Friday, February 24, 2012

Rosamunde Pilcher - Favorite Author

First let me explain that I am an "Associate" of Amazon. That means if you click on one of my links that leads you to Amazon and you purchase anything through my link, I get a small (read teeny-tiny) commission.  I shop on Amazon a lot. My children give me very generous Amazon gift cards.  So when I am posting about something that is sold on Amazon, why not provide a link for you to use and perhaps purchase?

Finding a part time job has just not happened in this area of CT which has high unemployment. Selling my photos has not provided an income yet. I keep trying different things. So now I am trying being an Associate of Amazon. If I can figure out how, I will put a link on my sidebar that will lead to Amazon. My son-in-law is a big help with the technical things. Again, if you buy anything through any of my Amazon links, I get a tiny commission. You can tell the photos of the books were borrowed from Amazon.

So, that said, let me tell you about my favorite author. Have you read any books by Rosamunde Pilcher? If not, you are in for a treat. Her books are the kind worth owning because you can read them over and over. She was born in 1924 and sold her first short story when she was eighteen. Mrs. Pilcher grew up in Cornwall, England but reared her four  children in Dundee, Scotland where her husband, Graham worked in the family jute business. She first wrote under the name Jane Fraser and published ten books. At the same time she was writing as Rosamund Pilcher.

Her breakthrough book was The Shell Seekers, a novel in which an elderly British woman relives her life in flashbacks. It deals with the woman’s relationship with her adult children and describes life in Britain during World War ll. It sold five million copies and was adapted for the stage.

Often when I read, I skim through descriptions just to get to the information about the story. Not so with Mrs. Pilcher’s books. Her descriptions are a joy to read and I savor every word. They set the mood and atmosphere. You can almost taste the tea, smell the clean air, and feel the warmth of the fire. And they make me want to eat "sausages."

I just finished September Winter Solstice is one of my favorites. Mrs. Pilcher is described as “Queen of the Heartwarming Bestseller.”

If you would like to read more about her, Wickipedia has a good site, or her official web site.

Click here to go to her Amazon page where you can order her books - Rosamunde Pilcher.

Her son, Robin Pilcher, is a writer and I enjoy his writing as well. His books start with several unrelated stories, then he weaves the people’s lives together.

Below are excerpts from September which takes place in Scotland. These passages are examples of the lovely descriptions.

“It had rained during the night, leaving puddles by the roadside and gardens dripping with moisture. In Strathcroy, cottages slumbered, curtains stayed drawn. Slowly the occupants stirred, rose, opened doors, lit fires, made cups of tea. Plumes of peat-smoke rose, straight, from chimney -pots. Dogs were walked, hedges clipped, cars washed. Mr. Ishak opened up his shop for the sale of morning rolls, milk, cigarettes, Sunday newspapers, and any other commodity that a family might need to get through the empty day. From the tower of the Presbyterian church, the bell tolled.”

“Out of doors, the day, like a fickle woman, had ceased to sulk and decided, for no obvious reason, to brighten up. A wind had risen, freshening the air. From time to time, lozenges of sunlight fell upon the polished table, sparking from silver and cut glass tumblers.”

“I know, Edie. What can’t be cured must be endured.”
“That’s true enough,” said Edie placidly, and went to get the kettle and fill it with water. A cup of tea seemed to be in order. There was nothing, in times of stress, like a good hot cup of tea."

"As soon as she had arrived, she had set up the ironing board, and ironed the morning’s load of washing, fresh from the line. This was now stacked, crisp and folded, on the other end of the table, and emanated a pleasant smell."

"The stone wall felt warm in the sunshine, and she leaned her arms on this and gazed downwards at the flowing peat-brown water. Sometimes she and Henry played Pooh-sticks from this bridge, flinging sticks up-stream and then racing back to watch for the first, the winning stick, to appear."

"In the golden evening, Henry walked home. There were few people about because it was nearly six o’clock and they were all indoors eating their tea. He imagined this comforting meal. Soup perhaps, and then haddock or chops and then cakes and biscuits, all washed down with strong and scalding tea. He himself felt pleasantly full of sausages. But perhaps before he went to bed there would be space for a mug of cocoa. "

Monday, February 20, 2012

Learning Through Sheer Determination

Mary, who I will be joining for Mosaic Monday, has been using Web Boards from the CoffeeShop Blog. That presented a challenge I couldn't resist, except I couldn't make it work. Several times I tried and gave up. Tonight I was determined. I read all the tips on the CoffeeShop Blog. I installed the "Actions," a real leap of faith when you have to add things deep into your system and then throw away something that is already there.

