Friday, August 18, 2017

You're Sure to 'Bee' Excited About These Great Clipart Collections

Clipart image of a bee carrying a pot of honey
Sometimes it takes a simple approach to remind us of important things.  Take for example the 2007 animated film Bee Movie, where, in a cute and colourful way, attention was drawn to the value of nature's most industrious insect.

We know we can thank bees for honey. We know they can deliver a nasty sting when we get in their way. But we don't necessarily think about everything that they do. Bees are responsible, after all,  for pollinating crops, fruits, vegetables and flowers.  Their loss would threaten the food we eat and the beauty around us.

Sadly, bee colonies haven't been doing all that well in recent years.  Back as far as 2007, concerns were expressed about the fact that honeybee colonies were dying at an alarming rate and there appeared to be no simple answer.  According to researchers, who determined  there was more than one factor at play here, the issue was complex. They ultimately attributed the majority of the losses to parasites, disease, nutrition and pesticide exposure. 

Information released by BeeInformed.org reported in 2015-16 that beekeepers across the United States lost 44 per cent of their honeybee colonies from April to April.  Losses continued for the same timeframe this year.   Phys.Org reported a lost of 33 per cent.  Though the lower number is encouraging, experts were quick to add that the number is still too high. However there is now a glimmer of optimism.

Given that these little insects play a significant role in maintaining Earth as we know it, we obviously want colonies to survive. And the news from Canada appears to be heartening too.  The Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists reported that for 2015-16 the national percentage of colony winter loss was 16.8 per cent, the third lowest since 2006/07.  Beekeepers have been able to replace dead colonies and the number of colonies has increased by 22.4 percent.

So, if it seems that the worst might be behind us, that the fear that bee colonies everywhere are falling faster than a hummingbird's wings is now behind us, you might wonder what prompted this chatter from me.  The thing is, like many people,  I can have a tendency to take things for granted. When I first heard about this concern,  it was troubling. Over time, however, the idealist in me trusted that experts would get it figured out and the worry would be behind us. Bees once again just became another insect.

But after happening upon this information during a search for something completely unrelated, I decided it was time again to give these helpful, though occasionally prickly, friends of ours their due. It was surprising once I made that decision how often they came to mind.

From the minute the day began when I looked over to see my husband add his dollop of honey into his coffee I was reminded about the things in my life for which I can thank the humble bee.  It was there once more while the two of us were enjoying said coffees on the deck and my attention was diverted by a bee settling on a nearby coneflower, hanging out there for a time before droning on to a shasta daisy.

Later that afternoon as we headed out for a bit of socializing,  I gazed out the car window at fields of crops and thought again of the tiny creature that played a role in the success of agriculture's bounty.


Even as the day came to an end and I prepared for bed, my mind returned to the value of bees as I slathered on my homemade lotion, concocted of oils and beeswax.

The bottom line here is that play a far greater role in our lives than we often reflect upon. So for today, we will promote the humble bee and its environmental contributions with some super clipart collections.

iCLIPART.com Bee Illustrations

iPHOTOS.com Bee Images

Clipart.com Bee Images

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

It's Almost Time for Back to School. See Shiny, Happy Student Faces from iPHOTOS.com

Photo of a happy little girl wearing a backpack for back to school
"All children start their school careers with sparkling imaginations, fertile minds, and a willingness to take risks with what they think." — Ken Robinson

The 'S' word has been finding its way into conversations increasingly of late. First there was the discussion with our daughter regarding the near-future plans she and her family have in place. Listing those leisure activities,  brought the realization of how soon back-to-school time was going to be here. An educator in a Junior Kindergarten classroom, she declared, with no little amount of shock,  that in just a few weeks she would be "back to reality".

Our son, who is currently vacationing at our summer spot, remarked this past weekend that he might not stay in this place of respite for the whole week. A teacher, he noted that it's just about time to start planning for the upcoming term, then commented that his brain might not give him the calm he needs to enjoy too much of a sojourn at this point in the summer.  He knows his obsessive qualities would preclude any ability to relax so assumed he'd probably cut the idyll short in favour of beginning the work he knows is ahead of him.

Social conversations are also moving in the direction of back to school.  At parties and picnics, friends with kids in university and college are talking about tuition and lodging; others with post-secondary students in their family are pondering course selections that will enhance future goals and dreams.

Photo of a young man with a laptop in a library
At Vital Imagery Ltd. we are hearing often  from teachers like my son, who are already in work mode and looking for the right resources for their lesson plans and assignments. The needs vary, but the message remains unchanged.  It's time to get back in the education game,  to ease summer out of play and get down to business.

