Monday, May 31, 2010

A mild Monday

Getting to Know You is run by Keely over at MannLand5. Copy the questions below, answer them on your blog, and go to her site to link up!

1. Have you ever snooped around someone else's house?

2. Can guys and girls be friends? ( thanks Jen!)

3. Can you curl your tongue?

4. Have you ever stolen anything?

5. Would you rather talk on the phone or text?

6. Memorial Day plans?

7. What do you do to relax?

8. Do you do anything to honor those that have died fighting for our freedom?

Here are my answers:

1. Have you ever snooped around someone else's house? Yea, I definitely remember doing some snooping when I was younger. There were several kids up and down my street that are around the same age as me (plus/minus 2 years), and we were always running to each other's houses and sitting under windows. We were also climbing in and out of windows, sneaking into neighboring pools, and causing mayhem.

2. Can guys and girls be friends? Yes. I had several guy friends when I was in high school and college. It's easy to be friends with guys. All you have to do is sit there and watch them play video games. Or watch them drink beers around a firepit. Or watch them shoot paintball guns at each other.

3. Can you curl your tongue? Nope. Not at all. I can't roll R's either.

4. Have you ever stolen anything? Lip gloss from a dollar store when I was in 8th grade. Such a rebel!

5. Would you rather talk on the phone or text? Depends who I am talking to. My mom and dad both really slow at texting, so it's much easier to just call.

6. Memorial Day plans? BBQ. Relax. Flea market. Sunbathe.

7. What do you do to relax? Read, play computer games, stare at running water.

8. Do you do anything to honor those that have died fighting for our freedom? Fresh palm crosses at my grandfather's grave. (He was a WWII vet.)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Color Splash Sunday - Flags


Welcome to Color Splash Sunday, my own meme!

I started this in order to spread my love for color splash (aka selective color), and to help photographers see how this technique can make their photos more unique, as long as it is not overused. For more information, CLICK HERE.

This week's theme is FLAGS - A flag from the country you live in, the country you WISH you lived in or one that is part of your heritage. I am looking for creativity here. I can't wait to see how everyone has portrayed their favorite flag!

Here is mine. This is one of many flags in my town. I love how it is standing straight and tall, and blowing in the breeze.

*I had to do some editing after-the-fact because of some unintentional, unsolicited advertising.

I live in the United States of America. If I could afford to travel around the world, I'd want to visit the countries where my ancestors lived: Italy and Poland on my mom's side, and Germany, Austria, and Ireland on my dad's side. I have a very rich heritage that I am extremely proud of, but I worry that my unborn babies won't appreciate the way I do. It's hard enough for me to understand it, and it will be even harder for them, since most of my older relatives have passed on. At least I can be sure that my unborn babies will share in my American pride!

Speaking of American pride, today is Memorial Day. Besides being the unspoken start of summer, it's also a national holiday set aside to remember our veterans and soldiers that served, are serving or gave their lives for their country. My grandfather (mom's dad), aka my pop-pop, served in World War II. He suffered injuries overseas that eventually led to his death when I was 4 years old. I have very few memories from the first few years of my life, but I cling to my memories of my pop-pop.

Back to CSS. Next week's theme is YOUR CHOICE! From now on, the first Sunday of every month will be "Your Choice," meaning that you can submit any photo you want, as long as it has color splash and you haven't used it before.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Macro Friday #1 (on Saturday)

One of my favorite bloggers, Laura over at Blogging from Bolivia, has started a new meme! It's called Macro Friday. I am really excited for this, because the majority of my photos are macro. And she's using the term "macro" loosely, anyway.

So here's my entry for this week. This is a dead pink rose that I had a great time photographing, and I had fun editing it, as well!

And I have to plug my dad's blog again. Poor guy has only got 2 followers (one of whom is me). But he takes amazing photos, and he hardly ever edits; his photos are that good! For example, check out his sky photos for this week's YouCapture! He also entered Macro Friday with a yellow butterfly flower.

2 Moms Made A Photo Challenge - Outdoor Family Activities

Two bloggers, Linkie Lueville and Melissa, have started a new photo challenge! It's called "Two Moms Made a Photo Challenge." This week's theme is Outdoor Family Activities, so here's my entry! My family likes to take walks together up and down our road.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fix It Friday #56


I wasn't planning on doing FIF today because I am utterly exhausted. But when I saw today's photo, I fell in love with these twins and I just got really excited about all of the editing possibilities.

This is the original photo.

This is my color edit.

This is my black and white edit.

I think I like the color edit better, because of the hazy effect. Which one do YOU like better? And, if you want to do your own edits of this photo or see other edits, head on over to iheartfaces.

