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Back in the Zone

18 Aug

After what feels like centuries of not scrapping a layout, I stole a bit of time today to create one for the JessicaSprague.com Weekly Challenges (which I head along with my good friend Linda).  I must say: it feels great to be back in the scrapping zone!

The basic requirement of this week’s challenge, Shades Of… , was to create a monochromatic layout. A monochromatic image or work has shades of limited colors or hues, usually one particular color and all its shades and tints (lighter or darker versions of it). I think monochromatic images hold a particular appeal because in them, light and darkness, highlights and shadows, and color tones (both shades and tints) work together to communicate a particular mood and emotion.

It’s been rainy for the past weeks, and two weeks ago in particular were pretty gloomy, what with the floods caused by “the storm that wasn’t even a storm.” It was on one particular afternoon during that week that my boys at home and I indulged in the perfect comfort food, designed to brighten hearts and tummies with a bit of edible sunshine. The photo that I shot of our mid-afternoon snack (before it got gobbled up) just begged to be the subject of this challenge, and so here’s what I came up with:

Credits:

liv.edesigns Summer Solstice Patterned Paper
liv.edesigns Roundabout Photo Masks & Labels
liv.edesigns Paint Swashes Vol. 1
liv.edesigns Paint Swashes Vol. 4
liv.edesigns Paint It Up Vol.1
Fonts: Peoni Pro, Petita

Speaking of comfort food, what’s yours? (Perhaps I’ll find I have a craving to indulge in yours this afternoon, heehee ;))

May your Saturday be filled with luscious delights too, my dear friends! And now, back to work I go… Over and out!

The Color Purple

28 Jul

Whew. Getting back on the boat after falling into the water can be difficult, especially if the waves have pushed you farther and farther away from the shore. Or more specifically, it’s quite a challenge to get back on the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges when Real Life’s duties and demands have taken one away from one’s computer long enough to make one fall back by about 7 challenges. Yikes!

But there’s only one thing to do when one falls off a boat, and that’s to swim like heck and try to get back on.

So this is me, trying to get back on, and promising that I’m going to row through all the challenges I’ve missed too! (Tie me to the chair and insist on it if I don’t!)

For this week, the challenge was truly challenging with Purple as its theme. First of all, I don’t really like the color purple (the color itself, not the movie). No offense meant to those who do love it; in fact, it happens to be the favorite color of my mother-in-law whom I hold very dear to my heart. Personally, I prefer the more “boring” shades of white, browns, and blues. But I digress…

Luckily, just yesterday, a few hours before I sat down by my computer and checked out this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, I happened to pass by a Filipino restaurant and couldn’t resist buying Guinataan, which is a Filipino dish whose name comes from the word gata, which is Filipino for coconut milk. (I love anything that has coconut milk!).

Guinataan is a dessert made with fruits (large bananas and jackfruit are musts), glutinous rice flour, sago or tapioca pearls, root crops (gabi or taro, kamote or sweet potatoes, ube or purple yam—add loads of it and you get the purple color), all mixed in with sugar and that heavenly coconut milk. Served hot on a rainy day, it’s the perfect comfort food (perfectly fattening too, I fear).

Voila! Comfort food, and purple one at that, left me with no further excuse for not getting back on track with the challenges.

And so, here we go:

{ Click on the image for a larger view }

Do you know how difficult it is to find a song that isn’t Purple Rain? 😆 But I did find one! From the original soundtrack of the Broadway musical Spring Awakening by Duncan Sheik, here’s The Song of Purple Summer:

With lyrics that go:

A summer’s day
a mother sings
a song of purple summer
through the heart of everything
and heaven waits
so close it seems
to show her child the wonders
of a world beyond her dreams…

I do think the message of hope and wonder is beautiful, and that makes the completion of this Purple challenge a joy for me. 🙂

Have a purple-summer-wonder-filled day, my dear friends! I’ll see you soon! 🙂

Wonderful Wednesday, It Is!

14 Jun

I think Yoda would agree. 😆

One-Buck Wednesday

If you love the look of textures on your photos, you’ll love playing with my Photo Play Texture Pack, which happens to be on sale for just a buck today (till midnight of Wednesday Pacific time)!

