Saturday, February 28, 2009

the girl who feels unmotivated

I have reached the doldrums. the blahs. the "meh" mentality. And I'm not quite sure what is worse...being in this particular mental state, or recognizing I'm here and still not doing much about it.

I have been unemployed for two months now. Two Months! I don't like it. I enjoy the ordered structure of having a schedule, having meetings, tasks that need to be completed: in short, having a job to do. I have tried, oh so desperately tried, to establish that same sense of order on my personal life, but it just isn't happening. I don't understand why I can't order and schedule and break my home life up into manageable chunks, but the dynamic is completely different.

What inevitably happens is that I maintain for a little while and then, suddenly it seems, it all goes to pot at the same time, I look around and see just too much to do at once and I shut down and enter the stage of "meh."


This is my loveseat. It is covered with a week's worth of washing. I feel like I just cleared this off, I turn around and its full again.

This is the surface of my furniture. It is filled, not only with thoughtful, decorative knick-knacks and family pictures, but all of the STUFF I pick up off of the floor, set down "just for a minute" or liberate from a toddler and set up out of his reach.

This is said toddler. The activity for the morning while I *try* to muster up the motivation to take care of Mount Washmore, is for his older brothers to put him in the back of this Tonka dumptruck and push him--SQUEALING at the top of his lungs--up and down the only clear pathway in the house. I'm sobbing a bit inside because I took him to get his curls trimmed last weekend and now he just isn't as curly anymore. I want to send the boys outside to play to get out of my way, but two of them are grounded. It's funny, I was just giving my humble advice to a friend this past week where I advised her to look for punishments for her child that didn't punish her as well and here I go, locking my two most active kids into this nightmare of a house with me. I'm a dolt.

So what HAVE I been doing with all of my freetime these days, you might ask?

Well, I've certainly caught up on my reading. Thanks to Book Mooch and Paperback Swap I have a ton of new books in the house. I've started reading Nora Roberts novels, FSM help me. They are addictive pieces of fluff. Well written pieces of fluff, but nothing but entertainment that doesn't require a whole bunch of thought. Addictive too BECAUSE they are well written. I get completely caught up in the story and end up with a perfect excuse to be unmotivated.

I have not been scrapping as much as I would like to think I would be. I did finish this lo at Island Jen's Craft Love Fest last weekend.

One lo. That's it.

But I have been working on a minibook class for Piktails, my local LSS. The sample is nearly complete and I'll have to start organizing my anal retentive instructions for the actual class. Here's a preview of the materials.

And I've been visiting friends, going out to lunch, and running errands for Larry and Judy. All of which keep me out of the house but don't go a long way to accomplishing anything about the mess.

So I am BEGGING for someone to leave me a hint, a clue, throw me a rope or SOMETHING. While I spend my time sending out resumes, making phone calls and trying to find a do I get this personal life of mine into the same order as my professional life?

My friends laugh at my organizational needs. How I NEED to have things ordered, alphabetized, cross-referenced and filed. But WHY can I not transfer that same obsessive compulsive tendancies to my home life?


Friday, February 20, 2009

the girl who is wishing Island Jen a Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Island Jen! I couldn't find a pic of you on the laptop, so I stole one off of your flkr page. I love this one! Have a great one and I can't wait to see you tonight!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

the girl who is playing with pictures

Because I am not the photographer I want to be, don't have the photography equipment I would like to have, and don't have mad photoshop skills, I am forced to rely on programs found on the web to make my pictures better than they actually are. I thought I'd share some of my favorite "photo manipulation for dummies" sites out there on the big bad world wide web.

let's start off with a favorite picture of mine straight off of the camera:

Justify Full
All in all, an adorable picture of my middle man. However, it could use a little work. I may not have photoshop, but photoshop has a free basic photo editor available online. I play with the white balance, up the saturation, and use their touch-up feature to remove the perpetual dar circles under Ian's eyes and I get this:

Nice, huh? It's pretty easy to use and you can store your pics there as well. Not too shabby for a free program.

But maybe I want more "oomph." I want to make more of a statement. Say I want to do one of those fancy color pops on a B&W background. Then, I can turn to Color Select Studio's site. Yes, you do actually have to pay for this one, but it's pretty darn cheap and you can use forever. No messing with layers and flattening and all that business in photoshop, this does it all for you. So easy *I* can use it. And this is what it looks like:

You can select anything to highlight in color. I could have just popped the pumpkin, but I wanted to keep Ian the focal point.

Speaking of focal points...I stumbled across this little site. This feature is called "tilt-shift" and it's intended purpose is to turn landscapes into pictures that look like miniatures, but it worked for this purpose too--blurring the background behind Ian.

Now, I would only reccommend this for portraits where the subject takes up the entire height or width of the picture, and it only will edit horizontally, so if you have a vertical subject (like I do) you will need to rotate your pic before uploading it. But I like the effect.

