Saturday, March 30, 2013

Life in Instagrams

Lately - one of Eli's favorite things to do is "drive" the van.

B & Eli - these two usually get along SUPER well.
We had a bit of sickness this week, first off Katie-Abigail had an awful cough and the cruds so I let her stay home on Monday & Tuesday we had a really nice time together. We made morse code necklaces together out of colored drinking straws and yarn. They say K-A, Emma & Beth. It was SO much fun to do.

Dry erase boards are my best friend - we did math drills and penmanship practice. Josiah wanted to practice writing his middle name. Love how much this boy has learned and grown this year!

We read a Magic Schoolbus book about ants and then found the corresponding episode on YouTube. That was a lot of fun. Homework is always crazy - Eli wanted to get in on the action so Emma let him scribble on a piece of her scratch paper. Love how he uses his left & right hand interchangeably. He just might take after his grandma and be a lefty!

Wednesday was my one day without a sick kiddo at home and the boys and I spent as much time out and about as we possibly could. We spent some time wandering around LifeWay and picked up a study guide for a Bible Study that I may possibly lead over the summer.

My poor sick girl, getting some fresh air and sunshine.Mom - don't take my picture.
Thursday was tough. Emma was up at 12am throwing up and I hadn't made it to bed yet so I sat on the couch with her as she tried to sleep, with Eli on my chest, and tried to catch a little sleep. It was awful. I finally abandoned the Emma and the couch when Daniel got up to get ready for work, hoping to get maybe an hour of solid sleep but Josiah & Katie-Abigail woke up a few minutes later and were in and out of my room pretty much constantly until it was time to get up and get ready for school.

It's like he grew a month today. What a funny little guy.

Usually when my kids are sick I kick into mother-instict over-drive. I find myself super-humanly patient, kind, snuggly and all kinds of compassionate but this time around I was just tired. Like loosing my mind, cry at the drop of a hat tired. But we made it through the day - thanks in part to Netflix.

My chevron afghan so far... a little wonky (not even close to perfect) but very comfy. Emma had to spend two days at home - which she did not like at all, but everyone is feeling better just in time for a beautiful Easter weekend. Daniel has the whole weekend off - I am recovering from our crazy week and working on my Chevron afghan.

Yesterday I got the chance to  wander around the backyard. I had the hymn sometimes a light surprises running around in my head as I used my phone to take a few photos. I edited them using AfterLight app (formerly AfterGlow).

Sometimes a light surprises...   #afterglowapp

Sometimes a light surprises
  The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises
  With healing in His wings;
When comforts are declining,
  He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
  To cheer it after rain. 

also here is a beautiful song for your weekend. You've probably already heard it, but seeing as I live under a rock I'm not sure I ever have, I was listening to this YouTube video as a I was blog surfing... so I think the video (from the little bits I did see) is probably uber-lame, but this song. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Blurb Instant Designer Photo Book

One of the fantastic things about being in the affiliate program is being asked to try out new products from time to time before they are even available, like this designer instant photo book from Blurb.

The instant photo book creator (called Bookify) allows you to import your photos from Instagram, Flickr, Facebook or your computer to quickly create a simple book. Bookify is online so you can start your book on one computer and finish it on another.

If you've been following my blog for awhile you know I love Blurb photo books but I just adore these instant books. It was very quick and easy to make this simple photo book.

DSC_2758 copy
I love having my favorite Instagrams in a book.

I used my iPhone to capture some of our best moments over the last year. 

DSC_2761 copy

This is about 200 pages and includes my favorite Instagrams of 2012. It cost less to print than I typically spend on a haircut. Totally worth the money and this little book took only a fraction of the time to make.

I snuck in a few images from my DSLR (I just couldn't help myself!)
DSC_2765 copy
They look fantastic in this mini-album. 
DSC_2775 copy

The Instant photo book is perfect for something quick and simple. Just the thing for a vacation, birthday party, or favorite Instagrams. I'll be making some for the bridal party after I photograph a friend's wedding next month and will definitely be using one of these designer templates.

