Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Garden Party

I thought I'd join in on one of Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesdays this week. I've been wanting to do this but just haven't had time to play with pictures and textures lately! Kid activities, house work and yard work have been consuming me!!

The weekly theme is Garden Party....so I thought this picture was appropriate. I sure do miss the sweet smelling hyacinth! I used three of Kim's textures: Stained linen, Life is Good and Warm Vignette.

Kim is giving away some great stuff with this week's texture challenge. Give it a try!!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Big News

Over a month ago I had something beyond exciting happen to me that I never thought would. I'm almost still shaking with nervous excitement as I finally get around to writing about it.

My complete and total idol, Pioneer Woman, announced her latest photography 'assignment' early in April. She previously had an assignment with the theme of 'Sisters' and said that she would do a 'Brothers' assignment down the road. During the 2010 baseball season I had taken a bunch of pictures of my boys playing baseball. There were some really neat shots of the two of them together (blogged about them here). I knew that these were the photos that I was going to submit. I had them loaded to Flickr and ready to go for time she announced the Brothers assigment.

With PW's assigments you can submit up to one picture per day. I submitted my favorite photo first. The photo was of my son, Ben, running into the arms of his big brother after he hit his first home run. The was a particularly special event in our lives, as Ben is younger than most of his team and has been playing 'up' with his brother and teammates since he was 7 years old. He is the lead-off batter for the team and just hit a bomb to the outfield that rolled into oblivion. My older son, Jack's, expression is priceless. He was so happy for Ben.

So I submitted this photo on PW's Flickr group and later that evening had received a handful of email comments from my Flickr account. Cool, I thought and went to check them out and see how many views the photo received. When I looked it was at over 3,000 views - the most I have ever had by far! I immediately looked at PW's site and she had not posted the finalists for Day One yet. But everytime I refreshed Flickr the views were rolling in by the hundreds...even thousands.

I was very confused about the attention the photo was getting so I posted a comment to the picture asking what was going on. One of the viewers quickly replied that PW had tweeted a link and comment about the picture! I quickly joined Twitter to get a look and sure enough, she posted a sweet comment about the picture with the Flickr link.

I could barely fall asleep that night thinking about the attention this picture was getting. It was a nervous excitedment, one I can't really explain. I'm just the type of person who doesn't like to be the center of attention.

So sure enough the Day 1 finalists were posted and mine was selected and appeared on the front page of PW's site. The number of views went berserk and there were so many great comments from PW's readers supporting the photo. I felt like I was living in a dream.

After 5 days of daily finalists she picked the assignment finalists and I made the cut. Still numb and queesy with excitement. I couldn't wait up that night for the winner to be announced. I wanted to win so badly but knew I might not. The quality of all the photos submitted to that assignment and every other are so good......

In the morning while I was getting the kids breakfast my friend, Deb, called me with the news that I WON!!!! I couldn't believe. I was in total shock....and still am. This is like a dream come true. It's one of the most exciting things that has happened to me since getting married and having my babies!!!

A couple weeks later I received my loot:


I still haven't decided what I'm going to use it for - a new lens or new camera body or ???!!!! The possibilities are endless and exciting.

I have been entering every one of PW's giveaways and assignments for the last few years. I never thought I would achieve a win. This just goes to show that you can't win if you don't play...and you don't have to be a 'pro' to win.

Woo hoo!!!!!! My next mission - to get to PW's ranch to meet her in person!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Year One is Done!

It's that time of year again when the activities are crazy and the blog posts are spotty. We've kicked into baseball mode and it seems like all other activities have ramped up - birthday parties, school open houses, concerts, etc. I've definitely been taking pictures, but not finding lots of time to edit and post to the blog!

One thing I'm very excited to share is a recent accomplishment of mine. A few years back I started this blog. The biggest reason for keeping the blog was that I knew I could download and print the blog with the software from a website called Blurb.com. I always wanted to keep a journal of memories (that I knew I'd forget!) but never got anywhere with that. Keeping and printing a blog was the perfect answer for me.

So I finally got around to downloading the first year of my blog into the Blurb software. Unfortunately, what I quickly learned from lots of yellow triangle resolution warnings was that the process of uploading to the web left me with pictures that are not at high enough resolution to have them much bigger than a wallet size. Since the blog book was my version of a scrapbook/photo album keepsake, I decided to retrieve all of the original picture files so I could print them nice and big. Since the blog book is mostly in chronological order, it wasn't as much of a heartache as I thought it would be. What WAS a little big of heartache was formatting all of the pages for the words and the pictures. I wasn't able to use any of the Blurb templates...and the Blurb software dumped all of the blog posts into the same exact template...and put each picture on a separate page. The first year blog originally dowloaded into multiple hundred pages. My final printed book was 180 pages in 12X12 size.

But I was determined to get this done and knew the end result would be worth it. I wish I had logged the amount of time it took but I chipped away at it a little at a time and didn't keep track. I kept the book simple, with all page backgrounds in black and font in white. By the end I was happy to have it done and went embarrassingly boring on the cover. But it is done and printed and here is my Chica showing it off!

The book is made really well and the binding is great quality.

And I'm overall very pleased with the quality of the pictures. The kids had fun flipping through the book and revisiting old memories.

I'm very excited about the book, especially since I hadn't printed and filed any pictures into albums in years. And that first year of my blog I also did some Way Back Wednesday posts which brought in some old pictures of Chris and me. There is a great mix of photo and written memories.

I'm ready to move onto Year 2...and see about trying some different colors and formats. Blurb is an excellent software for allowing you to do anything you want with a photobook!

Side note: The printed book was about $115 total. For me this was well worth the price given the hundreds of pictures included and bound in hardcover book!