Try not to smile…

… when you see this, and I promise you I will pluck the moon from the sky and give it to you in a glass jar. 😆


Now that you’re smiling, will you forgive me for being absent from my blog porch for so long? 😉 I promise: never again will I be Missing In Action! (That thing called Real Life grabbed me by the collar and wouldn’t let go! In the meantime, I turned 41 years old! 😆 More on that soon!)


PS. And this is why I love computer geeks almost as much as I love babies!

Fun Find!

Whoa. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? Forgive me for being MIA. Summer tends to eat up Real Life time, and we’ve got some awesome stuff going on in our Spraground that has been taking up my extra hours (and I’ve been loving it!)

Last Monday we (meaning myself and my two awesome, amazing, and hugely creative Spragsistas, Janie and Linda) launched our first-ever Spragweek Challenge: 7 Days in May, which is essentially creating a layout a day for an entire week. The response has been terrific! Our Challenge Gallery has been overflowing with creative masterpieces! (If you haven’t joined us yet, come join us now! Anyone is welcome, and that means you, you, you, and you! 😉 )

So… anyway, in keeping up with this fit of creative frenzy enveloping our Spraground, I was strolling up and down netland today when I came upon this neat thing featured on the blog of Swiss Miss, another recent discovery which is a total repository of inspirational stuff!



This is the. walls notebook and you can find it on, another fun site with some really creative stuff (the kind that I can imagine myself thinking of in the wee hours of the morning when my creative muse is being playful).

The walls notebook is filled with pages and pages of different walls, and what do you do with a notebook? You write in it, right? So when you use the walls notebook, not only do you get to write what’s on your mind, but you also get to satisfy the hidden graffiti artist within you, without risking being jailed for writing on the walls of New York City. What a fun concept! 😆

If you want to turn your monitor into your own wall, you can also draw right here on the walls notebook website (and you can email your artwork to your proud parents… or grandkids… too! :lol:)

See? (Childlike scrawl care of my inner child. ROFL)


Okay, enough playing for now… just wanted to touch base with you and let you all know that I’ve been missing you, and leave you with a promise that I’ll be back soon!


Music, Dance, and Whirled Peas

Actually, I mean World Peace (thanks, Jes! 😆 )

Seriously, though. I honestly think it works. In the same way that two people in love can speak volumes without uttering a single word, people from all corners of the world can find connections with one another despite differences in skin color, eye shape, body mass, age, nationality, beliefs… if they–we–only pause long enough to hear the soft whisper of what ties us all together as one.

Fraternal love. It’s the universal language that needs no words to affirm its existence.

And happiness, that great emotion that moves us to swing our arms and shuffle our feet and sing out loud.


* Thanks to my dear sister, who shared this vid with me. She’s a total expert at finding jewels on youtube. :D*

Resolutions, Resolutions

Have you made yours yet? 😀

I make daily resolutions (easier to do a check and balance that way, and there’s something very soothing when, if you find you’ve been unsuccessful with the day’s resolution, you know you have the option to say, “Well! Tomorrow’s another day!” a la Scarlett O’Hara 😉

Still there’s something quite auld-lang-syne-ish (okay, I just invented that adjective, haha ) about making the traditional New Year’s Resolutions.

So… what’s on your list?

Guess what’s at the top of mine.


Hehe… I’ve been oinking along since the middle of December, shame! (Well, I had to put the new weighing scale to good use, right? 😉 )

Seriously. Oinking. So this must be at the top of my list, most definitely.


And there’s more.

More walking, for one.

My 16-year-old son has been convincing me that I need exercise while respectfully omitting the “older people need all the exercise they can get” part, something I am grateful to him for. Bahaha!

Speaking of which, some days ago, my 13-year-old R –who’s a total movie buff–and I were talking about… surprise!… movies. He was telling me he didn’t want to watch some movie (I forget which one, but I think it was One Flies Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) because he couldn’t stand to see Jack Nicholson with hair (it was filmed in the 70s). He said it wouldn’t seem like Jack Nicholson if the guy had hair.  ???  (Don’t worry, I didn’t get it either >teehee< )

So I said, “Why? How old was he when they filmed that movie?”

He said, “I don’t know, but he certainly had more hair than he has now. He’s really old now. He’s ancient! He doesn’t have much hair left.”

“Really?” I said. “How old is he now?”

“I don’t know… Old! Forty?”

Ahem. 😯

So. I must walk if only to prove my youth to my growing sons. Aside from the fact that exercise is good, of course. Especially in this ooooold age of ours (*tongue in cheek*).

Okay, so I won’t kill you with all the details behind my resolutions.

