Tag Archives: DIY

The Last Minute Valentine’s Day Idea

Valentines Brownie 016

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! Here’s hoping this day you are surround by love and joy.

This post is a great idea for a quick last minute dessert or gift idea for the brownie lovers in your life. I choose to use a brownie mix because I hadn’t had any in a long time. You can use a cake mix, cookie mix, or whatever baked good you choose. The point is you are making something sweet for your sweetie(s)!

Here’s What You Need:

  • brownie (cookie or cake) mixture and the ingredients listed on the box
  • icing of your choice (I went with butter cream icing for the photos)
  • sprinkles or small candy (something colorful)

Here’s What You Do:

  • follow the directions on the mixture (make sure to let your baked good cool)
  • add icing (be generous with the icing!)
  • add toppings for decoration
  • enjoy!

Valentines Brownie 022

The Camera Question

This is an example of a point and shoot camera (the red one) and a DSLR.

This is an example of a point and shoot camera (the red one) and a DSLR.

As freelance photographer I get this question all the time: “I want a new camera. What do you recommend?”

I follow it up with a question. “Well, what do you want the camera  for? What do you want to take pictures of with this new camera?”  The responses vary from pictures of my __________ (kids, pets, flowers, etc.), but it’s always followed by a long pause. A hesitation. It’s usually one of  two things: they weren’t expecting me to ask a question or they hadn’t given any thought as to why they wanted a new camera.

For most, a new camera is only a new camera. When you ask a photographer what camera do you recommend it’s like asking a movie critic what movie to watch or a chef what’s for dinner. We need more information to answer it properly. With that in mind, I’ve created a few tips that will help you pick out a new camera. These tips are based on conversations I’ve had over the years. I’ll still be more than happy to provide a recommendation, but these tips should also help you narrow down your choices and help you make a more educated decision.

1. Seriously. Why do you want the new camera?
Be honest. Do you have a baby on the way and want to capture all the wonderful and cute memories? Perfect. New puppy? Sounds good. Are you simply replacing a broken camera? Knowing why you want the camera will help you figure out the options on the camera.

2. What kind of camera do you want?

Admittedly, you are asking me so you don’t have to give this question any thought. I recognize that, but that’s not how I roll. We are going to talk to this out. Why? Because I’m the photographer and I said so! All joking aside, there is a purpose to talking it out. There are several types of cameras and in order to give my best recommendation I need more information.

Let’s talk type. In its basic form there are two kinds of mainstream consumer cameras: point and shoot and DSLR (digital single-lens reflex). A point and shoot is just what it sounds like. You point at something and you take a picture of it: point and shoot. DSLR are the digital versions of cameras with mirror reflective abilities as well as removable lens. (A removable lens is always the rule, but it is the majority.)  The single lens reflex refers to the components on  the inside of the camera where a mirror captures the image and reflects the light to the viewfinder. In the past, the light that image captured was exposed to film creating a negative. Today, that mirrored image is converted into a digital file. The DLSR provides a higher level of control in regards to light, shutter speed, and other variable settings compared to a point and shoot. (There’s new technology that doesn’t require a mirror and allows for the same type of controls and speed capabilities as the DSLR.)

How much control do you want over the camera?  If you’d rather let the camera do the thinking and really just want to take pictures at parties and social gatherings then a point shoot is probably more your style.

Do you want to change settings? There are higher end point and shoots that will allow to change and control some settings. But if you answered yes to one or both questions below I do not recommend point and shoots cameras. Period.

Are you going to be taking photos in low light environments?
Are you taking any action shots?

Now that you’ve figured out the type let’s talk price.

3. How much are you willing to spend?
If you plan ahead and think this through you will be better off in the long run knowing how much you can or want to spend. We are all guilty, myself included, of spending too much on an item. By setting a budget you keep from over spending, falling for a sales pitch, or settling for the wrong camera.

Once you’ve determined your budget and the camera you want.  Research it. There are plenty of sites that offer deals on cameras. If you’ve got the time, try to avoid purchasing it from the first place you look. I know it’s easier said than done. On large purchases like this, do some price compairisons.  It will be worth your time.

If you will ask yourself these questions you will be better informed and make a better decision about your new camera. I hope these tips have helped a little bit. Knowing what you want and how much you are willing to pay for it whether it’s a camera, a new car, or the latest gadget for a Christmas present will always make you a better consumer.

In celebration!

This is month Hannah and Harley will celebrate its one year birthday as a blog! For those who are already following us, thank you! You are already entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card to Starbucks! (Make sure your email is update and accurate. That’s how I will notify the winner.) Actually, because you are a loyal reader you are already entered into the drawing twice!  From now through the end of the month those who start following this blog will receive one entry for the gift card. Good luck! 🙂 To follow Hannah and Harley, enter your email in the space provided called “Follow Blog Via Email.” Yes, it’s that easy. If you already have a WordPress account, simply click the follow button.

