Behind the Scenes: LTD’s Set Stylist

Raymond.christmas.treeThere are a lot of steps to putting together a catalog. From finding the right product to taking the photo, there are many people hard at work to make it all happen. One person who has a strong hand in putting our catalog is our set stylist, Raymond. Here’s a look behind the scenes with Raymond.

At LTD Commodities, we do almost all of our own catalog photography at our studio here in Bannockburn, IL outside of Chicago – that’s where Raymond works. He works mostly with garden products – string lights for a patio, a garden gnome or a stepping stone — but he works in a pet product every once in a while. Today, they’re taking photos of cat products.

Basically, when you see a product in the catalog, it’s Raymond’s job to dress up the scene so a photographer can take a picture. His scenes are based on the ideas of the buyer – the person who found the product to sell through the catalog – and he makes the ideas a reality. Raymond has a background in painting so he’s very visual and can see how things work for a photograph other people can’t see.

raymondiwthcats5The photographer sets up a product at the right angle; Raymond then puts together a scene around the product to “create a narrative.” He says one of the keys to making his job fun is having the right chemistry with his photographer. “Sometimes we don’t even need to talk,” Raymond explains.

“Every page has to tell a story,” he says as he puts a cat tower in the middle of a square of carpet next to a beige couch and a window. He creates the illusion that the cats are playing in a living room even though we’re in the middle of a big, airy studio.

“I have to set up a balance,” he illustrates, adding teal pillows to the couch and a plant in the corner to add contrast and make the picture “pop off the page”.

Then, they bring in the cats; kittens, to be more precise. It’s beyond the call of duty, but Raymond helps the cats look like they’re playing. They’re semi-professionals, so they’re used to being cute, but sometimes they need coaxing out of their corners with a few feathers. As an animal lover, when the cats come in, it’s one of Raymond’s more enjoyable days.

Sweet Couple Garden Statue

Sweet Couple Garden Statue

On other days, Raymond might be found putting together a scene in a tiny garden – which is one of his favorites. “I get to make a little fantasy world,” he confesses. He’s responsible for the scene of the sweet frog couple garden statue in our catalog right now.

From fairy gardens to cat towers, there’s certainly a lot of diversity in Raymond’s work. “I can’t say it’s ever boring.”

Raymond playing with an arctic fox in LTD's photography studio.

Raymond playing with an arctic fox in LTD’s photography studio.

Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week

It’s getaway day! We’re fantasizing about what we’re going to do with our days off… and we picked out some items that are inspiring how we should spend the weekend. Here are LTD’s product picks for the week.

solar-lighted-ballon-stakes

Add a splash of color to your yard with this playful Set of 2 Solar-Lighted Balloon Stakes that are fun for kids and adults! Group them in your garden and make it look like you’re having a party every day. They look like real balloons, but are made of durable, all-weather plastic. The curved “string” stake creates the illusion that the balloon is actually floating. The solar panel is concealed within the balloon, which twists open for access to the on/off switch. Glows with a constant white light for up to 8 hours on a full charge. 

adjustable-angle-table

Adjustable Angle Table is the ultimate bedside table. It replaces bulky nightstands at a fraction of the price! You can adjust the height and angle and swivel it to any position you need. Its roomy surface provides a convenient place for your remote, book, tablet and beverage, while its sturdy metal base rests on the floor or slides under your mattress. It can swivel 360° and lock into place at any desired angle. A ledge on either side keeps items from slipping and sliding even when the table is at an angled position. Can be used on any bed including bunk beds, water beds, RV beds and dorm room beds. 

Galvanized-serving-tray

Galvanized Metal Serving Pieces are durable and bring a bit of rustic, down-on-the-farm flavor to your table. The round Handled Serving Tray  has wood handles secured with riveted construction. Use it to bring everything from main courses to sweet desserts to your dining area. The Salt & Pepper Napkin Holderprovides a double storage function with a built-in tray to hold your own salt and pepper shakers and a large main section to hold your napkins. Molded metal designs will last for years!

camping-survival-tool

10-In-1 Camping Survival Tool packs 10 vital functions into a single device. It’s great for camping, hunting and fishing, or to keep handy in your vehicle or work area. When closed, the thermometer, hygrometer, compass, flashlight and whistle are all easily put to use. Open it and the reflector, bubble level, removable ruler and magnifier are at your fingertips. The flint and flint blade are in a stay-dry compartment. A removable wrist strap keeps this essential tool close at hand. 
Features:
Thermometer
Hygrometer
Reflector
Compass
Bubble level
Magnifier
Ruler
LED flashlight
Whistle
Flint and flint blade

rustic-faucet-garden-decor

The weathered look of the Rustic Faucet Garden Decor will give your outdoors a special charm. The old-fashioned bronze-colored faucet design makes the pieces perfect for plants and garden accessories. Scrollwork accents add to the overall appeal. Slight assembly required; assembly hardware included. 

Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week

We’re flipping through the catalog to pass the time between now and when the weekend starts. We’ve picked out some items we can’t wait to use now that the weather is finally warm! Here are LTD’s product picks for the week.

hanging-lantern

This Solar Scrolled Hanging Lantern enhances your outdoor space with elegant accent lighting featuring beautiful scrollwork. A ring on the handle makes it easy to hang from any hook. It has a solar panel on top that uses the sun’s energy to automatically power the light at night. 

think-big-sports

Now kids can practice their favorite sports right in their own backyard! Whether your kids are into soccer or basketball, we have the set for them! Each set comes with an oversized inflatable plastic ball and accessories that are safe and fun to use. Kick the soccer ball through the goal cones or shoot the basketball through the hoop. 

 

you-frame-it

Transform your most cherished photos into framed canvas artwork in your own home in a matter of minutes. With the Flipo You Frame It system, you can take any image from a camera or cell phone, print it on specially formulated canvas paper, then frame it. Printing is done on your inkjet printer without the need for special ink or computer software.

 

can-coolers

MLB Coleman 24-Can Cooler is easy to carry wherever the action takes you. Its adjustable strap has a shoulder pad embroidered with the Coleman logo. Full-color MLB team logo is embroidered on the cooler’s front panel. Made of 600D polyester, the soft-sided cooler is lined with PEVA. Includes a carabiner clip and mesh carry pouches on the sides. 

tickin-tater

The Tick N’ Tater Water Balloon Game takes the traditional game of hot potato and cools it down. Fill up a water balloon, then place it inside the Tick N’ Tater. Set the attached timer and start passing it around. When the timer runs out, the balloon will burst, soaking the person holding it. This easy game is a refreshing and fast-paced way to spend a hot afternoon outdoors.

 

Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week

We can’t help but think about planning our gardens and getting outside now that it’s finally spring. And the weather we want was exactly what was on our minds while flipping through the catalog pointing out our top product picks for the week:

Solar-lighted-bird-feeder

Bronze-finished Solar-Lighted Birdbath has a classic style that adds a graceful accent to your landscaping. The bowl is shaped like a lily pad, and a leafy branch rises from the center to provide birds with a place to perch. A songbird statue completes the birdbath. At night, a solar-powered LED light illuminates the base. Additional reflectors multiply and enhance the light. The light automatically turns on at dusk.

Log-shelves

Lodge Log Shelves have the realistic look of chopped wood that adds a touch of nature to your home. Buy one or several to store or display books, collectibles, framed photos and more.

insulated-wine-tumbler

Set of 2 Insulated Wine Tumblers features double-walled construction to keep your drink cool longer. It also keeps the glass from sweating in your hand or on a table. These unique glasses have wine-glass shapes built into the interior. They have lids that slide open and closed with a push. The lids prevent spills and keep insects and dirt out of your beverage.

Harmony-Bells

Create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility with this Set of 3 Harmony Bells. Each iron bell is fitted with a wooden clapper to produce a soothing sound. The rustic brass finish shimmers like burnished gold in the sun. Perfect as a garden ornament hanging from a hook near your door or a tree branch anywhere in your yard! Comes on a thick rope hanger.

 

Folding Deck Table sets up in seconds and folds down flat when not in use. This attractive wood table comes with metal clamps and brackets that easily secure it to a porch or deck railing. Great for outdoor entertaining, the folding table is also ideal for decks or balconies with limited space.

Folding Deck Table sets up in seconds and folds down flat when not in use. This attractive wood table comes with metal clamps and brackets that easily secure it to a porch or deck railing. Great for outdoor entertaining, the folding table is also ideal for decks or balconies with limited space.

 

Ideas to Make Your Garden Shed Unique

It?s time to think about spring home improvement projects to beautify your home for summer.

 garden-shed

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jollyroberts

 

If you?re thinking about adding to your garden or improving it, a great way to dress up or create new focal points by adding a garden shed. Other than the small structure holding all your gardening tools, it can become a showpiece. It doesn?t take much time or money to create anything from a cute dollhouse or an eye-catching central point.?

By the addition of windows, window flower boxes and shrubbery, a garden shed can begin to look more elaborate. Go rustic by planting a climbing vine to cover part of your shed; it?ll add some country charm. To give your shed more class, use tastefully colored paints to create a very enchanting cottage.