But I will just mention this, because it has to do with the word for the month that my dear friend Jes blogged about here.

What was your word? Mine was… tada! PRAY! Hence my No. 3 resolution! PRAY more! Don’t get me wrong, I do pray everyday. But I figure it’s a wonderful thing to do more of, and one can never lose by doing it more.  I also truly believe that work done to the best of one’s abilities and offered up is prayer, so this is my way of reminding myself to turn everything I do into prayer. 😉

So. Five resolutions. Spiritual, health, personal aspects: check, check, check. I’m good. (I figured I’d stop at five. Five is do-able. Six? Seven? Eight? Too much room for me to fail. Haha! I’ll go the safe route and stick with five. )

What about you? What are your new year’s resolutions? If you share them with me, then we can encourage each other and cheer each other and support each other throughout the year! We’ve got… what, more than 300 days to make sure these things happen! Alright!

New year, new lessons: Stitching, anyone?

I have to say… I am totally a sucker for cheap thrills, and one of the biggest sources of thrills for me is learning a new thing! There are few things that make me feel more alive than discovering new things, no matter how tiny and little they are in the bigger scheme of things.

So… did I say I spent the latter half of the holidays (till New Year’s Day) in the southern mountains with my sisters and brothers? Did I mention that most of our time was spent exercising our jaws and stomach muscles? (READ: oink! oink!)

Anyway, we stayed at this fab fab fab place (and no, we don’t own it–we rented it 😀 ), with space huge enough to house 4 families (which we were), with an almost 180-degree view of the world’s smallest volcano and lake within a lake (it’s one of the places that author Patricia Schultz lists in her book 1000 Places to See Before You Die).

I was so awed by the place that I just had to take photos… so I took 8 photos of the view as you come down the stairs from the entry, knowing at the back of my mind that Photoshop would help me stitch them together. I’d never attempted to use Photomerge in the past; in the past I had always stitched photos by hand (Riiiight. That makes it sound a bit like doing a cross-stitch sampler, doesn’t it? 😛 ).

So I tried Photomerge for the first time last night, and oh, boy, I hafta say… it’s the *easiest* and most thrilling thing to do! Loooove how Photoshop takes all the hard work and does it for you! The only thing you need to do is (1) have enough RAM; and (2) know how to fill in the missing places once the photos have been stitched together (something that can be accomplished with the clone tool).

So. I began with 8 photos and ended up with this one:


(You can click on the image if you want a larger view. Originally, this photo was roughly 12+ inches by 36+ inches after stitching. I reduced it to about 8×26 in).

I promised some of my girlfriends that I’d share how I stitched this together (it’s really easy, and I so love sharing easy stuff!) Note: I use CS3, so am so sorry if you use PSE, but I’m totally in the dark as to whether Photoshop Elements 7 has this function as well or not. 😳

Here’s how to do it with CS3:

1. Open your photos that you want to stitch into a single panoramic photo.

2. Drag your photos onto a single document. Make sure that you hold down Shift as you drag in each photo so that it comes in centered on your document space. It doesn’t matter if on your layers palette you notice transparent spaces on some layers as a couple of photos end up in different areas of the total document size. As long as they’re centered when they come in, you’re good to go.

I used one of the photos as my base document and then saved it under a different name so that I don’t write over the original photo. It’s important to ensure that none of the photos save for the background layer is locked. Otherwise the photomerge function won’t work.

It might be good to note, too, that if you’re pulling photos straight out of your camera and you shoot in super fine mode  or whatever the highest quality of your images are in your camera, you’re going to end up hogging the memory of your compy… so ideally you’d want to ensure that you have enough RAM to work with (if your RAM is limited, you’ll probably want to close other open documents and programs while you’re stitching).

Since I shoot 98% of the time in RAW, I first saved all my photos (without post-processing them) as jpegs. I post-processed at the end, after the photos were stitched.

3. Once you have all your photos in the single document, shift-click on the top and bottom layers to select all of them (they should all show up highlighted on your layers palette).

4. Go to Edit > Auto-Align Layers > Auto. You’ll get four options (Auto, Perspective, Cylindrical, Reposition Only) in the popup menu… I chose Auto. Guess what. I ended up with a stitched photo that looked like the Cylindrical option icon. I guess Auto makes the best decisions for you, which is a great way to do away with all the guesswork!

5. Wait while Photoshop does all the work. Go get yourself a cup of cafe moccha, or maybe munch on some Royce Potato Chip Chocolates (ha! Now you know what I was doing)… because depending on the number of photos you’re stitching together and your RAM, and oh yes, your patience level as well, this is going to take a bit of time.

