Thursday, December 17, 2009

Clipping Masks

I've just begun experimenting with clipping masks.  What's that, you ask?  Here's an example of a clipping mask I found online:

You stick in in Photoshop and "clip" a photo or paper to it.  The results look like this:

You can use this technique with any shape your heart desires!
Here's a random clipart image I had on my computer:

Here it is after clipping some digital papers to it:

What do you think? 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day 1

My husband hasn't even been gone for 24 hours.  He helped put the kids to sleep last night before he left.  It lasted for about two hours before the first alarm went off.  


The smoke alarms decided to start chirping at 10 minute intervals.  I'd get up and take one down, wait 10 minutes, and take another one down until the chirping was silenced.  For a small house, there were a lot of smoke detector options.

Last night, I also went deaf in my left ear.  The ear hurts and I had trouble getting any sleep for the rest of the night.  This morning, I got the kids dressed and off to school, got myself to the clinic, and waited for  prescriptions for sudafed and zyrtec.

I then took myself to a dentist appointment where he numbed half my face and my neck and tongue. 

I'd just fallen asleep for a nap when the phone rang. 

I realized I hadn't eaten anything today and made blueberry muffins.

I picked up the kids, sold their plastic playhouse, made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and got the kids in the tub.  While they played in the water, I tried an internet remedy for my ear- it didn't work.  They took the opportunity to splash so much that (even with the shower curtain closed) they flooded the bathroom.  I got them in pajamas and sent them to bed.

Not even 24 hours....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


As long as I'm thinking about scrapbooking, allow me to share one of my favorite tips. 

Sometimes, when you've cropped a photo and you put in on a background paper, the white edges stand out and detract from the picture.  To eliminate the contrast, simply run a marker along the edges of the picture.  Now you'll have a nice clean look.

Happy scrapping!

To store or not to store...

I am currently obsessively scrapbooking.  I'm trying to finish any albums that could be stored instead of mailed to MD.  I can store our wedding and honeymoon albums, the kids first year albums, and the Halloween album.  If I can get it up to date, I can also store the Thanksgiving album.  If I finish that I'll move on to the Disneyland album.  I still have plenty to take with me, don't worry.

Last night, I also photoshopped the backgrounds of a bunch of the kids' school pictures.  I used techniques I've already blogged about.  I simply desaturated most of them, making a light gray background. 

Just touching base.  What are you working on?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Father's Day 2009 page

Most of the friends who are leaving comments seem to be digital scrapbookers.  Here's a digital page that I completed today:

It's not my favorite page, but it gets that album officially up to date!  I used an 8.5x11" template, so it was super speedy.  If you want more freedom with the printed books (from Shutterfly, etc.) you have the option of digiscrapping the pics using your own papers and templates, and them uploading them to Shutterfly as if they were full page photos.  Have fun playing! 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Album Organization

I'm happy to say that the Christmas album is up to date!  I got the chance to scrapbook at church on Saturday and made a ton of progress!  All the ladies were working on different aspects (sorting and organizing photos, cropping, journaling, etc.) and it got me thinking about my process.

Here's how I normally assemble an album:
1st: Take great pictures.  If the picture isn't great, alter it and print a new one.  For example, if the colors are horrible and clash, make it black and white (or sepia).
2nd:  Choose which pics I want to scrapbook and put them in page protectors in the appropriate album.
3rd: Put a post-it note on the page protector with the date and any info I don't want to forget to journal.
4th:  Go through and choose a background paper that enhances the photos.  Slip that into the page protector with the pics.
5th: Sometimes I'll go through and put specific matching embellishments (or a coordinating paper) in the page protector. 
Finally, I put the pages together. 

How do you organize your efforts?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Flying Solo

My husband is off at another training, so I am single-parenting again this week.  The last training gave birth to the posts about cleaning cracked eggs, etc.  One night, I put them to bed, went to take a quick shower, and got out to find them playing in the fireplace!

Monday and Tuesday went as well as could be expected.  I showered before picking them up from school to avoid a repeat of the soot episode.  Yesterday, I even scored a ton of free boxes and packing materials! 

This morning, however, I have a sick 4 year old home from school.  Today's tip: frozen blackberries are a great way to cool down hot oatmeal.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Silver Bells....

