Monday, February 28, 2011

Around here, there are some days when things just go completely off-track.  
Everything feels backwards.

But I thank God that His mercies are new every morning.

And that, in Christ, there is always sunshine after a storm.

I took the last photo  from my backyard as the sun was rising.  A rainstorm was passing through and the gold-lined clouds waiting behind it were so brilliant and beautiful. Only God could create this earth with such perfection.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday Morning Art...

...and the photos that got 'shopped.  

We have a bright, beautiful breakfast nook, with two walls of it being windows.  This is where we eat almost every meal and do almost all of our art projects.  I love it because it's so sunny and open, and you can see the birds and our garden out the windows.  But, it is a photographic nightmare if you are a novice, ignorant of all photography knowledge, and haven't the time or courage to pick up a book about it.  

(If you are me).

I don't know how to shoot photos that have a ton of backlight.  So anytime I have pictures of the children doing arts and crafts, I have photos that need some kind of help.  

Following are some photos I took this morning (everything on auto settings) of the kids painting on butcher paper, and the fixes I used in Photoshop Elements 7.0.

This is my typical, blasted-out photo.  I take this photo all the time in the kitchen nook.

 I knew I wouldn't have much luck making this photo look natural or rebuilding the right side of Sophie's face, so I decided to stylize it a bit and enhance the 'shopped look. I warmed it and sharpened it and burned the edges.  This is the result:

This is my classic silly Sophie face.  It makes me laugh!  That wrinkled nose is reason enough for living.  
Not too terrible on the lighting, but too cool, too gray, not enough skin tone.

So I warmed it and sharpened it.  The result is subtle and I'm not happy with it.  The color reminded me a little of a '70's action in the Pioneer Woman action set.  

So I went back to the original and did a "Seventies" action from the downloadable actions from Pioneer Woman and then added her "Dim The Lights" action at 50% opacity.  I thought the result was very cute.  I love how it darkened her eyes and added a greenish tint overall:

The next two photos of Tristan have pretty subtle changes.  I wasn't even that unhappy with the SOOC shots, but wanted to play around a bit.

So I warmed and lightened the whole photo and then burned the edges.  It makes it so much cozier.

Same here--a sweet SOOC.

But a little warming, lightening and burning just enhances it the right amount for me:

I love love love this next photo!  Sophie's profile, her lashes, her little nose, the shape of her mouth.  Even the blue paint stuck in her hair that I clone-stamped out of the first two photos because I thought it was distracting.  But here, I love it.  I knew it only needed a slight 'shopping.  

So again with the warming and sharpening.  Look how the sharpening made her eyes just sparkle and her ringlets shine.

This next photo is another classic of mine.  Blasted-out from the back, the face is dark and the rest of the photo is gray and grainy.  

A little warming, of course, but what else? I don't even know how else to save this.

Again, if I can't make it look natural, I 'd rather stylize it to a point that it doesn't matter what the original was like.  So I went back to the original and added Pioneer Woman's "Soft and Faded" action.  The result is a sweet, vintage look that I love.  See?  I meant to do that.  

Now my little Grace.  How much do you love it?!  But too cool, too blah for such a precious expression.

Warmed.  The result is my favorite, because the face stays soft, portrait-like.  It really is perfect:

But just for playin' around's sake, I tried Pioneer Woman's "Fresh Color" action.  The details are all sharpened and I like what it did to her eyes, but overall the effect was too hard for my taste.  I probably could have done a few things in this case, like reduce the opacity or use the magnetic lasso to select only the eyes for this effect.  Something to do the next time the twins are napping.

The black and white is nice too.

 The following three photos are SOOC.  Love them all, and that makes sense, as they are all taken from the opposite direction (windows behind me...duh).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Muddy Buddies

Please note: Sophie only has one boot on.  How long has the situation been a one-boot situation?  I know not.  But a study of the degree of sock-griminess leads me to believe at least 30 minutes have elapsed since boot-removal.  One thing I know for sure:

that sock is toast.  

Bewildered that she continues to play.  
Bewildered that I don't really care.  
Some days I get a gift from God: a notion to relinquish control on messiness and just let 'em at it.

It was cold out this morning.  But they would not be deterred from their worm search.  And mud-cookie making.  And other such dirtaphile activities.  I was proud of their determination, so I rewarded them with some hot chocolate.

PS.  Grace would like you to know she's a muddy buddy too.  But just not as muddy.


Daffodil would like you to think she rules the roost.

She'd like you to think she's pecky and pretentious, disdainful and snooty.

She'd like you to think she reins heavy-handed.

But one look at that delicate, sweet fuzzy bottom? She's not foolin' anyone!

Hangin' at the Hut

Sunny skies...


...and a few chickens...

...make for one very happy girl.

Oh.  And one chop-licking dog.

My grandma had a Barred Rock. Named Pepper.  I don't know if I named it or if that was already her name.
She was my favorite.  And now I have two Peppers of my own, Daffodil and Tulip.  

Feeding the chickens at my grandparents house in Kansas is one of my most fondest memories, ever.  I got to take a bucket of kitchen scraps to the coop and feed them.  What a thrill!  I made sure each chicken got it's fair share, especially Pepper.

I see so much of myself in Gracie sometimes.  She loves the chickens!  She tries her best to pet them before they scuttle away.

She loves to just sit and talk to them and feed them treats, like radish greens and apple cores.  

She makes sure they all get fed fairly, too.  

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Crazy Bats

That's all I have in this house--crazy bats!!  
You can see for yourself as the fruit loops themselves go bananas in the next two videos:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sky On Fire

How blessed we are to witness God's love all around us everyday.  

We get spectacular sunsets around here.  

 When I see the sky on fire like this, I think of when we will be "caught up together"... "in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will be with the Lord forever". (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

I hear the Savior say "Thy strength indeed is small.  Child of weakness watch and pray.  Find in me thine all in all" And when before the throne I stand in Him complete, Jesus died my soul to save, my lips shall still repeat...Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rocks and a Red

The coop is complete (except for paint) and the time had come to acquire some residents for the Sunny Side Up Hut!

So yesterday we went to the feed store and picked up two Barred Plymouth Rocks and one Rhode Island Red.

The kids were head over heels in love with them, instantly!

I wondered if the names we had picked out a while ago would stick.  

They did not.  
This is our Rhode Island Red.  Her name is Red.  Officially, Rosie Red.  Or Rose Red.  But we just call her Red.  Little Red.  Or Ole Red.

Here are our two Barred Rocks.  Their names have yet to be decided.  Gracie is pushing for Daffodil and Tulip.  

I love their fuzzy bottoms!

This video is of the transition from carrier to coop for the first time.  I love the cautious clucking from Red as she takes her first steps into the coop.  And the kids' sweet encouragement.