Lessons in What Not to Do

The eight year old son of some friends of ours has an important day coming up next week and I was asked to trudge along and ‘do my best’ to be a photographer. Yeah, I’m laughing on the inside too or is it crying? Either way there are tears! These are a few snaps I was lucky enough to get. I learned a lot about aspect ratio, dpi and size. Not to mention a few picture do’s and don’ts. Trial and error, when time and money are weighted in the back of my mind, isn’t exactly an ideal way to learn though the experience paid off and hopefully for the better. They say that patience is a virtue, I’m still behind the curve.

Below is the invite, minus the text of course, that the E’s sent out.

Invite no text

The original shot in black and white.

Gage Lake BW

Gage Tree 1 BW

Gage Tree 2 BWV

Gage Closeup BW

He was such a good sport and braved the chilly morning air; red nosed, frozen fingers and all.



Gage Sil Lensflare

And no, I did not add the lens flare. Did I mean for it to happen… sure did. This picture came out a lot better than my less-than-professional or even amateur skills could possibly warrant.

Thanks for giving me the chance to learn!

Thanksgiving Dinner

Tables Livingroom

This year I had the privilege to host Thanksgiving dinner with a group of friends and I loved every minute of it. From the barrage of email chains in planning the menu, figuring out how to seat all the guest, and finishing it off with a touch of formal holiday dining on a shoestring budget. My quirky, creative side took over and frolicked down aisles of silk flowers, serving gizmos and actual table linens.

Table Setting Stacey good

I was grateful to borrow a few important pieces; like two, six foot vinyl tables and coordinating folding chairs to comfortably seat twelve. White tablecloths, white plates, a few serving bowls with spoons and a punch bowl large enough to keep the masses well hydrated were all checked- out from the church house kitchen and the R.S. closet.

The centerpiece was tossed together with clearance floral picks and a low-rising candelabra I snagged at a thrift store a couple of years ago for less than five dollars. Printed, parchment place cards tied with leftover raffia attached to red linen napkins with an open, fall-colored rose and coordinating sprigs.


Red foil chargers, decent silverware (Costco) and ice water goblets personalized with vinyl monograms. Edwardian Script designated the women’s glasses and Copperplate initials for the men. Cost $2.49, something I’d do again if I’m every lucky enough to reprise the role as host.

Table Setting Charity

Table Setting Chris

Stacey Placecard

We had so much delicious food that it was nearly impossible to have seconds… but some how we managed. Turkey from the oil-less fryer was mouth-watering moist, a spiral cut ham, two different types of stuffing, veggie tray, deviled eggs, scratch rolls, whipped sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, two types of cranberry sauce, spicy Indian cuisine brought by the Patel’s and of course, green bean casserole and a Jello fruit salad. The kitchen island made a perfect buffet table to dish up plates so long as traffic moved in one direction.



Cranberry punch. It was alright. I think I should have omitted the sweetened and condensed milk and served a clear, sparkling red punch.

Pie Buffet

A bar full of pies. From the furthest moving forward; Apple, Apple, Peach, Peach, Mock Pecan, Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Banana Cream, and Chocolate Cream. Our Indian friends brought what I can only describe as spiced donut holes in sauce. They were good and a unique addition to the traditional.

Kids Place setting cooking

The kids table was set with personalized, sugar cookie leaves. Something to keep them happy while moms and dads dished up the real food. Paper and plastic place settings on a red table cloth was all that dressed the dining room. Kid friendly all the way. Devin and Maddy E were more than happy to sit at the “adult” table instead of wrestling with the younger crowd.

Kids table

Between dinner and dessert, we all played the game Imaginiff by couples. It was a lot of fun and questions could be taken at face value or with hidden innuendo. I wonder what they meant by if Dave and I were a vehicle we’d be an ice cream truck? Is one of us cold while the other is sweet? And which one is which? I suppose I should be lucky nobody chose the garbage truck!

When it was down to “the crew”, it was time to shed the last bit of formality I had left, change into pajamas and slid into comfortable conversation about any and everything under the sun. The boys made a drink trip and a run to Redbox. Iron Man closed out the evening with droopy-eyed kids and sufficiently fed, tryptophan-mellowed parents.

Thank you to all my adopted family! It was a wonderful Thanksgiving and I’m truly grateful for your friendships.

An Exercise in Art

In lieu of Treasure Hunt Tuesday (I have another week to turn in my assignment) I decided to mix it up a bit and see what, if anything, happens. That part will depend on you.

Bird Back Berry

Sunday morning brought winter-like weather and the backyard was encased in a thin layer of ice. I was sitting down at the dining room table, fully prepared to devour my loganberry, syrup-covered pancakes when I notices this little guy out the back windows. I had to take his picture, breakfast or not.

