Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 18 - Thankful For

...a little sunshine and blue skies this morning, even though the forecast was for rain all day. It's now afternoon and the clouds are rolling in, but this morning it was so nice to see the sun. It's still been really cold today, but the sunshine made it all worth while.

November 17 - Thankful for

Today I am thankful for Dom's good health.

It has been a bit of a rough road lately, especially since last June when we were told he had Atrial Fibrillation. But since the cardioversion was done, he is doing so much better. Every day I see him getting stronger and getting more like his old self. It is so wonderful to see the engery coming back and knowing that he is feeling better each and every day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 16 - Thankful for...

Today I'm thankful that I got to talk to my grandson and find out that he had a really good day. It was his first day at his new school since moving to Alaska a week ago. He sounded happy and excited about his teacher, his class and the friends he has already made.

I'm so thankful that Aiden loves school and is such a good student. He really enjoys learning new things and doing school work. He is such a good boy.

I love you Aiden and hope you have a wonderful school year! Keep calling grandma and let me know how your day is going.

PS: I know he looks sad in this picture, but he's really not. He just hates me always taking pictures of him. This is a very rare recent photo where he is actually NOT covering up his face or hiding from my camera. Got to love him!

New Class - Holidays in Hand

Today I started a new class on called Holidays in Hand. Tara and I are both taking this class and I'm really excited about it. We will be making a holiday album for this year as well as getting and staying organized throughout the holiday season. I think it's going to be fun!

Our first assignment is to make a list of our holiday goals for this year, so here goes...

2009 Holiday Goals

1. Get into the holiday spirit earlier and more intensely.

It seems like every year it is harder and harder for me to get into the holiday spirit. With just me and Dom here at the house it is hard to maintain that "festive" spirit. Putting up holiday decorations just seems to be a bother instead of a joy with nobody really here to enjoy them.

I need to do this even if it is just for the two of us.

2. Get Christmas cards made and mailed early.

Last year I had the cards made and ready to mail before Thanksgiving. I have barely started them so far this year. In fact, I think I only have 5 made so far and about 30 more to go. I also need to get my mailing list done. I lost my list from years past when my computer crashed, so I'm starting over from scratch.

My goal is to have all this done no later than December 1.

3. Have all gifts bought and wrapped by one week before Christmas.

This will be a hard one because Dom is always wanting to put this off until the last moment. I must keep pushing to get everything bought and wrapped early so the week before Christmas is completely free from these tasks.

Gifts going to Alaska need to be bought and mailed by December 1.

4. Make a Holiday Album documenting our activities this year.

I have already been thinking about doing this and in fact bought an album to use for this purpose last July when Ali Edwards mentioned it on her website. This class will be just what I need to make sure I reach this goal.

Those are my goals for this I must stay focused and accomplish them all!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More Pictures from my Jessica Sprague Class

I'm finally getting around to sharing the rest of my photos from the class I took at you thought I'd forgotten about this...but in reality I just got a little busy with my granddaughter being born and then doing Dom's party. So better late than never, I'm going to finish getting these photos blogged!

Day 11 - Selective/Spot Recoloring. I did not take this photo, but I have always liked it, even though it was kind of blurry and I hoped that someday I would be able to do something like this with it. Finally I learned how to do this. First I changed the whole photo to black & white then erased the black & white from the glasses, letting the color show through. Now the reflection of the campsite really stands out in the photo...really love how it turned out! Added a black frame and a little text using the Ali Edwards font and now what was just a blurry photo looks really neat. I love how it turned out and the fuzziness of the photo just adds to the effect. I think this was one of my favorite lessons from this class, I've always wanted to know how to do this.
Day 10 we did an entire project from start to finish using the techniques that we had learned in the previous classes. I love this picture I took of Aiden while we were camping at Cove Palisades earlier this summer. On this copy I added a couple textures to the picture then erased the textures from around Aiden making him glow and stand out from the rest of the picture. The Jessica showed us how to make a rounded corner frame for it and add the word art/journaling spot, customizing the text.

Day 9 was all about adding an edge burn to a photo making your main subject stand out from the background. This will be very useful, I love how it turns out.

This first picture is one that was taken by one of the nurses in the operating room when Skyla was born. this is the original picture. (I did this photo after I finished the class, but I think it really shows how this techniqe works.
Now the same picture after applying the edge burn technique.

How great is that? Now Chad and Skyla really stand out from the busy background of the operating room.

This next picture is the actual photo that I did for Day 9 of the class using the same technique that I used on the picture of Chad and Skyla. This is a picture of Aiden at the rehearsal for Chad and Melissa's wedding June 6, 2008.

