Freebies, NASCAR and a Real Pain in the Head

Ah, January.  Aside from being the first of the year, there really isn’t much going on this month.  I know NASCAR starts it’s season in a few weeks, February 14th.  That is something to get excited about.  Especially, since they have changed a few of their rules.  Apparently,  fan interest was way down, so, the ‘powers-that-be’ decided, one, that bump-drafting will be more tolerated, and, two, restrictor plates will not be limited, as they have been, at the super speedways.  Basically, this amounts to some edge-of-your-seat racing excitement.
Officials had imposed the limits for safety reasons, but, the rulings seemed to make little difference.  There were limits placed on how much the drivers could bump and nudge each other.  At Talladega and Daytona, because they are such large tracks, restrictor plates were initiated back in 1989.  The restrictor plates were intended to cut down on horsepower, thus, speeds, in an effort to cut down on the number of bad wrecks.  The drivers feel they should be capable of policing themselves.  So, we are going back to some good old bang ’em up racing – hopefully!
When ‘Winston Cup’ became NEXTEL Cup and racing came to be so commercialized, I all but stopped watching it.  The races had become boring with all the restrictions, as well.  It sounds like I was not alone.  Now, maybe, the races will be exciting, once again.  I started watching racing way back in the ’80’s, but, lost interest a few years ago – about the time Dale Earnhardt was killed.  Maybe, I will give it another shot this season.   
The past week has been a doozy.  I developed a headache last Thursday – exactly one week ago.  It was all-over my head, but, primarily, at the base of my skull.  It was hard to deal with, especially if I had something I wanted to do.  I had no patience, what-so-ever, because of the discomfort.  I don’t normally get headaches.  So, I broke down and made an appointment with my doctor.  My blood pressure was through the roof!  I’m not sure if that is what is causing the headaches, or not, since I had been in a rear-end-hit auto accident a couple of years ago.  I’m supposed to monitor my BP for a month, then, go back to see the medicine man.  I have never had a headache like this, or, one that lasted this long!  Enough, already!  A month?!  LOL
I have also been trying some new things in my designing.  For most of my art, I have tried to stay within an ‘acceptable’ format.  You know, one that offends the least number of people.  LOL  I have a tendency to play it safe.  It isn’t that I want to offend anyone.  It is just that, after I make something, I stop and check it to make sure that it will be accepted by the masses.  Phooey!  I plan to lift my own restrictions and let it flow.  I am so in the habit of trying to please everyone that I feel I have seriously limited my abilities.  Sounds like “Garden Part” by Ricky Nelson, eh?  You youngsters, Google it.  LOL
Last year, when I bought my newest camera, I planned on taking shots of textures and patterns to be used in my art and scrapbooking.  Now, I am trying to incorporate these images into my designs, not just the backgrounds.  It is coming along, nicely, too.  Though I don’t have anything ready to share as of yet, I did some experimenting and have some papers to give you.  They aren’t anything spectacular.  I have to learn to walk before I can run.  LOL  With these, I worked on technique.  As I get more comfy with that, I will begin applying it to some designs.  I thought perhaps someone might like them or be able to use them.  Click on the preview, below, to go to MediaFire to download.
   In my last post, I showed a layout that I had done of little Kaleb napping.  I thought perhaps someone might be interested in the branch with hearts/frames.  So, I have also placed that for you to download, as well.  Here is the preview and, of course, click on it to go download.
Here is the layout with Kaleb so you can kind of see what it looks like with photos.
Here’s to hoping you all have a great week and weekend!  Thank you for your interest and keep smiling!

Hugs,
Su

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Freebie, Tips on Tuts & Kaleb’s Nap

So, I’m becoming more learned in Photoshop.  I haven’t gone in to ‘channels’ and many of the more involved techniques and uses so much, but, I’m getting better at things like layer styles, blending modes, and adjustments, like, curves, filters, Gaussian blur, etc.  I understand more about what each does and when to use them.  The online course I have been taking, since the fall, over at Creative Techs,  has taught me a lot.  There have been a lot of “a-ha” moments.  But, jumping in with both feet and tackling a tutorial of most any kind is where I learn the most.

The folks that write most of the tuts are full of advice, extra tidbits of information and great final images.  You can follow along and see what each step does to get to the end result.  Many of the writer’s comments about why they did a certain thing or applied a specific effect are where I come to understand just what the adjustments are doing.  Many of the tuts are not very long or involved, so, starting with some basic tuts and working my way up to some rather far-out tuts is a process.  What I learned from some of the more basic ones I can carry with me to do the more involved.  You can, too.

