Friday, February 28, 2014

Alternatives to Photoshop and Lightroom

Grrr...I'm so exasperated right now I could almost scream. I am trying to teach myself how to use Lightroom 5. So many websites, blogs and Facebook posts suggested using it to edit photos. I found it on sale so I bought it. For me it has an extreme learning curve. I've watched Youtube videos and read tutorials and it still is seeming like Greek to me. If only I could find a tutor to sit next to me! 

While I am trying to figure this out, I've resorted to using some alternatives. One of my favorites is Picmonkey. It is very user-friendly. I've gotten by with the free version but if you'd like more options you can pay for more. You can edit color and exposure. You can crop your photos and add text. There are fun things like makeup, frames/borders and overlays. Picmonkey has some cool seasonal things to add to your photos too. 

Another option is Picasa. I started out importing all of my photos here. Picasa again is very user-friendly. You can store your photos here unlike Picmonkey. You can crop and add text. You can edit the color and exposure. Picasa has frames and borders. There are some fun and funky things you can do to your photos. I use this all the time.

A third option is Gimp. This is a free graphics editor that can– like Photoshop– be used for some graphic design work.  Available as a free download for Windows, Mac, and Linux.I haven't spent much time with this program. The other two just seemed much easier and I'm not into graphic designing.

Hopefully you will find one of these sites to meet your needs. I can almost promise that you won't be gritting your teeth with frustration like I am. Truthfully, I'm thinking I might just shelve Lightroom for now and go back to Picmonkey and Picasa! (or if you know any Lightroom experts...send them my way!!)
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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Only Ones Smiling are the SnowMen (and Women)

If you've been watching the weather at all you know that Minnesota has been getting hit with feet and feet of snow. We've also been hit with wave after wave of Polar Vortexes. Schools have been closed because of the dangerous windchills. Many roads are barely passable and runners are surely sick of having to use the treadmill. Snow plow drivers are working overtime as are our furnaces.

 I'd say the only ones smiling are the snowpeople gracing our lawns. (and maybe the die-hard snowmobilers and skiiers)So what's a poor sun-starved Minnesota to do? 

Pamper herself with Gathered From The Garden products! Our spring and summer fragrances (Raspberry Lemonade, Sweet Margarita, Pomegranate Passion to name a few) will help to bring comfort to winter-weary skin. Our Goat Milk Lotion and our Satin and Silk Shea Butter Lotion are top sellers. They help soothe chapped and dry skin. If snowpeople could use them, they would! Check out our website for more great products to help move winter along. 
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

18 Incredible Snow Sculptures

We got another foot of snow last Thurs. (brings the total to 52 inches!) The banks are so high that I can't shovel snow over them anymore. If only I had the talent to create snow sculptures like these. Then maybe the winter wouldn't seem so long!

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Happiness Photos

I'm continuing to work on finding something that makes me happy to photograph each day. Some days in this Minnesota winter (that won't end)it's a little harder than others. It's a good exercise to remind myself that there is good in every day.
Day 28  Our plane ride was uneventful and we made it home safely.
Day 29  Finding some quiet time to read makes me happy.
Day 30  One on one with little Maggie absolutely made my day!
Day 31  Watching my niece and nephew play in a basketball tournament. (different teams). It was especially fun because my brother was my niece's coach. 

What's making you happy today?
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Friday, February 21, 2014

Life Has Its Ups and Downs

I got such a kick out of how much fun my little grandson had riding up and down the escalator at the mall. From the top of the stairs it must have seemed to be a long way down. He wasn't scared at all--as long as daddy was right behind, holding his hands. After the first trip up and down went off without a hitch, it was just the first of many! You can tell from dad's face in the last picture how much fun he was having.

A couple of things got me thinking. How often do we try something new and it seems daunting from the start? How often do we take that first step and it turns out to be so much fun? I'm guessing not often enough.  

 When we are considering trying something out of our comfort zone how often do we look to find someone that could be our support? How often could we be a support for someone else and haven't made ourselves available? I'm guessing not often enough.

If I take a lesson from my grandson, I see that I need to be a little more of a risk taker. There's more fun in life to be had if I just take a chance. Like little Jack, I also need to look for others to help me.

If I take a lesson from my son, I see that I need to be available if someone needs my help. And...I will probably need a boat load of patience just like Jon had with Jack.

How many times did they do the escalator loop? After 20 times I stopped counting! Jon did finally manage to divert Jack's attention so we could go home. I'm sure it will be top on Jack's list of things to do at the mall for a long time to come!
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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Happiness Photos

Day 24 A visit to the National Portrait Gallery with Jerry and Jack. 
Day 25 Having photo fun with my favorite Valentine. 
Day 26 Seeing this jewelry display made me smile. 
Day 27 Visiting the Air Force Memorial made my day. Beautiful memorial. 

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Friday, February 14, 2014

What Do You Love Most?

