Archive for July, 2011

Look who showed up to pose for Fab Foto Friday! Intrigued and unnerved, I grabbed my camera and got some incredible shots, considering they were through a closed window. I cropped these a bit so that you could see them close up and personal. I, of course, was not this close to our new friends. We had two in the yard. At one point this guy was not more than 5 yards from the house.

My first thoughts were “What the h— are those and why are they howling in my yard?” I posted some photos on my Red Barn Artworks Facebook page (which has some amazing animal expert friends) and immediately learned that we have coyotes. I contacted the Fish and Game conservation officer who told me “Not to worry, they are always around, even if you don’t hear them. You were lucky to see them!” Lucky? Hmmm… Did I still worry? Yes! I have a 23 lb beagle who we now call “Appetizer.”

So, here is one of them…

The conservation officer said that they probably found a food source nearby (maybe our beagle?) and were calling all their buddies. They hung around for a couple of hours howling and then I didn’t see them again but heard them howling that night. I recorded the sound. Click play below and turn up the volume on your computer. You won’t see anything because it was dark, but you will hear them…

 

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I haven’t seen or heard them in a few days. It is getting tiresome following our little “Appetizer” around every time we let him out in the yard. The officer did say that they rarely attack pets, especially this time of year when their natural prey is readily available. He also said that they don’t stay in one place too long and will soon move on to the next food source. That’s good news, but I think I’ll keep an eye on Appetizer for a few more days just the same. Do you have any experience with coyotes? Would love to hear your thoughts… Please share with a comment!

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From Photos to Artistic Images…

What better way to preserve your precious memories than to have your photographs artistically transformed into works of art? Have you always wondered how it’s done? Thought that it might be too much work or too expensive to try?

I’m here to tell you how easy and inexpensive it is to create beautiful artistic images with your photographs. I’m often asked about how photo enhancement works at Red Barn Artworks, so here is a slide show with examples of our work followed by some FAQ’s in hopes of answering all your questions…

(If you’d like to speed up the slide show, you can manually click “next” when ready for the next slide. Just hover your mouse over the top left side of the slide show to view the controls).

Before & After Artistic Images…

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We offer many options for digitally enhancing photos such as cropping, photo clean up, merging two photos, and adding a paint effect. We call these Design Services. Each Design Service is individually charged a fee ranging from $10 – $25 per photo (except for cropping, which is FREE). Once your photos are enhanced and you approve your proofs, the new artistic images can be printed on any of our unique gift items! You can also opt not to have any Design Services and have the photo printed “as is” on our products.

FAQ’s about Artistic Images from your Photos …

I notice that some of your paint effects are more dramatic than others, why is that?

It’s true, and some of it is by design and some is because of the quality of the original photo. For images with faces, most opt for a subtle, more realistic paint effect, whereas less detailed photos may look better with a more dramatic effect. If the resolution on the original photo is poor, it is likely the paint effect will be more dramatic. You can request how dramatic you want to go and we will do our best to make it happen!

If I want multiple gift items with the same photograph, do you charge a Design Service fee for each gift item?

No! Design Service fees are per photograph. So, for example, if you have one photograph for which you want a paint effect, and you order 2 keepsake boxes and 3 necklaces with that same enhanced photo, you will only be charged for the paint effect once. And if you decide down the road that you want to order more items with that same photo, we keep the images on file, so you will not have to pay any more for Design Service fees or re-upload the photo!

Can I have more than one Design Service per photo?

Yes! You can choose from having no Design Services to having them all. And you only pay for the services rendered.

Do you offer proofs? If so, how does that work?

Yes. We offer online proofs so that you can see the enhanced photo with the new Design Services that have been applied. And you can also see how that photo will look on your choice of gift item(s).

What if I don’t like the proof or want to see changes made? Do you charge for proofs?

Absolutely not. We never charge for proofs. And your satisfaction is guaranteed. We only want you to purchase our products if you absolutely love them. If you receive a proof from us that you are not thrilled with, we will make requested changes and continue to send you proofs until you are happy. If it turns out that you don’t like it no matter what we try, we will refund your money and hope you will come back and try again with a different photo!

How do I get my photo to Red Barn Artworks?

For digital photos, once you are in the Custom Photo Gifts page of our website, click on the gift item that you would like. There is an upload button on each page. Click that button and browse for your photo. If the digital image is too large or not in an acceptable format, or if you have a hard copy, you can see instructions on how to send the photo.

That’s it! Easy and inexpensive!

