Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tasty Tuesdays- Sweet Potato Fries

Today's recipe is simple and easy to make but it is completely delicious.
Sweet Potatoes (This is about two sweet potatoes.)
Season salt

Peel and cut your sweet potatoes into long strips. Place the fries in an ice bath for about 15 minutes. Pat the fries dry and place in hot oil (about 350 degrees). Fry for about 5 minutes or until the fries are golden brown. Sprinkle with season salt. I love to serve these with a hearty fry sauce made up of one part BBQ sauce and one part mayo. It should be a dark pink color. Delicious!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tutorial- Block Christmas Advent Calendar

You will need:
Two Blocks 3.5x3.5
One Block 3.5x7.25
Scrapbook paper
Mod Podge
Black Vinyl or other way of putting letters and numbers on the blocks
First sand and paint your blocks. I knew that I wanted to use red scrapbook paper on my blocks, so I painted them green to start. Then cut your scrapbook paper to be slightly smaller than the block I cut my paper to be 3x3 for my 3.5 inch blocks. When the paint it dry, Mod Podge all 12 sides of your smaller blocks with your paper. You can use all different papers, or the same one. Then on one long side of the big block Mod Podge a piece of scrapbook paper, the size of my paper was 6.75x3.
Then you adhere the vinyl with the words "Days 'till Christmas" on the big block and the numbers on the other. The numbers 0,1,2,7,8,9 need to go on one block. Use a 9 that can be doubled as a six. The numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 need to go on the other block and you will be able to do all of the days left until Christmas starting on the first day of December (and some days before.) I used numbers that were about 2 inches high and letters that were about 1 inch high at the tallest point of the capital D.
There you have it, a cute, simple advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas with.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Photo Thursdays- How to fix blemishes, airbrush and remove wrinkles using Picnik

Since yesterday was Thanksgiving, I decided to give you Photo Thursdays today! Last week we started talking about the amazing Picnik.com. Picnik is an online web-editing program that has some amazing features. I am going to start by showing you some of those features today. First, find your photo that needs blemishes removed, airbrushing, or wrinkles edited out, and upload it. The upload screen will look like this one below.

After you upload, you will see this screen below. At the top you will see a green navigation bar and then a white navigation bar underneath. The white bar will have your basic features like crop, red eye and such. We want more than basic, so click on the create button in the green navigation bar.
The create button will pop up a whole new set of white tabs. Go to the one that says Touch-up. You will find all sorts of things that will pop up in the side bar. Some of these are free to use on your picture and then save your picture to your computer. If they say premium on them, you have to have a membership to be able to save your picture, but you can try them out, and if you like them enough, maybe you should purchase a membership to Picnik, which I think is well worth the small cost.
The first thing we are going to do is blemish fix. Blemish fix is the first action that pops up in the sidebar. Click on it and it will ask you what size you want your brush to be. You want the brush size to be just bigger than the blemish you are trying to get rid of. When you have the brush size figured out, just click on your blemish and it should vanish or start to fade. If it just faded, click on it a few more times until it is gone. When you are satisfied, click the apply button that appeared in the blemish fix box, and then you can go on to other edits. This particular action is free to use, although I still prefer to fix blemishes in Photoshop.
Two boxes away from the Blemish Fix, you will find Airbrush. Airbrushing smooths out the skin and gives that model-like perfection to a photo. It is best used after the blemish fix. As you can see in the photo below, you can choose either a natural airbrush or strong. I always go with a natural because I don't want the people to look overly fake, but it is up to you. If you want your airbrush to be less strong, just increase the fade on the airbrush. Take the brush and click and drag around the photo. Avoid eyes, teeth, ears and lips. When you are done, just hit apply and the effect will be added to your edits. Sadly, this is a premium option, but Picnik makes this about a million times easier than doing it in Photoshop.
The two photos below will show you the difference between the natural and the strong airbrush. I airbrushed over the eyes so you could see the difference better. The first photo is the strong airbrush; do you see how the eyes are softer?
Then the more natural airbrush.
Last, but not least, I wanted to talk about wrinkle remover. Wrinkle remover is very much like the airbrush tool, but is meant especially for wrinkles. It is amazing at taking out wrinkles. Simply select a brush size that is slightly larger than the wrinkles you want to get rid of and click and drag over your wrinkles. If it looks too fake, increase the fade to bring more of the original photo back in. In the photo below, I took out all of the small wrinkles in her neck. You can compare by looking at the photo above this. With this tool, you need to be careful just to get the wrinkles because, as you can see in the photo below, if you catch other parts, it makes them fuzzy. When you are done, hit apply. If you hate it, just hit cancel and the wrinkle remover will be taken off the photo. Sadly, this is also a premium feature, but it is a great one. I suggest you play around with it for awhile.
When you are done, save the image to your computer. If you have any questions let me know!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I am thankful for the silly and simple things

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are all having a wonderful day. I just wanted to take a moment and say some of the things I am thankful for today. Some of them are silly, but many of those silly things are my greatest blessings.