{Click on the image above to grab this texture pack for just a buck!}

Here’s a sample of how these textures can bring that oomph and bang to your photos:

You can combine different textures to get totally different looks each time…

Or you can use one particular texture and play with blending modes, which is what I did here:

Original (Unedited) Photo:

I used Photo Play Texture 6P on the photo and came up with this:

(I used a layer mask and with a low brush opacity, I erased a bit of the texture from the little girl so that the texture was retained but did not overpower the subject).

I used Photo Play Bonus Texture #2 and this is what I came up with:

Here’s the recipe I used above, in case you’re interested (though the textures work differently depending on your images… and that’s a wonderful thing, because it means that you can play and experiment with different textures, different blending modes, different opacities, and the possibilities are just mind-boggling!)

As always, you can click on the images to view them at larger sizes. 🙂

Wonderful (Half-Off) Wednesday

I also have this wonderful element pack at half the regular price today (again, till midnight Pacific time)… and these are perfect not just for taping photos or elements or tags, but also for adding realism and texture to your creations (you can even put text on them!). These are real tapes that I have painstakingly and lovingly extracted for you so that all their rough, torn edges and crumpled areas have been preserved. Yummy, right? 🙂

{Click on the image above to grab this at 50%-off}

You knew I’d be sharing some fabulous layouts with you, right?

This one was created by Sarah:

This one was created by Margje:

This one was created by Reeta:

And here’s another one that Reeta created:

Five Essential Things… Photoshop Class for Free!

Ever wanted to learn Photoshop? Want to learn it in the most wonderful way, with video instruction and with the most supportive community plus the sweetest, funniest, most awesome instructor holding your hand (virtually) as she guides you through the Top 5 Photoshop Techniques that everyone should know?

You’re in luck because my dear friend Jessica (yeah, she of JessicaSprague.com 😉 ) is giving a FREE online class which is open to everyone!

Click on the image above to find out which specific techniques will be covered and how to get yourself enlisted for the Online Class which starts next week (but you can totally do it on your own time… as long as you register and sign up for the class, it’s yours forever. Yeah, you read that right. All our classes at JessicaSprague.com that you sign up for (free and purchased) are and have always been yours forever so that any time 5 or 10 years from now you want a refresher, it’ll still be right there waiting for you :D).

Alrighty then! Go have a most wonderful Wednesday, my dearies, and I’ll see you soon! xoxo

Seize Today

8 Jun

Carpe diem and all that. Because tempus fugit.

And because, as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said,

Every second is of infinite value.

So gather ye rosebuds whilst ye may. Grab today by its neck and dive into all that you’ve always wanted to do. Have you always wanted to learn to  paint? Go to the bookstore today and get yourself a box of paints, some paintbrushes, and indulge even if you haven’t the slightest idea what you’re doing… yet. That’ll come in time. What matters is that you’ve started on the road that leads to your dream. (And it works whether what you want is learning to paint, or reading that book, or figuring out how to work the new vacuum cleaner).

And because what we sow today is a very accurate predictor of what we’ll reap tomorrow, it makes a lot of sense to make sure that the journeys we embark on today, short-lived or long-winded, are those that lead to a good place.

For me, there is no greater reassurance that my daily journeys will be fruitful than to begin it (and yes, end too) with prayer. It’s the one great thing that gives me energy, cheer, and yes, during those inevitable times of human frailty and trial, hope. And the knowledge that, even if in the eyes of the world—and perhaps even in my own sight—it may sometimes seem that I have failed at this or that today, what really matters is the struggle that has been offered up with love.

And so… in a very roundabout way, what I am trying to say is that I have been totally amazed by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week because it merged those two things—today and prayer—in a very serendipitous way:

TODAY. I love that this is the theme this week. Especially because I have long subscribed to the belief that there is beauty, happiness, awesomeness, indeed miracles a-plenty, in each and every day—wonderful gifts just waiting there quietly for us to take the time to stop and discover them.

This was my little awesome gift today:

The Backstory That Explains Why:

His 10-year-old brother and I had just finished reading this little booklet which explains the benefits of praying three Hail Mary’s daily, upon waking and before sleeping. I was in the middle of teaching the older one to say a little prayer in between the three Hail Mary’s, asking for the gift of purity of body and soul. This sweet 6-year-old was playing with his Lego, oblivious (or so I thought) to my conversation with his brother. Suddenly he looked up, folded his hands in prayer, and said, “Mama, teach me also that other prayer.”

