Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

This is the card I designed and sent out to friends and family this year! I got them printed at Costco, which is quite an economical way to do cards.

Elements of the card are taken from the Stock Exchange, and are for personal use only, so I can't offer this card for sale.

The words in the background of my card are from my very favourite Dutch Christmas Carol. "Ere Zij God" The lyrics are:

Ere zij god, ere zij god

In den hoge, in den hoge, in den hoge

Vrede op aarde, vrede op aarde
In de mensen een welbehagen
Ere zij god in den hoge,

Ere zij god in den hoge

Vrede op aarde, vrede op aarde
In de mensen een welbehagen
In de mensen, een welbehagen, een welbehagen
Amen, Amen.


Glory to God! Glory to God!
In the highest, in the highest, in the highest!
Peace be on Earth, peace be on Earth
To the people whom God delights in.
Glory to God in the highest, glory to God in the highest!
Peace be on Earth, peace be on Earth, peace be on Earth, peace be on Earth
To the people, to the people whom God delights in,
To the people whom God delights in, whom God delights in.
Glory to God! Glory to God!
In the highest, in the highest, in the highest!
Peace be on Earth, peace be on Earth
To the people whom God delights in.
Amen. Amen.

My DH and I were in Florida for a time just before Christmas, but wanted to be home for our grandson Eli's first Christmas, and to enjoy Judah's Christmas too. One of the most memorable moments of our day, Judah telling us "I like presents!"

It was a lovely day, despite the occaisional bouts of sadness, missing our loved ones who have gone to glory. I pray that all of you had a very Merry Christmas. We had a busy, long day, but one that was filled with love and laughter with friends and family.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Feeling Blue again

On November 13, at around 10:30 in the morning, my Aunt May and Uncle Cor were on their way to visit my uncle's (and my Mom's) sister  for a pleasant birthday visit. (Uncle Brian's and Aunt Henny's place is pictured below) They were in Orangeville, on their way north, when they were hit by a pickup truck that ran a red light. Whilst I was baby-sitting in the nursery at church, Uncle Cor was being air lifted to St. Micheal's hospital in Toronto, and my Aunt went to the local hospital in Orangeville. Her injuries were not as severe as his.

She had to wait, while hanging upside down, for the rescue workers to get Uncle Cor out of the van, before she could come out of the van herself. It was a frantic day of phone calls. Uncle Brian was called, he had some tough phone calls to make as well. Our family is large, Mom is one of nine, and I have 22 cousins, most of whom are married and also have kids, and the next generation is on the way too. All together, I think there are around 90 of us.

Uncle Brian was there very quickly to help, and do what he could in this tough situation. He had nothing but high praises for our EMP's, the police, and even the local people who witnessed this horrible accident.

Mom's call to me came shortly after we came home from church, "there's been a horrendous accident" "it's very bad", and "we need to pray". As I got the details from Mom, I began to shake with dread, and after the call where she told me that my Uncle's skull was fractured, and his lungs were filling with blood, I thought, sadly, crying, perhaps he's already left this earth, and is on his way to heaven. I was so scared.

When Mom called at around 4:30 in the afternoon, our worst fears were realized, my uncle was gone!

This was my dear cousin Annette's Dad. Annette had only passed away 8 short months ago! This just didn't seem right or fair!

We had just had a gathering at my Aunt and Uncle's place, on October 22, after a very nice memorial service that was held at Shalom Manor, where Annette had resided for a number of years. It was a very nice visit, and the last words I heard from my Uncle were words of welcome, and he thanked me again for the piece I wrote about Annette in a previous blog post, and to come back and visit any time. I said that we would. You just never know...

This photo was taken at one of our family reunions, this was a game to guess what this object was used for.

Uncle Fred on the left, Uncle Cor, on the right. "what is this thing?"

My cousin had some profound words of wisdom at the funeral home. "We all have a number, we don't know what it is, and we don't know when it will be"... but every birthday, anniversary, family reunion, every opportunity to spend time with our loved ones, is very important and should not be missed. "I mean it, I'm not joking!" (Hugo is the kind of guy who likes to joke around!) When we were young, he would drive our Oma crazy with it. "Oh that Hugo!" she would say. She surely did love us all, though. She sometimes tried to hide the little smirk that threatened to appear when she chastised him!

