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  • Watermelon Sangria

    Summer is coming to an end. Kids are starting back to school, and it’s time for Moms everywhere to celebrate the end of summer and embrace the routine again. Since watermelon is a quintessential summer fruit, what better way to celebrate the end of summer than with a watermelon sangria recipe?! We think it’s pretty perfect. We like making our watermelon sangria in a mason jar, because well, why not and plus it’s easy to take on picnics. Yes, now that the kids are in school we're encouraging you to plan a day date for you and the hubby. Play hooky and plan a romantic midday picnic for just the two of you! Pack a cheese tray, some watermelon sangria, and some chocolate to nibble on, and head to a local park or picnic table for some sunshine and fresh air. This watermelon sangria is pretty easy to put together and makes a tasty drink for a picnic. This recipe makes enough for one mason jar serving, but you can adjust the ingredients to suit your taste and serving size. Watermelon Sangria Ingredients: Sparkling Watermelon Water (this or this work well) White wine Rum Watermelon, cubed and frozen Mason jars Directions: Start by simply filling your mason jar with about 1/2 inch to 1 inch of rum, depending on how strong you like your sangria. Then, fill your mason jar about halfway with your wine. Next, add in your sparkling watermelon water until your jar is about 3/4 of the way full. At this point, you can stick your jar in the fridge or picnic basket for a little while until you’re ready to sip it. Lastly, you’re going to add in some frozen watermelon chunks before serving it. We cut our watermelon into about 1-inch cubes and put them into the freezer for a few hours before serving our drinks. Finish off your watermelon sangria with a few sprigs of mint – yum! Serve it with a pretty straw if you’d like or drink it straight out of the jar. Happy last days of summer! For more delicious recipes, check out our lavender lemonade and lobster rolls, both are perfect for summer!

  • DIY Moon Sand

    Did you know that this August has 2 full moons? The Sturgeon Moon is on August 1st and the Blue Moon is on August 30th. We thought it would be fun to share some DIY moon sand. This DIY Moon Sand is easy to make at home for kiddos of any age. Yes, while it's a huge hit with toddlers and preschoolers, even older kids like tweens and teens can enjoy the sensory experience of moon sand. It's super easy to make, super fun to play with, and only takes 2 ingredients. Easy DIY Moon Sand Ingredients: 8 cups flour 1 cup baby oil Note: I used all-purpose flour for my moon sand. Directions: In a large container, measure out the 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil. I used my hands to mix this together really well. At first, it feels really weird. Kids might like helping with this part too, but it won't have the moon sand texture until it's all mixed really well so that it's evenly coated. Once your moon sand is mixed thoroughly, you can enjoy playing with it. Squishing it between your fingers or using little sand molds to create different shapes. Little ones will enjoy scooping and measuring and creating shapes in the sand. You can add little toys like these dinosaur figurines for another fun way to play with the moon sand. This makes a pretty good size amount of moon sand to be able to play with and make shapes. You can double to recipe for even more fun or cut it in half if you don't want to make as much. When we are done playing with the moon sand we make sure to close the lid up so it keeps our moon sand doesn't dry out. We have had our moon sand for a few weeks and it's still going strong, so I'm not sure exactly how long it will last. Shop Project Supplies: How will you play with your moon sand? Looking for another summer craft idea? Check out our Puffy Sidewalk Chalk Paint for outdoor fun!