I find myself scrutinizing images I find that I like, so I can try to determine what the artist did to get the over-all end ‘product’.  Often, I run off to go try it myself.  That is how ya learn.  Trial and error.  I look at some of my stuff and grimmace.  My early creations are so ‘un-finished-looking’!  So ‘basic’!  I guess all of our ‘firsts’ seem that way.  Not that I am that advanced.  I definitely rate, still, as low-end intermediate, I would say.  But, I see much improvement.  Just going back to the start of this blog, up to now, I see a marked improvement.

Tutorials aren’t hard to find.  Most of the forums that I go to have tutorial sections and many of the challenges are based on a tut of some kind.  If you aren’t a member or don’t want to go that route, there are a gazillion websites offering tutorials, both written and video.  Here are just a very few sites where I know you can find a good tut.  These first three(3) are primarily ‘scrapbooking’ tutorials and they are all free.
and, some general Photoshop sites:
What I really like to do is some of the online Photoshop ‘e-zines’ offer lists of tuts in their posts that you can see an example of and click over to try.  A great example of what I mean is Naldz Graphics.   Looking down the current list of articles, there is one on ‘Digital Painting’.   Ronald Bien has gathered a selection of tutorials from around the web that will surely impress you.  Take a look and choose one to try.  Go on!  LOL  This one, from 367art.com is really cool!
Hecate by XiaoBing
Being given a link to the resource files is not uncommon, so, you start out with practically the same materials as the artist.  From there you just follow along and, whether you do a good job, or not, you learn stuff!  That, to me, is the ultimate pay-off.
Okay, enough of that.  You really ought to give some of these a try, though.
My baby grandson came over with his mommy the other day and she left to go get her hair done.  Since having the baby, my DIL wanted to perk herself up a bit.  So, off she went.  Kaleb was hungry.  I gave him his bottle and held him.  Looking at that tiny little guy, it was hard to believe that this was my son’s little boy!  My son was the rough and tumble kind of boy.  He was known at the ER, by name, by one of the doctors there.  He was forever cutting himself, falling and getting hurt or breaking something.  I can’t picture him, hardly, without his skateboard and arm cast.  Oh, and his Metallica t-shirt.  Now, he has a son of his own!  OMG!!  LOL  I have other g-kids, but, this one just seems so bizarre, for some reason.
After his bottle, Kaleb wanted to nap for a bit.  He was a really good baby for me.  After a while, I checked on him and he was restless, like, maybe, he was trying to wake up.  So, I went and watched him.  He would stretch this way and that, then, snuggle back in for a little more shut-eye.  Then, he’d yawn, real big, arch his back, stretch his arms out, and slip back into rest, yet, again.  The faces he was making were hilarious, so, I went and got my camera.  I perched on the arm of the sofa I had him napping on, camera at the ready, and snapped away at all the funny, little faces he was making.  I had to do a layout of it as I thought it would be fun, later in life, for him to see them.  Here is Kaleb’s “My Naptime Faces”:
(Click on the image to see an enlarged version)
He was asleep in every photo!

I wanted to add , here, that, the background pattern came from a ‘fabric’ design entry.  Over at SpoonFlower, purveyors of beautiful printed custom fabrics, they also have contests.  Folks design a swatch of fabric, based on some theme.  This week’s contestants did swatches in “crayon”.  You should see some of their entries!   Go to “Fabric of the Week” and feast ’em.  I took one of those designs and blended it with the light green for my layout’s background.

Go have a look-see and, maybe, vote on your favorite.  The fabrics they sell are gorgeous and not too unreasonable, either.  You can get sample-sized swatches for crafts and such, rather cheaply, too.

I’ve also been busy working on several projects.  One, I finished the other night.  I did a kit for Digital Scrap Garden’s “Rainbow Challenge”.  It was a real challenge, for me, in that it used a color palette that was different shades of similar colors.
Is it called monotone?  I think that is what it is called.  Anyway, it is quite a difference to work with colors that are so close.  It’s called “A Hearty Kit”.  Bet ya can’t guess why.  LOL  I want to share it with you.  Here are the previews.
(Click on the images to download from MediaFire)
Elements:
Papers:
I hope that you like it and that someone can use it.   As always, I really thank you for your interest.
That’s all for tonite.  Think HAPPY thoughts and keep SMILING!  (It makes people wonder what you are up to.  LOL)
Namaste,
Su

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Freebie, Friends, a Few Layouts and the FTC

