We are so excited to team up with Minted this year for our Christmas cards 2015.  Christmas cards are so fun to give and receive.  We have been swooning over their designs all week.  It was hard to choose…because we love them all.

Right now Minted has some great specials on their Christmas cards and THREE lucky readers will win a $100 Minted gift card for Christmas Cards this year. Christmas Cards 2015 & a Minted Giveaway! Loving this happy card.  I love the font & design. card 5 Minted offers the prettiest shapes, like this bracket shaped card above.
card 4 Another favorite is this mulit-photo card that highlight photos throughout the year.  I love the simplicity of it. Screenshot 2015-11-16 09.19.38 Our Nikkala chose the Behavior Chart card for her card this year.  If you know Nikkala, you know that this fits her personality.  She loves to share what her kids are up to in a clever way.  I think this is the cutest idea! card 2 Minted’s gold foil cards are so pretty!  And they make your card really pop! (Look at those twins)
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Becky & Jamie chose a pretty gold foil layout for their cards this year.  Minted has several options for gold foil cards.  So you can find the perfect one to fit your picture.  You can even choose the foil finish…silver, gold or a rose gold.

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Another favorite option were the addressed envelopes.

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You can choose from many different options, upload your address list, and Minted will print the addresses so all you have to do is stuff, apply the stamp and mail.
card letter press I love this pretty letterpress card too!

Just look at all the pretty designs.  We wanted to share them all with you…but it’s so easy to browse through them all on Minted.


We also are sharing an exclusive Coupon Code for Crafting Chicks Readers: Enjoy 15% off your holiday card purchase is: TCC15 : good through 11/24/15. Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.41.33 AM Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.41.12 AM Now for our fun giveaway!

3 readers will win a $100 Minted credit. SO…get thinking about which card you will LOVE!

Click on “Enter Giveaway” Below to enter the Crafting Chicks/Minted Giveaway.  We are excited for our Lucky Readers!  giveaway button

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Be sure to check out our other posts as part of America Week.

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

To kick off our Patriotic Themed Week, we’ve got a great round up for you!  Printables, activities, games and more!


Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

Cupcake Liner Fireworks from A Little Pinch of Perfect

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

Statue of Liberty Crown and Torch from KIX

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

Rocket Garland from Alpha Mom

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

Fireworks in a Jar from I Can Teach My Child

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

Mosaic Flag from Cutting Tiny Bites

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

Patriotic Bike Flags from The Crafting Chicks

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

Paper Lanterns from The Crafting Chicks

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

Tips for fireworks photography from The Crafting Chicks

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!


Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

Don’t Eat My Star from The Crafting Chicks

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

Coloring Pages from Kids Activities Blog

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

USA Map and Bingo from 30 Handmade Days

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

Color by Number from Itsy Bitsy Fun

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

God Bless the USA from Kiki and Company

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

Happy Birthday America from Best Activities for Kids

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

Subway Art from The Crafting Chicks

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

USA Flag printable from Ink Happi

Patriotic Kids Activities and Printables - So many 4th of July ideas!

Don’t miss the rest of our Mother Hen’s Summer Survival Guides!  Please join us for this summer of fun & learning!  We will give you all of the ideas, supply lists, book ideas and more to make this a smooth summer program to enjoy at home.  Sign up for our newsletter HERE.  Each Friday we will be sending links to the weekly theme and posts so that you can get started!

Mondays: We will be sharing the best learning ideas, crafts and more from our favorite sites that tie into our weekly theme.

Tuesday:  We will be sharing the best Children’s Books!  And a literature activity that coincides with both the Chicks’ Pick book and weekly theme.

Wednesday, Thursday & Friday:  We will be sharing posts from our favorite bloggers!  They have the best ideas and are excited to be a part of this series!  All of these posts will tie into the theme:)

Fridays: Make sure you join each Friday to see what activities, supplies & other things you will need to plan your themed week at home.  We also will be having really cool giveaways each and every friday of this series.

canvas wall

We are so excited to be apart of Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke’s 5th Installment of Decorating with Pictures!  We love her ideas…especially for photography & photos!  I’m excited to share my Canvas photo wall as part of this series. Decorate-with-Family-Pictures-in-your-home1

When I was re-designing my front living space, I knew I wanted a photo wall.  I love to decorate with photos!  I have a big wall with vaulted ceilings and knew how amazing big canvas wraps would look.  So I planned out my gallery wall!  I can’t wait to share how it turned out!  I LOVE it!  I wish you could see it in person.  These photos do not do it justice:)

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I chose recent photos of my children with blues and grays, which tied perfectly into my new room colors and decor.

