Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Pout

Levi Pout

i heart faces is all about the pout this week. Levi's got it covered. This boy has drama, and his pout is legendary. He has the greatest lips and expressive eyes and eyebrows. I love the range of emotion he can throw himself into. Head on over to view many more great pouting photos!


Library Collage

We partied at the local library's open house today. They have recently moved into a much larger, bright, renovated space and thought it was high time to celebrate. We've visited quite a few times (yesterday, in fact) since they opened at the beginning of the month, but couldn't resist the promise of cake, live music, crafts, and the Cat in the Hat.

I've been enjoying the expanded parking area, automated book returns, faster check-out, roomier book shelves (the books were packed in there at the old location!), a huge children's room with a large play space and comfy seating, and the fresh over-all atmosphere. One of the best things: the new location is just across the street from the previous space, at a very convenient spot in town. I think the library deserves an A+.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fix-It Friday

I decided to participate in Fix-It Friday at i heart faces for the first time this week. The above photo is my finished product. The photo below is the original.
I first worked on the photo in photoshop CS2. Pioneer Woman's Bring on the Eyes at 70% and Boost at 11%. Then Totally Rad Actions' Claire-ify at 100% and Pool Party at 80%:

I then uploaded the photo to and did teeth whiten, focal soften, crop, and border to get the top image.

I couldn't resist adding in two more. Both are done in photoshop. Bring on the Eyes 100/33, Claire-ify 100, Troy 50, and Pool Party 50:

Added a B&W/sepia combo:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Living Lovely with Family ~ Here and There Edition

Memory is a child
walking along a seashore.
You never can tell what small pebble
it will pick up and store away
among its treasured things.
~Pierce Harris, Atlanta Journal

We've talked about daily and weekly routines, so to continue our series on Living Lovely with Family, let's talk about special treats, random surprises, and seasonal activities.

Everyone is welcome to participate. Share on your blog your thoughts and ideas for making connections and memories with our families in simple, but profound ways through special treats, random surprises, and seasonal activities. Feel free to grab the above image (or the smaller button on my sidebar) to add to your post. Enter your link below. Or you could add your voice to the comments!

I have already come away from previous weeks with new ideas and a feeling of inspiration. I'm looking forward to reading what this week brings! Scroll past Mr. Linky for my visuals on the subject. (And don't forget that we're moving on to yearly traditions next week!)

Playing in the Snow:
Baking and Eating Yummy Things:

Going for Hikes and Appreciating God's Green Earth:

Playing in the Sand and Dipping Toes in the Ocean:

Watching the Hot Air Balloons at the Local Art and Air Festival:

Enjoying a Fire in the Fire Pit,
Roasting Marshmallows:

Berry Picking:

Veggie Gardening:

Concerts in the Park:

Playing Games with Family:

Visiting the Renaissance Faire:

Hay Ride and Hot Donuts at the Pumpkin Patch:

We do not remember days;
we remember moments.
~Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand

Monday, March 23, 2009

Today's Lovely

bouquet collage

A bouquet of ranunculus or a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils?

Sunday, March 22, 2009



March is a favorite month around these parts. It means Spring and Birthdays. I loved sharing a birthday month with my two sisters growing up. It just meant we partied all month long! Mom and Dad were terrific at letting us each have our own moment, but it is a little harder to have three separate parties now that we're grown and have families (and schedules) of our own.

This year, Mom and Dad went all out and had us all over for a delicious spread, topped off with Irish Cream Cake. We decided to take advantage of the weather and the fact that we were all in the same place at once. Picture time!

How lucky am I to have two sisters for best friends? Not to mention they both live only 15 minutes away! We get awfully silly when we are together...

Silly Sisters

Mix a little foolishness
with your serious plans;
it's lovely to be silly
at the right moment.

~ Horace (Ancient Roman Poet, 65 BC - 8 BC)

Silly Sisters 2

My birthday isn't for a little while yet (it was always hard to wait until the last day of the month), but Mom has been posting vintage pictures of the three of us girls on her blog, Treading on Moss. This week is my turn. Hmmm. I wonder what she'll come up with...

Flash is Evil


It is 'No Flash' week at i heart faces. Not hard to find a qualifying photo, as I typically shun using flash.

I decided to use the above photo of my friend's son, Jameson, because it was taken at a time when I could have easily caved in and used flash. I wanted so badly to take photos of this darling, and he and his mom were only in town for a few days. We scheduled a time to get together, but the lighting was terrible (non-existent). We went outside and worked hard to get this image (without flash!), which turned out to be one of my all-time favorites! Isn't he a doll?!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Living Lovely with Family ~ Weekly Edition

The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.
~Thomas Jefferson

For our second round of Living Lovely with Family, we are talking about ways to make meaningful connections and memories with our families in our weekly routine. I enjoyed all of the daily ideas you've shared, and I'm looking forward to reading more!

