Friday, January 13, 2017
Over the past few years, as part of our Christmas gifts from the children, my husband and I have received a very special calendar. Our daughter, whose background in photography has followed a natural path to image editing, has volunteered for the task of putting together this fabulous keepsake, always chock full of pictures of our family. Now, moving from one month to the next has become quite a fun experience.
The calendar we received this past December is an absolute delight. Rather than a selection of recent pictures of our kids, their spouses and children, she dug into the vault and came out with some real treasures.
There are baby pictures, stirring cherished memories. There are pairings, one page dedicated to each combination possible for the four of them — two sisters, two brothers, the oldest together, and the youngest. Finally, there are the ones of the four of them doing what they do best when they find themselves in the same place at the same time — having fun.
While they all rank high on the sentimental gauge, it's the latter bunch that brings me the most joy. There's nothing more gratifying for a parent than to see their children happy to be in each other's company, having a good time, getting along.
The reality is, though, that as January comes to an end, I will, with a modicum of reluctance, have to bid goodbye to the photos of our oldest that have smiled at me for these past few weeks, while looking eagerly to those of our two girls. What a nice way to greet cold, bleak February.
One can't ignore the fact however, that there is a very practical purpose to calendars. I'd be lost without the notes that accompany each month on specific dates — appointments to keep, birthdays to remember and deadlines for any number of things. The calendar keeps us organized and informed. It does, as the American inventor Charles Kettering said, provide us with a place on which to write ideas and mark our progress.
While we might try to transform it into artwork with photos of landscapes, places and people, or use it to lift our spirits with humour or inspirational quotes, there's no question it's real purpose is utilitarian.
So, as we move into 2017, let's consider the months, days and weeks that make up the calendar. We can take them leaf by leaf or all together in this collection from iCLIPART.com
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
In a world that can often be cold, that can challenge us in a variety of ways, through a life that is occasionally lonely, during a season that chills us to the marrow, there's always a reason to reflect on the warm glow of romance. And with Valentine's Day only a little more than a month away it's not too early to turn your attention to matters of the heart. Should it not already be there, of course.
What is romance to you? For some it's a proposal in front of thousands. For others it's popping the question by candlelight during an intimate dinner à deux. There are those who think nothing could be more romantic than an impromptu dance on the patio beneath twinkling stars, while others need the royal treatment in an expensive, though remote, getaway.
We can thus conclude, since no two people in the world are the same, views on romance can differ. Most women appreciate a romantic gesture; it's the grandness of it that can be off-putting for some. Such as me for example. I'm never too sure what to do with an over-the-top romantic act and often feel a bit embarrassed. The bouquet of wildflowers picked on a sunny, summer day for no reason other than I was on my guy's mind is more perfect than a public serenade of undying devotion.
A young couple I know recently got engaged. She is pragmatic, patient and tolerant; he's solid but a bit larger than life. They both, however, adore their families. So, when he finally decided to pop the question after a decade together, he figured out a way to keep it between the two of them while not forgetting how much their relatives had been waiting for this time. After a quiet Christmas Eve at home with his parents and siblings, he sent them off in one vehicle for a gathering at his future in-laws. He then took full advantage of the alone time with his sweetie to propose, after which they headed off to share the good news with their families.
This was a story of love and romance. The two, however, can be exclusive. Many an accomplished Lothario has set his sights on a woman and without intent or declaration of love wooed her with fairytale gestures and fanciful gifts. Then there are the men who couldn't conjure a romantic deed for the life of them, but in the purest place in their hearts they hold a love for their lady that rivals Romeo's for Juliet.
While love and romance don't always share the same stage, they do play well off each other. So today I've chosen some charming collections from iCLIPART.com that put both front and centre:
This legacy collection is full of vintage images that perfectly reflect the intensity and passion of romance.
Say it with hearts and flowers from this collection of charming images.
iCLIPART.com's Romantic Cartoons
Keeping it light and airy with these endearing love and romance images from the website's Cartoon category.
Find terrific backgrounds, flourishes, elements and wedding images for your Valentine projects.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
We all know for which things we should be grateful. That there is a roof over our head, that our family members are healthy and happy are only the start of a long list for most of us. We take delight in a sunny day, in unexpected company, in the kind deed of a stranger.
But it's easy to get weighted under stresses and disappointments, easy to allow them to take us away from a joyful life on occasion. Little reminders, therefore, are generally welcome. At least by me. When someone posts a meme on social media pointing out my half full glass or offering any other hackneyed cliché I'm generally ready to take it all in again. Staying positive, they say, brings more good stuff your way so I'll take all the help I can get to stay that way.
Another thing that helps is humour. Laughing is good for mind, body and soul. Though we might differ on what makes us smile or chuckle there's no question in anyone's mind that we need to do both of those things, not just occasionally but often. My husband's dry wit elicits a guffaw from me at least once a day and for that I am grateful.
Grandchildren too are a sure fire way to defeat the doldrums. Their words and actions can delight, their ingenuousness, their joy in simple things are infectious. Being in their company can only lift your spirits.