I ordered my canvas photos from Black River Imaging…they are amazing!.  You can order one of their Gallery Wrap Clusters, or make your own wall using their canvas wrap dimensions (they have many sizes to choose from.

I love the options.  You can choose which kind of sides your Canvas has… I chose a light gray around mine.  They had many colors and options.

I was so excited when my gallery wraps arrived!  They couldn’t have turned out better.  Seeing my kids sweet faces makes me happy!

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I chose to use nine 16×20 gallery wraps for my photo wall.  I used an individual of each child, one of the children together and some different groupings.  I like the mix of close ups and groupings.

I spaced each canvas 2.5 inches apart.  Using a level helped make the job quick!

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Thanks for letting me share my pretty Canvas wall today!  Check out other great tutorials, free printables, and ideas at The Crafting Chicks!

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We were provided a free Custom Framing experience with Michaels so we could review it for this post.  All opinions are ours.


One of my favorite gift ideas is beautifully framed pictures of my children.  It’s the best idea for Grandparents and many other family members.

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We were excited to be invited to try out Michaels Certified Custom Framing and see how their experts worked.  Jamie and I were able to take advantage of getting a free framing consultation.  The Certified Custom Framing Experts were very friendly and helpful.  Did you know that they are available at all Michaels stores?

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Michaels is offering a great deal this holiday season, inviting you to custom frame any photo or piece of art up to an 8×10 for just $49!  The offer includes a choice of 9 metal frames, basic mats (100 colors to choose from), preservation mount and fit.

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Every detail is perfectly taken care of so you know you are giving a gift that will last.

sm frame 1 I am so impressed with the quality and over all look of these custom frames.  I honestly haven’t had something custom framed in about 10+ years.  I have forgotten how beautiful it is to take something special and have a frame made just for it.  This is defiantly something I will do again.

Do you have things custom framed?


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Photos make me so happy!  I maybe take too many but I love capturing each stage of my little ones.  After a photo shoot, I love to make a Photo Story with some of my favorite photos.   sm photo story template

I made this easy photoshop template that you can use too!  You can print any size up to 20 x 20.  I love the ones especially of babies.  You can change the border to black, white or even a color.

First download the template below.  (Personal Use Only.  Do not share or sell….copyright Crafting Chicks)

When you open the .psd file in Photoshop, and your other photos  (choose 9 of your favorites)…the next steps are easy.

Drag a photo onto the file.  You will want to move the picture in your layers bin to just above the square layer you want your photo to be in.  When the photo is directly above that square, hit ctrl g.  That will make the photo attached to that square.  You can drag the photo to resize it and fit perfectly in the space.

Continue this with 8 more pictures and you have a very cute Photo Story.

These turn out so adorable…and it’s fun to showcase more than just one photo in your frame.   Or even print on a canvas.  Have fun! xo
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Graphic Tee’s are all the rage!  I am loving them.  There isn’t a huge selection to buy for my little girls…and of course I have Cricut Explore fever…so put the two together and you get graphic tee magic! sm tee 6

We decided on Black & White with pops of gold.  I love French saying and my 7 year old was super excited about je t’aime because she is learning french in school.  Je t’aime means “I Love You.”  We wanted the word cut out of a large gold heart. sm tee 14

You guys…the next steps are so simple, plug in your cricut Explore, connect it to your computer, and then open up Design Space in Cricut and get ready to design.

It literally took me 5 minuets to design and manipulate my heart and words.  Once it looked good…I loaded my gold glitter iron on vinyl...sent it to my machine…(CLICK MIRROR IMAGE), and then hit cut on the machine!

So simple!  & adorable.

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Using my Cricut scraper tool…I removed the letters from inside the heart and the gold around the heart.  I left the plastic covering.  I placed the heart on the shirt and started ironing.  Using a high setting, I ironed right over the plastic…and made sure to get the edges good and letters.  Took all about 5 minutes! sm tee 13 sm tee 5

My girls love their new little shirts!  You can add a fun black and white bow for another pop of black and white…and pair with some black and white leggings.   Such a fun thing to make and just in time for Back to School!  We had a little too much fun with our photo shoot:) sm tee 4 sm tee 3 sm tee 1 sm tee 8 sm tee 2 sm tee 12 sm tee 11

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I know, I know…here I am, a professional photographer, encouraging you how to use your phone camera.

