Thursday, January 30, 2014

A piece of Heaven

My new favorite spot in the whole wide world. Our new room has become the new family room. We gather around and play games, snuggle up to read, and enjoy family movie nights in this new cozy addition. I've been feeling under the weather again lately, and there is no better place to heal, right here in front of the fire with a hot cup of tea. Be happy and be well my friends!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fun Christmas Keepsake Crafts

My kids came up with a fantastic idea this year to make their own crafts and sell them for charity. They spent hours upon hours painting, glueing and crafting!
We came up with some great crafts that would sell and become a keepsake for anyone who took them home.
We had a table at a local craft fair last weekend, and they sold more than half of the crafts they made.
All of the proceeds went to a local charity which buys warm clothes for local families in need.

I am so proud of my kids!

Here are a few of their masterpieces:)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Getting through the summer (happily) with your kids

Summer is here.

For some of us, things won't change much, except our kids will be sitting around the house with nothing to do while we go to work.

For those of us who are fortunate enough to be home with our children, we are either dreading all of the spare time and the summer " boredom"  blues, or we are looking forward to some good, quality family time with our kiddos! I am the latter!

I have been planning and waiting for summer break almost as long as my kids have! They are 9 and 6, and have been anxiously awaiting all the "fun" things we're going to do all summer long. As summer break approaches, I had to come up with a system for my kids to get their chores done, help around the house, keep positive attitudes and still have fun!

I know there will be pool days, park days, lazy days, theme park days, ice cream outings and much more. I want to enjoy all these pleasures of summer right along with my kids, but I don't want my kids to think all of these privileges come easy, and at no cost.

Over the past few weeks, I designed this clip-chart, star system. For every positive thing my kids do, they can "clip-up" for one star. The list of "positives" are shown below. And for every "negative" behavior or thing they do, they "clip-down" or lose a star.

As you can see, this list includes everything from good behavior to chores. They are constantly encouraged to "clip-up" for all the positive things they do throughout the day. The stars are tallied at the end of each day and input into the iRewardChart app on my iPhone. They can use those stars as currency to buy rewards. The kids and I came up with the rewards together. We talked about each fun thing or activity they would like to do, and then we decided how much it should "cost". The reward chart we came up with is also pictured below. Everything from going out for ice cream, to an hour of T.V. time is on this list.

There is one stipulation to cashing out, they must always have at least 50 stars in their "account" which I keep track of on my iPhone with the iRewardChart app. This is an incentive to save, and not deplete the account.

We have had this system working for nearly two weeks now, and my kids are absolutely loving this game of earning stars and buying rewards! Neither one of my kids have "purchased" a reward yet, they are both working vigorously on stock piling their stars so they will have enough to do all of these fun things they want to do!

It is a win-win! My kids are being held accountable for everything they do, and in return they are also learning the value of earning something!

They will have bad days, but they know they will always be held accountable, good or bad, and they know exactly what is at stake for everything they do or say! It is visual and instant.

Enjoy your summer, and let me know how you are keeping your kids happy, healthy and responsible!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Typography Trend - Go large.

Improve Readability. Super size your text.

Up-sizing your text is a great way to make an impact. Large text isn't just for headers anymore either. A decade ago, 8-point fonts were commonly used for body type. However by 2009, 13-point body text became the most popular. It also isn't unusual to see 16 and 18-point type creeping into websites. Large fonts are easy to read and, emphasize key phrases.
With more 45% of users preferring mobile devices for reading, it makes sense to improve readability on smaller screens. Large fonts don't get lost on widescreen desktop monitors.
Support your Farmers! They are needed to keep sustaining us.
I love my Minnesota Farmer!

Beautiful Spring Country Morning

It rained most of the weekend here in beautiful Southern Minnesota. We woke up this morning to the birds chirping and vibrant colors everywhere. It is so beautiful! I went for a walk through the countryside with one of our furry 4 legged family members, Katy. I marveled at the beauty all around us and the peacefulness that surrounds me on this beautiful day.
As I count my blessings and thank the Lord for our safety and comfort today, my heart goes out to those suffering through the painful aftermath of the tornadoes in Oklahoma. In an instant their lives were  turned upside down. I pray for peace, strength and restoration to all of the victims, their families, the authorities, volunteers and medical personnel working tirelessly to bring hope back to those communities.
Stay strong!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Photoshop Tutorial - Vintage Photo Effect

Vintage Photo Effect

This tutorial will teach you how to apply an awesome vintage photo effect using Photoshop. This is a simple effect and the end result is sweet! I am using CS6, but the same tutorial can be done in earlier versions of Photoshop.