6. When you come back, munching and sipping, you’ll be delighted to see on your monitor that Photoshop has done all the hard work for you.

Initially I started out with 14 photos to stitch, actually. There were some similar views, so when my stitched panorama came out, some of it looked a bit wonky. Not a problem. I found the layers that those almost-duplicate photos were on and deleted them from the layers palette.

It also helps to know before you take the photo that you’ll want to take each series of photos from the same height, more or less, if you’re planning to stitch them. (So, ideally, if I wanted a shot of the entire window view, I should’ve used a tripod, moving from left to right as I shot the photos… then to get the roof area, I would’ve tilted my camera on my tripod,  again shooting from left to right. That way, I wouldn’t have ended up with huge gaps on my stitched photo and would have probably not needed to do any work with the clone stamp tool. But that’s in retrospect. For next time. 😉

Now you might find that your photos look a bit strange with different shades on them (assuming you didn’t do any post-processing beforehand); if this happens, worry not! Photoshop, our dear friend, will take care of that for you too! Here’s how:

7. With all your layers still highlighted on your layers palette, go to Edit > Auto-Blend Layers.

Wait patiently, knowing that this will take significantly less time than the stitching did a few minutes ago.

Blink your eyes a few times, and voila! MAGIC! The white balance and all the shades on your photos will be blended so they look … PERFECT! Or… sometimes, almost perfect, in case you end up with some transparent areas on the sides of your stitched photo.

Now what to do if you a less-than-perfect panoramic photo with some gaps on its sides on your monitor, same as the one I found on mine? (hehe. Don’t you just love experimenting? You learn a lot that way! LOL) Again, no worries! 😀 Paint in the missing parts with your clone stamp tool. That should take you longer than the stitching process… but since the stitching is the harder part of it, and Photoshop has done it all for you, what’s there to grumble about with the clone stamp tool at one’s disposal, right? heehee.

9. Do whatever post-processing you want to do with your photos, in case you shot in RAW, and voila! Perfect panoramic photo! YAY!

Now, for a bit more about the scene on my stitched photo:

This house was awesome (as you can probably tell, since I’m still raving about it a couple of paragraphs down this post.)

You enter through a gate and drive down a relatively short path till you get to the front door and the rooftop deck where you can host parties and get-togethers (as long as there’s no slight drizzle) and have a 360º view of the landscape.

You enter through a massive wooden door and go down a couple of flights of stone steps and enter a huge place where you have a split-level living area connected to the dining area with an equally huge kitchen right beside the dining area.

There are four huge bedrooms with their own bath/washrooms (perfect to house my little family and my sisters’ families… we moved in for New Year’s Eve as we had been staying at our own place in the country club earlier).

Then there’s a nice little pool which the teenagers were the only ones brave enough to dip into (cold winds, cold water? No, thanks!). Beside the pool area, with its uber-lush pine trees on one side, is a viewing deck from which you can marvel at nature’s wonders… and if you fancy a warm adventure with water but without the biting wind, there’s a sauna/hot bath a few garden steps below (I wasn’t brave enough to try that either… because it involves getting out into the cold winds before you get back to the house, haha!)

Surrounded by nature on all fronts, thank goodness we only encountered this little fella in the garden:


Well, whaddayaknow? A visit from one of those leaf insects that you see on the pages of National Geographic. I normally don’t like bugs (hate, hate, hate cockroaches… you can’t even get me to squish one. Ugh, that awful crunch as you smack them–notice I say “you” smack them because I’ll be the one running in the other direction at 200mph. And they fly! And they bite! And they stink! Uggggh. Shudder.)

But this is no roach. So okay, I’m fine with this, and I can stick around long enough to take its photo. Since we were in the mountains, I only had one lens with me (my lucky brother brought his macro… I’d love to see how his photos turned out!). I wonder how the poor insect felt with all those lenses a million times larger than him, all aimed at his little body. My nephew “held” the insect on his old and tattered book, and it crawled onto the ledge long enough for us to shoot a few more frames till my sister said “Eeeek! Get it out now!” End of photo session. 😆

One more time, up close, sans macro:


Recalling the Resolutions (Do you feel the freebie coming? :D)

What was No. 4? Create weekly? Let’s take that resolution seriously today, and let’s see what we’ve got here:

Oooh! A freebie! 😆

But first, I want to say THANK YOU to all of you for your warm fuzzies and for sharing with me how you’ll be doing Project 365 (or some variation of it). The 12 on 12s is a great idea! I have to admit that I’m still sitting on the fence on this one, wondering if I’ll end up doing a daily (20% chance), weekly (40% chance), or a monthly (40% chance) project. I’m wondering: if I just upload my daily photos onto my blog, does that count? ROFL. (Oh man. I so feel like Charlie Brown right now, sitting on the playground bench, watching everyone play and wondering what to do next. bwahahaha)

So anyway. You know how there are ten million options open to everyone, and anyone can do what their heart desires, right? (That’s what I love about scrapbooking and art and creating! There are no hard and fast rules! Just create! And have fun!)

