More Friday friends!

The Girl Creative
Joining the fun at The Girl Creative again today. It's the last day of school for The Mr and I'll be there helping out with all the festivities, so if you stop by today, I'll catch up with you tomorrow. :) Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

The Mysterious Benedict Society

Cover images via bn.com
The Mysterious Benedict Society series, by Trenton Lee Stewart, is refreshingly unique and fun for both kids and grown-ups (which is good since I don't know which group I fit with yet ;) ). The Society is made up of four specially gifted children who responded to a local newspaper ad asking, "Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" Each of the children has a unique gift and working together they can solve just about anything! The three books take them through three different adventures to save the world from the villianous Ledroptha Curtain. You can also check out the site here for more information and fun activities. 

Final word: A+. I loved these books. They are everything that good books should be: thought-provoking, funny, brain-stretching, insightful, and full of adventure (I stayed up waaaay too late reading each of the three books because I had come to that point where you just_can't_stop_reading). I loved the stories, the characters, and the issues they made me think about. I finished the series completely fulfilled. My only wish is that there was another. :)

Shabby Apple Queensland Swimsuit Giveaway

We are heading to the beach this summer and I am in serious need of a new swimsuit, so I am loving this giveaway from Grosgrain!
photo collage from Grosgrain
The white suit in the middle is my favorite. Hope I win!!

You can check out the giveaway here: Shabby Apple Queensland Swimsuit Giveaway

Yard sale finds!

This past Saturday was my first yard sale excursion of the season and it was very successful:
All of this for $10 (minus the boy. He was much more expensive and worth every penny!).

It was a wonderful (wet) Saturday morning spent with my FIL. Yup, that's right, my father-in-law is a yard sale fanatic. I married into the best family ever. :) He spent 50 cents on an extension cord and some replacement bulbs for something that he may or may not own (yet) and was happy as a clam.

Look for the green shirt to show up sometime refashioned into this dress for my best friend's little girl. I found a ton of other things that made me think, "Someone in blogland could turn this into something great," which led to, "Hey, I could turn this into something great!" but ended unfortunately at "Hmm... where would I put it in our tiny living-space-only apartment?"

So, those projects will have to wait until we have a living-plus-pretty-space kind of apartment. :)

Making friends with Photoshop

So, I have been a proud Photoshop owner for over 2 years now, but {shame} I have never used it to actually edit photos until recently. Weird, huh? I used Photoshop for designing things (not that I'm much of a designer), but I'm just starting to actually learn how to use it. I'm loving it, though! Here's what I've done so far:

My first head swap
What do you do when you have these two pictures, taken of The Mr and I while we were dating, and in each of the pictures only one of you is looking at the camera? Swap the heads, of course!
 I took The Mr's head from the photo on the right and stuck in on Mr's body on the left to get this:
Perfection!

First success at cloning and patching
I snapped the cutest picture of The Mr. and Pudge at the school carnival a couple weeks ago. The only problem? Pudge's dark blue zipper pull was sticking up right in front of his cute grin. So, I used the clone stamp to re-create his mouth and then the patch tool to get the skin around is mouth the right shade. Sadly, I saved over the original version, so I can't show you the before and after, only the after. It's not exactly perfect, but it's close enough for me. :)
Aren't my boys just the handsomest? 
This was just before The Mr. nearly went in to cardiac arrest from being dunked repeatedly in a very cold dunking tank. I dunked him twice myself. :)

I am loving learning how to truly use Photoshop, and I can't wait to turn my newfound skills on some old family photos and start restoring them to their original glory. :)

For those of you who don't have Photoshop and want to try your hand at editing photos, try pixlr. It's a web-based advanced photo editor that does essentially everything that Photoshop does. And Debra at Housewife Eclectic shows you how to perform some basic fixes using pixlr as part of her Photo Thursdays. And she takes requests, so just ask and she can impart of her great knowledge. Trust me, she's amazing. {And no, she didn't pay or even ask me to say this. This shameless plug is all my own!}

Friday is for friends!

I'm making some new friends today! Go check out New Friend Friday at Girl Creative and join in the Follow Me Fridays blog hop at Trendy Treehouse (also listed below).



