Monday, April 16, 2018
Yet, every once in a while, there is one of the latter that titillates, that appeals to my interests or my curiosity. Recently I noticed that my son had posted a 10-day challenge calling on his nominees to post a photo of "one of their all-time favourite albums, in no particular order, but something that made an impact and is still on the rotation list".
Over two days he nominated siblings and I found myself waiting, hopeful, wanting to be part of this. Because for as long as I can remember music has mattered to me. It has made me feel alive, comforted me, soothed me and inspired me. I certainly knew then, that coming up with 10 albums that affected me in some profound way wouldn't be the challenge. Stopping would be. And deciding which would make the list.
When, on day three, I finally saw I'd made the cut, there was a good deal of thought, introspection and a few trips down good old memory lane before making my choices. Thinking of the word 'impact' was what inspired the selections I made — albums that had left an imprint on me, in some cases decades after first hearing them. They spoke to feelings, times and places and there wasn't a dud song on any of them. The artists were people I have often quietly thanked over the years for what their gift gave to me.
I had fun with this challenge, unquestionably. But what further impressed me was how readily others joined in. Not only did most of those I nominated participate they did so enthusiastically. All were eager to post, some almost immediately after being tagged, and were equally as excited to discuss the effect that someone else's choice had had on them. It absolutely reinforced what I've always known — music is extremely important to lot of people.
When I think of the direction music's taken lately, or of the politicians who give it — and all of the arts for that matter — such short shrift, I am saddened and angered. Too bad there weren't more politicians like Edward Bulwer-Lytton. This member of the British Parliament in the 1830s was also a novelist and playwright. You've heard the phrases, "the great unwashed", the "pursuit of the almighty dollar", "the pen is mightier than the sword" and the famous opener, "it was a dark and stormy night"? All were laid to paper by Lytton's glorious pen.
The first Baron Lytton, in his lyrical prose, also recognized the effect of music on people. "Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies."
A beautiful truth.
Today, we pay tribute to that with these impressive collections of music clipart:
iCLIPART.com Music Images
Clipart.com Music Images
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Beautiful Children in Beautiful Photos from iPHOTOS.com and Clipart.com That are Sure to Heal Your Soul
Such a powerful truth spoken in so few words. Especially in the mind of a grandparent. I loved my children with all of the devotion and adoration that any parent does. I knew when I first met each of them, that there was magic in my my life that hadn't been there before. But it wasn't until my grandchildren arrived that I was able to relax a bit and truly enjoy every wakeful minute spent with them.
Looking at the world through the eyes of little ones is like seeing it for the first time. The pleasure of their company, for even a few brief hours, fills the space around you with energy and light. Children are laughter and play, song and dance, imagination and creativity. Being with them lets us forget for a while that life isn't always fair or right, that there is a world full of worrisome events and troubles out there.
Any time they come to visit is a breath of fresh air infused into the staleness of the everyday. They bring alive a a house that sits too long without the exuberant aura of children. The questions they ask, the stories they tell remind us that it's okay to question, that it's good to learn and wise to see things from unique perspectives.
When they come to visit, life as I've complacently come to know it, stops. Household chores that can wait actually do. Stresses are replaced by quiet games and reading. Indoor projects are traded in for playgrounds and other outdoor fun. A mind made stagnant by daytime routines is suddenly wakened to creativity and imagination.
Our oldest grandchild arrived 18 years ago and spent every weekend at our home for a good many of those. A truly gentle spirit he was the first to teach me how to breathe again, to take those slower steps, to pass on the dish washing and read a storybook instead.
It wasn't until he was 12 that our second grandchild arrived — a sensitive, athletic miss, who has shown us that it's okay to just sit, but when the mood strikes to run. With all of the carefree abandon you can.
Her baby brother was next and from almost the start it was obvious that here was the quintessential boy. Charged and ready to go at all times. Yet, he approaches every project, whether it's transforming blocks into a tower or working on the wheels of a bike, with fascination rather than impatience.
Their first younger cousin has never lost the rose-coloured glasses through which she views the world around her. There is a dance in her every step and a song in her heart no matter what she's doing.
Completing the pack are a two-year-old and her one-year-old brother. The elder shares her cuddles, her very entertaining stories and a love of books — all very good excuses to stop what I'm doing and take advantage of the quiet time with her. As for the dynamo she calls Buddy he's raring to go, loves people and takes great pleasure in just about everything. And isn't that a soul-healing approach to life?
Because children are truly the beautiful people, here are some wonderful photos of them, their innocence and vitality:
iPHOTOS.com Pictures of Children
Clipart.com Children Photos
Monday, April 9, 2018
Inspire Your Projects and Your Life With 2 Amazing Collections of Yoga Images from iCLIPART.com and Clipart.com
For roughly five years now I've been trying to make a steady effort in the direction of improved health by practising a bit of yoga — first with attendance at a weekly class, full of grunting and groaning women, now on my own, guided by books and videos.
The inspiration for joining a class came mostly from common sense. The creaking and cramping that was going on in this body of mine was a good indicator that life wasn't going to be getting any kinder to it if I didn't soon find a way to slow the downhill slide a bit. Though I've far from mastered any of the many poses, I did recognize swiftly that my stamina, balance and strength improved dramatically. The challenges of yoga clearly were outweighed by the benefits.
