked it up exactly with this purpose in mind.

I also found a better way to store the left-over sea glass. Did I mention I have a new addiction for vintage mason jars?

sea glass_

So now we HAVE to go back to PEI to collect more sea glass, so I can make more mobiles! :)

sea glass mobile

Once I got the details sorted out, this was a surprisingly easy craft – what a great way to show of your summer treasure, right?


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As I mentioned yesterday, I finally got my tattoo yesterday. I am so happy with how it turned out and with the whole experience. I am also hugely relieved. I wasn’t worried about the pain. Seriously? I birthed not one, not two but THREE 10 lbs babies, one without medication and two after more than 20 hours of labour. The thing that I was most anxious about was the thing that most vexes me about photography and occasionally blogging – that it wouldn’t turn out in reality to be anything like what I had cooked up in my head, and (unlike photography or blogging) that I would be stuck with it forever. For a girl who fears committing photos to frames, this was commitment on an epic scale.

As I mentioned, when I first started thinking about getting a tattoo, it was because I had fallen in love with the idea of a shooting star design, which morphed over time into three shooting stars. When I decided earlier this summer that I was finally going to bite the bullet and do this thing for my 45th birthday, I spent hours looking at various star and shooting star tattoo designs online, but nothing was speaking to me.

When I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, I commissioned Beloved to help me create something – you’d be amazed how often it comes in handy having a classically trained artist in the house! We had just started working out a design when a friend mentioned her tattoo of the word “balance” and that resonated with me. Not the word balance itself, but the idea of a word tattoo. I am, after all, a wordy sort of girl. But which word? There are ever so many of them from which to choose! And when the right word suddenly presented itself to me, in the grocery store of all places, I felt that inner zing when the cosmic tumblers click into place. Shine. Of course! Once I had the word, there was no going back.

You know what was 100x more painful than the tattoo itself? Choosing a font. Oh. My. God. I kid you not, I looked at the word “shine” in more than 600 fonts, until the word itself lost all meaning and just became a shapeless blob. Handwriting fonts, gothic fonts, serif fonts, san-serif fonts, curly fonts, elegant fonts, typewriter fonts. Once I start dithering over fonts for a project, it becomes a black hole that sucks me in for hours – oh how I love to play with fonts. Imagine the pressure of deciding on one that would be permanently engraved on me! Here’s just a wee sample of the ones I played with:

And once I finished dithering over fonts (I changed my final design three times this month!) there was the whole star thing to work out. Multi-coloured or monochrome? Solid or outline? Oh, the agonizing. Finally Beloved and I worked out this one, and I knew it was perfect.

Unfortunately, when I presented it to the tattoo artist, she was concerned that the definition in the scribble would be lost unless we went with a much larger tattoo than I had envisioned – the lines would just bleed together into a blob. She played with it a bit and we decided on the outline version you see in the final design. I also dithered for a bit on whether to get it on my ankle or on my wrist, but I have heard that the wrist tattoos can be a bit more painful. Not that I’m overly concerned about it, but the ankle tattoo is also a little easier to conceal, should the need ever arise. I also toyed with putting it near my clavicle. Oh the choices!

If you’re thinking about getting a tattoo, I can’t say enough nice things about Amanda (Pickles) at Sacred Ink Collective. She’s patient and empathetic and not afraid to tell you what she recommends based on her experience, but she was also willing to listen to what I wanted and why I wanted it. I had booked an appointment with another tattoo shop that comes highly recommended in Ottawa, but I felt condescended to when I went in to pay my deposit, and they flatly refused to offer any insight into my design ideas. I ended up switching to Sacred Ink on the recommendation of a few friends and I definitely recommend them if you’re thinking about inking!

We resized the stencil twice and messed with the placement once before we were both happy with it, but I’m pretty sure she would have let me go on tinkering for quite a while until it was exactly what I wanted. The tinkering actually took longer than the tattooing. (See? She’s so nice and so patient!)

Tattoo-2

Despite the fact that I know I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, I admit that I was a wee bit worried about the ouchy part. I’m not particularly squeamish, but who likes the idea of 100 pokes per second with a needle? It did hurt a bit in some spots more than others, but Amanda’s rhythm of on and off made it entirely bearable. Once the needle stops, so does the pain. I grated a chunk off the knuckle of my thumb with cheese grater the day before yesterday, and I am getting more residual twinges from that than I am from the tattoo 15 hours after the fact. This morning I feel a vague patch of itchiness, and that’s about it.

Tattoo-3

In all, it took less than 25 minutes of actual poking for her to finish the design. I am so pleased with the result – it’s exactly what I wanted, and I’ll be happy to show it off well into old age.

Tattoo-4

After care of the tattoo is pretty easy. It bled a tiny bit in some of the stars, and while I was warned it would scab and peel, I’m not seeing any signs of that yet. At Sacred Ink, they do offer one touch-up after the tattoo heals if it’s required, but I can’t see anything I’d need fixed. I deliberately waited until the end of summer to get the tattoo, as I’m not supposed to submerge it in a pool or bath for three or four weeks, and too much sun exposure could cause the ink to fade prematurely. It was only yesterday that I realized I won’t be able to shave over it for a week or so, either. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of keeping it clean and moisturizing it a couple of times a day.

What I’m most pleased about is what I was most worried about – Amanda was completely faithful to the design, with the exception of changing the scribble fill to outlines of the stars. I’m not sure I could trace it so faithfully with a pen and tracing paper, let alone malleable skin! I’m quite in love with it and hope the summer stretches long into the autumn so I can continue to show it off.

So now the only question is — what should I get tattooed on my wrist???? ;)


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Photo of the day: Shine, baby!

29 August 2014 It IS all about me

Guess what I did today? Okay, so it was supposed to be a 45th birthday present to myself and I’m a little late, but it’s still my birthday month! Why “shine”? Because it makes me happy, of course! It’s an imperative, for one thing – a sort of reminder to myself that “shine” is exactly [...]

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Photo of the day: Splashing at the beach

28 August 2014 Photo of the Day

We spent the day with some friends at the beach. This is pretty much how it went. I like how the black and white reduces the moment to the movement and the moment, and I put just a bit of warmth in the shadows because it was warm and sunny. I’m really liking black and [...]

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Photo of the day: Silly string

27 August 2014 Ah, me boys

Summertime shenanigans in the back yard! I’ve got mixed feelings about the end of summer, but love that I get to spend this last week of it in the sunshine with my boys.

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Ottawa Family Fun: Drive-In Movie Night at the Cumberland Village Museum!

20 August 2014 Ottawa Family Fun

How’s this for a great idea for family fun? The Cumberland Museum is hosting a drive-in movie this weekend featuring The Wizard of Oz. From the City of Ottawa website: “The Wizard of Oz on the big screen, outside under the stars is a rare treat indeed! Listen to the movie and marvel at the [...]

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