Outdoor Photography Tips

Spring is here and we all want to get outside. A winter’s worth of shooting portraits inside is enough to make any photographer go stir crazy. But today the greens are vibrant, flowers are blossoming, trees are budding, and it all makes a great setting for outdoor portraits. All you need is a camera, a subject, and some decent weather!

Shooting in Natural Light
One of the true perks of shooting portraits outdoors is you don’t have mess with studio lighting, flashes or any of that mess. You’re au naturale. Here are just a few outdoor photography tips to keep in mind:

The sun is your friend
Here are a few outdoor photography tips to keep in mind #peartreegreetings #phototips

When shooting in sunlight, keep the sun to the side of the subject. Shooting with the sun directly behind you just results in a squinting model and flat lighting. Shooting with the sun behind the model leaves you either with a correctly exposed background and a face in shadow, or a well lit face and a blown out background. Keep that sun to your side and you’ll get an evenly exposed shot with nice contours on your model. This happy couple on the right wanted an impromptu portrait taken while the cherry blossoms were poking out in Washington D.C.. The sun was a little too harsh and a little too high for our liking, but they were happy.

But so is the shade
Here are a few outdoor photography tips to keep in mind #peartreegreetings #phototips

Shooting in shade is kind of like shooting in a giant softbox. Your light is soft, you don’t have to worry about highlights that are too hot or shadows that are too dark. You can just focus on your model. What a relief!

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Graduation Movies: Our Top 5 and Picks for Their Graduation Invitations

Nothing like a good graduation movie to make you feel all grown up. There is the angst of leaving their friends and the security of the school where they’ve spent the last 4 years. There is the looming uncertainty of the future. And of course there are the romances—do they get married or break up??? Oh, the drama. Here are our top 5 flicks featuring graduates, and the graduation invitation ideas we personally chose for them:

Tri fold Graduation Announcements -- Favorite Moments Remembered
1. Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (2001) Beautiful? Check. Hilarious? Check. Harvard Law School smart? Check. One of our favorite grads? Double check.
Elle’s graduation announcements: Favorite Moments Remembered, with matching return address labels and thank you cards, of course!

Graduation Announcement -- Elegant Angles
2. Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate (1967). Really, Benjamin? Katherine Ross and Anne Bancroft? What were you thinking?
Benjamin’s graduation announcements: Elegant Angles. You can’t find a fit better than that!

Graduation Invitation -- Photo Booth Strip
3. Sandra Dee in Grease (1978).  Sweet-turned-sexy Sandra, her pals at Rydell High, and their timeless tunes have been the icons of youthful exuberance for decades.
Sandy’s graduation announcements: Photo Booth Strip, so she can show off her cast of friends.

Horizontal Photo Graduation Announcement -- Distinct Stripes
4. Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything (1989).  John Cusack’s Lloyd proves that a quirky, great guy can get the girl. Need we say more?
Lloyd’s graduation announcements: Distinct Stripes, featuring one memorable photo of him, say, holding up a boom box outside her house at dawn. This guy knows how to strike a pose.

Horizontal Graduation Party Invitation -- Looking to the Future
5. Jules in St. Elmo’s Fire (1985). Demi Moore’s character reminds us that it really is hard to have your act together after graduation.
Jules’ graduation announcements: Looking to the Future, which is especially important if you don’t know where you’re going.

What movies did we miss? Maybe your favorite movie will have a perfect match among our graduation invitations. Or for more inspiration, look for more graduation invitation ideas on our blog.
Graduation Announcements & Invitations

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Kids Art Re-purposed, Mom Guilt Diminished

kids artworkAll year long my kids create art masterpieces of all shapes and sizes, in every medium from crayon to clay. Most of it gets put on display, albeit briefly, to be replaced by the next masterpiece a few days later. And when it comes off the fridge where does it go? In the pile. Actually, one of many piles stacked in various locations in our house. There is a pile in my closet, under each kid’s bed, on top of the fridge and on the top shelf in our family room. My brain knows that I cannot continue to hoard my children’s artwork, but my heart won’t let me throw it out. At least not right away. I have a few ideas for kids school projects to share.

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Pear Tree Operation Gratitude program a success! So, we’re extending it…

operation gratitudePear Tree is overjoyed to announce that we have met our goal of helping teachers and elementary school children send 75,000 cards to our men and women in the military. Starting November 1st, we set out to encourage elementary school teachers all over the country to sign up to receive free Pear Tree Greetings cards, and then inspire children in their classrooms to express their gratitude for our troops’ service. What a success it’s been!

Did you know:

  • It took just 19 days to meet our goal of sending 75,000 cards
  • Teachers in 47 states have participated in this program
  • According Operation Gratitude, there are 150,000 troops in harm’s way at any given time

The program’s popularity has sent our holiday spirits soaring, and is sure to lift the spirits of our troops as well.

Thank you so much to all the teachers that have participated in the program. And, of course, we are grateful to the children for crafting such beautiful artwork and sweet messages that touch our troops’ hearts.

Sometimes you can’t have too much of a good thing, right? We are pleased to announce that we are extending the program. Our new goal: let’s send 100,000 cards. By Monday the 29th, we will send out cards to all teachers who have requested cards to date (we got a little behind because of the interest in our program…but they are coming soon!).  So please continue to sign up!

Thank you for your support,

Liwanag Ojala
President, Pear Tree Greetings

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Personalized Gift Ideas

The season of giving. If you’ve ever given the perfect gift, you know how good it feels. But sometimes, it’s oh so hard. Check out these great personalized gift ideas that boast stylish designs at a price that makes you smile. Go ahead, reclaim that status of Giver of Great Gifts. You deserve it.

