Friday, January 29, 2016

400 Cute Groundhog Day Illustrations

Funny thing about winter. At least for me. It doesn't matter how short it is, it's overstayed its welcome.

This year we enjoyed a very slow start to the snow and cold. Christmas Day, in the afternoon, our family was actually able to sit outside and have snacks at a bonfire. It was only when the new year arrived that we finally experienced some of what we've come to know as winter weather here in Snowbelt country.

I'm not ungrateful. This winter has been a blessing. But, one month of it is more than enough as far as I'm concerned. I believed its slow start would make it feel shorter and I'm hoping that a quick end is in the forecast to ensure that it is.

Feb. 2, as most people in North America know, is Groundhog Day. Across the continent at various places there are celebrity rodents that will rise out of their burrow to deliver their prediction for that area.  Will the local groundhog see his shadow and announce six more weeks of winter? Or will an overcast sky provide us with the hope of an early spring?

Let's face it, it's doubtful that winter here is going away in six weeks, shadow or not.  Though if someone had told me it wouldn't start until January, I'd have doubted that too. I am choosing, therefore, to view this with hopeful optimism

So, should our Wiarton Willie come out of hibernation to a dreary dark day and return without seeing his shadow. I will greet the news with glee.

In the meantime, for projects promoting this special meteorologist's anticipated forecast, here are some cute little groundhog illustrations:

ClickArt Online

Thursday, January 28, 2016

4 Collections of Romantic Valentine Images

In just a few days, January 2016 will be a memory. We will breeze into February with optimism  after experiencing winter's longest month and coming out the other side.

Where January, after the excitement of celebrating a new year, left us with nothing much to look forward to but awakening each morning to snow,  February gives us a few reasons to have some fun.

First there's Groundhog Day, a bit of superstitious nonsense that feeds our need for spring. Later in the month most of us in Canada enjoy a long weekend designated specifically to be with those you love. Family Day gives us that opportunity in the middle of a long, cold winter, to take a break from routine and find  warmth in our special connections.

Smack in the middle of these two days, however, is one that is also about loving relationships and, like the Feb. 2 holiday, is perhaps a bit of nonsense as well. Valentine's Day is the time to express our undying love, devotion and/or infatuation with another.  On Feb. 14 we show we are under Cupid's spell, buying gifts for our sweeties, sending cards, planning special evenings together, all in the name of romance.

Realists argue that Valentine's Day is just a way for many businesses to make money. Certainly it's a boost in sales for card companies, florists and restaurants. But, it doesn't have to be. Romance can be as simple as a handmade card and washing the dishes. It can be a cheesy poem, a quiet dinner or a hot tub date.

Others will argue that romance is something that  should be brought to our relationships regularly. I agree. But doesn't that mean that a date dedicated to the subject should be given even greater consideration. Relationships these days aren't easy.  I see no reason not to do everything to ensure a partner knows he or she matters.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks I will be highlighting some Valentine images, perfect for personal or business projects. Today,  let's celebrate husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, partners and couples with these collections:

Acclaim Images

ClickArt Online

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

4 Collections of United States Illustrations

As I sit to to write each day, one of the essential practices is to plug in ear buds and block out the office conversations and distractions. Focus while stringing a few sentences together is always a good thing,  and at this point in my life not quite as perfect as it once was.

My go-to  for isolating myself, is an app called Jango that allows me to create playlists based on some favourites. Typically, I go for the heaviest music I can as I often can't understand the words so they don't take me away from what I'm trying to say, but I love the blistering guitar riffs.

Nothing like a little Pantera to get a day started I say.

This morning, however, I had more of a yen for some southern rock. Less a favourite of mine than my husband, finding one I want to listen to can be a bit hit and miss. But what I like I really like and this morning I lucked out. First up was the classic Free Bird by Skynyrd.

