Ice Breakers and frozen fingers

Oh dear me, the draft of my post disappeared! I’ll paraphrase what I think I said because a few days have passed and the memory isn’t as fresh. I’m not feeling so poetic tonight.

Last weekend, we were treated to a lot of snow and then it turned to frozen rain. The return to school coincided with treacherous road conditions. Our driveway and street were an ice rink. It was a lovely Winter Wonderland otherwise. When the kids returned from school, the sky was such a pretty colour and shimmering down on the ice covered snow.

The kids wanted to walk on the snow at the park. The idea of being able to walk on snow was quite novel to them. They were fascinated they were able to walk without sinking. It reminded me of when I was a kid walking home from school. I would take short cuts through the yards of three schools. Often the snow would be up to my knees. Out of boredom and an attempt to distract myself from the cold, I’d make it bit of a contest to see how many steps I could take without breaking through the snow. I was very light footed back then.

Then they discovered they could jump and crack the snow. Even more exciting than walking on snow, was smashing through the crusty layer of ice. Luckily, I had dashed home to retrieve my camera when I saw that the sky was so lovely. So I was prepared with camera in hand.

Then my daughter realized how cold she was feeling and we quickly hurried home. Which was good timing as my fingers were quite numb with cold from taking photos.

Darn, I wish I hadn’t lost my original post. It was much better. Ha!

So, here are some of the photos I took and a layout I made with them using supplies from the Pixels & Company Designers.

mr_jan_winter6 mr_jan_winter5 mr_jan_winter4 mr_jan_winter3 mr_jan_winter1 mr_jan_winter2 Photo by Melanie Ritchie drutter-d365-winter2015-lores

Keep warm and enjoy your Sunday!

Happy 2015! Peace and Love to all!

Well, hello there! I hope you’re enjoying New Year’s Day.  I had a fun New Year’s eve at a friend’s house, chatting with neighbours while the kids played. My daughter even got to skate in their backyard rink. Definitely the best New Year’s eve we’ve had since moving here over six years ago. My son looked so sleepy and I told him we’d go home as I knew he was so tired. He said “Mom, REALLY I’m not tired. REALLY Mom, really!” and then he fell asleep in my arms. So funny! We headed home and my daughter asked to stay up to countdown. This was a first for her. I was happy to have my head hit the pillow at roughly 12:05am. Ahhhh!

I thought I’d share a few photos from my December.

I worked a bit on an album of the month of December but didn’t get very far. The usual reasons. Busy times and colds.

1. Here is my first page for December. It still needs a bit of detail work.


2. I thought I’d take a lot of photos but the month seemed to zip by. I did take a photo of my cat. She’s 14. I’d just given her a haircut. The photo next to it is an ornament that looks like ribbon candy. My daughter thought it was bacon. Which is extra funny since she is vegetarian.


3. I was pleased as punch to take this photo. “It’s a Small World” is my favourite ride at Disney World and I like the light in the photo.


4. I spent an hour one afternoon playing around with shaped Bokeh. Fair to say, I haven’t perfected it yet. I punched shapes out of black cardstock and attached the paper to my lens. My photography goal for 2015 is to master that technique. When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

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5. The wreath on my front door.


Tomorrow I’ll show you some digital layouts I created in December.

Happy New Year!

Say it ain’t so, poor Elfie!

He had to go. It was a brief visit. Elf on the Shelf arrived at our home tonight.

You see, a couple years ago Elf on the Shelf appeared on our front door step. My daughter was not happy. She didn’t like the idea of an Elf spying on her and reporting back to Santa. Since we hadn’t named him yet, we were able to send him back to the North Pole. I figured that was the end of that.

