Friday, January 12, 2018

You'll Go Wild over These 2 Amazing Animal Image Collections from iCLIPART.com and Clipart.com

Clipart image of a cute little waving skunk
If cute little animal clipart is your thing then you're going to love the collections I've scoped out for you here today. First, however, please allow me a little self-indulgent chatter as I offer a background story on why this choice was made.

A repugnant fellow has decided to move into our neighbourhood and having made his presence known in his typical style he's become not just an unpopular addition but most definitely an unwelcome one.  You too have met his kind before,  I'm sure — brazenly roaming where he pleases as if he has every right to be there. He's short on personality, a black-and-white sort of critter. And if all of that isn't bad enough, he stinks to high heaven.

It was a bitterly cold dusk a few days ago when we first became aware there was a skunk in our midst. Standing at the back door, my husband was surprised when the nasty little interloper came walking up to him, turned and meandered across the deck past our patio doors. After a brief reconnaissance,  he wended his way back around from whence he came before waddling up the sidewalk to the road. The whole time with an insouciant air that suggested he believed he was right where he belonged.

Clipart image of a man and a skunk cartoon
Since then, he has coated our home with his pungent calling card during one of several nocturnal tours around the property. The blanket of snow has given us the opportunity to track his movement somewhat but we have yet to discover where he's hiding out. As he waddles from here to there, over my lawn, circling my home,  my husband and I are the ones who are  put out, forced to respect him and his boundaries which are apparently limitless.  The irony of this is not lost on me.

It's not that I don't love and appreciate wildlife.  Assuredly I am awed by their beauty and majesty. Watching a hawk soar above a plowed field. Gazing at a gentle deer as it stands alert by a verdant woodland. Spying a coyote on a forest trail.  A chipmunk darting to and fro, cheeks bulging as it stores up for a long cold winter.  It is images such as they that are looked upon in wonder and humility.

However, when they wander into my territory, when they invade my home, I tend to be a little less impressed. Given that the regulations from our natural resources ministry indicate that live trapping and the removal of an animal more than one kilometre away from where it was caught is illegal, or that until we see our stinky friend out and about in daylight — an unnatural state thereby indicating illness — animal control won't deal with it either.   So, it seems, I might be forced to learn to share my space, as undesirable as our guest might be.

Growing up it was rare to see wildlife, other than birds, squirrels, bunnies, and toads, frolicking in our neighbourhoods. But as urban centres continue to expand, moving ever closer to natural areas,  skunks, raccoons, foxes, deer, bears et al are drawing near. They seek food from our gardens and composts, shelter beneath and inside our buildings. As they have adapted, I suppose so will we.

To that is the end of my musings. And so, if you made it to the end, here are those great clipart collections I promised you:

iCLIPART.com Wildlife Images

Clipart.com Wildlife Images

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Discover the Beauty of Winter Through a Camera Lens With These Great Photography Tips

Photo of winter trees covered in in the sunlight
"And finally winter, with its bitin', whinin' wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow." — Roy Bean.

That's winter — perverse yet picture perfect, providing the perfect landscape for photographers and weather that no one wants to venture out in.

From autumn on, weather experts were promising us this year, a traditional, formidable Canadian winter, one of plunging temperatures and plenty of that fluffy white stuff blowing around. If the start of this new year has been any indication, it would seem that they have indeed nailed it.

From the moment this season made its official arrival, it has brought with it all of the things that make it the complex character it is — at times a bitter and obnoxious fiend, at others a lively and picturesque scamp.  So far in 2018,  stormy blasts and deep chills have shown that Old Man Winter wasn't going to waste any time delivering his worst. Having just recently come out of a deep freeze, with biting cold numbing us nose to toes, we awoke today to an overnight dumping of about a foot of snow.

Unquestionably, it could be said that winter is an acquired taste, one that I have little desire in savouring. From the first dip below 0°C or the initial snowflake sighting,  I settle in for a period of semi-hibernation, venturing out of doors only as needs and life requires. Which helps me to ignore the bluster outside, but does admittedly put a bit of a crimp in at least one of my leisure pursuits.

As much as I like photographing all the examples of the beauty Mother Nature provides,  it's generally a warm-weather hobby. Not for me are the cold temperatures and challenges of winter photography.

Certainly, there are winter patterns and landscapes that have caught my attention enough to force me out of my haven to grab a picture or two – the water from a dripping eave frozen in time on a branch, or the splendour of a glowing sunset over incandescent snow. But these are quick flashes.