Our yogini often shared articles that spoke to these many benefits, too, in case we were ever in any doubt. Arthritis relief, fighting osteoporosis, toning and strengthening muscles, improving flexibility, balance, posture and focus add up to make this one of the best activities you can do for your body over the long term. Given that much of the exercise I had done in the past contributed to a lot of the physical woes I experience now, the expert opinions made plenty of sense to me.
The condition of my feet and hips has been blamed on years of high-impact aerobics, from back in the day when Jane Fonda said it was a good idea. Cycling without understanding the importance of a good stretch has tightened my hamstrings and quadriceps to a point of no return it seems, while shin splints and tight calves are leftover from my 1990s speed walks. Step aerobics did nothing to help my knees either it seems.
Since all of this has been blamed, at least to some degree, I took a more proactive approach in determining what options were left to me. Ultimately, after a little research, factoring in my existing conditions as well as those that are part and parcel of an ageing body, it became clear that yoga had a lot to offer me. It's focus on strengthening and stretching, as well as on improving concentration, clearly made it the right choice for this time in my life. Besides, with its cool Eastern vibe, it quite appealed to the old hippie in me.
In the years since I first reached the decision to practise yoga, despite the aforementioned grunting and groaning, I've recognized that this might very well be the first exercise I've truly loved doing. Though challenged by many poses, there's plenty I can handle. The positive effects were felt almost immediately. I am calmer, more grounded, and after a good session I sleep like an old dog basking in the summer sunshine.
So in celebration of this positive turn in my life, and in the hope that I might have inspired it in a few other people, here are some wonderful collections of yoga clipart:
iCLIPART.com Yoga Images
Clipart.com Yoga Images
Friday, April 6, 2018
In this particular corner of the nation, we are always eager for the warm weather that accompanies spring. This year, however, it seems to be somewhat slow in reaching its full potential. At least, when you're as happy as I am to see the last of winter, it has certainly felt that way. Temperatures in the first few weeks of the new season haven't been quite as frigid as those in the deep freeze of winter; however, a frosty chill was carried along on winds that careened from the cold north and damp east more often than not.
The early Easter of 2018 arrived with few lawns having been raked and cleared for the annual egg hunt. Taking part in it meant that winter coats were required for the task, while children sported knitted hats, mittens and by the end of it, rosy cheeks as they delightedly filled baskets with pretty coloured treats.
Indeed, the urgency for the best of this season has been ever present. At least for me. It can't get warm enough fast enough. I can't wait to see gardens sprouting, grass greening and trees budding.
It will come, of course. Patience in this place is a valued trait. In Canada, we know that the weather changes in a heartbeat. Especially in spring and fall, when Mother Nature's capriciousness can deliver balmy temperatures one day, damp and cold the next. The promise of sunshine and warmth can disappear on a whim until we almost lose faith.
But rest assured we're a hardy lot, unwavering in our certainty that the weather will get better. Even when we know that some years it really doesn't fulfil expectations. Last summer for example, was rather a disappointment since we never really hit the sweltering levels of heat.
When it comes to weather, variety is certainly a word that comes easily to mind anywhere I suspect. But, I tend to think no more so than in this country. We live in the deep freeze of winter with little respite for virtually six months of the year most times, four when we get lucky with a mild one. Our world can turn milk bottle white with blizzard after blizzard, or we can be blessed with my favourite — an open winter.
Spring can be wet and late like this year appears to be, or arrive full of life and right on cue. Canadian summers bring the best and the worst with sunshine and intense heat, gentle showers and frightening storms. Autumn can be as sparkling as the sun on a dewdrop, or as bleakly depressing as missing the lottery by one number.
This all reminds me of a quote I once heard, something about 'if you're not liking the weather, just wait a minute or two and it will change'. That is most definitely the case in Canada.
If it's images of weather that you're interested in, however, no matter what you might be looking for, you can find it here in these two terrific clipart collections:
iCLIPART.com Weather Images
Clipart.com Weather Images
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
You can actually feel it already. Less bundling is required than in previous months. Sure, there's still a nip in the air. Nothing, however, like the deep freeze of late January's inhumane bitterness. Ambling along on this day, I felt the sign of winter's thaw when the sun poking through a break in the clouds chased away the chill in my cheeks with its soothing warmth.
These early changes in spring's atmosphere have always had a heartening effect on me. I recall the first time I noticed that I noticed that. It was many, many years ago very early in the season. The last vestiges of snow had receded, but a damp coolness had been lingering. Days of icy rain and cloudiness seemed to be an indicator that Mother Nature was providing winter with its last dance before ushering it on its way. And after the long months of cold and snow it was beginning to feel as if it would never end.
On this particular day, though, the sun was winning. Like a curled cat on a couch, I sat and soaked up its heat through the windows. So comforting was its power that I felt compelled to bundle up and go visit a friend. Opening the door, I could hear the swift trickle of melting snow from the rooftops, like mini waterfalls. A robin was dancing across the lawn, and the air was so warm it continued to beckon me forward. The heat was calming and restorative, so with a spring in my step and a song in my heart I made my way along the bare, dry streets.