For a dramatic paint effect example, below is a before and after of our Girl On Beach…. as you can see, there is nothing special or perfect about the original photo…

Girl on Beach BEFORE Cropping, Clean up and Paint Effect

 

Girl on Beach AFTER cropping, clean up and paint effect.

What a difference!

I hope this was a helpful post. Please feel free to comment if you have any further questions or thoughts about transforming your photos into artistic images. I’d love to hear from you!

To see more before and after artistic images, click here for our Portfolio.

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There are mornings, often when I’m looking at several loads of dirty laundry, a pile of bills, and stacks of inventory boxes, when I actually say out loud (with conviction), “I am Wonder Woman today!” Okay, I know it’s a bit bizarre. And of course I don’t mean crush the Secret Society of Super Villains, combat gunfire with deflective bracelets, fly to the grocery store Wonder Woman, as fun as all that sounds. No, my less glamorous Wonder Woman will conquer the menacing laundry pile, unpack the taunting inventory boxes, and pay the dastardly bills. And although unleashing the Lasso of Truth on slow paying clients is enticing, I’ll have to stick to making the dreaded accounts receivable phone calls.

These Wonder Woman days are what I consider to be intentional days of mass production. Days where I put my mind to accomplishing not just more than usual, but the icky tasks that I dislike. And saying the mantra “I am Wonder Woman Today” out loud, though silly sounding, is my way of committing myself to the act of getting things done. And it works! So now I’ve done it… I’ve said the mantra – I’m committed. Time to put on my Wonder Woman boots and get going! Now, how to get it all done?

The key to Wonder Woman Day is focus and organization.

You probably have a multitude of tasks and are often interrupted throughout the day, am I right? What helps me more than anything are lists. I live by my lists. If I don’t write it down, it may fall by the wayside. Who knows where I’d be without my lists? Probably downstairs watching Ellen with a bag of chips. Nothing would get done! And be sure to put your least favorite tasks at the top of your list. Get them done… Cross them off that list first!

I’m a hand-written list person, but if you’re a techie, there are a multitude of online list-making sites, such as ListMoz, where you don’t have to register, Scribbless and Ta-da Lists, for list sharing, and Thingamalist, which boasts list sharing, recipes, pre-made lists, and even discounts at your local stores – wow. These are all free and there are many more. List making has never been so easy! I love crossing things off my list!

Now, let’s be clear… not every day can be Wonder Woman Day. We save up our energy and nasty tasks for those special days. And even though the tasks aren’t fun, and the work load seems unreasonable, it’s the Wonder Woman Days that I feel the best about… the most accomplished… well, when the day is over. Because now I’ve cleared the way for the more fun parts of my job!

So, it’s time to get started… say it with me, “I am Wonder Woman today!”  There’s no stopping you now! Put on your big girl boots, make your list, and GO!

Wait… don’t forget your boomerang tiara!

If you’re of the male gender and reading this… please substitute…

Super Man for Wonder Woman

Invulnerability for Deflective Bracelets

X-Ray Vision for Lasso of Truth

Superman (Big Boy) Boots for Wonder Woman (Big Girl) Boots

Big Red Cape for Boomerang Tiara.

Thank you for reading! Do you have any tips on making your day a Wonder Woman Day? I’d love to hear them! Please send along a comment!

Red Barn Artworks… A small company with a big passion to create meaningful art from everyday photos.

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Last week I searched the internet to find and share some very cool ideas for hanging your stuff. I received so much positive feedback from that post that I thought I’d share more fun and funky ideas, only this time it’s about how to hold your stuff. Enjoy…

Old Shutter Mail Holder from google.com, found on Pinterest

 

Never close the doors on your wallpapered Armoire from Decor8Blog, found on Pinterest

 

Love this. From Fitzu.com, found on Pinterest

 

DIY Sewing Kits from StorageandGlee.blogspot.com, found on Pinterest

 

Antique Suitcase Dresser from Rossanaorlandi.com, found on Pinterest

 

Spicy! From blog.ecoetsy.com, found on Pinterest

 

Dresser as a kitchen island from Smallspacestyle.blogspot.com, found on Pinterest

 

Custom Photo Box by RedBarnArtworks.com.

The adorable baby hat in the photo on the keepsake box is from Navarain.com.

I hope you are now inspired to hold it in all sorts of new ways! Some of these came from DIY blogs that show how-to tutorials. If you click on the image, most should bring you to the original blog. Have you got any fun and pretty storage ideas you’d like to share? Will you be trying any of these? Which ones are your favorites? Please send along a comment!

 

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Friday was CSA pick up day for me, so I have been eating salad all weekend! If you’re looking for the easiest and tastiest home-made salad dressing (no kidding – just three ingredients), then this recipe is for you!

