Friday, June 24, 2016

18,000 Gorgeous Garden and Flower Photos

"The greatest gift of the garden is in the restoration of the five senses." — Hanna Rion

For the first time in the 30-plus decades I have lived at my home, I am able to walk around the gardens and not be completely embarrassed by what's happening. While it's always been obvious to passers-by that there was no green thumb at work here, finally there's a suggestion of a modicum of botanical knowledge at work.

When we first moved into our house, it had been vacated two years previously by an aged bachelor who had cared little for the interior decor.  It was a hodgepodge of styles and colours,  clearly intended to only have been a roof over his head. Spilled liquids ran in streams across severely sloped floors, catching in the the cracks of ancient linoleum.  The living room carpet was comprised of church aisles runners and stained, peeling, not to mention downright ugly wallpaper graced all of the rooms. In multiple layers as we eventually discovered.

Needless to say, sprucing things up became a priority. Thus the very-much neglected, already overgrown landscape became more so.

When we were finally able to turn our attention to flowerbeds, we could tell, despite the weeds and bramble, that this was where the previous tenant had invested his talents and energy. Perennials and flowering shrubs were everywhere — around the house, bordering the fence and on the lawn.

Since neither my husband nor I had gardening experience, the first approach we took was minimizing. With four children in need of yard space, the beds breaking up the grassed area were quickly deleted.  The next step was to separate weeds from the remaining flowers, hopefully tugging out most of the former, while leaving all of the latter.  Identifying what remained followed.

Since then, it's been a work in progress, achieved primarily through trial and error. The shifting shade on our well-treed property has presented new challenges along the way until I feared becoming the hosta house.  A little guidance from a friend this year, however, provided me with some shade-loving options that will hopefully enhance visual interest.

Her suggestions also led to some extra digging and pulling, removing and replacing, that has also gone a long way to improve the aesthetic. While a green thumb could certainly achieve much more, I am at least pleased by what I see. Finally.

The gardens are lush spots of  blooming hues and textures.  A stroll beside my peonies is a delight for the nose; my ears catch the droning buzz of a lazy bumblebee passing by.  Hands in earth, a brush against velvet-soft petals, connect one to the earth as nothing else can.  Potted herbs around the deck bring fresh flavours to mealtime and we eagerly await the juicy sweetness of berries from the bushes tucked in the back of the property. 

Yes, my senses are restored.

And while this collection of garden and flower pictures from iPHOTOS.com can't do much for taste, touch, hearing and smell, you will have to admit that they are unquestionably lovely on the eyes.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

15,000+ Photos of Beautiful Beaches

"As a student on the shore, thinking thoughts not thought before.
I wondered why, yes why, do lakes appeal to me?
What is there magic lure? 
Oh yes, it's magic to be sure.
But there's more to lakes than eyes can really see.
So.. give me lakes, give me lakes, give me lakes!"
— Kenton M. Stewart

I'm so very grateful for summer. It joins the list of counted blessings each morning for what it brings to life.  Its brilliant sun brightens the psyche's dark places.  Pretty gardens dense with vivid colours and textures enliven the senses.  It is a performance graced with fragrance, music and beauty, with flora and fauna sharing centre stage.

Having burst from our winter cocoons, in summer we are joyful butterflies flitting from spot to spot, activity to activity. We cycle, we walk, we hike. We garden, we mow. We paint and repair. We laugh and love. We travel and escape.

The latter is often to the beach. Most people in this corner of the world will find themselves there at some point during the season.

I've been fortunate my whole life to live just a short jaunt from lake country.  On a glowing Friday evening, hubby and I can cruise our way to one port within a half hour for some fish and chips or just to stroll beside the waters.

Should we desire a longer stay, we travel just a little farther up the shoreline to a place where memories were formed.  For almost two decades my hubby and I, along with our four kids, spent entire summers in a tourist town, living just a few blocks off the beach. These were halcyon times,  with afternoons on the sand, evenings around campfires and the distant sound of surf our soothing night-time lullaby.  As golden as summers can be, these shine above all others.

Would they have been quite the same without the proximity to water? Probably. Summer finds a way of making the magic happen. But that there was the bonus prop of a lake  setting the scene for this particular act in our lives was absolute bliss.  Their power is beauty, their mystery, like their centre, unfathomable. They cool us, refresh us. They're the perfect setting for twilight.  And I never see one now that I'm not taken back to idyllic days.

With that in mind then, here's a wonderful collection of beach images from iPHOTOS.com

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

2 Wow-Worthy Beach Clipart Collections

The other day my nephew posted a picture on Facebook of his new front-yard view. Having given up on the urban landscape, in favour of a piece of property in resort country, he rises every day and looks out at the trees and waterways of Northern Ontario.

While the exchange also meant giving up a beautifully refurbished Victorian for a tiny log home, the evening wines on the deck have him reciting one of my Dad's, his Pa's,  favourite lines, "I wonder what the poor people are doing."