Still it would not work. The instructions didn't make any sense. I wasn't seeing what the directions said I was. Finally I opened my Effects palette in PSE6 and there was a new little thumbnail. It still took some experimenting and I just stumbled upon the answer. But here is my Web Board.

These are photos of one of my recent pieces. This is proof that I haven't only been creating montages on my computer. The background is a small piece I wove and the top is a fabric. The bird nest is a basket I made from iris and daylily leaves. I put it all inside a wide wooden frame. The bottom photo is the creation in progress.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Golden Montage

This Montage uses all the things I have learned lately. Making the background is challenging and a real pleasure. Finding the right pictures and especially pictures that go together I find to be the difficult part.

Thank you all for your comments on my other montages. My Purple Hydrangea Montage, my Follow the Sun, and my Birds and Dots. They say practice makes perfect so I will keep practicing. Please keep commenting and let me know if you think changes would make it better.

I keep collecting bits of paper and things to print with. Lots of ideas floating around in my head. But when I have a little time, I find myself looking forward to creating on the computer.

I love the way I have complete control to delete layers, change colors of anything, erase edges, blur colors or change opacity. By using the eyedropper tool I can match any color in my picture. The possibilities are endless.

We had an impromptu dinner party tonight. Last week I had cooked so much the refrigerator was full of goodies - (some people call them leftovers). Our son called to say he was dropping in for a visit and would stay for dinner. Friends were going to stop by later so we asked them to come earlier and have dinner. Out came the roast turkey leftovers and the gravy. We mixed up a batch of dressing using Pepperidge Farm sage flavored bread crumbs and put it in the oven while the potatoes boiled and my son-in-law tossed a green salad. I set the table for seven and we sat down to turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and more. There was even dessert on hand. All eaten at the dining table in the living room near the fire. It was a lovely evening. Here is our table on another evening set for dinner.

Thanks to Melody of Fibermania for her recipe of Lime Cheesecake Bars.  I used a lemon and pecans instead of walnuts. It was my turn to provide refreshments at the Garden Club meeting this week and I was brave, or foolish, and tried this recipe for the first time. All turned out well. These are delicious. Two people asked for the  recipe and I shared, giving Melody full credit. And there were some left over for tonight's dessert along with a coffee cake and coffee of course.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Learning to Knit

Probably everyone who is reading this can knit. I can crochet, weave and sew, but knitting looked impossible. After one lesson I can do the impossible!

It is only a small piece but there are no mistakes and it is fairly even. Thank you to a very good teacher who was patient with me. We sat on the sofa and put our feet up on the coffee table. She turned on the gas fire and served me a cup of tea. And we shared some laughs. I can't wait for my next lesson.

I'm linking to Little Red House Mosaic Monday. Hop on over and see all the other mosaics and take a look at Mary's wonderful photography.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Purple Hydrangea Montage

I'm exercising two things these days, my brain and my fingers. By experimenting I am learning so much! Here is the latest photo montage. My background here is one I created in Elements using brushes and some text then layering several downloaded textures over it. Then I changed the hue, saturation and lightness until it was the right background for this purple hydrangea.

I added two of the pictures and lowered the opacity level enough to see through them. Next I created a colored rectangle for the hydrangeas and put it in the center.  Using the same color I created a border. I have learned how to use the eyedropper tool so I could choose the purple from the flower and use it for the borders.

Thank you all for your comments on yesterdays dark sunflower in my Learning on the Internet post. If you think these pictures can be improved, please tell me. Since I am self taught, I appreciate the input. It is all part of the learning experience!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Learning on the Internet

I have been learning about using layer masks in Photoshop Elements 6. There isn't anything you can't find on the internet - with tutorials too! I found an application to download a different mask (Free) than the one already in Elements that lets me adjust it more. 

Also I found a great blog where there are wonderful textures by Jerry Jones at Shadowhouse Creations to download free of charge.

There are two of Jerry's textures in this picture. The words you see on the green strip are a scan from a one hundred year old textbook. This altered photo was fun to do. The color scheme was taken from the flower.

Your comments would be a big help to me. I'm still learning and need your opinions. After I spend a long time creating a piece, I find it hard to be objective.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Save your favorite jeans!

Don't you just hate it when your favorite jeans start fraying at the seams and the hem? Who wants to go shopping and have to view yourself in the dressing room mirror? Then you have to break in the new pair to make them as soft and comfortable as the old ones.

I decided to repair my fraying jeans and hopefully get two more years wear. Maybe by then I will have lost another ten pounds and I won't have to avert my eyes from the dressing room mirror.