A week or so ago, my daughter mentioned she wished the Elf would come back. She saw an Elf skirt at Target that she thought would look great on the little Elf. I told her to ask Santa to return the elf in her letter to him. The last two days she has continually talked about “Elf on the Shelf” and where she thinks Elf will reappear. After school and before supper she kept searching the house trying to find where he might be hiding. Then the strangest thing happened. She was at the kitchen table writing her letter to Santa. She had just written the sentence requesting for the elf. She went to use the bathroom and lo and behold, the elf was perched on the wreath next to the light switch. My daughter was so excited. However, by the time she had washed her hands, she became afraid. By the time she got back to the kitchen table, she said she’d like him to go back to the North Pole. Again, we hadn’t named him yet so it wouldn’t be a problem. I told her to cross out the request in the letter. She asked me if he would come back. I told her maybe he could come back next year if she was no longer afraid of him. She sadly shook her head and said she thought she’d never stop being afraid of him.


The issue with the Elf’s exit was that my daughter had gotten her little brother all excited about the Elf. He didn’t want the Elf to leave. Usually he is the one afraid of things.

Although, we put the elf back on the wreath waiting for him to leave, it wasn’t enough. My daughter’s fear was deepening. So, we put him on the freezing front step. After the kids’ bath, we checked and he had left. Phew!


My daughter was so scared she was walking down the hallway with a blanket over her head. I had to stay with her until she was fast asleep.

So much for that!

Courage my love

Toronto at 40

October 14, 2014

Maybe I’ll feel like Mary Richards in the opening credits of Mary Tyler Moore. A free spirited and ambitious woman out on the town on her own terms. Um, maybe. More likely, I’ll look a tad bit more disheveled, despite my best attempts to look stylish. I’ll look a bit more compact like someone is trying to turn their full screen into wide screen. Not so tall. Not so skinny.

I used to live in Toronto. It feels like a past life. I attended university there. I lived there off and on for most of my twenties. I left on what I’d consider bad terms. Toronto and I had a nasty break-up.

The last time I visited Toronto by myself, I was 30. I took the train for the day. I met up with a friend and we wandered around on a cold winter day. I had a handful of other brief visits to the city over the next ten years.

Now I am 40. I wonder how my view of the city will change. It has certainly changed since I last lived there 12 years ago. More so, I have changed. I am eager to visit my old haunts but will any of them still be there? Will they feel familiar or will it be clear, I have moved on?

Well, it is now the beginning of November. I had a wonderful time in Toronto. It was surreal walking into my old territory as a “middle aged” woman. Yikes, this is the first time I’ve ever referred to myself as middle aged. You saw it here first, people.

First thing we did after I got off of the train, was eat supper at a local pub called C’est What? which is on Front Street. I first went there on a double date when I was 20. Back then, it was a cozy basement pub with stacks of board games with a small menu of appetizers. The place appealed to literary types and perhaps students. Now it is a full on restaurant catering to local foodies. Most of the people looked like business types. Instead of being the youngest in the place, looking at the 30 somethings thinking they looked old, I was one of the older people looking at the 30 somethings thinking they looked young. Yes, the tables have turned. I did feel a bit of superiority knowing I’ve been coming to this place for 20 years. I felt I should maybe get a badge to wear.

I was happy to see my fast walking pace returned once I was in the city. I used to be really speedy but lately I’m the slowest when walking with friends. I guess I’m used to walking with children. Apparently, my speed is location specific.

I noticed that things have slightly changed but mostly stayed the same. Actually, I was surprised to see most changes were improvements.

The other thing that got my attention was how much smart phones have changed the way I experience Toronto. No need for a TTC (transit) map. Just check my phone (borrowed my husband’s phone actually). Can’t find a store? Check my phone. Have a question for a friend? Text them. Send a photo. Feeling a bit lonely? Instagram a photo to share the experience. See an interesting sign? Take a photo. Bored waiting for a bus? Edit some photos for Instagram during the wait. How crazy different would my life have been if we’d had smart phones at 20? I remember my frosh week at York University. The fine art students had a scavenger hunt that took us all through downtown. My group got terribly lost and everything was a challenge to find. Now, it would be a breeze. Such a different world we live in.