It didn’t turn out quite how I had expected, a little on the bland and boring side of things, but I still thought it was useful. So let’s play with it, shall we? First we need to duplicate the original and adjust the brightness/contrast.

Adjust B-C Ss

There. It’s brighter now and the branches seem to pop a little. That’s what we’re looking for.

A - looks good so far

Next let’s make an adjustment layer. In this program it happens to be the half-colored circle in the layer menu bar on the right.

A - Create Adjustment Layer

This is where the fun starts. Select threshold from the adjustment drop-down menu. Play with the settings slide bar until you get the basic look you want.

A - Adjust Threshold Level

Next I used the cloning tool to ‘erase’ the splatter of the pine tree that was in the background.

A - Cloning Cleanup

A little bit of magic goes a long way; I love the magic selection tool. Click on the blinding void, right click to pull up the menu and select similar. That way all the white will be selected.

A - Magic Wand Tool SimSelect

Select a color using the swatches to the bottom left. Everybody loves a little red.

A - Color Select

Now if I ever really dumped a bucket of paint, I’d probably throw a tantrum and cry hysterically in the corner over all the carpet I just ruined. In this case, pour it on! The ants are still marching (flashing dotted line) so the paint won’t touch the pattern. If the bucket doesn’t get the job done, you can keep the ants and select a massive paint brush to hit all those minuscule details the magic wand might have missed.

A - Paint Bucket Tool

A completely different look now that we’ve gone red. Oh, by the way… if you look at the layer menu on the right, you’ll see that it has been compressed. That paint bucket won’t work otherwise. Sorry, forgot that slightly important tid-bit. Notice the ants are still marching?

A - Red Background

Let’s have some more fun! Pull down the Enhance menu, adjust color and adjust hue/saturation.

A - Adjust HueSats

By sliding the hue bar, we can change the color. I passed every shade possible along the way to get to this blue/green/turquoise tint.

A - Adjust HueSats 2

Beautiful brown. This time the saturation level was adjusted. What makes this ‘fun’ for a nerd like me is that the possibilities are endless and depend rather on your current mood/frustration level than what the program will allow you to do. You can see that I even visited an orange hue from the project window at the bottom of the screenshot. Please excuse my digital mess.

A - Adjust HueSats 3

I ventured back to the blue color, took another swig of my loaded Diet Coke and dangerously opened the filter menu. Below is filtered with the Accented Edges action. Notice how the limbs stand out a bit?

A - Play with Filters

This one is Chalk & Charcoal; completely different spin on our bird. I like it, but not what I was going for.

A - Play with Filters 2

I added a bit of texture this time, specifically the Craquelure action. It gives it a worn, woven look. More along the lines of what I’m after.

A - Play with Filters 3

Oooh. There’s a burlap action, I like that. I think we have a winner.

A - Finished with Burlap

Let’s review. Here is our little bird perched all alone and freezing his tail feathers off.

Bird Back Berry

And here he is as a digital scrapbooking paper page. I can see the journaling window to the right; a swirling, calligraphy font for the title. Or it could quite possibly become one in a series of prints I’ll frame and use to add a bit of life to my otherwise boring bedroom walls. And all it took was a few clicks!

Bird Back Berry DigPaper

So I have an assignment for you while your digesting all sorts of turkey-stuffing-pie goodness this week. Make me a picture. I don’t care what it is as long as it falls at or below a PG-13 rating. You can use Paint, Corel, Photoshop… just be creative. Technically speaking, I don’t have a clue as to what I’m doing so I don’t want any excuses! Leave your blog address and I’ll know that your playing. You will play with me, right?

Turkey Bowl

Stake Turkey Bowl

This year our stake threw together a last minute Turkey Bowl. It was cold, a few snowflakes fell and the “boys” were ready to play.

Dave Chris after play

The larger lads were told that they would be needed as lineman; defending the quarterback, clearing the way or making life difficult for the opposing ward by their sheer size and muscle. No constant running involved, just stand there, snarl and look tough.

Dave Ball

Yeah, right. Dave is ready to de-flag the receiver.

Blaine & Lane block

Same ward, different teams. Blaine gets a tooshy-touch from Lane.

Blaine's Boss

Watch out, coming through!

Dave Ground

I missed the spectacular, body-sacrificing, leaping catch.

Dave Wrangler & Lane Block

Again, same ward, different teams. We had a great turn out that made up the difference of the no-show ward we were scheduled to play against.


Devin didn’t know what to think about all those old* men running around the field, huffing and puffing, giving each other high-fives after lame* plays. (*His words, not mine.)


Little Landon sat on my lap the entire game while his dad played. That’s my arm and my fluffy white marshmallow vest you see behind him.

Kiaya 3

Miss. K is a seasoned spectator.

Reese 1 copy

Reese is ready to play.

Reese Selah copy

Unfortunately, his sister will have to do.


Maybe someday he’ll get to play with the real boys of Boise State.