Egg White

When I think of white,
I automatically think of 3 things:
snow, flowers, and eggs.

But I don't want to think about snow anymore.
It's been averaging about 85 degrees this week.

And I post WAY too many pictures of flowers.

So, eggs it is.

While I do make hard-boiled eggs often,
I don't usually take pictures of them.
Unless, of course, I plan on dying them
to hide all over the house. For fun.

Wow, this picture is BORING. Let's spice it up a little!

MUCH better!

Now, let's see if I can remember how I did this. Most of my photo editing is unorganized and chaotic. I try different things, compare results, delete random layers, throw some masks around, and hope it all creates something I like. So, even though I edited this photo about 2.36 seconds before typing up this post,
I'm not exactly certain how I did it.

Luckily for me, (and for you, if you are anything like me and neglect to write down HOW you edit your photos), pse has this nifty little gadget to help me out! Before you close your edited photo, click on "Window" and "Undo History." Ta-da!

With the Undo History, you can see exactly what steps you took, you can click on a specific step to see the photo before and after, and you can also select a series of steps to undo them all.

So here's a basic rundown of what I did:

--Levels mask to adjust light and dark; flatten image.
--Gradient Map mask to make it black and white.
--Adjusted the opacity of the above layer, apparently twice. It ended up being 87%.
--Flatten image again. (I do this after every major change.)
--Here, I ran DPM's Oh The Drama action to increase contrast drastically, because I love dramatic photos. I do this on almost every photo.
--Lowered the opacity of the action layer to 46%.
--Flatten image again.
--Then, I ran Coffeeshop's Give It Texture action. I can easily apply textures without this action, but I like that it gives me the opportunity to easily change the texture's hue/saturation/contrast.
--The texture I used is called Oil Painting 3 and it is one of many awesome FREE textures from Shadowhouse Creations. (Go visit his site - it's nothing less than amazing.) I changed the hue and saturation of the texture to a very pale shade of purple, because I wanted to preserve the whiteness of the eggs.
--Lowered the opacity of the texture layer to 54%.
--Brushed the color of the texture off the eggs. (Another bonus about using the Give It Texture action.)
--Brushed the texture itself off the eggs using a soft brush at 25% to soften them up.
--Flatten image one last time.
--Added signature.

I think this took me approximately 11 minutes to complete. Sometimes, I spend upwards of 30 minutes editing a photo. Other times, I do 4-5 minutes and I'm done. I try not to edit for hours and hours. If I let myself spend that much time editing, then I feel like I'm manipulating the image too much. Besides, who has HOURS AND HOURS to spend editing photos? I'd rather be reading, spending time with family and friends or taking more pictures!

Another thing to remember as you are editing your photos: Every single person on Earth who edits photos, is different and unique. We each have our own styles and preferences. You should always tweak layers and actions to make an edit that YOU like. Don't worry about what other people think, because there is no WRONG way to edit photos. "One man's junk is another man's treasure."

Simplicity Blog Hop
(This week's theme is white.)

Pixel Perfect Before & After

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecilyand Mamarazzi

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This Week's Thursday 5 & AWE!


Thursday Five with MannLand5,
where we get to look back on our week
and come up with 5 things that have made us:






1. I am so happy that the sun has been out all week and the temperatures are high.

2. Something that makes me feel joyful is thinking about my 4-day weekend that starts tomorrow!

3. I was excited earlier this week because I interviewed for a full-time job, and I felt it went VERY well.

4. What made me jubilant was that someone at work paid me a very big compliment.

5. I am so incredibly grateful that Matt's bloodwork is almost back to normal and his kidney function is not degrading.

A mom, sharing a quiet moment with her soon-to-be daughter-in-law.

YouCapture - Sky

YouCapture is run by Beth over at I Should Be Folding Laundry,
and this week's theme is sky.

Winter sky

Spring sky

Summer sky

Fall sky


And now, a bit about writing. I tried out NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November of last year. This a challenge of sorts in which everyone writes a 50,000 word (175 pages) novel in 30 days. I was very confident that I would be able to get it done. I started off writing everyday, sometimes more than the planned ~1,670 words per day. After about a week, I faltered. I tripped over the plot, the characters ran away, and suddenly, I was left with just a quiet setting, no rising action and no climax in sight. I stopped. Even after I took a few days off to simply look around, maybe find some hidden conflict, I couldn't get back on track.

I ended up with just over 12,700 words. Wow, I am horrible at this whole "meeting a goal" thing. I guess traveling for work made me busier than I thought.

Life goes on.