Everyone is welcome to join in. Share on your blog your ideas for spending time as a family on a weekly basis (or a couple times each month), then link to your blog post (not your main page) in the Mr. Linky below. I would appreciate it if you linked back here so that others can benefit from all the wisdom shared. Feel free to grab the image above for your post or sidebar. You are also welcome, as always, to share thoughts or ideas in the comments.

(Scroll past Mr. Linky for my entry in this week's Living Lovely with Family.)

My boys would unanimously choose Saturday as their favorite day of the week. Daddy's home!! It is amazing how much we all enjoy seemingly mundane activities, or even tasks, when we're all together. We don't do the same things every weekend, but we usually do them together. The library. Costco. Or the library and then Costco:
A family trip to Costco does happen almost every weekend. Roomy carts. Wide aisles. Computers, tools, books, groceries. Samples. Samples. Samples. Oh, do I sound like a broken record? How about hot dogs and sodas for $1.50? Or a husband to lug all the loot up to the house?
Maybe not in the middle of winter, but many months of the year see the boys on the lawnmower with Daddy at least once a week. Both Luke and Leif have amazing stamina for riding around in circles. They've been known to ride for an hour or more. Leif has taken a few naps perched on Dad's lap, but steering is more fun.

I find it fascinating to watch the boys feel needed and important when they help Dad work. I love that my husband can model a great work ethic for them.
Luke, in particular, wakes up Saturday mornings and immediately puts on his 'dirty jobs' clothes. That kid wants to be a part of his Dad's every project and task. I cannot wait until he can change the oil in the cars by himself. He will be such a help around the house!!
Russ sometimes takes the boys out and lets me have some time at home alone (always greatly appreciated!). He will take them to Home Depot's free kids' workshops (first Saturday of every month), or even to the library or a park. If Russ needs to visit a client over the weekend, usually he takes either Levi or Luke along.

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass." "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We're raising boys."
~Harmon Killebrew

Don't Forget!

I'll be putting up Mr. Linky late this evening for our second weekly round of Living Lovely with Family. This time, we are sharing ideas for making meaningful connections and memories with our families on a weekly basis (or even a couple times a month). Everyone is welcome to join in. Add your link tomorrow or anytime thereafter. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

That Elusive Organized Day

The overwhelming theme of your questions a couple months ago: How do you organize your day? What does your routine look like?

*NOTE: This is nothing what a day actually looks like at our house. (Wry grin.) (This is a pretty good day for us.) You know those conversations you have with yourself that sound something like, 'Well, there is no way I can get it all done anyway, so I'm not even going to try....' (Am I the only one that thinks that?!) Now my internal conversations can sound like this: 'Well, girl, it is your own fault. You know what you were supposed to be doing.' Or maybe, 'I'll get it all done tomorrow.'

This is the bare-bones, all business, get-it-done schedule. No feel-good ambiance photos to enhance it today...

Master Schedule

7:00 me: get up, shower, get ready

7:30 boys: watch eductional show/DVD
me: read devotional, check email,
put in load of laundry, make bed

8:00 boys: chores
me: make breakfast (fill crockpot if on the menu)

8:30 eat breakfast, take vitamins, Levi read memory work,
boys clear table

9:00 clean up kitchen, reboot laundry
me: finish putting on make-up, wipe down bathroom
boys: get dressed, make beds, brush teeth


9:30 1 1/2 hour morning lessons
(handwriting, spelling, grammar, Latin, geography, hymns, art, and music)
(remember to drink water!)

11:00 Levi: piano practice, Luke: read Bible
11:30 (Luke: piano, soon!) Levi: read Bible

11:45 break (laundry reboot, check email, jump on mini trampoline...)
put on music CD for boys

12:00 fix lunch
(eventually, Levi: Rosetta Stone Spanish)

12:30 eat lunch (listen to CD), clean up

(take Leif to Grandma's house a couple days/wk)

1:00 (make pot of tea)
math with Levi (Luke hang out with us)
10 minutes of math with Luke while Levi finished lesson

1:45 or 2:00 science/history/literature

3:00 boys: play
me: chores (more about those in a later post)

3:30 or 4:00 snack, straighten up house


free day for appointments, library, field trips, activities, play dates...


(right now we have nothing scheduled other than piano and occasionally swimming (wahoo!) but this is a possible schedule in the next few months...)

Monday: Family Night

Tuesday: Tae Kwon Do (bath night)

Wednesday: Piano Lessons,
Levi and Luke church (me: errands, groceries)

Thursday: TKD

Friday: Family Swim Night

(after TKD and piano, before other activities:)
Dinner prep, put away laundry, boys set dinner table
Dinner clean-up, straighten up house

Boys ready for bed

8:00 picture book with Leif, Luke read to me,
family chapter book

8:45 Levi: independent reading
me: chores! finish kitchen clean-up, run dishwasher,
straighten house, sweep/mop, school prep, etc.,
evening routine

9:30 blog

10:00 Bible/reading

11:00 asleep!