  • Harry Potter Dinner - Mad-Eye Moody Meatballs and Gillyweed Pasta

    I recently shared our recipe for a Butterbeer Milkshake! Today, I'm going to share another fun Harry Potter dinner idea that pairs perfectly with the fourth Harry Potter book or movie, Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. If you've read the book or watched the movie, you know that the Goblet of Fire is the one with the Triwizard Tournament and features a new character - Alaster Moody. He is also known as Mad-Eye Moody because he has a magical eye that can rotate 360 degrees and see through anything, including invisibility cloaks! Gillyweed is a magical plant that when eaten gives you gills and allows you to breathe underwater. It also creates webbing between your fingers and toes which comes in handy for swimming. In case you haven't read the book yet, I don't want to give any spoilers, but Gillyweed makes its debut in this book. So, for this themed movie night dinner, I served Mad-Eye Moody Meatballs and Gillyweed Pasta! Of course, there was also a butterbeer milkshake on the side and a chocolate frog for dessert. Harry Potter Dinner Mad-Eye Moody Meatballs Ingredients: Frozen meatballs mozzarella cheese, sliced, cut into circles canned olives, sliced small round cookie cutter or shot glass for cutting the cheese circles Directions: Bake your meatballs as directed on the package in the oven or pan. While your meatballs are baking, lay out your sliced cheese on a cutting board, and use a small round cookie cutter or shot glass to press into the cheese, creating small circle shapes. Once your meatballs are cooked, place the small circle of cheese on top of each meatball and finish it off with a slice of olive to create an eyeball look. I placed my meatballs back in the oven on broil for a minute (while watching it), to make sure my cheese melted a little bit and adhered to the meatball, but kept its shape and didn't melt off. Now you have Mad-Eye Moody Meatballs! Set your meatballs aside while you finish your Gillyweed Pasta and then you can plate it together. Gillyweed Pasta Ingredients: pesto, jarred or homemade angel hair pasta, or spaghetti noodles looks best and can be called mermaid hair pasta for fun Directions: Cook your pasta as directed on the package and drain well Add the pasta back into the pot and top with pesto sauce, stir to combine, and warm through Now, you can serve your Harry Potter-inspired meal! Dip up some Gillyweed Pasta and top it with a few Mad-Eye Moody Meatballs and enjoy! Do you throw themed movie nights at your house? If so, what other movies should I create themed dinners for?

  • Barbie Outfit Inspiration

    If you're anything like me, Barbie dolls were a staple in your childhood. My friends and I played Barbies a lot together. I won't name names, but we even got certain brothers in on the Barbie fun! I made a DIY cardboard Barbie house as a child and had so much fun cutting and gluing "decor", aka magazine clippings, into my house. From pictures of rugs to art, and even kitchen appliances, Barbie had her dream house decked out! Once I had my daughter, she had her own 3 story doll house. Barbie had her own private pool, jacuzzi horses, and a convertible! Almost all of it was that signature Barbie pink color! The new Barbie movie is a chance to dress up and bring back that nostalgic Barbie pink! We've rounded up some cute Barbie outfit inspiration to wear to the Barbie movie with friends, costume party, or even incorporate into your closet for everyday wear. Why not embrace our inner girlie girl?! Barbie says we can do/be anything, so let's embrace that attitude! Barbie Outfit Inspiration by Rows Retro Love Glasses, Pink Earrings Set, Pink Tulle Dress Pink Ruffle Dress , Tweed Dress Suit , Hot Pink Dress , Pink Romper Barbie Girl Shirt , Barbie Party Shirt , Pink Barbie Shirt , Barbie 90's Tank Square Neck Top, Bow Crop Top, Off Shoulder Top , Sequin Shorts Criss Cross Halter Top, Pink Feather Top , Sequin Skirt, Leg Warmers Set, Pink Converse Shoes, Metallic Skirt, Barbie Necklace How will you add pink to your outfit? See you at the movies!

