Sunday, January 30, 2011

One World One Heart 2011

The fifth annual One World One Heart blog event is winging its way around the world! Welcome to A Fanciful Life. I have so many artsy interests, it's hard to focus on just a few. Every time I see something that inspires me, I want to get right to creating. Alas, there are many of what I call projects-in-waiting. Being a daughter, sister, friend, cat mom and working full time leaves somewhat less time than I'd like to pursue creative endeavors. But there's always something new to create, learn or teach and that's where my passions lie. 

Most recently, I've been doing more photographic exploration as I try to push the bounds on my camera's limits. My next project involves redoing my creative space. I actually have a professional organizer joining me next week to begin and I can't wait to have a new space. Now, let's get back to our party...

Part of the fun of this blog party is that each participating blogger is having a giveaway. There are three prizes I'll be giving away, picked at random at the end of this event. Leave a comment here with a link back to your blog or your email address so I have a way to contact you if you are the winner. Winners will be posted on February 17th.

The first item I'm giving away is your first name created in Copperplate calligraphy, with scalloped edges lined with gold and a silk ribbon, velvet leaf and flower adorning it. Copperplate is my favorite lettering hand and I'd love to create one with your name on it.

My second giveaway is a deep fuchsia velvet bookmark. I've adorned each end with a pretty jewel pendant which will peek from the pages of your favorite book.

The last prize I'm giving away is this package of three items from Cavallini & Co. It includes a package of floral postcards, parakeet thank you cards and geographic themed book plates. If you know Cavallini, you know that they make wonderful paper products.

Simply leave me a comment below and you'll automatically be entered to win one of these items.

Thank you for stopping by - I enjoyed your visit and do hope you'll come by again to see what's new in A Fanciful Life. If you'd like to peruse more of my site (and perhaps meet my kitties Miss Gracie and Nipper), simply click here to get back to my home page.

Enjoy your travels as you wing your way on to the many other blogs today. Lisa at A Whimsical Bohemian is the founder of this event - thank you to Lisa for creating such a wonderful way to get to know so many talented people.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Smashed Cupcake is Still a Cupcake!

Some of you are probably aware that I love taking photographs of cupcakes. Especially beautiful cupcakes. And Whole Foods Market makes so many wonderful frosting designs. Today, I was happily surprised to see a very pretty vanilla cupcake with a pink rosebud on top. Oh, joy! Not only was it pretty enough for a picture, it was a mini-cupcake so it was only half the price of the full size (and I don't eat them, I only photograph them!). 

After waiting my turn, the bakery gal asked what I wanted. "This little vanilla one with the pink on top", I told her. It took her a moment to find it and I could see that she was new to the bakery department. After she packaged it up behind the counter and added a price sticker, she handed it to me. To my dismay, rather than putting it in the container with the high top made for cupcakes, she had put it into a smaller container upon which the lid had smashed into the pink rosebud (which explains why the top of the cupcake is flat as a pancake!). 

I didn't have the heart to ask her for another one since I did not tell her what my intention was with the cupcake. But I kicked myself for not doing so and made a mental note to remember the next time.

After taking a series of photos, I suddenly remembered that I purchased some fun princess cupcake toppers at my favorite flea market last year. And voilĂ ! Perfect!

Who would know? Once again, a perfect cupcake, transformed from a rose cupcake to a princess cupcake, ready for a party.

While taking photos, my Miss Gracie busied herself nearby but unexpectedly did not try to lick the cupcake. Certainly she didn't see it this time because that kitty loves her frosting. When I was done, I gave it to my sister who never turns down a cupcake.

Don't forget...tomorrow is the start of the fifth annual One World One Heart blog party. I haven't participated in past years but I'm looking forward to it this year. It's a way for bloggers all over the world to get to know each other by visiting each other's blogs. Plus, there's a giveaway! Every participating blog will have be offering something to one or more of their visitors at the end. Hundreds of bloggers will be posting, so be sure to go to the main site for a listing of all the blogs. Most of all, have fun!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Just a Texture or Two

Recently, I've been playing with adding textures to photos. There are an endless variety of looks that can be achieved.

Here is the normal photo of the cupcakes...

And here they are with a texture layer applied. It makes a great vintage style look. I used Photoshop Elements 8 to add the layers.

Multiple layers can be applied and opacity can be adjusted to vary it from lighter to darker.

