Friday, June 10, 2016

2 Photo Collections for Father's Day

It will soon be time to give Dad his due.

In just a little over a week we will celebrate Father's Day, a holiday that pays tribute to our first heroes.  Stereotypically with bad ties and cheap cologne.

I admit when it came to buying gifts for my dad, to whom we said a final goodbye two years ago,  it was apparently a daunting task. His wants were virtually nil, his needs usually something I didn't understand or know about, and quite likely couldn't afford. Occasionally I got it right;  he loved assembling the intricate birdhouse kit received shortly after retirement.  But more often than not,  my siblings and I were way off the mark.

Not that he ever let on. Dad was as excited over a pedantic book on how to properly prune shrubs as he was over the expensive hedge clippers he'd been desiring.  He never had a lot in his life growing up and was beyond appreciative of any gift that came his way. He wore every t-shirt bearing some silly slogan that he received and stacked those logo-bearing ball caps in pride of place.

No matter how bad the gift, he was always gracious. I actually remember a time when as a young child I had proudly saved my pennies for Christmas gifts. My older brother mocked the cheap cufflinks I had bought him. My crestfallen countenance prompted my dad to exclaim over their beauty and ask if he could have them if my brother didn't want them. He wore them that afternoon to Grandma's family dinner and many times after — even as they began to tarnish.

This only added to the hero mystique I'd attached to him. It had been shaped earlier by his gentle strength. I remember as a wee one riding on his back while he swam at the lake during summer vacation. I thought he was the strongest man in the world. Turns out we were never out that deep and he was actually just walking along on his hands. By the time I found that out, though, the pedestal was in place.

Dad could fix anything and worked hard for long hours and long weeks. It's a trait I unconsciously sought out in the man who would become my second hero.

He was a glorious dancer too. When I was small he would spend hours with me standing on his feet as he  cut a rug.  They were the best dancing lessons I could imagine. The images I have of him and Mom gliding across the floor are among my most cherished memories.

It was Dad too who would allow himself to be silly. He was the parent who would play games, make faces, whatever it took to entertain his children. Our games of "Father May I" on Saturday nights as he was getting ready to go out  dancing have held a special place in my heart.

So on June 19, while I can't physically be with my father, I will celebrate this man who, like fathers everywhere, was selfless in his familial role, tireless in his labours to support us, who could let down his guard, and his hair if need be.

These photo collections, perfect for use in personal and business design projects, pay tribute to our first, and often, unsung heroes:

iPHOTOS.com Father Pictures

Clipart.com Father Photos

Thursday, June 9, 2016

6 Great Cartoon Collections from iCLIPART.com

I'm not a graphic designer. I'm not putting together promotional materials, nor advertising campaigns. I don't create banners or posters. I'm not in need of a logo or mascot. Yet, from time to time I do find myself in need of clipart.

The uses for images is only limited by one's imagination. There's no end to how they are used in business, and the possibilities for personal projects are equally limitless. For my purposes I have accessed them for social media, invitations,  even a child's book for my granddaughter.

Elements have enhanced photos in a scrapbook or trimmed out a Christmas email. I've had t-shirts printed with images found online and a mug made as a gift. They've adorned handmade cards and been the backdrop for words of inspiration.

A subscription to an online graphics resource provides me with a plethora of delightful illustrations and gorgeous photos from which to choose. There is never any question about finding something perfect to suit taste and need.

What has been interesting, however, is discovering that I definitely have a go-to style for projects. Provided the designs I'm working on can be a little playful, my eyes will always be, without doubt, drawn to something warm and fuzzy or cute and funny.  If the images I choose are a reflection of my personality, there's absolutely nothing bold and brassy, elegant or hi--tech about me, apparently.


Since most people have a soft side, since a little fun and playfulness is nice in this often serious world, I've decided to share a few of my favourite collections here:

An iCLIPART.com Cartoon Collection

iCLIPART.com Fun Cartoons

iCLIPART.com Popular Cartoon Collection

Adorable Cartoons from iCLIPART.com

Amusing Cartoons from iCLIPART.com

Charming Cartoons from iCLIPART.com

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

6,222 Tantalizing Food Photos

"A hobby a day keeps the doldrums away." — Phyllis McGiinley

If asked what my hobby was I'm not sure I'd have an answer. There are many things I enjoy doing, but none for which I really have a passion.

If it existed before, somewhere along the way it's been killed. For instance, once upon a time I took great delight in writing. Now employment has taken away the type of joy that comes with it being a hobby. I still enjoy writing, but not so much now that I want to type away at home after being in front of a computer all day.

I used to be an avid knitter. Those daytime hours at the computer, however, have pinched nerves and tightened muscles to the point where working more than a few rows of simple stocking stitch is impossible.

From childhood, I've always been able to lose myself in a good book. Unfortunately though, my concentration isn't what it used to be, so a quiet house, no music, no TV, no conversation, are essential if I'm going to focus on the story before me. Nothing worse than immersing oneself in a book for hours, then realizing you don't recall a whole lot of it.

Photography is another interest, but not until retirement will I be able to find the time to learn and improve the way I would like.

Probably, if I had to come up with something that is close to a passion for me, since family doesn't count as a hobby,  it has to be baking, and cooking to a degree. The problem here, of course, is that neither my hubby nor I need the sweet treats and carb-rich  indulgences that result from my efforts in this pursuit.

