Monday, January 31, 2011

The One With the Little Farmer Quilt

In preparation for opening an Etsy shop, I have returned to my first love: quilting.
Check out this adorable Little Farmer Baby Quilt.
The little farm animals are so cute! This quilt would be perfect for a crib or tummy time and teaching animals and the sounds they make.

It is machine quilted and hand-bound. I love it so much it will be hard to let it go, but I'm also excited for some little baby to have and love it, too.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The One With the Hair Flowers

I've recently begun a new series of projects. They're called, "Projects I can do at the kitchen counter while Ellie plays." As it turns out, the afternoon nap is not a sufficient amount of time to get everything done that I want to get done. So, I've turned the kitchen counter into my new craft area. The criteria for these projects is that they require limited materials and no sewing machine - as the sewing machine is in the real craft room where there are also lots of other things Ellie shouldn't play with but wants to.

Project number one: Hair flowers. These will soon be available in my Etsy shop. They'll be available in different sizes so they can be either hair or sweater accessories.

I think this sparkly one would be a great hair accessory for prom.

Ellie was nice enough to model some of the flowers for me. Isn't she just the cutest.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The One With the Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am a happy girl. I found a recipe that combines 3 of my favorite things in the baking world: toffee, chocolate chip cookies and almond flavoring.
Maria over at Two Peas and Their Pod made this delicious recipe for Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies... and boy, is it awesome!

I am an especially big fan of the almond flavoring. I didn't have any almond paste on hand so I substituted 1 tsp. of almond extract and it does the trick.
I think my new baking resolution should be to use almond flavoring in everything I make. It's that good.

Josh and Maria are my new kitchen icons! Why? Because under the recipes tab of their site they have 94 cookie recipes. Yep, 94! That's twice as many cookie recipes as main dish recipes... which, in my opinion, is the only way to go. If I could subsist on desert and never cook a main dish again in my life, I would. Also, they have a whole bunch of breakfast recipes I can't wait to try. Did I mention their my new kitchen icons? Because they really are.

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is. Fortunately for me, I still have some of these in the kitchen, so I just might go snag one.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The One With All the Eye Boosting

Well looking over my favorite pictures these last few days I have realized something: as much as I love taking pictures, I really need to improve my photo editing skills. Especially because I'm such a rookie at photography, editing skills might come in handy.
So I turned to one of my favorite bloggers, Katie from Bower Power. She has put up a few tutorials that are very helpful for little aspiring photographers like me. She is leaps and bounds ahead of me, of course, but her helpful hints are just what I was looking for. I started out with her tutorial "Eye Boost" and will be tackling the others in my spare time in the weeks ahead. I'd like to be as prepared as possible to take great newborn pictures of the new baby.

I started out by downloading the Photoshop actions for Adobe CS provided by the wonderful Pioneer Woman. They are a great little set to get anyone started.

I mostly used the "Bring On they Eyes" and "Sharpen This" actions according to the directions provided by Katie in the "Eye Boost" tutorial. After using these actions, I decreased the layer opacity - sometimes significantly - in order to make sure the eyes didn't look too creepy. That would be sad.
All of the before and after shots I provided for this post had been previously edited with coloring, etc. So, this is mostly just showing the eye enhancement.

Scrunch nose before:
And after: Just a little bit of sharpening and her eyes really pop!
Valentine's baby before:
And after:
Baby Cyril before:
And after:
Tutu cute before:
And after:
Flower girl before:
And after:
Valerie before:
And after:
And again:
And after:
Although I love this picture, I realize that the over-exposure is unfortunate. But in some ways, I don't mind the uber glow... I just wish Ellie wasn't quite so washed out.

But a little sharpening and voila! Her sparkly eyes are more defined and that sort of makes up for the extra glow.

The difference is subtle but impressive. I'm so excited I learned how to do this! I have always been wondering how people get little baby eyes to look so striking.

It's little steps towards improving my photography skills, but it's fun!

P.S. If you're using Photoshop Elements, the actions above will not work. Download the actions for Elements here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The One With the Year in Review (2010)

Well, it is officially January 22nd. Does that make it too late for a Year in Review post? Probably. But I didn't get to it sooner, so... better late than never, right?
Looking over my favorite pictures from 2010 I pulled about a hundred that I just loved. But I tried to pare them down to my absolute favorites. This year I got my Canon EOS Xsi and have loved it! I'm not great at photography, but I do enjoy capturing these moments, especially as Ellie is growing up. So, here are a few of my most treasured photographs from 2010.

Before I had my own Canon, I borrowed one and went a little crazy. I love Ellie's expression in this picture, back when she was only 4 months old. Look at how bald she is! (Not that she's got a whole lot more hair now.)
Her baby blues again. I just can't get enough of them.
My sisters and mom came to visit for my birthday in February.
At the park on a sunny day. (Five months old.)
I love the cherry blossom trees at the University of Portland and will miss them every spring.
Ellie became much more photogenic when she could sit up.
We took a beach trip to Newport, Oregon, in March.
Ellie at Easter. (7 months old.)
Pub crawl 2010. Finishing our senior year at the University of Portland with celebration and sadness - Cara and Kaycie headed off to distant lands after graduation. Well, Texas and Louisiana aren't that far away.
We graduated!
Ellie and her great-grandmother Ellie.
Kaycie and Erich got married in June! It was a lovely wedding. Congrats, Metzelaars! Read more about that here.
I was matron of honor and Ellie was the flower girl. Who had to be carried by Steve down the aisle.
Ellie and I went to visit Mallory's neice, Addison. They had some fun in the pool. Here, Ellie is giving Addie some love.
One of my favorite favorites. I will always loves this picture.
Ellie's infamous scrunch nose phase lasted for a few months.
Family portrait.
Ellie in the bath. More of those big beautiful eyes.
Steve and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary with drinks at a rooftop bar in downtown Portland. It was beautiful.
Ellie turned a whole year old in September. We celebrated with a lot of cake and presents. Read more about that here.
Ellie's grandma came to visit for her birthday!
Birthday girls!
We went to the Pumpkin Patch.

Ellie was a bumble bee for Halloween.
Ellie's autumn portraits were so much fun. See them all here.
Ellie screaming with excitement because she just loves life so much.
My family came to visit for Thanksgiving.
Ellie had her first romp in the snow. She loved it!
Ellie loves our new house! She especially loves the window overlooking the street where she can observe the neighbors passing by.
And that's that. 2010 was a wonderful year full of amazing memories. It will certainly be a year I'll never forget.

A special thanks to Allison Able for letting me borrow her camera before I got mine, and also to Steve W, Mallory P, Joanna C, Tammy F, Erich M and Valerie P for taking the pictures I'm in. <3 you all!
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