Now, I am gearing up to participate in the same event, only run by different people. This one is called BuNoWriMo (Burrow Novel Writing Month). Same goal - 50,000 words in 30 days. I was going to simply continue the first novel, but I've been reading through it. As much as I want to finish it, I feel like pushing myself to write it when I'm not ready, is just going to make it worse. I'd rather go back to it when I'm ready, and when it's ready for me. Until then, I've got several other ideas. I just have to pick which one I want to write!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Black and White Wednesday - Another Picnic Bench

the long road

Black and White Wednesday is run by Lisa over at
The Long Road to China.

This particular bench, sandwiched between 2 trees, can be found at Collis P. Huntington State Park in Redding, CT. I didn't take very many pictures at this park, because it is mostly hiking trails, or so I thought. I just went to to find the town of this park, and found a map of the trails. It turns that there are 5 ponds and several spots with historic ruins. But I spent so much time photographing this boring picnic bench and some statues, that I apparently missed out on some other exciting photo ops. I might have to go back.

AMAZING NEWS!! This is copied and pasted from the email my dad just sent me (although I did take out certain identifying names and details):
Dr. W called: blood draw show results that are more in line with how things have been for Matt. It must have been the sodium kick, but doc is not positive. Kidney function and liver function show no degradation. He sees no reason to perform a biopsy at the present time.

MATT'S KIDNEY IS STILL FUNCTIONING 100%!!! *dances* Everyone's prayers and thoughts helped more than you could ever know.

He has another test for the neurologist today, so we are still trying to sort out the unrelated symptoms, but this is still wonderful news.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quick note

I made a button for my blog! You'll see it if you scroll down a smidge and look to the right. It's nothing special, and it's too big, but I plan on redoing it soon... if I can come up with something cuter/better/more attractive. So, for now, grab it anyway, and when I change it, the image will change automatically on your page.

I also added a "Blog Button" page, if you move your eyes up a couple inches. I've added several of my favorite bloggers to that page, but if you would like to added, just let me know!

And if anyone wants to offer to make me a new button, because mine is lacking in creativity, please feel free! :)

Also, check the Color Splash Sunday page to get more information on next week's theme: FLAGS!

And a random raw photo:

Jon loves his Dew.

RAW(e) - Tattoos

I don't have any. Most of my friends don't have any. I guess we're all just too cheap to pay someone to draw on us.

But my older brother has 2 - his name across his back, and this blue thingie on his right shoulder. I keep telling him he needs to get the mirror image on his left shoulder because he's off balance, but he just hasn't gotten around to it.


RAW(e) is run by Sami.
The only photos allowed are those that are

Monday, May 24, 2010

i heart faces Challenge - Yellow

Click the button to see more YELLOW shots!

This was taken almost 2 years ago, with a k0dak point and shoot. Not bad, eh? Other than the flash on Matt's eye, I love this shot. I have it framed in my room. And I ROCK at self-portraits.

Update on Matt: He has to get more bloodwork done this week, as well as an EEG. We spent all day Friday at the children's hospital. His doc said it might just be a case of lowering one of his meds. Another possibility is simply decreased kidney function, because transplanted organs don't last forever. Worst case scenario, the kidney may be developing a completely separate disorder. But that's a very rare event, so he is leaning more towards decreased kidney function, which we knew would happen eventually. We were hoping for 20 years; it's been 11. So, on one hand, it's a miracle that Matt is alive and the transplant has been successful. On the other hand, I would love 9 more years of a healthy younger brother.

Regardless, the final answer is pending the bloodwork this week. I'll let you know. A million thanks for all your prayers and kind words. Please don't stop! It really helps me to stay strong for him when I know that my blogger friends are thinking about him.

Now, I am joining in with a new meme: Getting to Know You, run by Keely over at MannLand5. Copy the questions below, answer them on your blog, and go to her site to link up!


1. Do you have a fetish?
2. Do you sing in the shower?
3. Who was your first crush?
4. What do you think is the best manly trait a guy could have?
5. Do you sleep naked?
6. What do you do when (you think) no one is looking?
7. What's the first thing you do when you go online?
8. Summer is.....?

My Answers:

1. Do you have a fetish? Sneakers and sundresses. Together.
2. Do you sing in the shower? YES! But not too loud. I save the loud singing for my car - windows down, music up.
3. Who was your first crush? Jeffrey, in kindergarten. He played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with me - I was April and he was always Michaelangelo, my fave turtle.
4. What do you think is the best manly trait a guy could have? Defending himself and his family, both physically and verbally.
5. Do you sleep naked? Not FULLY naked (sorry Tami!)
6. What do you do when (you think) no one is looking? Take my shoes off. I'd rather be barefoot, but it's not very professional to walk around the office without shoes.
7. What's the first thing you do when you go online? Facebook! I'm hopelessly devoted.
8. Summer is.....? So close! I can smell it - BBQ's and creamsicles and sunscreen and campfire smoke.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Color Splash Sunday - Inspiration... And my 101st post!