Let me explain myself…I love using my digital SLR camera to capture stunning, gorgeous, breathtaking images. SLR cameras are an amazing tool and I get mine out at least weekly, if not daily. However, if I’m being truthful I find my SLR to be big, clunky, and kind of a pain to carry around with me everywhere I go. I use to carry my cumbersome SLR with me at all times capturing almost every single moment of our lives.

Until about a year and a half ago.

Until I got an iPhone 5.

All of a sudden my life changed. I had a super portable camera that I carried with me at all times AND I could edit my photos AND I could publish them pretty much instantaneously. Wow.

Do I think my phone camera can completely replace my SLR camera? Heavens no. My SLR camera is able to produce shots that my phone camera simply cannot do. But having a good camera on your phone and (most importantly) knowing how to use that camera to take awesome pictures means catching moments you might have otherwise missed.

With that said, Let’s begin. Here are 10 tips for you to follow so YOU can start taking beautiful photos with your phone.

Side note: All the photos in the post were taken with my iPhone 5. As you will see, I take A LOT of phone pics of my youngest. :)

1- Go Toward the Light

I can’t emphasize just how important having lots of light is. Without going into a lot of technical mumbo jumbo just remember that more light will equal sharper photos. So when you are outside during the day you will be able to get some awesome sharp photos. Or if you’re taking a picture inside just move toward the window. That will usually give you a sharp photo as well.

Side note: Above all try to use natural light when possible. Natural light will give you a better photo than artificial light.




2- Face the Light

As you move toward the light position your subject so that they are facing the light source. When your subject is facing the light it illuminated their face and also gives that catch light in their eyes.


3- Hold Still

I know this sounds like a no-brainer but you would be surprised by how many people are taking blurry pictures because they are moving. If you are in a low light situation you will really want to hold as still as possible because your shutter speed will be slower that if you are in full sun. Sometimes I will even hold my breath while I’m touching the shutter speed to minimize any movement.

Side note: When pressing the shutter speed, use a light touch and refrain from tapping the screen too hard as that could cause the camera to shake.


4- Set Your Focus and Exposure

Did you know you could change where the camera is focusing? By simply tapping (or rather lightly touching) the screen of where you want your focus to be you can change the focus and the exposure. By default your camera will focus on a prominent face or toward the center of the screen. But if you need the focus to be elsewhere, just tap the screen.

Also by default the camera will set the exposure (how light or dark the photo is) by the amount of light in the focused area. So if your photo looks too dark simply tap on an area of the photo that is dark so that the camera will compensate for the darkness by making the entire photo lighter.

Side note: I use a camera app called, Camera+, this camera allows me to set the focus area and the exposure separately. I use the camera my phone came with about 80% of the time. But if I’m in a back light situation I will use Camera+ so that I can tap the darkest part of my picture thus giving enough light to illuminate people’s faces.


5- Take LOTS of Pictures

I know this sounds like a weird tip but hear me out. Whenever I’m trying to get a a particular shot I never settle for just one or two shots. I take shot after shot often times without my subject even knowing it. (Turn off the sound on your phone so no one can hear when you’re taking the picture.) The reason being is so that you will have ample photos to choose from. In a split second someone’s eyes could close, or you might miss the best smile if you’re just settling with one shot.

6- Frame Your Photo Using the Surrounding Environment

To make your photos more appealing try using the surrounding architecture like windows, doors, trees etc. to frame your focus and draw the viewers eye toward the subject.

Side note: Be sure that you are aligned properly to have straight lines. You will want to keep your camera perfectly vertical and be at the correct angle. So you may have to squat down or rise the entire camera up to achieve straight lines and angles.



7- Use Back lighting To Your Advantage

The hour before the sun sets is a magical hour. You can capture some awesome pictures. Have your subject with their backs toward the setting sun to capture that beautiful glow.

Side note: Review Tip 4 and remember to use the camera app called, Camera+. This will greatly improve your success with back lighting on your phone camera.



8- Apps Can Save the Day!