And those images we think of are full of colour and life. Spring is the vivid cheerful colours of fluffy baby chicks, of daffodils and tulips. It's also the soft pastels of Easter eggs and robins eggs. Spring is verdant with lawns freshening, gardens blooming and trees budding. It's also spotted ladybugs, earthy toads and pretty birds. Spring is clothes on the line, blowing in a fresh breeze. It's also wide open windows and doors.
Spring is so many things it's difficult to describe them all, and the feelings they elicit, here. But you can find them all in these wonderful collections of images from two favourite clipart websites.
iCLIPART.com Spring Images
Clipart.com Spring Images
Thursday, March 29, 2018
|Easter Egg Hunt Photos|
While it might have been a little disheartening, it was also unquestionably picturesque, a reality that's much easier to accept at the end of the season.
There's so much to enjoy at this time of year. We look forward to snow showers turning to rain, which in turn will wash away the detritus left in Old Man Winter's wake. We know that soon, yes, the skies will be crying. But that goes hand in hand with sprouting flowers and trilling birds. The heaviest of our cold-weather duds will be packed away and lighter, breezier fashions will find their way back to the closet. The landscape will brighten, the grass will green and trees will bud.
It's unlikely that much of that will happen before our relatively early celebration of Easter this year, however. One can always hope for sunny skies and balmy breezes. Yet even if it doesn't happen we can still look forward to the air of excitement and wonder that accompanies my contingent of beautiful grandbabies all of the time, let alone when something celebratory is happening.
Since five out of six of them are under the age of six, the year's Easter egg hunt promises to be oodles of fun. And in the hope of contributing to that as much as possible, I started early searching for games and goodies to make their quest even more entertaining.
Undoubtedly, Easter is first a religious celebration, one of the holiest on the Christian calendar. It's intended as a time of mourning and reflection, as well as a time to rejoice.
But on the flip side, it's a holiday that captures the imagination of little ones. It is carefree fantastical fluff, with images of soft bunnies, downy chicks and painted eggs. After a dreary, grey winter, Easter's pastel and vibrant hues put us in a playful mood. Sporting light and airy spring duds we venture outdoors for festivities like the annual hunt. The joyful smiles, the delightful giggles and lively exuberance of a pack of little ones scampering like bunnies to discover what's been hidden in the various nooks and crannies of the garden, are as uplifting as spring itself.
Little Missy, the elder of our young crew, is clearly team captain on outings. She's first out of the gate and always first to discover. But as a true leader, she's equally happy to help those smaller than herself. Watching her encourage and guide them is absolutely heartwarming.
Her brother, nicknamed Little Mister of course, is full of mischief and action. He's a confident, mildly chaotic hunter/gatherer, who takes delight in distracting the others with charm and shenanigans. An alluring scamp full of smiles and impishness it's quite impossible not to watch him and laugh.
Sweet Bean, who's just a week younger than Mister, sees the world with eyes full of wonder. She takes a cautious approach to hunting, not wanting to miss one amazing thing out there. Her awe at each discovery often puts her behind the pack as she pauses to appreciate what she's found rather than rushing on to the next.
Our tiny Lola's face brightens at every opportunity to follow her three older cousins around. At two, she is eager to participate. As is her little 'buddy'. Having recently celebrated his first birthday, the youngest of the crew shows in his body language exactly how excited he is to get those legs moving and join the fun.
There is nothing better than seeing delight on a youngster's face. Therefore, if you need something to advertise an Easter event, these egg hunt photos are sure to get attention:
iPHOTOS.com Easter Egg Hunt Photos
Friday, March 23, 2018
Acknowledging the Spiritual Significance of Easter With Inspiring Images from iCLIPART.com and Clipart.com
While thoughts are full these days of spring's arrival, as we long to bid farewell to winter and as we dream of sunny days of warmth and colour, we also are looking forward to a rather significant holiday. In just a short time, it will be Easter, perhaps the most meaningful event on the Christian calendar. It is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, held on the Sunday following Good Friday, the acknowledgement of his crucifixion.
As a child growing up in an indisputably more conservative society than that of today, in a modest town in the middle of a rural community, you can well be assured that my religious upbringing was going to be thorough. My father was the Sunday School superintendent and church elder. My mom was a busy member of the women's league, and both of my older siblings taught Sunday School. All of them, at some point, sang in the choir, while I lent my alto to the junior version.
Missing a Sunday service was not an option and the Lenten calendar of events was well covered, with mandatory attendance at church on Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday, on Good Friday and Easter morning.
While most of these were hours of sombre reflection, for a tiny child the latter provided the opportunity to don new spring duds. Each year, Mom would treat us with outfits that epitomized the words 'Sunday best'. The new dress in a pastel hue, the straw bonnet with silk ribbon and matching purse, the patent leather shoes, white socks and light coat were repeated annually with a modicum of distinction from the ones that went before.
We always felt pretty fancy, though, full of springtime cheer.
Beyond that little bit of frivolity, however, the remainder of the day was focussed on the spiritual. Sunday School was separate from the service, so the children of the congregation got a double helping of the holiday's importance. I remember struggling to sit still through the minister's sermon, the words often lost on one so small. The message from my parents, that fidgeting would not be tolerated, on the other hand, came through loud and clear. This reflection in church on Sundays was always serious business, but during the Easter season, tomfoolery would not be tolerated.
