Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Digital Photography/Photoshop Class!

Last night I started my first class in digital photography/photoshop. I am very excited to learn more and already learned quite a lot. The class is 3 hours and we spend the first 1/2 taking photos, playing with settings, and experimenting. Last night we did light and shadow and stayed mostly in the semi-auto mode. My lovely Canon Rebel T1i has never been used to such an in-depth extent! The other part of our class is devoted to photoshop. We get on computers and try out different techniques and play around with options. I've gotten into photoshop on my own, but already things are making more sense and I can definitely do more than I could before. They say the proof is in the pudding, so below is some of my pudding:

This is my wonderful, handsome husband. He loves reading and is never too far away from his Kindle. One lovely afternoon we went to my favorite park near Long Island Sound and caught the breezes while we had a picnic then read on a blanket under a huge old tree. For this images I put a glow filter on it, desaturated it, then put a sepia filter over it.

This is one of my favorites, the Breakers, a mansion in Newport, RI. I adjusted the histogram, then played around until I found a filter I liked then cropped it. Ta-Da!

The First Bank of the United States, Philly. I cropped it, added a colorized filter, then another filter to give it the "aged" look.

This is a beautiful park near where I live. This one I simply cropped then added a colorized filter.

The USS Olympia, in Philly. I adjusted the histogram, played around with filters, then cropped it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lowell (LOL)

Come take a quick trip with me! This past weekend the hubs and I went north to Massachusetts and now you're taking a quick visit. Now, hop on!

We're on our way around Lowell, Massachusetts. Why Lowell? Well, as nerdy as it might sound, I've wanted to go there since I learned about it in a college history class. Lowell is widely considered to be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in America. Lowell was founded in the 1820s by a group of Boston investors (called the Boston Associates) who selected the location based on a specific aspect that I'll show you later but I'll give you a hint; it had a specific aspect relating to water that gave it an "edge." These investors built factory after factory based on the English model and utilizing the latest technologies. Many of these factories (such as the one seen below) were in use for well over 100 years.

Above is the Boott Mills factory. It was in use for over 120 years. They made numerous different items relating to cotton cloth. The entire process from getting in the cotton bales to the finished product was made here. Below are restored looms from around 1913 that they still use today. I even bought a tea towel made on one of the looms!

This is the "weaving room." The sound of these looms in production is deafening. Also, the room has to be humid to make the cotton more pliable so steam is pumped into the room from sprayers near the ceiling. You really get a sense of the working conditions in the early 1800s. So...in the 1830s with the advent of the first factories they needed a free labor source. Where would you get a labor source that is untapped in the early 1800s in New England? Employ women! Yes, women! I am copying this next bit from Wikipedia, but I assure you, the facts check out, "In 1840, the factories employed almost 8,000 workers — mostly women between the ages of 16 and 35. The city became world-renowned as a center of efficient industry. The Industrial Revolution was changing the face of commerce, and Lowell was central to this transformation in the United States....In 1840, the factories employed almost 8,000 workers — mostly women between the ages of 16 and 35" These "mill girls" lived in nearby boarding houses where an equivalent of a "house mother" ensured the girls lived up to a set of certain standards.

(photo from Department of Commerce and Labor. Children"s Bureau. (Most Recent). Part of Series: Lewis Hine Photographs for the National Child Labor Committee, ca. 1912)

Here is one of the looms in action:

Okay, so I won't withhold the reason why an area of farmland was chosen to be the site of the beginning of America's Industrial Revolution. The Merrimack River which runs through Lowell drops 30 feet over the course of a mile's distance.

The use of gravity and water combined to be indispensable to early industry. The water turned great waterwheels in the basements of these factories. Later, turbines were used and greatly increased production output. Here's another view of the drop in the Merrimack River.

To be able to fully utilize this water power, a series of canals were built (there was one from the 1790s that already existed but it had been used to aid in transporting lumber around the drop in the river). Here is one of the locks. In that building up top is where all the mechanisms are to close the gates and raise/lower the water. After almost 200 years everything still works and still relies on human power! (We took a tour on a boat and were able to experience being raised then lowered in the lock).