One of these many options I’ve heard about is this other easy approach to housing and documenting the photos, which involves using a 4×6 slip-in photo album and turning it into a scrapbook (think: you have the option to put in photos or journaling tags or digitally scrapbooked 4×6 pages, or whatever you fancy!). Have you heard about this?

Personally I love the square size of 8×8’s so I probably won’t be attempting this anytime soon (and need a reason to use all the Bind-It-All schtuff I ordered! :D). But I can imagine wanting to try this approach one day. So for those who are doing this approach now, and for those who are doing the regular 12×12 or 8.5×11 or 8×8 or whatever size pages, this freebie mini is for you and you and you! Anyone can use it!

I made this chipboard journaling tag, with rubbed-on designs, which you can use for Project 365 or anything else, really. (It just came in really handy for jotting my resolutions on, haha!) And it’s sized at 4×6, so if you want to go the hybrid route and print this out and write on it, and then slip it into your 4×6 album pocket-pages, or attach it to your cardstock, you can! Or if you want to digitally attach it to your purely digital layout, you can too! (I didn’t include shadows so that you have total freedom with how you want to position it on your layout and where you want the lighting effects to be).


Click on the image to download. And thank you so much for the love you leave as you download. 🙂

I’ll be back soon with more photos to share… for now, I have to get to tutoring the kids with their homework, and doing my own homework as well! 😉

(((hugs))) and see you soon, sweeties! 😀

Are You an Alien Too?

Dh showed this to me… and I could! It must be the alien in me. Are you an alien too? 😆

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.

The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid! Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.

The rset can be a taotl mses and you can siltl raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Are you the invisible (wo)man?

Have you ever felt invisible?

I am in the middle of a hefty load of work, but I just had to stop and run to share this with all of you, my dearest blog porch friends, because it is incredibly awesome. My sister passed it on to us, her three other sisters (and we don’t normally pass emails on)–and I’m glad she took this exception because it is just an incredible read.

I don’t know where this email originated, but in case she (her name is Charlotte) comes across this humble blog post of mine, here’s what I have to say to her: Know, my friend, that you have reached a million souls–and even if it was just one soul instead of a million, your message is so powerful that it would’ve been, and it is, all worth it. Thank you from one such soul.

So here I am, passing it on to you 🙂 :

Invisible Mom

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’

Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible. The invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a TV Guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Pick me up right around 5:30 , please.’

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, she’s gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’

In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof?

No one will ever see it.’ And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees everything.’

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is  too small for me to notice and smile over.

You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.’

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand-bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, ‘You’re gonna love it there.’

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM!!!!!

The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect.

Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know… I just did.

Remember: I don’t write these words of wisdom, I just pass them on down the line.


Too Cool!!!

Okay, I’ve just had an incredible a-ha moment, and I want to jump for joy! Course I needed to run back to you and share the joy! (Uh… if you’ve already known this, then clap your hands and pretend you’re hearing it for the first time, okay? 😆 Just kidding!!! 😆 )

So I’ve begun working on a kit that I want to give as a freebie (nudge nudge wink wink!) 😉 When I work on a freebie, I make these little squares and fill them with colors, while I try to decide on a color scheme for the kit…

Well, I got carried away with playing, and before long I had about 80 squares to fill with colors. I had copied and pasted these squares originally (think 80 layers)… and wait! Before you go zzzzz on me, let me tell you what I was wanting to do… I wanted to move up the 1st to the 8th row so I could accommodate one more row of 10 squares below them. Normally, I would select the top layer in the layers palette, hold down shift, then select the last layer on the layers palette. This, as you know, would select all the layers in between as well, so that I could move them as one entire group.

Confession time: a good deal of stuff that I’ve learned about Photoshop has come from playing and experimenting (of course the base of my Photoshop knowledge has always come from my dear friend Jessica)… Anyway, so I was in that playful mood, and I thought: well, what would happen if I just draw a selection around all these squares that I want to “catch” using my move tool?

So I tried it… and guess what? IT WORKED!!! WOOOHOOOOOO!!!!

So actually, if you want to select several items on your workspace / layout, select the Move tool and draw around it (make sure you have the Show Transform Controls checkbox checked so you know what you’re capturing with your move tool)… and when you let go of your mouse button, all that were included in your selection become highlighted on the layers palette and you can move them as a group!