Obviously, there's still plenty of time left to relax before the real work begins. There are weeks left in which families can sneak away on vacations and focus on nothing more than sand, surf and campfires.  There are oodles of long, lazy days ahead to be whiled away at the beach;  evenings still offer sufficient balminess to inspire outdoor games into the late hours.

However, the signs that youngsters will soon be heading back to academia are there if we care to notice.  Baseball diamonds have quieted with most little league teams all played out. Soccer fields are silent with tournaments over and the season's winners decided.  Even the excited hoots and hollers from energetic youngsters in the swim at area pools have diminished as the heat of summer fades.

Soon, the same boisterous, high-spirited sounds will be coming from school playgrounds during recess and lunch breaks. Hallways will welcome back the sounds  of exuberant youngsters returning from their extended layoff.  Classrooms will again be enlivened by the energy of youths at work and in discussion.  Gymnasiums will fill with shouts and laughter. And teachers and administrators will again be challenged with the responsibility of nurturing supple young minds.

University and college campuses will come to life, too, as adults, young and old,  return for that final lap in their academic ride.

So as we think about saying goodbye to our 'unofficial' summer, and hello to back to school, this collection of pictures from iPHOTOS.com shows eager students of all ages.

iPHOTOS.com Student Photos

Friday, August 11, 2017

Get Your Projects Moving With This Eye-Catching Transportation Clipart

Clipart image of a sweet baby in a toy car
"Baby you can drive my car, yes I'm going to be a star.
Baby you can drive  my car, and maybe I'll love you."

The popular Lennon and McCartney song, it has been suggested,  might actually have a slightly less innocent reference than that of transportation. However, while that might appeal to our base instincts, there's no doubt that in this busy, chaotic getting from here to there, whether by automobile or other means, is also super important.

My husband loves his cars. He's never had to have the flashiest; quite the contrary really. The newest vehicle in his fleet is over ten years old while the most revered is a lovingly restored example of 1967 Mopar muscle. But he has always ensured that besides that classic Coronet, driven only in summer on momentous occasions or to special events, we have one for him, one for me and often even a spare parked in the driveway.

Though a third one for everyday use might seem excessive, the practice has proven its worth more times than not. An apparently superfluous set of wheels can definitely come in handy. Vehicle number three has recharged a dead battery on his or my car when one or the other of our usual rides is out and about. It has filled in  when an emergency breakdown has occurred, a real bonus given that we all know when we have plans to go somewhere the last thing we want to have happen is discover we have no way of getting there.

Of late, my hubby and I have been giving some consideration though, to reducing the fleet.  With retirement drawing ever closer we're thinking that maybe we could get by with just one car and over the last several weeks have decided to give it a try and see how far we get.  We did pretty well too, until this morning, when with hubby out of town, cloudy skies threatened my morning walk to work and I decided it was in my best interests to ride. That said, without the job to go to, the one car experiment would probably have still been going.

Unquestionably, travel is a big part of society today, whether short jaunts to nearby places or long trips to far away corners of the world.  We find our way to these places a variety of different ways.

Generally, for reasonably close excursions made independently, we rely on our cars and trucks.  Others, though, like to put a little more effort into their touring. Our son, for example, has recently discovered great pleasure in cycling from town to town, destination to destination. His tour might be of necessity, or simply a summer diversion, but whatever the reason when he heads out he's happy to be leaving the car at home.  He has found peace on the assorted trails and rural roads and relishes nature and the new sights in his stops along the way.

In larger urban centres there is public transit to take people out of the city or out of suburbia. We have trains and buses that move us across country, planes that carry us  over land and sea, ships that cruise us to ports around the world.  We drift in hot air balloons, pedal steep slopes, ride waves. We travel for work, for play and simply because we can. We journey using wheels, rails and wings.  And you can see them all here in these fantastic transportation clipart collections:
Clipart image of a hipping, delivery car, ship, plane transport on a background map of the world


Clipart image of a scooter

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

You'll Love These Fantastic Photos of Beautiful Butterflies

Photo of a Monarch butterfly on a pink flower
They are not just one more welcome summer visitor. They are also symbolic to many, offering a connection that is both spiritual and life-affirming.  With their presence comes an affirmation of hope and comfort.

The suggestion of butterflies as a representation of life and resurrection first was presented to me following the passing of a young friend just over a decade ago. It was a day after the service when her aunt while working in her garden, looked up to see dozens of pretty butterflies fluttering around her, filling the yard with colour and energy.  She was immediately soothed by their beauty and the message of hope that is attached to them.

