Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Celebrating Victoria Day Weekend With Amazing Summer Fun Clipart Collections

There are very few people in the working world who don't look forward to the weekend. However, Canadians are even more excited about the one coming up.

In just a few days, Canucks will be enjoying the Victoria Day weekend, the first long one of the warm season. Though the dog days of summer might still be a few weeks off,  those three days hold all the promise, with time spent at cottages and campgrounds, with gatherings for campfires and fireworks.

A federal holiday, still known affectionately as May 2-4, Victoria Day is celebrated on the Monday preceding May 25 in recognition of Queen Victoria's birthday. Yet,  in all honesty I suspect there are very few of us in the "true north, strong and free" who give much thought to the late monarch as we pursue our pleasure during the break.  I know at our house minds are focussed on prayers for good weather,  plans for the completion of outdoor projects to get everything looking spiffy for summer, and hopes for plenty of socializing and fun.

Ultimately when all of that comes together, though the official date might still be a month away, it's clear that summer is on the way.

There are plenty of other signs too. Kids have traded in skates and hockey sticks for cleats and baseball bats. Soccer fields are filling in pre-twilight evenings with players and parents,  and tennis courts are seeing action again.  Registrations for swimming lessons are underway at community pools.  Classic cars and recreational vehicles are making their way out of storage for the return to their summer homes, while cottages and cabins have been opened up and aired. Closet inventory has changed too as shorts, t-shirts and sandals are back while pants, sweaters and winter boots have been tucked away.

One has to agree that it all points to at least the possibility of days of warmth and sunshine.

Not that living in Canada at this time of year can't be a bit of a tease.  Yes, there will be more and more days when we revel in balmy temperatures,  in birdsong and colour. But then we wake to a bad joke, to a morning so cold, to tiny flakes of white wafting down from gloomy grey skies as we huddle indoors away from the shock. 

I recall a Victoria Day Sunday several years ago. A wedding group was standing on the lawn of a beautiful hotel, gathered together  for a photo. Girls in short-sleeved dresses shivered and shook as snow fell.

Needless to say, that's not what any Canadian hopes for when we're anticipating our unofficial kick-off to summer.  We know it's unrealistic to expect too much this early in the year, but we do.  By Victoria Day in Canada it's likely that we're dreaming of days spent reading in the sun, of lazy nights around a blazing campire. We are ready for fresh air pouring through open windows.  It's not that we want to rush time. We want spring to last. We just want it to feel consistently more like summer.

So as I look ahead eagerly to a nice long weekend (since I believe in the power of positive thinking) I thought it would be nice to share some clipart collections focussing on warm weather fun:

















Friday, May 12, 2017

Find the Colours of Summer in These Beautiful iPHOTOS.com Flower Photos for This Floral Friday

With Mother's Day this weekend, and landscapes beginning to bring us the colours of summer, these days there's been a lot of chatter around our office and in social conversations about flowers. 

It seems then, that since this blog is often dedicated to the sourcing of quality images collected around a particular theme, I will give you a heads up that you will be seeing some very pretty flower pictures courtesy of iPHOTOS.com.

Before then, however, I'd like to do some personal mental meandering through the gardens of my life.

When I think about flowers and the people who can make lovely outdoor spaces with them, my grandmothers are always the first to come to mind. While my dad's mother was a farmwife, with land, lots of land, on which to create beauty in various spots on her designated plot of property around the house,  my maternal grandmother transformed a spacious backyard into an oasis that served both an aesthetic and a practical purpose.  It was this one then that most inspires my strongest memories.

For my cousin and me, it was a magical playground.  Surrounded by a white picket fence, the heady fragrance of peonies greeted us as we passed through the gate.  The perimeter was a riot of colour and texture, where towering gladioli held court with posh roses. Dahlias in every hue shouted their bold statement while varied irises put on a show of their own. 

There were other more modest, but no less beguiling blooms, all quietly bringing their special beauty to the mix. Within their glory, we discovered the wonder of flora and fauna, searched for worms, snails and toads, studied bugs, bees and birds.

This delightful border enclosed an extensive vegetable and herb garden, where raspberry and strawberry bushes provided the best of summer treats. We ate peas right from the pod, carrots with mother earth still clinging to them.

Oddly, my mother inherited none of her mother's horticultural abilities. Mom's love of pretty things did not extend even to small flowerbeds which at our home were minimal in number and minimalist in the extreme when it came to content and level of required care.

As I grew older then, I discovered a little of each of these women's gardening gene had taken root inside of me. Like my grandmother I want flowers around my home, though my thumb is sadly not nearly as green as hers was.  Then on the flip side, is the hope that whatever my landscape design becomes it will require little maintenance or upkeep.