There are just a couple more photos that we did in class. I will share them with you soon. They involved making storyboards and collages using combinations of different techniques covered in the class.

I've also got to get Skyla's birth much to get caught up on here!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dom's Birthday Party Saturday July 25, 2009

Pictures from Dom's birthday party:

The little kids playing in the pool Carla and Pep brought and set up in the backyard. Pictured: Gracie, Joey and Aiden.

Dom opening his gifts with McKenzie in the background.

Mark and Donnie...and that's little Skyla that Uncle Mark is holding, she doesn't look too sure about him.Looking down the table towards Dom. That is Aiden in the sunglasses on his left and Bob Lavoie barely made it in the picture on the bottom right corner.Andrew and Jeremiah eating dinner, you can also get a partial view of Aiden on the right side of the picture.
Another shot of the dinner table, I was so busy I didn't get very many pictures but did make sure I took some after everyone had gotten their food and were sitting down. I wasn't in my "photographer" mode, so I must apologize for the lack of good pics...sometimes you just got to go with whatever you get. In the picture above you have a close up of Tara and Andrew, above them are Jeremiah, Elaine, Bob Lavoie's daughter, then Dom at the head of the table. On the right side of the photo are Chad and Bonnie.
Now looking down the table in the other direction from upper left and moving clockwise: Dom Jr., Carla, Kylee, Mike, Ken Gemma, Laura, McKenzie, Tara and Andrew (in the blue shirt).
Another shot of the table with Jake, Bonnie's great-nephew in the foreground. Everyone else is shown and named in the other pics.

What we ate:

I fixed turkey sandwiches and bbq beef sandwiches along with 8 salads. It was a hot day and salads just sounded good to me. (Of course, not everyone else agreed with my menu choices, most people in Dom's family think salads are not things to be eaten, especially our grandkids from that side. I can say, my side of the family loved the food I prepared this year.)

The salads I prepared were:
  1. Crunchy Napa Cabbage Slaw (this was a really good slaw, one of the best of had, but you need to really watch how much cilantro you put in, it can get a little spicey!)
  2. Spinach-Blackberry Salad (this was a little unusual, but surprisingly good I used marionberries from our yard and shaved parm cheese)
  3. Romaine and Mandarin Orange Salad (I really liked this, the poppy seed dressing was great! I'm glad I have lots left over and I was even able to send some home with Chad and Melissa since Chad really liked the dressing too!)
  4. Greek Tortellini Salad (I added black olives, and chopped hard salami, didn't add the spinach leaves, added chopped basil leaves instead - this seemed to be a crowd favorite - the lemony vinegrette was really good)
  5. Cucumber/tomato/green onion salad with balsalmic vinegar dressing (my own recipe that I have been making for years, a real favorite with several people in our family. So glad our own onions were ready to be picked for this, they add such a great flavor to the salad.
  6. Bruschetta in a bowl: tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and croutons tossed and dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (got the idea from #42 here).
  7. My own homemade potato salad that I have been making for years.
  8. Fruit salad with watermelon, honeydew melon, red seedless grapes and green seedless grapes.
For dessert we had our usual marionberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream and brownies.

Guest List:

Dom (the birthday boy, celebrating 75 years!)
Me (the party planner, caterer, all around slave)
Mike, Laura, McKenzie & Kylee
Dom Jr., Carla, Grace & Joey (backyard pool provider)
Miah (general last minute helper, thanks so much!)
Lissa, Chad (my sous chef, such a big help!), Aiden & Skyla (star of the party at just 5 days old)
Bonnie (my other sous chef, ice provider, table provider, general helper & baby holder) & Jake (all around helper) Matt...(MIA, but he will be available on August 25!)
Bob & Joyce Lavoie (Dom's golfing buddy & his wife)
Skyler & Elaine (Bob's daughter and her husband, another golfing buddy of Dom's)
Ken Gemma (so glad he could make it this year)
Mark & Donnie Anderson (thanks to Donnie for helping with the cleanup!)
Andrew & Tara Hagman (thanks so much guys! Andrew washed ALL the dishes and Tara did most of the after party cleanup! not to mention Andrew mowed the entire pasture on Thursday so it would look nice for the guys are wonderful!)
Jeremy and Penny Anderson (so wonderful to see you...thanks for making the long drive for the day)

It was a good day, but I'm glad it is over for another year!

