• Life is Balance, Shopping

    Posted on April 16th, 2011

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    Balance from Head to Toe!

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    balance scaleI’m sitting here recuperating from bunion surgery (I had my right foot done last Thursday and am scheduled to have the left one done next Thursday) and trying to decide how to incorporate this latest state of being into a post about balancing life. Right now I feel pretty imbalanced –bot literally and metaphorically. I have this very attractive (not!) cane which I walk with to keep me from putting too much weight on my right foot. Definitely not in balance! But next week I’m due to have the other foot done so, eventually (in about 7 weeks) I will be back in balance – literally!

    I’ve been using my downtime productively. I’ve been feverishly been working on getting all of my Life is Balance® designs ready to be uploaded to my website and ready for purchase. Looking up keywords, cropping photos, writing descriptions and designing labels and hang tags. I’ve also opened an Etsy Shop as well.

    In addition, I’ve joined a terrific group of creative and talented women on Martha Stewart’s Dreamers into Doers website. I am amazed by how much everyone on that site wants to help out everyone else. So I think that I am going to use this blog post to share a little love with some of those talented women that I am starting to get to know. Here are a sampling of some of my favorites. I’ve selected a few cool jewelry shops to feature in this post (my weakness – I confess!).

    Sundance Good Luck Elephant Wrap Bracelet

    I love the colors in this bracelet!

    I love the wrap bracelets from The Lucky Elephant’s Shop on Etsy. An elephant with it’s trunk being raised up is considered to bring good luck and an excellent fortune and to have the magical power to take away troubles. Who couldn’t use one? I can’t wait to order one for myself!

    Key To My Heart Necklace

    I just love the vintage key and heart combination and the ribbon woven through the chain makes this very unique!

    The above Key To My Heart Necklace comes from another shop called Nostalgic Summer. Being a summer/beach lover myself, I can’t help but love the concept of this shop! Shop owner, Renee Dittrich takes vintage artifacts and repurposes them for a modern use. Already I am dreaming of summer… past, present and future!

    Lauren Chunky Pearl Necklace

    A fabulous statement necklace!

    Here’s another vintage jewelry collection from LV Vintage Jewelry. Lindsey’s designs are inspired by vintage fashion — and her three grandmothers! Check out all of her unique pieces.

    With Mother’s Day around the corner, why not stop by some of these shops and check out their terrific designs! Oh, did I mention that my birthday’s coming up at the end of the month (LOL)!

     

  • How to Create a Digital Photo Montage

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    Photomontage of Chinese adoption I thought I’d take a break from my “Balance” series to introduce you to one more facet of my creative life in the hope that it might inspire you. I created above photomontage to celebrate the adoption of my friend Susan’s oldest daughter from China. Photomontages make wonderful gifts and are a creative way to honor a person or event. I started making photomontages for friends and family to celebrate milestone birthdays, weddings and Bar Mitzvah’s. The finished product, when printed on the right paper is suitable for framing.

    1. The first thing you’ll need are some photographs. 5-15 images are good to start with. Adding pictures of documents such as birth announcements or wedding invitations or other tokens that have meaning to the recipient can add some interest to your montage. You’ll also need Adobe PhotoShop.

    2. If your photos are not digital (those great old photos from childhood rarely are) scan them at a high resolution (at least 300dpi) at the size that you think you’ll want to use them, or larger. This is so that when re-sizing images to fit in a layout you won’t end up with pixelated images.

    3. Decide what size you want your final printed piece to be. This is important since once you have finished your project you’ll want to reproduce it without losing quality. For printing on an ink-jet printer you’ll need at least 150dpi at the size that you want it. If you designed your piece to be 8-1/5 x 11 at 300dpi, the effective resolution of a blow-up of 17 x 22 would be 150dpi.

    4. Set up your photoshop document to the size and resolution that you want with a transparent background.
    Look at your photos and decide upon a rough layout. Is there one photo that calls out to be the centerpiece? If it’s for an anniversary, maybe the couple’s wedding photo. This is a creative project so you decide what looks good. You can always change things if it doesn’t look right once you get going.