So, I had a great time. I got to eat lots of food (Chinese Vegetarian, Coffee, Sri Lankan, Coffee, Raw Vegan, did I mention Coffee?), and visit neighbourhoods and stores I’ve missed. It was just the sort of mini vacation I needed.

Here are a few scrapbook layouts I made that relate to my trip:


For the above layout, I included a photo from my view on the train when I arrived Thursday, my root beer at C’est What, a view of walking in the rain after we left the pub, the dessert section of Loblaws and the spot where the centre ice used to be.

Courage my love

The layout above is about the Friday, when we walked around downtown and visited China Town and Kensington Market. It was a great day.

The layout below has photos which were taken during this trip on the Saturday. The layout reflects on where I was the day of September 11, 2001.


Have you visited a city or place from your past and had a similar experience? I’d love to hear your stories.


The last two layouts were designed with templates from the monthly membership at Simple Scrapper.

Hangin’ Out with our friend, Raccoon

I had such an awesome weekend! Lately I’ve had lots of stories I want to blog about and I’m hoping to get back into a regular writing routine. Today, something amusing happened I thought I’d share.

My daughter and I were crafting. I looked out the window and started laughing. I called for my husband and told him to bring my son upstairs quickly. My daughter was laughing even though she didn’t know what was so funny until I pointed. We have a very large tree at the end of front lawn. Lounging on a branch was a very relaxed raccoon. If I were a raccoon, I’d want to be this one. Just hangin’ out in a tree without a care in the world.

I grabbed my camera and snapped a couple photos. My daughter and I ran downstairs and out the front door. We tiptoed our way down the driveway as I snapped photos hoping not to scare away our new friend. He could not have cared less. He just stared at us. “Ho hum” his gaze spoke as it met our eyes.

So, I am here to share a couple of those photos.


1. The view out our window. See the branch hanging out over the street? That is where I spotted the raccoon. I happened to glance up from my scrapbook layout.


2. A close up of the above photo. That’s what I saw from my window.


3. The photo from the end of our driveway where our gazes met. Ho hum, indeed!

Hope your day was equally relaxing!

The Loss of Normal

“Grief is the loss of normal.” ― Brené Brown

When I heard these words in an online class by Brené Brown, I immediately thought of a moment in my life many years ago. Well, more than a thought really. It was like someone slapped me back into the body of the 17 year old girl sitting in a hospital room watching her beloved Grandfather die. I can still not think of that moment without my eyes welling up and a choking feeling in my chest.

Until that point of my life, I hadn’t experienced the loss of a close relative. I had lost pets and that was painful. I hadn’t lost a person. Someone who was very hard to live without. I loved my Grandpa very much. We lived a five minute drive from my grandparents’ home. I spent a lot of time there and he was a fixture in my life.

When he became ill I could hardly believe it. When the illness was pronounced terminal I was in a state of panic and probably denial. When he died I was broken.

It was the January 2nd, the day I spent by his bedside along with family: grown children, teenage grandchildren, and wife. His siblings and other family and close friends wandered in and out of the room all day paying their last respects. I remember having a hard time making eye contact with anyone else. I think I wasn’t alone in that. If we looked at each other, we might have to admit what was happening was real and permanent. I used all my will to not cry. Only possible by avoiding connection. The room felt like it was buzzing with electricity. To me, that was perfectly how “the loss of normal” feels. All I could do to hold on to what little reality I had left, was listen to the rattling breath of my Grandpa. He was struggling. I think I left around midnight. He died early morning.

When I received the journal prompts (story starters) and theme for the month at Simple Scrapper, I knew I wanted to tell this story. I don’t have a lot of photos of my Grandpa in those last years. I found one that had belonged to my Grandma, which was taken at his retirement party several months before he died. It wasn’t the greatest photo but it captures the Grandpa I knew and loved. I scanned it and edited it with Rad Lab to make it less stark on my layout. I also wanted it a bit dreamlike.