Many wonderful words were spoken at the funeral. I was very touched by Annette's husband's words. He was very simple and direct. He told us how happy he was when he came to Canada, that he had a "Dad" again, as his own father had passed away. He also told of how they had a period of time where he and his in-laws didn't get along very well, but that they had reconciled, forgiven each other, and he was so glad to have a "Dad" again.  His words of wisdom: "Love each other, forgive each other". It's so true, and so important!

Uncle Dirk reminded all of us that are two ways to see things in a tragedy such as this one. We can sorrow that he is gone, or we can rejoice that he was here. We can be bitter about the accident, or we can be better for having known and loved him. I certainly do enjoy listening to my Uncle Dirk, he has a gift, that's for sure!

At the funeral, Uncle Brian told all of us, that as an employee, he often would have opportunities to learn, and in one such opportunity, he learned that all of us have a "board of directors". These are people that we turn to when in need of some advice. He gave such a wonderful picture of this "board", you can just imagine the people on your "board". When you are a child, your parents are the only board of directors you will need, but as you grow older, your board gets larger, to include your peers, your teachers, your friends. Teenagers seldom include their parents, but some do. Then as adults, we turn back to our parents, and want them on our "board" once again. We usually include people who are experts in their field, and Uncle Cor was one such person. He was an excellent carpenter, and woodworker. He was a fine friend and companion, Uncle Brian reminisced over the type of day they would have had together, enjoying some time playing pool, "drowning some worms", and feasting together. That Sunday was to be such a day. Uncle Brian's concluding words were that Cor would always be on his "Board of Directors". It was a very touching eulogy.

There are many examples of Uncle Cor's craftsmanship throughout our family. Uncle Cor was the kind of man who would see a problem, and fix it. He told my parents that since they were getting on in years, they would need a sturdy hand rail on their stairs to the basement, so he built them one. He also noticed that the step outside was too high, so he came the next week to pour a new step out of concrete. He made the TV stand, the wainscoting, the shelving, and on and on....

Mom's house is full of memories of Uncle Cor. It's so hard to have lost someone in such a sudden and tragic way. Everywhere you look at Mom and Dad's house, you are reminded of him. How much more so at their own home!

Uncle Cor was also the caregiver to Aunt May. He built their house with this in mind, making it wheelchair accessible. It is impossible for Aunt May to be by herself in the home. At this time, she is living with her son.

Their home was built in a beautiful rural area; she had such a lovely view out of her window. Picture a comfy chair, sitting beside a large window, overlooking fields of wildflowers, and an abundance of trees. There is lovely natural light to cross stitch, knit or crochet by, and a wonderful little stand to hold your patterns right beside the chair, and a light in just the right spot, for when it starts to get too dark to stitch. I had wanted to ask my uncle to make a stand just like that one for me, but I never got the chance.

It has been a tough few weeks, and the first few days, I was very angry. I think I'm getting over the anger, but it's a tough one. I know this person did not intentionally seek out my uncle's van to drive his pickup into, but, it has been difficult. My Aunt has been handling things quite well emotionally, I think I would be a basket case. Can't even imagine losing my spouse that way! It's just all so sad! Another of my uncles, Uncle Al, said that "you won't be, you are given a gift" he was overcome with such a feeling of calm when his wife passed away, he knew he had to be strong for his family. The Lord surely does give this blessing, for I know it does not come from ourselves.

Well, I've been rambling on again about family tragedies.

In the meantime, Christmas is almost here, and life does go on. I've been busy making some Christmas card templates, and I've added a bunch to Etsy. They are great for photographers and digital scrapbookers, and those familiar with photoshop. They are layered psd files, ready to add your own personal pictures and phrases to.

These all feature my daughter, son in-law, and my 2 adorable grandsons! (aren't they ever so cute!?)
My daughter asked me to design a card for her, and I just kept going! She chose three of them, so even she couldn't decide which one she liked best!

Amazing photographs by Christina Claus! Check her blog, she is a fabulous family, children, and newborn photographer in the Niagara region.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Happy Digital Scrapbooking Day!

How exciting! A day (weekend) devoted to my favourite hobby, digital scrapbooking. I'll bet there are many, many scrappers who are busy hunting some great finds in digiland this weekend!

I've been busy today coming up with something to give away!

