Sunday, January 11, 2015

Looking Back.... and Looking Ahead

I don't really make New Year resolutions any more, since I'm usually trying to do the usual resolution-type things throughout the year-- lose weight, de-clutter and organize my house, get more exercise, establish and follow a budget, and so on.  All these things are important in their own way, but....



The one thing that has been on my mind in recent years, especially at the beginning of each year is time and its inevitable, yet very limited nature. Limited for me. For you. For everyone.  Time marches onward whether you are having fun or not, whether you are enjoying life or not, and there are no guarantees that you will be given a full lifetime's supply of it.  




I happened to find this great blog post at Rattlebridge Farm and it's the perfect reminder to take the time to smell the roses, to enjoy yourself, to do what matters most to you...to consider life a gift not to be squandered.





Easier said than done. That's what the practical, pragmatic part of me says.  Easy enough to say 'seize the day' when there is so much to be done, so much that must be done. Everyone out there blathers on about balance, but balance can be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve at times.  Sometimes there is just no balance at all, there's just getting through your day or week---gritting your teeth and getting things done.   




I have found out the hard way that you have to plan for balance, insist on it sometimes... take  those opportunities when you can to do the fun things, to do what you enjoy and what makes you happy so that life isn't just one endless slog towards the ultimate finish line. 




You regret the things you didn't do, they say, not the things that you did do (well, there are a few things I regret doing).  Looking at it a different way, I don't look back with any kind of fond, happy glow at the times I spent cleaning up and organizing my office, the weeks filled with endless, tedious meetings and fearsome deadlines, the time I had to deal with a wretched tax snarl (other than tax attorneys or accountants, who would have fond memories of past tax problems??).  




In fact, my mind tends to glaze over the more mundane, day-to-day business of life; I find that those stretches of time where all I do are tedious, un-fun chores are just forgettable blank spots in my memory (what did I do the first weekend of last October?  Oh yeah, I spent it wrestling with some horrid technical computer issue).  

What does stand out in my mind with happy clarity is the time I went to see the Hobbit and snuck in a bag of Sees chocolates (no thanks to over-priced, yucky movie-theater snacks)...the trip my mom and I took together to Yosemite one glorious fall.....




All the happy weekends with my husband in San Diego and Santa Barbara.  Our birthday get-aways to Yosemite in winter.  Our hike up the icy Vernal Falls trail to Little Yosemite Valley in all its silent, white, empty grandeur (ever been on this trail in August?  It's like being in line at a blockbuster movie).



Our cabin/Utah property adventure figures prominently on my list of happy memories (for more information, see this post).  Our first week spent on our property in our 5th wheel was amazing.... who knew that building a road and installing utilities could be so fun?



Our first night there was incredible...camping on our own little piece of heaven!




Making or creating anything that is pleasing to the eye and beautiful (or that tastes good) brings an enormous amount of satisfaction... I certainly never regret time spent on these sorts of things.



So... to me, the best resolution I can make for 2015 (and the years beyond) is to make as many happy memories as possible that will stand out like bright beacons when I look back over past weeks and months.  Build them up in a bank account so that I can try and balance out the more tedious aspects of daily life, the endless to-do list.....

Here are some of the things I hope will make my 'bank account' richer.....

Finishing our cabin.....






Another long birthday weekend spent with my husband in the Yosemite winter-wonderland (it's becoming a tradition)...



Any time spent with my babies is a joy...





Baking, baking, baking and CHOCOLATE




More projects at home.....




Watching old movies...



Hunting for more treasure...




I would love to hear what you have planned for 2015!


Linking to...
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
The Scoop #153 at Cedar Hill Farmhouse
Wow Us Wedneday #204 at Savvy Southern Style
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Creating Watercolor Art from Photos

I've been having a lot of fun playing around with this great iPhone app that allows you to create a watercolor rendering of your photos-- its called Waterlogue.  I initially discovered it at Eclectically Vintage (click here to visit this blog post).  Click here to go directly to the app (and of course it's available on your iPhone in the App Store for $2.99).




Very simple and easy to use.  The hardest part for me was trying to remember my iTunes password; after surmounting that hurdle, it took less than a minute to purchase, download, and start using this very fun and handy app.




The easiest way to use this app is to take photos with your phone. You can also take photos with a regular camera, email them to yourself, and then open them on your phone and save them there. Once the photo is on your camera, click on the photo icon on the left hand side of the app page, open Photo Library, find the photo you want to use and click on it, and then choose from several rendering styles and treatments.  There are 14 settings that allow you to control the color, wetness, and pen lines.  You can also choose resolution level, lightness/darkness levels, and whether to use a border.

You then have several options for what you can do with the finished product. Selecting the heart icon on the right hand side of the app page gives you the choice of emailing the photo;  saving to your phone; sending to your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr account; and creating and sending a postcard to whomever you choose.

I thought I would share several before and after examples of how this app can be used to create unique, personalized art that can be used for all kinds of projects.

Using a recent photo of a Christmas vignette on my stairs....



.....I chose the Bold, Color Bloom, and Luminous treatments.  I especially like the way the Bold version turned out, with its blurry but bright colors and the nice detail on the picture frame, boxes, dog figurines, and the greens in the foreground... although some detail is lost on a couple of the smaller dog figurines.  Plus, the flat, white of the stairs in the background gets washed out and lost.....


Using Bold


Using Color Bloom


Using Luminous

By choosing the Darker light setting with a Luminous treatment I was able to pull out more detail and definition in all the items in the foreground as well as the stairs in the background.


Using Luminous at a Darker setting, and no border


I found that I liked the end results best when I used photos with a high level of contrasting light and shadows, demonstrated in the next few before/after examples.  



The high contrast between the dark entryway and deep, shaded porch of the building and the shadows underneath the trees translates very effectively using the Travelogue treatment.  I especially like the vintage, old-painting effect of Travelogue....

Using Travelogue


The bright sunlight and deep shadows of early morning.......


...transform beautifully here using the Luminous setting. A background in deep shade really makes the bright foreground pop...

Using Luminous



The dark green of the foliage in the background creates a strong backdrop for my two dogs...



...although I'm not a fan of the results using Bold... this veers too much towards Andy Warhol for my taste....


Using Bold



 I prefer the softer effects of Bloom and Travelogue.

Using Bloom


Using Travelogue


When using photos of vignettes with lots of detail, play around with the different treatments and settings to see what works best. Again, contrasting light and shadow yields the best results.



Using the It's Technical and Illustration treatment does the best job of picking out the details on the transferware serving platter and the flowers.

Using It's Technical


Using Illustration


I still get fairly nice detail using Color Bloom and Travelogue... 

Using Color Bloom


Using Travelogue


Less detail with Vibrant, but I love the blurry, Impressionistic effect of this treatment.

Using Vibrant


Lots of detail here in this photo to play around with...



The silvery gleam of the pitcher and votive holders look good here using Bold....

Using Bold


But I prefer the way the detail in the tray and plates are rendered when using Color Bloom.


Using Color Bloom



Using Illustration



Using It's Technical



Photos of landscapes work especially well in Waterlogue.



Using Luminous


Using Color Bloom




Using Color Bloom


Using Illustration


Using Vibrant


Have fun with this great app! For myself, I see many projects in the near future, especially once I get to the decorating stage of our cabin project.

Linking to 
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
The Scoop #152 at Cedar Hill Farmhouse
Wow Us Wednesdays #203 at Savvy Southern Style