If you'd like to try out Blurb's new Designer Photo Book Templates use the code DESIGNMYBOOK for 20% off your order.

Blurb Designer Photo Books

Offer Code: DESIGNMYBOOK | What it's good for: 20% Off Designer Book Templates only* | Expires: 3/31/13 *Fine print: Get 20% USD, AUD, CAD or EUR off your Blurb Designer Bookify product total up to $150. Offer expires March 31, 2013 11.59pm local time. May only be used once per customer and on books created by you. May not be combined with any other coupons, volume discount or applied retroactively to previous orders.

Links in this post are affiliate links. This post is sponsored by Blurb but the opinions and text within this post are my own. I have been happy to recommend Blurb even before I was in their affiliate program and continue to be a big fan of the high quality products they provide. 

a couple instagrams

made with #Phonto
if you don't recognize the song reference
listen to it here
From this morning...
beautiful morning light
And one in black and white(ish)
chill, shake, serve,
B's Library haul. Like mother like daughter.
Beth's library haul - like mother like daughter ;)
Emma said to Josiah "I love you as much as Pi - Pi never ends"
Emma said "Josiah - I love you like Pi because Pi has no end"


I thought I should write that today, despite staying up super-late watching a movie with my bigs last night, I am feeling like my normal self today. Thank you to everyone who sent me messages of love and encouragement after reading yesterday's post.

I wanted to share these photos of my beautiful little man...


Friday, March 22, 2013

one hundred mornings day 12: in a funk

Feels like winter, looks like spring!

It looks like spring around here. 
The Bradford pear trees have started to bloom, 
daffodils have been out for weeks, 
the tree in our front yard looks more beautiful every day.
But it feels like winter, 
cold and windy and threatening rain. 
and I am in such a funk today.

My brain is foggy my body is sluggish. 
I want coffee to wake me up, 
and mask the symptoms of my depression, 
anything to make me feel better. 

I load dishes into the dishwasher, 
the words echo from my childhood 
I grope for a why in my fog
among the dirty dishes in my sink
Why do I feel this way?
What is wrong?

Nothing is wrong. 
This is just life
life with a chemical imbalance
or whatever it is that makes me this way

Some people have low blood sugar
some people have high cholesterol
I have low levels of serotonin or whatever 
Sometimes I just have to shrug and say
This is just life
life with depression
and I keep moving forward

I try to stay in engaged
I want to enjoy this day with my boys
even though all I want to do is curl up in a ball and sleep
even though all I want to do is cry and cry and cry
even though the smallest little thing makes me want to scream 
there's nothing really wrong
this is just life 

I stand at my counter 
I get out my gratitude journal 
I add some more to it:

sunshine outside my window
Eli's smile and his growing vocabulary
hugs from Josiah

I keep moving forward,
I throw the ball to Eli
he falls down and I hug him

Sometimes I wonder if having kids makes it harder
if I get more stressed out and overwhelmed because of them
kids are so needy, so messy

Today I think having kids is my lifeline
they are my beacon in a sea of fog and funk
they need me so I keep it together
keep moving forward
keep smiling
keep living

and I go change a diaper

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

random mondayness on a tuesday

I didn't get a chance to sit down and write my Monday post yesterday. After a weekend of sunshine spent outdoors it's back to gray rainy dreariness and I've been in a funk...

But this interview with Adam Young aka Owl City - made me smile (and also made me want to start a morning show video blog with stuff like this for everyday... maybe one day.)

You might know Owl City from the end credits song on Wreck-it Ralf - love the song but am not a fan of music video.

Or this radio hit Good Time

or my all time favorite Owl City song is Fireflies

 though I also adore this song called Vanilla Twilight

Speaking of Wreck it Ralf earlier - my kids love the Sugar Rush song but most of it is in Japanese and so I found this cover of the song in English and my kids are now singing it non-stop...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

basic edit using Picasa

I wanted to help my mom out with something for a tutorial for her blog and thought that this might be helpful for more than just her so she said I could use her photo for this tutorial.  I loaded her image into Picasa - which is a free photo-editing tool from Google but there are plenty others I could have used. Aviary is the new free product from Yahoo, Gimp is an open-source photo-enhancement program. I also found PicMonkey which is very impressive - their filters are fantastic. Adobe even has a free basic online photo-editor called Photoshop Express.  But a basic edit is a basic edit no matter what program you are using. So here we go! 

original image
Above is my mom's original image, it's just a little under-exposed. If you're not used to using editing programs or anything like that this might seem like an overwhelming thing to edit - but really, it's not. Not at all.

