Saturday, January 30, 2010

Photo Collage - learning

Well, I don't give up easily but I do get frustrated! I have spent hours trying to create a collage in Picasa. The photo tray, the collage button - couldn't find any of it. Finally decided to reload Picasa (version 3.6) and suddenly - there it all was.

It did scare me that it uploaded all my photos in iPhoto to Picasa. Should I be worried about this? I read that if you delete a folder in Picasa it deletes it from your computer. On the other hand, I had been worried that my photos were not backed up and this can serve as a back up. Any opinions? It feels a little like losing control.

I kept the resolution for the collage photos at 180, yet Picasa made the finished product 96 dpi. The collage does not look as clear as my regular photos which are 100 dpi. Does anyone know why? When you click on it to enlarge, then it looks clear.

Thank you all for your suggestions in the comments. I appreciate the help!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Winter Woods

I am joining Mary at the Little Red House for Mosaic Monday. I have made two mosaics in the past, but I have to admit, I forgot how I did it!!! So I am learning again. Had trouble with the Picasa instructions on creating a collage. Oh, I wish I had a friend to call on for this kind of thing! So started in Google and found I'm using the free basic version. This is my first attempt. There is much more to learn. But - here it is!

What do y'all use? How do you get your photos so large, clear and bright? This photo is 150 dpi. Is that enough?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Evening Sky

We have had a lovely sunny, warm day after a deluge last night. I took my new camera into the woods to explore what my macro setting can do. There was so much to see - mossy rocks, interesting dried leaves, vines growing up tree trunks, tiny mushrooms and twisting tree roots. The sky started to cloud over; our next storm is moving in. This shot of the evening sky is the last one I made before coming in for the night.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Red Spoon - Simple Pleasures

I'm joining Claudia at "Friday - Finding Beauty."

For Christmas, Santa put a large red spoon in my stocking. I finally threw away my favorite spoon that was so chipped, it left people wondering if the chipped pieces were in the spaghetti sauce they were eating! Well, I love my red spoon so much (knowing where Santa shopped) I went to Dollar Tree and bought another spoon and a spatula. Don't they look lovely! And the cyclamen I bought in CT this summer is blooming again. Isn't that red an exact match? My kitchen is small but it certainly is cheery!

This photo was taken with my new Christmas Camera! Thanks kids! I'm lovin' it!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Favorite Quotes

I Feel Bad About My Neck
Nora Ephron

"But if the events of the last few years have taught me anything, it's that I'm going to feel like an idiot if I die tomorrow and I skimped on bath oil today."

Finger Lickin' Fifteen
Janet Evanovich

"And then I had to decide if I needed to wear shoes that kicked ass or were good for ass kicking, on account of there's a difference, you know"

A Body to Die For
G. A. McKevett

“ ‘Amazing what six thousand calories can do to perk up a body’s system,’ Savannah said ....”

“........she flipped down the visor mirror, ran a brush through her hair, and checked the bags under her eyes. They were now officially big enough that, if she were flying, the airlines would charge her extra to bring them aboard.”

“I said I was sorry and you forgave me.”
“Forgiving’s one thing. Forgetting’s another.”

Cat Sitter on a Hot Tin Roof
Blaize Clement

“That’s the neat thing about cats. You can be feeling like yesterday’s cold oatmeal, and the sound of a cat’s purring just because you’re there makes you feel like you might be worth something after all.”

“Paco and Ella (a cat) have an agreement - if she sits politely and keeps her paws off the table, she’s allowed to adore her men from a bar stool. I know some human females who operate under the same rule.”

To The Nines
Janet Evanovich

"His hair was dark and his eyes were dark and he looked like he frequently traveled through places where men's hearts were dark."

"The sky was murky above me and I felt the rasp of ozone in the back of my throat. As the day wore on cars, chemical plants, and backyard barbecues would make their contribution to the stew that cooked over Jersey. Fancy-pants wimps in L.A. rated their pollution and curtailed activity. In Jersey we just call it air and get on with life. If you're born in Jersey, you know how to rise to a challenge. Bring on the Mob. Bring on bad air. Bring on taxes and obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and macaroni at every meal. Nothing defeats us in Jersey."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

That's My Boy!! The Los Angeles Times Entertainment Section!

Yes, this is my son, Kevin, on the Los Angeles Times Entertainment section! "Whisper House" is opening this month at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego. Kevin plays the part of Lt. Rando, a Coast Guard officer.

Is this exciting, or what?!

"Whisper House" by Duncan Sheik may be purchased from Amazon.

Whisper House (Below)
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
Lt. Rando (Kevin Hoffmann) breaks into dance.