I am grateful that this young man was persistent. He knew he wanted to marry my mom and I am so glad he didn't give up when she told him to "Drop Dead."

I am grateful for the chaos my parents endured while I was growing up. I am glad they didn't stop at just a couple of kids because my five siblings are some of the best people I know. I am also glad for old photos, 80's hairstyles and my dad's mustache in this photo. They are always good for a smile.
I am grateful for lizards and frogs. They have provided so many adventures to me and my little girl. We often go frog hunting and nothing makes me happier than the look in her eyes when we find one.
I am grateful for technology. I am so grateful that a distance of 2,000 miles hasn't made me lose my best friend and I am grateful that when I do ridiculous things like make 'Hi Grandma' cookies, my family still has to give me courtesy smiles.

I am grateful for a family that can rock harder than other family I know. They are hardcore. Seriously, we will kick your family's butt in a Guitar Hero match. Bring it!
I am grateful for a brother that even though he is a college freshman, isn't too busy to call his big sister. I am also grateful that he sneaks my daughter junk food, I am glad that there are people like that in her life.
I am grateful for bubbles, because nothing makes this little girl happier.
I am grateful that I have seen my mommy kissing Santa Claus.
I am grateful for the opportunities in my life. Whether photography, this blog, or anything else I have had the chance to be a part of. They have all changed me and helped me grow. 

I am so completely grateful for this kid. She is the light of my life and I am the luckiest person in the world to get to be a part of her life.
And last but not least, I am so grateful for this amazing person. We have had hard times where we were completely broke and wonderful times like watching Hoosiers together at 3 am because our newborn wouldn't sleep. I know that seems like a bad time too, but it is one of my favorite memories. I am grateful for the person that he is and for the parents that helped him become that. I am so lucky to have him in my life. He helps with my blog, edits some of my photos and turn his head most of the time when I buy crafting supplies. I often wonder how I got so darn lucky.

I hope you take sometime today to think about what you are grateful for because, although the food is great, this holiday is about more than that. It is about giving thanks for all of the wonderful things that we have in our lives.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wotw: Feed me... Google Reader

Good day! Continuing on with Feed Me month, today we'll cover the basics of Google Reader. You can catch up on previous Feed Me segments here:
Why start with Google Reader?
In my opinion, backed by Feedburner statistics, Google Reader is the most commonly used feed reader. Many other feed readers, such as Feedly that we'll talk about next week, use Google Reader as their starting point, so Google Reader is the a good place to start if you're just diving in to the world of feed readers. Remember, though -- Google Reader isn't my primary feed reader. So if I miss something or get something completely wrong, have mercy and correct me kindly. :)

This is Google Reader:
I know it doesn't look like anything amazing, but, if you've never tried it, you should. (Remember these reasons?) Now, to get you started...

Adding a blog to your reader is called a subscription, just like your newspaper delivery. Subscribe to a new blog (or other site) by clicking the Subscribe button in the top left corner and entering the blog or site's URL in the box that opens:

You can see and edit your subscriptions by clicking the little blue Manage Subscriptions link in the bottom left corner.

Reading Your Subscriptions
All of the updates from your subscriptions will show in the larger right pane of Google Reader. You'll use the options in the left pane to control what you see in the right pane.
  • Home view shows a few recent updates.
  • All Items shows you all of the new items in your reader, either as a list or expanded to the full post (you decide which by choosing either List or Expanded from the top right corner of the reading area).
  • Or, click on the blog title or group name (more below on creating a group) in the lower left section to see only the posts from that blog or group.
If you want to visit the original post (and remember how you should?), just click the double-arrow icon to the right of the post title. To search for an item in your reader (such as one that you loved but forgot to bookmark), use the search box at the top left.

You'll use the other menus and options at the top of the reading area to control other settings, such as marking items as read. Your selection will affect all of the posts that you are currently viewing: all posts if you're in All Items, or just the posts from that blog or group if you're selected that. Sometimes after a weekend away, your reader can be daunting. I give you full permission to use Mark All As Read at your fullest discretion. :)

Marking all as read is also handy when you have a new subscription. Some new feeds will give you the last ten posts, some the last ten days, and some everything ever published. I usually choose to mark all as read that are older than one day and then go straight to the blog if I want to catch up on posts older than that.

