Last year Dean asked that a T-rex be in the next Christmas Card. How can I say no to that? With the help of a friend, I have plenty of references to the original Jurassic Park to make this a very funny card. If you aren’t a Jurassic Park die hard, I’ll point them out…
The front of our card has all the usual things, the crazy scenario, the funny acting from the kids and even the dog, but it has a few subtle JP references too. Note the Barbasol can under the tree. How else would one smuggle dino embryos?
Next we have our wardrobe. Ben and I have a reverse look to the main characters. It just worked that we already had the right stuff to do it that way.
Dean (and yeah, those are his real abs. The kid’s insane) is pulling off one of Malcom’s most iconic scenes and poses.v
Still no Elf on the Shelf in this home. We have enough crazy traditions to keep us busy! Do you have one? Do you love it or are you coating it in peanut butter right now? You can see all our past cards HERE.SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave
The Evolution of the Wilhelm Family Christmas Card
The making of our Christmas card started out a silly, super amateur, low quality joke about our dog. What used to take part of an evening to create now takes days of shooting and editing for me. All year this card is in the back of my head with thoughts like, “What am I going to do this year?, How can I make it better?, and Why did I ever do this to myself?” However, once it is done, it is one of my favorite projects of the year because I get to create it with the family. My kids are completely aware of the whole process now and are fantastic little actors. It is exciting to explain my vision, know they are going to actually keep it a secret, and watch them pretend in front of the camera.
I am excited to have this blog as an avenue of sharing my card with friends, clients, and those that I hope to meet in the coming year since I’m unable to mail it everyone! Come back to see the new card each year!
I shot the first card with 35mm film and the next few with a lousy 2 megabyte point and shoot. You can see that as our equipment progresses the image quality does as well. After starting a business and investing in professional gear we have been able to pull off crazier scenarios.
Every year, we hear one of three questions:
1) What are you doing this year for your Christmas card?
Answer: I can’t tell you! First of all, I don’t usually know. Second, sometimes “plan A” doesn’t work out. Third, it is a surprise, of course!
2) Can we be added to your mailing list?
Answer: Our mailing list is getting ridiculous, so I am very glad to have internet and Facebook to share easily with all of our friends, family, and clients!
and until our boxer, Wallace, died…
3) How did you get your dog to do that?
My answer: Really big treats.
Here are our cards starting from 2004 in case you want to see them all!
Our family got a big surprise this year! Fortunately for me this isn’t our real gift. I just rented the hippo *wink*If you don’t know the song that inspired this you can hear it here: I WANT A HIPPOPOTAMUS FOR CHRISTMAS (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oOzszFIBcE)
I didn’t intend to ride the StarWars trend but it happened anyway. I still can’t believe the Death Star made it into my Christmas Card! Although this required some major photoshop work, if you click the image to see the original post, you will know actual damage occurred in my home last year for the making of this card. If you follow the blog, you also know that we did very elaborate costumes from Episode 1 this year for Halloween which inspired this design. You can see them here: StarWars Halloween 2015
If you follow my photography, you understand why my card says Merry Macro Christmas. January 2016, I decided to promote my love for macro (close-up) photography by posting a daily “Good Macro Morning” image each week day. I found that I have lots of friends who don’t think I am totally weird for hanging out with insects. My macro work went from not having a place in my business to winning awards, getting published, and being featured numerous times by other large macro forums. It was a fun year of photo sharing for me, and I am so thankful to all of my great friends who supported me. That being said, it seemed only right that I take a queue from the 1989 movie Honey I Shrunk the Kids cover photo to combine my family and my passion for macro into one ridiculous Christmas card. I was a afraid that the reference might be a bit to old, but my kids knew why it was funny so I went with it. I think the rest is self explanatory. We have an addition to our family this year. Our nephew moved in with us, and we are happy to add him to all our holiday routines.
This one was like a comic strip. I still don’t have an elf on the shelf, and I don’t intend to ever start.