Weekends, Wahoo!:


yard work, chores, projects, library, Home Depot kids' workshop, play, Saturday market, field trips

haircuts, fingernails trimmed, baths, get clothes ready for church



Garbage/recycling (Russ and boys)
check meal plan, check weekly calendar, weekly school prep
relax, play, projects, day trips, time with other family


Even on the best of days, I don't follow this schedule to a T. Often I'll trade things around. Give and take, and all that. We might take Tuesday morning off and Thursday afternoon off rather than all day on Friday. I might make my bed and check email and then take a shower. The main thing is that I know what needs to be done, and roughly the amount of time it should take. If I have to put something in the crockpot or we got up late, I'll serve yogurt and granola bars for breakfast rather than make pancakes. If I know that Leif is spending the afternoon with Grandma, I'll wait and have Levi practice piano after he's gone.

If we are having a particularly rough day for some reason (illness, etc.) the boys might watch several educational videos (science, geography, etc.) and do more free reading. We can actually do geography songs, Latin review, hymns, addition/subtraction songs, Bible verse memory, memorization/poetry/Shakespeare, and/or music appreciation in the car. Sometimes we will go for a drive just to get out of the house and take care of those subjects or even do them on the way to/from piano lessons, etc.

I also have to remember that we will not be doing full lessons every week of the year. I don't have a specific yearly school schedule, but we will probably do light lessons as much as possible during the summer and take off various weeks here and there. Bigger projects and activities (or just time for relaxing and playing outside) will take place during off weeks.

Well, that's it, folks.

(ETA: Sorry about the wonky spaces and stuff. Having trouble with my post formatting. Oh, well.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Talking Photography

A few of you have asked for photography posts. Sigh. The reason I've put it off is because I don't really have anything to say! I am a 'feeler' photographer rather than a 'technical' photographer. This means that I don't have any nifty 'how to' ideas other than..... feel the shot. Pretty helpful, huh?

I haven't read my camera manual. I don't read all the technical info on photography sites. What camera do they use? No clue. What lens? No clue. What ISO? What is an ISO? Do I recommend this sort of ignorance? Absolutely not.
Would it be helpful if I told you what photoshop actions I used on a photo? Only if you have photoshop and the particular actions I use. Plus, I usually use a combination at varying strengths, and I just do it until it feels right. I rarely remember what I did after the fact.

However, if you've already read my first list of photography hints (posted almost a year ago!), and you still want to hear me talk photography, this post is for you.

Since posting a year ago, I have fallen in love with photoshop actions. I have downloaded Pioneer Woman's free actions (both sets) as well as purchased Totally Rad Actions (both sets). Those two collections are pretty much the extent of my photoshop usage. My favorite tool is the opacity slider. Often an action is too much at full strength, so I reduce the opacity percentage until the effect is just right.

While it is so easy to spend/waste a ridiculous amount of time trying various actions on each photo, it is often the case that I fall in love with one particular action (or combination of actions) for a complete photo shoot (or occasion, etc.). For example, the beach photos above and below were taken on the same beach. The above photos were taken last September on a bright day. The colors were already saturated, and I just punched them up a bit (probably with Technicolor Dream World from TRA). The photos below were taken in February on a gray day. I used Bullet Tooth (also TRA), which bleached out the gray and added interesting contrast to the boys and their clothing. I loved the way they turned out!

SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera):

Bullet Tooth:
I suppose now would be a terrific time to mention my latest and best (and FREE!!!) time-waster, If you haven't discovered it yet, I'll let you in on the secret. If I didn't already own photoshop and the actions, I would no longer be dying to own them. is a (FREE!!) online photo editing program. It has an amazing number of features, all super easy to use. I can't even tell you how awesome it is. I've always wanted to do frames and text on my photos. Snap. Collages. No problem. Remove blemishes. Done. Adjust the strength and width of vignettes. Ta-da! Soften everything but the face in a portrait. Easy as pie. Adjust the horizon. Yep. I realize I could do all that in photoshop, but I haven't figured it out yet. And have I mentioned that is EASY? There you go. My best tip of the day.

More Bullet Tooth:

Add a little vignette:
In the mood for more color? Same shot, different action:

More Bullet Tooth:

In the mood for less color? How about B&W. Always timeless.
And one last tip, this one for photo composition. When I want a portrait, particularly of children, I often stand on something and have them look up at me. It really helps them to open their eyes and connect with the camera!

Alrighty, any specific questions for me (keeping in mind that I am a complete amateur)?