Friday, June 23, 2017

See the Golden Years Here in All Its Glory With 2 Amazing Retirement Clipart Collections

Clipart Image of a Senior Couple Golfing
"Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing." — Oliver Wendall Holmes

Summer has arrived. Days are longer, temperatures higher. The sun shines brighter against the azure skies, while campfires cast a glow on starry nights. Life is easier, stress lower. The shorter hours of darkness give us time to do more, to pursue more, to complete more.

Amidst the clamour of this busy, busy world it's as if we have suddenly earned moments to kick back and relax. Work is shifted, or even dropped, for a round or two of golf.  Weekend chores are put on hold as we head off to the beach.  We give ourselves that one extra chapter in the book,  one more morning coffee. It's like a hint of what life will be like when we can leave behind the toil of the workaday world.

Having reached a certain age the notion of retirement has presented itself on occasion in recent months.  It's a word I've heard attached to negative connotations by a few others, who fear the notion of a life unfulfilled, of long days with nothing to do.  Personally I can't imagine it. Though gainful employment might be gone, I, like Oliver Wendall Holmes, love to play and doubt I'll be quitting that any time soon. Extra time in which to do it  can only be a good thing to my mind.

I look to my parents too and the joy they found in their 'golden' years.  They were fortunate and retired early, both of them by their mid-50s. They spent summers at their vacation spot in a popular lakeside resort town.  My father took up golfing and enjoyed endless hours on the links with his friends and grandsons.

My mother, who defined the term social butterfly, made it her personal mission to become acquainted with everyone she met. Her place became the one for coffee breaks with homemade treats, for knitting and crocheting lessons.  Moments without conversation were whiled away in the kitchen where she pursued her love of baking,  before the TV, knitting needles in hand while watching her favourite soap, or walking, where she typically made at least one new friend.

Summer evenings were spent with drinks at campfires or in a friendly game of cards when rainy skies shooed them indoors.

Winters, for many years, meant weekend dances at their favourite haunt. Drinks and cards at the Legion, coffee chats at local restaurants were just some of the activities that kept them moving. For a long, long time they celebrated retirement and played. Well.


So unlike some people I'm not remotely fearful of the word retirement. It is to me synonymous with useful leisure. In another recent blog, I spoke of retirement and of the interests I might pursue. Because then there will be time. I can't see anything negative about that.

The majority of retirees that I know are active, fun-loving and ready to go. They travel, seeing the world and learning about new cultures. They volunteer, able now to pursue selfless activities that interest them. They socialize, able to fit in those visits that they've long had to put on hold. And, yes, they play any way they can — golfing, bowling, dancing, and on and on.

You can see every element of retirement and its possibilities, including some humorous takes on the topic,  with these terrific clipart collections:

Clipart Image of a Retired Couple Walking on the Beach


Clipart Image of a Senior Golfer Talking to a Mechanic With an Empty Speech Bubble

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Want to Learn More About Photoshop? Improve Your Abilities With These Amazing Beginner Tutorials

Clipart Image of a Senior Man Ready to Retire
"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time." — J. Lubbock

I am one of those people for whom the word retirement is finding its way into conversations with increasing frequency. The majority of my friends and acquaintances are already happily welcoming Monday mornings in the same manner they welcomed Saturdays for decades. They enjoy days of coming and going as they please, time spent in interests and pursuits of their making and for their pleasure.

They have finally achieved something close to a hedonistic lifestyle. Let it be said, however, that not one of them should be relegated to any presumed stack of grey-haired uselessness either. They are all living life to the fullest, passing hours committed to charitable deeds, socializing and the proverbial pursuit of happiness.  

Clipart Image of a Senior Man Relaxing on a Beach With a Drink in His HandThere is time for rest, too of course.  Not, as Sir Lubbock averred, in idleness, but in moments savoured, in life and nature appreciated. They have ultimately found the time to take a break and a breath in this busy, busy life.