Adults it seems to me, have a tendency to take things too seriously. Of course, there are times when we must; there are challenges, tasks and experiences that require focus and commitment. But, fretting and stewing over trivialities is a nasty brew that can curdle whatever is in that half-full glass. We really need to determine which ones are worth it, then remind ourselves to look at life with a little more lightness in our hearts, to not give so much power to the problems that seem bent on bringing us down.
Even in the world of images it's easy to find the lighter side. There are illustrations that are heart-warming, charming or just plain smile worthy. I find some collections so darn cute that I have at times had to remind myself they just might not convey the proper message for a particular project. However, when your need something a little light-hearted they're absolutely perfect. Here are just a few of my favourites from iCLIPART.com:
Adorable Cartoons from iCLIPART.com
There's something sweetly endearing about this collection. The images remind me of the way a child sees the world. They are full of innocence and life.
Cute Cartoons from iCLIPART.com
This fun collection has a little bit of everything, with all of the illustrations alive with colour and imagination.
A Cartoon Collection from iCLIPART.com
Love the charming comic spin on these cute images that make you think of childhood at every turn.
An iCLIPART.com Favourite Collection
This one obviously captivates me as I find myself selecting images from this collection without conscious thought. Even the ones that are less cartoon-ish than others have amazing appeal.
Fun iCLIPART.com Cartoons
When it comes to entertainment factor you can't beat this fun collection of cartoons. From its focus on special days and events to its satirical view, it is sure to amuse.
A Great iCLIPART.com Cartoon Collection
From golf balls and pencils, to characters and celebrations, this is a collection of smiles waiting to happen.
Friday, December 30, 2016
Definitely not the reality now. Society as a whole seems to be fast forwarding through time. It comes as little surprise then that we find ourselves looking at the end of 2016. Twelve months have flown, less like the sands in an hourglass than like the dervish kicked up in the wake of a speeding dune buggy.
As we look at the final two days of December we find ourselves reflecting on the previous 363. We think of special events that brought us closer to people we love. We remember moments that surprised us and filled our hearts. We are grateful for the beautiful memories, for the blessings that came our way. We think about the people we met and remember those we lost.
Sadly there are regrets, too, over foolish fights, silly slights and overlooked opportunities. We might have spoken out of turn. We might have hurt someone who meant the world to us. It all inspires us at this point to think about who we are, who we want to be and what we can do to achieve that as the new year arrives. There will be resolutions made, some will succeed, most probably not. But at least we have planted the seed and we can hope that some of the goals we set to make us more the kind of person we want to be will be met in 2017.
We began these celebrations in the late 1970s — a group of 10 friends, with youth and naivety on our side. At that time, our gathering was a house party, a scene that suited us well at the time with our youthful exuberance best contained among close chums. The desire for fun was high, the interest in regret quite the opposite.
As we came to our 30s we decided we were civilized enough now to take our show on the road and for several years spent New Year's Eve at a crowded dance. All gussied up and full of fun we enjoyed sharing our circle with a wider group of acquaintances. While thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow were starting to get a little more attention, we didn't dwell on them either. There was far too much to enjoy in the present.
Some time later we found ourselves spending Dec. 31 at house parties once again. We had outgrown the noise and frenzy of a larger gathering, complete with over-friendly strangers. Though we could still enjoy a good time, there was no question we were more sedate. There was a contemplative atmosphere to New Year's that hadn't been there before with more time spent on remembrance and reflection.
Now, with more years behind us than before us, the majority of those old friends have opted out of anything more than a nice dinner together. The rest of us, however, while continuing to give the past its due and the future its promises, on this Dec. 31 are ready to put a little more celebration back into the occasion. After dinner we're heading out to a local nightclub to ring in the new year with music, noise and laughter once again.
The expectation has inspired these fantastic collections of New Year's Eve clipart:
iCLIPART.com New Year's Celebration Images
Clipart.com New Year's Eve Images
Friday, December 23, 2016
In just a couple of days, we will be gathering with family and friends to celebrate what is unquestionably one of the most beautiful holidays of the year. Though it's a Christian celebration in honour of the birth of Jesus Christ, the spirit of goodwill, peace and joy is a message that transcends cultures, religions and generations.
We offer our heartfelt greetings for the season to all we meet, ignorant and uncaring of their backgrounds and their differences. We give to those less fortunate, smile at strangers and open our hearts to extend kindness and generosity to all.
Certainly the mad whirl of Christmas preparations – the shopping, wrapping, baking, etc. – along with the parties to attend, can have us forgetting the important message and sentiment behind the day. But generally, we do a pretty good job of shaking off the stress and spreading the love.
Which makes me sad when I think of the petty controversy surrounding the day. Given the ethnic diversity of our societies today there are many who would see the words "Merry Christmas" removed from conversation. The other side then argues that they aren't asking people from other cultures to do the same. Whether Hanukkah or Eid Al-Fitr no one is pressing for an all-inclusive greeting for those holidays.
Personally, I do think it's very wrong to ask people to stop saying Merry Christmas. I have many non-Christian friends who aren't offended in the least when I say it, any more than I'm upset if I'm wished a Happy Hanukkah.
