Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sharing the Love

I'll admit I was apprehensive when I loaded my recently gifted Photoshop Elements 9 (thanks Mom and Dad) on to my computer. After my recent digital photography class I finally felt I was beginning to scratch the surface of Photoshop, the vast expansive surface of Photoshop. Yes, Elements is derived from Photoshop and is definitely more user friendly so far, but the idea of learning all the right buttons and instructions was skeeeery to me. Thanks to the magic of the interwebs, days later I'm feeling a lot more confident in my skills. So today I will share with you the secret ingredients that have allowed for this much smoother transition.

First and foremost there's Pioneer Woman Photography. Is there anything Ree can't do? She's made photo editing so much more liberating than terrifying. Come on, anyone who has attempted to use Photoshop knows just how intimidating it can be. Even my dad who can pretty much master anything I'm sure has had his moments of wanting to hide behind a bush rather than figuring out the complicated processes of PS.

I would see all of these beautiful photos on her website and figure it would take hours upon hours to get that one picture to look so incredible. But, oh Ree, how you wow me with your Pioneer Woman Actions. I believe I've referenced them before, but it's like waving a magic wand right over your image and ta-da, sheer beauty. Basically she's simplified all the steps to get those beautiful pictures into the simple click of a button. You want a warm vintage look? She's got an action for that. Beautiful black and white? She's all over that.

Here's an example of the wonderful magic of PW Actions.


I was treading into dangerous waters with Elements because I knew that Pioneer Woman had her actions available for the program but I heard through the grapevine that installing them was a bit more complicated. I tried as soon as I installed but didn't have success with my endeavor. I was majorly bummed. The next day, thinking that it may have just been from Christmas exhaustion, I attempted to install them again and thanks to the ladies over at Texas Chicks Blogs and Pics everything was A O K.

::wipes sweat from brow::

Another blog that's been super helpful has been The CoffeeShop Blog. The ladies over there also have lots of actions for Elements to choose from and step by step tutorials on how to do the actions yourself. The one I took the time to learn tonight instead of just cheating and pushing a button was learning how to add a soft texture to a picture. The instructions are here and here if you'd like to try yourself. By following these steps I was able to edit this photo here:


Looking for some textures? Find them here!

The internet has been my friend in this learning process and it can be your friend too! Stay tuned for more before and after images as I continue to learn more editing techniques. Happy snapping!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mele Kalikimaka

Christmas started out right with some snow on the ground and some Christmas Vacation on the TV while wrapping presents.

How could you not have Christmas without a little Cousin Eddie, Clark and Aunt Bethany?

The tradition on Josh's side of the family is to go out to eat at the Japanese Steakhouse (YUM) and then return to his parent's house to consume adult beverages and open gifts.

Egg Flippin Mastermind.

 How could you turn down a continuous stream of free sake? Well it's free until your mouth gets too full and you start slobbering all over yourself.

If you're having a bad day, make sure you order a Cheery Coke. I hear they do the trick.

I remember the first year I spent Christmas with Josh and his family and felt so special and felt like things were so official when I realized I had my own stocking on the mantle. 
We always get a nice array of gifts and I won't lie and say that I don't enjoy being an adult and getting stock piled with beer and wine for the holidays. I think Josh managed to walk away with the best gift that night...I mean who wouldn't want Batman boxer briefs?

He's my rockstar in so many ways.
Christmas is spent with my parents, my brother and his girlfriend for the first half of the day and then we venture over to Nana and Papa's for the afternoon. Generally, I'm not too fond of winter and the snowy slushy mess that tends to come with it, but it does leave for some nice scenery on the way out to Mom and Dad's house.

The beautiful tree tunnel all decked out for Christmas.
Santa must have heard that Josh needed some new undies because these ended up in the stocking at my parent's house for him.

And Santa must have heard that my dad has been coming down with a severe case of Monkey Butt because he was given this gift in his stocking.

This year Shauna's family joined us for Pass the Trash, which I hope becomes a regular thing at Christmas because it was fun, and we all walked away with some interesting loot.
Notice my Zen Garden, I'm feeling much much more Zen these days. I decided the bathroom needed some more Zen so I put it in there and now people have taken the liberties to write little messages in the sand. I think it currently says Booger.

Josh stole away with these awesome seaweed snacks. Ahem. Not. We opened these puppies up because the curiosity got the best of us and a few people even dared to put them in their mouth. Blech. Let's just say they're definitely not anything like your average Lay's Potato Chips.
Dad guffaw's at the fact that he's opened yet another pair of scissors. 

Mom gets something nice and practical which was probably later stolen because someone needed it for Baby Layla. 
Backstory: Layla is Shauna's niece and she's almost a year old. Mom opened something and liked how practical it was and then Jess, Shauna's sister and Layla's mom, mentioned how it could be used for Layla's baby food. Naturally, mom felt guilty for being selfish and wanting it to not get stolen. After that we realized that if we just said, "Oh it's for baby Layla" then we had good reason to steal it. I have no clue how a mini screwdriver set could come in handy for an infant, but hey, you gotta play the game right?

See? How could you take anything away from this precious little girl?

Of course everyone deserves a Christmas present so my brother's dog Annie did not get the short end of the stick this Christmas. How you could deny this adorable pup a present?

She got a giant bone, we referenced it as the knuckle of a T-Rex, and I don't think she knew what to do with it because of it's large size in comparison to her other bones. AJ took it into the other room for her to gnaw on and found her minutes later asleep probably feeling defeated by the monstrosity of the bone.
Next it was on to Nana and Papa's for some fun times with Dad's side of the family. There's definitely never a shortage of laughter and delicious food over there.

Best laughing moment of the day plus most disgusting moment of the day was Uncle Mike's reenactment of the day recently where Aunt Trudy popped a large cyst on his back. It was the bottomless cyst apparently until one last final pop caused whatever was inside to shoot out like a missile towards the ceiling causing Trudy to dramatically collapse on the table and say "Oh my God Mike you need to go to the hospital, you're going to die." His imitation of her was spot on. Absolutely hilarious. But the details of the story were pretty gruesome. I still get the heebeejeebees just thinkin about it.

Jack is probably thinking "How did I get myself into this mess? My family is so strange."

Oh well. He'll just have to deal.

Well all in all, it was a very successful Christmas. Lots of laughter, lots of love, lots of food and lots of wine. All that excitement leads to a very tired husband. He's such a trooper. Opening gifts can be such hard work.

Mele Kalikimaka everyone. And Happy New Year!

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Little Devil Cat

I love him. I really do. But my cat can be a giant pain in the butt sometimes. He's a peculiar little thing. He prefers chocolate milk over regular milk, he likes lettuce, chocolate pudding and he can't eat his cat food without mixing it with his water first.

He's recently taken the liberties of climbing on the kitchen counters and tonight it cost me one of my favorite glasses. And what for? So he could lick the last little bit of milk in the glass.

Our shoji screen has been ripped to shreds along with our corners of our couches.

All for this little bundle of cuteness. Don't let that pretty face fool you...

Okay, he is cute and I love his guts but he can be a little devil. I just remind Josh everytime Xander acts up and he gets angry, he chose the little booger. We had a choice between the rascally little devil black cat and the sweet, innocent little gray cat.

We ended up with the little devil.