Whisper House (Below)
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
Lt. Rando (Kevin Hoffmann) orders lighthouse worker Yasuhiro (Arthur Acuna) to freeze. Yasuhiro, a Japanese American, is a person of suspicion to 11-year old Christopher, whose pilot father has been killed by the Japanese in World War II.

Whisper House (Below)
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
Kevin Hoffmann (as Lt. Rando), from left, Mare Winningham (as Lilly) and Ted Koch (Charles, the sheriff) rehearse a scene.

The Los Angles Times, Entertainment Section, By John Horn

January 17, 2010

Reporting from San Diego - Duncan Sheik is a skeptic of the supernatural -- "I completely don't believe in ghosts," the singer-songwriter says. Yet if his new musical “Whisper House” is to succeed in its world premiere Thursday at the Old Globe Theatre, audiences -- not to mention some of the musical's characters -- will need to have faith in things that go bump in the night.

The musical unfolds in distinct but concurrent realms: the living (five inhabitants of a coastal Maine town) and the dead (two singing ghosts, and their seven-piece backup band). And there are three separate "Whisper House" time periods: The ghosts last drew breath in the early 20th century, the people in Maine are living in the 1940s, and the musicians could have been playing a gig last night at Club Nokia. If the show comes together, none of that should matter.

Recent history stands to benefit "Whisper House." "Spring Awakening," the 2006 theatrical love child of Frank Wedekind's late 19th century coming-of-age play and Sheik's modern ballads, not only swept the Tonys (eight wins, including best musical) but also proved that the sum of a classic text and contemporary melodies can actually be much greater than its outwardly dissonant parts.

"Whisper House" loosely follows that mash-up model, yet with a novel twist: The five "Whisper House" protagonists don't break into song. Instead, the new musical's choral complement is delivered by rock-and-rolling ghosts, who wander in and out of the action like ethereal intruders.....

The new production, with music and lyrics by Sheik and a book and lyrics by Kyle Jarrow, may unfold during World War II but owes its thematic inspiration to modern conflict and the paranoia it can incite. When the creative team assembled for the show's first read-through in mid-December, Jarrow stood before the cast and crew to say he saw "Whisper House" as being as much about orange threat-level alerts as anything else. ......

Modern living isn't intrinsic to "Whisper House," as the story unfolds in early 1942. Christopher (Eric Brent Zutty) is an 11-year-old boy whose pilot father was killed by the Japanese; his mother, devastated by grief, suffers a nervous breakdown. Christopher is accordingly dispatched to a Maine lighthouse run by his spinster aunt, Lilly ( Mare Winningham).

Lilly is assisted in her coastal endeavors by Yasuhiro (Arthur Acuña), a Japanese American of whom Christopher immediately becomes suspicious. Christopher's anxiety grows stronger as the show progresses, and he sees signs of treachery in what might be benign acts.

At the same time, Lilly reconsiders where her personal loyalties lie: to her cosseted, emotionally protected life or to those people around her who need (like a lighthouse, put another way) a beacon of guidance and protection.

As the threat of U-boat attacks intrudes on the ordinary isolation of the "Whisper House" lighthouse, so, too, do the show's ghosts. The shadowy musicians -- the wraithlike remains of a band whose steamer was dashed on nearby rocks in 1912 -- are led by two vocalists (David Poe and Holly Brook) who not only offer commentary on the on-stage action but also, like contemporary sirens belting out pop songs, try to lure the lighthouse's inhabitants to their own personal shipwrecks -- even suicide.

As the musical's opening song, the moody ballad "Better off Dead," has it: Release your heavy heart - Rest your weary head - When all the world's at war - It's better to be dead.

"Whisper House" presents unconventional staging on a number of levels. In "Spring Awakening," the songs by Sheik and Steven Sater served a different narrative purpose (articulating the characters' inner lives) and were performed by the principal cast; as with most musicals, the songs gave way to dialogue (and vice versa) about every five minutes. ......

At the same time, some of the "Whisper House" songs are performed as shadow plays in pantomimes projected on a translucent upstage screen, choreographed by Pilobolus Dance Theatre's Matt Kent, who collaborated with Poe on the dance troupe's recent “Shadowland” show.

What's more, the rules for the interaction between the dead and the living aren't always clear. Christopher can hear the ghosts' music, but even though Poe's crooning apparition blows out Yasuhiro's Zippo while he's trying to light a cigarette, it's ambiguous who can (and can't) discern the ghosts' physical presence. What's less vague is their role as they wander about the stage: They're gumming up the works, stoking paranoia.