Shed-Flower-boxes

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24069019@N00


If you don?t want to put too much work into a shed you already have, a splash of paint can dress it up. With an earthy red and blue or green highlighted trim and a greenish yellow door, you can make it energetic or toned down. A new coat of paint can always create a new look without breaking the bank.? If you are the artistic type, start with a beige building and paint on vines or floral decorations. But if you don?t have the knack for free-hand painting, you can always use stencils and get the same result.

Adding a lean-to with inside access for a small greenhouse will make a garden shed both elegant and functional for your delicate plants. Or, if you organize the contents of the shed, your garden shed can also double as a playhouse for your kids.

Lean-to-garden-shed

Photo credit:
Found on sashanunez2ag.blogspot.com

Not only can a garden shed be a versatile and practical building but also can create an ambiance encompassing your gardens. Best of all, it does not have to cost a bundle!

It’s Plant a Flower Day

Daisy-SingleIn honor of Plant a Flower Day, we’ve rounded up some tips on how to plant flowers that will bloom to their full potential. Check out these great tips below.

Where to Start

If you want instant gratification, you can go to a plant nursery where they?ve nurtured and cared for seeds as they?ve grown into a blooming flower for you to purchase. You can also buy seedlings that you can watch grow and bloom at a later date.

In either case, you will have to transplant the flower or seedling. Winter 2014 has been brutal, so you should know to only transplant when the ground is warm enough ? ideally after the last frost date . If you haven?t had your last frost, you can keep your flower indoors until it?s warm enough to transplant outside.

Do It Yourself

If you want to start from scratch, here?s what you?ll need to get your seeds sprouting:

  • seeds
  • ventilated containers
  • soil
  • plastic wrap or covering

You can buy seed starting soil or you can mix it yourself. The soil should be lightly moistened when it?s put in the ventilated container. Too much moisture can cause the seeds to rot. ?Using a garden trowel, dig small holes for each seed with distances between each seed according to your seed packet.? Drop the seeds in each hole and gently cover each seed with soil. Lightly water the soil and cover with plastic wrap to keep moisture in the soil. Place the containers in a warm spot and water only as needed.?When the seeds have sprouted, you can put their containers on a tray that will hold water so the flower will be fed from the bottom up.

Transplanting

Before you transplant your flowers, you can help them get used to living outdoors by letting them sit outside for a few days so that it won?t be such a shock to them when they?re put in the ground.

When you?re ready to give your flower a spot in the yard, water the planting bed, to help your flower take root. You should also water the flower before taking it out of the ventilated container so you can gently ease it out. The root will probably be knotted up in a ball. Try to separate the branches so that they can spread once they?re in the ground.

Dig a hole in the plant bed that?s roughly the same size at the roots. Set the flower in the hole, sprinkle enough soil around the base to keep the flower upright. Moisten the soil again and let your flower grow.

Planning for Next YearOrange-Red-Tulip

If you want ?perennial flowers to bloom in the spring like irises or tulips, you?ll need to plant the bulbs in the fall.

If you want to have a flower ready to plant on Plant a Flower Day 2015, start your indoor seeding at the end of February ? it takes about a month for the seeds to sprout.

Growing a Garden: Six Steps to Eating Your Own Fruits and Vegetables

With all the interest in healthier eating, many people want to grow?fruits and vegetables in their own backyards. Having your own supply at your fingertips can help you save money and increase your cooking options; you can also make tending your garden into a family activity. Although it may sound daunting, starting your own garden isn’t that difficult.

Here are some good vegetable and fruit selections for the first-time backyard gardener.

Salad Greens

LettuceGrowing your own salad greens like lettuce, spinach, arugula, mustard green, or kale doesn’t require a garden plot; you can grow a nice selection of greens in containers, pots, or window boxes, too. Using a quality potting mix is important. Greens grow well from seeds, and many garden shops offer seeds with a mix of greens for variety. Most will require some fertilizer when the plants are 4-6 inches tall. Since these are rapid-growing plants, you can often start harvesting leaves a few weeks after planting. Salad green plants can produce from spring until fall, giving your tasty salads for most of the year.

Tomatoes

New gardeners love tomatoes, but they’re popular with gardeners in many places where the citizens are health-conscious like Rancho Mission Viejo. There are many versions of slicing tomatoes and cherry tomatoes to choose from. Tomato plants can grow in containers like salad greens or in your yard but do need full sunlight and plenty of water. Seeds or transplants both can be used to start your tomatoes; as they grow, fertilizer, mulching, and staking can help your tomatoes reach their potential.