And then there are the hobbies.  All of the  untapped talents, the unexplored interests, the passions are suddenly pursued with abandon. They have become quilters and golfers,  travellers and potters. Rather than filling a few spare hours not dedicated to full-time employment, they now give the things they want to do more attention than that which needs to be done.

As they zealously celebrate this reward for jobs well done over the bigger part of their lives,  they continue to throw out the word to my husband and I. "When", they urge, "are you retiring."  On this subject, however,  we continue to be staunchly evasive. Not because we don't have some idea of the when; just that we prefer to not commit at this time.

It is, however, coming close enough that I have begun to seriously consider what interests will occupy my time during retirement. The one thing that keeps coming forward is photography.  Having spent 21 years working in journalism I discovered a pleasure in capturing images that I had previously not known existed. With the arrival of my grandchildren that has only intensified. Those faces brighten every day and preserving them at each stage of this all-too-swiftly passing life is my focus.

Clipart Image of a Senior Woman at a Laptop
I'm also eager to pick up a bit more knowledge on image editing. Particularly Photoshop.  With a good part of those aforementioned 21 years spent working with film and photos in a darkroom, the arrival of Photoshop to our newsroom was quite an exciting alternative for me.

However, with the pressure of deadlines, my education in using the image editing software was rudimentary at best. A crash course taught me what I needed to know to get the job done, and the hectic schedule left little time for advancing my limited skills.

Enter the 21st century and I'm starting to feel a little left behind. Everyone, from graphic designers to grandmas, is talking about image editing software for their projects, while my abilities  have continued to stagnate. Let's face it. What's required for getting a weekly newspaper together doesn't generally get put to a lot of use when you step outside that atmosphere.

And what tends to pop up on the internet for education is often quite advanced. Seeing so many tutorials for everything from creating vectors to mastering 3D effects,  I got to wondering if there's any hope for novices to catch up on their own. A few years ago I decided to scope out some tutorials geared specifically to beginners — Photoshop 101 you might say — and actually was pleased to discover there would be  plenty of opportunity to up my skills when I was ready. Here's that list again, with a few new additions:

101 Photoshop Tutorials From Competent to Magnificent

mashable.com 12 Beginner Photoshop Tutorials

psdtuts+ 50 Photoshop Tutorials for Clever Beginners

makeuseof.com 10 Must-Know Introductory Photoshop Skills for Beginning Photographers

The Ultimate Photoshop Tutorial for Beginners

Photoshop Essentials Basics

Friday, June 16, 2017

2 Awesome Sources of Fun Dad Cartoon Images for Your DIY Father's Day Projects

Clipart Image of a Superhero DayFather's Day is this Sunday, the time to honour and celebrate the first hero in our life. Whether he's the giant of a man looked up to by an adoring son, or the handsome knight revered by a devoted daughter,  Dad is the one who provides quiet comfort and strength. If Mom is the framework of a family, holding it all together, Dad is the foundation, keeping it solid.

At least such was the case for people like me,  who grew up in the 50s and 60s. While mothers kept the home fires burning, fathers went to work, their role as a parent defined by the free time they had and the firmness of hand required.  Helping with babies was virtually unheard of.

For my generation, with kids born in the 1970s and 1980s, husbands, unlike their fathers, knew how to burp a baby and change a diaper. Generally, though, this happened only if their wives weren't around. 

Clipart Image of a Dad Pushing a Baby in a StrollerToday, fathers of course take a much more active role in parenting. They have parental leave from work after the birth. They are involved in every aspect of the child's upbringing, from bathing and feeding to carpools and even becoming the principle caregiver. Yet, when a soft shoulder is needed, it's generally to Mom that a child will run, while they turn to Dad for fun and games. Perhaps this is why, when it comes to recognizing parents on their special days, the message can be significantly different.

Drawing on my own experience, as a daughter and a mother,  Mother's Day is all hearts and flowers, while  Dad generally gets less sentimental treatment. The gifts to Mom  evoke oohs and aahs —  because they should. It seems so easy after all to make the perfect choice for her since the options are endless — books, perfume, candles, soaps, clothes, jewellery, spa treatments, on and on and on.  She also gets super excited about anything handmade.