I missed my 100th post! It was my last post about the pink-themed "Two Moms Made a Photo Challenge." I didn't really have any specific plans regarding this momentous event, but I'm a little bummed that I didn't even mention it.

But, hey, if there was a movie about 101 spotted dogs, I can certainly celebrate 101 posts. *throws streamers*

Welp, that was fun.

On to Color Splash Sunday.


This week's theme was Inspiration.

This is a bulletin board in my office where I display thank you cards from students I've met. I work in college admissions, so I give tours, help them with the application process, follow up after they're accepted, guide them through Financial Aid, and basically be the "go to" girl for all students in my territory (CT and MA). Some of them have it easy - they are accepted quickly, they file their FAFSA, and they are all set. Others, though, have it a little harder. Sometimes, I speak to a family several times a week.

But when they move in to their dorm in August and become students at my alma mater, I get that feeling, like it was all worth it. All of the phone calls, the emails, it was SO worth it. To help students pick the place where they are going to be for the next 4 years, and to support them in choosing their education. It's such a hard decision, but when students send me thank you cards (especially in an age where most teenagers would rather text), I know I am making a difference in their lives.

I love my job.

Okay, link up! Next week, we'll do FLAGS. It can be any flag - one from the country you live in, the country you WISH you lived in or one that is part of your heritage. I am looking for creativity here. For example, a flag made of berries on a cake. Basically, it doesn't have to be real flag. (But it can be.)

Also, check my Color Splash Sunday page up above to see more upcoming themes!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

2 Moms Made A Photo Challenge - Pink

Two bloggers, Linkie Lueville and Melissa, have started a new photo challenge! It's called "Two Moms Made a Photo Challenge." This week's theme is pink, so here's my entry!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

YouCapture - Depth of Field

YouCapture is run by Beth over at I Should Be Folding Laundry,
and this week's theme is depth of field.


Pay It Forward

My friend, Tami from Confessions of a Watery Tart, recently tagged me in her Pay It Forward post. I met Tami through HPANA (which I haven't logged onto in months), a Harry Potter news site and forum. I started out perusing, reading, and commenting on several threads, but my favorite haunt quickly became the Fan Fic sub-forum. I met some great writers in there. Tami is one of them. She is currently blogging about her journey to getting published, and she makes me giggle with pretty much every post. Sometimes, she also posts some drool-worthy pictures. So, you really should go follow her. And while you're at it, I highly recommend these blogs as well:

JeffK-Photo - This is my dad's blog! I've been bugging him to start one for months, and he finally did. It needs some cleaning up, but we're working on it. He is a brilliant photographer, too; it's thanks to him that I'm a photo nut.

Coffee Lovin Mom - Amy is funny and honest, and I love to read about her adventures.

Life with Kaishon - Becky is simply an amazing photographer. She usually includes a story or a joke or a random fact with her pictures. Quite unpredictable, so I am always looking forward to reading her posts.

Also, I am thinking of changing up my blog theme.
Please leave a suggestion when you comment!

RAW(e) - This Week...

Last week, I graduated.

This week, I proudly carried my tassel everywhere.


RAW(e) is run by Sami.
The only photos allowed are those that are

If you're wondering,
I earned my Master's degree in Education.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Black and White Wednesday - A Rock

the long road

Black and White Wednesday is run by Lisa over at
The Long Road to China.

This rock (with or without the bird) can be found at Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, CT. This was a summer estate, called Eolia, for the Harkness family. Obviously, they were loaded. This estate has over 230 acres of lawns, gardens, and beaches, not to mention that the mansion itself is pretty big. When I was there, the mansion was closed for tours, so I spent most of my time at the beach, of course. It was November, so it was pretty windy, but it was just so pretty!

If you noticed I haven't given any updates on Matty, that's because we were waiting to get test results and such. I went with him earlier this week to get bloodwork and a chest x-ray, and he also had an MRI. His nephrologist and pediatrician conferred about the bloodwork analysis, and they weren't happy. So we are headed to the children's hospital on Friday to meet with the nephrologist.

