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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Little Photo Enhancing Tutorial

I have three projects in the works (two simple crafts and one building project) that I hope turn out okay and if so I plan on doing tutorial for those, but thanks to the girls being sick all last week and Hurricane Sandy none of them are finished or photographed yet. I am hoping I'll have at least one of them ready soon, though! In the meantime, I thought I would share another little Photoshop tutorial. This one will focus on just a few quick things you can do to kind of "clean up" and brighten a shot up a bit without any major changes. This comes in handy for just simple snapshots and for photos that no setup is done beforehand and therefore need a little"pop".

Technically speaking the photo I am using isn't a great shot, but that's the point of this tutorial - taking just a basic snapshot and enhancing it a bit. For this photo I added a slight pop to Lillie's eyes, cloned out a few things, sharpened her face and hair a bit, cropped it, and then ran an action for a pop of color. I'll show you each one:

The first thing I do is open the photo I want to work on in Photoshop CS5 and choose my brush size and then click on Pioneer Woman's "Bring on the Eyes" action.

I zoom in on her eyes and brush over them and then lower the percentage so they aren't too bright.

Once I've very slightly brightened her eyes I flatten my layers.

Then I use the clone tool (5th one down on the toolbar on the left)

Using the clone tool I then get of the little spot where Lillie had bit her lip earlier and lighten the shadows under her eyes. After that I clone out the stop sign behind her.

Now it's time to do a little sharpening. I used the "Sharpen This" action from Pioneer Woman. For this image I chose to just sharpen her face and hair. I chose a larger brush for this and set the opacity at 50% to start with.

And now I just use the crop tool and crop my image just a bit.

And now that I am done with the editing I run Paint the Moon's Rainbow Bright Action from the Sublime Set. It's one of my favorite's!

I heightened the opacity on the "Make it Darker" level so that it wasn't too light.

And there you have it. Nothing fancy, but a nice boost to a simple snapshot!

 I also wanted to introduce one of our newest sponsor:
 Here is a little bit of info about them from their website:

"Aadley & Co. is a small family owned business located in beautiful Pensacola Florida.  All of our products are handmade in small batches with the utmost attention to detail.  We never use premade bases or shortcuts in the making of our products.  We hand package and label all our products and we always strive to produce the best products possible for our customers."

They make beautiful candles. I own one and can say it is a wonderful product!

They also make lovely soaps, lotions and lotion bars!

 I hope you all are having a lovely week!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Walking Case Study (Jason's October Post)

Jenni’s first reaction to my last post (in which I detailed the habits of each of our employees) was “Wow, you took it really easy on Jamie.” Whether the response was triggered by Jenni’s wish to have someone else besides herself be the object of my verbal abuse or she was simply looking forward to a laugh or two at Jamie’s expense, the fact remains that my relatively positive review of Jamie’s workplace behavior was nothing short of a disservice to you, the reader. In an effort to protect Jamie from the harsh realities of a life where random people are made aware of her pension for wearing four shades of purple tucked into “work UGGs,” I left out many of the details that make Jamie such a joy to work wi… Who am I kidding? I mean I left out the details that make her so entertaining to work with.

The list of entertaining things about Jamie is so long, in fact, that when describing her to people who have never met her before, I often explain that she would make an excellent candidate for a case study. A real, live, walking case study in what, I do not know, but nonetheless her oddities make for outstanding observation.

One of her most amusing traits is her knack for developing numerous short-term obsessions. This summer it was tomatoes—and not just any tomatoes. They had to be fresh tomatoes directly from our Uncle’s farmstand. Now of course it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if it were just a preference for a homegrown tomato, but it was the extent to which she preferred our Uncle’s tomatoes that threatened to tear our family apart. Commutes of distant relatives were being re-routed on days when Jamie "needed" a fresh tomato delivered to her. There simply was no “no.” However, as summer turned to fall, her tomato obsession gave way to that of avocados (a repeat of her spring food obsession… C'mon, at least be creative).

Since March I have worked with/babysat Jamie almost every weekday, and perhaps her most physically and emotionally taxing fixation for me to deal with this year has been IKEA. There were mornings when Jamie got to work… Okay, afternoons when Jamie got to work dead set on immediately leaving for IKEA—which is a solid two hours away, mind you. I quickly realized that its just plain easier to go with her than to put up any sort of a fight. “Why can’t this grown up, mother-to-be just go by herself?” you might ask. Again, excellent material for the case study that you may want to log away somewhere.

Anyways, upon surviving Jamie’s atrocious driving and successfully arriving at her Swedish infatuation (no medium other than experience could ever do justice to her horrors behind the wheel, so I will not even attempt to explain them here), she immediately reverts to a child-like state of wonder, frantically searching for her next “find.”

Seriously? Slow down.

Thinking that having a pre-outlined shopping directive would help keep her focused on the task at hand, the last time we made the four-hour round trip with the goal of returning home with six outdoor folding chairs for her and Josh’s new patio and nothing else. As I loaded the tenth chair into the back of her car, I vowed to never set foot in an IKEA with her again.

No, I will not help you. Act your age.

The unfortunate thing about that vow is that Jamie very easily found another (possibly worse) thing to do when she feels like taking a random day off—antiquing. Never again.

Pictures must be sent for Jenni’s approval before any purchases are ever made. You should see how long it takes her to grocery shop…

Now I don’t want to make it sound like all of Jamie’s somewhat bizarre qualities are bad. For one, she is excruciatingly honest. I’m talking zero filter, “no I don’t like your new haircut” honest. The immediate thought running through her head is always exactly what you are going to hear, and while this can create many awkward situations when she opens her mouth in public, at least you know she is well intentioned. 

Just the other day I asked her if she ever thought about how funny it was that we were all grown up and playing “work” together every day (I mean think about it... I'm currently guest posting on a Mommy Blog. Not exactly what I envisioned as a normal part of my adult workday). She looked at me as if I was crazy to even think that there was anything remotely strange about grownup siblings working together for an online women’s boutique and exclaimed “No, I always imagined it would be this way!”

Fair enough.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Tablescape with our New Downloads


First, let me apologize for this VERY picture heavy post. I probably should have split this into two posts.  However, I am excited to show you our dining room set up for Thanksgiving. I mentioned a while back that although autumn was my favorite season, I wasn't a fan of decorating for it most of the time. I have to admit though, I had quite a bit of fun doing this and might retract that statement. As usual, I tried to use mostly natural elements. I used wheat stalks that I bought and tied together about six years ago as the centerpiece on the table and then mixed in some pumpkins and gourds. I poked the turkey feathers that I use every fall and Christmas in and around the pumpkins for some added texture and layers. Then I scooped out the inside of one of the pumpkins and placed a mason jar inside it and then just added fresh greenery, berries and feathers. I painted the pumpkin with some Valley Forge Tan that I had in the garage. I used my Emma place settings as well as silver chargers which were wedding gifts six years ago and are from Pottery Barn. The brown toile napkins are also from Pottery Barn that I got right after we got married. I basically just used all items I already had and then added in the pumpkins, gourds and greenery.


I placed one of our Pilgrim Boy pillow covers in each of the chairs at the end of the table.

Over here I used berries, feathers, pears, acorns and squash.

At each setting I placed a menu and place card. This one is from our Dark Chocolate and Caramel Pilgrim Set. After I had printed and cut my menus and food labels I used double stick tape to adhere them to chocolate colored cardstock and then layered them on top for an added touch.
(My printer was low on ink so ignore all of the faint little lines running through the pilgrims faces and on some of the leaves.)

We also have a Maple Leaf Set:

Here are the food labels:


Each download set comes with a template for making these Maple Leaf cutouts. I made these last year and used them again this year. They are a fun idea, especially for kids. Each person writes something they are thankful for and adds them to the tree. If you don't want to have to cut them out yourself we also are offering them as decorative cutouts in our shop in sets of six which will be available next week. We are just waiting on a new blade and then will be offering them as well as some boy and girl pilgrim cutouts.

Here's the full dessert buffet:

I hope you all are having a lovely week! I've got two sick little munchkins now so it's been a long one here even though it's only Tuesday. =)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sneak Peek of our 2012 Thanksgiving Download Collection

I had hoped to have our 2012 Thanksgiving Download Collection available tonight. I finally got everything photographed but still don't have it all sized and uploaded yet because I've had a sick little one so I'm a wee bit behind. I am hoping to get it finished up here late tonight and have it available tomorrow. In the meantime though I thought I would show you a tiny sneak peek.

I hope you all are having a wonderful Monday!
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