I should note, that this was always said with tongue planted very firmly in cheek. My father was not a wealthy man. He didn't make that comment in a derogatory way. He wasn't lording it over anyone. He was simply finding a way to express contentment with a particular experience.

He appreciated the riches he did have.  For Dad, who spent four decades toiling at a job that took a physical toll, that was any time spent in leisure. He loved being on a golfcourse with his grandsons, loved sitting at his summer place with his 4:30 cocktail in hand. He knew they were experiences many didn't get to enjoy. And so he found his way of expressing how blessed he felt to be having them.

My nephew has found his prosperity in peace and quiet.  Recently retired, (early, another blessing) he's beginning a second career as a contractor. There's no question that his modest hovel is going to be made over.  But for now he's content to just be where the calm wraps itself around him, where birdsong, lapping water or the buzz of a  distant boat have replaced the drone of city life.

Being near water has a calming effect on many.  And for me, it has always been a great inspiration for  counting my blessings too. Whether by the lake, or cruising the French River  I find myself pondering  how lucky I am to be there.

Next week I will be. For a bit.  I've scheduled a mini-break at a favourite summer stomping ground and I couldn't be more eager.  My plan is modest, little more than dedicated hours beside the water each day — the perfect way to recharge.

In the meantime I'm taking us all to the beach with these great clipart collections:

iCLIPART.com Beach Images

Clipart.com Beach Images

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

4 Summer-Themed Photoshop Tutorials

Summer made a brilliant, and muggy, arrival yesterday. Sunlight sparkled while heat undulated making everyone duck for air conditioning. Even the birds were silent, hiding among the verdant cover of majestic maples.

Any thoughts of winter were effectively chased away as we pondered more of the same sunshine and humidity in the weeks before us.

Summer has a way of filling one's thoughts. Work conversations turn to vacations — where we're going or where we've been. Have we travelled or stayed there before? What's it like?

Weekends too are always worth talking about now as they fill up with outdoor activities. Who did we spend it with? Did we do anything different?

Even when rain threatens, it's all a part of the season's personality and we accept it.

But we're always thrilled when it's over, as  outdoors is where everyone wants to be. When we find ourselves with mundane household tasks, we resent the work that keeps us inside. This past Saturday, I went in search of projects around the gardens so that I might forgive myself for not getting to the much-needed dusting and vacuuming. When I finally surrendered to the inevitable, I was a woman with a mission getting things as clean as possible in as short a time as possible.

Given that beauty is highly prized by society these days,  summer's aesthetic appeal keeps us visually interested as well. The glorious gardens,  various hues of green tree tops, azure skies,  white sands and sparkling waters are visions that carry us through cold winter.

And let's not forget fun. Summer brings it in spades. Everyone's out and about — participating in sports, riding classic cars,  chatting with friends around barbecues, watching fireworks or sitting at a campfire.

And so we not only live summer we let it occupy our idle minds. When I'm not thinking about work, I'm thinking about something related to the season — remembering time well spent, or looking ahead to a memory in the making.

It got me thinking that since it's Tutorial Tuesday, and since my mind is filled with thoughts of summer I should see what seasonal Photoshop projects the internet could deliver. Here are a few results:

Summer Photo Effect Photoshop Video Tutorial

Summer Fashion Effect Photoshop Video Tutorial

Create a Summer-Inspired 3D Text Effect in Photoshop

Create Summer Effects in Photoshop

Monday, June 20, 2016

2 Clipart Collections Celebrating Summer

Today is the official start to summer. If there was any doubt that the season of sunshine and rainbows has arrived we only needed to reflect on the past weekend.

Saturday and Sunday couldn't have been more perfect. Actually, at risk of sounding a little hyperbolic, it was positively utopian. Temperatures soared while humidity was held at bay. A consistent breeze stirred the torpid air just enough. Skies were clear through day and night. Backyard campfires lit the landscape like clusters of landed fireflies.

Even the mosquitoes co-operated and allowed us a peaceful bit of socializing through the balmy evenings and into the nights.

I welcome summer's arrival with slight reluctance. It's time with us is far too short and I celebrate more late spring as we linger at its edges. It's more relaxing to enjoy the promise than it is to think of its days slipping away.

I'm not really sure when this happened. I remember the summers of  my youth, comprised of long lazy days,  and slow easy nights of gentle breezes wafting through open windows into steamy rooms. Time moved slowly despite weeks full of activities and visits. I spent time with my grandparents, with family friends, with cousins. We went to lakeshores and on car trips.

They were truly glorious times which in retrospect, at least, seemed endless. Now I need to figure out how to make them last as an adult.

In celebration of the summer solstice and the season of sunshine and rainbows here are some illustrations of sun, sand and surf, flora and fauna,
barbecues and picnics, swimming and sailing:

iCLIPART.com Summer Illustrations

Clipart.com Summer Illustrations