Nor am I offended, however, by anyone who does prefer one of the generic holiday messages. As long as there are Christians there will be Christmas. And, no matter how we extend a greeting, Christmas is the celebration, one full of so many true and beautiful things, that I can't help thinking it's more important to live the message than worry about how we extend it. I would say shame on anyone offended by hearing Merry Christmas. Yet, I'd be equally disappointed by someone whining because they were wished Season's Greetings.
As Mr. Peale so eloquently stated this is the time of year when there is magic in the world. Let's focus on that.
And since Christmas is the season, since it is a Christian holiday and it's important to them, since at this time of year that should matter to all of us, I am taking this opportunity to extend a very Merry Christmas to everyone. For those of like mind, here is the perfect collection of clipart for the holidays:
Merry Christmas Greetings from iCLIPART.com
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
It set the mood and got the momentum building for this Sunday when our family will gather for the fun, love and joy of being together. Recognizing amidst the whirl of the day the blessings we share and those dear to each person are what makes the season special. With its proximity on the calendar to the end of the year as well, it's often a time to reflect on time's swift passage and the precious moments of the previous months.
Without question Christmas is the perfect time for pictures. Between opening gifts, preparing foods and fetching drinks, I'm also sure that my camera is never far away. It focusses on the laden table, moves in close for shots of all the festive food. The tree, gifts piled high beneath, and later with paper, bags and bows strewn around, is also a key subject.
But my favourite Christmas photo theme is family. I love to catch them in candid moments, especially ones of smiles and laughter. Also, though this is much more difficult to organize, it's the perfect time for some family portraits. Since my kids live in different cities, getting them all together under one roof is a photography opportunity not to be missed.
Typically the tree is the nicest spot for this, but there are lots of other ways to capture loved ones and the joy at this time of year. I decided to search out some suggestions for Christmas photo ideas that others have and share them with you here.
• Top Tips for Christmas Day Photography This one is a favourite with great ideas and instructions for taking "Christmas Day photos which are truly album worthy".
• 100 Festive Photo Ideas from Shutterfly Here are some adorable poses and portraits ideal for Christmas cards, but they might also inspire some thoughts for your Christmas Day family portrait.
• How to Take Memorable Christmas Day Photos Digital Photo Secrets offers some tips on how to take great pictures without letting the chaos get in the way.
• 16 Photography Tips for Christmas This blog from Digital Photography School has some unique suggestions and a fresh perspective on some standard ideas.
• How to Take Better Festive Photos This Christmas MakeUseOf outlines key tips on how to get the best holiday pictures possible.
• 16 Tips to Photograph Christmas Morning This one from Click it Up a Notch keeps it simple with straightforward advice on how to take good pictures and a few suggestions on where you might want to focus that camera.
And finally, because I saw them and couldn't resist here are some fun examples of when the results are less than perfect in these Bad Holiday Photos courtesy of ellentv.com
Friday, December 16, 2016
We live in what is traditionally called the Snowbelt, just enough miles inland from the Great Lakes that the transformation from wonderland to 'where the heck is the land' is a harsh reality. From now until April the potential is there for snowsqualls to swirl around us at regular intervals. Normal routine changes significantly and travel is risky. Driving through whiteouts is like a sudden plummet into a milk bottle.
We know it's coming, but we're never really prepared. After a bit of a slow start compared to some years, snow began to fall about a week ago, albeit with a festive gentleness. Then yesterday the portals opened above and a deluge of flakes fell while a nasty bitter wind blew them into a frenzy. Life as we know it here pretty much came to a standstill as roads closed, businesses shut down and events were cancelled.
Tucked away, we listened as this late autumn blast raged outside. Then, this morning, while preparing for work, a quick glance out a front window revealed to me the beauty of the calm after a storm. A thick coat of snow had reshaped one of our younger maple trees into something more closely resembling a weeping willow. From the road it framed our front door with its Christmas finery, while strange clusters drooped from the roof above. It was the type of winter pattern that fascinates me. It's Mother Nature as Michelangelo.
She playfully displays her artwork, with a helping hand from Jack Frost, on windows and on hydro lines. She provides the palette on which animals and people create the abstracts. You don't have to like everything she does, but there's no question that when you look beyond her occasionally intense outbursts, she can give us a winter that's positively stunning.
I'm crossing my fingers that she has gotten all of this out of her system for a while. At least until Christmas is behind us. Too many loved ones on too many roads.
In the meantime, I will be able to take advantage of her creativity and have some photography fun. I was already inspired this morning with that quick look back at my home but had neither the energy nor the time at the moment to grab my camera. Hopefully it's still there when I get home so I can capture that particular bit of nature's artwork before it's gone. Just as the talented photographers did in these lovely collections of winter photos:
From icicles to footprints in the snow, here's 80 pictures that offer a closeup look at what remains after Mother Nature and Jack Frost have their fun.
At any time of year, we marvel at the splendour of a spectacular sunset or sunrise. Captured in winter, colours glinting of frost and snow, they're beyond beyond amazing.