Here’s a screen shot:


You’ll see that there’s a bounding box around the squares that I selected with the move tool (it appears as you draw around the squares with your mouse, so it’s a great guide that lets you know just which items you’re selecting). And over on the layers palette, you’ll see all the layers are automatically selected.

TOO COOL!!! Hee hee hee.

Well, that’s it for the intermission! Just wanted to share an a-ha moment with you! 😆


Extra(ct)! Extra(ct)!


Sorry, I couldn’t resist that! 😀

I’m putting my scrapping on hold for a little while to answer a question that my friends Heather and Kari asked on our playground about extraction. I’ve tried more than a million times (okay, so maybe I  exaggerate, but it certainly felt like a million times! Maybe it was 999 times at least ) to post my answer, but the words ended up garbled and jumbled and doubled… in short, my post would have left my friends more confused than helped.

So… I decided to post it here, so that everyone can share in the answer as well (unless it doesn’t interest you, in which case you’re perfectly welcome to skip along to the next topic. 😆 ) Before we start, kick your shoes off and wiggle your toes, get real comfy and grab a cuppa joe or a tall glass of iced tea, because this is not going to be a short post. haha.

Alrighty then: Our topic for today, dear class of two (or more) 😆 , is How to Extract.

I can tell you how to do it in PSE5 and in CS3… I have no idea how to do it in PSE6 but I suspect it should be pretty similar to PSE5.


There are many ways to extract objects using various tools (magic wand is an option, as is using the background eraser)… but I’ll share with you what I work with best (Caveat: I’m no expert, okay? I’m just a Photoshop-player 😆 )

The first step is to work with a duplicate layer. Always a good thing. 😉

1.  Go to Image > Magic Extractor

2.  In the dialog box that pops up, you’ll find instructions at the top. Just follow them. Keep in mind that the red-pen tool (1st on the left) will define the parts you want to keep and the blue will define the parts you want to remove. You can make simple dots or lines or squiggles (whichever rocks your boat) to cover these areas, though I’ve found that if you’re dealing with a photo that has very similar colors, it helps to get as much variations of those colors marked. The red and blue pen tools (not their real names; those are just nicknames I’ve given them because of how they look) are actually brushes; therefore, you can adjust these to the size you want using the [ and ] hotkeys.

3.  When you’ve done this, click on Preview on the right. If the extraction looks not great at all, don’t worry. We’ll fix that up in a minute. Take the purple eraser (3rd tool, left) and erase the blue and red marks you just made. If you need to, click on the magnifying glass towards the bottom to zoom into your image so you can catch those red/blue marks that may not be immediately visible from a more distant view. Click on the hand (last on the left) to move your image around your workspace if needed. Just make sure you get all those red and blue marks erased.

4.  To refine your extraction, use the dotted circle brush (4th) to add to the selection parts that may have been inadvertently removed earlier, or the dotted circle eraser (5th) to remove parts that were left behind.

5.  When you’re happy with what you see, click on OK and that’s it!

Pretty easy right? Beats using the magic wand tool and the background eraser tool (which can sometimes remove parts from your extracted item that you wouldn’t want removed).

For CS3:
1.  Select the layer of the object you want to extract. Go to Filter > Extract

2.  Define your tool options (brush size, colors you want to use for highlighting and filling, etc.)

* Check Smart Highlighting if you’re extracting an object that has well-defined edges.

* Check Texture Image if you’re dealing with a lot of texture either in the object itself or in its background.

* Smooth – Choose 0 or a small value; you can always change this in the next extraction if it needs tweaking later on.

3.  Select the Edge Highlighter tool and drag it so that it slightly covers both edges of the object (a bit of the inside of the edge of your item and a bit of the outside or background that you want to remove). If you’re dealing with wispy stuff, choose a larger brush. You can use the eraser tool if you need to erase wrongly marked highlight areas.

4.  Use the Fill tool to fill the highlight-defined area.

5.  Click on Preview. Hitting the Show button will allow you to see both the original and the extracted views. I recommend using the Display view as well, so that you can see if there are any stray leftovers. You can use Display to view your extracted image against a color background for better viewing. This comes in really handy when you’re extracting something light and you need a darker background to detect stray marks.

6.  If you find stray marks in the background area, use the Clean Up tool. If you press ALT while using the cleanup tool, you can also bring back areas that were inadvertently deleted from your extracted image.

7. Click OK when you’re happy. And voila!

Pretty easy to extract, isn’t it? Gotta love Adobe. I mean, really.