My knowledge has increased over the years. I have more understanding of the challenges of my property with its plethora of stately maples,  and more information on the types of plants that will thrive in spite of this.  Conversations and advice from friends have been absorbed and saved.  And my flowerbeds are beginning to, if not compare to my grandmother's, at least would not embarrass her if she was around today.

All of these, however, had been existing beds from when we purchased the home and to which I've had to adapt to the changing shade conditions. Now, with a new summer getaway, I'm looking forward to starting with a clean slate. After  brainstorming with a friend, plus some advice from an expert at the nursery I'm hoping I can do my grandmothers proud on this project.

Besides the understanding of plants and their requirements to thrive, photos can go a long way in helping you determine what you'd like to see in your gardens. Enjoy this sampling from iPHOTOS.com


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Isn't it Romantic? Find Love and Passion in These 2 Amazing Clipart Collections

May 10, 1980 dawned early for me. After a night spent sleeping on the floor  (my parents' house was full and as the baby of the family the cheap seats or the most uncomfortable space typically went to me),  my lids flickered open to a bright ray of sunshine streaming through the living room window.  Though not a morning person, on this particular day I woke with a smile and an eagerness to get on with my life.

Or at least the next chapter. Having met an awesome fellow at a house party three and a half years before,  I had became a fiancée the previous fall and on this day was to become a wife.

I'd heard about cold feet, that peculiar phenomenon that occurs in some people prior to the wedding, an uncertainty or nervousness about the big step they're taking. For me, however, the sensation couldn't have been more different.  I had never felt more sure of anything in my life and knew without question that I was moving in exactly the right direction, with the right person, at the right time. I was keen for the journey to begin.

That was 37 years ago (in case you don't want to be bothered with the math).  Of course, the journey might have been a bit more rugged than my youthful naivete had envisioned back then. As many idealistic newlyweds I believed in the storybook charm of a model husband, of perfect children, a lovely home and a white picket fence. 

The unrealistic part of that was that nowhere in this storybook tale was there ever any talk of mortgages,  job woes,  or changing interests. There are a lot of outside forces that insinuate themselves into a marriage. But when you're facing them with your best friend, your partner, your love, you soon realize that they only win if you let them. Marriage has its peaks and valleys; it's up to each half of a couple to decide whether they'll take the bad with the good as a united front and traverse them together or give up.

What I have learned in 37 years is that the good far outweighs the bad and I was right to be so excited for the beginning on that shining May 10 day.  Certainly this hasn't been storybook perfect. But, I found a person who has made me laugh every day since I've met him. He's the extrovert to my introvert, yin to my yang. He's a devoted family man, a loyal husband and friend.  He has worked hard to ensure that we've never done without. 

Bottom line, he's about as perfect as reality offers. Or at least perfect to me. And together we have invested ourselves 100% into this life of ours.

So on May 10 we will celebrate. Nothing major;  there have been some big renovations and purchases which we have decided are treat enough. But in tacit agreement we both knew after that reaching that conclusion, that our day would not go unacknowledged.

We've heard people say about their anniversary that it's just another day.  Which makes me rather sad.  Life has a way of intruding upon the idealistic notions of romance and passion.  Couples owe it to themselves and to their marriage to celebrate the love that brought them, and held them, together.

Today then, in my search for images, I feel like celebrating all of that good stuff.  Not just because of my impending anniversary, but for all of the newlyweds, as well as the old married folks,  and the soon-to-be-marrieds. Here then are two fantastic clipart collections that have something for every romantic project imaginable, from wedding invitations to a personal pronouncement of undying devotion:




Friday, May 5, 2017

You Can Make Amazing Birthday Cards and Decorations With Great Clipart From Vital Imagery Ltd.

"What life expects of us is that we celebrate." — José Eduardo Agaulusa, The Book of Chameleons
 
Today is Cinco de Mayo Day.  For Mexicans it's a celebration of historic significance and culture. Commemorating a military victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on this day in 1862,  the events focus on everything from cuisine to music, and take place in countries the world over.

For my Canadian family, however,  there is another awesome reason to celebrate May 5. Three years ago, our daughter and her husband welcomed a son on this day. Of German-Irish-Czech lineage —  a tow-headed treasure with sparkling azure eyes— he's as physically removed from the swarthy Latin aesthetic as you can get.  Regardless, when it came time for our Little Mister's first birthday, his mom incorporated the  Mexican holiday into the theme with sombreros to wear and piñatas to burst.

This little dude isn't the only May celebrant in our brood, however.  Our younger daughter blessed us with a sweet granddaughter just eight days after Mister's arrival. Since gathering all of us from various places for two birthdays within a week stressed already busy schedules the girls decided after that first year to combine them from here on in. This weekend then is the big event for us to celebrate the two bundles of adorableness that have enriched our lives.