So, suffice it to say that while a chocolate bunny must have come my way as a treat — though I don't remember one — the essence of the season was steeped in faith. Despite the highlight of that new Easter outfit, the only other certainty back then, was that the good old bunny would be getting very little consideration. Its role in the occasion was barely acknowledged.
Regardless of where I stand with my beliefs now, I respect those who have strong faith. For any of them who might be looking for Easter illustration that will reflect their Christian faith, rather than the commercial fun, here are excellent collections reflecting diverse artistic styles:
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Looking out the window we can see there is still a bit of that winter blanket lying around. Stepping out the door, we can feel Old Man Winter's still got some kick left. But then the sun finds us and we know that things are only going to get better.
It's that time of year, when our heavy coats and sweaters, mittens and gloves, toques and caps are probably all just too much, yet anything lighter doesn't quite cut it.
It's also the time of year when we look forward to another holiday that tends to be synonymous with family gatherings. With thoughts of spring filling our minds, we look ahead to the promise and fun of the Easter season.
While getting ready for this occasion isn't the hectic organizing and prepping that precedes Christmas, there's still plenty to think about and plan for. One of the first traditions for me has been shopping for spring outfits for my little grandbabies, which actually got a really good start this year. On a mall outing with my younger daughter the topic of this ritual came up and like two greyhounds out of the gate we hightailed it to the children's clothing store and after a frenzied spree, I was able to tick this task off the list.
Last week, I managed a few minutes to get the rest of the treats to go in their baskets and am now left with the grocery list, preparing the eggs for the hunt, the food for the main meals, along with the baking. Given that it's a far less hectic time of year than the Christmas rush, though, it's all rather enjoyable.
There will be one other task, however, a project that I came up with a few years ago, as a way to add a little personal touch to the dinner table. With our family growing, I thought it might be fun to try and avoid the mealtime shuffle around the dining room, where lefties jockey for position in order not to be constantly bumping elbows, and came up with a well thought out seating plan. What would make this more entertaining, particularly for the little ones, was the creation of tags. It was a simple project, created with some of the adorable Easter images to be found from online clipart sources.
To show the smorgasbord of images available, here are some of my favourite collections from iCLIPART.com
Bunnies, chicks, and pups highlight this selection of adorable Easter images.
Yet another lighthearted group of of popular cartoons.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
A recent social media post showed step-by-step video instructions on how to give your Easter eggs a marble effect using shaving cream. It looked fairly simple, which piqued my interest.
Finding hacks that make the annual egg decorating ritual not just efficient but with uniquely attractive results that are guaranteed to enchant the aesthetic senses of little ones, has become a bit of a goal the past few Easters. With mixed reviews. Some in the past were not exactly as advertised, but they had to do. It wouldn't be Easter without those colourful eggs.
Images of this holiday turn minds to Spring - from the aforementioned tradition to the season's soft pastels and vibrant hues, fluffy chicks and bunnies, the elegant lilies and for us older folks, to recollections of white patent shoes and pretty straw bonnets with satin ribbons.
We see these images in flyers for Easter egg hunts, promotions to inspire a freshening of the wardrobe or bulletins for local events. The internet offers unlimited resources for people to step outside their imaginings and discover boundless supplies of clipart and photos themed to all of these cheery subjects for use in personal and business projects.
However, when it comes to finding the right images for these, not everyone wants to go shopping online for the perfect examples. Image editing software has given a lot of people an option, providing a new outlet for everything from designing websites and physical products, such as cards and advertisements, to scrapbooking and collages, to altering photos or even to creating original illustrations.
One's first thought on this, of course, might be that they lack the ability or the talent. For those looking for new challenges it's good to know that these days you really don't have to be a professional to give it a try. Nor do you need to invest in expensive programs. From tutorials to cost-effective software (even some free ones) you can find all the help you need to test your artistic abilities on the world-wide web.
The diversity of tutorials also ensures that you can find something that doesn't just appeal to you but matches your skill level. Start slowly and learn as you go.
To get you tapping into your creativity, here are some wonderful tutorials using a variety of software to inspire your Easter projects:
From PSDDUDE this tutorial offers a simple way to create a a vector egg in Photoshop.
Envatotuts+ outlines in an easy to follow step-by-step tutorial how to create a simple background with subtle texture and a few baby chicks.
Celebrate the holiday of spring by making your own Easter-themed, vector postcard from Template Monster.
A YouTube tutorial to guide you through the steps of making a realistic chocolate Easter Egg using GIMP.
Another great chocolate Easter egg tutorial from Creative Tutorials, this time using Photoshop Elements.
A simple tutorial from Fantasvale on YouTube to make a greeting card with the shape of an Easter egg.
Another great tutorial from envatotuts+! Learn how to create flat Easter icons using Adobe Illustrator.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
The vibe is already in the air. In the days leading up to March 17, children in classrooms will be colouring fanciful outlines of shamrocks and rainbows, pots of gold and leprechauns.