 If my start, so far this year, being creative is any indication of the year to come, I shall be busy!  I have a couple of projects that I am working on on my own.  Then, there are the great challenges I get myself in to over at Magickal Scraps.  This place is what I consider to be my “online home’.  I am sure you all have some place, or places, that you frequent, you know almost everybody and where you are involved in a bit of the conversations.  I’ve learned probably 75% of what I have learned, so far, in scrapbooking, being involved in scrap challenges.  In addition to some of the similar challenges in other forums, there are several ‘different’ challenges at MS.  There is a “Technique/Design” challenge, where Snowy gives us a tutorial, or, resources, like, brushes, shapes, fonts, etc, and has us work with them.  If there is more info to help with the challenge, she gives us links and whatever resources necessary.
There is also a “Book of Shadows” challenge.  A BOS is a person’s personal collection of prayers and other information that they gather over time to assist in their worship.  It’s sort of a “spiritual journal”.  For these challenges, we’ve done ‘herbals’ and we’re in the middle of ‘gemstones’, now.  For these, we scrap or do a little note and mini kit, based on different elements of that topic.  In addition to learning a lot about some herbals and/or some gemstones, their meanings and uses, and so on, you also get to create some cool note papers and a few nice scrapbooking papers and elements along the theme.  These, we share with each other.  The ones that have been done, so far, are very nice!  It’s quite a deal and fun, too.  Here is a preview of some I did last year.  Click on image to go to that post, here, on my blog.
  I haven’t participated in all of these, like some of the others.  We take it a couple of letters of the alphabet at a time.  I’m missing quite a few ‘letters’, but, Snowy and Kyra have done them all.
Which reminds me, Snowy creates ‘designer resources’ all the time and posts them on her blog, Snowraven’s Cave – for free!  Check them out!  Also, if you have been in scrappin for more than a day, you have no doubt heard of “With a Dutch/Russian Heart”. (links to her own freebie kits) Dear Kyra is one of our members.  In addition to running her daily digi-scrap’s Daily Freebie List search engine and providing all scrappinland with a good listing of each day’s freebies, she is an extremely accomplished scrapper.  She’s funny, too.  LOL   There is Miss Edna.  Miss Edna is our resident ‘fairy godmother’, along with Kyra, of course.  LOL  Her blog, Miss Edna’s Place is a testament to her charm, her writing style, her photography of wildlife and her designs.  She, and her sidekick, Tootsie, come up with some gorgeous kits and quick pages.  She’s one hell of a nice lady!  Then, there is Crystal and Nana and Tutu, who, though they don’t post that often on their blogs, are quite busy creating and entertaining over at the forum.  There are several other folks who help make Magickal Scraps the place that it is, but, there is always an opening for more.  We are a liberal-minded group of ladies who’s desire to design is matched, only, by our zeal for, and appreciation of, life.  These are human beings – good ones, too.
Since our illustrious leader is Wiccan, Miss Edna came up with this image, ‘supposedly’, depicting the individual members of the forum.  LOL  I make no comment as to which witch I am.  LOL
Tootsie even got in the picture! (that’s her in the purple sweater)
Next, I show a couple of layouts that I did for several of the challenges, this month.  The first one was done for the Template Challenge.
It’s a study in ‘layer effects’ and ‘blending modes’, in disguise.  LOL  I always learn something from a challenge.  For this one, I found a great Photoshop tip.  It’s a ‘sampling technique’ to use to see which font you like best.  When working with text, you can type a word, right there on your layout.  Make sure you highlight the layer, then go up to the text window in the toolbar and scroll through your list of fonts using your scroll wheel on your mouse.  As long as you have the ‘text’ tool selected and the text layer highlighted, this should work.  You may have to click on the drop-down menu and select the first one, but, then, you should be able to scroll through with the mouse wheel.  You can also use the up/down arrows to scroll up and down the list.
Next, is the layout for the Quote Challenge.  I had planned on adding some other elements, but, kept coming back to this simple one, instead.