GoodReads Great Read

Okay, so how pathetic is it that I haven’t been able to update my goodreads site? I have tons of books spilling over on my bookshelves and yet as of a few hours ago, my goodreads bookshelf had ONE (that’s right O. N. E.) book on the “read” list.

Well, that’s changed as of today. (There are now more than one. 😆 )

I have two piles of books to read. And to cover. They remain untouched. Except for one book that I touched today. And boy, am I thankful I touched it today!

Writing Motherhood by Lisa Garrigues

This book was given to me by my childhood favorite playmate/bookmate/cousin, who’s also happens to be a published poet in the US (so proud of her!), last Christmas. Because I’ve been totally consumed by my January playthings (LOAD, the 2peas course, the NWR course at our playground, designing freebs), I haven’t been able to do much more than glance at the nice orange cover and make a mental note to open it one day soon.

Well, I did today, and I was hooked.

I have to say (and you’ll probably think I’m quirky for saying this, and you’ll most likely be right), I always judge a book, not by its cover but by its first line. 😀 If the first line or the first paragraph grabs at me and shakes me enough to make me sit up and say “wow!” then it has me at hello. 😆

This book had me at the first line on its inner bookflap.

This book totally made me think of my playground friends! Its very title already made me think of this wonderful bunch of creative playground sisters that I have: “Writing Motherhood: Tapping into Your Creativity as a Mother and a Writer” (Okay, so maybe not 100% of us are mothers, but I’m sure 100% of us have moms 😆 )

The bookflap blurb says “Drawing on her own efforts to balance the demands of motherhood with her dream of writing, she (Lisa Garrigues, the author, who is also a longtime writing teacher) shows readers how everyday life can be a rich source of stories, and how writing can provide a means to both understand and document their experiences.”

Cool! 8)

Doesn’t it make you want to read more about it? 😀 I did a review on the book on my goodreads site; I’m not sure it’s a great review, but it should give you an idea of what it contains. You can click here or on my goodreads link over on the sidebar on the right if you’re interested to know more.

Alright then. I need to go back and do some creative work (and resist the temptation to finish this book tonight!). I’m again 3 days behind on LOAD and a lot of days behind on my next freeb for you!

As the great Tigger would say, Tata For Now! 😀

Oh. My. Goodness!!!

You will never believe what came in the mail today.

I got a package, I got a package, I got a package, woohoo!!! :mrgreen:

I received a notice from the post office this morning, telling me that I had a package waiting for me. I hoped against hope that it would be from my dear friend, Kari (I just received a couple of weeks back a beautiful Christmas card from our mutual friend, Laurie, that totally made my day too!!!).  So I immediately had the package picked up, and while I was chatting with some friends over at our playground, the package came.

I know I was probably a blabbering fool at the chat–I was so excited!!! I don’t even remember what I said; I just know it involved a lot of woohoo’s and jumping up and down and running around in circles and dancing like crazy. 😆

A little aside: when I got the box, it had been opened. And hastily put back together again. See, that’s the thing I don’t get about the post office in this country. Why do they do that? Doesn’t that constitute some deprivation of one’s right to privacy? (Not that there was anything private in there, but it IS nice to be the one who tears open the tape of your own package instead of having someone get there and do it before you.  And my friend Kari did such a great job of putting the box and the gift inside together so nicely… 😦 ) I suspect they open it because they want to check if there are $$ inside the package. After all, if it were to check the safety of what’s inside, there are Xray machines to do that, right? hmmmm. Very strange, Watson, very strange.

Here’s what it looked like when I got it:

The Best Surprise of the Year

BUTTTT!!! Even so, that didn’t dampen my excitement!

And here’s where it gets even MORE exciting!!! I opened the box and discovered a Christmas card from Kari 8) , and another card with a note, a long note, on it! WOOHOO BIG TIME!!! 😀

I love receiving letters!!! 😀

And wait. It gets even better. As I was happily freaking about the package with my girlfriends on the chat, it dawned on me that they knew about the package and its contents! Apparently they were all in on it, they all had something to do with getting the package to me… now how TERRIFICALLY COOL is that???? I looooooove my girlfriends at the playground, they are soooo sweet! Now THAT is what totally touched my heart!!! I have seen this book through the making but to have the real thing in my hands: wow. And to know that it got to me flying over the oceans on the wings of my sweet girlfriends’ love… that’s an infinitely bigger WOW!!!