The first picture is the inner thigh seam. I zig-zagged over the frayed area. The second picture is turned sideways. Sorry!

The bottom left picture is the hem after I took out the stitching to let the hem down. My pants always seem to shrink in length. I pushed the two frayed sides together and held them as they went through the machine with a wide and close together zig-zag.  This also lined up with the raw edge that had been inside the hem. So I gained an inch and stitched the raw edge to make a hem while covering the frayed area.  The picture on the bottom right shows both pant legs.

I'm wearing the repaired jeans as I type this. I hope this helps save your favorite pair!

I'm linking my mosaic to Little Red House Mosaic Monday.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Inspiration from Jo

One of the blogs I follow is One a Day by Jo Reimer. My inspiration for this mosaic came from her post, Piecings, continued. While Jo created her collage with papers, I started from a print I made on fabric. With acrylic paint, I painted the inside of a mailing envelope lined with bubble wrap. Placing the painted bubble wrap on my fabric, I rolled over it with a brayer. This provided the circles for the background. After the fabric was dry I scanned it into Photoshop Elements.

This is composed of several layers over the background. To make the large line in the middle and the rectangles I used brushes and adjusted the opacity. The bird is cut from a photo of mine using the magic extractor of Elements.

I also made some prints on paper. As I was cooking the ground beef for spaghetti sauce, my eye fell on  the styrofoam meat tray. I cut it into shapes and used it like a stamp. My material was a paper grocery bag that I crumpled several times then smoothed out. I will scan those pieces to show another day.

Be sure to check out Jo's blog for a dose of inspiration! Thanks, Jo!  I'm joining Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.

After a critique from Jo, I altered my collage and this is the result. What do you think?

Here you can see the two side by side. Jo suggested the picture would be better with fewer of the circles so they could be an accent. I agreed so I moved up the opacity of the layer with the color blocks to make them solid. I don't like the resulting intensity of color. This could have been done a different way to keep the original color. Jo also suggested moving up the two birds in the lower right.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hearts Project

This is my new mystery project. All I'm saying is that it also involves an empty container of Hershey's Baking Chocolate. I created these hearts on the computer. It was fun making the plaids and other bases then cutting them out with the cookie cutter brush.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fun with Altering

Yes, it is fun to play around with photos. This is shot of the trees in my yard in Virginia. I love the photo but I thought maybe I could do more with it. So I inverted it and then played with the colors. When the vote was taken at my house no one liked it. "Ghostly," was the comment. But I like it - love the lacy look of it. When seen without the original, it becomes almost an abstract.

So what it your vote? Do you like the altered photo? 

Head over to Little Red House and see her new design for this weeks' mosaic at  Mosaic Monday.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A New Look

This is another crop from the Cookie Cutter Tool in Photoshop Elements. I love to play around and experiment like this. You may recognize this photo from my collage for Mosaic Monday. Here is a new and closer look for you. This stream is just off route 6 in Andover, CT. There is an old stone dam and the stream has detoured around the side of the dam.  Don't you love the lichen and colors on this large rock? I was very satisfied with the look of the water in the photo. My goal was to learn how to get that smoothly flowing look to the water.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tiny Mushroom

Isn't this an adorable tiny mushroom? The unusual crop shape is the result of my experimenting with Photoshop Elements. This is created by using the cookie cutter tool. After I cut it out in this unusual shape I put it on a solid colored background. I like it. What do you think?

I'm linking to Outdoor Wednesday. Visit A Southern Daydreamer and see the other outdoor photos. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rushing water and mossy rocks.....

This collage is pictures I took in November and early December of streams near home. I love streams tumbling over rocks - the sounds of the water, the mossy rocks. All my life I have wanted to live on the bank of a stream like these. It hasn't happened yet.

I have been focusing on learning how to get that look of silky flowing water. It required a Natural Density filter and knowing how to set the aperture, shutter speed, exposure and type of light. I sat on the bank of one stream for an hour and a half and took numerous pictures. For the photo on the top left I was standing in the stream wearing my gardening shoes when I stepped in a hole and the water poured into my shoe. It was worth it for this shot.

Go over to Little Red House and see the other photo mosaics. Try one yourself!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cozy and Inviting

Doesn't this look inviting? I suppose no one was home as there is no smoke rising from the chimney. Maybe I could add some! This picture is the result of time spent playing with filters in Elements (cutout, twice) and a texture on top. Then I searched for a quote.

Picture yourself in a rocking chair pulled up close to a woodstove with the doors open. The logs are snapping and crackling. A book is in your lap and you have kicked off your shoes. Do I smell hot chocolate?