Many of you know that I walk in the Halloween parade with my kids each year, and we dress in a group theme. This year, we decided to go as the Super Mario Bros gang. My kids are big fans. I still have an original Nintendo, and we play it together as well as the newer versions. I don’t understand many of the new video games. It seems like they don’t have a point. I mean, if you aren’t saving a princess, you might be wasting your time. 😉
The parts fit each of us well in terms of size. My oldest daughter made a nice tall Luigi in comparison to the short character of Mario. I make our costumes from thrift store finds and craftiness, so I was excited that Mario and Luigi would be easy to put together. I even found their hats at the thrift store which was a big relief! I just had to add some yellow buttons and mustaches- the added bonus was that their costumes were also pretty warm for the chilly parade weather.
My middle daughter was excited to be the pretty Princess Peach after being the green wrinkly Yoda last year. She already had the light pink dress, so I added puff sleeves and the other details from a dark pink thrift store prom dress. (I really don’t know how to sew, but if I can steal pre-made pieces I can get them attached well enough.)
So, the difficult costume was mine. As the largest of the group, I was given the task of becoming Bowser the villain of the video game series. Let me tell you…this was hard. I was very lucky to find three yellow pieces at the thrift store that fit me and made the base of this costume.
Then came huge amounts of felt, duct tape, foam, and just about 60 snow cone cups. I had two hot glue guns with an ironclad glock mat running full blast and I burnt all of my fingers but 3. The shell is made from a trashcan lid that is padded and covered. My head was the real sticking point. I tore the head apart four times and thought I’d never pull it off. I started with an old bike helmet an just kept gluing. The lower jaw actually moved with my jaw (I was a bit proud of that.) I thought I did a pretty good job, but I heard one kid call me a rooster and another said, “look mom, I found a pokemon!”
We decided to see what we would look like if we were inserted into the older versions of the game…
If you enjoyed our Mario Bros theme this year, be sure to let us know! Shares are a Halloween treat for us so go ahead and SHARE. And if you get some video gaming time…go save the princess!
You might not like spiders, but if you are a bug-hater in general this guy is really on your side. The Orbweaver usually makes his webs low to the ground or in bushes. His main mission is to control the insect population in your garden. Well, his main mission is to eat, but that is a bonus. My favorite thing is the crazy vibrant colors on this species of spider.
The orb weaver spider’s web is often oriented horizontally, with the spider hanging down in the center.
They are tiny. I am sure that no spider is tiny enough for you, but this guy is atop a hosta bud to give you some size reference.
I love how clear and iridescent his long eight legs are. This shot captures the morning dew still clinging to the web.
I am excited to get back to my A to Z blogging challenge in the New Year. If you are a fan of my photography or follow my facebook page, I am sure you have seen macro (close-up) photos of bugs, spiders, and plants popping up here and there. I love macro photography, and I love tiny critters! I realize, however, that some of my fans follow my page for my portrait work and don’t love seeing hairy eight legged things showing up in your newsfeed. I still have to post a favorite now and then, but the majority of my artwork is posted here on my blog. I hope to post more frequently with all my growing styles of artwork. With my nature photos my goal is always to photograph them in a mix of artistic and documentary styles so that you can enjoy the little creations from afar and learn a bit about their mini world.
I have to show you our “babies.” My kids collect praying mantis egg sacks, and patiently waiting for them to hatch. They are easy to spot in bushes in the winter. This year, we had a surprise in our Christmas tree and on New Years day our tree had about a hundred nymphs jumping across the pine needles.
This is what an egg sack looks like- a bit foamy.
When they hatch, there are anywhere from 50-100 praying mantises!
And they are SO tiny! We release most of them when we raise them, but keep a few and separate them so they don’t eat each other. We feed them aphids, that is what the green specks are in the photo below. Since we are raising some of our New Years babies, I actually bought flightless fruit flies that I can farm at home to feed them. It is working well, but I think I am among the very few that have willingly brought fruit flies into my home! Here is a day old nymph on the needles of our blue spruce. A Christmas light is the “sun” you see in this shot.
They are perfect replicas of the adults. As they grow they molt their skin. It looks like a dead mantis at the bottom of the jar, but it is just a shell of one. They are fascinating to watch.