I am certain the angels in heaven smiled on him at that very moment. As I did (and then reached for my camera to capture the moment 😀 ).

Ah, the gift of today. And the joys of being mama. And the gift of being asked by a little child to join him in prayer.

Precious beyond words.

And I end this with a prayer that today may be filled with gifts and blessings for you, my dear friends!

Season of Heat

26 May

Summer. Sun. Sand. Shakes—mango, coconut, watermelon (not all together, though :P). And sweat.

I could do without the last, actually. 😆

But how apt that in this sweltering heat, Summer is the theme of this week’s WordPress Photo of the Week Challenge!

Here’s my take on it:

Summer: Sunny haze, Soccer field, Stick in hand, and all the time in the world to Seek adventures. AweSome!

Travel Theme: Summer

But wait, we haven’t had enough of summer yet; there’s more!

How funny is it that my new WordPress-friend, Ailsa, invited me just last week to participate in her own photo challenge on her blog, and her theme was… surprise, surprise:  Summer! I promised her that I’d join in, and I always keep my promises. 😉 So here we go—Summer, Too:

{Click on the image for a larger view}

Now let’s see how many S words I can come up with for this one: Summer = Sun, Sand, Sea, a Sprinkling of Seawater, and a lovely fruit Shake.

Ssssweet! 😀

Oh, and let’s not forget… the Summer Song (perfect for those long drives to the beach)!

Hope you have a super day today, my dear friends! Sssee you sssoon!

Hands

23 May

I have always loved taking photos of hands because I think hands can tell many stories (ever notice how difficult it is to speak without moving your hands? Try it. ;)). In direct correlation, I think hands can reveal so much about the body and soul that are connected to them. They can reach out and they can block off. They can flutter about or they can hold steady and calm. They can give or they can take.

I can’t imagine a world without hands. And a child’s hands—ah, a world without that, to have and to hold, would be a bleak and dreary world indeed.

Speaking of little hands, there is a saying, “From little acorns mighty oaks do grow.” In little hands, acorns speak so much: what a wonderful metaphor for the future of the world lying cradled in the faith, love and hope of pure children’s hands.

And that brings me to my take on this week’s WordPress Photo of the Week Challenge, with the awesome Hands theme:

{Click on the image for a larger view}

And today, I end this with a wish for you in the words of William Blake:

To see the world in a grain of sand,
And to see heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hands,
And eternity in an hour.

And this beautiful song of Jewel:

May you have a handful of happy hugs this Tuesday evening / Wednesday morning, my dear friends!

Shooting the Blues

19 May

Blue happens to be my favorite color (robin’s egg blue that leans more towards blue than green, to be exact, but I pretty much like all the shades of blue). Perhaps that’s why I’ve never associated blue with sadness. I mean, I can shoot the blues but I can’t sing them. 😉

And so I did. Shoot the blues, that is. At the San Francisco’s Pier 39. And it was just what I needed for the WordPress Photo of the Week Challenge with the theme Blue. (Betcha you guessed that immediately, right?)

So here we go with the last of my backlogged photo challenges: BLUE, for you!

{Click on the image for a larger view}

For the record: I think this was the first time I actually saw this kind of silvery-blue fish. Pretty awesome really, those creatures.

Mason Cooley wrote,

The sheen of ocean gleams on the blue fish-plate.

And so it does, doesn’t it?

Now if, like me, seeing all that beautifully glistening blue makes you imagine the b-l-i-s-s of floating peacefully along, gently rocked by the ocean’s rolling waves, then I’m guessing you’ll love how Enya’s Caribbean Blue brings you perfectly to that place of cool, calm comfort:

All this blue around has made me curious: What is blue to you? Does it bring to mind something extraordinary and uncommon (Blue Moon)? Someone beloved (Blue Eyes)? Love (Mr. Blue)? The wonder of the heavens above and oceans beneath (I see skies are blue, red roses too…)? Sadness (Singing the Blues) or happiness (Blue skies, nothing but blue skies…)?

I personally think blue is cool. But then, you knew that from the first sentence of this post, right? heehee.

Hope today turns out to be cool for you, both literally and figuratively, my dear friends!