I've been polishing the silver, and am reminded how little I enjoy that.  I've also been worried about its fate while in storage. 

They sell storage bags made from silver cloth for $15 each at Bed Bath & Beyond.  I'd have to buy 4 of those plus a big one for the tray, etc.

Instead, I bought some silver cloth (available at JoAnn) and made my own!  It's not difficult at all.

For the trays: Sew a pouch with extra length for a front flap.  Attach ribbon to the front of the pouch and to the flap to secure.

For the hollowware (teapots, etc.):  Make into drawstring bags, sized to fit. 

You only need to be able to sew a straight line.  Make the channel of the pouch first, then sew the side and bottom.  I attached a diaper pin to the end of some satin ribbon to make threading it through the channel easier. 


Thursday, November 12, 2009


I recently got a 2nd degree burn on my index finger.  (Tip #1- Don't grab a hot burner.)  Here's a tip for how to treat a minor burn:

First, hold a frozen cold pack to it (the kind you put in packed lunches).  Make sure you don't go numb, as that could indicate frostbite.  This will stop further injury and ease the swelling and pain. 

Treat with Butt Paste:

The name is awful, but this stuff is magic!  I slathered it on and covered with a super-cool Hello Kitty Band-Aid to keep it on overnight.  It helped immensely!  The burn didn't even blister (and I know it wanted to- I could see it coming). 

My husband and I road-tested this stuff on our children.  Surprisingly, it works better than the competitors that have more active ingredients in them.  It works magic on terrible diaper rash, and can help grown-up healing, too. 

Sensitive Little Ears

We attend the "contemporary" service at our church.  The band is amazing, but it's too loud for my son. 
He would beg to stay in the nursery with my daughter, but that meant he missed the children's message.  (He's the kid who always "says the darndest things" and we'd hate to miss out on that.)  So we tried having him stay with us, but he'd end up hiding under the pews holding his ears, or begging to go back to the "cry room". 

We tried regular headphones.  They looked adorable, but didn't help the sound levels.  I considered earmuffs.  Then I came across these:

"Sound isolation headphones" meant for kids who play instruments (like the drums).  They reduce the noise level by 22 decibels.  They weren't as expensive as the adult versions you see in in-flight catalogs, either.  They were around $30, including shipping. 

They've already arrived, so I'll let you know how it goes! 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Album covers

This week, I've been backing up my photos and organizing my albums.  I love albums with a spot for a photo on the front cover.  For our Thanksgiving album, I didn't use a regular photo.  Instead, I grabbed a Norman Rockwell painting, lowered the opacity, and topped with some wordart.

The result:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Digital Page

The kids' birthday albums are officially up to date!  Today I worked on my Mother's Day album.   

Here's the page for 2008:

It's an 8x8 book, so I just printed it off and slipped it in a page protector! 

Back to Scrappin'

My daughter's second birthday had a little bird theme.  I couldn't resist this paper.  I put the photos together using a template, just as I had for her first birthday page.  This time, I didn't like the white border, so I cut out all the pics and glued them back in position.  The template ensured that the photos were sized and cut perfectly, so it was a breeze! 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween 2009

Here we are:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hybrid Scrapbooking with Templates

So by now we all know what scrapbooking is.  And many are familiar with digital scrapbooking- making "pages" on the computer and printing them as a photo book.  I've been dabbling in "hybrid" scrapbooking.  I'll print out my journaling, for example, and then glue it onto a regular page. 

I'm now trying out templates.  I downloaded a few online and they look like this:

Apparently, more recent versions of Photoshop can drag and drop into the squares.  I've found a system that works in PSE4.  I select the square with the Magic Wand.  Then open the picture you want and Select>All; Edit>Copy.  Back in the template, Edit>Paste Into Selection.  Then Image>Free Transform to size it, spin in, and place it in the square. 

My daughter's birthday scrapbook is an awkward size (9.25x12.25).  I can't print that size, so I printed on 8.5x11 and glued it to a pretty patterned paper.  Here is the result:

One thing I love about this technique is the ability to print words directly onto the photos. 

Well, I'm off to make a page for her second birthday.   How time flies....

Halloweens Past

I've been back at scrapbooking, and just got the Halloween album up to date.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Son's Baby Book

Here is a photo collage of my son's baby book. 