I've also been busy baking cookies for coffee after church tomorrow. We were involved in "we love our neighbour" campaign. Basically, about 2 weeks ago, a bunch of us went around our church neighbourhood, and handed out paper bags, to collect non perishable food for our local food bank, "Community Care". On Halloween night, we picked up the bags, and invited all to come to a special service to celebrate a bountiful harvest. And it was bountiful indeed!
As my DD said "FRC rocks!" It was a great event, and I would say, very successful. On one of the bags was written a nice note: "Thank you for giving up your Halloween night to do this"

Is anyone thinking about their Christmas Cards yet? I've taken one of my favourite birth announcements, and turned it into a Christmas Card template. This will be simple to use, with your photo editing software, (ie, photoshop elements) just pop in your own photo, change the names, and voila, your Christmas Card will be ready to print.

This is a 5x7, but can be scaled down to 4x6, if you prefer.
If anyone wants this in a different format, just leave a comment, I'll do my best to accommodate.
The basics of this template are from another of my favourites, the snow day kit:

And without further delay, here is the link to download the template. (click the link under the picture) This will only be available free for a limited time! After that, you will find it at my Etsy shop.
Freebie has expired.

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Trip down Memory Lane: How I Became an Artist

I can't remember a time that I didn't love art, or want to be an artist. From a very young age, It was my dream to create, to be an artist. I was influenced the most by my one of my uncles, who's art I have always admired, a painter extroardinaire! Many in my family have dabbled in painting, my grandfather, uncles, and an aunt. We are also a very "crafty" family. My grandmother's skill with needlework and sewing was bred from necessity, but became one of her most loved activities. My mom can knit faster than anyone I know, she's almost as fast as a machine! Many of us women have done crosstitch, embroidery, knitting, crocheting, even tatting. Paper crafts too, scrapbooking, card making, journaling... the list goes on and on.

I think it was natural for me to get involved in Art and Craft. Even though my heart's desire as a child was to paint, I ended up in fine craft. That's a story in itself. While in high school, my parents were just starting out in their new business. They began importing and distributing various goods from The Netherlands, their former homeland. Some of the goods was jewellery. Dad had some connections there, and a promise from someone at the company that I could get a job designing jewellery, but I would need an education in jewellery design first. So, the next step, apply to a college that has a course in jewellery design. My guidance counselor suggested Sheridan College, School of Crafts and Design. It was relatively local, about an hours drive, in Mississauga, Ontario. One of my uncles commuted daily to Toronto, and it was decided at the time that I would continue to live at home, and get a ride with him, should I be accepted at Sheridan.

I didn't doubt for a second I would get in. I didn't apply anywhere else. My art teacher in high school helped me put a portfolio together, which by today's standards would be laughable, however, it was good enough to "get me in". Sheridan's standards today are very high, and it's difficult to get accepted now. They are world renowned, particularly in the animation dept. Many of Sheridan's graduates are now employed at Pixar and Disney.

This was happening in the late 70's, when craft was getting quite the revival, and even a new lease on life, so to speak.

Some of my old high school art, these were part of my application to get into Sheridan:

 my little brother! I ended up using this design on a T shirt for him, and then later gave him a copy of the drawing. 

A funny story; I have to recall one of my English teachers in high school. He made us write a 1 page essay every week, many of us complained bitterly. His reasoning; he wanted us to be more, have more, do more. Be Better! He continually told us if we didn't learn to write, we'd end up as "basket weavers" from Bangladesh! How we'd be from Bangladesh, I'll never know, for we were all Canadian, through and through. I remember walking around the campus at Sheridan at an Open House, and there were some highly respected "basket weavers" giving workshops to a very interested audience! I think I laughed out loud when I saw that. Here I was, associated with "basket weavers", and it was "OK", even better than OK.

I do understand what he meant, that education is the key to success in this world, and he didn't mean that being a craftsperson in and of itself was a bad thing... but it sure was humorous!
When I joined the Sheridan family, my family was busy getting their souvenir business off the ground. Part of my duties then was to prepare the artwork. It was tedious, painstaking, work. I'd get it done in about 2 minutes now with a computer, but back in the day, it took me well over 2 hours for each one.
You see, my Dad, the entrepreneur, was importing and distributing souvenir spoons. They'd been a big thing in Europe, and was just getting big in N America. It was quite a process, and eventually, they did much of the manufacturing themselves. It started out as a home business, graduated to having an offsite building, and a bunch of employees.