Here is the scanned photo:


Here is the layout with the edited photo:


It was an emotional layout and I think I had a bit of trouble focusing. I made some errors trying to place the title, simply because grief lingers. Mistakes aside, I will cherish this layout.

My layout was made with a template and inspired by a journal prompt that comes with premium membership at the Simple Scrapper. I am linking up this post with my layout to the Simple Scrapper blog for the Community Show & Tell. Check out all the other layouts and add your own layout or creative project for everyone to see. For details on linking up, see the Simple Scrapper blog.

Cuckoo for Cuckoo Clocks!

It’s Saturday afternoon. The time of afternoon where I want to close my eyes and curl up like a cat on a warm blanket. My daughter is tap dancing on a piece of fibre board. My son is building his marble maze. My husband is on the phone with his Mom. There’s a horse drawn hay wagon, four white minivans, and a school bus across the street for some reason I don’t quite understand. I’m about to work on a scrapbook layout for a guest blog post coming out next week somewhere very special.

This past week I doodled, sketched, and panicked over cuckoo clocks. I signed up for Lilla Roger’s Make Art That Sells Assignment Bootcamp. A friend was going to take it and I couldn’t resist joining her. What a talented group of artists! Holy Moly! I am ever so humbled and scared out of my mind. I am ever so brave, because as much as the negative thoughts (you’re not good enough, you don’t know how to do that yet, why are you even bothering) swirl in my mind, I’m taking the class anyway.

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” ― Bob Ross

I decided to paint one of my sketches with watercolour. I can’t remember the last time I did a watercolour painting. I didn’t finish it yet because I’m tired and have other things to do, but it was fun practicing.


As well as doodling all week, my kids and I suffered annoyingly pesky head colds. To make things happier, we ate a few sweet treats and I captured a couple lunch time photos. (Edited with RadLab)



Now don’t forget to enter my giveaway for Jennifer Wilson’s  Before Your Story at Big Picture Classes. Leave a comment on this post for your chance to win.

Oh Lightroom, where have you been all my life?

I’ve been meaning to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for a long time. I tried the trial once and found it overwhelming to figure out. I thought I’d give it another go as I need a way to speed up my photo editing process. I’ve been using iPhoto the past few years.

So today, I imported some scanned slides. I really want to figure out Lightroom once and for all.

I have to say I am pretty darn thrilled. Ok, it’s just one photo so far. It’s a photo of my Grandpa during a road trip to Florida when I was very young. It’s a very sentimental photo for me even though the lighting and focus is so lacking. I have to say, I think the edited version looks pretty awesome.

Ok, that’s all for now. I have a five year old climbing on me and my laptop battery is running low.




Edited in Lightroom

Great Photos + Giveaway = Tracey Clark’s Picture Everyday Class

Let me just get something out of the way before I get into the specifics of a FABULOUS GIVEAWAY. I just have to say that I LOVE TRACEY CLARK.  She’s talented, soulful, down to earth, creative, and crazy talented with a camera. Check out her website here or her bio at Big Pictures Classes.

The past couple weeks, I’ve been reading Tracey’s book Elevate the Everyday: A Photographic Guide to Picturing Motherhood. I only get brief moments to read books these days so it doesn’t actually have to take weeks to read. The book is beautiful, inspiring, and full of insight on taking photographs that capture the beauty of our everyday lives from your own unique perspective.

So, I was pretty beyond excited when I got the opportunity to offer a GIVEAWAY for Tracey’s upcoming class at Big Picture Classes. It is called Picture EverydayFinding and photographing the magic in your daily life. The class is a seven week workshop starting on September 12.

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Here is a brief description:

Your life is full of beauty, authenticity, and moments of magic just waiting to be captured in pictures. All it takes is the right perspective. In Picture Everyday, a new workshop from photographer Tracey Clark, you’ll learn to see your world in a sublime new light—and to use your camera to tell the story of what you see.

