Sunday, February 27, 2011

Focus 52 entry for Sunday, February, 27, 2011

I am rather challenged when it comes to knowing how to do some things on the computer and am a little ADD so I don't always follow directions because I just don't always read comprehensively. Anyway, this is my third week to try and enter the Focus 52 challenge. I got the instructions wrong the first two times. They say the third time is ...oh, I forget what the saying is. LOL
Blessings to all who leave me a comment.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Using brushes in Photoshop Elements

Two years ago i started going to the Elements Village forum to learn how to use my new Photoshop Elements 7 program. Here is the link:

One of the queries I had from the beginning was, what is all this fuss about having different brushes? Diana Day was one of my mentors on the site and she was very patient with me, explaining that there are a lot of uses for different brushes. I am going to show you what i have discovered about the use of brushes for me. It is another tool to enhance your photos and if you are addicted like i am to textures, then you may develop another addiction, to brushes.

But first of all I am going to give you some links to some unusual brushes:
They are Diana's list: [lots of silhouettes] [must register – it’s free] [well categorized]

Today, I am going to use some of my favorite brushes from Jerry Jones at Shadowhouse Creations.
I use them all the time in landscape shots and they look so real.

Here we go: Open up a photo:

I have already made the adjustments that I needed. Go ahead and do the same; that is, adjust levels, correct exposure, saturation, add a texture (optional).

Flatten your picture and then make a duplicate (Ctrl J). Open up the brush dialog box and select a brush set. I am choosing to use Jerry's bird brushes, but you can use a cloud brush or tree brush, whatever you want.

Grab that brush and use the left and right bracket keys to adjust the size that you think you will need. If you make a mistake you can just click on "undo".

Now we are going to flatten and make a duplicate again. I am going to add another tree to the left side of the photo. I had to change my foreground color to match the shade of the tree on the right side. And here it is:

Pretty cool, huh? Really i don't like the tree looked fine before, but I am just showing you what you can do. And since I don't like this layer, I am going to delete it and go back to the original with just the birds.

Play around with your brushes and have fun! Any questions email me:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Springtime Pasta with Peas - a recipe

Springtime Pasta with Peas

     Yesterday was so pleasant that I left the sunroom door open so that my dogs would be able to come and go while I worked on my computer. I heard a rustling noise and turned to see that my dogs were all in here with me. What was that sound then? I headed to the sunroom to find a little baby bird frantically trying to find his way back out. We have big picture windows facing the backyard and lots of birds mistakenly fly into it. I opened the sliding glass door opposite the other door to increase his chances of escape, and went back to the computer room.

I guess that means spring is here at last. And I am going to celebrate it with a very simple recipe that I made for my two girls when they were young.

Here are the ingredients:

Fettuccine or other pasta, Italian Parsley, one stick of butter, Parmesan cheese and of course, peas

First of all, put a pot of water on to boil. Add pasta and stir occasionally, adding salt if you like. Cook for the prescribed time for "al dente".

While the pasta is cooking away, grate the cheese and chop the parsley. Now this is not a fancy recipe and you can adjust the ingredients to your taste. I like a lot of cheese in my pasta so I will use the whole wedge.

And parsley, ohhh, i love it for the fresh taste that it imparts to everything. I put a ton of parsley in this recipe.

Oh, and don't forget the peas! I am using frozen because I think they are very good. But if you can get fresh ones, go for it.

 After your pasta has finished cooking, remove some of the cooking water and put aside. You may need to moisten your pasta if it is too dry. Now is the time to put in the peas to heat them slightly, don't need to cook them...the hot water will do the trick.