Adults will soon be diving through their closets to find an outfit or piece of clothing that's just the right hue of jade or emerald. Then when St. Pat's Day is finally here, people will line the streets for parades, and parade into pubs for lively entertainment.
But amidst the frivolity and enjoyment, it's quite likely that only those with green blood coursing through their veins will be waving the tri-coloured flag of Ireland in true patriot pride.
The recent Olympics are the epitome of a nation's flag symbolizing the patriotism of the people. When a gold medal win means citizens have the opportunity to watch their flag rise highest above the podium accompanied by the national anthem in honour of gold-winning athletes, it strikes a unifying chord across the country.
A nation's flag is a representation of that place and its denizens. Some proudly boast an image — a coat-of-arms or something symbolic. For example, there is one star for each state on the American flag. Also, the bold maple leaf in the centre of the Canadian flag celebrates that country's diverse nature and environment. The five stars on the Chines flag represent the relationship between the unity of the people under the Communist Party of China.
However, as is the case in the Irish flag, the colours can stand alone in conveying a message. Courage, revolution, hardiness and valour are typified by red; freedom, vigilance, perseverance, justice, prosperity and peace are represented by blue and justice by yellow. Groupings too can be significant — red, white and blue being a representation of revolution and freedom; or or an area — red, yellow and green being the colours of the Pan-African nations.
In the Irish flag the three bands of vertical colours signify an often tumultuous part of the country's history. Roman Catholics are represented by the green, while the Protestant supporters of William of Orange are typified by that colour. The white swatch between these is a symbol of peace and hope for union between the two religions.
So, while we find our various ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, let's pay special attention to the people who carry or wear that flag with pride in their hearts this March 17. In the meantime, let's celebrate patriotism the world over with this showcase of flags from around the world with two wonderful clipart collections:
Friday, March 2, 2018
My interest began with some rather technically wretched results from chasing around my children with a camera. It was the era of Instamatics and Polaroids so I can take some of the blame off myself. However, my focus was completely on capturing those beautiful faces in cherished moments, with little thought for such things as contrast, composition or exposure.
An understanding of what a camera can actually do developed later through my work as editor of our local community newspaper. Covering everything from sports to crowded group gatherings in dingy auditoriums with a 35 mm then its digital version, I picked up what I needed to get good shots. Those few tips, plus the better equipment, have ensured that the photos of my grandkids are far superior to those I took of their parents.
Family has always been a favourite photographic subject, but during our trips up north for several summers, I discovered a fondness for landscape photography as well. And if we think of heading outdoors with a camera, is there really any better time than spring? The countryside is an ever-changing palette, a constantly-altered playground.
Birds will flit, squirrels will sprint, cats will prowl, all happy to be in gardens bursting to life. Soon there will be colour and foliage to run through and hide amongst.
The season's capricious weather also adds interest, with sprinkles and puddles one day, brilliant sun glinting of dewy, damp leaves the next.
For photographers whose favourite subject is nature, the possibilities are endless. Given that, where to look and what to seek, then making the most of that, are the only challenges in taking great spring pictures.
Getting outdoors to enjoy the new blossoming world is a great way to spend a day. Taking a camera outside with you makes it even better.
Here are some great tips to help you find your subjects and improve your spring photography skills:
7 Great Spring Photography Tips
Spring Photography Tips
Useful Tips for Spring Photography
Photograph Your Kids in Spring Flowers
How to Photograph Outside in the Spring
Spring Flower Photography Tips
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
As we move ever closer to the start of March, excited for the warming sun and the promise of spring that comes with that month, we also can look forward to a spirited holiday. And with just a couple of weeks to go before St. Patrick's Day arrives, this seems like an opportune time to focus some attention on that particular holiday.
Since we all know how swiftly time moves these days, we also know that it really won't be long before March 17 is here and with it the fun and spirit of the Emerald Isle. Though this celebration of Ireland's patron saint arrives a few days before spring, it certainly feels more like a party for that season with its charming images of leprechauns, rainbows and pots of gold.
Verdant shamrocks decorating everything from windows to websites, people sporting every hue of green — these are the images that contribute to a vibrant landscape far more synonymous with the blooming season yet to come, than the often dreary, often miserable one soon to be fading away for another year. After winter's monochromatic palette and our penchant to cocoon through it, is there any wonder that we can be enlivened by the notion of a lively celebration on the horizon?
In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day is more of a religious event. In other places though, grownups in green gather in pubs to sip beer of the same lush hue and sample traditional Irish fare, while listening to the flutes and fiddles of Celtic entertainers. In certain cities around the world the day is marked by festivities and parades enjoyed by many, regardless of ethnicity or culture.
My childhood memories of the holiday are simple, yet again carry with them the hint of this being the right occasion to usher out winter. There is such a lively vibe surrounding St. Patrick's Day that even a child must notice the sense of spring awakening that accompanies it.
Harking back to my good old school days, I recall that prior to March 17, classmates and I (with much excitement about a holiday to which few of us could lay any legitimate ancestral claim) worked on little projects to decorate the schoolroom and Mom's bulletin board. Clipping shamrocks to hang from strings put spring in the air, in contrast to the dirty mounds of snow that lingered outside the windows.