Home-made Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients (Only three!):

  • 1 cup Light Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

That’s it!!! Shake or whisk or mix together however you like. It tastes great on all salads and is especially good on a salad with strawberries, red onion and candied pecans. It’s also great for pizza crust dipping!

 

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

This is my favorite smoothie recipe and it’s perfect for these incredibly hot days of summer!

Ingredients:

  • 6 – 8 frozen strawberries
  • 1 Ripe banana
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons of Stonyfield Farm Banilla Yogurt (Yes- Banilla with a B)
  • 1 cup milk (more or less depending on how thick you like your smoothies)

Blend and serve – yum! Makes 1 large or 2 small smoothies. Enjoy your Meatless Monday Lunch!

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The 1780 Farm…

A quick post to send you off to a hot and hazy weekend. Earlier in the week I shared my bounty from The 1780 Farm, so I thought I’d show you a few fab fotos of the farm itself. I am charmed by the whimsical signs they have there.

1780 Farm

There were no animals out when I was there this week, so I borrowed the piggy photo from the farm’s Facebook page. Thanks for checking in! Have a great weekend! Please send along a comment by clicking the “Comments” link below.

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Design a Room

Yes! It’s Design a Room time…

But this is even more fun because I’m showing you the Design a Room transformation in a slideshow! So it’s a quickee post for those who are too busy to scroll through all the images. I swear – it’s really short (30 secs) and oh-so-fun! I designed my dream music room. The only musical instrument is a piano, since that’s all I play… and this is my dream music room, after all. I decided to use some of my favorite animal eye art from our children’s book, Look Into My Eye….

Below is the Design a Room slideshow… Click play to view. I have to apologize to my email subscribers because you mistakenly got a sneak peak of this post when I was testing the slideshow. Sorry! Please let me know if the slideshow does or doesn’t work for you!

Design a Room Slideshow – My Dreamy Music Room

Each and every time I do one of these room designs I am stunned by what a difference wall color makes!

It may be hard to believe but you will find all these colors and more in my dreamy music room:

What a beautiful palette of jewel tones! Can you see all the colors in the room?

These are the furnishings that I found online to put in the room:

 

Here are just a few of our gift items with our Eye of the Zebra and Eye of the Dog Designs:

Eye of the Zebra Keepsake Box

 

Eye of the Zebra Necklaces

 

Eye of the Zebra Coat/Towel Hanger

 

Eye of the Dog Sun Catcher

 

Eye of the Dog Tile Coasters & Trivet

 

Eye of the Dog Note Cards

 

And of course, here is our art and animal inspired children’s book…

Click the image to see the first 5 pages of the book

Do you have a dream room you’d like to create? Would you like to pick one of our artworks for our next Design a room Online post? I’d love to give it a try!

Just let me know by clicking the comments link below to leave a comment!

Red Barn Artworks… A small company with a big passion to create meaningful art from everyday photos.

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Soccer Mom photoAhhh… Soccer on a summer night.

You look forward to your son’s soccer games. You love to watch him do what he loves to do. And soccer is all he loves to do. Morning, noon, and night. It’s his high school sport and his social life. You’re watching one of his summer league games… they play just for fun. Much of it has become your social life, chatting with the other soccer parents that you’ve gotten to know so well over the years. You become nostalgic and realize that there are only a couple years left of this and then he’s off to college.

Then he’s down.

Wait… what? You missed it… didn’t see a thing. What were you doing? Chatting? He’s not getting up… is he crying? You know you can’t go out there… it’s against the rules. Wait… whose rules? Then you try to see if any body parts are moving. Is it his head? His groin? His leg? You calculate how long since your last visit to the emergency room – two weeks – and you’re not sure how much that cost yet. He’s getting up. They’re carrying him off the field. But wait… this is summer league

It looks like his leg? His ankle? No… please… not the ankle. You consider your work load tomorrow and how much time the hospital trip will take. You think further ahead… Scout Camp next week, then two weeks of his much-adored soccer camp, followed by soccer try-outs, then vacation… with hiking. Please not the ankle. After vacation… high school soccer preseason. Please not the ankle. You curse the fact that this didn’t happen 4 weeks ago when he had absolutely nothing to do for the first half of summer. Please, please, please not the slow-healing-ligament-tearing-ankle-sprain-thing-that-re-injures-easily.