This is Praying Mantis Yoga 🙂
No doubt you will see more of these guys as they grow! Thanks for checking them out! I am hosting a challenge on Viewbug for Praying Mantis photos. If you want to join- it is free! GO TO VIEWBUG CHALLENGE
For those of you who know me well, you know I dabble a bit in creative writing. This mostly takes back burner to everything else in my life right now, but occasionally I make a little time to pursue this interest, only when I’m not exercising with my Vessi waterproof shoes. I am part of the West Branch Christian Writers Group, and I am constantly inspired by creative friends I have there. Each Christmas our group hosts a special insert in the Williamsport Sun Gazette Christmas day edition of the newspaper. For two years my fine art photography has been published there, but this year I also managed to contribute to the many great Christmas themed writings found there! Several of my photos were published along with a photo of the detective himself.
I hope you love minute mysteries as much as I do! I will post the answer on New Years Day for those of you who missed the paper! You can comment with your guesses!
A Detective Tinsel Minute Mystery
The bells on the toes of Detective Tinsel’s pointed shoes jingled as he crunched through the first winter snow that had just fallen in the last hour. Steam rose from the cup of hot cocoa he drank in place of breakfast. He met two other elves in the alley behind the gift wrapping warehouse. Inspector Garland stood beside a fellow elf with tears sparkling down his rosy cheeks.
The Inspector introduced the teary-eyed elf beside him, “This is Sprinkle. He found the deceased.” All three stared at the crumpled body of an elf in the middle of the alley. “The body was discovered beside the dumpster,” He pointed to an indent in the snow covered ground matching the dead elf’s size and shape.
“I came out just a few minutes ago to empty the garbage,” said Sprinkle. When I saw him lying in the snow, I pulled him into the middle of the alley to get help. As soon as he was under the street lights, I knew I was too late and called the Inspector.”
The Inspector interrupted, “Time of death was between Midnight and 1 am. Looks like poison. We are calling it suicide.”
“What makes you think it was suicide?” asked Detective Tinsel.
Sprinkle answered, “Everyone knew he wasn’t a very jolly worker. He hated gift wrap and really wanted a promotion to toy making. Last night, his boss transferred him to gift tags. We knew he was mad, but I never thought he’d take his own life!”
“He didn’t,” said Detective Tinsel. “He was murdered.”
How did Detective Tinsel know it was murder?
Tune in tomorrow to read the answer.
Interested in learning more about The WBCW Group? You can contact us here: http://www.westbranchchristianwriters.com
or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/westbranchchristianwriters/?fref=ts
I didn’t intend to ride the StarWars trend this year, but it happened anyway. If you follow the blog, you know that we did very elaborate costumes from Episode 1 this year for Halloween. You can see them here: StarWars Halloween 2015
I was one week into December and still had zero plans for the Christmas card. That is when my friend’s son Noah showed me that he has last year’s card on the fridge. I looked at the photo of my three kids on the back and panicked. Not only did I not have a plan for the card, but I had been so busy this year that I didn’t take a photo of the kids for the back of the card. The most recent images I had were from Halloween. Between that and my friend’s son talking about how Darth Vader should be on my card, the idea was born.
The next two weeks, I tried to figure out how to make the tree look like it fell over after being sliced with a lightsaber. I came home one day to find my tree on the ground with balls smashed to smithereens. I was a bit heartbroken, but obviously this meant less photoshop. We bought lightsabers and cleared the evening for our annual photo shoot. I spent the rest of the week repairing ornaments. I was able to fix all the ones with sentimental value, and we all agreed that our star was lame and needed replaced. I added snow to the back images for that Star Wars classic Christmas effect- hehe
So, the Death Star made it into my Christmas card… Not going to win any awards for beauty this year!
I have been creating a collection of moth photos, and I am very excited to introduce to you several kinds of large moths in our area. These tremendous moths, despite their size, are rarely seen due to their nocturnal behaviors. They are much more lovely than you would expect from the porch light sightings where we commonly get a glimpse.