  • Favorite Dog Finds

    My dog's name is Ollivander Hamilton Waffles. We call him Ollie for short, and a variety of random nicknames, as you do. Yes, he was named after a Harry Potter Character, Alexander Hamilton, and breakfast food! Since it was recently Ollie's birthday, I'm sharing a few of our favorite dog finds that he loves! Bark Box Subscription - He has gotten these on and off over the past few years. I've gotten them in different subscription lengths for his birthday or Christmas and he's always excited to open the box. It's fun to get doggie mail! The treats are hit or miss for him but he loves getting the toys out of the box and they're always a cute theme! He barely waits for me to cut the tags off of everything! Santa Toy - This is Ollie's favorite toy that he's had since his first Christmas. It's such a beloved toy that he keeps it out year-round. Does anyone else rotate their dog's toys? Licky Mat - Great for freezing a treat for later. We like to freeze Greek yogurt, blueberries, peanut butter, and a few nibbles of random treats or dried sardines on ours. Cactus Chew Toy - This is one of the chew toys that has lasted the longest. He had a different chewy cactus toy, but this one has stood the test of time and is the one he goes for when he's the most hyped up and really wants to play. Donut Dog Bed- He has 2 of these beds, one for his kennel area where he stays if we are gone for the day, and one in our room. He loves snuggling in this and I've even caught our cats sleeping in from time to time. Nosey Nose Game - This is a fun interactive game that stimulates their mind and gets them engaged. It's scentwork training and eventually, once they learn the scent you can hide it and they will find it. Did you see our DIY snuffle mat, that's fun for their noses too! Cactus Dog Baggie Holder - This cute cactus baggie holder was a gift from a friend when we first got Ollie and it's still our favorite to attach to our leashes for walks. Gotta be a good pet owner and clean up after them on walks! Portable Water Bottle - Perfect for trips to the dog park or hikes with your pup. We like that it's got a space for water and treats. It can be locked when not in use and then unlocked to fill the drinking reservoir for your pup to get sip. It also has a handle for easy carrying. Cooling Mat - This is a must-have for those hot summer days! Ollie loves laying on this when his donut bed is too hot. Waterproof Jacket - We don't get many really cold winter days here but when we do we like to wear this cute jacket, especially when it snows! I adore the plaid! Edible Dog Bubbles - You know how dogs are basically toddlers? Well, bubbles are a hit with both toddlers and dogs! Ollie likes chasing these peanut butter-flavored bubbles. Treat Puzzle - We like to keep him entertained and this tornado treat puzzle is a fun one we pull out every few weeks. It has multiple layers and he has to use his paw and nose to move the layers to get the treats underneath each section. There are even little bones that you can use to "cover" treats to be discovered. ZukesTreats - Of course his absolute favorite treats were a seasonal find at Petco that I bought one year around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Luckily, I can get these turkey + cranberry tree treats year-round on Amazon. Ball Blaster - He loves chasing tennis balls in our backyard and he goes bananas when we pull out this ball blaster from Nerf. We got the one that comes with 3 balls because even though he loves chasing them, he doesn't do a very good job of bringing the balls back. And just because he's my absolute baby, here are some photos of him enjoying some of the items listed above. He truly does love all these dog finds and that's why I'm sharing them with you, because maybe your pup will love them too! Be sure to check out our DIY dog snuffle mat and if you're a Harry Potter fan, you may like our Butterbeer Milkshake recipe too!

  • Greek Tortellini Salad

    In the heat of the summer, I do not feel like cooking anything. I need something that I can put together and then have in my fridge for a few days. I want to pull it out and dip up a bowl and that's it. This Greek Tortellini Salad is perfect for that kind of meal. It's filling with the cheese tortellini but has so many amazing fresh flavors with the fresh vegetables that we added. Greek Tortellini Salad 18 oz cheese tortellini, cooked as directed 1 English cucumber, sliced and halved 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 1 cup roasted red bell pepper, diced 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped 1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled Dressing: 1/4 cup olive oil 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar 1 Tbsp lemon juice 1 tsp dried oregano 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard 1/4 tsp garlic powder salt and pepper Mix together all the ingredients for the dressing and set it aside while you're cooking your pasta and chopping your vegetables. After you cook your tortellini, rinse it under cold water. Once you've chopped up all your vegetables, add them, the tortellini, and the dressing to a large bowl. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate overnight for the best flavors. Serve chilled. Everyone in my family loves this Greek Tortellini Salad. It makes a great lunch or dinner and it's great for any summer get-togethers you are having. You may also like our Easy Seafood Pasta Salad this summer!