I'll go back and make it better if I'm ever caught up.  : )  

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bittersweet Baby Book

I've finally completed my daughter's baby book.  She's my youngest, so it is bittersweet to be done with baby books.  Someday, if I'm ever completely caught up, I can go back and make things better.  For now, it's going into storage. 

I've made my first Photoshop collage with pictures of the pages:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

There is a castle on a cloud....

I made a helmet cake for my son's fireman themed birthday in April.

My friend Angela saw it and said, "My birthday's in October and I like castles!"  Her party was Saturday, and I did my best to provide her a castle. 

She enjoyed the white cake I made for my daughter's birthday, so I used the same recipe for her cake (with the addition of blue food coloring- she loves blue food.)  The icing on the inside was white icing with Jell-O mix added for color and a fruity flavor.  (My friend also likes those fruity blue mixed drinks- I would've added rum extract to complete the effect but we were in mixed company.)

I first baked 2 9x9 inch cakes and stacked them.  I made niches in the corners with a cookie cutter (to better support the towers.)

I baked a 9x13 inch cake and, using the cookie cutter, cut twelve rounds out of the cake.  I stacked them 3 per tower. 

At this point, I iced the cake with Swiss meringue, piping turrets on the towers.

I piped the sidewalls and door onto parchment paper.

The idea was for the meringue to harden and then be attached; however, it never did.  I ended up having to bake it like regular meringue.  (Swiss meringue is heated as you make it, and does not need to be baked- that way it keeps its pure white color.)  I'll try a different recipe next time. 

The meringue and towers were determined to discintigrate.  I did my best, and it's the thought that counts, right?  I'd rather not show a picture of the final result, but in the spirit of honesty:

It sits on the bottom tier of my silver server.  I cut cobalt blue cardstock to fit (with scalloped edges) and wrote "Happy Birthday!" on the front.  She did indeed have a happy birthday and, as far as I know, lived happily ever after...

Friday, October 9, 2009


I've finally found a way to add twinkles to the picture from the September post, "Photoshop Magic?"

To recap, here's the original pic:

 I'd changed the background color, but couldn't master adding my own sparkles.

Today, I downloaded some pictures of the night sky and used them like I would a texture. 

Here are the results:

As you can imagine, the dark photos totally overwhelmed the picture of my daughter when I was scanning through the blend modes.  Today's tip to help get around that issue:  Have multiple, identical layers of the lighter pic.  Then when you blend them together, it's 2 to 1!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Date Night Inequity

My husband's preparations: 
1) Put on the shirt he knows I like.
2) Spritz of cologne

My preparations:
1) Pedicure in the gazebo so he won't smell the fumes.
2) Manicure
3) Plan my "look"
4) Glaze hair
5) Shave
6) Moisturize with self-tanner to attempt human skin tone on my legs
7) Research cute, retro hairstyles
8) Attack my hair with scalding hot curling iron in attempt to replicate cute hairstyle, while the sun scorches my retinas if I dare move a millimeter.
9) Fail miserably to replicate cute hairstyle- decide to just go with it.
10) Spray with hairspray
11) Spray with silicone shine gloss, to make recently fried hair look non-fried
12) Curl eyelashes
13) Apply foundation, bronzer, blush, eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara, and lipstick
14) Throw together new outfit when crucial items for planned "look" cannot be located.
15) Run out the door, forgetting perfume.

Husband's step 3:  Say, "you look great, honey", making it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Object Swap

Making Memories recently had a challenge based on the song lyrics "Every generation has a chance to change the world."  A picture of my son sprang to mind.  In it, he was holding a big green balloon.  I decided to see if I could turn it into a globe. 

I first removed the string and tie.  Then I pasted a globe onto a new layer.  Tip: By adjusting the opacity of the globe, I could see where his fingers were (so I knew exactly where to erase).

I look forward to hearing your thoughts! 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

No Anne Geddes

I'm no Anne Geddes, but I have to experiment on something while I learn about Photoshop.  Here is the fruit of today's labors:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Photoshop Magic?

As soon as I saw this picture of my daughter, I knew I wanted to play with it.  I had dreams of adding a little magic with fairy-like sparkles. 

I first changed the color of the background (as done in the post, "A Beginning").  I gave it a soft blur and brightened her up a bit.  I then added a layer of texture (64% opacity) and smoothed it over her face and arm (as done in "Photoshop Textures", with the healing brush). 