(Un)Focused

19 May

There are busy days, and then there are busy days. The kind that seem to rush past in a blur, and when we finally get the time to sit back and take a deep breath, we abruptly find ourselves at the end of the day. Ever have that kind of day? I have many of them.

Luckily for those of us who get caught by the daily rush, there is a way to get through them and survive and even come out victorious at the day’s finish line, cheering and whooping and dancing amidst the confetti rain. I’m not talking about sticky-tacking the hands of the clock when no one’s looking (though I will admit the prospect of doing just that is deliciously tempting, if only it would work. Ha!). And, tempting though it is, too, to follow the day’s hasty pace and charge through our To-Do list with a Tasmanian-Devilish burst of speed, I suspect the answer doesn’t lie there either. Often the blur is something we have no control over anyway, so to go rushing blindly isn’t going to make it go away. So what then?

Ahem. We were talking about solutions, right? I like to think the answer lies in applying the Shooting Principle. And in case you feel you have to google that, don’t bother: I just invented it right now (haha).

The Shooting Principle of Life

Basically, the Shooting Principle is all about coping with life’s quick pace the same way one would when shooting a photo. If you move around too quickly, or if you don’t hold steady, or if there isn’t enough light (or a tripod to keep your camera steady otherwise—but then how many of us walk around with a tripod on a daily basis, right?), you’ll get a blurry shot.

Yeah, so? How does not moving quickly, holding steady, and working with light translate to the business of real life?  Stay with me, my friend. It’s going to make sense in a bit, I promise. 😉

See, I think, in much the same way, if we rush through the day without taking the time to be grateful for all the blessings that are easily overlooked in the hurry and flurry, if we allow ourselves to be thrown out of whack by unexpected occurences or unforeseen problems instead of staying steadily on track, if we forget to take the time to light the day with moments of both calm prayer and cheerful humor, then our life would be a complete blur.

So the answer, then, lies in keeping ourselves focused, even and perhaps especially when we are caught in the midst of the daily rush. That’s the key word then: Focus. In the midst of trying conditions, the only way to avoid getting lost in the blur is to keep focused. Train our sights on our goals and keep working steadily along. (Let’s see now: Get laundry done. Check. Get the groceries shopped. Check. Get dinner cooked. Check.). Choose to look at the positives and let the negatives fade away. Know what needs to be done at each moment and strive to complete that before going on to the next. Then, even if the blur continues, that which is the object of focus remains standing and triumphant.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Timely, too, that the WordPress Photo of the Week Challenge that I need to catch up on has Unfocused as its theme. Here’s my take on it:

{ Click on the image for a larger view }

Amazingly, there actually exists a song about Frames & Focus! Here you go:

And so, this is where I end for now, as I focus on today’s To-Do List (still full as always, but now with one backlogged WordPress Photo Challenge less and just one more to go before I’m all caught up… Yay!). In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful day filled with the right lights, intense focus amidst the daily blur, and lots of good times to capture with heart and hands and perhaps even a camera lens! 🙂

Together = Priceless

18 May

Forgive me for being absent for quite some time… I just got back from a family vacation on the West Coast, and had two weeks of net-free, real life adventures, family bonding and together-time!

And now, to do the accounting:

Pounds Gained = 6 (alack!)
Days Spent Trying to Get Rid of Jetlag = 11
Wordpress Weekly Photo Challenges to Catch Up On = 3
Family Bonding & Happy Adventures = Priceless

More than worth any cost, for sure! 🙂

So apt, then, that the first WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge that I need to catch up on is themed Together. Here’s my take on it:

{ Click on the image for a larger view}

(I especially love that the mom and dad are holding hands while pushing the stroller… did you notice that too? Awwww! :))

And resurrecting an oldie but goodie to celebrate love and togetherness:

Have you gone anywhere together with loved ones recently? Was it awesome, too?

Here’s wishing you loads of happy together-times!

Here Comes the Sun!

25 Apr

And with this, I’m all caught up with the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges! YAY!

[ Click on the image for a larger view]

I have to confess that while I was preparing to post this photo here, I had only this one melody playing over and over in the background of my mind:

Well, my sweet friends, may your day be filled with bright sunshine and great blessings, and may we all be the light that shines for others! xox

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