Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I Resolve...

Don't you just hate new year's resolutions? They're broken within weeks (if not days) of January 1st, and often they are so unreasonable in their goal that they can't be kept by a sane person. That being said, I'm going to try a resolution or two, to give me a creative boost. 

I RESOLVE take at least one photograph everyday. Something in the house, outside, a portrait of my daughter or the dog, some new angle of an old thing. But SOMEthing, to play with the camera, get more comfortable with the settings, and learn to make them work for me.

I RESOLVE create a piece of art (whatever that may become) for every day in April, with a focus on autism and/or my daughter (who is autistic). April is Autism Awareness Month; I meant to do something last year, but it never materialized.

I RESOLVE finish keywording my photos in Lightroom, and learning to use that program effectively.

I RESOLVE feed my soul with creative endeavors (instead of junk food).

What resolutions are you considering for 2009, year of the Ox (i.e.: prosperity through hard work)?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Revised Tree Skirt, Stockings

A couple of things happened today to make me revise my plans for that star-shaped tree skirt: 1) eQuilter sold out of the green fabric (the one with the ornaments on it), and 2) I didn't want to chase all over hell trying to find it. Talking to Mom about it, I decided and she agreed that plain, solid green might serve me better than adding yet another pattern to a design that will already have 5 different patterns on red backgrounds. So I got some plain green cotton... and a vintage Santa on green, and some retro candles on red... It was 75% off! I couldn't resist! NO IDEA what will become of it, but it's definitely a retro thing going on, even if the years don't much match up. I may use the Santas as appliqu├ęs on the solid green. It looks like old 1940s wrapping paper - it's great! Same with the candles, only not as youthful. Don't know what I'll do, but I'll use it for something. Eventually.

For the stockings, I found a McCalls pattern (free!) that I liked, and a paw print stocking at FamilyFun that I thought was cute. Only problem was, they were two different sizes, and frankly I thought the paw was too big anyway. Through the miracle of Photoshop, I spliced the two together, creating this: 

I resized the bottom of the paw until it met the sides of the regular stocking. Then I resized the paw pads to allow for a 1/4" seam allowance that the original did not have. Now the two patterns will be very similar in shape and size, since all I did was modify the foot of the stocking. I'll use the solid green for a cuff on both patterns, and for the paw pads on the dog's stocking. Since the first stockings I made in college for my sweetie and me were hand-sewn, doing these on a machine should be a snap.

I have hit another snag, however. The pattern piece for the tree skirt is about 26" long. The half-yard of the snowman fabric I ordered is too short, and the pattern of the material is not going to rotate 90 degrees and look right. So I either need to find another red background retro print to go with the others, or order another 3/4 yard of that snowman. *sigh*

Monday, December 22, 2008

Vintage Tree Skirt Pattern

I won an auction for a vintage tree skirt pattern. I've scanned all the pieces and uploaded them to Flickr to share with anyone who's interested.

The scanned pattern pieces are printer-friendly. Everything I received is in that photo set, except for the pattern piece made from a 1968 newspaper page. (All it is is the full-size diamond piece, rather than half the piece that is supposed to go on a fold.)

This is the pattern that inspired me in my Dec. 16 posting.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pre-Xmas Ice

We got some ice and sleet and freezing rain early this morning. After I cut some branches that were threatening power lines to the house, I took my camera out.

The yew outside the front door is really heavy with ice. The temp is warming up a little, so I hope some of it melts off. It's not wanting to break off, and I'd hate for it to be damaged.

My flower garden is rather pretty, even though the blooms are gone. Here's the yarrow, ice-covered:

The hyssop really grew this year, and it looks lovely with an ice glaze:

Barberries are always dramatic, but the ice is especially nice. (So long as it doesn't get any thicker!)

I saw this maple leaf stuck in the branches of one of the shrubs, and upon looking closer, saw that the leaf was actually speared by one of the thorns:

This is Ivan, my Russian Elm. I used flash on this one, because the ice was hardly visible at the distance I was shooting. You can see how grey the sky is. Those clouds are supposed to start dropping around 8 inches of snow any time now.

I love the way the ice looks, and I am grateful none of my immediate family has to go anywhere today. My husband's work declared a "snow day." The school called off. And I work from home. *sigh* Safe and snug, all of us, out of the weather.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wild Hares

Herein lie my fevered imaginings for a new tree skirt... because I can't make new stockings without a new tree skirt!