The Homemade Air Freshener

The Homemade Air Freshener

It doesn’t get much easier than three ingredients to make this homemade air freshener. (I’d call it Febreeze, but it’s not Febreeze so I can’t really call it that. It’s a knockoff of that name brand.) It’s super easy to make and you can customize it to your liking.

Here’s What You Need:

  • spray bottle
  • 1/8 cup of fabric softener (your favorite scent)
  • 2 tbsp of baking soda
  • water

Here’s What You Do:

  • Add the baking soda and fabric softener to the spray bottle.
  • Fill the remaining bottle with hot water.
  • Shake well and enjoy! (Shaking before each use is recommended.)

You can find the original post here.

The Year in Review: 2013

As 2013 winds down I thought I’d share a quick year-end review. This year has truly flown by. I know that’s what everyone says, but it’s true. It was a lovely year for which I am grateful. I was fortunate enough to do a lot of traveling and was able to create some really great memories that I will speak of for years to come.

I am very excited that I was able to start this blog this year too. It’s been a wonderful challenge creating posts and images that go along with it. I wanted to re-post my favorites and well as your favorites from the year. Enjoy.

May you have a safe and Happy New Year from Hannah and Harley.

This was the very first post from Hannah and Harley.

This was the very first post from Hannah and Harley. There’s always something special about the first of anything.

This post is favorite simply because it started an early interest into researching the benefits of essential oils. An interest that will most likely get a lot more attention in 2014.

This post is a favorite simply because it started an early interest into researching the benefits of essential oils. An interest that will most likely get a lot more attention in 2014.

This is my favorite image from this summer. From June to mid-July of this year I was in a different city each weekend. It was a great experience, but I looked up and it was almost August. Thank goodness for photography. Without these images I may have forgotten the entire summer.

This is my favorite image from this summer. From June to mid-July of this year I was in a different city each weekend. It was a great experience, but I looked up and it was almost August. Thank goodness for photography. Without these images I may have forgotten the entire summer.

The Berry Salad, a simple mixture of berries, was by far the most successful new recipe I tried this year. I've made it countless times since this post. It's delicious and healthy!

The Berry Salad, a simple mixture of berries, was by far the most successful new recipe I tried this year. I’ve made it countless times since this post. It’s delicious and healthy!

The marquee says it all. This was actually a contest. Who ever submitted the winning marquee suggestion won a free combo.

The marquee says it all. This was actually a contest. Who ever submitted the winning marquee suggestion won a free combo. This is one of many photos I took over the weekend Arkansas State University played Auburn. An experience more appreciated now because in less than two weeks, Auburn will be playing Florida State in the national championship. Very cool.

Believe it or not this post about baked carrots is the most popular post from this year. It's the most shared pin from Hannah and Harley on Pinterest. It just keeps popping up randomly. Its success is most likely due to its simplicity.

Believe it or not this post about baked carrots is the most popular post from this year. It’s the most shared pin from Hannah and Harley on Pinterest. It just keeps popping up randomly. Its success is most likely due to its simplicity.

This is my personal favorite post from 2013. I don't think I've had so much fun writing something since college. I had forgotten what it was like to write for fun.

This is my personal favorite post from 2013. I don’t think I’ve had so much fun writing something since college. I had forgotten what it was like to write for fun. Hopefully I will get a few chances to write for fun.

This was the most shared post on facebook. For clairty, this post was about my mom so I'm pretty sure the facebook shares were from folks that knew my mom.

This was the most shared post on Facebook. For clarity, this post was about my mom so I’m pretty sure the Facebook shares were from folks that knew my mom.

The 12 Days of Christmas: The Survival Package

I am very excited to bring to you the second annual 12 Days of Christmas. This project began last year as a last-minute gift idea guide and because it was so successful it started this very blog you are reading now! I will feature 12 different holiday gift ideas and/or recipes with instructions. I hope you enjoy them and are inspired. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Hannah and Harley.

Don’t let the name of this post fool you. It’s sounds neat, but it’s really more of a thank you package. As part of our Christmas card  this year we handed out “survival packages” at the office. The package included the following:

  • a handful of peppermints – because you (or someone near) may need a breath of fresh air
  • a handful of Kisses, Rolos, or both – because everyone needs chocolate in their lives
  • a package of Advil – for those everyday headaches even — or especially — this time of year
  • a pack of Kleenex – because you are human and sneeze or may need to wipe something off
  • hand sanitizer – because it’s just handy to have around
  • a package of Swiss Miss hot chocolate – because life needs a little of flavor from time to time.

These types of kits are very easy to create. The ones we created at work couldn’t be gender or themed specific because of the variety of people we gave these to. The kits are great for themed or gender ideas. For example, if you have an all ladies book club to give you can create a fingernail themed kit with polish, file, remover, clippers, cuticle cutters, toe separators, etc. You get the idea. For men it’s the same way you can create a shaving kit, food related kit, sports kit. That list goes on and on as well.

