Friday, April 29, 2011

Foto Friday – Symmetry

 

I’ll admit, this photo is BAD.  I didn’t run it through Photoshop at all, even though I’m having a great time experimenting with PS.  It’s blurry, and the color is just not ‘wow’.

BUT, what it lacks in quality, it makes up for in character. I took a progression of shots while Jack was running his race cars down the track so I could see who the winner is.  Those cars go SO fast, that I usually can’t tell who wins.  My new-ish camera has a super fast shutter capture speed –type setting that captures up to 34 frames per second.  It’s FAST!

All week I couldn’t come up with a good symmetry photo, so this is what I decided on at the last minute. It won’t impress you with its quality, but it may bring a smile to your face with its character.

Have a great weekend! I’m off to our annual Mom Retreat.  Can’t wait!!!!

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Purple is the winner!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I’ve Been Playing With Photoshop

I’ve been playing around with using Photoshop recently. I sneak in time to play before Jack wakes up and after he goes to sleep. 

Anything I know how to do on Photoshop I learned from a Youtube tutorial.  there are a ton out there.  I just searched “photoshop tutorial” (I’m a search engine expert)

I wish I had bookmarked any of the tutorials I found, but I didn’t.  I just watched it, paused, worked on my photo, played some more, paused it, worked on my photo…you get the idea.

I do have The Pioneer Woman’s free actions.  I really love them.  They have me on the hunt for other free actions – Rick would never let me pay for anything like that.  I’m also always watching out for ‘win free actions’ on various blogs.  I haven’t won anything yet.  But then again, I haven’t won PW’s camera giveaways either.  Or her pans.  Or her Kitchen Aid Mixers.  Why do I even bother?

On with this post….

I thought I’d share some of my pictures that I’ve edited and see what you think.  Feel free to be honest.  I won’t ever learn if I only hear “oh, that’s so nice” and “I like it!”  While those are nice to hear, they don’t help me to grow as an amateur photographer. 

So, be honest.  If you hate something, let me know (but be nice, I’m still human a woman) If you think I should try something else with a certain photo, let me know.  It’s all about helping me out. And, if I get comments that help me, I’m sure they’ll help other readers who take the time to read through my comments.

Thanks! (Get ready for a TON of pictures with as many explanations as I can remember)

This was just PW’s “Vintage” action

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This is my first attempt at trying out textures.  I probably used PWs “Warmer” action on both of these.

P4030116What do you think of this texture I added?  Thoughts please! :)  Come on and see the machines with me!!! 

P4130032what do you think of this?

This one with the marble was just a matter of brightening it up.  I used curves and “Define and Sharpen” from PW to tweek this one.   P4130114OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

This darling baby came to visit us last week (she brought her whole family) and I couldn’t resist taking pictures of her.  Look at those eyes!! I used PWs “Warmer” (my favorite) “B&W Beauty”, “Quick Edge Burn,” and “Seventies” on these. 

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And those rolls!!!And those rolls!!!And those rolls!!! 

This was a bad time and angle to shoot bird photos, but I tried to brighten it up with some auto adjustments and curves. I did the same thing with the plants. (Anyone know what those are?) 

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P4240101OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA           This was just the other night and I didn’t realize that Jack had food on his face when I took his picture.  So, I took that off, removed a stray eyelash on his cheek, and brightened his eyes.  This is why Rick says that Photoshop is unethical.  “It doesn’t truly represent what he looked like at that moment!”

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This was the first dandelion that my son ever gave me.  It was just last week.  I used “Warmer”, “Seventies”, “Quick Edge Burn,” and some curve adjustments to try to bring out the dandelion that is half washed out by the sun.

He's so sweet. He's so sweet.He's so sweet. He's so sweet.

This is the baby again with her big sister.  They match!!  I love their eyes.  I didn’t know how to fix this one, and I’m not sure I love the final results. 

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So, do you notice anything I’m constantly doing that you think is not nice?  Do you see one of these pictures and think “Oh, I totally would have done this instead!” Do you have any corrections or thoughts you’d like to share?  I’m all ears!

Thanks for taking the time to look through my photos. It’s fun to use Photoshop, but not very easy. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Click to Help

SmockityFrocks.com

 

Have you ever read that blog?  Well, if you have, hop on over quick and read about her huge family crisis that just came up last week.

If you haven’t read her blog before….hop on over and check her out.  Today’s post is about how her husband lost his job last week.  With 8 or so kids (I lost count), that is going to cause a LOT of cutbacks in their family. She’s sharing her plan with us and it sounds like it will help, but there is something we can do.

All traffic on her blog helps earn her money from her advertisers. (I’m not sure how it works, since I’m not dealing with advertisers.)  Also, if you are planning to buy something from Amazon soon, you can click to Amazon from her page and she’ll earn some revenue. 