The spoons themselves had a little, plasticized photo on it, usually of a some kind of attraction, like a picture of Niagara Falls, for instance. My job was to put the lettering on top, and make sure that the shape of the photo would eventually fit into the shield shape of the little pictures. There was also some photography involved, and with computers, this too has become obsolete! My classmates, and even my teachers, often be-littled my involvement with this enterprise. But goodness!, it's how my parents were able to pay my tuition!
Those first self-taught dabblings in graphic design turned out to be a foundation for what I'm doing even now!

So, I learned a lot at Sheridan! As it turns out, the basics of good design is quite useful in all kinds of endeavours. I spent 3 years there, and even though I had sorta planned to go to Holland, for that design job, those plans quickly changed... my high school sweetheart, and the love of my life, asked me to marry him. (also to my classmates scorn!), and a new path for my life was set!

I did become quite pleased with designing and making one of a kind jewellery, and it was my focus for many years. I did a lot of craft shows, had my work shown in some galleries, and sold to the retail market as well.

We were raising our family all the while, and I quickly discovered that teenagers need their mom around more, rather than less often, and the craft show sales were declining, and so, I gave it up. I didn't think it would be for very long, but I have not really picked it up again, and I can honestly say I don't really miss it!

I've dabbled in all kinds of other creative outlets, but that's another story.

Thanks for stopping by,
Happy Scrapping!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day! It's time celebrate all that Dad's are! And I have the best Dad ever!
He's just turned 83 years young. I've been working on his Memoirs, scrapping them digitally, so as to put a slide show together for him. The process is long, and seems to take forever, but it's a labour of love, to be sure, and through it all, I have certainly gained so much more knowledge of who he is and the life he's lived, had I not taken on this project!

We've heard the stories all of our lives, but there is something so special about getting it all down on paper, and supported with photographs. The project will end up as a multimedia presentation, with sound, and visuals. He's still working on it all, with every new big event in his life getting documented. He's saved so many old documents, passports, papers, birth and death announcements, and family history, it's mind boggling.

He keeps bugging me about getting his books back, but I've barely scratched the surface of this huge project! I need to seriously get going on it! I had hoped that I would have something for him as a gift for Father's Day, not sure what I'm going to do. Maybe a sneak peak??
Here are a few of the layouts I've done:

The thing is, Dad has Age Related Macular Degeneration. This is what got me started to begin with, he can't even see the stuff he's putting into his books without the help of his reading machine! He can, however, see the large screen TV, if he sits real close, and sits at an angle to it. People with Macular Degeneration usually retain some peripheral vision, the centre of the their vision is what's been impaired. So, I decided to put his pictures onto a Dvd, to be viewed on the TV. And of course, I can't just do things simply, being an artist, and creative person, I have to put my stamp on it, and I want it to be special for my Dad, 'cause he's special!

This picture is of a much newer type, but similar in design, they are kind of like the old microfiche machines we used to use in the library. Do they even still have them?

Dad was always the one you went to if you wanted something, 'cause Mom just said no anyway. At least that's how it seemed as a child! But my Dad has always had a very long fuse, he's slow to get impatient, and angry, and has a great sense of humour! But boy oh boy, watch out if he gets to end of that fuse, 'cause a big kaboom is waiting at the end of it! Thankfully, there's not been many of those, and it was usually our own fault anyway!

Dad loves the Lord, loves his family, Mom, his kids, grand kids, and now 3 great grand kids! And we have large extended families too. It's a crazy loud bunch when we all get together, a bit overwhelming if you first come onto the scene!

They have a great house for visiting, and love to garden, and take excellent care of everything.
They've made a point to make their house a home, and one that all feel welcome to enter. They've never taken the "spiritual gifts" test, but I am 100% positive that both my mom and dad have the gift of hospitality! Everyone is made to feel as welcome as possible.

They've also taken care to make it very kid friendly, (not kid proof, mind you! kids have to learn what they can can't touch!!), having a basement that has video games, board games and lots of stuff to do, a backyard that rivals any resort, with a large heated swimming pool, a hot tub, gazebo and lovely deck. My kids never complained about going to visit, as a matter of fact, it was a good one to use as a consequence for undesirable behaviour: Watch out, or you won't be going swimming, playing video games....

We're spending Father's Day at my brother's place this year, as he's singing (my brother, Dad can't carry a tune in a bucket, seems that's where I get my own singing ability from!) with the "Nylons" on Sunday at a Barbershop show. A little different, as Mom and Dad usually do all the hosting of parties. I think they deserve a break! It should be fun!