A friend too had had a unique experience with butterflies recently — their appearance over the past several days not just sudden, but abundant. Fabulous Monarchs were finding her,  not just while she tended her gardens, but also in quiet moments of respite or during rejuvenating walks.

Each time she was captivated by their actions. They weren't flitting quickly past her, nor shyly darting into view and back out. There had been no coyness in their dance; they had instead boldly lingered and frolicked around her like children come to play.

During our conversation, it struck me that it had been some time since I'd seen a Monarch. Cardinals, another creature to which spiritual significance has been attached, have,  if not always shown themselves to me of late,  let me know they were there with me in their whistling call.  I have found with them that a level of faith has not been required to believe the significant meaning since I am consoled by their presence.

But the pretty Monarch has been elusive.  Until, of course, my friend's story was shared. It's interesting how conversations will often conjure that which we've discussed. There's the person you haven't seen in some time. You mention their name for some reason and they contact you the next day. Or the song that you've been wanting to hear begins to play on the radio after you mention it to someone.

So it was really no surprise to me when I stepped out on to my deck this past Saturday morning and was greeted by this flamboyant creature. Like those who have visited my friend, this one was in no hurry to pass through. As I stood waiting, coffee and book in hand, it floated around me, hovering and flittering. When after several seconds of watching its dance I decided to sit down, it seemed to follow me, swooping back and forth as if trying to get my attention.  The book was forgotten as I watched, smiling.  It probably stayed with me for five minutes before moving on to make another person's morning.

Later that day two more popped by for another quick visit.  I don't know if these guests did indeed represent something special — a message from a loved one who has passed, for example. But I like to think that their presence was somehow connected to my late parents and it left me feeling calm and centred, at peace, content.

It is not just to the Monarch that this significance is cast. All butterflies are believed to be a deep representation of life. For that reason, as well as for their photogenic qualities today's image collection, I've chosen to highlight these fantastic photos of beautiful butterflies from iPHOTOS.com

Photo of a green butterfly on a leaf



Friday, August 4, 2017

Terrific Back to School Clipart For Your Promos, Products and Projects

Clipart image of a little girl skipping in front of a rainbow
In our world of images here at Vital Imagery Ltd. we're always looking ahead. We trumpet the arrival of vacations and seasons.  We proclaim in our blog posts when things are about to happen, often weeks before they do,  for the simple fact that the people who will be looking for clipart to use in promotions, products or projects can't wait until the event arrives.

So,  today I ponder a reality that looms several weeks before us that just happens to be a little tough to fathom.

Looking out the window on a hazy, rainy summer day, my mind full of plans for a weekend in lake country, it seems incredibly difficult to turn my thoughts to the fact that it won't be long before children and teens head back to school.  It barely seems like any time has passed  since the schoolyards were filled with the lively sounds of exuberant youngsters let loose for recess. It won't be long though until the bells are no longer quiet, the halls no longer empty.

The foremost thought as I contemplate this, is life's swift passage. I really don't understand when summers became so short. I remember those of my youth as being long and lazy, almost endless.  When the school bell rang for the last time each June it felt as if forever stretched before us until we would return.

And it's not as if nothing happened during those two months. There were so many activities crammed into just eight weeks, yet the time seemed to move along like the tranquil flow of a forest stream.  There were week long visits with country cousins and family vacations at the beach.

In the neighbourhood, my friends and I filled our days with fun. There was pick-up baseball. We crowded the playground,  swinging until our feet touched the lowest branches on the tallest trees, riding the  playground until our heads spun and our stomachs lurched.  We spent hot afternoons chilling at the pool and warm evenings working up a sweat in games of chase and hide and seek.  We hiked, we ran, we played through all of the glorious summer weeks of our golden youth.

And by the time Labour Day arrived, we were actually eager for the return to formal education. There was always the back-to-school shopping first, meaning new duds and supplies. The latest fashions in everything from clothes to pencil cases were sought and bought.  The first morning back we eagerly donned our spiffiest outfit, grabbed pencils, papers, etc. and headed out the door ready to return to the classroom.

We were keen to find out what the classmates we hadn't seen had been up to during those long lazy weeks. We were excited to get into our classrooms and see if we'd be sitting near any of our friends. Regardless of how much we enjoyed the break,  that first day back to school was always exciting.