Monday, July 13, 2009

More Class Assignments

While looking around my gallery from the class I'm taking (see blog entry below) I discovered a photo I photoshop'd from Lesson 3 that I haven't shared here yet. This was a bonus project from Day 3 where we desaturated a photo, hand tinted it, added a frame and then added some stars to the background with the brush tool.
I used another picture from the photo shoot with Melissa (BTW, we are still waiting for Skyla's birth, Lissa is more anxious than the rest of us for this all to be over with and have Skyla in our arms at last!)

Okay, on with my pics from the class.

Day 5 Textures

Things are really getting pretty amazing now. I'd never worked with textures before. They give
a sort of 3D look to your photos which can make your pics look old and crumpled to contemporary and even make them look like they are printed on bubble wrap, depending what texture you use. Again, Jessica directed us to lots of free texture files you can download off the web.

The first photo I worked with was one Mino took in old town Conversano while we were in Italy in 2006.
I changed the photo to Sepia, did some other adjustments to it and then added a texture, which really gives it an old look. (See what looks like a crease in the center of the photo and the crumpled look around the edges? That is the texture layered over the photo.)

The next pic is also from our trip to Italy. It is a photo of all the umbrellas and people on the beach in Calabria. Doesn't it look like a really old photo now?
Then I did one more photo from our trip. This time I also used some color-tinting and added a frame to the photo. I also added a brush stamp and then text tool to add in the date.

My final picture from day 5 is a picture that I took of the hibiscus on our front porch, again using just about everything we had learned up to this point in the class.

Very fun class and I'm so excited to finally be learning more about using my photoshop elements program.

Day 6 - TTV

I had never heard of this before, but really good photographers are doing what are called TTV photos. TTV stands for through the viewfinder. In a nutshell, they are hooking their digital cameras up to really old cameras through the viewfinder on the old camera and taking pictures with their digital cameras. (Sounds complicated, and if you want more info there is lots of it out on the web.) Anyway...people are making texture templates to be used in photoshop that will give your photos this look without all the hassle of hooking your digi camera up to an old camera when you are taking a picture. On Day 6 of the class we learned how to add these textures to our photos. Very, very interesting look.
I used a photo that I took at the wedding shop of Melissa when she found her "dream" dress for her wedding. The texture I added to the photo makes it look like the photo was taken through the view finder of a really old camera. Then I added a brush stamp to the lower left corner of the photo and a little text to the lower right.

Day 7 of the class was just a Q&A of all the things we had learned the first week, which was an awful lot of stuff to remember. I'm so glad I will always have access to these course materials so I can go back and refresh my memory on all this stuff!

Day 8 Text

Up to this point we had just been working with simple text on our photos. In this lesson we learned how to add adjustment layers and textures to our text.

I used a photo I took on our trip to the Superstition Mountains in Arizona adding texture to the photo and to the word "time". Then I layered the words "standing still" over the first word, added a sanded overlay to the edges of the photo and layered a "negative" frame on the top.

So now my blog is up-to-date on all that I have been learning from this class and I'm anxiously waiting to discover what Day 9 will bring!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

More Pictures

So I've found a few more minutes before we go to meet family for dinner at Olive Garden to share my pictures from one more of my classes.

Day 4: Clipping Masks
This was an easy lesson, but so effective. I can see wanting to apply masks to just about every photo.

Before applying the mask:

I had this great picture of Chad, Lissa and Aiden. They came out to the house last Monday for dinner and so we could take some "9th month belly pictures." We had a great evening and I took lots of pictures, hoping to get a few really good shots. This is one of my favorite shots, so sweet, a happy family waiting for their newest addition.

And this is after applying the clipping mask. It was so easy to do once I knew the right tools to use and in the correct order. I also cropped the picture a little bit, should have brightened it up also, but I didn't. It has a kind of soft look that I kind of like. In case you don't know, the clipping mask adds the soft, grungy look to the edges of the photo. (At least that's what this one does. It all depends on what clipping mask you use. Different ones will give your photo different looks. Wait until you see the clipping mask I used in Lesson 6!

That's it for now, got to go get changed to go to dinner.

Jessica Sprague Photoshop Class

Haven't been blogging much lately, but I have been busy! I've been taking another Jessica Sprague online class. This one is called Photo Editing: Frame-ups and Special Effects. If you have Photoshop, you really should take some of her classes, she is an amazing instructor and all the information from every class you register for is available to you forever so you can always go back and revisit any of the instructions. After owning Photoshop Elements 6 for about a year and never really knowing how to work it I finally took her class "Up and Running" and actually began exploring the possibilities of this wonderful program. It was the best money I have ever spent. The class I'm currently taking is actually being offered for free! It is wonderful and all you have to do is register and then all the class materials are available to you. I'm learning some amazing things that PSE6 can do to my photos, so I thought I would share my class work here on my blog. (Just in case there is actually anyone reading my blog, prepare to be amazed.)