The next day…

You’re in sports medicine. Hmmm…. it’s been a couple of months since you were here last. Your thinking insurance and you blurt out “Maybe we’ve reached our deductible.” He glares at you. X-rays are taken. It’s not broken. Damn… it’s the slow-healing-ligament-tearing-ankle-sprain-thing-that-re-injures-easily. You’re mind races to add up the cost of the soccer camps. Maybe they’re refundable? Maybe he could go and just watch? Okay, that’s kind of funny, even in this unhappy setting. He has to stay off his foot until the swelling is gone… could be weeks. You’re calculating the number of trips up and down the stairs to deliver food, drinks, and ice and how that converts into calorie loss.  Six to eight weeks in an air cast with physical therapy. Wait… what?

He doesn’t handle it well and snaps at you in the car. You take him out for ice cream like he’s 5 years old and that will make it all better. It works, but only temporarily. You give him the Pollyanna lecture about the big picture…blah…blah… 8 weeks is a drop in the bucket… blah… blah… doctor’s orders… blah… blah… fully heal and play in the fall…blah… blah… You’re not even listening anymore. Eight weeks is a L-I-F-E-T-I-M-E to a sixteen year old who lives only for the game. It’s a lifetime for his mom who can’t imagine how she’s going to live with a sixteen year old who lives only for the game. His mood deteriorates and you both sulk. You buy him steak tips.

The true confession is…

I really do believe the “big picture” speech, and of course I know a sprained ankle is not the end of the world. But I can’t help but sympathize. If any of you reading this have a son or daughter who is working hard toward playing a sport in college, you know that continuous set-backs like these are more than just a bummer because your kids will be bored for a few months. They can undermine all that hard work toward their goals and dreams. It’s a competitive world for our high school kids and each sports injury throws them that much further behind, not to mention the physical toll on their bodies. And the older they get, the more aggressive the play with the more potential for injury. Hmmm…. I think I need an ice cream now.

After a week full of television, video games, round the clock ice packs, Advil, and catered meals in the basement…

His ankle’s a myriad of colors on both sides and still swollen. With the doctor’s OK, you ship him off to Scout camp (which is not his favorite even with two good ankles) with crutches, an air cast, two ice wraps, an ice bag, and Advil. You’re riddled with guilt and fear. What if he doesn’t ice it enough? I hope he doesn’t have to walk too far. Maybe we shouldn’t have let him go. But he needs those merit badges, so he goes and you hope for the best.

Because as parents, sometimes that’s the best we can do.

Any of this sound familiar? Is your child a sports fanatic like mine? Sometimes it can be pure joy and other times it can be filled with heartache. But I guess it’s no different with any other passion we may have. Some just hurt more than others.

Thank you for reading! Please send along a comment by clicking the “Comments” link below.

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From Farm to Table

Meatless Monday Recipes

Farm fresh to you

Look at this beautiful bounty I picked up from our local farm this past Friday! Food really can be a work of art, don’t you think? There is something so wholesome and Laura-Ingalls-Wilder-like about getting your eggs and produce from a local farm. For the past two summers I’ve joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) community at the 1780 Farm. I highly recommend buying food locally and organic when you can. I do it because it’s better for my family and the environment. And it’s awfully fun to pick up my surprise bucket of goodies – I never know what I’m going to get! It’s made me dig a little deeper into the recipe file and try some new things. I’m sharing two of my favorites with you today… I hope you like them as much as I do!

 

The Best Coleslaw Recipe – From Farm to Table

I am not a fan of store bought coleslaw, so when I found this recipe from Southern Food, About.com, where mayonnaise is optional, I gave it a try – and am so glad I did!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head cabbage, coarsely shredded
  • 1 medium red pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 3 carrots, coarsely shredded
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped small
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I use a little less)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise, if desired

Preparation:

In a large bowl, toss all veggies together. In separate small bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and stir with a whisk. Pour over veggies and toss before serving. Keep leftovers refrigerated. Makes 6 – 7 cups of slaw.

 

Mexican Quiche – From Farm to Table

Quiche

The eggs were still warm when I picked them up from the farm – talk about from farm to table fresh! This is a great quiche recipe from my friend, Cathy. It has a Mexican twist which both my kids love – that makes it a keeper right there!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pie crust (homemade or store bought)
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 small can of green chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (OMG I love cumin – maybe sprinkle a little more)
  • 1 green onion (or a tablespoon of yellow onion) chopped small
  • 2 tablespoons salsa of your choice
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
  • Salt & Pepper

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Beat eggs, milk, chilies, cumin, onion, salsa, salt, and pepper on medium high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Stir in shredded cheese. Pour into pie crust. Bake for one hour or until firm and golden on top. Let cool a few minutes then cut and serve!

