Thursday, May 02, 2013

Photography Thoughts ... and a GIVEAWAY!!

Come with me for a second ...

I've been working on this blog in my head for a while.  Have you ever wanted to say something but not known exactly how to say it?  Yep, that happens to me a lot.  Just ask my husband.  He hears ... um ... with a very long pause often.  Ha ha!

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about why I love photography.  Or even what I love most about photographing people or things.  In the end it's really about one thing ... blessing people.  It's not about money for me.  It's about knowing what I do means something to someone.  You know?

I love that when I take family photos they end up on people's walls or in albums.  I love that when I photograph weddings, some photos I took are blown up REALLY BIG!  Ha ha!  And when I look back at all of the photos I've done I love it most when a mommy who's giving all of herself to her beautiful children looks at me and says, "thank you for making me feel beautiful again."  I LOVE that!

Follow me on that bunny trail for a second.  Have you noticed how women give so much of themselves but don't really expect a whole lot in return?  I so admire that about them.  It makes me proud to be a part of that club.  I've been thinking a lot about that specifically.  Wishing there were something I could give back to women.  I think there is ... and I'm really excited to share it with you.

Mommies, wives, girlfriends, career women, whoever you are wouldn't you love an excuse to take an hour or two to specifically feel beautiful again?  Have you gotten caught up in the routine in life and maybe forgotten to give yourself time to breathe?  Or daddies, husbands, boyfriends, business men do you know a woman who is incredibly beautiful inside and out but maybe doesn't know or remember that?  Would you all allow me to give that to you ... to her?

I would like to propose a gift ... a gift of my time to bless someone you believe is beautiful (regardless of shape, size or skin colour), someone you love dearly and someone deserving of just a little time for themselves.  It's for this reason that I would like to give away a beauty photo session.

What's a beauty photo session?  Well, I can tell you what it's not ... it's not a portrait session (though there might be a few portraits mixed in) and it's not a modelling session that's way too much pressure.  What it is though, is an opportunity for a woman to dress up, feel beautiful and have fun being herself while I photograph her.  I believe inside every woman is a little girl who wants to feel like a princess and see that she really is photogenic.  I just want her to have that moment in real life! When we're done she'll have photos to give away to others or just keep for herself.  It's up to her.

The Give-away Details

The give-away session will be for one person only and they have to be female.  It will last 1-2hrs and can include up to 3 different wardrobe changes.  The session will also include approximately 15-20 fully edited high quality digital images ready for printing.  The giveaway is only extended to residents or those living within a 40km radius of Aylmer, St. Thomas and London, Ontario.

How to Enter

  • All entrants for the Beauty Session Give-away MUST be nominated by someone else.
  • In order to nominate a person for the session simply leave a comment on the blog with the person's first name only and tell us tastefully why you believe they're beautiful and why they deserve this session.  Please make sure to leave an email address where you can be reached. 
  • Each person is only allowed to be nominated once.  
  • At the end of the contest each nominee will be given a number and will be used to choose the winner.  

Contest Deadline

All nomination comments must be received by 11:59pm on Thursday, May 9.  The winner will be drawn by 12:00pm (noon) on Friday, May 10 that way the session may be given to the winner as a Mother's Day gift if desired. :)

Sound good?  Awesome!  If you have any questions just let us know!

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Ready?  GO!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Wool Dryer Balls?? ... What??!!

I'm certain there are several people who've seen our Etsy Shop and wondered why on earth we'd sell wool balls and claim they're for the dryer.  They can't possibly work can they?

To be completely honest I was a bit sceptical myself.

This is my sceptical face!

The Back Story ...

Since being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2010 I've been on a bit of a mission to remove as many chemicals from my lifestyle as possible.  Don't get me wrong I am NOT a pro or even an expert by any stretch of the means but I am trying to do the best I can.  The truth is I am seeking medical treatment and I do wholeheartedly believe in the power of prayer (which I am also seeking).  On the flip side I'm really just trying to give my body a fighting chance to war against a disease that is somewhat of a mystery to the medical community.

During one of my trips through the world of Google to find out how I can be doing the best for my body I came across someone selling wool dryer balls.  Seriously, I have no idea where it was or who was selling them but they got me thinking about the chemicals that touch my skin.  I was already thinking about what was being absorbed by my digestive system but what about what my skin absorbs?  I only had to Google Chemicals in Fabric Softener to get a little overwhelmed by all the facts or opinions.  But the good news was that getting rid of tons of chemicals in my clothes was MUCH easier than chemicals in my food.  That's someone else's blog entirely.  Ha ha!

So, my wonderful, extremely frugal hubby, encouraged me to make my own dryer balls.  I have a little knowledge of wool so I was up for the challenge.  We experimented for a bit and got really creative with colours and sizes.  Do you know, I still don't have a proper "set" in my dryer?  Ha ha!  Someday!  The next step was to find some guinea pigs.  So, naturally we gave some to our mothers for Christmas.  We love you Moms!  In the end they seemed just as surprised by how well they worked as we did.  That's when we started noticing that, on average, we were saving 10-15 minutes (or more) of dryer time too.