I have, though, found a way to incorporate a lot of the things I like into a leisure time activity. As a leftover from my days in publishing, I do a recipe column for a monthly agricultural magazine. It means that I write a bit, I take a food photo and I must try out some of the recipes I've chosen for the theme.

The challenging part of this is taking the pictures. Professionals have special tricks they use to make the food look better, if perhaps inedible. Since I'm not about to take blowtorches, tweezers or glue to my culinary triumphs,  I must rely on  limited photography skills and an adequate eye for acceptable shots.

Another option, of course, is to find a quality picture online, such as the wonderful food ones discovered here at iPHOTOS.com. The variety ensures there's something to suit every recipe. They're also perfect to illustrate cookbooks,  enhance menus or for use in advertising and promotions.

It has been a relief to me, given that sometimes when deadline for the column nears, I am faced with a less than picture-perfect dish or a less than perfect picture. In a pinch, then,  it's good to have such a great selection of photos at hand.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

45 Great Photos Celebrating Small Business

Living in one of the small, close-knit communities that dot the landscape everywhere,  means knowing a lot of people and being known by equally as many.  It's a reality that I suspect exists in every corner of the world.

This, of course, has its down sides. Typical of every village, it's fairly certain that at some point there will be residents  who have stories to tell about their neighbours, whether they're true or not.

However, while the gossiping and suppositions might irritate, the familiarity that causes all of that can at times surround you with a strong sense of family. There are the folks who know you've got a problem before you do and come running to help. When one of their own is in trouble they circle the wagons. They offer support. They extend the hand of kindness. They take care of each other.

When you live in a small town, you're rarely alone. This too can assuredly be a mixed blessing. There are times when you'd just really rather not talk to anyone or see anyone you know. On those days I opt to stay indoors or remain secluded in my backyard.

For the most part, though, it's a pretty great feeling to be greeted by a smiling face and warm hello at every corner.

This is my morning commute. Living and working within the same small town allows me to walk or cycle to and from each day. Neighbours wave and holler good morning. Other walkers offer a howdy and friendly grin. Occasionally there are anecdotes or stories to share before we meander on our way again.

Enroute I pass through our modest downtown. It's the kind of business area where the local barber hangs out in front of his shop to catch the goings-on in the day's early hours, where store owners chat with passers-by as they unlock, where you catch people running in to the convenience store or filling up at the gas station and they always take  time to talk.

As I look at the storefronts, far too many of which are now empty, I give a silent expression of gratitude to the merchants who are hanging in there. Surviving in a small business anywhere today isn't easy. Travelling to urban centres or  Big Box stores usually means better selection and pricing than a typical independent store can provide. The ones that do manage to eke out a living are the true heart and soul of a community, however.  To celebrate them here's a wonderful collection of 45 pictures from iPHOTOS.com saluting small business.

Monday, June 6, 2016

33,690 Awesome Music Illustrations

Jazz pianist Billy Strayhorn once said that all music is beautiful. While I'm not sure I have a mind quite that open on the subject—  the voice of Canadian rock band Rush's Geddy Lee inspires grimacing and skin crawling without fail— I do appreciate a lot of genres.

Depending on my mood I can be found listening to hard rock, classic rock or oldies, classical, jazz or blues, alternative, grunge or punk.  Pop might not be my top pick but I can bop along to a few of the ditties. I'm not a country fan, yet take me back to the days of Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline and Marty Robbins and I am washed over by a nostalgic wave that soothes me with memories of Mom and Dad.

There are times when I appreciate silence but generally music is the accompaniment to my life. It will rouse me in the morning.  It makes a work day go faster. It eases me into down time. It fills the empty spaces between quiet conversations  during the evening meal. It helps me find my stride on those rare occasion when I work out. It can often in stressful times, inspire me to just breath again.

The right music for the right situation is essential in my book. There are very few situations when I don't feel it's necessary.

I spent this past weekend with my sister, brother and our spouses. With a two-hour distance for any of us to travel to see the others, we made the decision a while ago that we enjoy at least one weekend together a year.  Just us. Remembering, reliving, sharing and updating.

As the baby of the family by a decade, I came of age listening to a completely different type of music than my siblings. Where they slow danced and jived, I hit my teens twisting and frugging. Eventually the music I loved was more for swaying hypnotically to, than it was about any type of set moves.

Finding the rhythms and tunes to suit us all for the weekend, therefore, one might think would be difficult. It wasn't. Having grown up listening to their records, and they having had front-row seats to my teen years, allowed for a cross-over of oldies we all loved. We could find our groove on easy listening in small doses too, while jazz and blues found their place at dinner.

Then, returning home Sunday night, my husband and I sat down to watch the documentary on musician Glen Campbell and his battle with Alzheimers. Much was said about music's therapeutic powers and it's a reality that has always moved me. It's to music people have turned when lost. It's used at the beginning and at the end of life.  It can heal, calm and inspire.

Singer Billy Joel described music as an explosive expression of humanity that is, in itself, healing. "It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music."

Well, I know I do. So for this day, #MusicMonday,  today's featured clipart collections will highlight this powerful art form:

iCLIPART.com Music Illustrations

Clipart.com Music Illustrations