To control the plant growth and lower the risk of fungus, you’ll need to prune lower leaves and branches. The ripe tomatoes should be harvested twice a week during warm weather.

Radishes

Radish A less common choice for your first garden would be the radish. These root vegetables are easy to grow and grow very fast in a few weeks. These can grow in containers or in a garden plot; however, they do thrive in cool seasons so you should plant them in the spring and fall. A lot of sunlight is key for these plants. Without it, they’ll grow bigger leaves and fewer vegetables. Radishes will deteriorate if they’re harvested in a timely fashion; you can also take the radish greens for salads, as well.

Green Beans

Green beans are also popular for the first-time gardener. Some beans grow as vines and will need a support system while others may grow as a bush. Green beans also grow during the warm months and need full sunlight and significant amounts of water. When the plants bloom, there will be bees and other insects to help with the pollination. During this time, you should avoid using too much pesticide that might interfere with this process. Green beans can be harvested between 50 and 80 days after planting.

Strawberries

StrawberriesAnother fruit that can work for the home gardener is the?strawberry. ?These are spreading plants that send out runners that can take up a lot of space. However, you can grow them in confined spaces like hanging containers, boxes, or pots. No matter where you plant them, you have to make sure they can get full sunlight. If you use a portable container, you can move the plant around to maximize sun exposure or protect from harsh weather. Strawberry plants can produce fruit for several years.

Herbs

Safe choices for your first garden are herbs like basil, rosemary, coriander, or dill. Many herbs are easy to grow and can be used in a number of dishes and even with your new vegetables. Herbs can be grown in pots, containers, or in your garden plot. Most herbs need to be in areas with good drainage because they don’t grow well in wet soil. You can plant several types of herbs in the same garden; however, some like mint will overgrow your garden.

Of course, your location will influence what items you can grow. But if you take care of your growing garden ? no matter your location ? you can be eating as well as any community. To improve your health and give your kitchen a kick, start your own garden.

Items We Adore: LTD Product Picks For The Week

silhouette garden planterWe see clearer skies and warmer days ahead, so today?s picks are all about your garden! It?s time to start thinking about the best ways to get things blossoming this year, and LTD Commodities can help! Here are our weekly picks for items to spruce up your garden this spring!

Silhouette With Wagon Planter

Set the right tone in your garden with this perfectly adorable silhouette with wagon planter! You can choose from either a boy riding a tractor or a girl with a bonnet pulling the wagon. You simply attach the silhouette to the planter and it looks like he or she is pulling your planter! We love the cute nostalgic charm this planter brings to the garden, and think everyone should have one on his or her spring decorating list!

Solar Metal Garden Birds

Want to get a little tropical in the yard without resorting to plastic flamingos? How about these cute solar metal garden birds instead? You have the choice of a cool blue peacock or a warm coral flamingo, both with glowing orbs that run on solar power! The panels save up the sunlight during the day, and then the solar power is used to light the orbs at night. This is the perfect addition to gardens that do a lot of evening entertaining!

Boy & Girl on Bench Garden Statue

We just had Valentine?s Day, but how cute is this bench garden statue? Reminiscent of the old Precious Moments knick-knacks, this statue is a cute addition to any garden d?cor. This detailed statue is durable cold cast ceramic, so it will surely outlast every plant in your garden! Set it up near your flowerbeds for the perfect effect.

Hanging Animal Bird Feeders

Do you like the sound of birds chirping in your garden? Are you always trying to feed your feathered friends? Whether you?re a bonafide bird-watcher or not, these great hanging bird feeders are perfect for every bird lover. Coming in a number of different animal shapes, including a frog, fish, and ladybug, these great feeders add the perfect touch of fun to any garden design.

Pocket Hose Ultra

Now that we?ve got the garden d?cor items covered, it?s time to talk about function! We love this pocket hose, which is available in both 50-foot and 75-foot versions. This clever hose features and expanding accordion design, so it fits perfectly in small spaces, but expands when in use. Made from rubber, nylon, and plastic, it is stronger than traditional hoses, and never kinks or knots while you?re trying to use it! When the dry summer weather arrives, you?ll be so glad you ordered one of these!

7 Ways to Get Your Garden Ready For Spring Now

gardenFor many of us, blizzards and snow days abound, with what seems like no end in site. It may feel like the longest winter of all time, but spring is just around the corner! Look at this as a few extra weeks to add a few garden accessories, and make sure your garden is in order for spring. Here are seven tips to prepare your garden for the season of growth!

1) Start a Compost Bin

If you don?t already have one, now is the perfect time to get a compost bin started. You want a balanced mix between yard waste and food scraps. If your yard is barren right now, just get a bin going with food scraps and twigs, and ask for a little hay from a farmer nearby. Be sure to follow the best practices for composting to ensure you have the proper balance.

