Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I might as well join the Audubon Society. . .

All of a sudden, the courtyard of my condo complex has become a virtual aviary. Somehow, these dead crab apples have gone unnoticed and unwanted all winter long and then word suddenly spread among the bird community, it's a free-for-all! Hundreds of birds flocked in today, it was so entertaining. The frumpy but good-natured robins verses the dowdy starlings who all they have going for them is their gang mentality and movement en masse. My favorites were the Cedar Waxwings (seen in my photo above) which seem very graceful and polite and somewhat mysterious.

Unfortunately, because I was having so much fun watching them I opened my window shades all the way. . . and even more unfortunately, because hubby is so fastidiously tidy we had the windows cleaned in December thus making our large front windows practically undetectable to at least three of those hundreds of birds. . . Fortunately, however, none of them died from the impact, but some did leave feathers on the glass and one had the crap scared out of him, literally. Hubby, looks like we'll have to clean the windows again soon. . .

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dwell Baby at Target!

The great crib debate of 07/08 may be coming to a close! Hubby has really wanted to build a crib for little Lu based on some very fabulous, very expensive modern baby cribs by ducduc. Well, 5 months have gone by (let alone the six pre-baby months where this has been in the works) and still no crib. I have all the confidence in the world that he could do it and would do a brilliant job, he just doesn't have the time. Sigh. But alas! A compromise. . . Target just announced that they are going to carry two cribs by Dwell Studios (and a whole line of other cool baby stuff). I think I've convinced him that this is our perfect alternative! He loves Dwell style and I love Target prices. . . it's perfect!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thank you, Ms. Set Designer of p. 76 in the CB2 catalog

Have you seen this page in the new CB2 catalog? It came in the mail last week and I dog-eared this page immediately. What a clever way to display family photos! It is so easy to do in Photoshop, too. I thought it might be fun to put together a simple little Photoshop tutorial on how to make these bright, posterized prints.

  1. Choose a nice, good quality (high resolution) photo without to much mess or noise or clutter going on in the background. This is a nice one of hubby smiling with nothin' but blue sky behind him.
  2. Crop in, if necessary. All the photos in room above are close-up shots of faces and heads which is really effective. As you crop, remember your standard frame sizes are 4x6, 5x7, 5x5, and 8x10. This will save some hassle later if you keep your crop proportionate to these sizes. In Photoshop, first drag the crop tool from corner to corner and let go to get the image proportions right. Then grab one corner and hold the shift key to keep your crop box in that same ratio. Let go and double click to set. To crop a perfect square, just drag the crop box with the shift key held down right from the start.
  3. Desaturate the image. Image>Adjustments>Desaturate or find your Hue/Saturation/Brightness slider and slide the saturation all the way down so your image looks black and white. (Don't convert the whole image mode to grayscale because we're going to add color again is just a few steps.)
  4. Increase contrast till all your grays become either black or white and there is nothing left in between. In Photoshop, the easiest way to do this is Image>Adjustments>Posterize and set the levels to 2. You could also use your levels or curves in adjustments if you like to have more control. (Ctrl L fro Photoshoppers, or Enhance>Lighting>Levels for Elements users.)
  5. Paint or erase out any unwanted junk. . .
  6. Create a new layer, choose a color, and fill new layer with your Fill tool (paint bucket).
  7. Set the Blending Mode for the color layer to Screen. The blending modes are in the drop down menu of the layers toolbox at the bottom right hand of screen. (Check out some of the other blending modeswhile your there, though. "Hard Light" is pretty cool. . .)
  8. Print, frame and wow your friends.
  9. These may look best as a whole collection, so try a bunch! Or, one huge poster print would be super cool, as well. This one of hubby is going to be my desktop wallpaper for the month.
  10. I realized this is also a fun way to spice up travel photos. Also, try inverting the black and white layer to see which version you like best, in negative or postive. Ctrl I. Here are some of the other ones I came up with:

(**I'm using Photoshop CS2 for these. I'd love to hear if this works the same way in Photoshop Elements. **)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

just so you know. . .

h&m is opening three stores in seattle! these will be more accessible to us than the ones in California just because we go up to seattle several times a year to see my family and the one in Vegas is close but is soooo dinky it hardly counts.

(Thanks, not martha, for the heads-up!)