The other useful menu at the top of the reading area is Feed Settings. Using these settings you can sort your new items -- oldest first, newest first, or magic sorting -- as well as rename, unsubscribe, or translate a subscription. You'll also use the Feed Settings menu for...

Creating a Group (Folder)
Once you have a handful of blog subscriptions, you might want to group them. Then you can choose to read only that group of blogs at the time. Subscriptions can be in multiple groups, so you can categorize by topic and by level of must-read-ness (yup, the vocabulary centers of my brain are hard at work this morning...), if you want.

To create a group, click Feed Settings and select New Folder.
Enter the name of the folder, and voila! You're on your way to organizing your folders. You'll also be able to select your existing folders and add your subscriptions to them using the Feed Settings menu.

If you're going to be categorizing many subscriptions at once, click the Manage Subscriptions link in the bottom left and use the drop-down menu for each subscription there.

Starring, Sharing, and Liking
Google Reader is meant not just for reading -- it's also for sharing what you read. You have three options in Google Reader: starring, sharing, and liking.

Starring is a private way to flag items in your reader. You'll see any item you star in your Starred Items. Star an item by clicking the little star to the left of the item title.

The first time you share an item,
you'll see this. Click here to learn more
about sharing in Google Reader.

Sharing lets you share items publicly or with a group of friends. You can also add a note to your shared items, such as "This is great!" or "We should all get together and do this sometime" or whatever else floats your boat. You'll see the items you've shared in Shared Items and notes in Notes. (Pretty self-explanatory, eh?) To share an item, click Share or Share with Note at the bottom of the post you want to share. You can read more about sharing here and sharing with notes here in the Google Reader help forums.

Adding a note to a shared post is easy!

The first time you like an item,
you'll see this. Click here to learn more
about sharing in Google Reader.
Liking in Google Reader is kind of like liking in Facebook -- a passive way of showing that you appreciate, approve of, or savor (thank you thesaurus!) a post in your reader. Like (or unlike) a post by clicking Like at the bottom of the post. A liked post won't be automatically shared with anyone like a shared post is, but other people reading that post in their readers will see X people like this. Liking is always public -- sharing isn't.

So... there's the basics of Google Reader, as determined by yours truly. Google Reader lovers... what have I forgotten?

I'll be back next week with the basics of Feedly, my one true love and my primary feed reader. In the meantime, have a happy Thanksgiving and beginning of the holiday season! Black Friday, anyone? :)

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Canvas and Fabric Hand Print Turkey Tutorial

I am scrapping Tasty Tuesdays today in favor of this friend. I wanted to share this fun friend with you before Thanksgiving is over. This little guy is made out of the shapes of my daughter's hand and foot. Which makes it a sentimental decoration.

You will need:
A canvas
Paint (I used a tan)
Brown, Red, Yellow and Orange fabric
Google eyes
Yellow and Red fun foam scraps or use can use fabric
Paper for tracing

First of all trace your child's hand and foot. I think this project would be really fun for those with multiple children to make one turkey with all sorts of sizes of feathers. After you have your pattern, pin the hand onto your fabric. Pin EVERY finger. Trust me, it is much easier. Then cut out the hands. I cut two yellow, two red and one orange. Cut one foot piece in brown.

Paint your canvas. I did a simple streaky brown because that is the look I was going for. If you wanted you could paint a farm scene for the turkey to be apart of. Starting with the feathers that you want to be at the very back, Mod Podge the hands onto the canvas. I started with the yellow hands and then place the red hands on top and then the orange. I finished with the turkey body.
Add a final coat of Mod Podge to the canvas and allow to dry. 

Add your google eyes, beak (a triangle of yellow fun foam) and the wattle (basically a teardrop shape of red foam) with glue. 

I think it would be fun to pain the background as a Thanksgiving scene.
You could add things you are grateful for it the hands if you would like.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cute Vinyl Ideas for you wall

My sister and I both love vinyl. We have both used it in almost every room in our houses. Since my Thanksgiving craft is not quite ready to share, I thought I would show you some of our uses of vinyl. These are some of the ones from my sister's house, as haven't brought myself to photography mine yet.
1. I Hope They Call me on a Mission. This one is used with collages I took of her boys around the age of 2, dressed up as missionaries with their dad's missionary name tag on. (For those of you that don't speak Mormon Lingo, a mission is something a lot of young men in our church serve. They are called to a place (for instance, my brother served in Budapest, Hungary) and live there for two years teaching our religion.)
2. There's No Buddy Like a Brother. She used this one in her boy's room and I love it.
3. Cherished Treasures. A simple saying that she uses over her family portraits.
4. All Because Two People Fell in Love. I am sure you have heard this cute saying. I love the saying along with pictures of her children.

What are some of your cute vinyl ideas?