Often times a photo can be distracting if there is too much going on. To remedy this I will occasionally use an app called, AfterFocus. This app allows you to blur out the background thus helping the view to focus on the subject instead of the distracting background.

I also like to turn a photo black and white if the coloring or different colors aren’t taking away from the overall look and feel of the photo. My favorite black and white conversion is in the photo editing app Afterlight called, Ash.



A fun app that adds a bit of pizzaz is called, Rays. What this apps does is add actual sun rays to your photo.


9- Edit, Edit, Edit

I edit 90% of my photos. That’s really where the magic comes from. I use the editing apps to straighten, crop, add saturation, brightness, etc. I could do an entire blog post on editing phone pics alone so I won’t go into editing now. But my suggestion is to play around with the apps and see what they do. You will learn so much just by trial and error to see what kind of changes you can make.

10- Use a Lens

Yes, they actually make lenses for phone cameras! To be honest, I don’t use mine as much as I thought I would but it’s fun to get out every once in a while. I have 3 lenses, a wide angle, a fish eye, and macro. The macro is my favorite.



Now are you ready for your free ebook?

To help you out even more I’ve written/put together a book called, InstaLove. This ebook came about because I wanted to know how some people were getting such amazing photos with their phones. I would oooh and ahhh over many Instagram feeds scratching my head trying to figure out how in the world they captured such a shot. So I asked them. I asked 14 of my favorite Instagrammers (i.e.: phone photographers) a series of questions like, “How do you get such vibrant photos?”, “How do you get a super sharp picture?”, and “What are you favorite editing apps”. They spill the beans on every thing. It’s all in there. Nothing is held back. I’m in there as well and I share even more tips and tricks in the book.


Download your FREE Instalove eBook here.


Please feel free to follow me on Instagram. I Love to follow people back so that we can get to know each other. It’s fun for me to get a little glimpse into your life. My feed is:

And finally, do you have some Phone camera tips and tricks? Please share!!

As always, let me know if there is anything I can do to support your photography goals.




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Let’s talk product photography, shall we?
If you’re a crafter/creater then you also kind of need to be a photographer. Especially if your want to sell your creations!
Having the ability to create beautiful photographs of carefully designed products is almost as important as creating the product itself!  If you’re anything like me I find that I’m slightly turned off by a product that is being represented with poor quality photos and typically don’t end up purchasing the product.
So with that said it’s understandable how important it is to know how to take stunning photos of your products and creations! If you don’t know anything about photography, no need to worry! You just need some basic (yet vital) information. That’s where I come in. Let’s dive in and learn the 2 biggest mistakes in product photography…
Mistake #1: Not using NATURAL light.
First and foremost…use natural light. I really can’t stress this enough. Taking a picture using a flash or using overhead lights tends to produce cold and uninviting photos. Check out the contrast in the two images below. The one on the left was taken only using natural light from a nearby window. The one of the left was taken using a flash and the light of the sewing machine.
See how much more inviting the photo on the left is as it is taken with only natural light?
I open up all the curtains and blinds in the room and sometimes I even bring my product close to the window in order to get as much light as possible. The other trick to only using natural light is to use a lens that has a very WIDE open aperture. The perfect and inexpensive lens for this is the 50mm f/1.8 lens. It’s available for Nikon and Canon and only costs about $100!
Now I know some of you are thinking…but I only have time to take my photos at night once my children are in bed! And to you I can only say this…Nap time. There really is no substitute for natural light.
Mistake #2: Too much clutter in your background
When it comes to displaying your final piece to either sell or to show off here are a few keys to remember. First is to DECLUTTER your background. So many times I see a really cool project but the picture is detracting from the actual project due to the clutter in the background. A good tip is to use a couple of white foam boards to display your projects. And as a bonus, besides giving you a simple clean place to take your photos, using white will help draw more light thus giving you a faster shutter speed which will in turn give your sharper images!
Here is an example of a set up using 2 pieces of white foam board:
And here are the shots using the foam board:
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You can also use wrapping paper and foam board to help simply your photos:
And the shot using wrapping paper and foam board:


Try using cool scrapbook paper and fabric:


The shot using scrapbook paper and fabric:
And one more idea…You can even use a black wall for a nice simplified background:
The shot using a wall (and the cutting board!):
Easy Peasy, right?! As always, please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you take better photos!
Grab my freebie…The Key to Natural Posing {KIDS} ebook! Click here:
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Summer is such a fun time to throw a Luau party.  I have one in the works soon and I thought this would be the cutest idea for guests as they arrive…a little kit to make their own Paper Hawaiian Lei.