The Girl Creative         FollowMeFridays

Papers' Edge Giveaway

A couple of weeks ago, I dragged went with my ever-so-sweet SILs to the Beehive Bazaar. I saw this print and fell in love:
Wouldn't this be so sweet in my room a little girls room? Emily of Today's Mama is the lovely artist, and she's hosting a giveaway at her blog, come fly over. The winner gets any item from her etsy shop, Papers' Edge. Woohoo!

Home is where your mom is


My mother-in-law has stitchings like this all over her house and since embroidery is one crafty skill that I like and am actually pretty good at (those two rarely come together!), I have added to her collection regularly.

When I saw this free pattern from Char over at Crap I've Made (isn't that a fantastic blog name?) the week before Mothers' Day, I knew that this was what we wanted to do for my wonderful MIL. (We really did have other options in mind, but, hey, I work best under pressure...)

I used Char's pattern entirely, with my own little tweaks, of course:
  • Personalizing the family. Char provides several different head/body options in her pattern download, so I opened them up in Photoshop, cloned the bodies, and swapped the heads until I was happy with how the foursome looked. You could definitely do the same thing on a hard copy, but I like me some Photoshop. :) 
  • Subbing french knots (of various sizes) for backstitching in a few spots, most noticeably the curly hair of the girl on the left (love ya, Les!). I love the finished result:

If I were to do this again (which I might, although stitching the 8 kids in my family would be a bit more work...), I would
  • Think about the colors more in advance. I had all of the bodies stitched in brown before it occurred to me that all of the kids in my husband's family have brown hair, more or less. To liven up the stitching some, I mixed floss colors to get their hair colors (i.e., two strands brown, one strand light brown). It worked out okay, but some of the hair just looked funny because the two colors weren't really blending. If I had thought ahead, I could have used a different color for the bodies.
  • Color the stitching in with artists' chalk. I think it looks so great and adds so much color to a simple stitching! First, though, I have to learn how. If any of you know, I'd love some pointers!
  • Dye the muslin with tea before stitching. I always forget how much more character it adds to have that antique-ish finish on the fabric, and I wish I had done that with this one. I'm not sure I'd combine the chalk and the dye, though.
The frame is a $2 thrift store purchase that I sanded, painted, and then sanded again. What are the odds of finding a non-standard frame size that is exactly what you need the only time that you can make it to the thrift store? I must have earned some good crafting karma. :) Everything else (embroidery floss, needles, muslin, thin batting, paint, painbrush, sandpaper) I had on hand, so the grand total was $2. So proud of myself. :)

This is my maiden link-party project! Woohoo! Linking up at the blogs listed in the left sidebar. 

UPDATE 5.24.10: In response to Amber's question, I transferred the design to the material (in this case, plain ol' muslin) on a makeshift light box: (hardware lovers, avert your eyes!) my computer screen. I displayed the design at 100%, tipped my monitor on its side, and then just laid my fabric over the top and traced the design with a regular pencil (I've never had a problem using just a regular pencil, but the fabric pencils are awesome, too!). I usually spare my computer screen the trauma and print the design and trace it using a window and the bright sunshine outside, but I started this project on a dreary day after what little sun we had was gone. :)

    The Sunshine Blog Award

    Debra over at Housewife Eclectic was kind enough to award me with the Sunshine Blog Award! My first award. I am so honored!

    And now, as a proud recipient, it's my honor and duty to pass it on! I've chosen three of the blogs that I follow that always bring a little sunshine in my life:
    • Real Mom Kitchen: All of her recipes are fantastic, and most of them even use things that I already have in my cupboard! Nothing makes my day like a great recipe that doesn't involve an extra trip to the store!
    • Little Page Turners: Do you love to read? Do you want ways to help your kids love to read? Little Page Turners is so fantastic. Three kids' books per week with fun ideas for crafts and activities to do with your little ones.
    • Melissa Davis Designs: I love free stuff. MDD has a freebie every Friday. *contented sigh*
    Thanks again to Debra for the award!
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