Lesson 1: Adding a frame and wordart to a photo. Pretty basic stuff. This is a picture I took of Gracie at Black Butte a couple years ago. Thought she looked pretty "Sassy" here. Of course she often looks "sassy" and occasionally even sounds a little "sassy" but she really is a sweetheart and one of my favorite photo subjects. In fact I have almost 8 favorite photo subjects. I say "almost" because Skyla's due date is today, but she has not made her appearance yet.

Lesson 2: Again some basics using brushes. I love brushes, they are like digital rubber stamps and so much fun to work with. This is a fun photo I took of Gracie and Joey at a wedding we went to in Hood River last
month. Gracie was the flower girl and Joey was the ring bearer. At least they said he was a ring bearer, actually he just carried a football down the aisle, no rings in sight. Guess they thought the rings were safer with the best man.

Lesson 3: Things really start getting interesting now! Today we worked with creating a vintage, hand-tinted look on a modern photo. This gives a really neat effect, so I' going to show you my before and after photos:

Here's what I started with, a great shot of Melissa, Chad and Aiden waiting for Skyla.

And this is what I ended up with:

Pretty neat, huh? I need to get a little more aggressive with the hand tinting thing, it doesn't show really well, but I hand tinted Aiden's hat...should have used a stronger color so it would be more obvious, but I kind of like the subtle look also.

Well that's it for now, I've got 3 more lessons to share but I've run out of time for blogging so you will have to check back later for further updates! LOL

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blog Entry from the past

Today I was looking around another website that I used to go to quite often and I came across this blog entry that I had written in December of 2007. It is a memory that I want to keep so I've copied it over to my blog. It was interesting to me how making things here at home always seem to bring back so many memories of my mom, just like my previous blog about making jam with my girls, this little homemade gift also brought memories of my mom. I want to keep these memories and pass the on to my children and grandchildren.

the following Blog entry was written December 21, 2007:

I always try to make something a little different for my oldest brother for Christmas, this is what I came up with this year. It is one of those unfinished wood boxes (8 x 8 and about 2 inches deep). I started by painting the top the bright pink. Over that I tried some of that Tim Holtz one-step crackle paint in a denim blue color. It was the first time I had tried this product, and it does work, you just have to make sure you put it on really thick. I got it too thin in most places so when it did crackle, it was a very fine crackle. Once that had dried I went over the top with one of my distressing ink pads to emphasize the crackle effect a little more. Next I started to decorate the box. Used a Heidi Swapp clear stamp to stamp the word "Play" then cut around the stamped image with a craft knife. Mounted that on some paper and adhered it to the top of the box. It still looked a little plain so I started layering different rub ons until I had a look that I liked. Wrapped some pink and blue striped ribbon around the sides of the box and the outside was complete. Just a couple thin layers of decopage medium over the entire out side, let that dry and moved on to the inside. (I really like to decopage over the ribbon on projects like this. It helps keep the ribbon securely in place and also keeps any ends from fraying.

Since I wanted to keep the unfinished wood look on most of the box, the inside was rather easy. Just cut a piece of printed paper to the correct size and adhered it into place on the inside of the top. Next I cut a soft pink piece of Bazzill cardstock to the correct size and started measuring out the lines for my gameboard. Some Mrs Grossman's Design Lines from my stash made the perfect Tic Tac Toe grid on the cardstock, once that was done I just adhered the gameboard into the bottom of the box.

Instead of the usual Xs and Os, the game pieces are pictures of my brother and his wife mounted on DCWV Glitter cardstock and covered with 1" page pebbles. Made 5 of each and my little homemade gift is ready to go.I think my brother is going to love this, especially the fact that you play the game with pictures of him and his wife. I can just imagine his grandkids coming over and arguing about who gets to be G'ma and who gets to be G'pa!

When I'm making gifts for my brothers at Christmas I can't help thinking of when we were kids. With 6 of us children, things were always tight around this time of year. My mother would start working on making us gifts months ahead of time and was always so creative with what she came up with and how she would get them all made in secret with all us kids around. She could work on my brother's and sister's gifts while they were at school, but with me being the youngest, I was always at home with her. One of my favorite memories was the year when I was about 4 or 5 and she made me a stuffed doll with this beautiful yellow yarn hair and a complete wardrobe. For weeks before Christmas I watched her make this doll and all these wonderful clothes that she told me was for my cousin for Christmas, and my mother never lied to us kids. I was so jealous that my cousin was going to get this wonderful gift. You can't imagine my surprise on Christmas morning when I unwrapped my gift and found that wonderful doll. Come to find out my mother had actually been making two dolls, not just one, for all those weeks. One for my cousin and one for me.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Strawberry Jam

