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creativity Tips

make your own artwork

Since I’m in the midst of setting up house here in S. Africa, I’ve been on the Pinterest prowl for some ideas. Check out my inspiration for our TV wall…

tv wall

I already have different sizes and styles of black frames. I started looking at the prints and thought, “Surely I can make my own.” So I got started, and I’m so excited with what I have so far. The left is the photo I used and the right is the finished result that I will have printed.

acacia print




In case you’re interested in my method, here’s how I did it using Photoshop CS5.

1. Pick an image. It doesn’t really matter if it’s edited or not.

2. After you’ve opened it in Photoshop, set your foreground color to black and your background color to white.


3. Go to Filter -> Sketch -> Stamp. You can play around with your Light/Dark Balance and Smoothness settings, but 25 for Light/Dark Balance and 5 for Smoothness is pretty good.

4. You might need to “clean up” some areas from stamping. Select the paintbrush and paint the areas you don’t want in the print, white. You might need to fine tune some of the black with a small brush.

5. You can crop to get the desired effect and then you’re done!


Linking up with Jennifer @ Studio JRU for Sneak Peek Friday.


passport photos

Now I know the title doesn’t imply something very exciting but this has been my week…gathering everything needed to renew the kid’s passports once again. I believe this is the third one for both of them. So crazy!

So yes my “studio” has been very practical. I did do something new this time and took the kid’s passport photos myself. A friend was very helpful in pointing me in the right direction. You can find passport photo requirements as well as a photographer’s guide on the website. After you’ve taken your very interesting looking passport photos, you can go either to EPassportPhoto.Com or use the Photo Tool on to turn them into the right size you need. I opted with the Photo Tool because I liked how it made it easy to fit the head into the dimensions.

passport2       passport1 

It all seems a bit complicated so we’ll see if they accept these when we go this afternoon. I figure if I have to pay $20 for new passport photos, then I have to pay it, but if these fly, then I’ll have saved $20! I’m hoping for the latter. Don’t they look so happy? I told them they couldn’t smile big, so this is what I got!

UPDATE: So we went to the passport office this afternoon, and they did not accept our photos. I took the opportunity to ask the nice lady what I should have done differently so they would accept them next time. It was the textured background that didn’t fly. I had wondered about that. I asked her if next time I could use Photoshop to fill in the background with a solid white. She said that would be fine (just no editing on their faces). I guess I got points for trying because she didn’t charge us to take their photos! Yea! Still saved $20! Oh, and for those who mentioned something in the comments about the ears showing, in the U.S. you do not have to have the ears showing. Just some FYI. 🙂


Linking up my oh, so fun practical “studio” time up with Jennifer @ Studio JRU for Sneak Peek Friday. I’m sure the rest of the creatives linking up are full of much more fun than passport photos. 🙂



google reader {tutorial}

Personally, I love reading blogs through a reader. There’s something so easy with having everything in one spot. I’ve used Google Reader for years and find their layout to be simple and very user friendly. Here’s the gist…

subscribe screen shot

Once you open your Google Reader page (if you have a gmail account, you have Google Reader), you can easily subscribe to blogs by clicking subscribe and entering the URL. You’ll see all your subscriptions on the left hand side, and any with new posts will be highlighted. (This is only a few of the blogs I subscribe to. There’s no way they would all fit on one page.)

google reader page

You can also create blog categories. Sewing, Knitting, Food, whatever category you want, which helps organize your reads even more. Want to remember a post that you might want to come back to? Simply star it, and it will remain in your starred items until you remove it.
subscription screen shot
You’ve probably seen the ever popular Google Friend Connect that is on many blogs. This is such a convenient way to subscribe to blogs. One click and it easily dumps it into your Google Reader feed. However, Google has been making some changes over the last several months. Starting March 1st, this feature will no longer be available for non-blogger blogs. Instead, Google is encouraging those blogs to create a Google+ page and place a Google+ badge on your site (you can also read more info here).
I imagine this proposes a great inconvenience to those who have relied on this feature for so many years. This does not mean non-blogger blogs cannot continue using Google Reader. It simply means that Google Friend Connect, a service that provides an easy way to subscribe, will no longer be available for those blogs. It also means that if you have followed non-blogger blogs through Google Friend Connect that you will need to subscribe to those blogs another way. So, either 1. you need to get on Google+, or 2. find another service to offer your readers. You’ll also need to change the way you’ve subscribed to non-blogger blogs because come March 1st you won’t see them in your reader if you subscribed through GFC! To continue following through Google Reader, simply click the RSS feed and choose Google Reader.

This post is part of a series with other bloggers. Visit other reader options in this series…

Linky Followers at Studio JRU

Bloglovin’ at Beyond Words Designs

Blog Sidebar at Them Pates

What’s your favorite way to follow blogs?

Thoughts Tips

evo ’11 takeaway :: defining values, goals, and who i want to be

Through the sun roof

I heard so many great things while at evo ’11.  Like I’ve said, my brain is still swimming from all the info it received.  While I sat in The Business of Blogging, blogging my little heart out, I was struck with a thought and a challenge that I believe was from God.  I love how He guides us, even in the simplest of things like blogging.  As I listened to the speakers talk about working with brands and the actual business side of blogging, the question came, “Is this me?”  I would absolutely love for my blog to bring in some sort of income, but I felt challenged to look again at my values and goals.

I blog, because I love it, and it’s a creative outlet for me to write and showcase my photos.  I never want to lose that.  I also love the community of people that develops as you share and those with like minded interests emerge.  It reminds me of my strong value of relationship, and I want to keep that continually before me and not compromise who I am or my values for the sake of turning this blog into a money maker.

After sitting through the WordPress session, I do have plans to switch eventually (when I discover the perfect domain name).  I will continue to work with brands that complement my values (in fact, look for a giveaway coming next week).  I’ll follow blogs and twitterers (is that a word??) that have similar interests and values as myself.  I’ll be authentic and myself and look forward to seeing new blogging friends emerge from the depths of cyberspace.