Personalized Gift Ideas: hostess gifts #giftideas #peartreegreetings #stationery Personalized Gift Ideas: hostess gifts #giftideas #peartreegreetings #stationery
Hostess Gifts

It will happen. You’ll get a last minute invite, you can’t get to the store, and all you have on hand is a box of dried macaroni. Personalized note cards make great hostess gift ideas. (Plan ahead and have it personalized to really impress–a generic message like happy holidays or thank you works, too!). Always keep some note cards at the ready and you’ll never be caught empty handed again.  Continue reading

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Family Recipe Showdown Contest Winners

Congratulations to our Family Recipe Showdown contest winners! After some mouth watering deliberation we’re proud to present to you this year’s winners!

Sushi Cake

by Hidemi W.

sushi cakeIngredients:

  • 2 cups Uncooked Japanese Rice or Sushi Rice
  • 1/2 cup Rice Vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Avocado
  • 2 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 2 tablespoon Mayonnaise
  • 2 Eggs
  • 8 oz Smoked Salmon

Directions:

  1. Rinse rice several times in running water until water gets clear. Drain in a colander. Cook in a sauce pan with a lid or rice cooker according to package directions. Note, just a little bit less water than package directions so that rice is cooked a little bit harder. (To make perfect sushi rice, rice should be cooked little bit harder than regular rice)
  2. While rice is cooking, in a small bowl, combine rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Mix well.
  3. Make finely scrambled eggs. In a lightly oiled frying pan, pour the beaten eggs and stir with 4-5 chopsticks quickly and constantly to make finely scrambled eggs. If you don’t have chopsticks, make sure to stir quickly and constantly with fork, not to stir roughly.
  4. In a bowl, scoop avocado pulp and mash. Add cream cheese, and mayonnaise. Mix well.
  5. When rice is done, transfer to the medium bowl and add 2 and mix gently. Don’t stir too much. Let it cool.
  6. In a cake pan, place plastic wrap on the bottom of the pan, and put in scrambled eggs. Then place half of the sushi rice. Flatten the rice with fork (wet with water). Then put avocado cream cheese mixture on the sushi rice, and place the rest of the sushi rice. Press with wet fork hard to settle. Let it stand for about half an hour until sets.
  7. Turn the cake pan upside down onto the plate. Remove plastic wrap. Put smoked salmon shaped roses and a couple of leaves of spinach. Serve.

*To make rose-shaped smoked salmon, cut each piece of smoked salmon into half-1 inch length. Roll one piece by one piece with fingers until the size you want to make.

Peanut Butter Creams

by Elizabeth H.

peanut butter creamsIngredients:

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup peanut butter

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Drop small round balls of dough onto waxed paper.
  3. Chill for at least a half hour.
  4. They are ready to eat!

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Pear Tree and Operation Gratitude Featured on CBS

Christmas cardsWe were thrilled to hear that the Twin Cities’ CBS Affiliate decided to run a story about Operation Gratitude last week. Seeing the students in action as they write and color their thank you cards really helps us remember why it is we run programs like this. It definitely gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside.

Read the story.

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A tradition of giving thanks

Make writing thank you cards a tradition #thankyou #peartreegreetings #thankyoucards Make writing thank you cards a tradition #thankyou #peartreegreetings #thankyoucards
Some of the most thoughtful ideas we hear from our customers have to do with thanking others around the holidays. One mom we know encourages each child to choose an extended family member and write a thank you card to express their appreciation for that person, or for something they did that meant a lot to the child.

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Contest! Family Recipe Showdown

family recipe contestIt’s that time of year again. Time to pull out the tried-and-true family recipes—the ones you wouldn’t dare alter, the ones that make your family celebrations yours and yours alone. These recipes, carefully copied from Grandma’s or Mom’s or Aunt Judy’s originals, are dog-eared and splattered and dusted with a fine layer of flour, but the results are no less delicious.

This holiday season, that precious index card or scrap of paper could win you free Christmas cards (up to $100 worth) plus free printed recipe cards to share with your friends! All you have to do is share your family recipe, your memories of what makes it special, and a photo of the finished dish. Here’s how to enter:

Send the following by November 15th, 2010, to contests@peartreegreetings.com.

  • Your family recipe
  • 250 words or less about your memories surrounding your dish
  • A photo (less than 2MB) of your dish

Limit one recipe per entry, per person; but if you write a blog and post your entry with a link to blog.peartreegreetings.com (and confirm with us your blog post by sending the link to contests@peartreegreetings.com), you will receive 3 entries for your 1 recipe. We will choose 4 random entries, and 4 additional entries will be chosen by our Pear Tree team. The eight finalists will be posted on our Pear Tree Blog on 11/16/2010, to be voted upon by our readers. One vote per email address for the voting period. Voting ends 11/21/2010. The entry with the most votes will be chosen as the winner and receive $100 towards Christmas Cards, plus 50 free recipe cards. (See rules)

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Help us support the American Cancer Society

Help us support the american cancer societyWe are constantly inspired by all the causes out there that really do make our world a better place to live. One in particular caught our attention—the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge—a nationwide network of 30 home-like residences, offering cancer patients and their families a free, temporary place to stay when their best hope for effective treatment is far from home. To do our part, we developed a line of six exclusive cards, available now until the end of the year, where all proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society and their Hope Lodges. Learn more about the Hope Lodge…

The American Cancer Society Collection

This exclusive line of six cards shows just how powerful connecting and sharing can be. You’ll sleep easy knowing your Christmas cards are unique, stands out from the card crowd, and supports a great cause. Go ahead, send a note to someone you love. See the collection…

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