More shamrocks were found in charming images that also included impish leprechauns and pretty rainbows. Crayons in hand we delighted in bringing all the colours of the spectrum, as well as multitudinous shades of green, to fill in the space between the outlines. Many pleasant school hours were spent colouring St. Patrick's Day images with enthusiasm.
As this particular childhood memory fills my mind in the weeks coming up to our favourite Irish celebration, here are some terrific colouring pages for the occasion:
Friday, February 23, 2018
February 2018 will soon fade from present to past. It's dark, dreary days will open to March, a month during which we feel the bite of winter's chill, warmed by the sun's kiss on a lengthening day. Snow still drapes itself on branches, blankets itself across the ground, but the promise of spring nudges its way into our consciousness.
We begin to ponder plans for March break. The black, white and grey images of winter that fill our minds, give way to notions of soft pastels, of blooming buds and painted eggs. Occasional days of warmth, foreshadowing what lies ahead, will inspire the opening of windows and doors, if only for a moment or two, chasing away the stale air of a house that's been shut away from fresh air for months.
March makes one think of revival and rejuvenation. There is snow, always snow, but rains come more frequently to wash it away, freshen the earth and brighten the landscape. And it won't be long before snowdrops and crocuses will push their heads through leftover clumps of flakes.
There will also be celebration. With a nod to the Emerald Isle, we enjoy in March an occasion full of spring's favourite colour. St. Patrick's Day gives all an opportunity get their Irish on as, we find ourselves amidst images of shamrocks, pots of gold and leprechauns. Even the beer is green on this day of "drowning the shamrock".
At the end of the month this year will be Easter. On the Christian calendar it marks the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For youngsters it means the Easter bunny, chocolates and pretty pastel eggs, decorated and hidden for hunting.
The aforementioned are all welcome harbingers that warmer days are ahead of us that spring is nigh. But there is one more sign that warms my soul more than any. Walking to work on a recent morning, I became suddenly aware that the typical winter silence was not settled around me. Instead, there was the music of a few of our feathered friends. Just a chirrup from one corner then another, the singers tucked away in the bare branches of towering maples, but it was the sound of spring.
The next day, a cardinal serenaded my progress and it was with much pleasure that I stood and listened to him. The melodic call put a smile on my face and lifted any worry from my shoulders. As Carly Simon, herself a bit of a songbird, has said "The sound of birds stops the noise in my mind.
In celebration of these lovely creatures, as we head towards the final weeks before spring, we highlight here wonderful bird photos from iPHOTOS.com
Friday, February 16, 2018
Whether it was adding a graphic element to a story or to an advertisement, it was well-known that the right one would increase interest. Done well, the visual after getting your attention, clarifies the words that might accompany it. A writer might paint a picture with his prose, but an artist or photographer leave nothing to the imagination. The images they produce draw the viewer in to the story they paint or photograph.
There's no better way to get people to notice your message than by adding visual elements to facts and information.
This is the purpose of infographics, where text and images combine to present data in a clear, concise manner. Together they educate, build awareness and market strategically everything from products to people. Studies have shown that a good infographic is up to 30 times more likely to be read than a text article.
The trick is putting this into action. Simply slapping together some cool fun graphics with some interesting tidbits isn't going to achieve the result you hope for. To get the most from them, to understand the potential and realize it for yourself, here are some wonderful sites with tips for what to do and what not to do:
Clipart.com and iCLIPART.com where, with a subscription, you are able to access a huge variety of images safely.
Then, armed with perfect graphics and the knowledge of how to grab attention with your infographic, the only thing left is to find the firght tool to create it. Here are some excellent options:
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
When Good Friends Gather It's Time to Bring Out the Camera. These Tips will Help You Get the Best Results
The blessing of friendships is one that should never be taken for granted. Friends listen when we need them, keep us honest, support us and love us — warts and all. Time spent in their company can be energizing and cathartic.
I'm extremely grateful for the 'charming gardeners' in my life, those who I feel very fortunate to count as friends. Unfortunately, however, many of them are not as geographically close as I would like, thus resulting in our times together being far more infrequent than I would like. One particular group of cherished old gal pals and I have been trying to get together for an outing for several months. As is often the case, of course, life has found ways to alter our plans and we've faced postponement after postponement.
One of the realities around which we must schedule our gatherings is employment, of course. While the other four are retired, I'm still slaving away at the 9-5 grind, which certainly limits options. And, with kids and grandchildren still thankfully needing all of us, for this and that, we have to shift even the opportunity for time with good friends a little further down the priority list.
When the chorus eventually disbanded, we suddenly found ourselves in the position of no longer seeing each other on a regular basis. It took us a while to build a routine that would keep us in touch, but we've managed.
When we do get together now, making the most of the day or evening isn't something we have to work at. Our friendship spans decades, has seen us through everything from worrying about our kids to grieving the loss of our parents. We have seen each other at our worst and really don't care. We share a dirty sense of humour, strong family values and that love of music.
There are gregarious personalities among us that complements the more introverted. They are outgoing, charming and full of life, meaning that time spent with them is an always an excellent reminder to the rest of us to smile and let go. Conversely, we know that we keep the others more grounded. (Sometimes, there's one in particular who probably should be.)