The combo gala has taken the Mexican theme away. (Though the piñata remains, because, let's face it, it's a lot of fun to beat the crap out of something and get candy for it.) Instead, the theme this year is dinosaurs, because what three-year-old, male or female,  doesn't love a prehistoric monster?

I love that my two daughters really get into these parties.. When my kids were still under my roof their special day was always commemorated by two gatherings —  one for their friends and one for family.  They weren't fancy,  and sometimes they were downright simple, but acknowledging them was a big deal. All of them, including my husband's and mine.  I'm a huge fan of birthdays, you see, regardless of what number accompanies them.

A blog by Jacqueline Woolley, Ph.D. concluded that it's not how you celebrate a birthday that matters to a child, it's that you celebrate.  She stated that "children, like adults, are driven to seek explanations for personal, meaningful events. To children, the annual experience of the seemingly sudden change from one age to another is of great signficance. Yet, there is no obvious physical cause, as there is with other sorts of changes. Thus, children may grab onto the event that regularly co-occurs with this age change — the party — and assign it a casual role."

The rationale for me was more simplistic. I always hoped that it was a positive practice to recognize these special days so my offspring might understand that life is here to celebrate, that each day here is a blessing. Or as the quote above states, that life expects us to celebrate.

And, regardless of what might be the focus of the celebration, whether it's a holiday like Cinco de Mayo, or personal like a birthday, creating items associated to it is easy.  There are online tutorials covering a variety of subjects, from  making an invitation to decorations, flyers and banners

You'll also want to find a safe resource for for the visual elements you'll need to enhance your designs.  You can find wonderful clipart and photos on sites such as iCLIPART.comiPHOTOS.com and Clipart.com These subscription services offer access to thousands of images that you can use in many different projects over and over again. Be sure to read the terms to ensure that your particular usage is permitted.

Because birthdays are on mind mind these links will show you just a portion of what's available on each website:






Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Make it Personal. Create a Photo Collage for Mom on Mother's Day.

Mother's Day will be celebrated in North American on Sunday, 14.  While she's probably just happy to spend time with you, it's probable that you've been trying to come up with the prefect gift for her.

When you think about it, there's little that measure up to the value of someone who carried you close to her heart for nine months, who gave you life, loved you unconditionally, who sacrificed and guided. Over the years she has worried over you, occasionally anguished over you, protected and defended you.

She has been a shoulder to cry on,  confidante,  advisor.  She has advised what direction to take,  while encouraging you to follow your dreams even if they led you away from her.

Given all of this how can any of us possibly come up with the perfect way to honour Mom?

My advice? As a mother of four I know that the most precious gifts from my children are the ones that are all about them or time with them. A surprise visit for no reason other than me,  a mother/daughter outing or a mom/son lunch are guaranteed to brighten my life far more than something extravagant. 

Photos of my kids are also on the  list of favourites.  In particular, I love those pictures revisited from the past, where siblings take old poses and stage them again.

Another nifty idea is a collage, whether it's a walk down memory lane or a group of family portraits.  The nice part is that these are easy to do in Photoshop with just a basic understanding of the software.  With some great images from  iPHOTOS.com I've put together a collage for Mom to demonstrate.

I selected a soft daisy background (#453002) to begin. After opening a new 10" x 8" document in Photoshop, I open the illustration and dragged it onto the page. This is the first layer. (It's good to rename each layer as you do it to make it easier to work with them. Simply double click on the layer name to do this.)

If you need to change the size use Edit > Transform > Scale. Hold down the Shift key and move the edge of the picture until you get the size you want then hit Return.

The photos of the mother and her children are #1202747, #310715, #811582, #311159 and #811606 from iPHOTOS.com.  To place the first picture, I clicked on the background layer, went to File > Place and made my selection. After renaming the layer, I added a small frame. The steps for this were Layer Style > Stroke, after which I selected the size and colour I prefered. Then I simply repeated the steps for the rest of the photos.

As I was happy with the results at this point,  there was no need to angle any of the pictures, but if you would like to do so choose Edit > Transform > Rotate. I then used Text to fill in a top space with that most important word — Mother. The font I chose was Forelle,  iPHOTOS.com's #765

Nothing fancy, super simple but guaranteed to make that special woman's Mother's Day.

If you don't have Photoshop  there are some great collage makers to be found online. Here are just a few:

BeFunky.com

PicMonkey.com

Fotor.com

Friday, April 28, 2017

For Countless Hours of Rainy Day Fun Try These Colouring Page for Your Littles Ones from iCLIPART.com

Having raised four children and now blessed with six grandchildren, I believe I know a thing or two about the attention span of the young mind. I might not have been schooled academically in the psychology of little ones, but I feel fairly confident when I say that too many rainy days can be a test of endurance and patience for the adult in charge.