While students, young and older, might not be quite ready for that heady back-to-school vibe,  businesses and educators will soon be thinking of nothing else. Here then are two clipart collections to get them in the mood.
Clipart image of colouring pencils forming a frame around the words back to school


Clipart image of an open classroom door under the words back to school

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

It's a Day at the Beach With These 2 Sunny Clipart Collections

Clipart image of a beach scene
One of the best parts of summer is the long weekend — an extra day of fun in the sun,  of sand and surf, of hammocks and  shade trees, of croquet mallets and golf clubs.  The long weekend gives us a little more time to see the people we love and do the things we choose.

And this weekend, in our corner of the word we are celebrating the Civic Holiday.  On Monday offices will be locked, stores will be dark, factories quiet while families and friends will be kicking back and enjoying time spent in leisurely pursuits.

For my guy and I it promises to be a crazy busy long weekend.  With family visiting from the other side of this vast country there are more occasions and events than is typical, including a fundraising tournament.  From music to games to the beach the three days and nights will be a dizzying whirl of activity. Entertaining for sure, but a little outside my comfort zone.

Clipart image of a girl reading under a tree in a gardenAn introvert, my happy place is found in quiet hours on the deck, or enjoying a tête à tête with a close friend. Listening to music in a crowd, I am the one who is happy to be lost within the sound, thriving in the driving guitars and pulsing drums played so loudly that conversation is difficult. I am the one who seeks entertainment between the pages of a book, who upon entering a busy room moves quickly to a familiar face in a secluded corner.  I am energized by calm and quiet, depleted by noise and confusion.

And I'm married to an extrovert who thrives on the company of many and finds a lazy Sunday afternoon  pointless and boring. Over decades of marriage, however, we
Clipart image of a group of people partying
have learned to understand these differences and work with them. When we must be around a large crowd, he stays with me until I'm settled. When we have a rare few hours alone, I respect that he will look for ways to be less still after a time.

So our approaches to, and anticipation of, this upcoming long weekend will be quite different. Where he  will zealously seek out as much interaction with those surrounding us as possible, I will probably steal moments of alone time.  Of course, there will be shared activities too — those little conversations and private jokes typical of long-married couples,  our enjoyment of a concert, and our pleasure at being able to spend the majority of the weekend in cottage country.

Clipart image of a cottage at the beachWhen I think about it, time at our summer place seems to blur lines between extrovert and introvert.  The former soaks up the vibe and can sit and be cool, the latter is comfortable in the relaxed atmosphere and spreads her social wings.

The beach is peace and calm. It's a place to recharge your batteries. You can be as alone as you want or as busy as you desire. Sand underfoot and sun overhead quiet heart and mind.  The sounds of rushing waves lapping at the edge of the shore is nature's best song.

As we head towards a lovely summer long weekend my daydreams stray to the beach and the wonderful images that fill my mind when I look ahead. Here's a sample of those from iCLIPART.com and Clipart.com

Friday, July 28, 2017

Celebrating Birthdays and July With Amazing Animations

Animation of the calendar page for July riding on a Rocket
July... our time together will soon come to an end for another year.  We have felt your moods — the burning kiss of sun on skin,  sweet breezes brushing against our cheeks, rains cooling and refreshing the air around us.

We have also, however, enjoyed the leisure and entertainment you've provided. From long weekends to vacations and special events, like Canada Day and Independence Day, July is the month to party.

This month the team at Vital Imagery Ltd.,   marked 11 years of delivering top-quality online images to customers for business and personal use.  As well, two colleagues have celebrated their special days recently, while there have been several July celebrants among our extended family.

And as the light fades on July's final sultry days, our family is getting set to make merry at our granddaughter's birthday bash.  Little Missy is turning five and the unicorn-themed event will be highlighted as always with games, cake and ice-cream, followed by an evening campfire and fireworks.

Summer birthdays are the best. However, until the arrival of Missy, only one member of the family was fortunate enough to celebrate then.  While our eldest made his debut on a blisteringly warm July 2, his three siblings, my husband and I, were all welcomed into this world as days were getting shorter and temperatures colder. 

I remember how envious of our son's birthday his sisters and brother were when growing up. No matter how great we tried to make their parties, the fact remained that summer bashes are best.  They weren't very old when they recognized that that summer party was always a blast and offered more options for everything from location to activities.

Animation of a couple on a bench having a drink at a picnic
Over the years we opted to host guests for our boy's event at our summer place or at a backyard fete. The numbers were generally greater than our fall and winter celebrants' shindigs boasted since the outdoors offer infinite space in which to move.  Rather than a few hours of partying, as was the case for the rest of us, the fun at the July fêtes always lingered.

As the encroaching darkness at day's end came so much later,  it only made sense that the festivities be prolonged. Adults, never eager to give up on a gorgeous evening,  packed up weary children and headed home well past bedtime.