There you have your dinner fresh from farm to table – enjoy!

Do you have any great from farm to table recipes you’d like to share? Or any local farms that you like? We love love love to get comments, so please fill us in, just click on the “comments” link below!

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GymnasticsYou’re standing at the gymnastics office window basking in the glory of your daughter’s happiness. Her gym is wonderful, her teammates are supportive, her coaches are phenomenal, and you and your husband are the best parents in the whole world for encouraging this kind of activity, camaraderie, confidence, and self esteem. Yeah you!

The kindly office manager interrupts your thoughts: “They’re getting new team warm-ups this year.”

You: “Oh… really?”

Manager: “They are really nice too! They’ll cost around $140. Do you want to pay for it now with your September payment and December meet fees?”

You: “Wait… what? It’s only June.”

Manager: “Oh, I know, but your September dues and meet fees are due the 1st of July. The payment schedule is in your paperwork.”

You: “Oh! Right! The paperwork. Okay… sure, I’ll pay for it now.”

Where did I put that paperwork?

 

You’re on your way to your daughter’s first gymnastics meet!

This is so exciting! You were up at 5am french braiding, re-french-braiding, and french-braiding again. Your husband is already at the gym, two hours away, helping to set up the equipment. Your daughter goes over the check list:

Leotard? Check!

Hair ties? Check!

Hair clips? Check!

Hair bands? Check!

Hair spray? Check!

Hair brush? Check!

Extra hair ties? Check!

Grips? Check!

Warm-ups? Check!

Light Saber and Darth Vader cape for Star Wars march-in theme?

Wait… what?

 

You are at the meet – Oh. So. Excited. You brought your three dozen cookies for the bake sale. You have your video recorder in hand. You’re ready to do your volunteer job as flasher (it’s not what you think) and it’s time to check in. You walk up to the desk…

Perky lady behind the desk: “$5 please.”

You: “Oh… My daughter is in the meet.”

Perky Lady: “Oh, how nice.” (Smiles).

You: “And I’m a flasher.” (You smile back).

Less-Perky Lady: (Awkward silence).

You: “And I brought cookies.”

Not-so-Perky-Anymore Lady: (Sighs at my obvious newbie ignorance), “It’s still $5 please.”

Wait… what? But I brought cookies.

 

You get to your flashing spot and realize that you got stuck with uneven bars, which is way far away from the beam, floor and especially vault. You try your best to videotape your daughter’s performance on the floor and realize that you’re three girls behind in displaying the bar scores so the audience can see (a.k.a flashing). Parents are sneering at you. You quickly catch up on scores, then you try to crane your whole body discreetly to videotape your daughter on vault while attempting to keep up with your flashing duties. Is that her on vault? Or wait… is that her? You end up recording four different girls that look like your daughter because you can’t see from that far away. You’re two more girls behind with your flashing. You ineptly juggle your tasks for another 3 hours while listening to the same stripper-sounding floor music over and over again, until all events are completed by all teams.

You: “That was GREAT! Good job, honey… let’s go home!”

Daughter: “We can’t go home, they’ll be announcing awards in an hour!”

Wait… what? There’s more?

 

You finally get home 9-1/2 hours after you left and excitedly upload your video recordings. You edit out those that are not your daughter. Phew! You did get her on vault! At least you think that’s her. You can’t wait to finally be able to see her performances. Her scores were good and she is happy and you are proud. Everything’s ready and you and your husband and daughter gather around the computer to watch the culmination of months of conditioning, hard work, and skills training on bars, beam, floor and vault. You click play and watch with rapt undivided attention…

For a total of 4-1/2 minutes.

Wait… what? That’s it?

 

Although all of the above is true for the most part…

Here is the Real Confession of a Gymnastics Mom:

Is team gymnastics expensive? Sure is. Is it inconvenient? Often times, yes. Do I feel like the meets get us coming and going? Very much so – it’s ridiculous sometimes! But watching the meets gets more fun as the girls rise up through the levels. Do I have any regrets about my daughter participating in gymnastics? Not a single one. My daughter tried soccer, horseback riding, cross country, piano, trumpet, and girl scouts and lost interest in all of it. She’s been competing in gymnastics for five years and still loves it. She has gained strength, physical fitness, maturity, confidence, self esteem, focus, a thick skin, a mentor, and valuable friendships through this sport and I am willing to put up with all of the above for these benefits. I just have to maintain a sense of humor through it all and be willing to put in an entire day for four and a half minutes of potential glory.

Any sports parents that can relate?

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Red Barn Artworks... A small company with a big passion to create meaningful art from everyday photos.

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