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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday

There are lots of people shooting great shadows as part of Harriet's Shadow Shot Sunday. Click here to see their photos.
Here are a couple of my shadows to enjoy this Sunday.

This first one is of a small statue that sits in my flowerbed . . .

and this shadow is formed by the ironwork post holding up my front porch.
Finally, here is one I took at the Alligator Farm last weekend. I love the shape of the shadows that the branches make on the ground by the peacocks.
Saturday, June 27, 2009

Round Robin--WIldlife

For this challenge, the theme is "wildlife". Our instructions were: "Anything that fits." (you can check out the other Robins over here) Well, given my recent trip to the Bayou Pierre Alligator Farm, I had a few that fit this topic. Since these were taken at a farm, I'm not sure that the gators are technically considered "wild". But, once you see them lunge after a few pieces of meat, any question in that area is pretty much cleared up. Of course, the birds were wild---and kept a healthy distance away from the gators! But, this one is my favorite of all! This dragonfly looks like she is smiling as she stands on her head, high above the gators' heads! Pretty wild!
Friday, June 26, 2009

Red, White and Blue

Red, White and Blue,
Red, White and Blue,
This is our flag.
(When Callie and Jana were little, this is the patriotic song that they sang each morning in preschool. Of course, that means that they also marched around the house singing it on a regular basis. )

This morning was the annual Red, White and Blue celebration at our neighborhood elementary school. This is the only school in our city that is a "year-round" school, so this celebration also marks the end of the school year for students and teachers. Many neighbors bring their lawn chairs to the front lawn of the school to hear the fourth graders sing and recite patriotic lines. The entire school sits on the front driveway and there is usually a brief speaker---this year our new superintendent. Here are a couple of my favorite little preschoolers, decked out for the occasion in their new sunglasses.Unfortunately, the temperatures were already near triple digits in the morning when we brought the preschoolers out to find their spots on the front row. Soon, we were all drenched in sweat. But, despite the heat, once again I got goosebumps as the crowd stood to sing "I'm Proud To Be An American". Happy Birthday, America---a little early.

The Digital Age

I've spent the little bit of free time I've had this past week learning the basics of Photoshop for the use of editing photos. I learned SOO much and it was really fun. I took tons of notes and of course, the lessons are available to me at any time, so I can always refer back to them if I need help.

As part of Jessica's "Birthday Bash", she has been offering lots of freebies, too. My daughter, Jana, studied design in school and mastered digital scrapbooking quite some time ago. Each time I see one of her layouts, I'm always so amazed at her talent! I'm still a paper scrapbooker because I love the textures of the real thing. But, I've been sort of intrigued with the digital process.

Today, I noticed that Jessica offered a mini-tutorial with a free layout, so I decided to stick my toe into the water and see what it is all about. It was so fun!! I can certainly see how this could become another crafting addiction very quickly! For me personally, I will probably stick to paper crafting, but I definitely will use some of the techniques learned in some of my layouts. Here's my finished layout (template compliments of
Now, I think I'll see if I can figure out how to spruce up the lettering on my Blog Header!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Photo Editing

I finally signed up for a Photo Editing class using Photoshop. I purchased the Adobe Creative Suite when I bought my computer, but haven't taken the time to learn how to do much on Photoshop. I could change the size of a photo, but that's about it. When I was signing up for Jessica Sprague's free class yesterday, I decided to go ahead and take one of her other classes in preparation. It's been lots of fun and I'm really learning how to do it. The great thing about her online class is that if I ever get stuck and can't remember how to do something, I can always refer back to the lessons because they will be available to me forever through her website. Pretty cool, huh?!

So, it's time to show you what I've learned. Yesterday I learned how to manually adjust a picture and to adjust a picture using RAW editor.
Here's a before picture----not a bad photo, but the colors were really WAY off:
And after correcting the colors, here is what the picture looks like:Today I learned how to convert the picture to B/W --- both automatically and manually (which produces a much more interesting picture) . . . Convert it to sepia . . . and colorize or add color tint to a picture.I've done a few of these using some automatic controls in some simple photo editing software, but there is so much more control doing it manually and these look so much better!! This class is so easy to follow---she really walks you through each step and allows you the opportunity to practice with both her samples and some of your own. I hope that completing this class will prepare me better for the free class on "brushes and frames" that is coming up.
Sunday, June 21, 2009


To my Daddy----I love you!