Dad, conversely, seems to be more difficult to buy for (think of the much joked-about tie).  Besides being of simple needs, the things he actually really does like (now think of boys and their toys) are generally beyond kids' budgets.

Whereas Mother's Day often means breakfast in bed for our favourite lady, on Father's Day we often take our hero out to a breakfast hosted by a local service club. Which, when you think about it, is actually more of a gift to his wife.

Clipart Image of a Father Looking at His Number One Day TieI've noticed, too, an interesting practice in card selections for these two special days, too. When purchasing the right card for a mother, people tend to lean towards the sentimental. The greetings for fathers, however, are more about the punch line, almost as if we're afraid to be emotional with these big strong men.

Of course, Dad's never seem to see these discrepancies. Or if they do, don't mind them. They love, or pretend to love, the tie. They never complain about where they're eating as long as they're going to eat.  And who laughs the loudest at the goofy card?

So in keeping with their simple acceptance of everything on their big day, here are some fabulous cartoons with dads at the heart of them, perfect for a personal message, t-shirt or some other creative project just right for your first hero.

An iCLIPART.com Father's Day Cartoon Collection

iCLIPART.com Father's Day Cartoon Collection

Father's Day Cartoon Collection from iCLIPART.com

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Show Dad You Love Him With a Father's Day DIY Project Using Images from 2 Great Clipart Sources

Clipart Image of an I Love Dad Message for Father's Day
Father's Day is just a few days away.  It's a time to honour that amazing man who has been your rock, your support, your guide, your strength.

While saying thank you is easy, for some reason finding the perfect present for this special guy can be a bit of a challenge. His needs seem to be simple, his wants often big ticket.

Of course, they've also thankfully shown themselves to be fairly gracious recipients. (Think nasty tie) I remember when I was a child how excited my father would get over every gift —  from a cheesy dime store tie clip to that predictable tie. One of my favourite memories of him was from a Christmas morning when I was a about eight years old. Having done what I could in the gift purchasing with my meagre allowance, my heart broke as my big brother chortled at the cheap cufflinks I had given him. Dad gamely stepped up stating he'd take them and wear them proudly. Which he did that day to church and to dinner at Grandma's, as well as many times after. My first hero grew even more super that day in my eyes.

Clipart Image of a Little Blonde Girl Holding a Gift for Dad
I soon came to see that the reaction was the same for every gift he received, whether it was a horrendous sweater or a hobby in which he had no interest.  The hand-drawn card created in a grade school classroom was displayed in a place of prominence. A worthy purpose was found for the decorated shoebox. And his favourite treats baked occasionally with the odd ingredient missing or substituted were consumed with no less avarice than if they had been Mom's delectable offerings.

I suspect it could all be explained by his upbringing. Having grown up in The Depression, he was ever grateful for anything that came his way through another's generosity or thoughtfulness. Regardless of how minimal that generosity might be or how misguided the thoughts.

Later, though, watching my husband react to the gifts from our kids when they were small, I noticed much the same reaction as my father's had been. Perhaps it was being the second youngest of seven in a farm family, where I suspected fighting for everything was customary, but he accepted every gift, every gesture with humble appreciation.

As children get older, however, expectations, at least theirs, get higher.  I listened as my kids pondered the possibilities, just as I had done. The challenge being to find the perfect present — a somewhat daunting task given that this guy, like my own father, bought what he needed. 

While adult children can go out and buy gifts for Dad, little ones, unless they are going to get a bit of financial help from Mom,  often have limited options.  They tend to need to get creative to find a way to honour their favourite man.

This can mean anything from taking a plain white t-shirt and personalizing it to decorating a hand-made card. Whatever it is, there's never any question that for Dad it will be priceless. Let's face it, taking the time to make a simple present has to be better than getting yet another tie.