In a time of crisis like this, it’s the least we can do to click over and read a few posts to help them out.  That’s what being part of the Blogging Community is all about – being able to help others, even if it’s just with a click of a button.

So, hop on over, read a few posts, hop to Amazon and buy whatever you were going to buy anyway.  It’ll help a family out for a while.

Thanks!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Foto Friday - Family

Today’s theme is FAMILY.

I have one of those!

And I love them.  

Here are my recent favorites of my boys:

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This was after a car ride.

 

And I attempted to take a family photo this past weekend while we were visiting a covered bridge.  The sun was so bright, and the setting was just so that….well….it turned out awful. Not to mention the subjects aren”t all cooperating.  All my Photoshop skills were put to work and I still came out with a pretty bad picture.  But I thought I’d share.  Maybe after a few more hours (and a few more Youtube video tutorials) I could get it to be a decent photo, but I’m not too worried about it.  I’ll get another family photo eventually.

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Feel free to hop on over to Mom Tried It and look at all the other Fotos fof families linked up today.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Egg Coloring

Tonight, I officially became a mom.

Well, maybe I’ve been a mom for a little more than 2 years, but I definitely entered another stage of Being a Mom. 

I colored Easter eggs with Jack tonight.  It’s a right of passage for all mothers.  I chose not to do it last year when he was 15 months simply because I was am too cheap and lazy.  I figured he wouldn’t know what he was missing yet anyway.

This year, I was excited to get a basket for him and color eggs with him. Being too cheap, I didn’t go for any fancy name brand dying kit.  I bought store brand food colors (liquid –which is hard to find these days) and some eggs.  Nothing more simple than that. I was ready to color eggs!

But this morning I realized I didn’t know how to dry the eggs after dipping them.  The fancy name brand boxes have holes that let you prop the eggs up to dry.  I knew putting them back in the carton would smudge up the color, and I was completely forgetting that I own 2 drying racks for baking that I could have used.  Duh! 

After an all-call to my Facebook friends, Dani, an old high school friend (also a mama to a 2 year old little SMARTIE sweetheart.  That little girl’s vocabulary blows Jack’s completely out of the water, and Jack’s pretty advanced for his age) suggested cutting up an empty toilet paper roll and prop the eggs on those little circles.  I remembered having just put a paper towel roll in the recycling, so I went ‘dumpster diving’ in my recycling bag and got the roll out to use.  I cut it up into 12 equal parts (that was totally by luck since I didn’t measure anything) and glued them together thinking that would give them more stability (and keep Jack’s little curious hands from grabbing them and throwing them all over the kitchen). 

Could I have used a few more parenthesis in that last paragraph?  (probably not)

Here’s what my ‘drying rack’ invention looked like and us getting started with the whole process.

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Where’d the eggs go?

After placing our first dyed egg onto a ring, I quickly realized that having them so close together wasn’t such a good idea.  I should have kept them separate from each other.  Oh well.  It worked just fine in the end.

Here is what our colored eggs looked like.  I think they turned out pretty good.  It’s easy as pie to do.  If you don’t know how, just put a tsp of vinegar in 1/2 cup of boiling water and then add as much food coloring as you want in the water.  I used a LOT of color, since the directions on the box said to add about half a bottle of coloring to the water.  That was too much in my opinion.

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Jack loved to see the colors as they came out of the water.  He was so excited about the white eggs changing to new colors. 

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I’m Crunchy (or) How I Save Money

I thought I’d put together a post about how I save money for my family.  It also happens to be a lot of ways I’m ‘crunchy’ or ‘green’.  I’ve gotten a few questions about how we’re able to live on one income, and I thought I’d share my techniques with you.  It’s not all amazing, and it’s not rocket science, but it’s what I do.  I shared some of these last year too.

When Rick and I got married 5 and a half years ago, he had a steady, well paying job,  and I had a steady, well paying job teaching and coaching.  We knew that when the time came to have babies, the plan was for me to quit my job and stay home to raise the kids.  I was all for it.  Though I loved my colleagues, coaching volleyball,  and the ‘light bulb’ moments that happened in the classroom and on the court, I didn’t especially love teaching anymore.  I was ready for a change.

Along came Jack, and I quit teaching and bringing home my paycheck.  We were now unable to save and spend as much as we used to.  So, how did we cut our budget to make one pay check go further?  Here are some of the things we do. 

*WARNING* some material may be unsuitable for men to read.  I’ll stick one of these (*) next to the items you may want to skip. 

No credit card debt. We paid off and closed every credit card we had.  All money now comes directly from our checking account.  

We paid off my van. Rick’s truck has been paid for since I met him almost 6 years ago.  So, not car payments for us.