Also, as it is any time I think about the pictures I've taken over the years, I find myself wondering what could have improved the photographic results. Here are some tips that might help answer that question:
Master Taking Candid Photos of Your Friends
How to Photograph Your Friends
Fun Best Friend Photo Ideas
Friday, February 9, 2018
In a time when long marriages are few and far between, I'm happy to say that I've had the joy and pleasure of sharing my life for almost four decades with my best buddy, my greatest love, my warrior, my champion. Together we have raised four incredible kids, and been blessed with six amazing grandchildren.
But our family doesn't begin and end there. From siblings and in-laws to nieces, nephews and cousins, we have been supported by a crazy, loving brood of uniquely interesting people. An opportunity to celebrate these bonds seems perfect, particularly in the funk of winter.
This weekend or next, depending on where they live in Canada, people will be enjoying the first long weekend of the year — a time to gather with the folks who know them best and love them anyway. Family Day, celebrating the importance of these special relationships, is a public holiday in provinces across the country, providing us with an extra day away from work to share in games and activities, or simply to just be, together.
It's always been a rather haphazard event for our group. With many working strange shifts, we've come to expect that everyone won't be able to make it for the festivities. But family is family, in whole or in part, so we definitely do our best to make the most of the time together, regardless of the configuration.
As for the aforementioned festivities, they tend to be random too. After a few years of keeping it simple with Family Day suppers, our older daughter latched on to the idea of hosting an annual fish fry. It was such a success, however, that it was decided to open it up to include friends and acquaintances. Since that would increase the numbers significantly, it also made more sense for the date to be changed to sometime in the balmy summer when it could be enjoyed out of doors.
Taking all of these past years into consideration, looking out the window at the thick carpet of fluffy snowflakes, acknowledging our competitive nature as well as our ever-present pleasure in good food, we've agreed this year to combine the successes of previous Family Days into one. There will be sledding, games and a tasty meal.
Most important, of course, is the reality of enjoying all of it together. Life can be so incredibly busy that we often lose sight of what's most important. While this materialistic world can often confuse our values, once surrounded by family we remember that we really do have all we need right there.
From the Vital Imagery Ltd. family we invite you to enjoy these clipart collections in honour of the upcoming celebration:
iCLIPART.com Family Day
Clipart.com Family Day
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
I don't know about all of that leaping and hurdling, but love is certainly an active condition. There's really nothing about romance that's static. Hearts beat, lovers cuddle, cupid strikes. Even gazing into someone's eyes requires a certain amount of eyelash batting.
When you think about it, the emotions themselves are ever moving. There is an ebb and flow to love. At times it is as gentle as the soft ripple of a lake on a still morning, at others it hits with all the force of a tsunami.
We all remember the intensity of love's first blush. Just hearing your beloved's voice could set your stomach aflutter. A glimpse across a crowded room took your breath away. A gentle touch and your heart skipped a beat. It's a state of being that can stay with you. Not, perhaps with the same heat as in the beginning, but with the warmth and glow of a candle flame.
Having been married for several decades I'm quite familiar with how love changes throughout the course of a couple's life together. Less head in the clouds and more feet on the ground, I suppose you might say. There are phases and patterns that interchange, the weaving of passion and ardour through strands of turbulence and teamwork, strength and stability. Life has a way of changing what is normal, and over time as a result of circumstances, we come to expect these alterations in our relationships.
Quite simply, falling back on a familiar cliché, if you're together long enough, it's not always going to be clear sailing. Any partners that say otherwise are either fibbing intentionally or they really have low expectations.
Given that our personal existence is full of highs and lows, it's bound to to be the same when you try to share a household and life with another. You might love each other, but as I've just tried to illustrate, the form of that love will be ever changing. Even day to day. A cold shoulder on Monday, warm lips on Tuesday.
The important thing to remember is that while there are many conditions that can affect a relationship, it really seems that we should never allow anything to surpass in priority, the love and romance that began it all.
So as I find myself pondering love and romance in the time leading up to Valentine's Day, as I consider all of the actions that define and describe it, it seemed most appropriate to highlight animated images. Here's a great collection from Animation Factory:
Valentine's Day Animations
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
My patience with the monochromatic palette of a winter landscape has started to wear thin by this time of year. We are looking at the end of January, which has been admittedly not all that bad considering the meteorological promises that were made for our frosty corner of the world. A nasty one, they told us, plunging us into the deep freeze and burying us under plenty of snow.
Regardless of the fact that it hasn't been the hardship they promised thus far, it's still been winter. It's cold, it's damp, it's dark, it's miserable. It's a typical Canadian winter where we Canucks hunker down and dig in to ride out the season's worst and revel in its best.
See, there are some people who blaze forth into the cold and snow, acceptance on their faces, determination in the set of their shoulders. They never complain about the shovelling and scraping, never bemoan the lack of sunlight, never whine about the encumbrances of winter wear. Some, like sports enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies who fly down ski slopes and across frozen plains, who tear across ice and careen along woodlot trails, actually look forward to it.