Gathering a group of people together to party, when the weather is conducive to outdoor activities is evidently a much preferred situation to cramming guests indoors. Even on rainy days there are typically breaks that allow for a bit of fresh air.

So, in planning  Missy's day, our daughter has always taken full advantage of the great outdoors.  The festivities should be the perfect way to end off a lovely summer month.

With so fun in mind for the weekend, it's hard not to be in the party mood. There's probably nothing that conveys that vibe better than birthday animations. From noisemakers and balloons to candles on cakes and happy children they can all be found in this adorable collection from Animation Factory
Animation of birthday balloons and gifts

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Advanced Search Options Help You Find Your Way Around Clipart Sites

Clipart image of a businessman looking through a magnifying glassIt doesn't come without its problems but among the more positive aspects of the internet, when used wisely and with good intent,  is the fact that it allows us to find things — from people and places to information and pictures.

While taken at face value,  it can be somewhat off-putting to realize anyone can track us down on the world-wide web if they want. However, the discovery of long-lost friends, I can attest to personally, is a real gift. I have re-connected through social media with chums from elementary school as well as from other aspects of my past life and established even stronger ties as an adult.

We can find our way with Google maps, etc. We get answers to questions that in the moment really feel must be answered. Of course, in doing so, we hopefully exercise the necessary due diligence to ensure what we have read is accurate, through further research on reputable websites to confirm it.

It's the picture part I mentioned earlier, though, that I'm going to focus on a bit more. Primarily because that is the industry in which I work.  Finding images for projects, whether they are for professional use as in presentations and worksheets or for personal projects such as scrapbooking, embroidery, invitations, etc., has never been so easy thanks to the internet. However, while free is tempting, it is advised that you be cautious when looking for images. For example, many 'free' ones  will carry a headsup  in tiny print warning that the image you're using could be subject to copyright.

The best way to find high-quality, virus-free content, that will also not lead you into a copyright issue, is to purchase them from a reputable site such as iCLIPART.com, iPHOTOS.com or Clipart.com. You can buy a subscription or individual image to use in projects, royalty-free. There are no additional fees or credits.

The other benefit is the diversity of the massive content available. With millions of images in the inventories, there should be something for every need, style or taste.  Typically, a simple keyword search will help you find exactly what you want.

However, the Advanced Search options are wonderful tools to help you narrow the field when necessary.  Regardless of what website you choose,  check for them and see what they offer. For the sake of example we're going to take a little stroll through the options on iCLIPART.com.
Let's assume that I want a simple colour illustration of an ordinary guy, just standing still. Sometimes it's best to try a lot of keywords, but you want to be careful too not to limit yourself too much. I've opted for our purposes here to start simply. Using just the word 'man' in the search box to begin with I knew would bring oodles of results, 124,505 to be exact.

Eliminating 'Santa', 'Christmas', 'hockey', 'sports', 'player', 'band', 'music', 'entertainment', 'cop', 'woman' and 'occupations' based on some of the images I saw that I knew I didn't want, as well as 'animal' and 'monkey',  because there are occasionally  random examples,  significantly decreased the choices.

Clicking off the B&W option also dropped the selections by thousands.

Next I selected the category 'People' which again make a significant difference in the number of results.  However, there were still plenty to wade through so I thought I would add the word stand to the initial keyword of man, which then brought me to 611 results.  Which included the winner – right in the top row.
Keywording is a human science and therefore open to interpretation as well as human error. It is, therefore,  prudent to try a few options when searching. As mentioned, sometimes the path is through a single word; other times as the best thing is to use as many keywords as you can consider.  Just remember that the Advanced Search options are well worth the extra steps and can eliminate any sense of being overwhelmed by what you see.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Get Great Summer Photos With These Fantastic Tips

Clipart image of a woman standing in the water at a beach
"The beauty of that June day was almost staggering. After the wet spring, everything that could turn green had outdone itself in greenness and everything that could even dream of blooming or blossoming was in bloom and blossom. The sunlight was a benediction. The breezes were so caressingly soft and intimate on the skin as to be embarrassing." — Dan Simmons, Drood

Paints a lovely picture doesn't it? Summertime. Such a beautiful season. Sunshine burns in azure skies. Lightning streaks across dark broody nights and heavens open to douse us with refreshing rain.  Melodious birdsong is carried on gentle breezes that kiss our heated skin, and make garden flowers dance and sway.

Finding words to evoke the essence of summer, such as those written by Mr. Simmons, is a talent. Capturing it effectively in art and photography also requires creativity and technique. Summer is more than a season — it's a feeling, a lifestyle, an energy. It takes more than a camera or paintbrush and easel to show it.