No cable (no TV).  It was hard, but we got rid of the cable and bought converter boxes for both of our TVs.  Since then, one converter box has died and the other one may be dying as we speak.  The TV in the family room also died, so when we got rid of it, we didn’t replace it. *disclaimer: I did bring up a 13”, 20+year old TV from the basement to have something to play videos on for Jack.

*Breastfed for 15 months.  The whole time I was pregnant I prayed that I would be able to breastfeed.  After about 5 weeks of pain and torture, we did it!  No need to buy formula more than just one time in the first 2 weeks.

Cloth diapers.  We switched to cloth when Jack was 3 months.  I waited because I was nervous and it’s a lot of upfront money.  But, after spending less than $500 for a complete ‘system’, I haven’t had to put any more money toward diapering Jack for 2 years. *disclaimer: I go back and forth with using disposable wipes, and I did just buy 5 more diapers ($75) since first starting this post.

Cloth wipes (sometimes).  See previous disclaimer. Any time I do buy wipes, it’s in bulk at Costco.

Cloth napkinsI made them myself – which isn’t saying much.  It was basically practice for how to sew a straight line.  They work much better than paper.  I tried to do no paper towels, but I lost that battle.  I missed them when making bacon and cleaning up yucky messes.

Made all my own baby food.  I just steamed and pureed all my veggies and fruit, then froze them and stored them in little ice cube size servings in the freezer.  It wasn’t much more work than cooking for my family.

Homemade food (i.e. pizza, bread, buns, pancake mix, taco seasoning, cakes and brownies, pasta, syrup, granola, granola bars, cheese crackers, graham crackers, fudge pops) Whatever I can make myself, I do.  I get an amazing sense of pride whenever I figure out how to make something that is usually in a package from the store.  *disclaimer: Cheese crackers and graham crackers are time consuming, so I don’t always make those myself.

Wool dryer balls/ no dryer sheets. It’s not that exciting, but I made wool dryer balls to help fluff my clothes and cut drying time down a bit.  I can’t use dryer sheets with diapers anyway, so I thought I’d cut them out for all our clothes.  Vinegar in the rinse cycle also makes clothes super soft.

*I use the Diva Cup.  Holy cow do I love this thing!  I’ve converted one friend so far, and if you have ever thought about it and want some questions answered, I’d be happy to share!  I LOVE it. 

Here are a few things I’d like to try:

No Poo shampoo and condition with just water, baking soda and apple cider vinegar.  Sounds cheap, but there are mixed reviews out there.

Homemade detergent.  I have had success using my own detergent for the washing machine, but haven’t found a good detergent for the dishwasher.  Everything I try leaves behind a film.

Garden.  If we cut down some trees in our tiny back yard, we would have plenty of space to have a big garden (and nothing else –like room to play).  As it is now, we can plant some tomatoes and pepper in with our flowers and hope for the best.

*Mama Cloths.  I’d love to get some of these since I’m now using the Diva Cup and only need a pad a day as insurance for not leaking.  Since I already wash cloth diapers, I don’t think the laundering would be intimidating to me.  I just haven’t decided who to buy from and what I’m looking for.  But those combined with the Diva Cup will save So.Much.Money!

Whew!!!  That’s a lot!  I hope this helps some of you.  Maybe all you needed was one more idea to push you over the edge to becoming a SAHM, or maybe you got an idea for something you hadn’t already thought of doing. 

Let me know if there are other ways I can save money or if you have tried any or all of these ideas and how it’s going for you!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Under Construction

UPDATE:  Who wants to sit and take all my pictures from one host site and put them on another site?  Not me!!  So, I’m not doing anything about it.  From here on out, I’ll be using Picasa and not Flickr to host my photos.  The old pictures will stay where they are, so I don’t have to worry about loosing them any time soon.  I realize you didn’t need to know any of this.  Thanks for putting up with me.  Now, on to more riveting posts like “how I dry eggs after coloring them” and “I’m learning how to use my photoshop”  Riveting, I tell ya!!

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If you happen to pass by my blog in the next few hours/days/weeks, you may notice that my posts from January to today have no pictures.  I’m in the middle of moving them from Flickr to Picasa.  Hopefully, the transition will be seamless and there will be no missing photos while I work on this.

I started out using Picasa when I started this blog, then ran out of space for all my photos so I went to Flickr.  Now they’re telling me I can only have 200 photos for free and I must pay $25 (for a year) so I can have unlimited uploads.  Well, that’s nice and all, but I’m pretty sure for $5 a year, I can upgrade to a big enough allowance in Picasa. 

SOOOOOOO, I’m off to load all the photos I’ve uploaded to Flickr for the past 3+ months to Picasa.  Wish me luck!!

And if any of you know something about Flickr that I don’t know –such as how to get free or much cheaper storage – please send me an email as soon as you can to stop me from this tedious task. 

amandabroadway at hotmail dot com.