Shadow Shot Sunday

From yesterday's visit to the Alligator Farm---the grid on the floor is created by the shadow of the fence.
Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bayou Pierre Alligator Farm

Yesterday, I headed down south and picked up Dan from his group home. After lunch on the road, we visited the Bayou Pierre Alligator Farm. Despite the extreme heat, we had a GREAT time!!! We watched a couple of feeding shows . . .
Held a real alligator . . .
Fed Emus (from a distance as we quickly learned that they peck hard when they eat . . .
Took silly pictures . . .Saw turtles . . . And deer . . .
And, hey! What's going on here?? Oh, I see! Dan has food!!! We stopped at Wal-Mart on the way back to pick up some drinks for his house and some new clothes to take to Atlanta. Dan got back to his home just in time for dinner---hot, tired and happy.

Dan's favorite part----this sign. My favorite part----Dan!

New Bag

I've been coveting the camera bags over at Tracy Joy for quite some time now. I really had no need for one with my small point-and-shoot, but I still liked them. Now that I have a larger camera, I definitely need a better way to carry it than in my purse. Something fun and stylish, right?

While I love her bags and am sure that they are worth the price, given the workmanship involved, they are way out of my price range. So, I decided to combine a few features from various bags and make my own.

I used a heavy weight, black vinyl fabric for the body of the bag and a decorator-weight print for the flap. Like the bags pictured above, the flap is removable, so I can change it out as my heart desires. Here are a few pictures during the process.
And here's the finished product. I'm really pleased with how it turned out---in fact, I love it!! The only mess-up I had was that I sewed the strap adjusters on backwards. It would have been better the other way, but I decided against taking the thing apart to fix it because I think I can live with it just fine like this. This is not a padded bag, so I actually would eventually like to add a couple of separate drawstring bags for the camera itself and for lenses, but it's roomy enough inside to carry things from my purse, too (which will eliminate having to carry around 2 bags).

I'm hoping to create a tutorial soon, but right now, you'll have to excuse me. I need to go take some photos of Dan and the alligators
Friday, June 19, 2009

Backyard Overhaul

Earlier this week, when I was practicing with my new camera, I took these pictures. Emmi looks pretty cute and the colors are vivid. But, all I could see was what was BEHIND Emmi. When you get up closer, this is what you see--- A jungle!Every year since we moved here, I've battled this jungle. Several years ago, I got outside and worked so hard clearing the weeds and vines and digging a flowerbed. That summer, the area looked pretty good. But, since then I've waged a war with the Virginia Creeper, Ivy and even poison ivy. In the early spring, I usually make some sort of effort to clear it and kill it, using any kind of weed killer I can find. So far, nothing has been very effective. And this year I haven't gotten out there at all, so it has become a wild jungle.

But, wait! What's this out by the curb?Yep, the battle is on again! Today, two young men from my church came and worked out there for 4 hours! I kept Erick and Jamahl supplied with ice water, cokes and food-- (and $) and in return, this is what that area looks like now.Amazing, isn't it?!?!Emmi wasn't at all sure what to think about the transformation. In fact, she was pretty scared of the cement block that was uncovered. She wouldn't go near it until I went over and put something on top of it.I still have LOTS of work to do back there. Tonight I'll spray it once again with weed killer (while Emmi is safely inside) and hope that this time the stubborn weeds will die. After that, I'd like to cover it with landscape fabric and then a layer of mulch. Finally, I hope to put in some low-maintenance shrubs that will provide a little color and less work. Any suggestions for a north-facing bed in the deep south?

A Mystery

Since I didn't have to work much today, I was able to do a little bit of house-cleaning (in addition to killing time). Tucked away in the back of a cabinet was the accessory box that came with a vintage sewing machine. The machine itself is housed in a great old wooden cabinet and belonged to my Jim's grandmother, Roxie. She passed away 22 years ago and since I was the only one in the family who sewed, her husband, Claude gave me the cabinet and machine. The cabinet serves as my bedside table, and since I've never even used the machine, I stored the accessory box away and forgot about it a few years back.Before taking a load of things to Goodwill this afternoon, I decided to take a quick look inside the case to see if there were any great vintage sewing supplies. Not much there, except a few small sewing samples. It seems that the Slant-o-matic 500 was from the year 1961., which was of course, "the greatest sewing machine ever built."

As I was putting items back in the box, I noticed a piece of paper stuck to the bottom and upon turning it over, found this picture. Unfortunately, there is no information on the back so the identity of this beautiful lady is a mystery at this point. Could it be Roxie when she was young? I'm not sure, but intend to do some investigating to try to find out. Isn't she beautiful?!?!

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