Friday, March 18, 2016

3 Collections of Fun and Entertainment Clipart

It will be fun and entertainment.

Friday is here and the weekend ahead promises to be a pleasant one for me. In spite of numerous chores that must be completed, there is going to be lots of good stuff packed into the next two days and evenings.

Tonight, date night with my sweetie, has been arranged. We're not folks with high demands when it comes to something like this; just finally finding a few hours to sit together and relax over a glass of wine while catching up on our week is typically enough. 

So, when I say it's been arranged, it's because getting my husband to stop working in time for even this anticipated ritual can be a challenge. This morning, however, he was duly warned — we meet at 5:30 in the living room, with a white for me, a brew for him,  in hand.

Saturday will hopefully be the opportunity I greatly need to catch up on some housework before the good times begin. That evening, a group of us are heading out to a  nightspot to listen to my son's band. Watching him 'at work' is one of my favourite ways to spend a social night.

The fact that this time we will be accompanied by some first-timers is an added bonus. It's always nice to look at things you enjoy through fresh eyes. And in this case ears.

That my hubby and I rarely miss an opportunity to hear these guys play, is a cause of wonder for many of our peers. We're well past the time when a few drinks washes away the discomfort of a loud, crowded, and eventually sloppy venue. We have no interest in consuming pails of alcohol for the sake of nothing more than because we can.  And fighting past the heavy lids of our usual bedtime can prove daunting.

But, we love good guitar playing and without false modesty, our son is probably one of the best no one's ever heard about. (Insert winking emoticon, here)

So, yes, introducing his talent to a few new friends is going to be a nice way to spend Saturday night.

As always, it will be a late one though. Therefore, Sunday I plan to do all of the relaxing things I enjoy at home — baking and reading.  Not perhaps the blast that some might expect, but for me it will be a grand day.

Fun, of course, means something different to everyone.  For example, hubby on Sunday will probably be out in the garage tinkering with vintage snowmobiles. Most assuredly not my idea of a good time, but a man out of the way will certainly make it easier for me to accomplish my goals for the day.

Keeping in mind then, how diverse the notions of what is fun and entertainment, I thought I'd try a little keyword search for illustrations using those two words. Here are the results from a few popular online clipart sources:

Fun and Entertainment Images from iCLIPART.com

Fun and Entertainment Images from Clipart.com

ClickArt Online Fun and Entertainment Images

Thursday, March 17, 2016

5 Tutorials for Restoring Old Damaged Photos

"We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us." — Ralph Hattersley, photo critic.

At important life events,  I will generally have a camera on hand to record them.  With age, I've come to recognize the importance of freezing these special moments in time, of creating keepsakes of cherished occasions and places, of immortalizing loved faces.

I'm also a nostalgic person, ever grateful for the present moment, but thrilled to enjoy a little wander from time to time down memory lane.  Whether it's a song that takes me back or an old photo album,  the sentimentalist in me is okay with leaving the here and now to remember the there and then for a spell.

Because of this,  I have by default become the keeper of the family photographs. As my husband and I, along with our siblings,  emptied out the homes of our ageing parents,  weathered albums, mounds of black-and-white snapshots and fading polaroids made their way to the stack of items coming to my house.

But not them all. When my parents gave up their home to move to an extended living facility, there was one album containing treasured photos from the beginning of their lives together that moved with them.  Mom especially enjoyed flipping through those pages to relive memories and remember a life well lived.

They brought her much solace, too, when, after 70 years of marriage, she kissed her husband goodbye for a final time in May 2014.

Then, this past December,  just shy of her 95th birthday, she left us to be with him again. As we emptied her room, my sister and I rediscovered the album — a memento full of, as Hattersley noted, an understanding of a family life that meant everything to us.

A decision was made then, that this book could not join all the others. It needed to be shared. So we agreed to take turns being the keepers of this particular family gem.

It made its way to me this month and I have decided to tackle the monumental task of scanning the collection so there is no longer any need to pass the book back and forth. This of course will depend on how they turn out.

Aged photos are often not the best quality. They are usually faded or badly damaged.

However, with image editors now, all is not lost. Tips on how to restore old photos are an easy find on the internet. Here are some helpful ones I discovered:

How to Restore Old, Damaged Photos

Restore Old Photos in 8 Steps

Repair and Restore Old Photos in Photoshop Video Tutorial

Restore a Heavily Damaged Photo With Photoshop

Restore Your Old Photos

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

123 Illustrations of Children at Play

"(A child's) need to be outside is not just a thrill. It's a physical and emotional need. We've just forgotten it."

I have no idea who came up with this little adage, but I can't think of words with more truth. 

My kids were raised in fresh air and sunshine. They splashed in spring puddles and danced in the rain. They spent summers building sandcastles and swimming at the beach, acquiring a new healthy glow to their skin.  They jumped into and hid beneath piles of crisp autumn leaves. They slid down winter snow,  constructed forts and lobbed snowballs.

They have grown into adults, therefore, who appreciate being outdoors and on the move. Our oldest thrives in wide, open spaces. His younger sister loves to walk and garden. The baby finds comfort in the extreme — majestic mountains and deep blue oceans.

But it is our older daughter who is perhaps most in tune with the outdoors. From childhood, she was least likely to spend time in front of a television or video game.  She was my husband's most enthusiastic snowmobile partner, was eager to help with any task that took her outside and worked as a lifeguard so she could enjoy the summers in the best possible place for her.

