Saturday, October 30, 2010

october musings

This weekend brings a last soccer game and a team party after a season well-played and well-coached.  Did I ever mention Tristan's hat trick? I never knew what a hat trick was until he scored three goals in one game -three! His dad took him out and bought him a new hat.  I love those boys.
One or all of us will be headed into D.C. on Marathon day.  Shawn is running the 10k and I was hoping to watch, but traffic, crowded metro stations, three kids, an early morning start time and some recent causes for concern have us puzzling over the plan.
Our kids have never been trick-or-treating before as we are not really big on Halloween and have always had alternative plans with our church.  This year, however, they will knock on a few doors in their star wars and fairy costumes before coming home to pass out candy from their own pumpkin-lit stoop.  I like to think that we can use this weekend to teach our kids about the Light we know in our hearts, and that we should open our doors to let it shine in the darkness.
The winds are blowing and last night it was downright cold.  I love being outside as the leaves are falling and crunching underfoot, but I know this change in the air means Autumn's colors will all-to-soon give way to Winter's gray.
skyline drive
October has been beautiful in Virginia -a riot of color and activity.  While part of me wishes the leaves would cling a bit longer to those trees, another part of me welcomes the coming season of celebrations, family traditions and hopefully a bit of simple peace and quiet.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

a walk in the woods

autumn color

Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn--that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness--that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.  -Jane Austen

a walk in the woods

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

family time

They braved the drive from Florida to visit with us and see the sights...
and eat Popsicles in the Castle garden...
popsicles in D.C.
Beau's Popsicle
and hike through Shenandoah...
and play at the waterfalls.
Then we squashed them all back into that car and said goodbye.
headed home
Now what do we do?
October Porch

Monday, October 25, 2010

a wordy post about the secret magical photo shop powers that I do not have

Last week, I posted that photo of Kenna, Connor and Nora spinning in the street at a festival in old town Manassas.  A couple of you asked how I processed it so I thought I'd share my secret to photo-editing.

Here it is: I rely heavily on the "undo" button and just try stuff.

I opened the original photo and was actually kind of surprised at the difference. In all my random trying of stuff with much undoing and reverting and trying other stuff, I did manage to wipe a lot of junk out of that photo!

spinning (before)

I'm pretty sure this is basically how the process went:

-I cropped the photo.
-I adjusted the color and by the looks of it, I probably ran an action from either Pioneer Woman or Coffeeshop.  Lately, I use PW's "Lovely and Ethereal" a lot.  Maybe too much.
-I was inspired by the blank concrete and sun rays on the left, so I set out to erase all the cluttery people and curbs and things on the right.
-I cloned with the cloning tool.  Then I probably cloned a lot more. (This basically means I copied sections of blank concrete and pasted them over sections of clutter.)
-When I could clone no more, I selected the kids using the "quick selection tool" and created a layer for the kids and another for the background. I don't really know how to use layers correctly yet, but I'm getting there, kind-of.
-With the background-only selected, I was able to clone the areas closest too them and then, using the "impressionist brush", I swirled and smudged the image until the background was a nice blank, cloudy slate.  In doing so, I accidentally smudged out the sun rays that I liked so much.
-I didn't feel like backtracking to fix it because at this point I'd been staring at that photo for a long time and decided it was cool  enough and I had learned a few new things about photo editing.
-I think I may have added vignetting using a Burn action.
-The end.

I'm sure a Photo Shop pro would read that and cringe, but whatever -can't let pride get in the way of progress, right? So today I dare you to open an image in Photo Shop (or any other photo-editing software) and just try stuff.  It's fun, you'll learn something and maybe you'll even end up with a better image that you started with.
And if you're smarter than me -which I'm sure you are- then you will keep track of what you do so you can share it with the rest of us (Leave a comment and link to your photo!)

I think I'll tackle this one next (because how awesome is the look on his face?!)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

my new old desk

"That's really blue" my husband says as we step back from my (finally!) re-painted desk.  "I wanted it blue" is my reply and that is that.
Remember that other project for another post that we had started back in July? (Yes, the one you can see Shawn sweating over in the sun with a paint scraper while I casually snap pictures from the shaded porch.)  It was one of those "quick and easy" projects that became one of those "big headache projects".  I bought this old vanity a couple of years ago for around twenty bucks.  It's not high-quality wood, it has a big chunk broken off of it's veneer top and the vanity compartment is falling off it's hinges; but I think it's cute and makes a good home for my computer or sewing machine or piles of papers and unfinished projects.
I wasn't interested in an expensive over-haul, I simply wanted to change the color. So I did.  I changed it to an apple green that looked more like highlighter yellow (you can see a bit of it on the floor in the top right of that photo -I never got around to photographing that phase of the project.  Or maybe I didn't want to.) I was saved from my poor color selection as the paint began peeling off in great sheets before we even went for a second coat.  The previous paint job was not going to cooperate with my plan.  So began the process of stripping, sanding, priming, hinge-fixing and re-painting, and three months later -finished!
my corner
And, yes, it is blue.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

elements of a good campout

A tent with a doggie/small child door, big enough to jump in and sleep ten giggly, knock-knock-joke-telling, flashlight waving kids...
the crew
the mountain mansion
Fall leaves to admire, collect and toss in the air (or in a little kids face)...
falling leaves
fall color
leaf fights
A few good men...
the  men
A forest to roam in search of adventure, good sticks and beaver trees...
beaver trees
little girl boots
A toddler to stay behind and guard the campfire....?
kate's campsite
Proof I was there and great memories with sweet friends and family...
my girls
We can't wait to do this again!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I was just wondering...

How, after a perfect, restful weekend away (despite the fact that we were only a few miles from home and didn't get much actual sleep), does one return to normal life without just a tiny bit of resentment?  Couldn't we ignore the schedules, the lists, the piles, the appointments and stay by that camp fire, in those woods, with our friends for a little bit longer? Like forever?  I'm sure once the eighteen loads of laundry are finished I'll feel differently. Maybe. Probably not.
More photos to come.
I'm still sleepy and moving at the pace of one happy to sit in the forest and just be.

Friday, October 15, 2010


We're heading into the forest tomorrow morning for a camp-out, complete with new sleeping bags, warm hats, s'mores and good friends. We've been spending a lot of time in the forest lately, haven't we? This time of year, and with such great friends to enjoy it with, I can't think of a better place to be.

Go grab someones hands and do the spinny dance -and have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


autumn kaleidoscope
The word kaleidoscope, derived from Ancient Greek, literally translates to "observer of beautiful forms".
forest floor
Beautiful forms.
autumn kaleidoscope
My eyes, my camera -my kaleidoscope.
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