Category Archives: 52 weeks

Week 47 :: Thoughts and Results

Last Friday morning, I was sitting on my couch, watching the morning news, eating cereal, when I noticed this strange orange glow coming from behind me. I turned and looked over my shoulder, and saw a truly stunning sunrise out my window. The photo doesn’t do it justice; it was that one single moment that happens with sunrises and sunsets, where the color is so intense and special that you’re not entirely sure it’s real. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would have wondered if it was an altered photograph.

As I ran to grab my camera, I realized that I haven’t seen a sunrise that special in a while, and if I had been anywhere else in my house that morning, I would have missed it.

And I couldn’t help wondering what else I’ve missed.

I’m not always “in the moment” or “present”. Some days I’m tired. Sometimes I’m grumpy and impatient. Some days, my mind calls in sick and wanders about. When I’m working, either on a project or on an idea, I’m completely oblivious to the world around me. Sometimes, instead of focusing on the people I’m with, I’m plotting a new project. I know this about myself, and it’s not something that I particularly like. Is it too early to make a resolution? Because right now, I want to make “being present” a personal goal.

That disconnected feeling has been growing over the last month. That’s why I wanted to touch base last week and get to know what you like and respond to here on my blog. Have I missed something with you all? Have I missed clues about what people are responding to, too wrapped up in my own thoughts? Have I been rushing to get a message out, without stopping to think if it’s needed or wanted? Totally possible on all counts. Even if it hadn’t been a 52 Weeks blog prompt, it was time for a check-in to be done (again with the kismet!).

Why does it matter to me? Because this is how I connect with you. Blogs are the kind of platform that doesn’t require short answers. I don’t have to fit myself into 140 characters or short blurbs or item descriptions; I can say as much as I want without limiting myself here. Here, I have the freedom to be personal and personable without restriction, and I want that connection to be sound. If I want to have a dialogue here, I have to do my part and be receptive to what you’re saying.

I found your survey responses fabulous and curious and insightful. Originally, I thought I’d share the general results, till I realized that it’s probably only fascinating to me (I’m kinda geeky like that). So, I’ll simply say that there were a few surprises, and lots of things to think over. You’ve given me totally usable and specific feedback, which is fantastic. There’s absolutely no way to make everyone happy, so I’m not going to stress about it; regular readers are pretty content, and the occasional reader seems satisfied, too. Can’t ask for more than that.

Thanks to your feedback, I’ve got a few ideas of what to tweak, directions to focus attention on. I’m doing my best to listen, and I’m not low on opinions or ideas, so if you’ve got a burning question, you only have to ask. I think a little change will be good, so thanks for coming along for the ride.

I’d love to know – anybody else feel a little disconnected? Anybody have problems not being present, too?


Week 46 :: Poll

Hello, lovely readers! I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was a good one. I spent mine relaxing and creating. After a few weeks of go-go-go, it was nice to just slow down for a couple days. And with one holiday done, there’s only one more to go before vacation time! I’m excited. Rest is good.

It was also nice to give myself thinking room. Does anyone else do that? Where you turn off the TV, ignore the computer, and open up your mind to possibilities? I’ve been thinking a lot, and one thing that I could use feedback on (if you’d be so kind) is the direction with my blog.

See, I know what I like to write about, just like I know what I like to make. But sometimes, what I like and what people are interested in aren’t exactly close together, much less the same thing. Comments have slowed down, and while I’m pretty sure it’s because of the time of year (there just isn’t enough time to go around), I thought I’d check in and open up for some feedback about the blog and about a few projects that have been rattling around in my brain.

Here goes nothing: Click me! Click me!
Thank you!

P.S. If you’re curious, the hand-drawn wreath graphic is from Miss B, the texture is from Kim Klassen, and the font is Jellyka Western Princess.

This post is part of a series for my 52 Weeks challenge, inspired by the 52 Weeks to Blogging Your Passion ebook by Tara Gentile. Grab a copy and join me!


Week 45 :: How to Use a Clipping Mask Tip Share

One of my favorite things about Photoshop is using a clipping mask. What’s a clipping mask? It’s when you mesh two or more layers together; the top layer(s) then takes the shape of the bottom layer.

This is awesome when you have a specific layout you want your photos to fall into, or if you’d like to make a specific background, photo, or digital paper into a particular shape. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Let’s say I want this scalloped circle to have a canvas texture. Rather than struggle to cut the shape out of the canvas photo itself, I can do this easily with a clipping mask.

For some things, like square or rectangular boxes, or a mosaic, you can resize and cut and paste and move it all into place, but honestly, that’s a lot of work. A clipping mask adds the background/paper into the shape for you, and you can then make adjustments to the size of each photo within the frame you’ve set up. Clipping masks are also non-destructive to both layers, so you can switch out the background till you’re satisfied without having to make the shape each time.

Here’s how you do it.

You’ll need:
* Photoshop Elements
* A background image
* A shape image (psst… there’s a freebie or two at the bottom)

I’m going to assume you’re semi-familiar with Elements, so I’m going to skip a few basic descriptions. If you need more help, let me know and I’ll walk you through it. If you need to, you can click the photos to see them larger.

Step 1: Open both your images in Elements.

Step 2: Copy your background image onto your shape image.
Good tip – you want to make sure is that your background image is as large or larger than the shape you’ll be clipping it onto. You can check the size of both files by going to Edit > Resize or hitting ALT + CTRL + I.

Step 3: Arrange the layers in the Layers Panel.
If it’s not on top, click and drag the background image layer on top of the shape layer. This is important because clipping masks combine down, not up. You also want to make sure the two layers you’re working with are directly on top of each other; there shouldn’t be any random layers in between.