Not only were we ridding our clothes of dangerous chemicals, and getting rid of dryer sheets that can damage the dryer, we were also saving money on energy!  PLUS ... they soften your clothes too!  It's a win/win really!  And really do I need to mention that we also had the ability to have fun coloured balls bouncing around in our dryers?  Way much to fun for laundry I think! ;) 

Thus, the Sweet Spectrum version of the dryer ball was born.

Citrus Punch (6) - Blueberry Muffin (9)
Grape Confetti (6) - *Au Naturel (6)
Berry Fun (9) - Rainbow Bright (6)

*the Au Naturel set is made completely of undyed yarn, even on the inside

Aren't they pretty?!  This is just the start!  We just finished making 68 more that include a couple of new colour sets!  Hooray!

Disclaimer - There are likely chemicals present in the dye of the coloured balls.  However, the dye is colour-fast and we do wash the balls  several times (using all natural, organic detergent) leaving them with only trace amounts of any chemicals left from the dying process.  If you are still concerned, we do have a natural set (see Au Naturel above) made from entirely undyed wool.

How They Work ...

So, I'm not a scientist, nor am I educated in a field that comes close to science but this is what I understand to be true:  Just the very fact that there are a few balls running around in your dryer puts space between your clothes allowing more air to get in, therefore drying them faster.  The added bonus is that the balls are made of 100% wool which is also great at absorbing the moisture.  Some that sell dryer balls use tennis balls in the centre and then cover them in yarn but we didn't want to risk the chemicals in the make up of a tennis ball.  That's why we decided to fill ours with 100% wool as well as cover them with it.

The heart of them all!  It's what's on the inside that counts!

It may seem a bit obvious but the other point is that because there is more agitation in the dryer the clothes come out softer than they would if you had just dried them alone without fabric softener.  Sometimes they even come out softer than with fabric softener added.

It is also important to note that because dryer balls do not coat your clothes to make them softer they are completely safe to use with cloth diapers, "mama cloths" and any other clothing type items you'd use for absorption. 

How You Use Them ...

It's simple really.  You wash your clothes like normal while omitting the fabric softener.  Then you put your wet clothes in the dryer with 6 or more dryer balls (depending on size and weight of your load) and omit your dryer sheets.  We sell them in sets of 6, 9 and 12.  We'd say 6 is the minimum and will do for any size load but the more you use the softer your clothes will be and the more time you save in energy.  The amount of heat you use doesn't matter.  The important part is that you use a moisture sensitive setting otherwise the dryer won't stop when the clothes are dry and that's the part that saves energy.

Obviously, there are other simple use and care instructions (which we provide for you), but it is really that easy.  We thought it would be way more complicated than that.  Nope!  Wash, dry, done! :)  Oh, and maybe fold if you like! ;)  The best part is that when you're done the laundry you can give the fun coloured balls to your children to play with.  They're safe for them and they're machine washable!  Seriously, way to much fun for the laundry!  :D

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We'd love to hear from you ...

What do you think?  Have you tried dryer balls?  Would you try them?  What colour set is your favourite?  Which colours would like to see us make?  Or if you have questions let us know.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Here We Go ...

Since, blogging became popular I had always seen myself writing one but really didn't feel like I had anything to say.  However, in less that a year, I have gotten married and started a new business with my hubby.  I'd say those two things alone would give me at least a few blogs of things I could talk about.

So ... here we go ...

First of all, a little about me and my partner in crime.  Like so many people these days my husband and I met online.  I can't say it was love at first sight for me but I certainly liked him.  He became my best friend first, and the romantic attraction came soon after.  We didn't date long though and we were engaged six months after we first met and we were married a little over a year after that.

For various reasons our wedding was small.  Just under 40 of our closest friends and family joined us at a nearby Mansion that has been converted into a hotel.  For us, it was the perfect day!  We often mention we wish we could do it again.  Without all of the planning ahead of time though! ;)

Secondly, our business:  Sweet Spectrum.  Sweet is a family name and Spectrum felt appropriate because we had such a wide variety of creative items to offer.  We actually create everything from handmade gift items to fine art photography.  Of course there's a few eco-friendly home goods in the mix too.

Why Etsy?  I became very familiar with Etsy while planning our wedding and a number of items and ideas came specifically from several of my favourite Etsy shops.  I loved the idea of supporting people who loved being creative.  And I love that Etsy is an online marketplace specifically designed for that.  It only seemed natural for us to start there.

So, Sweet Spectrum took up residence on Etsy.  Soon after came Facebook, Pinterest and now Blogger!  Luckily these kinds of thing are fun for us! :)

In a nutshell, that's our life together so far!  As you come along for the ride, we hope you are encouraged, entertained and informed!

Welcome to our new adventure!  We hope you enjoy journeying with us!

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We'd love to hear from you ...

What do you think?  What are your favourite items in our shop?