Through 30 surprisingly powerful photo prompts, dozens of inspiring images and videos, and eight weeks of gentle encouragement, Tracey will help you elevate your everyday—and fill your soul with gratitude along the way. You’ll be focusing your lens on topics like Routine, Spaces, Places, Details, Connections, and Affections.

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For your chance to win a spot in this class, please leave a comment below. For extra contest entries, share this post on your Facebook and/or tweet on Twitter, then leave a separate comment for each telling me where you shared.

Comments will close on September 4, 2013 at 9pm EST. The winner (chosen randomly) will be announced in a blog post soon after. Good luck!


Oh my goodness, what a find!

Hello August! How quickly you made your appearance. The nights have cooled down and I’ve been enjoying sitting at my laptop scrapbooking with a cool breeze wafting over me. Wafting. That’s a strange word. I haven’t managed to accomplish a whole lot lately but I did take some time to create a few layouts and read an e-book or two. I’ll share my layouts another day. Today, it’s the e-book I want to mention.

While shopping at Pixels & Company, I came across an e-book by Jennifer Valencia called Black & White Adobe Photoshop Techniques. In case the title isn’t clear enough for you, I’ll explain. It’s a guide for photo editing in Photoshop to make your photos look fabulous in black and white.

I got the e-book because I’m not really that good at making my photos black and white. I rely heavily on the radlab plug-in. That’s fine and all but it would be great to learn how to get the effect I want all by myself. I was giddy when I read the table of contents listing all sorts of methods and important know-how.

What can I say? This e-book is well thought out, makes sense, and is easy to understand. I love when technical information is explained in a way that doesn’t make me dizzy. I had a lot of “ah yeah, ok, now I get it. That makes sense!” moments.

The author gives us the tools to judge when a photo would make a great black and white photo and when it is better left in colour. I’ve come away feeling like I have a more critical eye towards photography (both taking photos and in post-processing). I’ll be brave enough to use black and white photos more often in my scrapbook layouts now.

I followed along with her methods for achieving a good black and white photo.


Here is the original photo. Next are my two edits of the same photo. I used different methods to achieve each look.


I prefer the last one.


Have a wonderful day. I hope to blog more often. Life got busy and I got tired. Happy Summer!




Love me, Love my Bokeh.

Either you’re reading the title going “ah yes, I love Bokeh” or you are wondering what the heck I’m going on about. The third category would be that you simply don’t like Bokeh. I don’t think that is possible so I’m not offering that as an option. Who doesn’t find it fabulous?

Bokeh is the quality of the blur in photography. You know, all those pretty circles (usually) of light. They add such ambience to a photo. You can achieve the look with your camera if you know what to do and have the ability to use manual mode. Or you can add your own with a digital product. Today, Nancie Rowe Janitz added some Bokeh Photo Overlays to her shop here. I played around with them quickly with some photos I took a month ago. What do you think?

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This is the product I used:


One Little Word 2013 Blog Hop: April in Review

OLWbloghopLOGOI’m taking the One Little Word class by Ali Edwards at Big Picture Classes. It’s a year-round class and you can start anytime. Every month on the 1st you receive your prompt challenge for the month. A group of class participants are using their blogs to share their thoughts on the month’s topic. To see all my posts listed, go to the top menu bar under “Documenting Life” and click on One Little Word.


April is for fools. Ha, ok, that has no real meaning. I’m just really tired and it seemed clever. For a second. If that. Although on second thought, maybe it is for fools. The tarot deck starts with “The Fool” card which represents the beginning of journeys. We all begin our lives knowing very little, having to learn as we go along. So maybe spring is a fool’s journey. Fresh starts, new beginnings and all that.

