Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Favourite Christmas Knickknack

My Christmas shopping has been done for a while now, but it doesn't keep me from looking.

Last weekend we were visiting our daughter who lives across the road from the Dutch Mill Country Market, a wonderful place replete with gift ideas and items.

It also serves food, so after enjoying a delicious breakfast together, I had the chance to wander with my wee granddaughter while Grandpa paid the bill.  Browsing we discovered many lovely things, but it was a display of snow globes that really caught our eye.

You're never too old for snow globes. A delight for children, quality examples of these knickknacks are also popular with collectors. The charming scene and gently falling snow can be quite fascinating to look and play with, especially when it does double duty as a music box.

While you won't be able to hear any tunes from this collection it certainly does offer a variety of charming globes for your viewing pleasure: Snow Globes

ClickArt Online Snow Globes

ClipartGuide Snow Globes

Christmas Baubles, Bells and Balls

Holiday decor is a true reflection of personal style. For some it's formal and Victorian, for others country kitsch, and for others it's keepsakes and homemade treasures. The centrepieces of it all of course is the Christmas tree adorned with lights, garlands and baubles.

Way back in the 1970s my husband and I were part of a yearly sojourn to Frankenmuth, MI each June with a group of friends. Young and with all the carefree irresponsibility that goes along with it, our sole purpose was to attend the annual Beer Festival.

But a visit to this charming Bavarian town would not have been complete without a trip to Bronner's Christmas wonderland.  At that time a decision was made by my guy and me to purchase a tree ornament with our names, and also to get one for the current year.  This tradition continued through the years and as our young family grew other names were added too.

Fast forward to the early 1990s, a family gathered around a tree on Christmas morning, a tree that for some reason seemed a little wobbly that year. Our eldest in the role of Santa was reaching beneath to dig out presents when over it went. Only one 'family' ornament was saved. The one that included my husband's and my names with the day we were married sailed through the air straight into our daughter's waiting hands.

Though rather sad, we have since then rebuilt the collection, including happy snowmen bearing the names of our family members. These are courtesy of that sure-handed daughter who felt a few years ago that it was time to bring us all back to the tree.

We have also ensured a solid foundation when the tree is put in its place every year.

And discovered some collection of baubles, bells and balls that are guaranteed unbreakable which you can see here: Christmas Ornaments

Acclaim Images Christmas Ornaments

ClickArt Online Christmas Ornaments

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tips to Improve Your Photoshop Skills

A quarter of a century ago, I made a career change to journalism.  It was then a dream come true. Words had always been my strength and being able to work at a job that needed me to use them was ideal. 

The other side of it, however, was that this was a small community newspaper which meant in addition to writing and editing I was also enlisted as a photographer.  Thus, with 35 mm in hand, and very little training,  I took my minimal skills and slightly above average creative ability to garden parties, hockey games and children's events.

I learned to develop film and print pictures and found myself enjoying a new interest. Taking a photo that was less than perfect, cropping it for greater impact, dodging and burning to improve quality was challenging and fun.  Taking the almost unusable and working enough magic to include in that week's edition was extremely satisfying.

And then came digital cameras and Photoshop.  With a quick PS 101 course as we transitioned, I learned the necessary basics. I also learned that I would have sat for hours and played with this new toy given the opportunity. Sadly, deadlines ensured I never got it.

I've promised myself in the four years since leaving the newspaper business, though,  that I would someday improve those skills.  Anyone interested in the same thing will enjoy these links I found enroute to fulfilling that goal:

Creative Bloq 30 Photoshop Secrets to Improve Skills How to Improve Your Photoshop Skills

psd tuts+ Steps to Improving Your Photoshop Skills

DZine Blog 10 Clever Ways to Improve Your Photoshop Skills

92pixesl Photoshop Tutorials to Improve Your Skills

orphic pixel 7 Simple Steps to Enhance Your Photoshop Skills

Lightstalking Videos for Improving Photoshop Skills

Creative Overflow 20 Tutorials to Boost Your Photoshop Skills

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Adorable Pets Dressed for Christmas

So, in the absence of any twinkling lights at the office, I decided today to deck myself with, well, not boughs of holly, but some festive decorating nonetheless.  On a recent shopping trip with my daughter I picked up one of those kitschy flashing Christmas light necklaces. And today was the day to wear it. Some snowflake earrings finished my seasonal fashion statement.

When it comes to holiday chic it's strange how easy it is to throw good taste out the window. From tacky sweaters to well... flashing necklaces, style at this time of year often takes a back seat to the garish and gaudy. But why not. it's Christmas, the time of year to be merry and bright. Anything that might bring a smile to someone's face, whether faux antlers on the bank clerk or Rudolph's nose on the grocer, is just fine with me.

I do have some mixed feelings though when it comes to dressing up your pet for the season. There's something about the woebegone look on a gorgeous golden wearing a Santa cap that has me feeling a dash of pity. After all, unlike your Great-Uncle Irving and that tacky sweater with flashing lights and jingling bells he loves to wear, the pet has no say. 

There's no denying, however, that they do look rather adorable. So while I might not feel inclined to dress my pet in holiday apparel,  if others do .. well, why not?  It's not like it hurts anything.  Besides other than children what could possibly spread more holiday cheer than a pup or puss in wonderful tasteless holiday style? Any doubts just check out these sweet photo collections: Photos of Pets in Christmas Outfits

Huffington Post Pets in Christmas Costumes

Thumbpress Pets in Christmas Costume

Acclaim Images Pets in Christmas Costume

Monday, December 16, 2013

"Carolling, Carolling Now We Go.. "

What an awesome weekend this past one was. It was the perfect combination of music, fun and family,  just right for the final days heading up to Christmas.

It also included a couple of nice surprises.  One was seeing my son and his 14-year-old play together on a stage for the first time. The other was less personal but a real highlight nonetheless.

Walking to work each morning gives me lots of time for reflection and rumination, musing and pondering. During this physical and mental exercise one day last week, something dawned on me. There's been an element of Christmas that seems to be missing. It's been a long time since I've seen it, heard it or been part of it.  Then my husband mentioned it too as we were heading down to a concert on Friday night. What has happened to carolling?

Over my life I have taken part in this special way of sharing Christmas cheer many times through many different groups — from Sweet Adelines to church choirs. Seeing the smiles we brought was very rewarding.  And turnabout is nice too. I remember answering the door at my home several years ago to a group of joyful faces singing choruses of peace and goodwill while Christmas lights glistened off gently falling snowflakes.  It was a treat for eyes and ears.

It's been forever, but, life has a way of bringing us what we need. So it was Friday as we were grabbing a quick bite at a downtown café prior to our concert that we noticed four people in Victorian dress enter the building, then delighted in their 15-minute performance around our table. Beautiful voices singing some of the nicest music there is. What a lovely Christmas present.

So, while I might not be able to share the experience in song with you here,  I can offer some illustrations of one of Christmas's nicest traditions: Carollers

Acclaim Images Carollers