For the “Make Your Own Lei” Kit, you will need,

Avery (Print to the edge Round Labels… I used glossy white 2″ diameter circles #22807

(I loved the idea of closing up the little sack with these sticker labels)  I use Avery products for many different kinds of labels but this was a fun way…and I love using the circle shape.  I was amazed at how many labels are available in different sizes and shapes.

Twine (I like the thinner twine for this)

Paper or plastic straws cut in 1 inch pieces

Paper flowers with a hole in the center (I used my Cricut Machine)

Paper Sacks (My polka dot yellow ones are from Pick Your Plum)

This is a fun activity for all ages.  Even the little ones love making their own LEI.

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You can make your own image and just add it to the Avery Template (you can download these from their site).  Print and you are ready to go…. I love labels…you can skip the gluing step!  You can print my template below…with the stickers ready to go. sm lei kit 5 Add the materials you will need for one Lei into the sack. sm lei kit 3 Fold over the sack to make a flap and attach the ALOHA sticker to close it up!  Can’t wait to hand these out at our LUAU!
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(For personal use only, not for resale. Copyright by

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Hey there! It’s Katie, from Key to Pictures, and I’m excited to share my 3 juicy secrets to better family photography with you. But first I need to share some equally juicy and exciting….

Here it is: I was a terrible photographer. Really. If all of my early photos were not in a storage unit in Denver, I would post them so you could see that I’m indeed telling the truth. However, I’m not ashamed of my unsightly pictures because we ALL have to start somewhere. Every single one of us has to start at the beginning. I used to get terribly frustrated because I knew what I wanted my pictures to look like but I JUST COULDN’T MANIPULATE MY CAMERA TO CREATE IT.

So the question is… if I had to start all over again would I change anything? My answer is simply “no”. Because of my struggle and my frustration I learned on my own how to take pictures in a simple and effective way that I can now share with you.

My passion is guiding people to pursue their dreams of being an amazing photographer and giving them the skills to do so. The joy that comes to me in seeing someone finally learn how to master their camera thus giving them the ability to create beautiful precious photos is nothing less than thrilling.

I’ve casually promoted and extended the invitation to join my Academy but I’ve had a strong feeling that NOW IS THE TIME TO SPEAK OUT and share this treasure I have and finally connect with people who are searching for it.

I’m not one to toot my own horn but I’ve been given a special gift in the way that I’m able to teach plainly and in a way that others can finally understand and apply the sometimes ambiguous photography concepts. My invitation, if this resonates with you, is to watch this presentation and if you love it, share it with others. Click here.


Watch The Presentation Here.

Okay, on the 3 Secrets to Better Family Photos…

1-Get everyone in a good mood. 
I know, I know…WAY easier said than done. Believe me, I know. Some key points to remember is to RELAX. If you are stressed or anxious about about getting that perfect picture, it will surely spread to the rest of your family and show up in the photo. So take a couple deep breaths and keep things light, easy and fun. No threatening or mumblings curse words under your breath because your kids won’t act normal. (been there, done that. But it doesn’t work!)
Get the kids on board and have them help you create special family moments by asking for their input and idea’s on what you can do to make the experience fun. Play a game of ring around the rosies, sneak up on Dad and tickle him, or see how high everyone can jump on the count of 3. The trick is to involve the kids in the planning and ideas instead of forcing them to be happy and act natural.
2- Have everyone touching in some way.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to show closeness and togetherness is to have everyone touching. For example, hold hands, put an arm around the waist, hold little kiddos, give hugs, etc. This will drastically help you capture the unity that you share within your family.

3- Not everyone has to be looking at the camera. 

I believe it’s a myth that everyone has to be looking at the camera in order to get a great picture. Letting your family be natural is a sure way to capture great family photos. If you are taking pictures of another family (besides your own) give them cues and coach them a bit. Say something like, “Okay, let’s have everyone look at Mom!” Or “Let’s all make silly faces at Dad now!’
Getting a great pictures is a combination of many things buy one of the most important aspects is being able to capture true love and emotion within your family. So sit back, relax and see beautiful things come from it…
Please let me know what I can do to support your photography dreams and goals.
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