She is the deep woods camper who prefers a tent in the quiet silence of a northern wood to a beach front property with amenities. Campfires happen on any day, at any time of year when possible. And the best entertainment for her is a walk on the hiking trail at their rural property.

It's no surprise, therefore, that the tots in the daycare she opened rather than returning to a kindergarten classroom following the birth of her babies, are outside daily for far longer than the minimum guidelines dictate.

No surprise either, that the little ones thrive on it.  They return to the classwork calmed and alert. They devour their snacks and lunches, awake refreshed from a deep nap.  Rainy days are looked on, from both sides, with dismay and disappointment.

When I look at children today holding cellphones and all the other gadgetry out there, sitting on a couch, heads bent, oblivious to the wonderful sunshine,  I feel rather sad.

It's even worse that many have forgotten how to play. Send them outdoors without technology and they often don't know what to do with themselves. 

I recall a visit with the family of a 13-year-old, who, when told to come outside, whined about there being nothing to do.  Suggestions were made — toss a ball, call a friend, go for a walk in the bush — but all were met with a shrug, a downcast expression and eventually the 'stomp off'.

Fifteen minutes later he did hook up with a few friends for a game of road hockey and finally technology was forgotten. Couldn't help thinking how much better it would be for him if that cellphone of his went missing and was no longer the go-to for entertainment.

So, since we will soon be rejoicing spring's comeback, it seemed a good time to share a few illustrations of outdoor childhood fun.

iCLIPART.com Illlustrations of Children at Play

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

15 Photoshop and Illustrator Tutorials for Spring

It certainly wasn't what it usually is, however,  I'm more than ready to move on. Not to wish my life away, but my heart sings for spring.

Winter in our Snowbelt, was not so so bad for a change. Temperatures were relatively mild and the white stuff that typically blankets the landscape in deep fluffiness, arrived late and was kept to a minimum throughout the season. It was, in terms of a usual Canadian winter, pretty English-like. A little damp and grey, but passable.

And yet, I am eager for the colours and life of spring.  To open the windows and let the fresh air chase away the staleness of a house locked away from the elements for months wakes me from hibernation. 

Though spring's official start date is still a few days away, this past weekend, my wardrobe saw a little freshening with some purchases that inspired me to begin the switch over from winter to spring attire.  I'm so ready to break out of the cocoon of dreary black, browns and greys, and festoon myself in vibrant blues and soft pastels.

Socks were relegated to the back of the drawer weeks ago, and I'm eager to slip on nothing more than a pair of sandals. Or better yet, to feel the textured softness of blades of grass between my toes and under my bare feet.

Soon I will begin the work of hanging washed bedding and curtains in the fresh air, of reviving the wood trim with an oil sponge bath, and of scrubbing away the detritus of dust and dirt from cupboards, walls and floors.

In between all of this I will keep my eyes open for the signs outdoors heralding spring's arrival. I have already woken to the robin's song and yesterday finally caught a glimpse of one strutting across the yard in the rain.

Gardens too are coming alive. Snowdrops have pushed through, to be followed soon by daffodils and tulips.  The trees will be budding before we know it, and spring blossoms will be blooming on young leafy branches.

Slowly, flora and fauna will come out of hiding and the season of rebirth will be at its best.

So as thoughts and signs shift and point towards spring, here are some wonderful tutorials to get you ready:

Create a Textured Snail Illustration in Photoshop

Create a Fairytale Green Beanstalk Landscape

Create an Abstract Floral Explosion in Photoshop

Add Sunlight Through Trees With Photoshop

Create a Spring Banner in Illustrator

A Nature-Inspired Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

Create a Flowerpot in Photoshop

Create a Cute Spring Chick in Illustrator

Create an Organic Spring Lettering Illustration

Cool Flower Text Effect in Photoshop

Create a Grass Text Effect

An Enchanted Forest Fantasy

A Fantasy Spring Text Effect

Nature-Inpsired Illustration from a Photo

Add a Colourful Spring Look to Your Photos Using Photoshop


Monday, March 14, 2016

2 Collections of Shamrock Illustrations for St. Patrick's Day

Well, another full and satisfying weekend has been added to the memory bank. The soundtrack for this one could have been My Favourite Things as it was full of everything that matters to me — family, music, reading and some surprise visits.

I even enjoyed some bonus time, having taken a half day from work to attend a distant concert on Friday night.

While it was all good, probably the nicest for me was an afternoon of shopping with my daughter.  A love of clothes and spending money on them is a frivolous practice  I apparently inherited from my mother.

Hedonistic, perhaps, but even if I don't waste money on yet another item of clothing I might want, but don't need, I enjoy the process.  As does my girl, though she leans towards more practical spending, looking for great bargains and sticking a little closer to necessity purchases than indulgences.

On this particular sunny Saturday, though, I really did have a reason for entering my favourite women's fashion store. With St. Patrick's Day only five days away, I was in search of something green to add to my closet. Though I joke about having nothing to wear and three closets to put it in, there really is a dearth of verdant hues hanging in any of them.

Fortunately, I came out of the store with a bag full of new purchases. Unfortunately, none of them are green.

I really like the spirit and fun of St. Patrick's Day. I want to be part of it. But it seems I might have to dig deep to find something appropriate to wear to honour the day.  At the very least I guess I'll be tacking on a shamrock or two.

So with this fashion crisis in mind, here are some delightful shamrock illustrations:

iCLIPART.com Shamrock Illustrations

Clipart.com Shamrock Illustrations