  • Best Amazon Prime Day Deals

    Amazon Prime Days are here!! July 11 and 12 will be full of savings on all types of fun finds on Amazon. We bought a house and are moving into our new home soon, so of course, I've been doing more shopping and wishlist building than usual, and what better time to take advantage of some of the BEST Amazon prime day deals?! Here are some amazing prime day deals that are tempting me and you might like them too! Peel and Stick Wallpaper - 27% off! There are several different patterns on sale. I adore this vintage-style floral wallpaper for a powder room or guest bathroom. Dekala Arches Gradual Sunrise Alarm Clock - 30% off! This 6-1 sunrise alarm clock is also a wireless charging dock, Bluetooth speakers, a white noise machine, and more! I can't decide if I want this for me or my teenager! StarWars Echo Dot - 30% off! This Echo bundle includes the limited edition Darth Vader stand. My little guy would love to have this in his Star Wars-themed room! Shark AI Ultra Voice Control Robot Vacuum - 50% off! If you're looking for a robot vacuum this one empties itself and has great reviews! It says it's great for homes with pets and we have a dog and two cats. Samsung Frame TV - 36% off! This smart tv with Alexa comes in sizes 32-85 inches. The 75-inch one I would get is 36% off. Art mode with anti-reflection matte display and slim fit wall mount with a motion sensor and you get a customized frame too! Emerald Bench - 63% off! Coming in at only $36 this was one of the best deals I found and look at that gorgeous green color! 5 piece wicker patio set - 22% off! Under $300 for 5 seater patio set! How cute is this one that can be mixed and matched to create different seating arrangements. Hammock Chair Swing - 20% off! My daughter has this exact swing in her room and she loves it! Snag one for yourself while they are on sale. It was a great "big Christmas gift" for her! Bluetooth Turntable & Speakers - 31% off! Enjoy the aesthetic of a class turntable with Bluetooth bookshelf speakers. It's designed to play both vinyl records and stream music from any connected device! Eero Mesh System - 35% off! This three-pack Eero 6+ wifi system covers 4,500 square footage! No more dropped calls. Kids Art Frames - 20% off! Set of 2 art frames that measure 9x12 for those larger pieces they bring home from school. You can hang them vertically or horizontally. Under Desk 2 in 1 treadmill - 36% off! So many of us work from home and having a desk treadmill is a game changer. This portable, foldable treadmill can be used under your desk, or fold the handrail up and go jogging for a more intense workout. USB outlet - 20% off! Update your outlet with this USB outlet. Phomemo Thermal Printer - 49% off! This compact thermal printer doesn't even need ink! Compatible with Ios, Android and computers/laptops, it's a great choice for everyone. Novogratz Her Majesty Upholstered Daybed and Trundle - 31% off! Coming in at less than $300 this daybed with trundle would be perfect in an office to use as a guest bed! Crosley Furniture Seaside Hall Tree - 59% off! Organize your entryway or mud room before school starts back with this cute bench and coat rack! Cast iron dutch oven - 40% off! This six-quart cast iron Dutch oven in cream is calling my name. I can totally see myself cooking my "Million Dollar Spaghetti" in this bad boy! Blink Whole Home Bundle - 50% off! This blink whole home bundle comes with a doorbell camera, outdoor camera, and mini camera and works with Alexa! It's just over $100 and sounds like a steal! Lilpartner 6 in 1 stand mixer - 44% off! Upgrade your stand mixer! This amazing kitchen gadget can be used as a pasta machine, meat grinder, blender and more! Shark HZ602 Ultralight Pet Pro - 35% off! Looking for something corded and not in the robot family, this one is lightweight and has a separate pet brush. VECELO C Shaped End Side Table - 21% off! This set of 2 c shaped tables would be a perfect addition to a sectional with not a lot of space for setting stuff on. Retro Bar Stools - 20% off! These retro-style barstools are faux leather and come in a few different colors. Sleek and modern, I'll take 4 thanks! Outdoor Waterproof Curtains - 26% off! Heavy duty canvas-like curtains to block out the sun and create privacy. Solar Tiki Torches - 41% off! How cute are these solar powered tiki torches for your yard or garden! The flickering flame has an auto setting that runs from dusk until dawn. Portable Carpet Cleaner - 30% off! This portable carpet and upholstery cleaner is a great price for something I rarely see deals on! Marble Run - 60% off! This 100-piece magnetic tile race track toy set is a great STEM toy for kids! Dog Talk Buttons - 50% off! Train your dog to communicate through words using these recordable buttons. Nest Smart Thermostat - 35% off! Upgrade your HVAC system with this Google Nest Smart Wifi thermostat. Enjbrick Up House - 40% off! Got a Disney lover? This UP! house is adorable to add to their collection.