Generally, if we're to be honest though, most of us simply tolerate it. We weary of the hats that squash our hair, the boots that feel like 10-pound weights at the end of our legs. Our lips freeze, our noses run, our cheeks burn red from the chill. We breathe through scarves, fumble with mittens. Driving becomes an adventure as lake effect squalls and blizzards make it seem like we're travelling inside a milk bottle.
Despite it though we plow through, literally, with our brave Canadian smiles and a cheery gaze towards the joys and pleasures of the three seasons to come next.
One of them, hopefully before much longer. In just a few days some illustrious marmots, with such captivating monikers as Wiarton Willie, Shubenacadie Sam and Punxsutawney Phil, will be letting us know if we will see an early arrival to spring or suffer through another six weeks of winter.
Feb. 2 is Groundhog Day in both Canada and the United States. Across North America at various places, these reluctant fellows and their peers will rise from burrows to take a peek around. If they see their shadow we won't be planning to pack up the coats and boots any time soon. If not, however, we have something on which to hang our hopes.
Given that the seven-day forecast is showing minimal sunshine and plenty of clouds and snow for this area, it would seem likely that our Wiarton Willie will be the bearer of good news this year.
Being realistic, of course, it's probably more certain that even if warm weather moves in early, pushing back the snow and ice, we're probably not going to see much of a reprieve before six weeks time. However, just the promise for those of us in northern climes can be enough.
So here's to Willie, Pete, Sam and friends. May they find themselves out of the shadows. In the meantime, they're front and centre in these delightful clipart images:
Friday, January 26, 2018
It won't be long now before we celebrate, what is to many, that most romantic of days. As it is every year, with the arrival of Feb. 14, there will be hearts and flowers, chocolates and champagne, dinners and movies, all intended as expressions of ardour, devotion and passion.
Valentine's Day means different things to different people, of course. Even, in some cases, what essentially translates to no meaning at all. While for many people it's an honoured occasion, a time for romance and sentimentality, there are those who feel it's all just a big excuse to get people to part with their money. Of course, too, there are folks, like me, who fall somewhere in between.
Despite a strong conviction that at heart I am an idealist, a romantic, I can be a little wishy-washy about the rituals and traditions of Feb. 14. Certainly as a youngster, the event was greeted with enthusiasm, as a plethora of little Be Mine, Valentine messages were handed out to classmates and friends.
There are, therefore, moments when giving the Valentine's Day due consideration, that it seems just plain silly to think the purchase of a card or gift is necessary to let my favourite guy know how special he is. And is it really necessary for him to reciprocate in order for him to show he feels the same way?
Is this emotion, this passion not conveyed by married couples in small ways or grand gestures with regularity? Shouldn't there be a little bit of Valentine's Day in every relationship, if not each day, then at least with some consistency?
They questions dance through my mind until my inner Pollyanna speaks out, reminding me that while yes, we should appreciate our partner frequently and make sure they feel appreciated often, it doesn't always work that way. Life can be crazy, chaotic and stressful. Sometimes the people we love most get shoved to the back of the line.
And as I've mentioned many times before, what can possibly mean more than a personal message, such as one in a handmade card? (This also eliminates the notion of the holiday being a money grab)
How nice too that the web and technology have made this so much easier. With online graphics and tutorials you are able produce a professional looking product inspired by your personal feelings.
There are many sites offering unique and diverse collections of love-inspired illustrations and others with step-by-step instructions on how to do it. Here's a sampling I found to make the search easier:
Create Your Own Valentine's Cards
Make a Fun Valentine Card
Create a Valentine in Photoshop
iCLIPART.com Valentine Collection
Clipart.com Valentine Images
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
At least when you're older. Having been married now for far longer than I was single, I am fortunate that I've been recalling that lasting power for some time. Every Feb. 14, for decades, I've been blessed to celebrate this most romantic of all days with the same special person. To bask in the pleasures of an adult relationship with your best friend, your soulmate, your love is a gift worthy of celebration.
However, as a child, the expressions of affection were doled out each Valentine's Day with indiscriminate purpose. While it's been ages since I've had to worry about a mass mailing of Valentine's Day greetings, those times remain indelible memories. And while having a partner with whom to share the day is the best, the ritual, the excitement of anticipation from those long ago days are often recalled in bits and pieces with nostalgic softness.
There were those early elementary school days of preparation, secrecy and giggles. The fun then began weeks ahead with the creation of special containers in which classmates would furtively deposit their messages to each other. How elaborate these were depended less on the talent of the students it seemed, than it did on the enthusiasm of the teacher. Sometimes it was as simple as a decorated box, but I do recall making a rather intricate mailbox once, guided by a particularly artsy educator.
There came a point, however, probably around the age of double digits, when no matter what the teacher decided for us, we were going to be a little more selective about who would receive our admissions of affection. Typically it was the people closest to us who were the recipients, and generally only those of like gender. No risk that way of any embarrassing misunderstanding.
iCLIPART.com Vintage Valentines
By the time we had reached adolescence though, there was generally just one person we called our Valentine. He or she, and he or she alone, would be the one on whom the words of love and devotion were bestowed, to whom the gifts and treats would be delivered. It's the pattern that holds through future relationships.
Whether the childhood sweetheart or a later-discovered mate has helped you recall the lasting power of true love, Feb. 14 is the perfect time to let them know how much better your life is for having them in it.