And "effects" nicely segues us to this site: Be Funky. I found this site coutesy of Emily Falconbridge's blog and spent half a morning playing with pictures. Seriously, it was addicting. Not only does the site offer the standard effects like sketch and ink and such, but it takes it a step further with textured backgrounds and frames and just more.

I really have fun here. So much fun, I'm giving you another version with a different effect.

It is just a ton of fun.

Lastly, I bring you pikfix. This site offers much of what can be found on any basic editing site, but I find photoshop online easier to use. The reason I bring this site up is pretty much one reason, and one reason only. That reason can be summed up in one, now sadly defunct, word: POLAROID!

You can do a grungy polaroid, slightly smudged, plain, etc. Just be sure to edit your picture to a square first because it is, after all, only a border feature and the site does not stick to the standard polaroid shape.

They have other neato-skeeto options as well. The montage feature is cool:

As are the filmstrip, grunge borders, etc. A fun place to play.

Lastly, I can't give you all of these great sites without closing with my favorite place to get them printed: There are quite a few reasons I *heart* this site. 1.) the price is right and shipping is not exorborant. In fact, they charge the same for shipping one picture or 200 (and I've ordered 200 at a time before!) and the shipping is QUICK! Once your order is printed, expect them in a matter of days, not weeks. 2.) Sizes--besides the standard 4x6, 5x7, 8x10 they have 6x6, 4x12, many combinations!, 3.) photo paper: you can order in glossy, matte, or metallic. how cool is that? try it on a b&w and be amazed at the depth, or a vibrant color scene and thrill at the richness of the color!, 4.) Extras: they have borders of all kinds that toatally fake going all digital with photoshop. You can layer two on top of each other, change the colors, it's such a great feature! And these aren't cheesy either!, 5.) HUMANS process the pictures. They don't just upload to a machine and hit print. They look over your shots a make color corrections to ensure you get skin tones that actually look like skin tone and not ruddy or sallow., and lastly, 6.) Service. They actually have SERVICE! Got a question about your order? Fire off an email, you WILL get an answer! Have an issue? They will correct it! I had an issue once where I had actually fiddled with my pictures to washout the subject. It was totally on purpose and for a good reason. Well, I had forgotten about the Human eyes looking at my pictures, and they corrected it back for me. There were only four or five pictures that were affected this way, but when I brought it up, they reprinted my ENTIRE order for me and I had it within three days. (For the record, they have an option where you tell them "I have this the way I want it, don't make any corrections") That is service!

So there you have it. Some of the fun timewasters I use to make me look like a better photographer/photo editor than I am.

Now go have fun!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

the girl who is emptying the nest

At the beginning of the school year I tried to enroll Matthew in the Voluntary Pre Kindergarten classes at Ian and Zacky's school. Unfortunately, the classes were filled. However, they run on half-year cycles, so I attempted again for the classes starting in January. After filling out twenty-ga-jillion pages of paperwork, I sent it off to school with Zachary.

That was a mistake.

I have learned, to my chagrin, that Zachary is not the most reliable of messengers. I discovered this after I was looking through his backpack and found the paperwork--three weeks later. I missed the deadline and Matthew missed out on preschool.

Until yesterday. Yesterday I got a call from the school. A spot had opened up! So today, my little Matthew started pre-school. Today I have just Eli home. Today I am going crazy!

first day

And would it be too much to ask that he NOT be so darn excited that he didn't show the slightest hesitation? No wavering, just marched right in, announced he was "King Mick Jagger" and then sat down to color. His teacher says he's "a natural." Matthew asked what the computers were for, his teacher said they were for the class. Matthew responded with an enthusiastic, "SWEET!"

My Sweetie Pie is all grown up and the house is too quiet.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

the girl who can taste the rainbow

So I was surfing the Internet and came across this post detailing how to make a colorful, no fat cake. I liked the look of it and decided I could do it even better. So this is what I came up with.

Yes, my "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" cake. Since I didn't need to go low-fat, this are my instructions"

Step 1.) The ingredients: Make sure you use the gel colors, they produce much more vivid colors than the traditional liquid ones

Step 2: the technique: prepare cake according to directions and divide into roughly equal portions and color. I actually dived the mix up equally using a mesauring cup, then had some extra left over and beefed up the top three colors. Going in ROY G. BIV order and starting with red, layer the colors in a tube pan one on top of the other, trying to stay directly on top of the preceding layer.

Step 3.) the decorating: I mixed in one packet of blue kool aid into most of a tub of frosting. You may want to add additional confectioners sugar if it is too tart or use the pre-sweetened singles. Since white cake is pretty much tasteless, this adds some flavor to the party.I smeared the whole cake with the blue frosting, lumped on white "clouds" from the reserved frosting and added some sprinkles because EVERYONE likes sprinkles!

Step 4: the result: pretty cool, huh?

Step 5.) Enjoy! This cake produced some very happy customers!
Enjoy it! It was really easy. The kool-aid coloring trick could also be used on the cake, but, I think it would end up just being overwhelmingly fruity. Well, you could always just use the flavoring in certain layers. Something to play with. Also, I think I'd probably use two mixes next time.