I have been married for forty years. I love Jerry more today than ever. He is my best-friend, my lover, my therapist, my business partner, and my constant companion. Here are the top ten things I love about him: 

1. He is the most positive person I know. I could count on one hand the times I have seen him down. Always has a smile.

2. He is always learning—reading books, reading blogs, and spontaneously interviewing others.

3.He is warm and affectionate. Many of my daughters’ friends think of him as their second father.

4.He is a great listener. He is genuinely interested in other people.
 Loves to hear other's stories.

5.He loves to do things with me. If I take up a hobby, he takes an interest in it. He is a great traveling companion!

6. He is tender and compassionate. He even cries when he watches sad movies.

7. He has been my constant cheerleader and my biggest fan. 

8. He believes in having an on-going relationship with God. He is constantly growing in his spiritual life.

9. He has infinite amounts of patience with me. I know that I try his limit!

10.  And, finally—let’s be honest—I think he is really, really cute. 

What about you? What do you love about your spouse? Remember, where attention goes, emotion flows. If you want to experience more passion in your relationship, start by expressing your affection!

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Pick a Love Song

If you need a Love Song today to share or just to brighten your own day, here is a great collection.
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Another Shot at Happiness

Day 20   The "spots" in the water are manatees. We counted 60 of them. One mother and baby got close enough for us to see the scars on mom's back. (Apollo Beach)

 Day 21 Getting good night kisses from my little grandson.

 Day 22 Special grandparent time with Jack makes me mucho happy!

Day 23 Seeing all the Valentine books kids have to choose from made me smile today.

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Romantic Movie Night

This year Valentine's Day lands on a Friday. In the city that I live in if you want to go out to eat on a regular Friday it's crazy busy. Add to that, a holiday and you'll be waiting a long, long time to eat. So how about an alternative to going out. How about a Romantic Movie Night instead? I've compiled a list of movies that would be great for Valentine's Day (or actually any time you feel like a romantic date with your loved one). In no particular order: 

The Notebook (2004)starring Ryan Gosling (Hey girl), Rachel McAdams, Gena Rowlings and James Garner. A true love story to the end. I love this one! 

Pretty Woman (1990) starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. A classic that I never get tired of watching.

Love Actually (2003) starring Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman and Kiera Knightley. "It seems to me that love is everywhere...fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends,old friends."  Pretty much sums it up!

Casablanca (1942) starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. An oldie but a true goodie.

Dirty Dancing (1987) starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. It's worth watching just to see the dancing.

Shakespeare in Love (1998) starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes. What we won't all do for love--including dressing as a fella.

Out of Africa (1985) starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Any movie starring these two has got to be good!

While You Were Sleeping (1995) starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman. Do you believe in love at first sight? 

Sleepless in Seattle (1993) starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. These two have some great onscreen chemistry.

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. (Fun to watch just for Audrey's fashions.) 

An Affair to Remember (1957) starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. "There must be something between us, even if it's only an ocean." 

Can't Buy Me Love (1987) starring Patrick Dempsey and Amanda Peterson. 

Titanic (1997) starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. A shipboard romance aboard the doomed boat.

Do you have a favorite romantic movie to add to the list? You might want to have some fun Valentine popcorn too.

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Keeping up with Happiness

Day 17 Seeing these people offering prayers made me smile. Who couldn't use some more of those?
Day 18 Relaxing with a frozen daiquiri at an outside bar. 
Day 19 Finding cool pianos all around downtown Sarasota. Couldn't resist playing a little tune on this. 

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Happiest Life by Hugh Hewitt

To keep with my theme of happiness I just finished reading the book, The Happiest Life by Hugh Hewitt. Here is my review of the book.

The Happiest Life by Hugh Hewitt is an interesting read. Hewitt lists seven gifts and seven givers that he says are the secrets to genuine success and happiness. His background is that of a lawyer, broadcaster and journalist. This is not the first book he has written and he also writes for the Washington Examiner.

I really enjoyed reading Part 1 about the Seven Gifts: Encouragement, Energy, Enthusiasm, Empathy, Good Humor, Graciousness and Gratitude. In each of these seven chapters Hewitt gives stories from his personal life to show how these gifts have affected him, his family and friends. He is a well-read author and so uses quotes from many sources to help make his points.

In Part 2 of the book the author covers seven different givers of these gifts: spouses, family, friends, coworkers, teachers and members of a church congregation. Again, he uses examples from his personal life to get his points across.

I found most of the book meaningful and took away ideas that I can use in my own life. However, in the second part of the book it got a little tiresome reading about so many of his “friends” and political acquaintances. Hewitt is a conservative Republican and that comes through in his writing.

Hewitt feels that his seven gifts (and given by the seven he lists) will help to bring us happiness. I feel the book makes some very valid arguments for all of us to add the seven gifts to our lives. It is kind of a road map that anyone can follow to improve their life and that of their family and friends.

I would recommend this book if you want some easy to implement ideas to improve your relationships with others and add some happiness to your life and theirs.
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Monday, February 3, 2014

More Happinesss

Day 14 Tickled to see someone playing a ukelele on the beach.
Day 15 Finding a tiny sand dollar made my day. 
Day 16 Flowers always make me happy. These were along the beach.

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