If you are now even more confused, I can understand. Matt's got several doctors - the neurologist, the nephrologist, our regular pediatrician, the orthopedic surgeon, the ENT specialist, etc. - aside from his therapists. His medical history obviously started the second he was born, and it has gotten quite colorful since then. To sum it up, he was born blind and with extensive nerve damage. When he was 8 years old, we discovered he had end-stage renal disease (his kidneys basically shut down). He was on dialysis for a year. When he was 9 years old, my mom donated a kidney to him. When he was 17 years old, he had scoliosis surgery. Those are the major events; he's been hospitalized for various other reasons in between times.

He's a fighter. With everything he's been through, any other person would have given up, would have let nature take its course. But he fights to stay strong and be calm, so we fight to keep him.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I am FEELIN' the love!

How am I feelin' the love on this blog? Well, first, I had a new record in comments - 18 on one post. It was my yellow post a few days ago, and all the sweet comments have given me more confidence in my photography and editing skills. Second, I gained a new follower - I am now up to 12 (according to my Blogger dashboard). Third, I've had over 6350 page views since I added the counter (2/15/2010). My newest country is Mexico (muchos gracias). And fourth, I've been given 3 more blog awards! All of them totally unexpected, and very much appreciated.

First up is the "I Love Your Blog" award from Cherees over at Our New Life. Cherees is so loyal and so supportive. Many thanks for her because in addition to reading and leaving comments, she has also been taking part in my Color Splash Sunday meme.


The rules for this award involve listing 10 things I love, and then passing this on to 10 bloggers. There is no way I can pass it on to 10 bloggers, but I will pass it on to Gail over at Delightfully Diva-ish, because I really love her blog! And I am going to list 10 people I love, vs things I love, because I already listed 10 things that make me happy.

1. Matty - my younger brother.
2. Mom
3. Dad
4. Dave - my older brother.
5. Jon - my boyfriend.
6. C - my best friend. We went to high school together, and grad school.
7. T - my other best friend.
8. K - our moms grew up together, so we are basically sisters.
9. L - ditto above.
10.Angelique - my twin at heart.

*Yes, I used initials for their names because I don't know how they feel about being on here.*

Next is the "Versatile Blogger" award from Bec over at iheartblog. Bec seems to be like me - full of hobbies and a crazy creative personality.


The rules for the award are:

1. Thank the person who gave you this award.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic! (in no particular order...)

4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

Thanks, Bec, for the award! And I love the new graphic you made - so pretty! I don't have 15 other bloggers to pass this on to, but I do have one very versatile blogger I recently found when she commented on my blog. It's Didee from Art Cupboard, and she is fantastic! She does photo editing and digiscrapping, and she has so many resources for textures and actions and kits.

Here are 7 random things about me:

I texted/tweeted during my graduation ceremony last weekend.
I never had perfect attendance in elementary or high school.
I am utterly addicted to computer games.
I can knot a cherry stem in my mouth.
I enjoy reading Shakespeare.
I can't eat crunchy cereal.
I hate to exercise.

And then there is the "Super Comments" award from Neel over at Being Zara & Zidan. I've already developed a super relationship with Neel, because she is the epitome of a supermom and superblogger. She has super cute kids, takes super photos, does super creative edits, and leaves super comments.


The rules for this award are to answer the ten questions, pass the award on to your favorite bloggers, and tell them to answer ten questions. Okay, I have to pass this award on to Cherees over at Our New Life. She leaves super comments; she is so nice.

1) Why do you blog? I needed another hobby, and a way to record my thoughts as I overcome my quarter-life crisis and move on to the next stage of my life.

2) What are the 3 best memories? My first kiss with Jon, walking across the stage to get my Master's degree, and laughing with friends.

3) If you had to change your real name, what would you change it to? When I was a kid, I wanted to change my name to Tiffany Dawn Crystal. Now, I like Amy. :)

4) What are the 5 things you can't live without? I'm not too materialistic, but there are a few. My cell phone, my laptop, my stuffed turtle, sneakers, and chocolate.

5) What are the 4 best books you have ever read? Ooh, tough one. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the HP series, Memoirs of a Geisha, and the Giver.

6) Tell me something unique & interesting about yourself? I am a very unique person. One interesting thing? I collected teaspoons when I was a kid. My family used to drive to South Carolina every year, and I got one everywhere we stopped.

7) What do you love about yourself? Basically everything!

8) What is the best movie ever made? Avatar.

9) If you had a freaky friday experience, who would you want to trade places with and why? An actress or celebrity, just for one day.

10) what's the best part about being a woman? It never fails to amaze me - women have this innate sense of creativity that is hidden deep within each of us. whether it is writing, blogging, photography, editing, drawing, baking, designing, painting, singing, dancing, or any other talent, we are each a creative genius in our own way. the moment a woman's creativity is recognized and allowed to grow, she shines. -me