I guess here is where I have to explain why this book is so special: this is a book that we, rockers at Jessica’s playground, came up with as a surprise for Jes (if you look at her blog and scroll to the end of December, you’ll find photos there of the same book). It was a collaborative effort of all the wonderful girls on our playground. Laurie came up with the idea seed, Kari pushed and pulled and took over the reigns (Kari’s da boss! 😆 ), Tori came up with the mosaic cover, and I came up with the dedication page and the two final pages at the end of the book. Every wonderful girlfriend on the book contributed her own masterpiece (without their pages, the book would be nothing) AND contributed time, effort, even finances, to get this book off the Shutterfly site and into Jessica’s hands! WOW! This is working together at its very best!

I guess I also have to explain that I could not, for one reason or another, upload any of my page files to Shutterfly (thank you Veevs and Project Posse for doing the uploading for me; where would I be without you?) So that meant that I also would not be able to order my own copy of the book! So that is why I am just sooooo awed by the book in my hands today. I can stare at it all day long, know what I mean? Rub my eyes, stare. Shake my head in quiet pleasure. Repeat: rub my eyes, stare…


Kari, you are amazing. Thank you, my dear friend, for organizing this whole thing!!! (Even if you did it behind my back. hahaha!!!) Tori and Laurie, you too! PP rocks! And everyone on my playground, THANK YOU!

I feel totally privileged, honored, and blessed to count ALL MY GIRLFRIENDS on our playground among my dearest, dearest friends. Actually, no, they’re more than just girlfriends and best friends. They’re SISTAHS in every sense of the word and more! (My ties of affection to you are so strong that they can build a bridge across the oceans and we won’t even need visas to visit each other! Ha!)

There are no words that can accurately express or even come close to my gratitude and overflowing affection for you, my sweeties, so here’s a “card” I made (they say a picture paints a thousand words… so here are my thousand words, and more–uh… keep your eyes on my message more than on my funny face, okay? 😆 )

Me and the Surprise

Thank you. Seriously. For making this the best day of the year ever. I can’t say it enough.

Oh and PS? My son will attest to the fact that since I got the book and the card, I have not let it out of my sight and reach for a single minute. WOOHOO!!! 😀

Oh, and of course, I had to take photos of the masterpiece that Jessica’s rockin’ girls put together for her, right? 😀 (And kari’s lovely handmade card too!)

Jes’ Book

And here’s my friend who put it all together:

Kari’s Page

I wish I could put the photos of all the pages of my darling friends’ pages over here… but that would mean that I would be putting the ENTIRE book on my blog! 🙂

Girls… I love ya! You know I do!

Almost Caught Up

Almost. Not quite, but I’m getting there.

Did three layouts yesterday in an attempt to get caught up with the LOAD requirements I had failed to post on time. I’m not giving up the goal though… I’m still working towards finishing 31 layouts by the 31st of January.

Here are the three I did:

10 More

Journaling reads:

wheeeee! only ten more days till christmas!!!


Jessica’s fab DD template, Michelle Coleman’s topper, Katie Pertiet’s grid brush AND Papers by Leora Sanford, Lisa Warren, and Heidi Larsen(slightly recolored); Emily Merritt’s button; Christina Renee’s doodled circles overlay

Journaling reads:

brrrr… ….break out the blankets and the jackets! we may live by the equator but that doesn’t stop jack frost from nipping at our noses and toesies!


Jessica’s fab Daily December template; Michelle Coleman’s Topper; Katie Pertiet’s Grid Brush AND Angela Shetzer’s papers &, holly stamp from her Downhome Christmas kit; John’s Photoblast EZActions

Little Santa

Journaling reads:

more than the games, more than the chance to have your photo taken with santa, more than the yummy food laid out on the tables, what you loved most of all was giving your classmates christmas gifts. so wonderfully generous. so typically you.


Jessica’s fab Daily December template; Michelle Coleman’s Topper; Katie Pertiet’s Grid Brush & doodled Christmas title AND Michelle Coleman’s MerryLittleXmas papers; MiriamLima’s flower; EvaKipler’s Artistic-Flourish sequins; Anna Aspnes’ quote; ScrappyPony’s Holiday Grunge Overlay

Balancing in White

Our lesson at 2peas for this week had to do with White Balance. Which is a big word for just making sure that your photos’ colors are “calibrated” according to the light source that you’re shooting in. So if you’re shooting indoors with incandescent lighting, you can get a better-looking photo by tinkering around with your camera’s WB, instead of coming up with a photo that looks like everyone ate much too much mangoes and papayas and therefore turned orange. 😆

Our challenge for this week was to take 3 or more indoor photos: one using the automatic white balance setting of the camera, one with the “tungsten” setting (or its equivalent), and another with White Balance set manually.