Wednesday Carla and Melissa came out to the house with their kids so we could make jam and the cousins could play together. Of course, the kids ended up helping us with the jam. It was a great afternoon full of sticky goodness! After a little while helping in the kitchen the kids were out the door to run around and play while we got jam made for our families. It was a good thing we planned on Wednesday to do this! When we went down to Olson Farms to pick up the strawberries we were told that this was the next to last day they would have fresh berries available. We cut it close to not getting our jam for this year. We made up 3 flats of berries, one flat for each of our homes and we each got about a dozen jars to put in our freezers for the next year. We will have to make this an annual event, it is so much easier to work together than to do it by ourselves. Throughout the day I found myself thinking about how I used to "put food by" with my mom. She always insisted that the whole family had to help. Now I realize how more hands make the chore easier and go faster. I also realize how it is important for us to make these memories for our children and grandchildren. I really want to continue this as a tradition for our family and to always let the kids be involved. It is one more way of making good childhood memories for them. It also builds lasting bonds between us women. It really meant a lot to me to be working in the kitchen with my daughter and daughter-in-law making something that all our families will enjoy throughout the coming year.

This morning I sat at my computer and threw together this quick digital scrapbook page to document our day together making strawberry jam. The pictures on this layout show the progression of our day starting with a dish of fresh berries to Carla and Gracie cleaning them in the sink. Then there is Aiden stirring the jam while Lissa jars up the finished jam. Then I show the finished product, ready to go in the freezer along with a picture of Joey with a jam smile after biting into a piece of bread covered with fresh strawberry jam.

Monday, June 22, 2009

So we went camping

Last Monday we left for the Cove Palisades to go fishing and camping with Chad and Melissa. Surprisingly this was all Dom's idea, surprising because he hates camping but he loves fishing and it is difficult to do a couple days of fishing without camping (at least where he likes to fish). So, we went camping...
I really had a great time. It has been a long while since I spent real quality time with Melissa and it was wonderful having these days to visit and get to know each other again. I was impressed with how well she did "roughing" it with the baby due in just three weeks, but she was great! Of course we did have the perfect campsite, close to the bathrooms and just next to the playground which made life for a pregnant mama fairly easy. Aiden could go play with all his new friends at the playground whenever he wanted and we could watch him from anywhere in our campsite. Pretty convenient! Here's a picture I took from our campsite of Melissa and Aiden playing tether ball at the playground. This was a really nice playground and Aiden being Aiden instantly met new friends from families that were camping near us.

All in all I thought it was a great week at the cove...Sr. enjoyed the fishing but pretty much dislikes everything else about camping. It was wonderful spending time with Lissa, Aiden and Chad and it is always good to get away for a little while.
Chad and Melissa out on the boat while Dom was heading to another fishing spot.

Aiden fishing while Papa watches.

Aiden and Lissa on a walk.

Aiden at the swimming hole with friends he met at the playground at the camp.

Our glad we had this time together!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Baby Shower

Sunday June 14 we had the baby shower for Melissa out at our house. The shower was hosted by Tara and Piper, they did a wonderful job! I was just looking through the pictures from the day and I'm so pleased with how everything turned out. Melissa seems so happy and healthy, pregnancy really looks good on her. Here are a few of my favorite shots from her special day.
Doesn't Lissa look so happy? She handles pregnancy really well.

The mountain of gifts for baby Skyla...she is already one very loved little girl!

Such a colorful display!

It was such a great baby shower for Lissa and the new baby!

Her due date is July 12...but they are hoping Skyla will be born on 07-08-09!
Whenever she decides to make her appearance, she will be very well loved!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Our Kindergarten Graduate

Wednesday June 10, 2009 Aiden graduated from Kindergarten at Daniel Grout Elementary School in Portland, Oregon. So proud of my little man! What's really special is this is the same school his mother went to.
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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Seal Rock

Last Saturday we headed to the Coast to visit with Barb and Glen. The weather on Saturday was pretty grey and drizzly, typical Oregon Coast weather, but Sunday it was only partially cloudy and the temp was in the 60s. After golfing, lunch in Waldport, making strawberry jam, and helping in their yard, Barb and I finally were able to get down to the beach for a short walk in the early evening. I got some great photos, like this one of the sun just before it sunk behind the bank of clouds on the horizon. We had a wonderful visit, played some Mexican trains and enjoyed the wonderful view of Ona Beach State Park from their front deck.