The idea is to use this 5-point star, because it's unusual, and because I like it. I'll split each diamond in half, and alternate red and green pieces, because the reds won't match exactly. I considered white, but frankly, it would be filthy instantly. Green is the logical choice. I'll use the same green for each, but the reds will all be different.

Because the tree skirt is for the aluminum tree, I won't have a slit in it, just a hole for the "trunk."

 for my daughter,
 for me,
 for my husband, 
 for the dog,
 to round out the 5 red fabrics (when I received this fabric, the red isn't nearly as orange as this image suggests, thank goodness!)
 and the green is self-explanatory.

I'll make stockings from the first 4 red patterns, and maybe accent the top with a cuff of green. I haven't decided yet. This will be for next year's tree, as there is no screamin' way I'll be able to get this done in a week, and that assumes that I'd even get everything before Xmas; I have to order all of them but the puppies (which I got today).

Found My Xmas Spirit!

(It was hiding in a pile of laundry.)

Here's my aluminum tree. Actually, it's my second one, but this one's in better shape. It's a long and uninteresting story as to why I have one of these antiques in the first place, so I won't bore you with that.
The color wheel is different from most. Each quarter wedge has a stripe of all four colors (red, green, blue and amber), instead of the wedge being one solid color, which is the usual arrangement.

This photo is blurry, but you can see how the multicolor stripes illuminate the tree with more color than just one as it rotates.
That's my dog, Cody, unimpressed with the tree, and a bit of a sleepy old man at 14. (He's a Border Collie mix, if you're curious.)

Oh look! A couple of wiseguys! Er, wise men. Here's Balthazar and Caspar - but where's Melchior?

Ah, there he is! These guys look great on a silver tree don't they? The metallic plastic is just the thing to celebrate Mithras' birthday. Who? Oh him...

Even the rubber tree got a little bling. In the background you can see, a set of "marbleous" ornaments (acrylic paint poured into glass balls, and swirled) and my daughter's very first xmas portrait.

The first year I tried decorating one of these beauties, I quickly learned that they just won't hold the weight of modern resin/plastic ornaments, so most of my Hallmark ornaments stayed in boxes. I began collecting older ornaments, the tacky plastic ones made by Jewelbrite and others, because they're so much lighter, and really add to the je ne sais quoi of an aluminum tree. My real prizes are the pressed aluminum snowflakes - they're fragile and not in great shape, but I love them! In the 3rd pic (from the top) you can see the bright pink and the green one toward the bottom.

Currently, I have silver and red metallic netting under the tree serving as a tree skirt. I have Plans for a new one, but no time to get it sewed between now and the 25th. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Playlist

Here's some of my favorite holiday music, to go along with the dusting of snow we got last night:

The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole
Christmas Time Is Here (Inst.) - Vince Guaraldi Trio
Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rhum - Jimmy Buffett
I'll Be Home for Christmas - Frank Sinatra
(It Must've Been Ol') Santa Claus - Harry Connick, Jr.
It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas - Johnny Mathis
Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms
A Marshmallow World - Dean Martin
Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
Sleigh Ride - Ella Fitzgerald
There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays - Leon Redbone
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Winter Wonderland - Johnny Mathis
Wizards In Winter - Trans-Siberian Orchestra

And yes this is too "creative miscellany" - I put a lot of thought and creativity into my playlists. ;^)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More Snowy Images

Cattails, as my camera (Canon Rebel XTi; UV, polarizing filters) saw them:
Desaturated 50%, sepia filter 25% in Photoshop (same photo):
Total desaturation (black and white):
Same black and white photo, but with the shadows/highlights adjusted in Photoshop:

Different photo, same pond. Similar to the shot in the previous post, but that one was taken further down the road by several yards.

Desaturated 75%, sepia 35%:

Different shot of the cattails.

Desaturated (100%), sepia filter at 25% run twice:

I think I like the partial desaturation of the pond the best. The colors are soft, but not completely gone.

Beginning to Freeze

A nearby pond, just starting to freeze, the day after the first significant snowfall of the season.

Monday, December 1, 2008

First Snow of the Season

DD before school this morning, trying to catch and eat snowflakes. 

A not-great shot out the car window on the way home from yoga this afternoon. The snow has been of the wet-and-sticky variety, so the branches all look frosted. It's really beautiful.

I hope to get out tomorrow before the temp comes up and all the snow is gone again.