These are really good if you are on a budget as well. There are a few things you should keep in mind. Listed below are some tips I provided based on my experience gathering everything for our survival package.

  • Know your audience. Is it a mixture of ages? Is your group all men or all women?
  • Create a list. You will need to know what you are going to put in the kit before you ever purchase a single item. This include the final package. You need to what you are going to put the kit in. We started with plastic container, moved to a glass container, and decided on cellophane bags wrapped with ribbon. It was shipped in a USPS small flat rate box.
  • Know how you are going to distribute these items. Are you mailing or shipping anything? There’s a cost there too. Make sure you include shipping in your budget. We choose to USPS flat rate small boxes. Are you going to hand deliver these kits? Think about the gas it will take to get from place to another and all over town.
  • Be willing to adjust your list based on availability, cost, and ease of purchase. Initially, we wanted to include band-aids and dental floss in the kits. The floss was too expensive. We considered for a brief moment the floss sticks , but who wants to use it knowing someone else may or may not have touched the floss sticks. Pass. We didn’t use band-aids for presentation reasons.
  • Buy in bulk. Unless you are creating less than five of these kits the cost of purchasing everything not in bulk will get expensive quick. Buying as many items as you can in bulk will assist in keeping the costs down. The peppermints, Kisses, Rolos, Advil, and hot chocolate were all purchased in bulk. I’m not saying go to your local warehouse store and buy it all there in 20-pound bags. No. Let’s say you want to include Hershey bars. Instead of buying 20 at the checkout line in individually wrapped bars for a $1 go to the candy aisle and price check the multi-pack. That’s what I mean by buy in bulk.
  • Price check. Everything. Do the math. You may think it’s a great idea to include a newly released cookbook from your favorite chef in the kit, but if that cookbook is $15.99 and you’ve got 20 kits to gather that’s $319.80 already spent. Research everything. I spent about 30 minutes looking up prices and availability on the items we choose before I presented it for approval from co-workers and bosses. That help me set my budget and know what I could purchase.
  • Check out the dollar stores around you. It most likely won’t be name brand items, but you will be able to find more than you expected in these stores. I purchased the hand sanitizer and cellophane bags from The Dollar Tree and spent less $40. Browse the aisles you may even be inspired.
  • Have fun. If you have fun then other people have fun. Fun spreads. Share the fun!

The 12 Days of Christmas: Cold Brew Coffee Set

Cold Brew Set

I am very excited to bring to you the second annual 12 Days of Christmas. This project began last year as a last-minute gift idea guide and because it was so successful it started this very blog you are reading now! I will feature 12 different holiday gift ideas and/or recipes with instructions. I hope you enjoy them and are inspired. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Hannah and Harley.

This is idea is great for the coffee lover.  It can be easily changed to accommodate the tastes of anyone.

First, if you don’t know what cold brew coffee is or how to make it you should look it up. It’s not what you may think it is. Yes, it’s coffee. No, it’s not a brewed pot of coffee put in the fridge for a few hours. For more information you can read one of my posts on how to make it and it’s benefits here. In a nutshell, cold brew coffee uses grounds soaked in water at room temperature for about 20-24 hours. The grounds are then removed from the water and it’s ready to drink. Mix it with milk or drink it straight with ice. There are plenty of options to try.

OK, now to the gift set. I choose to use a frappuccino 4-pack for the bottles and the carry case that’s available with it. You don’t have to use this if you don’t want to. You can use mason or jelly jars to complete the set. I do recommend leaving one container empty with coffee grounds in it and instructions on how to make cold brew.

If you have other ideas as to how package this I’d love to see it!

The 12 Days of Christmas: The Spicy Pretzels

Spicy Pretzels

I am very excited to bring to you the second annual 12 Days of Christmas. This project began last year as a last-minute gift idea guide and because it was so successful it started this very blog you are reading now! I will feature 12 different holiday gift ideas and/or recipes with instructions. I hope you enjoy them and are inspired. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Hannah and Harley.

You can tell the time by when I eat pretzels at work. It’s usually 3 p.m. I love pretzels so when a co-worker suggested this idea for the 12 Days of Christmas I was all about it. It certainly helped that he raved about how good these spicy pretzels tasted.

Here’s What You Need:

  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 – 1 ounce package of dry ranch dressing salad dressing mix
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 – 15 ounce package of mini twist pretzels

Here’s What You Do:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees
  • In a medium bowl, mix vegetable oil, dry ranch dressing mix, garlic salt, and cayenne pepper.
  • Place the pretzels in a medium baking dish.
  • Cover the pretzels with mixture.
  • Bake the coated pretzels, uncovered, in the oven for 2 hours stirring
  • occasionally. (I stirred well every 30 minutes.)

The recipe came from www.allrecipes.com. You can find it here. I followed it exactly.

Spicy Pretzels