Then, just for the hell of it, I made this layout.  I was perusing Morguefile images and found a photo of a woodland scene.  I immediately took it over to Photoshop and created the layout.  The photo inspired me that much.  I e-mailed the artist, “jandrew”, as he/she asked, if you use one of his/her photos.  I haven’t heard from him/her, but, I hope he/she liked it.  I hope you do, too.
I don’t normally do things like this, but, there is a special need, here.  ChanniD, a name you might recognize from scrappinland, recently lost her father – on New Year’s Eve past.  Channi has recently been the driving force to starting and hosting blog trains with a distinct ’cause’ as the theme.  From her main blog, ChanniD’s Awareness Scrapbooking, she has done one train on ‘domestic violence’ and another on ‘human trafficking’, so far.   She has plans to continue with other causes that can always use some attention to bringing awareness.  It’s through awareness that change can come.  Channi receives nothing for doing these one-person campaigns.  And, if you have ever downloaded one of her kits for a train, holy moly!  You are in for a real treat!  Her previews do not do her kits justice, needless to say.  LOL  Now, she is in need of help to pay for her father’s final expenses.  If you think you can help her in any way, click on the link I gave, earlier in this paragraph, to her main blog.  While there, download, for free, the pretty kit she designed “In Loving Memory of My Father, Skip”.  Whether you are able to help her out, or not, remember her in your prayers, that she be comforted in this time, her time in need.  Thank you.
Now that I have plugged several of my closest and dearest friends, I have a little piece of information all of us need to have, I think.  I don’t know if you know this, or not, but, as of December 1, 2009, if you receive a “freebie gift” from another in return for you promoting their product/service, you must disclose that gift.  I’m not sure that I understand it very well, but, it sounds to me like the government is trying a) to stick their noses in our business – again! or, b) to make “honesty in advertising” more “honest”.  In other words, if Company/Website A gives you free merchandise, you’ll be apt to tell anybody anything, right?  That is what they hope to curb, I guess.  There are too many problems with it, for one thing.  Who is going to monitor this?  How will they prove you did get a free gift in return for a promo?  Who cares?  Whatever!  I complied.  At the bottom of my blog, w-a-y-d-o-w-n amongst the very bottom-most pixels, is a possible required disclaimer one supposedly needs to post on their blog page.  If you want to ‘read’ the government’s guidelines, specifically, the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines, here is the .pdf file on it.  To try to glean a better understanding of what this ruling is about, Wired.com offers a decent explanation.  Like I said, I don’t know if this is even necessary, but, I included it just to be safe.  The website where I found my ‘template’ is no longer showing that post, but, I don’t mind if you use mine as a ‘guideline’ and enter your own information in to the format that I posted.  Now, I could rant and rave on about this.  Instead, though, I will just advise you of what I learned, offer you more detailed informative links, and let it go at that.  I have done so.  And, I received absolutely no compensation for any of my comments.  LOL
Finally my most recent project.  This one was for the Brush Challenge, where we used “Valentine” brushes by Crucibelle, to make a layout or a kit.  I did the latter and, though, I got into the Valentine’s theme, I went with a rather cynical outlook.  Since most of the heartbreak one experiences in one’s life may come, in part, in the form of a ‘letter’, I named this one, “Love Letters”.  I hope you like and enjoy.
(click on image to go to 4Shared to download)
The link should take you to the folder which contains the 4 files to download.
Thank you so much for your interest.  Stay warm and “be happy”.
Su

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Freebie & the Cold

Greetings to everyone!  The world is in a deep freeze!  LOL  Almost everywhere I turn, I know someone who is experiencing extreme cold and/or lots of snow, all over this planet.
Come and warm your hands over the fire.
This is my favorite time of the year.  It is so much easier to get warm than it is to get cooled off when it is hot.  I live in Florida and know hot pretty well.  LOL  I sit, here, now, with socks and long-johns, long sleeves and a heavy house coat over my lap.  The thermostat is set at 78 and it is still cold.  My old house is built up on pilings, about a foot or so off the ground.  When any wind blows through that space under the house, the cold comes up through the old boards of the floor.  Of all places to put the heating vents, the ‘contractor’ put them on the ceiling.  In the winter time I have a law that you must wear slippers or, at least, socks in my house.  I buy the children and grandchildren slippers for the holidays.  With socks and slippers, my feet are still like pop-cycles!  LOL
Baby Kaleb’s heart monitor has not gone off since he came home the other day.  Yay!  I want to thank everyone for sending their well-wishes and notes of encouragement.  I do believe that all the support from so many people has made a difference on the little guy.  How could he not feel that much love?  LOL  I am so grateful and blessed!
I am currently working on a little something for Magickal Scraps January Brush Challenge.  Then, my dear friend and forum-mate, Kyra, had a birthday.  Yep!  I’m pretty sure she thinks I forgot.  No, I remembered.  I’m just slow.  They have pretty well come to expect that over there.  They don’t seem to mind.  LOL  Bless you all!  Anyway, I made a layout which I turned into a quick page.  And, so, in honor of Kyra’s Birthday:  
Happy Birthday, dearest Kyra!
You can download it from MediaFire by clicking on the first image.
Here is what it looks like with an image behind it.

I hope someone can use it and that you enjoy!  Thanks for your interest in my post.  I thank you, too, for your good thoughts for my baby grandson.
Namaste,
Su

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