  • Butterbeer Milkshake

    I'm reading through the Harry Potter series with my son and he's loving it. We recently finished the fourth book, Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. As usual, I had to do an at-home movie showing with a themed dinner with fun treats to celebrate. We always make a butterbeer milkshake anytime we watch a Harry Potter movie and this time was no different. This butterbeer milkshake is only a few ingredients and so easy to make! Kids and adults alike love it! Butterbeer Milkshake Ingredients: 4 cups cream soda 4 cups vanilla ice cream 1/2 cup butterscotch topping (plus more for topping) whipped cream Directions: In a blender, mix together your cream soda, your favorite vanilla ice cream, and butterscotch topping. Blend together until smooth. Divide into individual servings (ours made 4 glasses) and top with whipped cream and a drizzle of butterscotch topping. Serve and enjoy! This drink is creamy and drinkable and not quite as thick as a real milkshake, but so yummy! Perfect for whipping up during a Harry Potter movie night! We also snagged some butterbeer chewy candies and chocolate frogs and pretended we were on the train to Hogwarts buying stuff off the trolley! Shop Harry Potter Fun Finds: If you like this recipe be sure to stay tuned for more Harry Potter-inspired posts coming soon!

  • DIY Dog Snuffle Mat

    In honor of it being my dog Ollie's birthday month, I wanted to share a fun dog DIY snuffle mat that we made! This DIY Snuffle Mat is a great way to add some enrichment into treat time. Sniffing is hugely beneficial for dogs. I read somewhere that just 20 minutes of sniffing is like an hour of walking time. It's good for their brains and is very stimulating for them. Then and now! Look at this baby when I first made him a snuffle mat! Supplies: Plastic Sink Mat Fleece fabric (I used about 2 yards total) Rotary cutter Self-healing mat Acrylic ruler I used two different colors of green fleece but you could totally do one solid color throughout, colors that match your decor, or a rainbow of colors! Directions: Using your rotary cutter, self-healing mat, and ruler, cut your fleece into strips that are about 7- 8 inches long and 1 inch wide. This is the type of DIY that can also be done with scissors if you don't own or don't want to purchase a rotary cutter. I just find the rotary cutter to be a much faster and cleaner way to make your cuts. However, this project doesn't have to be perfect and scissors will work just fine. 2. Take a strip of your fleece and tie it to your sink mat. I double-tied mine to just make sure they were secure since my dog was going to be digging around in the finished product. 3. Repeat these steps, tying fleece in the areas between each hole. If you're making a colorful or two-toned mat, make sure you swap the colors up to create a pattern. 4. Once you've tied all your strips, and covered all the spaces between the holes, your mat will look something like this. To use the snuffle mat, tuck small treats into and around in the flaps of fleece and let your dog have fun using his nose to search out the goodies! Ollie's favorite treats are these Zuke's Turkey and Cranberry Holiday Trees but your dog's favorite small treats or pieces of treat will be great! We like to use our snuffle mat when we're home but can't be very engaging. It's good for when I'm having to do work. This also makes a fun gift for dog lovers in your life!