For anyone looking for illustration to get them started, there are many resources offering affordable options for clipart which you are assured can be used legally. Here are just a few fun collections, perfect for Father's Day projects:

Clipart Image of a Glittery Super Dad Message for Father's Day

Clipart Image of a World's Greatest Day Burst

Friday, June 2, 2017

Celebrating Summer and Vacations With Super Clipart and Photos For Your Seasonal Projects

Clipart Image of a Time for a Break Sign Beside a Stack of Books and an Alarm Clock
"Isn't it amazing how much stuff we get done the day before vacation?" — Zig Ziglar.

Ha ha. I was actually thinking that very thing this morning as I ran out the door on my way to work. In the previous half hour I had packed suitcases, watered plants, washed dishes, threw in a load of laundry in the washing machine and paid bills.  It was frenzied and chaotic but imperatively essential that I had gotten things organized and settled. I am, you see, leaving for my a summer vacation right after work this glorious Friday. 

Taking an extended absence from our regular life ensures there is always plenty to do — not just in preparation for the things we will not be able to do in the upcoming days but in tidying up loose ends before we depart. Having met all the demands on my essential lists, I'm ready to now relax guilt and worry free and enjoy my vacation.

It might seem I'm beating the starter's gun on this one. There are still weeks remaining before spring fades to summer. But, with no children in our home any longer, my husband and I have the advantage of choosing our holidays at any time during the warm months, not just when school lets out. As such we often book one of our breaks early in the season and at least one towards the end. Temperatures might not soar but these times of the year can be a little quieter than the typical summer sojourns. They are the perfect bookends to the loveliest, most social, enjoyable time of the year in our northern climate.

This first one is going to be less about recharging my batteries than it is about a change of pace. One afternoon will be spent with old friends, three other days will be in the company of my two siblings and their spouses. Yet even though there won't be lots of time to kick back and relax, I will be seeking out hours of sunlight on my deck, book in hand. There will be slow walks on the beach to watch the sunset, cold beer and chilled wine.  Mostly, I'm eager to enjoy morning coffees without worry over what needs to get done.

Everyone has their favourite thing to do on summer vacations. For example, for years my daughter and her husband revelled in the deep-in-the-woods style of camping.  Accompanying them on many occasions my guy and I opted instead for a stay at a four-star lodge nearby.

There are RVers and cottagers, boaters and world travellers. Some even prefer a stay-cation, enjoying the pools, gardens, patios and decks at home that they seldom get to take advantage of in the busy work world.

There are those for whom the idyll is anything but idle as they cycle, swim, hike, kayak and jetski their way through the days. Others want a more restive time, choosing to spend slow, lazy hours rocking in hammocks,  lounging poolside or relaxing on the beach.

Whatever your choice, the time of year is here when we will all have our time to get away from it all, to spend precious moments doing all the things we crave but have no time to do in the real world.

For a little inspiration as I look forward to my own little piece of quiet here are some super summer vacation clipart and photo collections perfect for seasonal promotions and personal projects:

Clipart Image of a Top View of a Beach Towel and Parasol on Sand


Clipart Image of a Little Girl With Beach Toys


Photo of a Back View of a Woman Sitting in a Chair Looking at a Green Garden on a Summer Day


Photo of a Woman Holding a Kite While Walking on a Country Lane in the Summer

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

This Collection of Thousands of Photos from iPHOTOS.com is for the Birds

Photo of a Robin Finding Worms in the Grass
"Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?" — David Attenborough

A lazy Sunday morning. The sun had begun its slow ascent above the horizon hinting at the possibility of a perfect day. Outside the window a mixed chorus began, the music of cardinals, robins and finches, the cacophony of crows and gulls. Though their songs and calls had awakened me and had reached such a level as to make a return to sleep almost impossible,  I also found them conversely soothing.

