Monday, March 29, 2010

Mastering Photoshop

I was the lucky recipient of Photoshop CS4 last year for my birthday and have been sitting here afraid of it.  Like, REALLY afraid.  I'm not sure if it's because I am NOT in ANY WAY a good photographer.  I don't like to pretend I am when I'm not.  I am practicing more with my camera and actually reading the manual like a good little DSLR owner should.  All that means is I am getting better at composing my shots but I still have a lot of work to do.  However, Photoshop.  It's like the elephant in the room for me.  It's a robust program and has all these bells and whistles and "secret passageways behind false walls" to making your photos look good, if not great.  So its totally normal that it's scary, right?  RIGHT?

I have vowed to myself (and my husband because he spent some good coin on the program) to learn how to use it.  And that's why I love the internet.  There are so many great tutorials out there.  This one  really helped me understand the basics of patching and color adjustments.   It's definitely a long learning process and I get why people take classes on Photoshop.  Do you know of any great tutorials out there for Photoshop?  If so, send 'em my way.

Here is my first attempt at major post-processing:

SOOC (or Straight-Out-Of-Camera)

Lightly edited with Picasa.

Edited in Photoshop using a mix of a few different tutorials.  This is a HIGHLY processed photo so it's not meant to look totally "realistic".  Personally, I like this look but some may not.

Give me a heads up if you're planning to stop by my house anytime in the next few weeks...I can't promise my house will be cleaned while I tackle this project and that would be rather embarrassing.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Neighborhood Watch-woman

Thanks for the new links in the comments to the last post!  Your help is very much appreciated!

Ever since we made the decision that I would stay home with Noah, I realized I spend an inordinate amount of my day keeping tabs on my street.  Most days it's pretty quiet with the usual goings-on: parents dropping off their kids at the school down the street, dogwalkers out with their charges, and moms or nannies pushing strollers on the sidewalk.  This is all ordinary in most neighborhoods.  But then there are days like when I found the sewer sinkhole in the middle of our street and rather than just assuming the city would have someone out to fix it, or complaining about it to my neighbor, I got on the horn with the city's 311 non-emergency number.  And then I called my alderman's office.  And then I emailed my alderman's office.  It still took the city over 3 months to come and fix it.  I would know.  I watched.

Last week some punk graffiti-ed the speed hump on our street.  You better believe I called my alderman right away.  I know when the old man across the street takes his smoke breaks on his front porch.  I know when the neighbor to the east is "medicating" with his little friend MJ.  I know exactly when the UPS truck rumbles down the street (approximately 3:15 pm everyday).  I'm beginning to consider this the curse of the stay at home parent...especially when you live within spitting distance of all your neighbors.  You know far too much. Or maybe this is a sign I need to get out more.

In other news, and because my mother demands pictures, Noah has reached that magical age where he can play by himself for extended periods of time.  Do you have any idea how wonderful this is?  Yes, you probably do but this is new to me.  Before, he could entertain himself for, oh, 5 minutes and then he was all over me looking for attention.  Today we reached a glorious HOUR of playtime before the whining set in.  Miraculous!  Angels singing!  Sun shining!  Literally!  See for yourself:

Thank god for play trains.  Especially the el cheapo ones from Ikea.  Seriously.

We also encourage "no pants" play time.

Clearly Mommy pushed him past nap time so she could hit that one hour mark and brag about it on her blog.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Enlighten me

I've been feeling overwhelmed by the great big blogging world lately.  There are so many amazing blogs and talented people out there and every time I stumble across a new one I love, I add it to my Reader.  Of course, with all the gabillion amazing blogs I find, my Reader is out of control.  The "All Items 1000+" makes me nervous because I am clearly missing out on The Awesome but I don't have the time to go through and read Everything Ever Written By Everyone.

This is where you come in.  Tell me what's your current favorite blog.  Maybe it's your best new find and you want to share it with me (and my four readers).  Maybe it's an oldie but goodie that I don't know about yet.  Maybe it's YOUR blog and we've not yet met (Hello!).  Topic doesn't matter but I am partial to craft, design, cooking or parenting blogs.

In the meantime, I am going to go click "Mark All As Read" in my Reader and put my feet up.  I'll let you do the rest of the work for me.  I'm super nice like that.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Scenes from the weekend

Just pictures today, folks.  Hope you don't mind.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Daily toddler bulletin

Why did no one tell me that the day your toddler starts using multiple words strung together is the BEST day ever?  A whole new world of understanding and comprehension has opened it's doors to us.  This morning, before we even got out of bed, I heard these small squawks:

Choo-choo tracks?
Ride choo choo go
Mama do choo choo
Dadiiiiieee (da-die, his new word for daddy) work go?
Dadiiiieeee  hooooome?

Yes, there is a theme.  His days consist of begging for trains (to play with, to watch on the tv, to go visit and stand under to watch them whooooooosh over our heads), sending Daddy off to work, waiting for Daddy to come home, and wishing Mommy had those awesome bubbles from music class to play with.

Noah's language skills are just exploding.  He's mimicking every word I say (good AND bad) and starting to get a hang of that pesky "s".  "Yes" has evolved from an enthusiastic head nod accompanied by grunting to an enthusiastic head nod accompanied by a high pitched "YESSHHHHH!".  He likes to "go!", "do!", and the classic "Mama do!" (Mama does a lot around here, kid, don't you forget it.)  He has conversations with himself and his toys and is beginning to partake in a little imaginative play.

I know this is a) boring to those of you without children and b) old hat to those of you with children but these small milestones just excite me to no end.  It reassures me that I AM teaching my child...that he is growing and learning and maturing.  We're definitely turning that corner from baby-dom to little kid-ville.

 Waiting for the L last weekend...his first train ride!

Seriously, this was the highlight of his LIFE thus far.  Choo-choo!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring Giving aka how someone else motivates me to clean out my closets because I can't do it on my own

Hey, look what I'm participating in!


Miss Modern Matriarch has organized a little blogger spring giving party and after taking a look in our basement storage room the other week I figured I had A LOT OF CRAP to purge/give.  A lot of crap someone may look upon as the best treasures in the whole world.  So beginning this week I am going to go through all my closets, rooms, basement storage and PURGE!  PURGE!  PURGE!  I did a round of cleaning out before Noah was born but crap multiplies like rabbits and we're full up again.  I'm even making Tim go through his mounds of old computer parts from like 1995 and get rid of it all.  Dude, there is this thing called wireless?  Ever heard of it?  It's a revolution, I tell ya.

If I haven't needed it, seen it, worn it, used it in a year, it's OUT.  Hell, maybe I'll make that SIX MONTHS.  I am THAT ballsy.  When you clean out your space, what are your conditions to toss/donate?