Next drain the water from the pasta and put back into the pan, add the stick of butter and stir until the butter is under the hot pasta and peas. Add the cheese and generous amount of chopped parsley.
All you need to complete the meal is a green salad and a fresh baguette. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Peas on Earth

I used to never like  peas, especially, frozen peas and carrots that my father used to feed us as kids, in Richmond, Virginia. He was being the best father that he knew how to be, but his cooking skills were lacking for me, at least. His reprotroire was usually scrambled eggs with fried Spam slices,and for vegetables, frozen peas and carrots. The last; the peas and carrots were such an atrocity that I would do my best to get rid of it any way that I knew how. I would ball up the offending vegetables in my hand and when my father was out of view( my mother was at work at this time I went out the screened door and threw the offensive food out as far as I could !! Well, I wasn't as smart as I thought. My father was right behind me, and made me go out and get every pea and carrot that I threw away.
And he made me eat every one. I do not feel that I was disrespected by his actions even though I did not like them at the time.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Spring Day

I took this photo next to Lake Allatoona on a day very similar to today. It was warm, about 70 degrees, and lightly breezy. My husband was driving me around to get some shots as he knows that that makes me happy.

It reminds me of how each of us are on our own path in life, to take whichever direction we choose. It is all up to us to make the right choices. And when we veer off course, we have consequences to bear. I have made lots of wrong choices in my life. But I am learning along the way. I am pretty much on the right path at this point in my life.
I just need to keep remembering: not my will, but yours, Lord.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Shout it out for Spring!

A Harbinger of Springtime!
Dear friends,

Are you as busy as I am? Probably and more so. But I am retired and I thought I would have trouble filling my day. Life is just so hectic and keeps us from having fun. LOL

But it was warm and pretty out today and I made it a point to take some time and enjoy the day.

 I am reading a new book called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. His premise is that we are in an epidemic of "spiritual amnesia" when it comes to knowing God. No matter how many sunsets, flowers, trees, baby smiles, miracles that we witness, we forget who God really is; the creator of everything that you see! I have a hard time wrapping my head around this. He knows how many hairs are on your head, what you are going to say in the next few minutes, what you will think about tomorrow.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech no language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."      Ps. 19:1-4

Every day is a new creation, every season is new from God. He is preparing all of the spring profusion of flowers and trees, all new growth to proclaim hope.

I am guilty of forgetting who God is. Oh, I go to church and worship, and read my bible. But I do forget in the busyness of my daily life that it is to God that I owe everything. Apart from Him I can do nothing.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pennies from heaven?

Today was not a fun day. Please allow me to vent.

We are the unfortunate owners of two rental houses. I say unfortunate because of the experiences we have had with renters. Okay, they are not all bad. There was a woman named Tracy who left the house that she rented from us, in better condition than when she moved in. But that is not the norm, at least with us.

When we didn't receive the rent for this month of February, of course, my husband called to find out why. Whatever the excuse was this time doesn't matter. At least she and her two teen aged children moved out. Well, I say moved out, but then, they left a ton of "stuff" every where. And it looked as if it hadn't been cleaned the whole nine months of living in it.

We were very downhearted on seeing the mess and dirt that we would have to clean up.
Nine months ago, my husband spent a week of his time, cleaning, scrubbing and painting. Not to mention tending to the yard.

First a stop at Home Depot to get the necessary tools to begin our work;  a gallon of paint, three new dead bolts and door knobs, Lime-away( to get the crud off of the fiberglass tubs and enclosures), paint rollers and trays, and some other heavy duty cleaning supplies, for a total of $155. There goes my  new purse. Oh well, maybe another month. :o)

As we carried our purchases to the house to get started, we both felt overwhelmed at the enormity of it. We are getting older and it is hard to muster the energy for our own house.
As Jim was replacing the door locks, I started to sweep the whole house. Every few minutes, i would find a penny. Hmmmm. Not a big deal. But I kept finding more and remembered a story about a man finding a penny on the ground. Not many people bother to pick up a penny any more.

The moral of the story was that the man read what it said on the penny; "In God we trust".
I think that was what God was telling me today: to trust in Him. So I will keep on cleaning  being thankful that God is in control.

Pennies from the rental house

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

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Love of food

My love of special food goes back a long way. My mother, God rest her soul, was not a cook at all. She just didn't have an interest in it especially since she had so many children to care for. A beautiful roast beef ( Sunday's lunch) would be cooked to a gray/brown death. Vegetables were out of a can and bread was Wonder, which we children would mash and roll into little balls before eating.