    5. Open the images that you want to make a part of the montage and drag a couple onto the new document. Make sure that the image resolution is the same for both the images and the new document or your images are going to re-size according to the document’s resolution. This is ok if your images are larger than the new document (you can then just re-size them down if you need to) BUT you don’t want to re-size images up.

    6. You’ll see that each image that you dragged over is now on a separate layer. Roughly place various images next to and overlapping each other to form an attractive layout. Pay attention to backgrounds that might blend well together when choosing which photos to place next to which.

    7. The key to creating photomontages is layer masks. Using layer masks will allow you to make non-destructive changes to your images which can be easily undone if you need to change them later. I learned this after using the eraser tool and later discovering that I couldn’t put something back that I had erased a few saves ago!
    Select your layer and select Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. (Make sure that the layer mask is highlighted when making your edits.)

    Using the brush tool, and making sure that the black is in the foreground of the tool palette, you can now erase away parts of the images that you want to hide so that and parts of the image in the layer below that was hidden is now viewable. If you make a mistake, switch to the white foreground and you can paint your image back in. Play with the size of the brush and it’s opacity for more creative options. I tend to use a fairly soft brush to avoid any hard edges.

    8. SAVE OFTEN! You don’t want to spend hours on your masterpiece only to lose all your work if you computer suddenly decides to freeze (it happens, I know from experience).

    9. When you are satisfied with your montage save your layered photoshop file for future reference. Then flatten your layers and SAVE AS a jpg or tiff file for printing.

    50th Birthday digital photo montage for a sailor and a dad

    50th Birthday digital photo montage for a sailor and a dad

    10. Then print on your ink jet printer. I recommend using Epson Enhanced Matte Photo paper. Also, to be sure that your image looks as good on paper as it does on screen, make sure to adjust the settings for your printer in the print dialog box. Set the paper type based upon which paper you’ve chosen and ask PhotoShop to manage color. All you need now is a frame!

    If this all sounds greek to you and you have an upcoming event or occasion that you like some help creating a custom photomontage for feel free to call on me. Click here for more info and to see more of my photomontage work.

  • Balance Your Life with Yoga

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    Yoga pose at sunset with Life is Balance yoga logo

    When was the last time that you could shut away all the problems and stress from your daily life for an hour or so, and spend some quality time with just yourself? I usually do this at least twice a week during my yoga class. I’ve been feeling under the weather for the past week and a half with a late winter cold and have not been able to get to my yoga class. I am definitely feeling off balance. There is something about yoga that feeds both my mind and body. Without it, I feel under-nourished.

    I read an interesting article by Robert Steven Williams today about balance and yoga that I think is worth reading. If our physical bodies are not in balance how can we expect the rest of our being to be, and vice versa.

    I started taking yoga classes at the gym a couple of years ago. I can coax my body into many poses that I never would have thought possible, and there are even more that I still can’t. The one thing that I have learned through my yoga practice is patience. My body will tell me when it is ready for a new pose and how far I can push it. Listen to your body, Surya my yoga teacher tells me. It’s ok if I can’t do what the person next to me is doing. The fact that I am present and in the moment is all that counts. While I still cannot do a handstand or a headstand (more from fear I think than anything else), I almost did a side crow during my last class! The sense of accomplishment that I feel when I am able to achieve a pose that I have been working on is great but the feeling of peace and balance that I feel after each yoga class is the real payoff.

    Surya my yoga instructor wearing a Life is Balance T-shirt

    Surya, my yoga instructor wearing a Life is Balance yoga t-shirt

    If you are new to yoga, don’t be afraid to take your first class. There are different styles of yoga classes for students of all levels. Most instructors will give variations on poses depending on a student’s skill level. Try out a few to decide which style is for you. I practice more of a Vinyasa, or flow-style. Some of the other yoga styles are Iyengar, Ananda, Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram, Integral, Kali Ray TriYoga, Kripalu, Kundalini, Sivananda, Svaroopa Yoga and Viniyoga. There are some good descriptions of these different styles of yoga at About.com and at The Yoga Site.

    I can’t wait till my cold and cough is gone and I can once again get my life in balance through yoga.

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