"No matter what you do," the ghosts sing in the parable song "The Tale of Solomon Snell," "you'll never be safe." Or, in what Sheik and Jarrow say is a parroting of statements from the George W. Bush administration in the song "We're Here to Tell You": We're here to tell you - That all of this is real - And if you're terrified today - That's how you're supposed to feel (for real). .....

The Old Globe, which had been talking to Jarrow about another production, became the home for "Whisper House" after the Connecticut venue fell through. "We just think it's different and special and fragile and unique," Louis Spisto, the theater's chief executive officer and executive producer, told the cast and crew at the musical's first read-through. If the show succeeds in San Diego, a move to Broadway could be likely. "There are definitely parties interested in this," Spisto said.

But before there's any further talk of New York, Sheik, Jarrow, Askin and the show's cast and creative team worked to make sure "Whisper House" feels like a cohesive whole, not so many competing parts.

"That's what Duncan and I were most worried about," Jarrow says. "We didn't want it to be a play that pauses, and then there's a rock concert."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fun Christmas Gift

This is a book mark I made for my daughter for Christmas. She loves the ocean and subscribes to "Coastal Living" where I found this picture. And she loves to read. It seemed like a good gift for her.

I was surprised when I visited "The Old Post Road" and read "Now that's a good idea" and saw the picture of this bedroom and it reminded me of the bookmark. So I wanted to share my project with you.

Elizabeth Berg is one of my favorite authors. Don't you love the quote I put on the bookmark? The picture seemed perfect!

Making bookmarks is fun. Last year I used pictures of my children when they were young and gave them each four bookmarks. I make it 2 inches wide by 6.5 tall with a resolution of 200. Then merge the layers and move the original onto a blank document 10.5 by 8.25. Four fit across the page perfectly. I print on cardstock and then using spray adhesive I put it on another sheet to make it stiffer. Then cut with a paper cutter for nice straight lines.

Oh, I forgot to say I do this in Photo Elements 6, a really great program. It takes a little studying to learn but it is well worth it. My son gave me "Photo Shop Elements 6: The Missing Manual." The book is a real help.

House Hunting

I will be away for a few days, house hunting in Connecticut. If any one wants to buy a cute cottage on a lake in central Virginia, let me know!

We are trying the grand experiment and buying a house with our daughter and her husband (our son #4). We have lots in common and get along so well and even have fun together. Most importantly, the men root for the same sports teams!! So we are looking for a large house which lets out lots of cute houses like this one.

Located at 7 Old Town St, East Haddam (Hadlyme) Connecticut, this house was built in 1857 and is selling for $445,000. It is on 2.18 acres and has 1,556 square feet. The success of this house comes from not putting too much into it. I could never fit all my stuff in!

Isn't this perfectly adorable?

It looks so clean, fresh, bright and uncluttered!

And here is the bonus!

Holiday Leftovers

My daughter brought this when she came for Christmas, saying I could give it a longer life than she could. (Her green thumb is some other color.) Already it was a leftover. And now, in the middle of January, it is really a leftover. Poinsettias are lovely before Christmas, but not so much after Christmas. I'm not a fan when they get leggy and scraggly as mine always do. Anyone have suggestions? I can't bring myself to murder it!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Quack, it's cold!

Our "neighbors" don't seem to be minding the cold very much as you can see. This was taken from my front porch. (I don't have to work very hard to get my photos.) The creek going into the lake, as well as most of the lake, has a coating of ice. Not thick enough to skate on though. The geese seem to be congregating here on the creek and are very noisy in the evening. It sounds like a party.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Squirrel Frustration!

Isn't it fun to watch squirrels? This little guy was determined to have a snack. His/her (and all the cousins) appetite is so huge we have had to purchase squirrel-proof feeders to see that the birds get something to eat!

"I can see it but I can't get it!! Almost - Darn!"

"Well, that was tiring."

You can see how much I love my new camera. It is a Cannon PowerShot SX10IS 10.0 Mega Pixel. These squirrel shots were taken through my living room window.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wildlife abounds!

This Mama deer brings her triplets into our yard to eat our azaleas. I don't think we will have many blooms this spring but it is more important that this family have enough to eat. We were so worried when hunting season started and we saw the triplets by themselves. But during our big snowstorm there they all were in our yard! What a lovely Christmas present! I took this shot today as they were headed toward the lake.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Camera for Christmas!

Christmas was wonderful here with three out of the four children home, along with two spouses. Everyone had done such thoughtful shopping and took pleasure in giving gifts. Of course, the receiving was pretty good too! My new Cannon camera with super zoom and macro setting is fantastic! So get set for lots of photos in the postings to come!

My cats Big Guy, Cindy and I took a walk on a nice day before the present cold spell set in. They are always ready for a walk. Do your cats like to go for a walk with you?