Step 4: Create your clipping mask.
Hold down the ALT button (Option on Macs), then move your mouse over the dividing line between the layers. The pointer will turn into a double circle icon; once it does, click and it will create a clipping mask. You’ll know it worked when the top background layer indents in and shows an arrow pointing down next to the thumbnail.

If ALT + a mouse click doesn’t work, click on the background layer, then hit CTRL + G (Command + G for Macs) to create the clipping mask. You can also create a clipping mask by clicking on the background layer, then going up to the Layers button along the top bar, then choosing “Create Clipping Mask” from the drop down menu.

Step 5: Resize the background image
Click on the background image layer, then using the Move tool, move and resize your image to taste.

Step 6: If you’re working with more than 1 background image… OPTIONAL
If you have another background image you want to work with, now’s the time to add it to the mix. Paste it onto the other layers, drag it up to the top, the clip it to the current clipping mask. Move it around till it’s where you want it to be.

If background image B blocks or covers background image A, you can always drag that layer underneath the first. The layer on the top is the layer that will show first or show on top.

This is also a good time to add in any text you’d like.

Step 7: Merge visible
If you’re going to use this on another file, you want to be able to copy and paste all of the layers exactly as you see it. So, once you’re happy with the way the layers look, hit Shift + CTRL + E to merge all visible layers. You can also access that by going up to Layers > Merge Visible or Layers > Flatten Image. Then you can simply copy and paste this newly flattened image onto a larger file.

If this is the final image, you don’t really have to merge or flatten the layers; saving it as a JPEG or PNG file will do that for you.

Final result!

I hope this helps you play with Elements! There are tons of uses for this; digital scrapbooking comes to mind, but I also use this for my blog. For example, I simply made one mosaic template that I used over and over for my Crafty Holiday blog post last week.

So, where do you get “shapes” to use? You can use anything really; any image or even a font can be used as a shape to clip to. But if you’d like some help, I’ve got a few free files for you to download and play with. Enjoy!

Clipping Mask Shape A, 148K
Clipping Mask Shape B, 161 K
Clipping Mask Shape C, 131 K
Clipping Mask Shape D, 131 K

Like the background image? You can grab it from Lost & Taken.


Week 44 :: Gratitude

Everyone’s so busy these days, aren’t they? It never fails to amaze me how crazy this season gets… and right now, I just want to slow down.

It’s pure happenstance that this week’s prompt is about gratitude, what with Thanksgiving coming up. There are a lot of things I’m grateful for, but I wanted to take a minute and say that I’m grateful for you, dear blog reader. There are a ton of fabulous blogs out there to choose from and read, and you still come by here for a visit. Thanks for that.

So, I decided to do something different this week. It’s not quite Thanksgiving yet, but no matter. I’m declaring this week Freebie Week. Over the next five days, I’ll have a freebie for you to download and use each day, starting with this little printable Thank You card.

I’ve been playing around in Photoshop the last few weeks, and I’ve put what I’ve learned into use for you. Today’s freebie can be downloaded here – simply download the file, print it out onto white cardstock (try a textured one for a really nice look), trim the edges, and ta-da! You’ve got a cute, all-purpose gratitude card to use and share.

I made it so that when it’s folded, it measures 5.5 inches wide by 4.25 inches high – perfect for the standard A2 envelope. Happy Monday!

Terms of Use
As with all the freebies I’ll be sharing this week, you are free to use them however you like. I ask that you please not sell either the file or the printed card, or claim credit. If you’d like to mention this freebie or my Freebie Week on your blog, I’d love it, and would appreciate if you would direct people here to download. Thanks so much!

Some of the goodies I used to make this card are from Katrina at Pugly Pixel. You can browse her freebies right here.


This post is part of a series for my 52 Weeks challenge, inspired by the 52 Weeks to Blogging Your Passion ebook by Tara Gentile. 

Week 43 :: Mind Full of Questions

Photo from Lost & Taken’s Summer Textures and embellished by me

My head feels so full right now. I can’t tell if I’m losing focus or changing focus. I’m at a point where I feel like I need to decide to keep doing what I’ve been doing, and recommit my efforts… or switch things up and leave some things behind. And if I do switch things up, which path do I take? There’s more than one alternative (my love of options and choices is absolutely biting me in the butt right now).

Why make a decision at all? Because it’s starting to become really distracting trying to do everything I want to do. Some of these thoughts and ideas have been with me for a couple years now. I haven’t shared them because it takes me a while to make them coherent (does that make sense?); some aren’t even clear to me, so how could I expect anyone else to get it? (But maybe they will, and that’s the problem with keeping everything inside.)

I also haven’t shared them because they require a lot of work, these ideas of mine, and I honestly don’t know if I have the energy to start them, much less finish. It’s not fear holding me back; it’s realization that my time and energy is actually finite – there’s only so much time I can realistically put into projects, you know? Is it the right time to reconsider them? Or should they stay in their box, cuddled up and waiting for the timing to be better?

There are a lot of things I want to ask, but I’m not sure those questions have answers. I have a sneaking suspicion that those answers have to come from me, and I’m a little clueless today.

Anybody have any sage advice? I’m faltering and could use a boost.

P.S. The Lost & Taken photo above was suppose to be a texture, but it’s so pretty on its own, don’t you think?

This post is part of a series for my 52 Weeks challenge, inspired by the 52 Weeks to Blogging Your Passion ebook by Tara Gentile. Grab a copy and join me!