Let's Just Try It

a compilation of inspiration and creative endeavors of a mom and daughter duo

Black and White Experiment: Photoshop Actions

Mom and I are having lots of fun learning our new cameras. She’s doing great practicing getting her camera in people’s faces and shooting. I hope she shares soon more about what she’s learning 🙂 I learn so much from her!

Remember my frame a day challenge?   I am not keeping up as much as I wish I was, but I have about 8-9 frames representing Jan, and 4 or 5 from Feb so far.  I still forget to take my camera with me when I leave the house, most days are devoid of interesting tidbits to shoot. But one day recently, after dinner, we felt a little bored, and we drove to a nearby coffee shop for strong cup of coffee.

I fussed and fiddled with my camera, but in the low light situation of the restaurant, I really struggled to get a clear, crisp photo. Most were blurry, and fraught with bad composition, and terrible shadows. As I uploaded, I was so sad and felt that I couldn’t toss all the photos on upload, purely because I couldn’t miss another day! With the odds clearly against me, I felt awful that I wasted a good days shooting on *trying*  low light manual tricks without success.

But I looked again.

This photo of my husband isn’t *very* blurry. Sure, the focus is on his hands, not his eyes like I prefer, but at least there isn’t too much blur going on in his face. I tried to fix the colour, but it just wasn’t working.

then I accidentally desaturated too much.

and magically the colour problems disappeared! But with the absence of colour, a new problem arises. It’s boring!

So, I looked through my photoshop actions to see what I could use to spice it up.

Here I ran an action from one of my favourite action sets from Alex Beadon.

(Get the set here)

Suddenly, Dave looks like a 70s rocker, and my poor composition is an artistic accident.

I tried another set of actions from Pioneer Woman:

This is the B&W Beauty from this set. I like the subtly of this one. It is a nice groundwork for more post work, since it doesn’t try too hard. I think it looks like the desaturated photo I started with, but on steroids.

Then I tried running one more from that same PW set.

And finally, here is one with burned edges and a dark moody feeling.

I think it’s great how Dave looks like a cool rocker in the first to a moody thinker in the last. I haven’t yet decided which photo I will use for my frame a day, but it sure was an interesting experiment. And I was able to salvage a photo I should have thrown away!

Which is a good thing. Because look how handsome he is 🙂

Zesty Potato Curry : Whole Food Recipe

Lately, I’ve been focusing on eating less meat, less preservatives, and more fresh fruits and veggies at home. It’s been a challenge convincing my husband of the benefits of the “less meat” idea- especially since his favourite meal is a steak and potatoes. Ah, the stationary diet of South African men.

That said, I’m thankful for his adventuresome spirit. Since starting our whole foods journey in August 2011, I’ve heard nothing but good things about our new lifestyle from him. He is supportive, encouraging and willing to try anything that smells good.

And that meat story? It’s changing too! He’s choosing plant based foods over meat based foods more often than not, and so am I. Together, we’re consuming less meat and more veggies and legumes. Hooray success!

This recipe fits into our new way of eating, and is finished within about 30 minutes. It is flavourful and filling- and doesn’t require an ounce of meat to do so. And did I mention it’s cheap to make?

Potato Curry

With the beans and chickpeas, there is enough protein to keep your tummy cozy for a while. It’s really good just the way it is or served over brown rice, with  sliced bananas, sambles (chopped fresh tomatoes, cilantro and onions) and raisins. The peanuts add a nice crunch, but can be omitted.

Here’s how you can make it:

Peanut Potato Curry

2 pounds baby potatoes (scrubbed)
2 tins tomatoes (whole or chopped or both)
1 tin chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 tin red kidney beans
1 cup water
1 small onion
1 cup peanuts
Handful of sesame seeds
1/2 head garlic
1 T ground coriander
1 T ground cumin
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground ginger
2 T ground turmeric
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

Prep work: about 10 minutes
Total Cook time: 20 minutes (mostly inactive)

Makes 8 servings as pictured

1. Scrub potatoes. If using baby potatoes, slice in half. If using medium potatoes, dice into 1/2″ cubes. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and beans.
2. In a medium pot, add the potatoes, tomatoes with the juice, water, drained and rinsed chickpeas and beans. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
3. Smash and peel the garlic cloves. Dice the small onion. Add to pot. Add spices, peanuts and sesame seeds. Once boiling, reduce heat until just simmering.
4. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Note: I used tinned (or canned) tomatoes, chickpeas and kidney beans for convenience sake. It is ideal to use BPA free cans, or to can your own. You can also be a super pioneer woman and cook the beans in your crock pot over night, and blanch and peel 4 fresh tomatoes for this curry. Go you!

Project Document Life

Last year, on our trip to Dubai, my hubby bought me a DSLR camera. I had been drooling over one for eons, and I was super excited to get it. But life got in the way. From October to December, the camera sat virtually alone, while I pondered what to do with it. Without many interesting events or challenges to photograph, I waited for the time to use it.

At Christmas time, we went to Mozambique and I brought dusted it off to practice shooting in Manual.

When I got home, I was truly surprised at how great my photos turned out. In just 3 weeks, my photos were crisper, brighter and less grainy. Bonus. Then I looked at the number of photos I took. Over 1500 frames in our 2 week trip and countless more that I deleted before heading home. No wonder I improved!

I decided that this process cannot be forgotten. As an effort to improve my camera skills, and to better appreciate this very special time in my life where I have freedom to do what every the heck I want, I am striving to capture 1 frame a day.  I am not going to stress about making sure I meet a picture every single day, but to just remain more mindful of the beauty around me. If I can get 4- 5 frames a week on different days, I will be happy and will consider it a win.

Life is beautiful, even the everyday mundane moments.

I’m not going to be Type A about it- I’ll look back and appreciate the attempts I took to document the year- I won’t look back and pine over the one day I missed.

What are you doing in 2012 to help yourself focus on the parts of everyday that bring you joy?

Where have I been for the last 30 days?

I just might have been writing a novel.

In fact, this year, I was crazy enough to try for 50000 words in just 30 days. Sure, I didn’t write every day (just managed 12 days total with exams and other obligations) but I cranked it out – just short of my 50k goal. My story isn’t finished yet, but it is on it’s happy little way.

I guess I was waiting for the perfect time, the perfect inspiration, the perfectly honed skills to write my book. But that might never come. So I might as well just do it now.

It was good practice- and more fun than I ever would have expected. And now, I am ready to get off my butt and get things done. There is nothing like a little challenge to motivate progress don’t you think?

Fear of Failure: Living Authentically

Taking risks is scary. Even little risks, like paint choices or whether to use the blue paper or pink, can scare the pants off of me. I get the heebie jeebies at the thought of having to make an impulsive irreversible choice.

What if it’s wrong?

What if I waste money on it?

What if I do it the way I wish and someone makes fun of it?

These questions echo quietly in my heart and in the hearts of my dear friends who gather every once in a while to create together.

Creating is deeply personal. And as a woman with a sensitve heart, I am crushed at the slightest hint of dissatisfaction. It’s as if I put all the icky parts, all the pretty parts, all the hidden parts of me out in the world to see.  When I create something, I am confident that whomever sees it will see that I am a terrible measurer- and all my pieces are slightly off centre. They can see that I am not very tidy and somehow manage to get glue all over the place. They can see that I am not very trendy and my creations are all a little homespun. They can see that I have a particlular taste for blue and more blue and white.

They can see me.

But I am learning something. It’s okay to be living authentically! The perception of perfect trend appeal just isn’t who I am- and those I bring into my home or who see my crazy office desk know who I am and it’s okay to be Elizabeth when I create!

When these feelings of panic creep into my heart, I need to do something crazy.

Doing something crazy seems to scare the scary thoughts right out of me. Like making enormous outrageous posters. Or nailing 100 tacks into the wall and making a twine mural. Or even switching out something green for bright pink.

It’s okay to live authentically. It’s okay to allow your creations to echo your heart, not the magazines. It’s okay to be who you are in your creations.

Even if it is scary.

Crochet Headband: Flower Power

I did it! I made another headband.

 

Making these headbands is a bit of an obsession because it is extremely addictive! There is nothing better than sitting down to watch a movie and getting up with a brand new super cute accessory.

 

Want to see it?

 

 

I couldn’t tell you exactly how I constructed the flowers, as I made it up as I went along (let’s face it, this is why I enjoy crocheting so much! I am no good at being told what to do.) I need to figure a better way for the band than tri-folded chains, since it keeps slipping off. I have to pin this in place which is not ideal. Any suggestions from you master crocheters out there?

Decorating secret to make a big impact

I have  a decorating secret. When my house is looking a bit boring and uninspiring, I have a little tool that makes a BIG impact. And for very little money.

For the cost of a couple of printed pages, you can transform the appearance of any room of your home.

There is a little online software that will tile a low res image into a high impact poster.


And a little later, after I was tired of that- I transformed the space again (the window is the same – the dining area and living area are open plan),

 

 

Of course just not at the same time!  These little posters can really transform a space into whatever fits your fancy, from homeschool 1950s to 1980 Glam Rock. FUN!

The Rasterbator (awful name, I know) creates huge, rasterized images from any picture. Upload an image, print the resulting multi-page pdf file and assemble the pages into extremely cool looking poster up to 20 meters in size.

Sweet, right?

Colour Inspiration- Rich and Vibrant

These colours make me want to pack my bags and head into somewhere exotic. (Or maybe it’s just the bok choy I had for lunch).

Crochet Headband- Bow tie

Back in June, at the brink of the winter chills, my very patient (and lovely) mother taught me how to crochet. She is incredible – and is completely able to breakdown complicated ideas into easy to learn steps. Thanks to her great teaching,  I took to it rather quickly. Crocheting is nice and compact and allowed me to bring it with me without having to lug oogles of equipment or supplies with me.

After practising my stitches in rows and rows of uneven blocks, I decided I had to actually try something to really cement what my Mom had explained. I picked a nice easy project- a bow tie- and adapted it into a headband. This was the very first completed project.

It spurred on a spew of multi-coloured, different sized headbands for many lovelies I have the priviledge to know.

The creation is so simple it is almost not worth sharing. The bow is built on a foundation of chains (twice the size of the desired bow size), a row of single crochets, a row of trebles, two rows of half doubles, a row of trebles and a row of singles. This is the main look I went for, but really, if you want a different look, you can stick to half-doubles or singles or whatever combination strikes your fancy. The main bow piece is then folded in half and whip stitched together. The seam will be at the back of the bow so there isn’t too much need to make it look too  fancy (thank goodness too- my stitching skills are horrible!). The middle piece of the bow was also built on some chains (I think mine was just 13 stitches long) and a  row of double crochets. This piece can be as thin or thick as you prefer and just a bit longer than the main bow piece is tall. It can now be wrapped tight around the big piece and whip stitched closed. The head band strap is made of double crochets as long as I needed to wrap comfortably around my head. I sewed a button to one edge, threaded the remainder of the strap through the bow ( I like it loose so that I can adjust where the bow falls on my hair) and the double crochets act as the button hole.

Boom. A super cute headband with very few places to make an error. Now that is my kind of project!

 

Spring Colour Inspiration

The smell of spring is in the air! I am completely infatuated with the warm, sweet air- and the sense of victory! Spring has finally broken through!

I have been oogling the fresh spring palette all weekend too.

These colours have been really inspiring me lately:

Spring Palette(original image by House Beautiful)

I adore the art in this image too! There is nothing better than pinks, yellows and teals for springtime!