  • The Eras Tour Confetti DIY Shadow Box

    If you follow my blog or know me in real life, then you know I attended The Eras Tour and got to see Taylor Swift for the first time in person! I took my daughter on a little girls' road trip and we got dressed up like the Swifties we are and had THE BEST NIGHT together singing, dancing, and trading bracelets. It was seriously so much fun! We were lucky enough to score some floor seats and when Taylor sang All Too Well, the most magical "snow" fell all over us. It went perfectly with the line in verse 6 that goes, "I still remember the first fall of snow, And how it glistened as it fell, I remember it all too well". Here are some screenshots from my videos of that night! I'll save you from hearing us screaming at the top of our lungs, ha! My daughter and I collected a few handfuls of the confetti, but when we got home we didn't know what to do with it. We finally decided to create this The Eras Tour Confetti DIY Shadow Box to showcase our confetti and a photo of us to remember the night. The Eras Tour Confetti DIY Shadow Box Supplies: Shadow Box Paper (glitter blue) Cricut (I have a Cricut Joy) Removable vinyl (blue and silver and transfer tape) Tools like weeder, scraper, and glue to attach your photo. Shop Confetti Shadow Box Supplies: Directions: Using Cricut design space, create your text for the frame of your shadow box. I chose to put the words, "The Eras Tour" on top and the date we attended, and Swift City (that was the name Glendale, AZ changed to for the weekend Taylor Swift played there) on the bottom. Make sure to measure your frame and size your words so that your words fit on your frame. Next, choose a lyric that you feel suits the vibe or song you are capturing. Honestly, there are so many good lyrics you can choose. Maybe you even want to put your "surprise songs" names on yours. Feel free to make it your own! Obviously, mine are from All Too Well 10 minute version. Create the lyrics mentioned above in Cricut design space and cut them out with your cricut. Carefully attach them to your glass in the frame. Make sure it doesn't go too far to the edge and gets covered when you put the glass back in the frame. Also keep in mind the color of the confetti that will be behind your lyrics so you can make sure it stands out. Print your favorite picture (or pictures) from the night! I printed one that I had cropped to be square on a 4x6 photo paper and cut it to look like a Polaroid photo in our frame. A nod to 1989 if you will. Measure and cut your background paper to fit the back of your frame. We were going for a blue and silver vibe so we did blue paper to highlight the white confetti but if you have the Eras-colored confetti or the leaf confetti, you may want a different vibe all together. Lastly, put your confetti in the open shadow box and close it all up. It's fun to display and give a shake every now and then like a snow globe! Here were my paper choices. I'm glad I went with the glittery blue! This project was so off and on for me. You would think it would come together in an afternoon but with work and issues with vinyl, it just didn't happen as quickly as I would have liked. I mainly had issues with the permanent vinyl I tried to use on the project first. We absolutely love how it turned out though! If you make a confetti shadow box like ours, please tag us on social media so we can see it! For more Taylor Swift-inspired fun, check out our Lover/Folklore Friendship Bracelet House, Lavender Haze Cocktail, and Lavender Lemonade. Check out my recent post on how to throw a Taylor Swift Party

  • Lobster Rolls

    Lobster rolls are something I've only had a few times at restaurants, either on the coast, or at Disneyland (if I'm honest), but man are they yummy! After a few trial runs a few years ago, I created a recipe that the whole family loves. Recently, I was brainstorming meal ideas and my husband suggested lobster rolls. We haven't had them yet this summer and I knew it was going to be perfect for summer dinners on the patio with a cold beer or glass of lemonade. Today, I'm sharing our favorite lobster roll recipe with y'all so you can give them a try for yourself. This makes a big batch and can serve a crowd or keep in the fridge for a few dinners for your family. Lobster Rolls Servings: about 8-10 lobster rolls depending on your buns and how big you fill them. Ingredients: 32 oz lobster meat (sometimes I'm cheap and use fake lobster meat) 2 stalks of celery, diced 4 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise 1 lemon, juiced 1/4 tsp dried dill weed 1/5 tsp dried chives + more for topping salt and pepper to taste buns (split top hot dog buns, brioche rolls, or hoagie rolls, you're choice) butter lettuce (optional) Directions: Dice your celery and add it to a large bowl. Roughly chop your lobster meat if needed and add to the same bowl. Juice one lemon and add juice to the bowl with the lobster meat. Add in your mayonnaise, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. When you are ready to serve, heat your griddle or a pan to medium heat and add butter. Toast both sides of your buns to give them a buttery little crunch. Remove your buns and while they are still warm, add some butter lettuce and you're chilled lobster mixture. Top with more chives (dried or fresh is fine) and serve immediately. Fun Lobster Finds: If you're looking for more seafood meal ideas for the summer, you may also like our Easy Seafood Pasta Salad recipe!