And one more thing.  If you follow me in Reader, I might be appearing multiple times in your Reader when I get things going.  The only way I can think of to fix this is reload each post with the ‘new’ pictures from Picasa.  That may make my last 3+ months of posts re-appear in your readers.  I’m so sorry!!! (Oh, and that goes for email subscribers too)  What a mess!

There has to be a better way than what I’m going to attempt, so any advice you can offer me while I work through this would be GREATLY appreciated. 

Thank you!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Foto Friday – Looking Up

So, this week, I’m joining in for Foto Friday again.  I’m on a roll!  I like supporting bloggy friends, and I like showing off my son, so the combination today was perfect. 

Today’s theme is LOOKING UP. 

This is the most perfect topic for me.  Every time I take Jack to get his pictures taken, I always ask her to take a picture of him looking up.  She must think I’m a bit crazy.  Even when I’m taking his picture, I try to find a way to get him to look up.  I don’t know what it is, but those eyes looking up in wonder just melt me.  I think it comes from feeding a baby.  As Jack was laying in my arms, he would look up at me and just stare.  I would stare back.  It’s one of the biggest joys of being a mommy.  I’m getting all blubbery.  Moving on!

I couldn’t decide on just one picture, so this week I’m cheating.  I’m throwing in a bunch of photos of  my son looking up.  I love them all!!  I haven’t touched any of my shots, but the professional shots are obviously touched a bit.  Someday I’ll take the time to use my Photoshop, I just can’t seem to work it in my schedule right now.

Wallace - April 09 (31)

3 months – his first professional photo shoot.

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18 months - professional

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Last fall - (me)  Not the best picture, but it makes me smile.

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Last October - (me) playing in the corn wagon at a local farm.

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Christmas 2010 – professional

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2 weeks ago – (me) helping Daddy hang a big picture at Gramma’s.

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This week – (me)  looking at a big jet flying by.

Sorry for the Foto overload this Friday!  I promise to control myself next time. 

You can go see other Foto Friday participants and see if anyone else broke the rules as badly as I did today.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Subscribe via Email!

I was just thinking the other day, "how do I make it REALLY easy for my readers to know if I've posted anything new recently?" Well, I just happen to follow a fabulous blog called Rediscovering Domesticity, and she’s been periodically posting some ‘bloggy basics’.  Some of the information has been stuff I’ve known, some of it has been over my head – something this little ol’ blogger doesn’t need to know, and some of it has been exactly what I needed.  Today, I read exactly what I needed.

See over there….to the right….over my family picture? It’s a place for you to put in your email address and subscribe to my blog.  I’ve been hounding a lot of you who are my Facebook friends with “I’ve posted!” status updates.  To minimize that, I started my own Growth Chart Moments Facebook Fan Page (feel free to become a fan if you aren’t already!!) where I’ll update my status if I post and have promised not to put random status updates that will clutter your newsfeed. 

Well, here’s an even EASIER way to find out if I post. put in your email address in the subscribe box, and you’ll automatically receive the post in your email.  Now, you won’t even have to leave the comfort of your own Inbox to see what I’ve posted.  *Though, when you don’t come over to the actual blog, it doesn’t count as a stat, and it makes me feel good to have those stats go up with readers*

So, what do ya say??  Want to get my posts in your inbox?  Feel free to subscribe.

Thanks, and I hope your weather is as beautiful as ours has been recently.  The sun is shining, the wind is breezy, the temperature is climbing, and the smell of freshly cut grass is starting to permeate the air.  Welcome, Spring!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jack Johnson

I have a new favorite CD -

jack johnson cd

When I was at the library the other day,  I realized that I never look through the CDs.  I spend endless time looking through books and DVDs but never the CDs.  So, I quickly gave a glance in the children’s music section and found a Curious George CD.  I know Jack loves Curious George, and I like the jazzy music that’s always in the background, so I figured it’d be a good-enough CD at least. 

It was NOT what I was expecting.  It was SO MUCH BETTER!

I’ve never heard of Jack Johnson before, but I fell in love with his sound.  It’s kind of John Mayer meets Paul Simon meets Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo╩╗ole (I’ve only heard that really great version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow he does with a ukulele).

The words I would use to describe this cd are smooth, relaxing, earth-friendly, and fun.  It’s actually the CD I use to help Jack get to sleep for his naps – as we’re driving around in the van. *sigh*  Someday this kid will be 30 and will LOVE to nap.

Here is a video I found of one of the songs from this CD.  I think if you click on the play button, you actually have to jump to Youtube to watch it, but it’s SO worth it.  Just turn it on and go on with what you were doing.  No need to watch it – just listen.   Oh, and the Jack Johnson Pandora station is pretty great too.

What music have you found accidentally that you love now?

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