My month was rather unremarkable. It’s a blur really. I’ve been trying to be more creative this month… trying to “own” my talent and just be me when it comes to creativity. Trying not to censor myself, or follow someone else’s rules, while also trying to learn new techniques. That has been a bit of a focus. Other than that, not much a-goin’ on that needs mentioning right now.

So, let’s focus on what I did with my One Little Word challenge for the month. The goal was to take photos that give life to my word “authentic”. Ali beautifully added words to her photos. So, I did the same on mine. I didn’t use the template she provided but I’m sure I’ll use it in another project sometime. I took nine photos, instagrammed them, imported them into Photoshop and added text. I’m happy with the outcome. (the font is “arsenale white”. i seem to be addicted to this wildly, whimsical font.)

I had planned to print out the photos and adhere them to kraft paper card stock. One one side would be the nine photos and the other side has a very pretty transparency quote with a photo strip and a few elements. It is sitting on my craft table half finished. Waiting. I’ll have to show that another day. Sorry!

What I can show you are my photos with the text added. I hope you like!










You came from Michelle’s blog. Next up is Kelly’s blog.

If you need to start at the beginning, please go to Lee’s blog.


I believed it when I saw it. CanvasPop, you rock!

A couple weeks ago I received my first order from CanvasPop. Moments before the UPS guy knocked on my door, I’d found out one of my photos was highlighted in CanvasPop’s weekly “Curated by Pop” blog post.  That really tickled my toes! I was so impressed with the quality of the prints and the company’s treatment of customers, that I put in a request to add them as an affiliate on my blog. They liked my blog and asked me to write a review on a sample they provided.

Before I go into that process, I’d like to show you how my first order (that I bought before becoming an affiliate) looks on my wall. There were 3 canvases in total.


This is the one that was chosen for photo of the day by CanvasPop. Oh, and I don’t always hang lanterns in my foyer. They were hung for a party and I can’t bear to take them down quite yet.


Here are my other two photos. They might seem like kind of strange places to put up photos but I had these blank spaces on my walls that needed filling. I thought people will see them if I put them in the foyer.

Now, back to my next order. I had heard so much about CanvasPop’s ability to take a low-resolution photo (from Instagram or facebook) and make it look fabulous on canvas. Now THAT is amazing. For those of you wondering what I’m talking about, I’ll put it this way: have you ever printed out a photo that you found on the internet? Chances are it looked good on your screen but looked horrible when printed. It is a matter of resolution and file size. For the computer, things look fine when they are low-resolution (72dpi). For something to look decent on paper, graphics are saved at a high-resolution (usually around 300dpi). CanvasPop claims they can take one of those low-res files and make it all pretty printed out at a much larger size. Say WHAT? I wanted to see this kind of magic in action.

So, I picked an instagram photo. I have 100s to choose from and struggled to pick one. In the end, I chose one of my daughter drying off a toadstool so some fairies could sit on it. Yeah, I know, kinda adorable. I figured if the photo turned out I’ll probably order more Instagram photos so I can fill a wall with maybe 6 or 8 frames.


Today, the canvas arrived. I was exhausted and weary from a long day. This perked me right up! I am so incredibly impressed with the quality. You would never guess this photo would print out so well at 12″x12″. It is very crisp and clear with no blurriness or pixelation. I also like the slight canvas texture that is noticeable if you’re looking at it close up.

It is wrapped with black sides on a 1.5″ thick frame. I haven’t put it up on the wall yet. I think I’m going to wait until I choose more instagram photos to turn into canvas prints. For now I think the canvas fits right in with the whimsy sitting on the top of my china cabinet. Here’s a closer look…


I highly recommend CanvasPop if you’re looking to do a little decorating in your home. Canvas Prints (especially gift certificates) would be an awesome gift (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, weddings). My biggest advice would be to get at least the 1.5″ thick depth for your canvas. Oh, and check out the Triptych frames they offer… fabulous!

canvaspop just made my day!