There were bonus points for trying out the different settings for white balance. WB settings vary from camera to camera. On my D40 I have an entire list: Auto, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Direct Sunlight, Cloudy, Shade, and Manuel. I tried them all with exactly the same item and without fiddling around with the fine-tuning knob (According to ken rockwell, this is something unique to Nikon, which Canon doesn’t have: the white balance settings on Nikon allow us to further refine the white balance settings, even if they’re “set,” so that we can come up with the best possible color calibration when we take a photo).

Here are the results of the experiment:

{ Click on images for larger views}

WB Auto Incandescent

Incandescent WB setting looks a little greenish, don’t you think?

WB Shade & Direct Sunlight

I think the Shade setting looks too orange… Ken Rockwell says that this setting is best for shooting in the shade, which produces colors which are normally bluish (hence the orange balances the blue). It also works, he says, for shooting on cloudy days when light from the clouds casts a bluish tint, or when you have a subject that’s backlit. Nice to know, right? 😉

WB Cloudy & Fluorescent

Cloudy WB casts a warm tone and is better, Ken says, for outdoor shots in direct sunlight. The fluorescent WB setting I know I do not like. 😛

Manual White Balance

CREDITS: Jason Gaylor’s brushes, Papers by Petit Moineux

I find that when I set white balance manually, it was closest to the auto setting, which brings me to something that I learned:

Nikon’s Auto White Balance totally rocks. 😀 I think I’ll keep my white balance setting on Auto, though it’s terrific knowing how to manipulate the different manual settings, just in case I find myself in a situation that requires it.

Alright! All for now! Must get working on the next freebie for you, my sweeties!

Catch you later! 😉

Serendipitous Delights

Okay, I need forgiveness from you for being absent again for quite a number of days. I promise to get a freebie up here in the next 24 hours. Life has been crazy hectic again, but FUN FUN FUN this time around! (Well, the other projects were fun, but I was itching to do digital scrapbooking, which is my P.A.S.S.I.O.N… and now my projects basically center around this, so… I’m having fun swimming around in things to do! 😆

Just passing by quickly, before I start working on more freebs for you (Fall / Halloween / Sistah… which one first???), to share something so wonderful! I was flipping through one of my old issues of Digital Scrapbooking magazine (which I totally loooove, along with Creating Keepsakes, that mother of all scrapbooking mags, and Simple Scrapbooks, which is my absolute fab go-to for inspiration and my personal no. 1 mag simply because it totally fits my style of scrapping)… I’m digressing here…

Anyway, so I was flipping through the mag while waiting for my son to be dismissed from his class, and I discovered in one of its pages a fantabulous way to get rounded corners on a photo!!!! WOOHOO!!! (Is there anyone in the house who doesn’t do digital scrapbooking? If you haven’t tried it out yet, let me just tell you, you NEED to discover this passion in you and you’ll cross over to the Dark Side quite quickly! heheheh… not to mention the community is the BEST I’ve ever seen on the worldwide web in my entire life!!!! Many of my best friends I met at Jessica’s playground!!!)… ah, but again I digress.

On to this serendipitous discovery I made in the pages of the mag. Here’s how to do it (oh, and it works for both Photoshop full versions and PSE!)

1. Start off with the photo you want to use. Do all the adjustments and tweaking that you want to do with it. (And always work with a duplicate of that photo, or save it under a different filename so that you don’t write over the original).

2. Select the Custom Shapes tool from the toolbar on the left (in PSE5, which I use, it’s the 20th from the top… or you can just hit the U-key and get it instantly. 😉

3. In the options menu of the Custom Shape tool at the top of your workspace, use the dropdown triangle beside “Shape” to choose the rounded rectangle shape. If it’s not immediately there, click on the tiny triangle on the right side to bring out the flyout menu, and click on Shapes. That will bring up the menu of shapes under Custom Shape tool and you can find the rounded rectangle shape there. Select it.

4. Next, click on the dropdown triangle of the icon that looks like a speech bubble (to the left of the “Shape” also on the options toolbar) and choose Fixed Size and enter the width and size of your photo. If you don’t know what the width and height of your photo is exactly, just make sure that when you draw out your custom shape, you are able to eyeball it so that it fits your photo size as closely as it can.

5. One more thing to do: Also on the options menu, in the box that says Radius, change the corner pixel size of your rounded rectangle to a value below 1pixel. The magazine recommends 0.25px.

6. Hold down CTRL and click on the rectangle layer so that you can select the rounded rectangle. Then up on the main menu, go to SELECT > INVERSE (or simply type in SHIFT-CTRL-I) and voila! That deletes the corners, leaving you with nice rounded corners!!!

Isn’t that amaaaaazing??? Just wanted to share with you the happiness of discovery! Spread the digi love, people! 😆

Now back to work! See you in a bit! 🙂