I think it lends her an ethereal quality and the sparkles I've tried so far have just looked cheesy.  I'm continuing my research and this may not be the final incarnation of this pic, but I thought I'd share with you what I've done so far. 

With Halloween approaching, how do you add magic to your pics?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Routine charts

My son used to love his My Go To Bed Book.  When my husband had to be gone for 6 weeks, I scanned some of the pages and turned them into a bedtime routine chart.  It worked like a charm!

Now that he's old enough to make his bed in the mornings and with the approaching turmoil of a deployment, I've added a morning routine chart.  We didn't have a book that fit the bill, so I had to improvise.  For "wake up" I googled the phrase "happy sun" and the kids picked this one (quite emphatically, I might add). 

To make a chart, simply print your images, glue them to 8x10 cardstock, laminate, add 2 eyelets to the top, and hang with fun ribbon.  They're extremely durable!  I might even make an afternoon chart for the things they do when they get home.  (Put shoes away, set the table for dinner, etc.) 

I can't wait to hear your thoughts!  What are your best tips for mornings/bedtime?

Update:  My son requested a green chart for the afternoon.  Here it is!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Decorative Packing Tape

I always clean my home thoroughly before going on vacation.  It's such a wonderful feeling to come home to a beautiful and clean home! 

I'm having similar ideas about the boxes we'll be putting in storage.  Everybody knows to designate boxes according to their rooms and I'm doing just that with a whimsical twist, using decorative packing tape.
Maybe polka dots for my son's room and birdies for my little girl?  Here are the rolls I've purchased so far:

Not only will we know where each box goes, but there will be a little something to make us smile.

What are your best moving tips?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Toddlers Telling Time

Today's obsession is how best to mark the passage of time while Daddy is gone. 

The first strategy involves apothecary jars filled with jelly beans (1 for each day of the deployment).  Each day, the child gets to eat 1 jelly bean.  To avoid fighting, we'd need a jar for each child. 

A fun thing to do before my husband leaves would be researching which jelly bean flavor is each child's favorite. Then, each jar could be filled with their favorite flavor bean!  I can imagine my son choosing the buttered popcorn flavor because he often eats popcorn with Daddy.

The second strategy is a paper chain.  Each day, one link is removed from the chain.

I like these because they're patriotic without being over-the-top.

These are gorgeous, but wedding-themed.  I'd have to custom print the paper with messages from Daddy for each day and markers like "Halfway there!"

My final conclusion?  I need a better way to cut my scrapbook paper with these cute patterned edges!  (The little scissors never work very well for me.) 

What ideas do you have to mark the passage of time?

Growth Chart

Admittedly, I've been out of commission for a few days while reading the new Dan Brown novel.  Not wanting to shirk my blogging duties, I'll share with you a project I completed a few months ago: a growth chart.

Being a military family who moves often, we needed an alternative to tracking our kids' growth on a doorframe.  Many growth charts commercially available are too cartoonish and furthermore, too small!  My son could easily grow past 6' and I'd like to be able to chart the whole way.

The solution:  I purchased a 1x4 and placed it on the wall at the height I wanted it to be.  Then, I placed a tape measure over it (starting at the floor) and taped it to the wood.  I woodburned the ruler markings into the wood.  I also woodburned the family name into the top of the growth chart.  Two coats of natural polyurethane and it was finished!  Here are some pics of the finished chart (with the names of my children removed):

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Today's Tip

I love tips, hints, and tricks!  I thought I'd share one with you today:
Another use for air freshener
Instead of spraying air freshener willy-nilly around your home, did you know it does an excellent job cleaning mirrors?  The pleasant scent it leaves behind is a bonus! 
What's your best household cleaning trick?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kids' Costumes

The kids' costumes have been completed! 
My daughter's overdress turned out like this:
Because the dress still had the zipper in the back, I sewed the bow closed in the front.
I found an awesome blouse in her closet.  Unfortunately, it was too long to be just a blouse, and too short to be used as a chemise. 
I bought some plain white muslin and fashioned a skirt that I sewed to the blouse, above the ruffled part. 
The result?  A chemise that can be turned back into a cute blouse with a simple rip of a seam! 
Here are both pieces together:
Being modeled by my cuties: