Posts Tagged ‘photos’

The Bee and the Blue Hydrangea Bees busily buzz from cluster to cluster of brilliant blue hydrangeas. How’s that for a bit of alliteration? I unexpectedly spent my morning chasing bees. My goal of taking photos of hydrangeas morphed into something else after I saw bees flying around the blossoms. “Wouldn’t it be great if I could capture an image of a bee?” I thought to myself. After a moment of wishing I’d read my camera manual, I took aim at the buzzing noise around me. About a half-hour of truly living in the moment and a hundred photos later, I accomplished my goal. But, wait! What about getting even closer . . .

#1 – Earth Album
Earth Album Get a closer look at the world by going to Earth Album. This site lets you explore the world without packing any bags or leaving home. All you have to do is click on a spot anywhere on the site’s world map and, thanks to Google and Flicker, photos of the area appear. Because the photos come from Flickr, the images will change from time to time – a great reason to revisit the site!

#2 – Eat Your Oatmeal
Steel Cut Oatmeal "Cupcakes" I received an email from a reader the other day, thanking me for sharing my story about having genetically high cholesterol. Six months ago she received a bad lab report. Her total cholesterol was 251 with her HDL at 70 and her LDL at 163. Remember LDL is the “lousy” one. She read my post My Most Requested Recipe and faithfully followed my steel cut oatmeal “cupcake” regime, exercised more frequently, and watched what she ate. It all paid off. Her most recent lab work reflected a 34 point drop in her overall cholesterol and a 29 point drop in her LDL. Her testimony confirms the role soluble fiber plays in the battle against high cholesterol. Eating soluble fiber and making other lifestyle changes can make a difference in your health. Another reader wrote to tell me a similar story after she advised her husband to follow my recipe and months later he “waved his lab report around like it was a medal!”

#3 – Removing Rust Stains
The first sign of lovely spring-like weather leads to one thing: it’s time to spruce up the yard. Last weekend after moving some large potted plants off my concrete patio, I noticed that the metal pots had left ugly rust stains on the pavement. After quickly researching ways to remove rust stains from concrete, I selected a method using natural ingredients that I already had at home. I squeezed some lemons and asked my husband to pour the juice over the spots. About 10 to 20 minutes later, he scrubbed the areas with a stiff brush, and then hosed them off. Most of the rust stains were gone, but a few stubborn areas remained. Since I had run out of lemons, I told my husband to try using distilled white vinegar. He repeated the process using vinegar and it worked like a charm. Two words of caution: Scrubbing can abrade and remove some of the concrete and be aware of the fact that acid can be detrimental to nearby vegetation, so be careful of any undiluted acid running into bedding or lawn areas.

#4 – Happiness Is . . .
What can one learn about himself while living isolated in Siberia for six months? French travel writer Sylvain Tesson lived as a hermit in a hut on the edge of a lake in Siberia for that amount of time. During that time he “discovered space, silence and solitude.” Watch “Happiness is . . . escaping to a cabin in Siberia” and listen to him describe how his life changed.

#5 – You Already Have It
“We all possess exactly what we need to be our greatest selves and it is (about) listening to our instincts.”

Enjoy your weekend!

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The rain forces me to do things that I ordinarily don’t want to do. The idea of cleaning out cabinets and closets rarely appeals to me, but since there’s been nothing but rain this past week, I’ve been in a nesting/cleaning mode. My husband hates it when I go from a laissez-faire wife to a neat-freak wife, because he knows all too well about the ripple effects!

#1 – In Love with Sumo!
Citrus oils are well-known for their cleaning ability and many cleaning products are infused with a citrus scent, but when you peel your first Sumo mandarin, the last thing on your mind will be cleaning! Sumo mandarins are the result of crossing a California orange with a Satsuma mandarin. They are seedless and are the size of oranges, but they are easy-to-peel and have an extremely sweet and juicy flavor, much like mandarins. Cut them in half crosswise and then into wedges to fully expose their beautiful flesh. Like other citrus fruit, they are high in vitamin C, foliate, fiber and potassium, but what’s even better, is that they are low in acid. Look for them in grocery stores now, but hurry! They are only available February through May. I found them at Whole Foods.

#2 – It’s So Simple
You don’t need a bucketful of industrial strength cleaners and you don’t need to spend a lot of money on gadgets that make your life easier. Just take a look at Real Simple’s list of ideas that make housekeeping easier. For example, try using used fabric-softener sheets with a little bit of water to clean soap scum off of glass shower doors.

#3 – Beauty in Everything
There is beauty in everything, right? Now there’s a photography website to prove it. At Beauty in Everything treat yourself to an assortment of great photographs selected on a daily basis. The collections can be viewed by date or by subject matter.

#4 – For Free!
Print out free custom calendars, soduko puzzles, pinhole cameras, customizable pocket organizers, iPod covers, seed packets and more by going to these sites and clicking on the links:

Useful Items You Never Knew You Could Print Out – The Ultimate Guide

Top 5 Useful Items You Never Knew You Could Print Out

#5 – Creative Math
“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

George Bernard Shaw

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Enjoy your weekend!

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In the depth of winter, when most garden plants look ho-hum, camellias, with their perfectly-shaped glossy leaves and their delicately-layered blossoms, add incredible beauty to our lives. Don’t let the shorter days and the stay-inside-weather prevent you from recognizing and appreciating their winter perfection. Everything on earth has a purpose, even camellias.

#1 – Purposely Repurposing
The party’s over and you have plastic cups lying around all over the place. They’re headed for the trash bin, right? Well, what about this – what about using them to construct a hanging lamp? This lamp and many more creative ideas appear in the article Most Popular Repurposing Tricks of 2011. Not into hanging lamps? What about making a lunch box from a plastic milk jug or creating a home security device from an old webcam?

#2 – The World We Live In
The world we live in is an amazing place. By checking out this series of photos, discover sights around the world without leaving your desk. All the photographs are interesting, but I was most intrigued by the Danxia landform.

#3 – Stick To It!
Need help deciding which type of glue to use on a DIY project? Go to Design*Sponge’s post on adhesives. Glue descriptions and an easy to read chart take the guessing out of what glue to use where and when. There’s even a recipe for making a natural glue at home – a DIY glue for your DIY project!

#4 – Fat Fighting Fiber!
Browsing the internet the other day using StumbleUpon, I “stumbled” across a health article titled “Fiber Supplements – Which One You Need?” The article points out the difference between insoluble and soluble fiber and describes the types of fiber used in supplements. Did you know that fiber supplements that become viscous, help your body in two ways? They not only help you to stay regular, but they also help to lower your blood cholesterol.

#5 – Life is a Contact Sport
Life is a contact sport, but it should never be played without joy.

Based on Senator Robert Byrd’s quote about Ted Kennedy, “He believed that life was a contact sport but that it should never be played without joy.”

Have a lovely weekend!

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Remember the contest I ran in March to see who could identify the mysterious subject matter in one of my photographs? Wildly creative guesses came in, but, alas, the subject matter was not a galaxy, a burst of confetti, a drop of water magnified a 1000 times, or a flash freeze photograph of an atomization process. At long last I am happy to announce the winner of my mystery photo contest. Sorry for the delay in revealing the winner, but I actually had two winners which meant two prizes!

The sleuthing teamwork of the winning pair paid off. One day while sitting in class, obviously not focused on their studies, they noticed I had published a new post on my blog. After reading it they decided, since they were already on my blog, to go back to the mystery photo and examine it once again. Very cleverly they clicked on the photo to see if I had titled the photo when I’d saved it on my computer. Much to their surprise when they clicked on the photo the image became larger. They clicked on it again to see what would happen and it was even more magnified. They found themselves looking at honeycombed-type clusters of spheres – that’s when they knew the photo was of bubbles!

To my delight and my embarrassment, my son Adam and his girlfriend Melissa won the contest! Adam actually submitted the winning answer, but I learned later that Melissa was equally deserving of the prize. They live in another part of the state so they had no unfair advantage over anyone else. To those of you who say this is not fair, I can only respond by saying, they played by the rules and, in my mind, won fair and square.

Designing their prizes/necklaces was my next task. Adam’s necklace was the first masculine piece I’ve had to design. Not only did I want the piece to be larger, I also wanted it to look heavier. I accomplished this by incorporating different metals into the design. Cutting first a square out of copper and then a rectangle out of sterling silver, I was able to layer the two metals on top of one another and still have both metals show. After hammering the letters into the metal, I finished off the piece with a sterling silver leaf charm (to cover his words for privacy) and added a rustic looking Peruvian opal. Although, I presented the necklace to him on a stainless steel ball chain, this piece would also look great if worn on a leather cord.

As in the past when I’ve designed affirmation necklaces, determining the exact words to hammer into the metal is always my greatest challenge. This time was no different. How to encapsulate all the thoughts of what I want my son to hold in his heart forever – in only a few words? Besides my desire for Adam to “love life,” I want him to remember to always try, no matter the difficulty of the task, and to always try his best. This is all anyone can ever ask of another person. I want him to continue to dream and to always hold onto his dreams. And to support his dreams he must always believe in himself, no matter what others say or what obstacles are presented. Hence:  Always – Try, Dream, Believe.

Melissa’s necklace was also designed in layers, but this time with three layers of sterling silver. The simple heart frames the word “be.” After much thought and some discussion with my son, we decided our wish for her is to always be loved, to be endlessly happy, and to be strong in her beliefs. Hence:  Be – Loved, Happy, Strong. Her piece was finished off with a beautiful fluorite gemstone dangle.

With every piece of jewelry I create, I experience a huge growth factor. Outwardly, I am learning to manipulate the materials better and better, but inwardly, I am absorbing all of the positive energy that comes from deep thought and soul searching.

Desideri means wishes in Latin. Look for desideri . . . in all my  jewelry creations! Contact me if you have questions about my Desideri jewelry line or would like me to design a piece for you or for someone else as a gift.

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#1 – Making Peace, Cards That Is
P1090113_1Being a flower child of the ’70s, I decided to make birthday cards for my sister-in-law and for a friend utilizing paper punches and scraps again, but this time designing them to be in the shape of peace signs. The heart-shaped peace sign was made by stacking large and small, flower-shaped punch-outs from Astrobright paper. The round traditional peace sign consisted of stars punched out of an outdated Hawaiian calender, then color grouped and mounted onto pearlized cream and lustrous aquamarine papers.

#2 – Leftover Halloween Candy Needed
I read an article in my local newspaper about different uses for leftover Halloween candy. The one suggestion that caught my eye was sending the candy to Operation Gratitude. Operation Gratitude will take the candy and put them together with other items to make care packages for American troops. Checking out the website: http://www.OperationGratitude.com, I found that not only did OG need our candy, but it also pleaded, “At this time, our most urgent need is for personal letters, hand-made scarves, Beanie Babies and financial donations to pay for postage.” If you send your candy to OG, why not include a few personal notes? The holidays are coming up for our soldiers, too.

The newspaper article mentions to ship candy by December 5th to:
Operation Gratitude/California
Army National Guard
17330 Victory Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Attn: Charlie Othold

#3 – Bet You Didn’t Know This?
I’m just a fountain of information today, but did you know that Ralph Macchio, the Karate Kid, turned 48 this week! This makes me feel old! My sons used to watch his movies and mimicked his famous “crane” move over and over again. And who could ever forget Mr. Miyagi’s “Wax on, wax off” martial arts lesson? Using that strategy didn’t help me back then, when I tried to get my sons to wash our car!

#4 – Are Store Brands As Good As Name Brands? – Bob’s Market Tip
Most of the time, yes. Generally, the quality is the same, but items are just labeled differently. Store brand items are packed by the same companies that pack major brands and store brands cost less because no promotion is needed and they come directly to the store from a warehouse, therefore requiring no middleman. Do not be afraid to experiment. If you find the product meets your standards, you can save a significant amount of money off of your annual grocery bill. Try performing blind taste tests at home to see if store brands taste better than the name brand products. Even Best Foods Real Mayonnaise is packed by a company that packs for private labels.

#5 – A Peace Quote by Jimi Hendrix

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.

Peace to all this weekend.

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Another week has gone by and it’s time for another Friday’s Fresh Five!

#1 A Worthwhile Quote:
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. – Marcus Aurelius, 121-180, Roman Emperor and Philosopher

#2 A Market Tip from Bob (my dad)
Although oranges are available in the supermarkets year-round, their peak season is actually October through late March. When selecting oranges, look for thin, smooth-skinned ones versus thick and deeply-pitted ones. Always select firm and heavy oranges. Weight is usually indicative of the amount of juice in a citrus.

#3 An Economical and Environmental Tip:
Buy a foaming soap dispenser. These dispensers require very little soap product, thus saving you money, as well as, saving landfills from additional plastic garbage. I purchased my foam pumps from Solutions.com but any Bath & Body Works Gentle Foaming Hand Soap pump can be refilled with liquid soap and water. Three tablespoons of liquid soap topped off with as much water as needed to fill the container and you’re set for at least a month. You’ll be amazed at how infrequently you have to refill these pumps!

#4 A Style Tip:
Accessories tell your story. I don’t remember where I heard this, but I like it. Whether it’s the red handbag slung over your shoulder or the way you tie your silk scarf, an accessory is an additional opportunity to express yourself. What’s your story?

#5 Do a Good Thing
Give credit where it is due. As you go about your daily activities and you come across someone who has been particularly nice or extraordinarily helpful to you, thank them or better yet tell his/her supervisor. It’s seems so easy to complain, but so difficult to give a deserved pat on the back.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Fall is in the air. Hooray! I love the cooler weather. I guess I should finally take down the heart-shaped Valentine’s Day wreath that’s on my front door and put up an autumn one! Four of my nieces have fall birthdays and the family recently had a collective celebration for them. I decided to carry on with my tradition of making personalized birthday cards and I used techniques that I posted about in my Recycling Blooms post. Thought you might like to see the crafty cards that I made for my oh-so-cool nieces.

The photo mosaic house and garden scene above I made for cute little Jessica by snipping free form shapes from old photos. Note the little white dog sitting in his dog house. That’s my little Romeo making an appearance. Inside the card balloon shapes with attached kite strings float in air to give her birthday greeting a festive look.

Artistic Kimberly also received a photo mosaic card, but hers was constructed to resemble a slice of birthday cake. I used a pig-shaped hole punch and a regular round punch to make the small pieces that were densely layered to create the illusion of a cake slice. Each piece was selected for its color value to provide the cake with an appearance of dimension and texture. “Birthdays are Nature’s way of telling us to eat more cake,” was a great quote I found for the inside greeting of Kimmy’s card.

Wanting to try something different for fashionable Lani, I clipped a photo of a model wearing a suit from a fashion magazine and redressed her in one of my own designs. I created an evening gown by layering shapes of black and red text from the magazine. This model proudly wears her label on the outside – note Dior is prominently displayed! Before adhering the model to the red card stock, I first ran the card stock through the printer so that it read, “Happy birthday to a gal with a style all her own!”

My niece Stacey is so much more than just a pretty gal, so I wanted to create a unique card for her by using photos of beautiful celebrities to create a face within a face look. According to my daughter, this card is a little scary looking, but I think the card’s sentiment pulls it together, “There’s more to life than just being a pretty face . . . There’s brains and charm and compassion and wit . . . And you have it all!”

With the cost of greeting cards rising, why not make your own?

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