Sadly, the familiar did mean my focus wasn't solely on finding a topic for today's blog and stringing some sentences together. My mind, instead, kept reflecting on this group and their love and pride in the American south and their country as a whole. In trying to get my head back in the game, I put my mind to thinking about illustrations that could best depict what I'm feeling and which might be relevant to others on some level.

So, with an election coming up in America this year, it seemed that it might be nice to pay tribute to our great  neighbours to the south.  As each state has its own attributes to be proud of,  here are some unique collections of clipart highlighting all 50 of them.

American States With Currency as Map

American Flag States

Maps and Flags

American State Flag Backgrounds

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How to Improve Your Instagrams

You could put it down to my age; I suspect it's more the simple fact  I really just don't have the time to add another social media anything to my life.

Regardless of the reason, I am not a follower of the Instagram craze. If you are like me, then I should probably go no further without explaining exactly what this new trend is all about.

All the hip cats (dated myself, yes) know that Instagram is an app that lets you photograph and shoot video to share on a variety of social media sites.  Though it can be accessed from a computer, users are only able to share from IOS, Windows Phone or Android devices.

While other social media networks are primarily about comment and commentary, Instagram is all about sharing yourself and your experiences visually. For a generation of people who  have grown up with a cellphone and, therefore, a camera at their fingertips, a generation for whom the selfie is everything, it's little wonder Instagram has become quite popular with the cool kids.

It can, however, be an excellent marketing tool too. It's no secret that great photos go a long way in selling a person, a company or a product. The visual will always attract the eye. Capturing or selecting great photos, therefore, is very important if you're taking Instagram seriously.

As it is with all social media, too, of course, getting attention matters most. I wondered if there were any tips or tricks that would help a newbie make some fast Instagram fans. Here are a few of the helpful sites I found to guide you in gaining followers and to get the kind of pictures that sell you:

How to Quickly Get Popular on Instagram

10 Composition Tips for Stunning Instagram Square Photos

8 Killer Photography Tips from Instagram Superstars

How to Take the Perfect Instagram

How to Market on Instagram

Get Better at Instagram

10 Editing Tips for Killer Instagram Videos

Photo Tips and Tricks From Instagram

Use a Photo Editing App for Professional Photos

Monday, January 25, 2016

Tips for Great Winter Photography

Had the pleasure this past weekend of babysitting our sweet granddaughter — the most agreeable of toddlers I've ever known. Easy going, happy-go-lucky, social, curious and delighted in everything, a day with her is one spent in sunshine.

Good thing too because there wasn't all that much of that outside. Not that it was dreary, just not quite as bright and cheerful as I like  if I'm going to be enticed out of the house on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Fortunately, this was another positive in having our little darling visit. Though I might not want to face Old Man Winter, it's important  that children get exercise and fresh air. So, I sucked it up and like sausage into casing, I stuffed her into snowpants, hat, coat, boots and mittens. She couldn't move, but she was going to be toasty.

Her immobility, of course, meant that once we were outdoors there wasn't exactly a lot she could do on her own. We tried to plough through the snow as she hung on to my hand,  but her little 2 1/2-foot self was no match for the depth of snow that had blanketed our area the previous week. So we walked the driveway, I pulled her in the sleigh and we sat in a few snowbanks.

It was fun, but unable to really let her flounder around on her own, I wasn't able to do what I had hoped, which was to grab some fun photos of our outing.

I like the challenge of taking pictures in the snow.  And over the years I've been both pleased and disappointed by outcome.  With sun bouncing off pristine, crisp white, the lighting can be tricky. Also,  a palette devoid of much colour is a test for one's creativity. It's the reason I was eager to get some shots of dimpled smiles and rosy cheeks.

If you like the idea of taking your camera outdoors in the winter,  but have been less than happy with the results here are some great tips from a variety of sources to up your skills:

How to Photograph Winter Landscapes

Shooting in the Snow

15 Beginner Tips for Winter and Snow Photography

Photographing Snow

Simple Tutorials for Photographing Snow

2-Minute Photo Tips for Photographing Snow

5 Uncommon Snow Photography Tips to Transform Winter Photos