2) Check Soil Quality

Compost is always a beneficial addition to your garden, but it?s also important to test the quality of your soil to make sure you can grow a garden. Give it a little tilling to add some oxygen to the soil, and check for rocks and hard clay. You can even toss some small vegetables scraps in the actual garden.. Make sure you till it regularly to ensure the decomposition of the pieces, and consider adding a few worms to speed up the process.

3) List and Research Preferred Plants

Whether you?re a pro or a beginner, you probably know that not all plants grow in all climates, so before starting the garden each year or incorporating any new plants, it?s always a good idea to do a little research. Make a list of all the plants you want to grow, and turn it into a chart with sizes, plant spacing, potential pests, amount of sunlight, and times to plant and harvest. It?s never a good idea to just throw a few seeds around an already established garden without at least doing a little research.

4) Make A Blueprint

Now that you know what you want to grow, it?s time to really organize how your garden will look. Sure, last year?s haphazard garden was probably beautiful and great, but that doesn?t mean it was perfectly organized or reasonably spaced. Since you still have a few weeks to go, you?ve got plenty of time to make sure your garden is organized efficiently. Find out which vegetables will fight, and which will grow harmoniously; then space them accordingly. There are lots of amazing tricks for pairing flowers with vegetables to control pests. Got aphids eating your broccoli? Maybe you should plant some dill, marigolds, or calendula. These plants attract aphids to their natural predators, keeping them away from your dinner!

5) Modify and Renovate

If you found that last year?s garden had a few mistakes, adjust them now before the season starts! Build a raised bed for better drainage, add a fence to keep animals out, or buy a beautiful trellis for tomatoes and other vine-like plants. Add a few aesthetic or practical touches that will make this year?s garden the most beautiful yet.

6) Plant a Few Seeds

Yep, you might actually be able to plant a few seeds right now, depending on your climate. It?s February, which means many types of wintry leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard, and lettuces will do very well in moderate climates. Pay attention to your average temperature, then to a little research on your area and zones to figure out what you can plant now.

7) Start Plants Indoors

If you?re living in a frozen tundra and still scraping ice off your car every morning, planting a few seeds outside right now might be jumping the gun a bit. Instead, start a few favorite plants indoors. It?s always a good idea to have a portable herb garden to ensure you have fresh herbs year-round. Start with something small that fits 3-5 herbs, and just move the entire box outside when it?s warm, or transport the roots when it?s planting time. You can normally start several plants indoors as well, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant. You?ll be ready for salad season in no time!

Image Source: Care2

Everyone Needs a Gnome

It?s time to start thinking about your 2014 spring gardening plans, and what better way to jumpstart your motivation than with a post about garden statues? More specifically, we?re talking about cute little garden gnomes that take care of business and guard the garden and stuff. Everyone needs a gnome, and here?s why!

They?re Adorable

Well this is just a fact. Garden gnomes, happy, sad, and mischievous, are cute and funny little creatures, and everyone should have one! They watch over your plants, monitor your vegetables, and do absolutely nothing about the weeds. What more could you ask for in a gardener? Seriously, put one of these in the lap of your cranky kid and see what happens.

patriots NFL gnomes

The Super Bowl is Coming

Wouldn?t you like to display four happy little gnomes spelling out your favorite team?s name? Whether your team remains in the Super Bowl running or not, football season isn?t over until the big game, so keep on showing that team spirit! But seriously, what better way to display your pendant than between two gnomes? Even if you don?t put fan gnomes in the garden, they need to be seen by as many people as possible, so please be sure to use them as the centerpiece on your game day snack table. Thanks.

They Are Instant Friends

How could you ever be lonely with these little guys running around your garden? Well, maybe not running, or interacting, or actually doing, but they?re there, and you can have as many one-sided conversations with them as you want. We do suggest heightening the hedge you share with your neighbors if you decide to have regular chats with the gnomes.

grumpy gnome

They Help You Avoid People?

Okay, so you don?t always want friends around. Let?s face it; there are times when you really don?t want anything to do with anyone at all. This friendly little grumpy gnome can help. With a solar-powered ?Go Away? sign, your neighbors will leave you alone both day and night!

 

They Make Life More Fun

And really, that?s what it?s all about, right? A garden gnome is a great addition to your outdoor d?cor. Need a conversation at a BBQ? Garden gnome. Need a babysitter for your dandelions? Garden gnome. Want a distraction for an awkward silence? Garden gnome. So find a gnome you love and welcome it into your garden!