They have had company from Holland, and more to come next week! They love it, but it's tiring none the less! My Parent's gift of hospitality will be stretched once again this summer! My Mom and Dad's gracious gift is gladly shared, but I do worry how tired they get. Dad's 83, Mom's going to be 75 this year, but still their stamina puts me to shame!! I hope I'll be able to keep up! I'm looking forward to spending some time with my Dad's family, getting some great photos, then scrapping them!!

Thanks for stopping by,
Happy scrapping to all, and especially, a very Happy Father's Day to all the great dad's,
And to my Dad: I love you lots, you're the best Dad ever!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Texture plates and digital scrapbooking paper:

Textures aren't just for changing the look of a photograph! You can also use textures to change the look of your digital scrapbooking paper.

I have just completed a new set of texture plates that resemble different fabrics and fabric patterns.

These are great to use in layouts and paper that you'd want to look like its been printed on various types of fabric! In the following example, I've used the texture "herringbone-distressed", with a blend mode set to "overlay". The 'before' looks like paper, the after looks more like fabric:

Original "paper" +
Texture Plate "herringbone-distressed" =

"After", digital "paper" now has a fabric look to it!

In this example, I've used paper from an add-on freebie from an earlier post, you can get it here.
I used the texture plate twice on this paper,  set at "overlay" and "soft light" blending modes. Doing this has given this paper more of that textured look. Since the texture itself has some distressing added, this transfers to the paper as well.

Original "paper" +
Texture Plate "Cotton distressed" =

 "After", digital scrapbooking paper that now looks more like fabric!

Thanks for dropping by,
Happy Scrapping!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Using textures in photography, 3 easy steps to take your photo from commonplace to compelling.

A few of weeks ago, I took some pictures of blossoms in our beautiful Niagara region. My DD lives just outside of the city, and on the street to get to her place are many orchards. During blossom season, the trees are just exploding with colour! Every day just gets more beautiful, until they reach their peak, and before you know it, it's all over!
I took some time to slow down, stop at the side of the road, and take pictures! I made sure to take my camera's manual with me, because I knew I would want to play with exposure and aperture. I still have a lot to learn about photography, but the best way to learn is to do it!

I still don't know what kind of trees I was taking pictures of! I did know they were pretty, and I wanted to capture that. I also wanted to create a fine art print, using some the of the new textures I've designed.

3 Easy steps to go from commonplace to compelling:
     1. The first step is to open your photo in photoshop, or photoshop elements. Make sure that you do all of the editing, cropping, and adjustments that you want to do at this stage.
     2.  The next step is to add the texture layer. There are always several ways to accomplish anything you want to do in photoshop. You could (a) go to "file" and "place" the texture layer, (b) open the texture, drag and drop it onto your photo. Holding down the shift key while doing this will ensure that it will be centred over your photo, (c) open the texture, drag and drop the layer in the layers palette onto the photo, or (d) select the texture, go to "edit" and click "copy", then "paste" it onto the photo. Using keyboard shortcuts is great with this technique.
Once you have the texture layer over the photo layer, you will need to adjust the texture's size to fit over the photo. Go to "edit" and "transform", holding the shift key will keep the aspect ratio when pulling the handles on the corners, or just grab the handles on the sides, and stretch to fit.
     3. The next step is to adjust the blend mode and opacity. This is where it gets exiting! My favourite blend modes so far have been, multiply, linear light, overlay, and soft light, when texturing my photos. I have had some success as well with duplicating a texture layer, and choosing 2 different blend modes at different opacities.
Opacity will also make a huge difference in the final outcome. You will most likely need to adjust the opacity so as not to overwhelm the photo.


Experimenting with the blend modes and opacity is fun and exciting. It's great to see how much the mood, colour and lighting are transformed before your eyes as you do this. I usually duplicate the layers I'm working on, try a few different blend modes, and see which layers I like and want to keep, and get rid of the ones that aren't working. Sometimes it's a combination that's works out the best.
In my example, I used 3 separate layers to make my texture. I used texture layers from my new "Summer Sun Kissed Texture" pack.

The first layer is "lavender mist", which has the blend mode set at soft light, and opacity is at 100%. The second layer is "TexturePlate-painterly", it's blend mode is overlay, and the opacity is at 85%, and the last layer, is "Sun Kissed Edge". The blend mode is linear light, and the opacity is at 40%.

A few more examples:

Thanks for taking the time to stop by, and as always, please feel free to leave a comment, tell me what you think, or share a link to your own textured photos.
Happy Editing!