January 31, 2014

12 x 12 SB page: 'snuggling'

I did do some scrapping recently (well, in December, anyway)... I found a store in the East Valley that holds a 12-hour crop once a month, so in December, I hauled [some of] my stuff there for the day, and had a great time! (I apologize for the crappy lighting in these photos- I took the pictures after I got back, in the evening, so they're not all that bright.)

This is a one-page layout using some photos Tom took of a rare occurrence: Ariel and Butters, actually being nice to each other, and snuggling together in front of the window! I think most of the pages I made that day were cat oriented, and mostly in a pink color scheme... when you get on a roll you have to stick with it, I guess.

a couple detail photos-- I used a few sequins for accenting the embellishments.

This heart had pre-printed faux-stitching on the edge: a good, easy way to get an extra detail! This page went together pretty quickly, until I realized I should have looked at the paper a bit more closely before I started. Most 12 x 12 scrapbook paper has a 1/2 inch 'branding strip' on the edge that has the manufacturer info on. On this piece of paper it was there too, but the reverse side (the pink I used for the background) was all the same color. Sooo, I actually made my page 12 x 12.5 inches! Thankfully, the page design wasn't compromised too much by having to trim that 1/2 inch off the edge. 

January 29, 2014

bird and water- detail photos

for your enjoyment, here's a few more mallard pics, along with some close-ups of the same photos... 

isn't this just so cool?!? You can actually see the shadows of the water droplets on the feathers!! I can't take any credit for this at all... it's all the camera. 
I know 'real' photographers can get stuff that's so much better than this, too... I'm not sure yet whether I want to learn 'really' how to do that, or not. I think I'm getting better at composing a good shot in the viewfinder, but there's so much about how to compose a shot and how to use the settings on a camera that still I don't know yet, and very possibly, trying to learn all that would make me frustrated with the whole thing.

I like the 'swoosh' of the water behind his tail here and how it echoes the shape of his curled tail feathers! (Dad, do the curly tail feathers mean anything about how old or how well-fed the duck is?? I can't remember if you ever told me that, or if I ever learned it anywhere.) 

I like how the wing feathers are lifted up a bit by the whoosh of air in this photo, since his wings are pushing down against the air underneath.

It's all in the details! (I do take photos of more than just mallards, though... more different birds next time!)

January 27, 2014

so, besides birding...

In addition to birding, I have been doing a little bit of crafting here and there, too. Not much, but some-- I craft a lot more when I'm in a good mood, and the uncertainty of my job situation over the last couple months just sort of 'sucked' the creative spirit right out of me for the most part. (I know that some people craft whatever their mood, or that crafting gets them out of a funk, but my creativity just doesn't work like that. If I'm not in the right frame of mind, then whatever I try do just makes me frustrated, so it's really better if I don't craft when I'm in one of those moods. But enough of my self-analysis... on to the pictures, right?!?)

thank you cards

same basic card design

I only glued the center, so the medallion has a bit of dimension to it

blank card- I love the pink and grey color scheme!
The focal shapes on these cards were all made using my new toy, a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine that can cut paper or fabric using patterns that you design or download from the internet. I've wanted one for a couple years now, and Amazon had a really good deal on it before the holidays, so I finally pulled the trigger on it (it was my verison of Black Friday shopping, lol!). I've only used it a bit so far, but it's pretty cool!!

The machine connects to your computer and the patterns are set-up on the computer screen (using the machine's software) to be cut any size you want, all the way up to 12x12 inches. (it can even be used with vinyl on a roll, so you can even make signs with letters up to 12 inches high.) The paper is set onto a sticky cutting mat to hold it steady and loaded into the machine. Then you 'send' the instructions to the machine which cuts the pattern out of the paper using a teeny-tiny blade. After it cuts the shape, you very carefully 'peel' the paper off the cutting mat, and voila- a really neat, intricately cut shape, without any work at all! (well, not much work, anyway)

Here's the first shapes I cut out of some scrap paper after I got it hooked up-- I wanted to see just how intricate of a shape I could cut. I like the Polaroid frames, and that stem of leaves is pretty cool, too.

this snowflake is about 3 inches across- isn't the detail in the cutting amazing??