Last week I placed an order at canvaspop to have some photos printed onto 12″x12″ canvas. One was a B&W photo of my daughter from the summer, a B&W photo of my son from the fall, and a photo of toadstools. I had to crop my photos to fit the 12×12 size. I can’t remember if I blogged about the toadstools or not. For a week or so last fall, the toadstools kept sprouting up on my neighbour’s lawn. After getting my daughter off the bus, we’d sneak up to the toadstools hoping to catch sight of a fairy. While the kids frolicked, I’d happily snap away with my camera. I quite liked the bokeh effect in the photo.

Well, I was getting ready to prepare dinner when I checked my email and saw that my toadstools photo had been picked as canvaspop’s photo of the day, and featured in their weekly Top 5 blog column “Curated by CanvasPop“. That was pretty exciting!

Then the doorbell rang. It was the UPS guy delivering the photo canvases. Such perfect timing! I took some photos of the excitement which you can see at the bottom of this post.

I am delighted with the quality of the prints. They turned out so beautifully. I had picked the 1.5″ thick canvas. It really does pop. A couple years ago I had another company make canvas prints with my photos that weren’t as thick. I much prefer the 1.5” depth. If I were to make a really large canvas print I’d choose something even thicker. I will definitely use canvaspop again. In fact, I was so impressed I signed up tonight as an affiliate. Mostly, it just means I believe in their product enough to put a badge (square image) of their company on my blog which links to their shop. The bonus is that when people make a purchase from that link, I get a commission. My affiliate links are at the bottom of my blog. The best part is that canvaspop gives out special promotional codes to their affiliates to put onto their site. So, get ready… here is a doozy:

=$30 off at CanvasPop CanvasPop is offering $30 off all orders with promo code APRIL30 valid through 4/30.

I had decided to write this review before I decided to become an affiliate. I was just really thrilled with the quality of my prints and the excellent customer service. However, now that I’m an affiliate I do intend to write another review in the near future. I’ve got some home decor ideas that need fulfilling.


Yes, I take photos of my mail.


I believe it.


He was made with love too.


Ta da! Here are the three canvas prints I ordered. FABULOUS!


My kids ran off with the cardboard packaging.


Very true.

Hmm, I think I need to show photos of how the prints look on my wall. I’ll put those in the next review! Stay tuned!

Rad Lab ALERT! :D

I promised some peeps I’d share when I see Rad Lab go on sale. What is it, you ask? It’s a super fabulous plug-in for Photoshop that allows you add various filters to your photos. The great thing about it is that you can see how it will look at your are making your adjustments with the filters. You can save your own “recipes” of the various filters and adjustments. I’ve been using it for a year now and I am totally in love with it.

I am an affiliate so please use the link at the very bottom of my blog to go to the Totally Rad website. I’ll get a teensy weensy commission because you were kind enough to go through my website. Thanks for doing that!

You’ll be thanking me once you get started playing around with Rad Lab! Trust me.



Go to the bottom of the blog and click on the affiliate link to Totally Rad. THANKS!

Instagram Photo Frame

I love my instagram photos. I really do. I wondered if there were a way I could show off a whole bunch in a frame in my kitchen. I had this frame I’d purchased before my son was born. I’d intended on making some art on canvas. I did but decided to go with a white frame instead. So, this lovely rustic wooden frame, sitting all lonely in my basement, found its moment.

I printed out oodles of photos I thought I’d like to use. I’d been instagraming for a year and had quite the collection to choose from.

I attached twine across the frame. I used tacks to attach the twine. Not saying  it was the best way. It’s what worked. I was impatient and wanted to accomplish a project for once. So, that’s what I used. I’d intended on using wire but couldn’t attach it easily and liked the more organic look of twine.

Then I used teeny weeny clothespins I’ve had FOREVER to attach the photos. I wanted to use unfinished wood clothespins but the ones I had were slightly too large. I suppose if you used larger instagram photos they might work okay.