The cause for under-exposure in a point and shoot is typically a result of zooming in too much for the available light, the same can be true of a DSLR with a 18-55mm zoom lens. When you zoom in you restrict the aperture from widening as far. If you've taken a shot and it looks a little darker than you wanted it to you can zoom out and see if that helps, or you can set your camera to Aperture priority and lower the number (which widens the aperture to let in more light) sometimes a portrait setting will do the same thing. You might also check to see if you are blocking your light source.


I loaded the image into Picasa and clicked the little "edit photo" button to launch the online photo-editing program. Above is what the "Auto-Fix" looked like.

original image in Picasa editor

Below is just the exposure bumped up. If you'll notice it makes the image look a little bit flat, or washed out. There's not as much depth of color or difference between the darks and lights. So let's play with the other levels as well.

adjust the exposure
bump up the highlights - the light places in the image
increasing the shadows adds some depth to the image 
increasing the contrast just a little helps too
I usually play with the image a bit. Typically I over-edit first and then bring down the individual elements until I find something I'm comfortable with. It takes a bit of tweaking to find the right balance of dark & light. Next I clicked on the "Color" tab:

fixed the White Balance in the image

The "White Balance" is the color temperature of the image. If the image is overall too blue that's called "cool" or if it's too red it's called "warm" I used the "Neutral Picker" and clicked on the gray corner of the image to get a brighter, warmer white. You can also do this by sliding the "temperature" slider. Usually you only want to change the temperature by a little.

I also bumped up the saturation a little.

I thought it would be fun to also demonstrate some of the Effects that are available in Picasa. Effects are located in the top left corner of the screen in the "Basic Edits/Effects/Decorations/Text" toolbar.

This is the "Cross Process" effect
This is the 1960's effect
Whenever you apply an effect you usually want to reduce the opacity (or "fade" ) of the effect, at least a little.
This is Cross Process + 1960's
This is the Reala 400 effect - which I love for this image. This would make a great final edit.
This is my final edit. I wanted it to look a little bit stylized. Some people like that, some people don't.
I think you should do what looks good to you, which is something that is going to develop over time.
here's another option that's brighter and cleaner.
 for a more subdued edit don't boost the contrast or saturation and slide the color temperature to -1
So that is one way to edit your underexposed images in Picasa. I'd love to hear your suggestions or questions! And if you're interested in handcrafts my mom has a very helpful blog called Rebecca Kelley Sews.

My Chevron Afghan: part 2

Chevron crochet afghan project

So learning to do the chevron stitch has not been as easy as I thought it would be. I crocheted a bunch but had to rip it out and start over.  I found the easiest thing to do was crochet a swatch to practice. 

Chevron crochet afghan project
Then when I counted out my foundation chain I put little yarn markers to show where the points would go in the pattern. That helped a lot.

There are definitely a lot of imperfections in it - like the edge and a little bit of unevenness. Also sometimes I forget that it's in Double Crochet and I start to Single Crochet and have to take it out. 
This pattern pretty close to what I'm doing only my hills/valleys are 9 stitches from dip to point (not point to point) instead of 6.

 Adding a row to my crochet chevron afghan before bed... making progress. My chevron afghan currently... Working on a blog post for tomorrow.
My color pattern is Dark Blue, Green, Cream, Bright - I've got a red that will replace the purple in my next repetition. 

This is what I've got so far:

Chevron crochet afghan project

I'm already thinking about what my next color combination and yarn weight will be. I like this bulky yarn a lot, it's fuzzy and works up really quickly but I think next time I want to try something more soft and delicate.

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