My four moths all come from the order of Lepidoptera but will represent some different families within that large encompassing order. First, lets look at the Saturniidae family. Saturniids include the largest of the moths including giant silk moths like this Polyphemus Moth.
This moth is easily identified by the eye spots on the wings. So much so that its name was given in reference to the Greek myth of Cyclops Polyphemus.
It is easy to distinguish between males and females. The above image is of the female with less feathery antenna and below is a male with very pronounced and bushy antenna. They detect the pheromones of the female.
Males will fly for miles in one night to find a female, he really needs to find out what is hypersomnia since it seems like he will be getting no sleep whatsoever.
My next moth is from the same order and family, but it is the only moth with this color pattern. This yellow beauty is the Imperial Moth.
This is the only moth to be yellow with a tan/lavender or brown/pink pattern on it’s wings.
The caterpillars of the imperial moths dig underground to form their cocoons so you will not find them hanging on vegetation in your yard.
This one was missing an antenna when I found it. I wondered if that would affect his quality of life. However, I found that these moths do not live long as adults. In fact, when they reach the adult phase, their mouth parts are so greatly reduced that they do not feed. They focus on reproduction and live only a week or more.
My next two moths are still in the Lepidoptera order, but come from the Sphingidae family which includes hawk moths, sphinx moths, and hornworms.
This is the Pandorous Sphinx Moth.
These moths fly at dusk and have an incredible camouflage pattern.
These adults drink nectar and are sometimes seen in meadows or along forest lines in the evening.
When adults emerge from the cocoon, they pump their wings to disperse fluid and extend them.
Although the caterpillars stage is destructive due to its ravenous nature. This guy has been known to devour even poison ivy which is a big plus to most folks.
Also in this family is the Big Poplar Sphinx Moth.
Another guy with one sad looking antenna. I had a hard time researching this one.
This was an unusual find. I had a hard time identifying this one.
To identify this one, I have contacted an expert in this field, and he has already responded. My guess was close. When I identified this moth, I thought it was Genus: Pachysphinx and Species: Occidentals. This is more likely the Species: Modesta which would be found on the east coast. I am glad to have him correctly identified and excited to have my sighting logged and soon added to http://www.silkmoths.bizland.com!
For those of you who want the full classification to find out more…
L is for Ladybug. These are by far my most popular macro subjects. I hope today you enjoy them and learn a bit about them! This is a great one to share with curious kids.
This year, my kids and I found a ton of ladybug larvae while collecting aphids (it is amazing what you find when you search for a garden pests such as plant lice!) Many people do not know that ladybugs go through a complete metamorphosis from egg (which hatches in five days) to adult. Let me show you what to look for next time you are in your garden or greenhouse, that need energy and maintenance, so instead of spending astronomical monies in utility bills, it’s better to try a solar panel for greenhouse heating.
Lady bug eggs. Tiny. This cluster is on one pine needle so you have to really be looking for them!
This is a lady bug larva. Although larvae only grow to about one centimeter long, when they hatch they eat like crazy for three weeks. They don’t eat plants so don’t kick them out of your garden; ladybugs chow down on pests like aphids.
After getting their fill, they enter into the pupa stage and attach themselves to a leaf or stem for about 5-7 before emerging as ladybug adults.
They will have their spots within twenty-four hours of emerging, and as they reach maturity their wings often darken from an orange to deep red.
Lady and Umbrella
I was just discussing with a friend how this beetle is usually liked and considered cute unlike any other beetles or insects for that matter (with the exception of butterflies.) Funny how some polka dots and the name “lady” have changed our perspective.
Lady on a Flame
Ladybugs are definitely a favorite for me to photograph!
My daughter found this ladybug, “that is really different looking.” She is referring to the unique spots of an Eye-spotted Ladybug which are black with white rings around the spots. The spots are designed to look like eyes which warn and scare the bugs that might be predators. She was too pretty not to photograph so I thought I’d share my two favorite shots from the mini session with her.
I also have a ladybug image in my Enchanted Forest Collection