When it comes to art, there's no hope for me. As a photographer, however, I am a little more positive about my capabilities. While I'm unlikely to reach the end of the path to perfection,  I do  possess a modicum of talent for the medium. My skills were first honed in my 20 years as editor of a community newspaper, where the jobs of reporter and photographer were as much a part of my role as the more logical duties.  My efforts were generally acceptable, occasionally worthy of compliment. My interest was piqued.

When digital cameras came on the scene, I was quick to rush out and get one for myself, ready to take on the latest technology. Equally swift was the move to update when I realized the initial purchase didn't quite meet my needs.

Since then, I've squeezed in some tutorials between work hours and am eager to continue improving my skills. Currently my favourite subjects are my precious grandchildren.  I never get tired of taking pictures of those darling faces.

However, of late, I've increasingly noticed a renewed interest too in the landscape around me.  This was inspired, I believe, by our first trip to the picturesque French River,  where trees soar and quiet and calm surrounds you.  With little to do but commune with nature, I found myself drawn to the verdant greenery, the lazy waters, rushing rapids and divine sunsets as photo subjects.

Having caught up with an old friend recently, who is avidly pursuing her interest in photography, I was cajoled into coming out to her camera club. Given my plans for the future it seemed a more than sensible suggestion.

Among the assignments is capturing the essence of summer. While the professionals and amateurs that attend the groups are there with ideas and suggestions to help, there are also many ideas for inspiration to be found on the internet. Here's a random sampling:

The Ultimate Summer Photo Ideas

10 Summer Photography Tips

Must Take Summer Photo Ideas

The Do's and Don't's of Summer Photography

6 Tips for Great Summer Photos

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Celebrate Summer, its Pleasure, Ease and Vacations with Vital Imagery Clipart

Clipart Image of a Woman Sitting on the Sand by the Sea
"A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in."

While comedy writer Robert Orben has succinctly described the pleasure of a break from work I'd have to say that this quote as a general overview might be somewhat of an oversimplification. At least when little ones are involved.

My husband and I recently returned from a lovely week at lake country, accompanied for most of it by two of our grandchildren, ages five and three.  You can well imagine, therefore, that there was plenty to do. Though nothing was exactly scheduled, there was never a moment for just doing nothing.

Most mornings began in a flurry of activity, as the little ones were scuttled in to the washroom, then guided to the dinner table with discussions already underway on what was on the menu for breakfast that day.  Then, while they fueled up, Grandma and Papa got suited up for a day at the beach before digging out tiny swimsuits, towels, buckets, pails, sunscreen, snacks and drinks and packing them up in antipation of hours of sand and surf.
Clipart Image of Two Children Playing in the Sand at the Beach

When not at the beach, we filled time with bike and trike rides, walks, visits, meals and cleanup. So, really never any shortage of things to do.  However, what made this vacation, and most others, awesome, is that we did indeed have the whole day in which to do all the fun stuff.

Since our little guests were picked up by Mom and Dad before the weekend began,  though it granted Grandma and Papa a couple of days stretching before them, without goals to be reached or tasks to be accomplished. There were no plans, no schedules and no notion of what might be coming. We spent what was left of our vacation completely at ease, not in search of opportunities for entertainment, but taking them when they arose.  It was enough to appreciate the vacation experience as described by Mr. Orben.

Clipart Image of a Book at the Beach
Having worked for longer than I care to think about, I'm never eager to fill a vacation with activities. A good book on a quiet beach, a glass of wine while ensconced in a deck chair by the water, a cold drink on a sunny sidewalk café — these are the idylls I choose to pursue when I leave my desk and computer behind.  Lazy mornings and quiet long breakfasts are the perfect start to a vacation day.  Nights under starry skies by the blazing heat of a campfire ease me to a gentle sleep.

There are always things to see and do, but these are taken at my leisure, when solitude and sitting have lost their appeal.  Easy hikes, informative tours, shopping provide mental, social and physical stimulation between the times of respite.

The word vacation isn't synonymous with any particular season — when the weather is cold people seek comfort in warmer climes. In this corner of the world, we check out colourful autumn landscapes or seek out snowy ski hills as spring revisits. But it's summer for most of us in the north that offers the best opportunities for doing nothing all day long. Kids are out of school and Mom and Dad are ready for a change of pace.