Which is strange, given that this was the weekend and as a working girl I'm rather selfish about the two opportunities it provides for a bit of extra sleep. To disturb me then is to take your life into your hands. Yet, though the sky still held a shadow of darkness, though the clock hadn't struck six, I felt content. Though the discordant cries of the larger birds were something I could have done without they were balanced by the pretty tones of the songbirds. It was the best alarm clock.

Perhaps it's my age; I don't recall being so enamoured with our feathered friends when I was younger. But, in recent years I have found myself becoming increasingly fascinated in their actions and activities. Robins and their welcome return to the area heralding that spring is here,  offer some of the best entertainment. From the playful pleasure they demonstrate in a rain to the skips and hops around the yard in search of worms, they are ever present and habitually on the move.

With two nests in our garden this spring, there have been an abundance of fluffy baby robins to amuse us. We discover them in various places close to us— on the deck, on a chair — sitting for hours before puffing out their chests a few times then testing their wings. Their short flights to the closest branch always make me smile after a performance of such bravado.

Our red-chested friends aren't the only ones to intrigue me, however. The elusive cardinal teases as it moves from treetop to treetop. My eyes turn toward its distinctive song in the hope of catching a glimpse. When they do come near us, at feeders or in flight, they never linger long. I am, therefore, inspired to stop everything I'm doing to watch.

Photo of Blue Jays at a Bird Feeder
The pretty, though noisy, blue jay is an aesthetic treat and a mischievous scamp. In the bird world, he's the dude with colour as vibrant as his squawk is strident. That he's also the symbol for our Canadian Major League Baseball team makes him a fan favourite too.

Then there's that little mimic, the oriole. Many slow minutes can pass as you listen to him repeat the whistling sounds you sent its way. Its brilliant colour enlivens the space it enters.

Lively golden finches, tiny sparrows and cute chickadees flitting and flying around the yard might not get quite the attention of their more flamboyant peers, but they're always welcome.

With a few weeks of spring remaining and summer waiting for us, it seemed the right time to celebrate our feathered friends with a collection of amazing photos:

iPHOTOS.com Bird Photos

Friday, May 26, 2017

Colour Palettes and Photo Sources to Enhance Your Web Design

Clipart Image of a Laptop Computer with 3D Shapes
Business success in today's technological world can depend significantly on one's online presence. Building and maintaining a website is vital to the growth and prosperity of a commercial enterprise, regardless of its size. Whether you own a mom-and-pop shop or a giant corporation, the company website is your introduction to the world. It provides information to potential clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and once established it's a cost-effective promotional tool.

You want then, to ensure your website is not just illuminating while being user-friendly, but aesthetically appealing too. With online resources, such as WordPress.com to guide you, it's even possible to build your own. Yet, no matter how the website is created, one of the most important elements of your design will be the images you choose to create visual interest. Selecting photos that put your best face forward, that make a strong first impression, are an integral component of any website design. Especially, if you want to be noticed.

Though there's no discounting the importance of this, there are really only three steps to consider when deciding upon the visual elements to enhance your website and how to best present them. These hold true whether you are working with a professional or building your own.


1. SELECT A COLOUR PALETTE:  The very first thing to ponder has less to do with any of the features that will actually be showing on the site and more to do with making a random selection cohesive.  Whether the graphics are generic or specific to your business, finding complimentary hues will make the end result more attractive. There are a number of websites that actually makes this quite simple. You can find inspiration in all of them, while some actually allow you to generate your own combinations:

• DesignSeeds.com
• ColorPalettes.net
• Color-Hex.com
• ColourLovers.com
DigitalTelepathy.com
ColourPod.com
ColorMind.io
• FlatColors.net

Clipart Image of a Laptop Computer With 3D Transportation Icons

2. SOURCING IMAGES:  For some businesses, all the images you need will be found within your enterprise, whether it's pictures of your facility and its content or the end product. However, if the type of business you have means you will  need to find outside sources for the visual elements, it's very important you access them from a source that guarantees you will have the legal right to use them. Online subscription graphics services provide options to suit needs and budgets. Most important, however, is that once you purchase a subscription you are able to use the images, provided the usage falls within the licence regulations, without fear. They will be virus free and you will be protected from any copyright infringement.