  • How to Photograph Sparklers with Your Phone

    Light painting with sparklers is so pretty and fun to do! Many people get frustrated trying to capture good sparkler photos so I'm going to try to help break it down and teach you how to photograph sparklers using your smartphone! How to Photograph Sparklers with Your Phone Decide if you want some color and details in the background of your photograph or want your photos to be darker. It's a personal preference and honestly, it can change depending on your mood or the holiday/event you are photographing. Taking photos right after dusk will allow your photos to have more background details in them, while waiting until it's later will cause the background to be darker. While I'm not a professional photographer, I do enjoy photography as a hobby and love playing around with settings to see what I can come up with. Let's get started. Camera Mode "Manual" mode or "Pro" camera mode works best when trying to capture sparklers with your phone. I have an Android phone so my instructions may be slightly different than yours, but the concept is the same. Once you're in the camera app, go to "more" to change your camera mode and then select "pro" to change your settings. My settings are along the bottom and I can click each one to change them. Keep your ISO low, mine is set to 100, to keep your background from being too grainy. Sometimes I don't mind the grainy background but a lower ISO makes your image sharper. In a digital camera, I change my f-stop, but in my smartphone, I don't change it. If you can or choose to change my photos are set to f1.8. I didn't change mine from the settings when I switched to "pro", so you might not have to either. Phone Settings What we are going to be playing around with is the "speed" setting or shutter speed setting. If you're new to photography, shutter speed basically tells your camera how long to "stay open" to capture light. For most sparkler photos, I found settings between 1/6 second and 8 seconds work the best, but let's break it down more. To capture a pretty picture of the sparkler, you'll want a setting more like 1/6 or 1 second. If you want to draw shapes and create long lines of light using your sparklers, you'll need to increase your shutter speed to more like 4-8 seconds. Sparkler Photography Now, let's look at some examples and what shutter speed I used to capture them. Shutter speed - 1/6 second I wanted this one to be her holding the sparkler and that was my focus. I didn't mind the dark background. Shutter speed - 1 second This photo was taken after the first one. You can see by increasing the shutter speed, it captured more light, and therefore the sparkler is brighter, you can see your subject more, and the background has some color in the sky. Shutter speed - 1/6 second I changed the angle a little bit and shortened the shutter speed again. Sparklers are unpredictable and this time I captured a little sparkler flair that was a fun surprise! I always recommend taking a few of the same shots because every time it's going to be a little bit different. Writing with Sparklers Writing with sparklers is fun to do by yourself or with other people. Each person can be assigned a word or number to "write" with sparklers. Or you can strike a fun pose and have a second person run around you creating the light trails or designs. When writing with sparklers and having a long shutter speed, you'll create blurry images if you aren't careful. Set your phone against something to help stabilize it or use a phone tripod. All of my photos below were created without a tripod. Shutter speed - 8 seconds Having a long shutter speed allowed me to have the time to do light writing with sparklers to write the word, love. Shutter speed - 8 seconds The kids enjoyed playing around and drew wings behind each other. Shutter speed - 4 seconds You can see the differences between this and the previous photo. We learned through trial and error that 4 seconds wasn't quite long enough to finish the design they had in mind. This was taken a few years ago but you can see the idea behind writing dates or numbers for your photos. This is fun to do while ringing in the New Year! Here are some other fun examples of playing around with light writing and creating shapes and designs. If you're doing a design with a second person, the faster that person moves, and doesn't stay still in one spot, the less you will see them. These tips will also work with smaller ground fireworks as well. Bigger fireworks are a different post for another day.

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