We celebrate the pleasures of summer, the easier life it offers and vacation time with two great clipart collections:

Clipart.com Summer Vacation Images

iCLIPART.com Summer Vacation Images

Friday, July 7, 2017

Check Out These 85 Engaging Summer Family Fun Photos

Photo of a Family Dining Al Fresco
The end result of this blog is going to be to share with you some photos. The selection today does perhaps target a fairly specific audience, but given that it's Friday, the celebratory end of the work week and an early summer one to boot, the topic seems a great one to highlight.

As is often the case, I'm inspired by recent events in my life. With some vacation days to enjoy,  I've been able to slot in extra visits, meaning time with family, good food and the beautiful outdoors. These have been, and will be,  memories created. They will exemplify everything that's perfect about summer — loved ones together to party in the sunshine with copious amounts drink and good food, music and games.

The first bit of fun earlier this week eased us in to party mode. It was our annual birthday tradition with our firstborn. A craft beer afficionada,  each year around July 2, he tours us around the city to new and favourite breweries. There the purpose is simple.  We sample and savour — the flavours a rare afternoon together.

This time we found ourselves at one of the newer brew houses, located right in the heart of downtown, where we parked ourselves by the inviting sunlight streaming into  the large front window.  From here, after tantalizing our taste buds with a couple of offerings on the menu,  we enjoyed a walk of some distance to an eatery, known for his plethora of cocktails. With the windowed facade rolled up we enjoyed fresh air and a patio vibe. Sixties tunes, always a great summer feeling, floated across the room at just the right volume to not inhibit conversation.

After a simple but delectable meal, we headed off to the patio of a local coffee house for dessert where we soaked up more of the summer in the city energy and continued discussions on everything from music to politics.  Then delightfully sated we decided to stride off some of those calories with a walk through a local park before heading to a pub to listen to tunes.

While this was a leisurely bit of socializing on an intimate level, an event set for this weekend is all about excess — more family, more food, more fun.  Sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, parents, children and grandchildren are converging for our annual picnic.  We are a small but raucous bunch and in keeping with our German genetics create an atmosphere of  Gemütlichkeit.
Photo of a Family Barbecuing
What the point of all this has been is to reflect on the aspect of summer life that is defined by time spent outside with the people we want to be with.  Whether we gather at picnics or parties, whether our gatherings are spent in quiet conversation or boisterous adventures, there is nothing nicer than when those times include the people, whether they be family by blood or intimacy,  who know us best.  These moments, like summer, are sunshine, laughter and music.

So in celebration of special occasions and of sharing them with our loved ones, I've put together this terrific collection of photos from iPHOTOS.com Whether it's time at the beach, the cottage, the garden or partying you can find it all in this collection of  85 Family/Friends Summer Fun Photos from iPHOTOS.com

Friday, June 30, 2017

You Can Take Car Photos Like a Pro Thanks to These Helpful Tips

Clipart Image of a Girl Taking a Picture of a Car
"Cars and cameras are the two things I let myself be materialistic about. I don't care about other stuff." Louis C.K.

The American comic doesn't say whether he ever combines his two passions. If he does however, it's a terrific, but tricky hobby that presents some unique challenges.  Sun sparkling off shiny bodies can turn a much-admired colour into something unrecognizable.  Also, given that those same gleaming beauties reflect everything nearby, it's quite easy to find yourself or some other unwanted subject in the shot.

And if it's action you're looking for in your photographs, cars will bring it on. Then it's up to the photographer to do the sport justice.

While unlike Mr. CK my materialism doesn't run to photography equipment, I do believe at the least that a good camera is a worthy indulgence. An amateur shutterbug, I enjoy taking pictures of the beautiful world surrounding me, and of the cherished faces of my family.  Annual trips with my daughter and her little ones provide me with a plethora of opportunities, — shiny, happy faces that light my life, and gorgeous landscapes that soothe my soul.

These are the pictures I work to perfect.

There is, however, another subject that has been the target of my lens in the summers of the past several years.  She's glorious, fun to be around and gets a lot of attention.

Way back in 1979,  my husband was looking to purchase an older Mopar, something reminiscent of the ones his big brothers owned while he was a young teen waiting to get his licence. When he learned about a white 1967 Dodge Coronet RT, located only an hour away from our home, he decided to go check it out.

Excited by what he saw, he bought it that day and agreed to pick it up in the coming weeks. Fate dealt us a fair hand on this one since the day after he brought 'Artie' home, a tornado blew in and flattened the entire area where this car had been sitting.  It reinforced the notion that this was going to be a special car for us.

Having decided that the white really didn't do justice to the personality of our beauty,  we handed the car over to my father's body shop where a snappy red was applied. For a few years after that we enjoyed summer cruises, until my husband decided he'd like to make this a project. This time she was stripped bare and painstakingly restored as close to original as possible. Then ten long years later Artie was finally back on the road.