Step One: Choose and open your photo in Photoshop.

Step Two: Adjust the image using Curves.

Go to Image > Adjustment > Curves. We’re going to lighten up the photo by clicking on the rightmost eyedropper icon, which we will use to set the white point of the image. Click on the brightest white you can find in the photo.

Step Three: Add a Gradient Map.

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map. Press Ok. Then double click the new layer to open the gradient editor and choose the Blue - Yellow gradient preset. Check the Reverse option.

Step Four: Change the Opacity of the Gradient Map layer.

In the Layers panel, drop the Opacity down to 30%.

Step Five: Add a Curves Adjustment layer.

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves. Make sure this layer is under the Gradient Map layer that we created in Step 3. We’re going to give our image a little more brightness and contrast by adjusting the curves.

Step Six: Add an Inner Shadow Layer Style.

In the Layers Panel, double-click on the Background layer and click OK to unlock it. Next, go to Layer > Layer Style > Inner Shadow and apply the settings shown here.

Step Seven: Add a Gradient Overlay Layer Style.

Go to Layer > Layer Style > Gradient Overlay. Change the Style to Radial and use the Black, White gradient preset as shown here.

Step Eight: Adjust the Color Balance.

Go to Image> Adjustments > Color Balance. Change the Color Balance as shown here.

Tutorial Summary.

This is it. Easy, right? Feel free to play with the blur and color levels to get the effect you want.

I would love to see or hear about your results!
Please feel free to share other Tutorials you found helpful.

Thank you!

Graphic Designer/Illustrator
JES Graphics

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Inspiring the Creative Process

Getting Creative is Easier Than You Think.

First things first, get off the computer.

Really. As a creative person who spends hours sitting at my computer, you would think I would suggest sitting down at the computer and just start creating. Not a chance.

Listen, computers are distracting. You have email alerts, reminders, social media calling your name, and many other internet games and apps just begging for your attention. All of this creates confusion and anxiety. Not exactly breeding ground for great ideas or inspiration.

There are many roadblocks to the creative highway. Mainly distractions, deadlines and too much to do interfere with our creative process.

Sometimes with the pressure of deadlines, we find ourselves jumping into a project and inventing it as we go. Ok, this sort of works and can produce a decent result sometimes.

Decent, sort of and sometimes are not the words you want to use when describing your masterpiece.
Our best ideas occur when we are doing something else.

I think about the times that I am most creative and have the best ideas. Usually I am out running, taking a bath or doing yoga. Suddenly, there is no pressure, I can slow down on the inside and actually think.

An awesome approach to getting the creative juices flowing is to walk away from the computer and grab a sharpie. Find a piece of paper or a cardboard box, who cares. Just start drawing stick figures or writing buzz words. You might find that it’s much easier to think conceptual at this point. Perhaps new and creative ideas will flow.

Sometimes it works wonders to start writing down your dreams. They may not make sense, but they can sure open you up to an endless horizon of ideas you never imagined were inside your head.

Inspiring Activities

1. Stay up late or get up early. No matter how stupid, get all your thoughts out. Because your creative pipes are blocked up during the work day, taking time outside of the day is often a great way to get creative.

2. Read. You can never read too much. Some of my best ideas came while indulging in a fantasy-filled novel.

3. Try spending the day browsing high-end clothing and home stores. It's amazing what you can gather just by being among somebody else's pride and joy.

4. Eat something different. Either go out to a new restaurant or cook something new. Cooking is an amazing source of inspiration.

5. Get outdoors. Visit a new neighborhood and walk the streets. Admire the landscaping, architecture and colors.

The idea here is to change your routine. The common plan is to do something new. Now you can get back to your computer and bring your creativity to life. You will notice that with a clear plan of what you are going, you will get there faster and with better results.

Super tips to overcome creative block

1. Look at other peoples work for inspiration. Don’t steal their ideas, but be inspired for your own. Look at industry magazines, source books and portfolios.

2. Fix the soundtrack. Try listening to some new music. All art is related and changing the tune can also change the way you look at things.

3. Get enough sleep, exercise and eat better. These 3, are the important things for good health. The brain doesn’t live only on stimulation, it needs to be healthy in order for your thoughts to be clear.

4. Get away from work entirely. Many creatives pride themselves on the fact that they work 24/7. Try some hobby that is not related at all to what you do, and if you haven’t done it in a while, take a vacation.
I would love to hear about you and when you feel the most creative. Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Interesting Read: What Inspires the Most Creative People We Know -