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Popsicle Stick Christmas Ornaments

It's November, which to many over-enthusiastic holiday lovers means CHRISTMAS! Yes, I love Thanksgiving as well—it's just one big holiday celebration for me from now to the end of the year. So far, I've refrained from putting up my Christmas tree, but that doesn't mean I can't prepare, right? This past weekend, I spent some time making some ornaments. I love to create handmade ornaments to add to my little tree each year. 
Lately I've been interested in popsicle stick crafts. I found some super cute ideas on Pinterest (see the links to my Holiday Crafts and Food board and specific posts below). I like that such a simple material can have so many possibilities. Just add paint and glue!
I was able to get my kids involved for part of my craft day. They are ages 2 and 3, so they didn't do much beyond just paint a few popsicle sticks. I turned these painted sticks into little Santa Claus ornaments—two for each daughter as they're bound to ruin some of them …

There’s an App For That, Photography

I love technology and gadgets. While one of the great things about crafting is working with your hands, there are many great ways to incorporate technology, whether as a tool, for finding inspiration, or in new digital mediums.

I use a lot of Apple products. I’ve already explored a little bit of digital scrapbooking on my desktop computer (an iMac) using Adobe software. Back in March, I started using an iPhone. A few months later, I splurged on an iPad. Besides wasting countless hours with music, video, and gaming apps (Angry Birds, anyone?), I have been determined to find all the best apps for crafting and creativity. Here are some of the apps I like for my photos.

I love pictures. I love taking them, looking at them, playing with them. At family functions and other events, I am that person. The one with the camera that everyone hides from. The iPad is great for browsing photos. I’ve put my entire library onto mine. For a while, though, I didn’t do much with photos directly on my devices, but after discovering a few good apps, that has changed. Now I'm addicted to editing photos on my iPhone and iPad.

Snapseed (**my favorite photography app so far**)

Best used on: iPad

Cost: $4.99

What I like about Snapseed is that it has many of the features that are found in the other photography apps all in one place. There are basic photo editing features as well as filters and effects. The “center focus” is similar to the “tilt-shift” in Instagram. In addition, it allows you to shuffle the properties in some of the effects, such as texture, so that it doesn’t look the same in every picture you apply it to. I also really like the “compare” button, which allows you to see the photo before and after your adjustments.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Best used on: iPad

Cost: Free

This app is good for basic photo editing—cropping, straightening, contrast, saturation, etc. There are also a few filters, borders, and effects. Extra features are available to purchase within the app.


Best used on: iPhone or iPod Touch

Cost: Free


Best used on: iPhone or iPod Touch

Cost: Free

Pixlr-o-matic and Instagram are especially good for photos that are taken directly from the iPhone or iPad. Because of limited resolution and controls for cameraphones, pictures tend to be pretty poor. What I like about these apps are the filters. They enhance your blah cameraphone pictures, taking advantage of the low image quality to give pictures a “vintage” look.

Pixlr-o-matic also has different options for lighting effects and borders. Instagram is set up as a social network that automatically shares your photos in your own photo stream in your Instagram account. Instagram also has a cool and easy-to-use “tilt-shift” feature, which allows you to blur out the background and focus on the subject of the photo.

8mm Vintage Camera

Best used on: any

Cost: $1.99

8mm Vintage Camera is like the video version of these apps. The cool interface looks like a camera. You can choose between various lenses and films to create the look you want. There are also options for projector sound effects and random “jitters” to make a more authentic 8mm-like movie.

Pic Collage

Best used on: iPad

Cost: Free

This is a cute, simple app for creating quick collages with your photos on your device.

*Note: Though most of these apps will work on both the iPad and iPhone or iPod Touch, I have indicated which device with which I recommend using each. Generally speaking, some apps are better for iPhone because they were built to fit the smaller size, while others are better utilized on the iPad’s larger screen. Also note that some apps will not work on older generations of devices, and some apps have separate iPhone and iPad versions.

All photos © Nicole Jin Jones


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