When recently in my hometown of Bethesda, I was amazed to see that the Farmer's Market on Wisconsin Avenue was still in business after all these years. How I begged my mother  to stop so that I could see what this place was all about. But she was usually too busy. So I never went there. Oh, I suppose I could have gone when I was older, but my interest shifted from food to boys.

Here is the old Farmer's Market looking the same as i remember:

I believe my culinary interest came from my father and his mother. My grandmother could cook anything and everything. She made everything from scratch as was necessary in the old days. And she grew most of her produce.
She made the best fried chicken, mashed potatoes, watermelon pickles (yes, she used the rind so it didn't go to waste.) and pies. She even made donuts every once in a while.

My father's tastes ran more in what we call "gourmet" now. I remember going with him to the fish market downtown to purchase all kinds of seafood for a French soup/stew called "Bouillabaisse". We got home and i helped prepare this recipe with him. He loved the finished product but it was too rich and strange for my tastes at the age of 12 years. Maybe i should find out and make it again. Now that is a thought that makes me smile.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February 8, 2011

Some days are awfully busy but I feel quiet and have nothing to say in this blog. It is times like this that I stop and listen, instead of talking, to hear God speak. "Be still and know that I am God." When at mass this morning, I came across a beautiful prayer by the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman who lived in the 1800's. I need these words because even though I attend mass as often as I can, I am a miserable sinner.

"Dear Jesus, Help me to spread Your fragrance wherever I go. Flood my soul with Your Spirit and Life. Penetrate and possess my being so utterly that my life may only be a radiance of Yours. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your Presence in my soul. Let them look up , and see no longer me but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I will begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from You. None of it will be mine. It will be You, shining on others through me. Let me thus praise You in the way in which You love best: by shining on those around me. Let me preach You without preaching, not by words but by example, by the catching force. The sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears for You. Amen."

BTW this was a favorite prayer of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

I think we are all waiting for the arrival of spring with new growth, new blooms, new green leaves to replace the greys and browns of winter. It won't be long.

Waiting for my master

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Not your ordinary burger!

One of the perks of traveling is eating out and exploring new kinds of cooking. Since my husband is really a meat and potatoes kind of man, he indulges me on occasion in my search for new eats.

When in Bethesda, Maryland, recently, we happened upon an Irish Pub. Besides an array of Irish and English ales, the menu was also very authentically Irish/English.

As you might expect, the inside was panelled in dark wood with booths as well as tables in front of a large bar.

Jim started with an appetizer of potato cakes (well, he is my meat and potato guy) with a topping of sour cream and a reduction of balsamic vinegar. I had a bite and it was wonderful. I might try to duplicate it at home.

I ordered the Irish lamb stew with vegetables and a fresh green salad. I wish that I had thought to take photos right off but I forgot and only took one of Jim's lamb burger.
Now this was not a regular burger, but nice lamb with a grilled, caramelized red onion and feta cheese. And of course, served with chips with malt vinegar.

We enjoyed the food so much that Jim ordered a Smoked Salmon Reuben to take back to the hotel.

Oh, BTW, the name of the pub is Ri Ra. I guess it is Gaelic.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Do you like a rainy day?

I really do love rainy days, especially after we went through a rather scary draught for a long while. So the rain is from heaven for me. It is an opportunity to pray, read, sit by the fire, call a friend...a time to cherish.

This is one week after my sister's funeral and I couldn't believe how much traveling took out of me. Jim did all the driving (11 hours each way), so I really didn't do anything. I guess it is a sign of my age. I am blessed that I don't have to work anymore and can make my own schedule.

My good friends, Barbara and Donna brought us dinner the day after we got back. And boy, was it appreciated it. (see above) Dinner was spaghetti with a rich meaty sauce, a gorgeous salad with greens, nuts and fruit, brownies and whole wheat rolls, a specialty of Donna's. And you know what? Both of them brought flowers! Barbara brought a pot of pink tulips and Donna, a pretty primrose. I will be using them in my photos soon. Here is the one Barbara gave me.

Isn't it great to have good friends?
© Charlotte Wilson
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