This picture shows the machine and laptop in the picture for size comparison's sake. Now, I've been scouring the internet for shapes and designs- there are plenty of people who post shapes for free, or for sale, for those of us who don't want to design our own. It will also cut any font you have loaded onto your computer, too. In addition to cards and scrapping, it can be used for cutting out the parts for assembling 3-D paper projects, too. It can also be used to cut fabric, for craft projects or for quilting. I doubt I'll be doing that, but I do plan to use it for making scrapbook page embellishments.

January 26, 2014

like water off a duck's back-- a few moments in time

yesterday, Tom and I went out for lunch (a very good Indian restaurant that has a lunch buffet- yum!) and to run a couple errands. Since our errands had us up in the East Valley, part of our schedule included stopping at the Riparian Preserve, so I could show him the place in person. We walked one trail, and were only there for a couple hours (so I only took about 300 photos, lol!), but there's always something to see as long as you're looking for it!

a self-portrait (Tom on the left, and me with the camera)

The pictures were all taken right near the library building. There's a small group of mallards and ring-neck ducks that hang out there waiting for people to throw them snacks from the floating bridge, so they get pretty close. 

fyi, you really should click on the photos to make them larger- the details in the pictures are amazing! 

unfortunately, here is where I lifted my finger off the shutter so I didn't get any pictures of him settling back down onto the water, darn it!! (but I'm sure I'll go back soon, to take some more, lol.) It's interesting to me how quickly this kind of thing happens in real life, and the fact that a camera can capture it in such small increments. It really is almost like 'magic' when I look at the pictures on the computer and see what information the camera got that our eyes can't really process to that extent when we're just watching.

(I'm going to post some super-close ups in another post, too-- maybe water droplets and bird feathers aren't that interesting to everyone, but I was really amazed by the amount of detail the camera captured in some of them.) 

January 19, 2014

birding, part one. (semi-random photos from a few hours in time)

Since I didn't start my new job until January 6th, giving my notice at my previous job gave me an unexpected week or so off between Christmas and New Years. So, with some free time, I decided to take my camera, binoculars, and bird book out for a spin. Some Western birds are the same as the ones I grew up seeing in Illinois, but there are quite a few I'm not overly familiar with yet. I hadn't really been out 'birding' since college, when I took a summer ornithology class at the school's field station along the Mississippi river near Hannibal, MO. 

It was great to get out and enjoy the outdoors, watching the birds was really alot of fun, and getting some pretty good photos out of it was the icing on the cake. And thank goodness for having a digital camera and a delete key, since I took well over 2000 photos over the course of three different days out! (Birds don't sit still for very long, you know-- I have plenty of badly composed shots, blurry pics, or the bird was already on its way out of the picture by the time I clicked the shutter.) 

The photos in this post were all taken at the Gilbert Riparian Institute, a 110-acre preserve in Gilbert, AZ that has 7 ponds and a lake, situated behind a branch of the Gilbert Public Library. The pics are semi-random... they were all taken on December 27th, starting at just after sunrise till about 11:15 am. Oh, I have plenty more where these came from, too- I just didn't want to add too many to one blog post-- enjoy!

sunrise with geese... gorgeous!
(even though I did have to get up early to see it!)

some sort of hawk, catching an early-morning thermal.
No idea yet what species it is- I need to do some more research. 

I was quite surprised to see this fellow come out of the bushes.
The geese weren't concerned by him at all.

According to someone I spoke to later, he hangs around the preserve regularly;
the birds must be quite used to him. (plus, they're pretty big for him to take on.)

I have no clue what this bird is- I'm no good identifying sparrows
and the like. But I really liked the pose!

RIng-necked duck. (not the best lighting; this picture was taken kind of early,
before the sun was fully up.) 

This gives you an idea of how close you can get to the birds-
well, more like you wait quietly, and they come to you, actually.

snowy egrets (on the tree) and a great egret (by the shore)
it's tough to see in this photo, but the snowy egrets have black legs and yellow feet.
(there's a couple double-crested cormorants in the background, too- there were tons
of them around, fishing in all of the shallow ponds.)
female Hooded Merganser cruising in the morning light-
there were three of these hanging around together.
I love their crest of feathers!

Northern Pintail, I think. (? I might be wrong; I don't have the bird book handy)

pied-billed grebes-
they're somewhat odd looking diving ducks; it looks like they don't have a tail.

(I thought this was funny- it looks like he's checking out his hair, perhaps??)

a few shorebirds-
the larger ones are Black-necked stilts, but I'm not exactly sure about the smaller ones.

I hope you enjoyed this little slice of winter birding in AZ- I'll be back with more soon!