Once you find the source that suits your needs you can work with the palette to make your selections. To help you better see the possibilities here are some lightboxes from iPHOTOS.com — which offers quality photos, illustrations and more for business, education and beyond — that have been matched from various online colour palettes:

1) From DesignSeeds.com's selection 'A Door Hues' : iPHOTOS.com Lightbox 1
2) From ColorPalettes.net's selection #3327 : iPHOTOS.com Lightbox 2
3) From Color-Hex.com's selection Spring : iPHOTOS.com Lightbox 3
4) From ColourLovers.com's selection 'Saxophone Blues' : iPHOTOS.com Lightbox 4
5)  From DTelepathy.com's Selection 'SoftwareMill' : iPHOTOS.com Lightbox 5
6) From ColourPod.com's 'Sense of Security' : iPHOTOS.com Lightbox 6
7) From FlatColors.net's selection 'Warm Flat Rock' : iPHOTOS.com Lightbox 7

Clipart Image of a Person Working at a Computer With Various Items on the Desk

3. DESIGN YOUR WEBSITE:  Now that you've settled on a colour scheme and chosen the beautiful images to create the visual interest you need, it's time to design. Remember too, that responsive design is an important part of creating a website.

As an example, here's the fresh new look our team gave the Vital Imagery Ltd. website, with help from Canva.com and  iPHOTOS.com. The chosen palette was #76 from Canva.com's Design School blog

These were the lightboxes created for each of the colours:
• Turquoise 
•  Cool Grey 
• Brownish Purple 
• Orange Red 

From there, it was quite simple to select the pictures while designing the site with the surety that everything would blend beautifully.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Celebrating Victoria Day Weekend With Amazing Summer Fun Clipart Collections

Clipart Image of a Small Boy and a Woman Playing With a Sparkler
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:

Clipart Image of Cartoon Boy Roasting a Hot Dog Over a Campfire

Clipart Image of a Little Girl Building a Sandcastle at the Beach


Clipart Image of a Little Girl Flying a Kite on a Summer's Day

 Clipart Image of a Little Boy Snorkelling


Clipart Image of a Camper Van With a Loaded Roof Rack


Clipart Image of Two Country Folk Characters at a Campfire


Clipart Image of a Blonde Woman and a Brunette Woman Sunbathing at the Beach

Clipart Image of a Girl Flying a Kite and the Letter K

ClipartImage of a Soccer Field and a Beach Volleyball Court

Clipart Image of a Girl and a Dog Having a Picnic at a Table Beside a Car


Clipart Image of a Canadian Man Wearing a Red Maple Leaf Shirt While Holding a Sparkler

Friday, May 12, 2017

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

Photo of a Summer Garden with a Climbing Rose at a White Arbor
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.

Photo of a Deep Purple Gladiolus
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.

Photo of a Monarch Butterfly on a Coneflower
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.

Photo of a Woman Planting Flowers in a GardenMy 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

Clipart Image of a Bride and Groom
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.

Clipart Image of a Senior Couple Kissing
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:

Clipart Image of a Woman Kissing a Man on the Cheek


Clipart Image of a Pair of Lovebirds

Friday, May 5, 2017

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

Clipart Image of a Balloon Bouquet, Confetti and Streamers with a Banner
"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:

Clipart Image of a Little Girls With a Stack of Presents


Photo of a Smiling Man in a Birthday Hat With a Cake and Candles


Clipart Image of a Little Blond Boy Opening a Gift

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

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

Photo Collage of a Mother and Children for 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

Clipart Image of a Little Girl Colouring
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:

Clipart Image of a Colouring Page With a Boy Eating a Watermelon


Clipart Image of a Superhero Pig for Colouring


Clipart Image of a Colouring Page With a Monkey


Clipart Image of a Cartoon Black and White Dog


Clipart Image of a Full Colour and a Black and White Princess