Photo of a female photographer taking pictures outside in the winter
Die-hard winter photography buffs know what it takes to get those pictures. Patience in summer is one thing, waiting when temperatures are sub-zero quite another.  Special equipment, special clothing are a must, while a strong tolerance for cold doesn't hurt either. The first two you can get easily,  the latter is something you have or you have not.

I would fall under the 'have not' side of this. While I often joke about only having a two- degree comfort zone, I actually love the blaze of a summer sun, the muggy humidity of an August day. But being cold? That I hate. To my mind it's one of the most unpleasant conditions there is. Thus, when winter winds blow, you will find me snuggled indoors under a cozy afghan, not wandering the backwoods and fields looking for a great photo op.

Which makes the efforts and tenacity of those who will venture out in the ice and snow, slugging camera equipment and sitting patiently in frigid temperatures to get beautifully stunning pictures greatly appreciated. Jack Frost and Old Man Winter might be a nasty pair, but they clearly have an artistic side. Those photographing their work can achieve some remarkable results.

If you're the hardy type, ready to tackle the elements and photograph the beauty of this often harsh season, here are some links to some helpful tips and advice:

Outdoor Photographer's Tips for Winter Photography

Canadian Nature Photographer's The Joy of Winter Photography

Shooting Winter Landscapes With a Short Telephoto Lens

Amateur Photographer's Essential Photography Equipment for Winter

Winter Photography Tips Everyone Should Know

Friday, January 5, 2018

Savour this Veritable Buffet of Good Eats in our Terrific Food Clipart Collections

Clipart image of groups of different food
When it comes to what clipart collection I intend to be sharing today,  it could be said that I'm serving up an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord.  Since food has been a big part of all the recent festivities surrounding the festive season, it's been on my mind a lot lately. From the delectables served up during the holiday gatherings, the Christmas feasts and the New Year's Eve celebrations,  food has been front and centre.

Like most mothers, the fixation with festive fare began well ahead of the actual parties with time spent preparing, baking and cooking. Our ovens got a workout as kitchens filled with the fragrances of homemade shortbread and gingerbread. The percussion of chopping and paring set the rhythm as appetizers and chafing dishes were made ahead for convenience when  the busy days arrived.

For working women, all of the extra work can often prove stressful. It's not easy to try and meet the demands we put on ourselves. Our attempts at squeezing in more responsibilities between the already full hours of our lives can be challenging. Knowing that all of these tasks must be done is a lot of pressure. In order to cope, shortcuts might be found, most frequently in the form of convenience food purchased from retail outlets. Or, worse yet, some of the items on the list, quite simply don't happen.

The latter was exactly how I saw things working out this time.  As I considered the jobs that needed to be accomplished, as I thought of them in terms of when they could be attacked between work hours and social commitments, I felt a momentary panic that the favourite dishes my family had come to expect from me during the holidays weren't all going to make it to our meals.

Clipart image of a woman holding a pie
As the weeks moved closer to the holidays, I strangely began to relax though following the rule I've always applied to my work in the kitchen. Just push up my sleeves and enjoy. Then rolling out pastry one evening I noticed a sense of calm wrapping itself around me. The same thing happened as I kneaded the dough for coffee cake a few days later. Rather than worry about what I might not get done I allowed myself to be in the moment.

As a result, instead of letting the work own me, I remembered how much I enjoy preparing food for my family, and the fact that it always provided me with an equal amount of pleasure to watch them enjoy the dishes before them.

Of course, with the arrival of a brand new year, and the festivities all behind us, my efforts in the kitchen have been curtailed somewhat. Neither my husband nor I have any need for desserts and treats given that any little extras tend to stay with us  in places we'd rather they didn't. As well, after so many heavy foods, it's time to consider healthier entrĂ©es, more salads, fewer carbs.

While I'm always (unfortunately) more interested in the preparation, and consuming, of comfort foods, I recognize that these are best served in small doses and rare occasions. So now I turn my culinary interests to making the simple and plain enticing. My focus for 2018, I guess a resolution of sorts, is to find the same kind of pleasure in making those dishes as I do in preparing hearty homebaked breads and desserts.

Though my mind might be turned away from the decadent to nutritious for the moment in the practical sense, the images in these great clipart collections from iCLIPART.com and Clipart.com offer a veritable buffet of good eats– from meat and vegetables to treats and junk. They're perfect for any number of projects. Some of them, I know, will be making their way into a cookbook of my family favourites I'm creating for my brood.