Every spring now I wait impatiently to bring her home from storage and get her ready for a season ahead.  For a few months she takes us to cruise nights and attends car shows. Weather permitting, of course. In becoming a classic treasure she now commands respect and a lot of pampering.

For the few months she's with us every year, I try to take some new pictures, ones that do justice to the work that was done on her, particularly the paint job. My husband spent a great deal of time ensuring that the shade of red was as close to factory as possible. Pretty pleased with the results,  you can literally feel the grimace when it comes out wrong in a photo.

After noticing the differences in'Artie's' hue in a series of pictures recently I decided it was time to refresh my memory on how to get more consistent results.  The following also provide other valuable tips on how to improve you car photography:

10 Tips for Perfect Car Photos

Digital Photography School's Tips for Better Car Photos

How to Take Photographs of Cars

Take Great iPhone Photos of Cars

10 Creative Car Photography Tips

How to Shoot Cars

10 Tips for Your First Outdoor Car Shoot

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

You're Sure to Love These 6 Super Fun Sticker Packs from Animation Factory

Clipart Image of a Little Girl Texting
I'm not a youngster.  I was actually born when people still listened to 45s, when a bottle of pop could be had for a dime.

I was even born before most homes had rotary phones.  The operator hooked us up with the person we wanted to reach. If you lived in the country, as my cousins did, you were probably on a 'party' line, which meant you not only waited for someone in your own house to get off the phone, you could potentially find yourself waiting for a neighbour to end a call before you could make your own.

We got three channels on our television and Dad's fiddling with the rabbit ears hopefully got rid of most of the snow on the screen.  If I wanted to play games I went outside or sat at a table with a board, die and tokens.

With the advancements in technology, life has certainly changed from those times for all of us, particularly in the last few decades. The internet has opened doors of communication that many people, especially those of my generation and older, couldn't have imagined.

Despite certain issues social media, we all know it has its benefits, most notably in how it has connected us to others. Think of the 75-year-old gentlemen who lost his fishing partner and posted a request for a companion to accompany him on his angling adventures. The response was huge and what could have turned into a lonely existence suddenly meant a continued fulfilling life.

Think too, of the posts of lost pets, and more importantly missing children. Whether you like it or not, there's no denying that used as intended,  social media is an indispensable tool.

New technologies too have brought us all kinds of 'toys'. GPSs instantly come to mind. When I think of the days when my husband and I would travel to unknown places, a map spread out on my lap in the passenger's seat, and a wrong turn or squabble imminent.   Now some friendly voice patiently guides us, remaining calm when we opt to not listen.

Cellphones have made landlines almost extinct, though a few dinosaurs likes my husband still hang on. The positive attributes of this technology are as known as the less so. Sadly, we've all had that dinner with a friend who seems far more interested in that phone than in conversation with you.

Putting the negatives aside, however, I'm a big fan of most of this. Social media has linked me to family and old friends in a way that wasn't possible before. And the convenience of texting,  while at times annoying,  is undeniable. Message sent, get to it when you can.  The ball, as we say, is in your court.

One of my favourite texters is my four-year-old granddaughter. Since she can't spell enough yet to carry on much of a conversation, she chats in her own style — with oodles and oodles of stickers.  From her favourite 'neigh'neighs' to hearts and smiley faces she inundates me with adorableness.

Since Mom and Dad just happen to have iPhones, I can hardly wait to tell them about the new stickers available on iTunes created from Vital Imagery Ltd's AnimationFactory.com. From Animal Chores to special holidays, there are a number of categories from which to choose delightful stickers to enhance  iMessages.  It's as easy as a touch or a drag.
Clipart Image of a Friday Feeling Animated Sticker Pack


There are still a few days to get through before you get to enjoy that Friday Feeling, but this sticker pack can get you in the mood.

Cat lovers are sure to have some fun with this purr-fect sticker pack from Animation Factory
Clipart Image of a Girls Rock Baseball Animated Sticker Pack

Terrific sticker pack from Animation Factory for all the girls in the game.

Clipart Image of a Baseball Sticker Pack from Animation Factory

For the love of the game and summer Vital Imagery Ltd., celebrates baseball with this great animated sticker pack.

Clipart Image of a Camping Animated Sticker Pack
Camping season is here and so is this adorable animated sticker pack.
Clipart Image of a Dog's Life Animated Sticker Pack
Who doesn't love pooches?  This delightful sticker pack from Animation Factory celebrates man's best friends. 

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