My husband and I recently purchased a summer getaway, about which our offspring and their spouses are already eagerly discussing. It seems that rather than a pre-retirement retreat as I'd assumed, there's a good possibility this might be more of a happy holiday haven for our entire family.

I'm okay with that. At least for now. Our kids don't live that close to us that their visits are as frequent as I'd like most of the time. So if a summer idyll is what it takes to enjoy some time with them, it's all good.  There will be rules of course; I'm not doing any extra laundry for example; but generally it will be mi casa de verano es tu casa de verano when it comes to my babies and their crews.

In truth, I'm really quite excited. There will be glorious days at the beach spent slathering on lotion, building sandcastles and dipping into cool waters. The easy access to the playground from our place means hours of entertainment for the youngsters, while the elders can watch from the comfort of the deck.

These are familiar images to me. Years ago when our own kids were small, our family spent summers at a lakeside retreat. At the end of the day, all the fresh air meant tired, happy babies, aglow from all the wonderful sunshine. Bedtimes were easy, sleeps were long and mornings happy with lively little bodies ready to do it all over again.

Unless it was raining. That put a whole dark, dreary spin on the moods. One can only splash in puddles so long after all. On those days it was imperative that the grownups be able to find entertainment fit to fill hours spent in cramped quarters. Not always easy, especially when the kids were of an age where they were still too young for wandering about without Mom and Dad.

So it is then, with all of these thoughts in mind,  that I made certain there will television channels and DVDs ready to amuse our pack of preschoolers at these times. It's hard to believe but there will be days when we'll be grateful for Storybots, Peppa the Pig and Thomas the Train.

Only, however, when the situation becomes desperate. I'm still a firm believer that television is a last resort. There are always indoor games, such as these from personalcreations.com that can burn a bit of energy and inspire imagination.  Even in small spaces. Crafts are always fun for exercising one's creative side. And when it comes to our oldest granddaughter, colouring can occupy endless hours of a rainy day.

While there are endless colouring books you can buy,  iCLIPART.com,  an online subscription graphics service, has some wonderful images that can be printed off for your little ones to colour. Some are educational, others are just fun. They are categorized, as well, so finding ones for specific holidays  is simple.

These links will take you to some of my favourite collections:










Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Colour Your World With These Great Photos With Swatches from iPHOTOS.com

"Man needs colour to live; it's just as necessary an element as fire and water." — Fernand Leger

Perhaps that statement from the French artist might be a bit hyperbolic. Few could argue, though, that a life without colour would be rather dismal. Colour is happiness. It's sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.

And we are beginning to see it reviving all around use. The most difficult part of winter for me, besides the lack of invigorating sunlight, is the boring blandness of the monochromatic palette.  Therefore as spring arrives, how awesome it is to see the emerging colours — buds and blooms infusing the landscape with passion and vigour. The liveliness captures the spirit and we fill with energy.

Colours in spring and summer are everywhere, beginning with pretty crocuses and greening trees, through to perky daffodils and glorious tulips then finally the riotous kaleidoscopic hues in lush gardens.

It's probably the vibrant crimsons and golds of the autumn leaves that make summer's demise more palatable than it would be otherwise.

Colour is clearly a welcome part of existence. We appreciate it's natural beauty outdoors and make use of it to warm our indoor world as well.

My husband and I recently renovated a couple of rooms in our house. One of the most thought-out aspects of the remodel was obviously the colour scheme.  Choosing the paint for the walls is an important decision since you're going to be living with that shade for a while. It creates the mood for the environment — calm and soothing, rejuvenating and vibrant.  You need to consider the usage of the room, whether it will be a gathering place for socializing and entertaining, or a quiet shelter.

Once that's settled, then decisions will be made on the accents. This means finding complimentary tones that blend, yet add interest.

It might surprise you to know that online graphics services are so versatile they can even inspire you in this creative project.  On iPHOTOS.com for example you can find an amazing assortment of pictures with accompanying compatible swatches. 

These can obviously be used in web design to coordinate colours for a more aesthetically-appealing result (a topic I will be covering in a future blog).  According to Buffer 90% of an assessment for trying out a product is made by colour alone.

However, these images would also help you make essential choices for many other design projects — from quilting to home decor. Virtually any place where you want to ensure a nice blend of colour.

The pictures in the collection can also guide you if you are creating printed products with the photo portion to coordinate any other colours you might use in the design. If the item is attractive people will be more inclined to look at it longer.  Matching the  hues will go a long way to making that happen.

Here then is the unique collection offered at iPHOTOS.com which will enliven your designs with colour. The ways in which you do this is only limited by your imagination:

iPHOTOS.com Colour Scheme Photos