Textures can be found easily by Googling it but a great site to get free textures and learn more about them is Kim Klassen Cafe. She has great information, tutorials, videos, tips and more. And, she's the newest Shutter Sister too. Give it a try - it's great fun and a cool way to vary your photos.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Soon, Winter Turns to Spring

Lately, I've been noticing the tiny buds on the trees that have lost their leaves. The trees have been naked for a short while and now, just one month into the start of winter, they are getting ready for spring. It's little things like that which make me feel hopeful. Granted, we have had some sunny and spring-like weather here in Northern California but we've also had plenty of cold temperatures too.

Luckily, the cherry blossom trees begin to bloom in February and it's almost here. It's so beautiful to see row upon row of white or pink cherry blossom trees in full bloom. Their beauty only lasts for a few short months and then the trees will take on their plain faces again. 

When I was a child, we would pass these trees on the way to school each day and they would be filled with fuzzy yellow and black caterpillars. It has been many years since I've seen them and of course, it's a rarity to see butterflies these days. Creating a butterfly garden is a great idea to attract them. Unfortunately, I'm not doing too good with my roses right now. If it's not powdery mildew on the leaves, it's a bunch of tiny critters. Time for a little pruning!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Can Reading Be An Addiction?

I confess. I've loved to read ever since I was a small child. I was a voracious reader growing up. I could not wait to get that next Nancy Drew mystery, even though I had to read it under my covers at night because the suspense was sometimes scary. Oh, I was so worried for Nancy's safety. And before that, I read the entire series of the Thornton Burgess animal series with Reddy Fox, Grandfather Frog and so many more. I walked however many miles it was to get to the library each week during summer vacation so I could bury myself in the next book. During college, I actually got yelled at by a professor for reading a book in his class that had nothing to do with that particular class. I'm sure the book was a novel or biography of some sort.

As an adult, I've tended to read a lot of magazines (which can be read quickly or even put down and picked up again at any time) and a variety of books but not really novels or non-fiction stories. And here's why: I think I might be an addict. Oh, I can read a photography book or a book about living your best life with no problem. I don't feel the need to read the entire book in one sitting. But give me a good novel or fascinating non-fiction story, and I can't put that book down. So for the last three nights, I haven't gotten to sleep until after midnight because I'm absorbed in a book titled The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

And that's why I typically do not read novels and non-fiction. Because I can't put the darn book down. I shouldn't have been surprised this morning when I saw the bags under my eyes. I knew last night that I should have closed the book at a reasonable hour. After all, the media has been running stories of late discussing how important sleep is to healthy bodies. And yes, I was dragging a bit yesterday because I didn't get a full night's sleep. So did I go to sleep earlier last night? Noooooo, I didn't. Well, there's always tonight.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cheesecake Anyone?

Ummm.... chocolate cheesecake with raspberries. Who doesn't love chocolate?

This tiny cheesecake is just right the right size. Actually, even though it's just a few inches in diameter, a few bites is all I really need. The rest goes back in the fridge it goes until the next night.

Who else likes dessert? Well, Miss Gracie of course. This is as close as she got to this one though as chocolate is very dangerous for cats and dogs. Vanilla cupcakes, yes, Miss Gracie can gladly get her frosting licks in when it's not chocolate.

Oh, these little desserts are from Whole Foods Market, where they have a large assortment of teeny, tiny desserts. They may look like they are made for little elves, but sometimes a few bites is all a person really needs.

Miss Gracie was not so interested in this vanilla cheesecake with blueberries.

I have to say that you can't beat the chocolate cheesecake, even though this was quite nice with the blueberries. Sis and I traded halves so we could taste both.

A spot of tea and a little cheesecake made for a great way to end the evening. 

It doesn't take much to pretty these up with a little doily and China plate. I cheated and used a teacup saucer since I needed a very small plate. But shhhhh... that's between you and me.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Who Doesn't Love a Bargain

Yes, I love a bargain. While shopping this weekend, I found this cool flower for 75% off in the holiday section at Hallmark (which made it about $1.75 - very reasonable). Since I have a thing for flowers, pretty shades of green and glitter, it turned out to be just the right price. 

When Gracie heard the camera clicking as I was photographing it, she came down from the upstairs bedroom. Miss Gracie equates the camera clicks with cupcakes and pastry since I often photograph food. This partly accounts for the volume of Gracie photos on my hard drive. Well, that and honestly I can't resist taking photos of her. 