Friday, January 11, 2008

some of the fun things we did in Seattle at christmas

This deserves a list of its own. . .
  • Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park (*photo from their website*)
  • Archie McPhee's, where my dad stocks up on the funniest stocking stuffers . . . like the yodeling pickle Mike got in his stocking this year and these cute little Russ bean bags I couldn't resist
  • Boeing Tour This factory is the largest building in the world by volume, completely mind-boggling. (*photo from their website*)
  • Cupcake Royale in Ballard. MMMMmmmmm. And we HAD to pick up a little hat for Lu that says "Baby Cake" on it.
  • Lots of fun with cousins and family. . . obviously Max and Lucy enjoyed it.
  • The Donut House in Anacortes (it's bright lavender, you can't miss it) with Big Foot donuts
  • Ferry ride and day trip to San Juan Island with my mom and dad
  • The cute little Santa doll is the perfect size for Lu to hold and play with. It's from a company called Under the Nile that makes organic cotton products from Egypt. Cool. Found at a cute little children's boutique in Friday Harbor.
  • Dim Sum in Seattle's International District (we used to call it Chinatown, but now I guess it is so much more than that)
  • Hamburgers at a favorite Seattle establishment, Dick's Drive-in
  • Rolled cookies with mom
  • Ate most of said cookies
  • Rainforest Cafe with all the kids
  • Opened lots of fun gifts
  • I should mention, I won one of the games of Settlers. . . that never happens! But, oh, it feels good when it does.
  • The 5 Spot restaurant on Queen Anne hill . . . the Andouille Sausage and Sweet Potato Soup was unforgettable, but unfortunately it won't be there forever! They rotate the menu and highlight foods from different regions around the country.

things i'm glad we did for the holidays

  • Send out Baby Announcements. . . finally!
  • decorate for Christmas
  • host my sister-in-law and her three kids for a couple weeks
  • take photos with Santa
  • go to Seattle to spend Christmas with my family (this will get its own list in a subsequent post)
  • read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • read No Country for Old Men by Cormac McArthy
  • put away Lucy's 0-3 month clothes. . . no one prepared me that this might be emotional
  • host New Year's Party
    • Guitar Hero on Wii
    • Chocolate Fountain
    • easiest hors d'oeuvre that never fails to please: frozen meatballs and BBQ sauce in a crockpot. . . I'm almost embarressed to tell people how easy this is when the rave about it
    • Lots of friends
    • Martinelli's toast at midnight
    • a balloon drop at midnight
    • make your own party hats
    • Blueprint calendars in cd jewel cases for all guests
** list items in this color are shown in photos above **

Friday, January 04, 2008

things i wish i'd done for christmas

So these are a few of the many things I just didn't get around to doing for Christmas this year, but I wanted to!
  1. April's super cool ornament challenge
  2. print downloadable gifttags from amy karol
  3. photograph my christmas baking like amy karol
  4. send out christmas cards. . . i designed them (see above), i just didn't print, address and send them.
  5. quilt some potholders to go with the cookie cutters we gave to siblings this year
  6. build an upside-down snowman
  7. make these cool pincushions from Heather Bailey for all my crafty friends
  8. host a bad holiday sweater party
  9. christmasy cupcakes
  10. make a christmas tree skirt out of the beautiful fabric a friend brought back from China last year. . . (see below)

thoughts from a december hair appointment

While feeding the baby in the back room this morning, I hear the “ding-dong” of my Outlook alarm telling me that I had an appointment in 15 minutes. An appointment for what? I thought my hair appointment was at 2:30 pm . . . wrong, 8:30 am. So I try to hurry Lucy along (which is impossible because she’s the slowest eater in the whole world), throw on some clothes, and run out the door. . . no make-up, no babysitter. My hair lady’s going to hate me. I booked this appointment in July, that’s how busy she gets. Oh well, I’ll tell her we can skip styling my hair so she doesn’t get backed up, I’m just desperate for a trim and color. And I’ll just have to suffer through staring at my bare face and puffy eyes sans make-up in the mirror for an hour and a half. Sigh.

Anyhow, while under the heat lamp to set the color, I pick up the holiday issue of Vogue to look at their 250 gift ideas (I love gift idea lists, btw. Have you seen the one at Purl or in Blueprint?) Vogue, I will let you know, does not have the “for him, for her, for mom, for baby” to-give lists as most do, oh no, I think they have the “I want” lists all for the viewer/reader. Stuff that you would only ask Santa for if you still believed in helper elves slaving away in a factory in the North Pole with no other motivation than to make you happy and a Santa unfettered by budgets and a free trade society which uses a monetary exchange system like the rest of us. There are $2500 bags and $700 slippers and design label everything. I bet 1% of Vogue readers actually get or give this stuff under the tree, most of us just like looking at the pretty pictures and dreaming. They did have a “Hostess Gifts for Under $100” list which made me laugh because the hostess gifts I gave out this weekend were from the Dollar Spot at Target.

But before I got to the gift list, I flipped right to an editorial by a Kristina Stewart Ward about her conflicted life as a Mormon and fashion/style/society magazine editor. Apparently, the two don’t usually go together. It was well-written and very interesting. She started by saying how guilty she feels for hiring a nanny (baby number 2 of 2 is on the way, she says); good Mormons don’t hire nannies. I was impressed with how she represented and presented her beliefs and her choices without seeming to worry what it might do to her career and reputation. . . maybe she knows her amazing career and solid reputation are owed to her Mormon upbringing and humble background. Well, go Kristina for making yourself known to us and not being too shy to publish to the world what you believe and how you make it work in the real world. If you call $2500 bags and $700 slippers the real world, that is. . .