So when you think about much of the origin of the "modern" era you can say you've seen where it began!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lovin' from my Oven (and Stove)

A double blog posting today! (Weird, I know). I thought of an interesting segment I could occasionally defer to--"Lovin' from my Oven (or Stove)." For dinner tonight I made chicken and dumpling soup with beer bread. It turned out rather fabulously if I do say so myself. Also, since I'm trying to get more into photography (practicing for my upcoming class at the end of the month) I thought I would take you on a photographic journey of our meal.

You can even see the bubbles from the simmering soup!

Wow, even just looking at some of these pictures again makes me hungry!

Comfort food, thy name is Chicken Dumpling Soup!

Recent Projects

Now that my friend, Devon has received her surprise in the mail I can freely post some of my recent projects!

Yay for Baby Bibs! I think they turned out well. Devon and her husband, Cory, are waiting to find out if it's a boy or a girl so I tried to use colors that could work either way. Though, I admit, the teal and brown polka dot one is a bit girly for a boy, but honestly babies are meant to be cute and few things are cuter than polka dots!

So, after I finished the bibs a few days later I got inspired again:

Any idea what it is? Alright, I wont play games with you. It's a trash bag for your car! The velcro straps ensure you can adjust it to fit around the shifting gear and hang down to the side or around the back of a neck rest for the back or middle row of seats in your vehicle! The boning in the front makes it always stay open and easy to just toss something in. I love having something so colorful also be so functional! I do admit, though, to keep it cleaner longer I took a small plastic sack and put inside to use as a liner.

Here's another view. I sent my mother photos and now she wants me to make her one for her van--only she wants hers to be in garnet color to match the paint job! Haha! What can I say? That's my mom!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My New Workspace!

Well here it is....my new workspace!

Now I know it looks dull and utilitarian and unfortunately I didn't take a picture of the "before" (I like to think I psychologically blocked it from my mind because I was too embarrassed of how it looked!). Imagine, if you will, where the folding table is and where the bookshelf is a 1/2 dresser (on the bottom portion) and 1/2 bookshelf (on the top). These were two pieces of furniture I've had since middle school and it was time to say goodbye. I intended to Craig's list them, but I've repurposed them in our guest bedroom which was truly Spartan before as there was really just the bed in there and nothing else. What looked out-of-place in the project room, makes our guest bedroom look homey and comfortable!

Anyway, these are the only pieces of furniture in the room now. The bookshelf holds not just books but my cardstock paper, craft books, Cricut cartridges, inspirational magazines, etc. The desk which was piled up before now holds my Cricut, sewing machine, and printer/scanner/copier. The folding table can be easily taken down but I leave it up for extra space. It's great to have a whole table to lay things out, cut, position, or whatever I need. One of my friends is even planning to come over and work on a project with me. With two tables it's easy for us each to have our own space! This reorganization/cleanup was a several day process. My hubby and I went through our books and got rid of 3 boxes worth! Then there was the desk clean-up, sorting, filing, building the bookshelf, and moving things around. I know it may look bland, but I'm proud of it. I like to think of myself as a reformed clutter bug so something this simple and tidy makes my spirit soar and my creative juices flow!

Friday, September 3, 2010

First Post...always intimidating!

The title of this post says it all. The first post sets the tone for the entire blog and that's definitely intimidating. I started this blog to coincide with a new avenue in my life. I give in. I am submitting to my crafty side. I've fought my creativity for too long with bland and mundane undertakings and my inner spark has fizzled--but no longer! I am turning over a new leaf!

I signed up for a digital photography class that begins at the end of this month. I've had a digital camera and dabbled in photoshop for awhile but all at a very amateur level. I am also saving up to purchase the necessary equipment to begin metal stamping jewelry and jewelry creation. The past few weeks I've dusted off my sewing machine and finished several projects I've been meaning to start for months now. I am pretty pleased with how they have turned out and I intend to post pictures. I want to create a log of all the projects I do and hopefully put up some of them on etsy and see if anyone else enjoys them as much as I do.

This blog is also an outgrowth of my new adventure and my new "leaf" so to speak. If you're curious as to the name...I'm just a midwestern girl who fell in love with and married her high school sweetheart right out of college. Fast forward a few years and we are living the military life never letting the dust settle before packing up and moving again. I've learned a lot, experienced life and gained inspiration in different parts of the United States as we move--hither, thither, and yon!