A little shopping, a trip to the vet for Nippy's nail trim, browsing the farmer's market and a visit from Mom started off the weekend, followed by a low-key Sunday. Gotta love the weekends. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Kitty Adventures

It's Nippy!

My milk-moustached tuxedo kitty Nipper has been a very good girl. Oh yes, she sleeps all day (and all night) but she is very sweet. In the evening, she comes upstairs to get in her pink round bed for the night. I can only say thank goodness she loves that bed because when she slept with me, I could barely move! 

While photographing holiday items in the living room, Nip slept on the back of the sofa. She opened her eyes to watch what I was up to. This required little effort on her part.

No, she doesn't like to be picked up. And don't even try touching her back paws. But she'll bump my leg, have me rub her chin and makes the cutest little meows when she wants a Greenie. Oh, and occasionally she'll bop Miss Gracie on the head!

Miss Gracie

While Nipper is ahem, "resting", what isn't Miss Gracie up to? She'll come and get me and lead me to our bedroom where she'll fall over, roll and let me rub her tummy. We call this the "Drop and Roll". Or she might lead me to the space heater to be turned on so she can lounge and nap in front of it. Or she might ask for cheese or pastry, depending on what's cooking. And if the butter is left out, watch out! We call her the little butter licker.

When the camera is clicking, she'll come running. She knows that means that there is possibly a cupcake or other dessert that she just might be able to lick. Here she is on the table where I was photographing miniature cheesecakes. I'm getting good at maneuvering around her. 

But what is her new favorite activity? Why, playing Game for Cats on the iPad! Yes, the iPad has become a very expensive cat toy. The person who invented that game is a genius. Gracie loves it so much that she cries for the iPad to play with when she sees it. She truly is addicted. So now the people in the house are competing with her to use it. Do you know how hard that is when she is staring up at you with that little face just waiting her turn?

If you'd like to see Gracie playing with the iPad, you can look here. The game is a block of yellow cheese with a mouse running around. Find out what happens she tries to catch the mouse. My Miss Gracie, she is so darn smart. When the mouse disappears from the screen, she'll try to find it underneath the iPad. If she attended cat college, she would get straight A's. That's my Grace.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Winter Scenes

This decorative little birdie lives in a terrarium in my living room. Inside, I've placed beaded swags surrounding the little birds outside their nest. There are so many uses for Christmas decor throughout the year. It doesn't scream "Christmas", rather the decor says "ooooooh".

My favorite Christmas card this year came from my friend Wendy in Taiwan. It arrived in a flat envelope, but opened into a 3-D tree surrounded by angels and a greeting. So pretty, that I must leave it out throughout winter

These little houses are pieces from my project in the Charlotte Lyons workshop during the 2009 Silver Bella art retreat. Slowly, I am completely my remaining projects although this project is still a work in progress. The houses and trees are meant to be pieces in a mobile. However, I think I may create a scene with them instead. Not sure yet, but for now they'll adorn my creative space.

Kitty Alert! 
Miss Gracie and Nipper have hinted that it's been some time since they have been featured here. Luckily, these little ladies are quite photogenic and they will make an appearance here this week. If you've been wondering what Miss Gracie and Nipper have been up to, you may be surprised to find out what has been holding their interest lately. Hint: it involves technology!

Happy January!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011

It's a brand new year!  What does that mean? Yes, time to wrap up my annual list that summarizes the last year and begin my resolutions for the new year. The annual summary is a bulleted list by month that I create throughout the year. It started out as an accomplishments list but it morphed into a summary listing highlights and lowlights. The reason lowlights are included is that it provides more of an actual record by month and by year of key events. 

Separately, I create my resolutions or goals list for the new year. This year, I think I will make fewer resolutions as I tend to be naturally over-ambitious. Actually, I think I'll make two resolutions charts: a primary and secondary. Even though I don't complete all of my resolutions, I can't bear not to have all those thoughts on paper somewhere. Is that cheating? Regardless, perhaps I'll feel more success focusing on the primary list since it will be shorter (not that I ever have any expectation of completing them all, mind you!). 

This list is broken down into different categories such as Creativity, Personal Growth, Relationships, Money, Health, Lifestyle/Home and Work/Career. The key is to have it all written down on paper and  review it during the year. It's a good experience to do a final review at the end of the year and see what was accomplished. One tip is to know that the list can be flexible. If your interests change during the year, feel free to make adjustments along the way. There's no need to feel locked in if that doesn't suit you any more. Well, it's time to get going on this. 

Wishing you a fabulous start to your new year!