That was it. It was THAT easy. If you try this project, leave a link to your photo in my comments. I’d LOVE to see how your project turned out.

Wall art by Melanie Ritchie

My snazzy instagram wall art.

close up - Instagram Wall art by Melanie Ritchie

Close Up – Wall Art by Melanie Ritchie

Ebony meet Ivory

I love all colours of the rainbow and I have a hard time seeing in Black & White. Today, I challenged myself to take a few photos from my photo library and make them black and white. I like black and white photography a lot. I just don’t usually see what the photo looked like before it was processed to lose all its colour. So, when I try it I usually want to revert my photos to their full-fledged colourful glory. Here are my finished photos. What do you think?

Photo Walkin’

I’ve heard about photo walks before but I never knew of one in my city. By accident, I heard of the 5th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk organized by Scott Kelby taking place on October 13th. I found one taking place only minutes away from where I live. So, I went.
My reservations on going were many:
  1. I didn’t know anyone going.
  2. I’m just a hobbyist photographer.
  3. I don’t really know how to use my camera fully.
  4. I didn’t know if I’d be with a group of people obsessed with their gadgetry and know-how, who expected me to be the same way. I’m not. I just like to take photos. I don’t have a budget for a super high-end camera, several lenses, and I haven’t taken classes.
I showed up despite my concerns. Yay for me and my shyness. Within minutes of starting our walk, I was encouraged by the walk leader to not use my display screen. I guess my obvious “chimping” was offensive to her. Chimping is when you look at your display after you take a photo. I personally do not care if people want to look at their photos as they take them. I can think of several things in this world I do have issues with and “chimping” is definitely not one of them. However, I did completely appreciate her tip on how to focus the viewfinder of my camera so that I could actually see out of it with my glasses. Brilliant, I had no idea I could do that. I would actually use my viewfinder more (mostly to save on battery life) but I hadn’t been able to see out of it clearly. So, that little nugget of wisdom made the whole walk worthwhile for me. I kept my display off the whole walk. I figured I’d might well as embrace trying things differently and challenging myself. Plus, if I’m totally honest, I didn’t feel like being judged. By the end of the walk, I was shooting everything in manual mode. It was a good feeling to know that I was figuring things out.
What I didn’t enjoy were comments I overheard. To each his own, I suppose. I need thicker skin, I know. The one comment I heard was a criticism of Instagram. The people talking couldn’t understand why people put their bad photos on Instagram and then think they’re great. They didn’t know why people would bother. I kept my thoughts to myself and if I had been bolder, maybe I should have shared my thoughts.
I am a big fan of Instagram. It really hadn’t entered my thoughts that people would be offended by the quality of people’s photos.
What I should have told those ladies: I take photos to communicate. I take them to show my perspective on the world; my interests; my daily life; what makes me happy. I would love if every photo was perfect. That would be great. My goal as photographer is to document my life. To show what is meaningful to me. It is a visual reference of the content of my life. I want to share that with friends, and even with strangers. To me, photography is about sharing and communicating. I don’t photograph to be judged and I don’t go on Instagram to critique. I enjoy the aesthetics of a good photo but that is always a bonus. I encourage anyone who wants to share a bit of their lives in a creative way. I think it is kind of sad that people put so much energy into dismissing the creative works of others, or making rules about procedure and technique. I say, do what makes you happy and enjoy the process.
So, would I go on a photo walk again? Maybe not. I did meet a couple people who were nice. One woman I hope to run into again. I think I’d rather do more photo walks with my husband and kids as they get older. Or a photo walk with scrapbookers. That’d be good too.
I didn’t take many photos that I liked. Here are some of what I took:
Tale of Two Ducks
Watson’s Mill.  I have no idea what I did to my camera settings.
Canadian Geese, eh?
Dreamy Porch
Inukshuk on Main St.
Vintage Car
Have you been on a photo walk and blogged about it? Share a link to your blog so I can see!