featured photo: black and white

Because I am constantly working to improve my photography/camera skills and have almost no Photoshop knowledge, I rarely attempt much editing. However, I admit there are times that a perfectly boring photo is just more interesting in black and white. For instance, the original of the photo below is one I would consider a throw away. There is not much going on and although the color is fine, it’s not vivid enough to grab my attention. But, once the photo is edited to black and white, I think it deserves a second look. The rather dull scene transforms into one that evokes feelings of solitude and even desolation.

Maybe one of these days I will actually give black and white photography a try. Until then, I am thankful that Photoshop Elements (with a little PicMonkey flair) makes it easy to do some simple editing when the fancy strikes.

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not so black and white

If I were to make a list of my favorite things, orcas would definitely make the top five. Ever since I was a young girl, I have been fascinated by the majestic black and white creatures. I very clearly remember an elementary school project where we were asked to share a dream with the class. And, my dream to someday see orcas in the wild was fulfilled in 2004 when I observed a pod of orcas off the coast of Washington. Unfortunately, I have taken two more whale watching tours since then, but failed to see orcas either time. Just FYI, I don’t recommend taking an open speed boat tour in 40 degree weather in the rain… possibly the most miserable three hours of my life.

I have always refused to refer to orcas (Orcinus orca) as “killer whales” even though that is their most common name. Regardless of the negative connotation, the name is a serious misnomer. Orcas are not actually whales, but rather the largest member of the dolphin family. The “killer” part of the name is not so black and white (pun intended). There are no known incidents of an orca killing a human in the wild. And, although some orcas do eat large mammals, many of them feed exclusively on fish.

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the golden state

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Last week I had the opportunity to join my parents on a truly spectacular week long vacation in Northern California. We flew into San Francisco and then traveled up the coast along the incredibly scenic Highway 1 and then back down through Napa Valley. Thankfully, we were blessed with amazing weather and barely even saw a cloud in the sky until the morning we left.

So, rather than posting one yellow photo this month, I decided to cheat and instead share just a few photos from my trip to The Golden State (yellow… gold… close enough, right?). It was practically impossible to choose the photos since every single mile revealed breathtaking scenery. Despite previous vacations to San Diego and Pasadena, I have always thought that California was slightly overrated. But, after experiencing the Northern Coast, I am happy to proclaim my opinion forever changed.

 

sunflower state of mind

Since I dedicated two April posts to Texas Bluebonnets, I decided to go back to my roots this month and feature the state flower of Kansas.

This sunflower craft is very simple and only requires a circle punch (I used a 1 in. punch), paper and glue. To create each sunflower, I punched out one brown circle and six yellow circles. Then, I cut the yellow circles in half and glued them to the brown circle in a spiral pattern overlapping each semi-circle until I completed the circle. To finish off the sunflower, I attached a green strip of paper for the stem and added circle halves for the leaves.

Because Mother’s Day is this week, I glued the completed sunflowers onto a gift bag and added stickers to the sunflower centers to spell out mom. This craft would also work well for a greeting card or place cards.

 

april is bluer in texas

Maybe it’s because I am not a native Texan, but I don’t totally understand the Lone Star State ego that has resulted in slogans such as “everything is bigger in Texas” and “don’t mess with Texas.” However, even I cannot deny that April is a great month to live in Texas because of the wild bluebonnets that appear all over the state. In honor of this, I decided to make a bluebonnet inspired card for this month’s craft.

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For this project, I used the following supplies: 9″ x 6″ green cardstock, 5″ x 3.75″ accent paper, 4.25″ x 2.75″ white paper, 1/2 inch stencil brush, foam brush, white paint Sharpie, green colored pencil, blue ink pad, 3/8 inch ribbon (cut in half) and jewel embellishment.

To make the bluebonnets, I blotted the paintbrush into the ink pad approximately  10 times and then repeated onto the paper. In order to create the pseudo-watercolor effect, I then swirled the tip of the foam brush over the blue circle to blend out the color. Lastly, I used the white paint pen to make imperfect circles in the middle of each blue petal.