Monday, January 31, 2011

January Review

   Since I still haven't posted all of my Christmas pictures, I'm going to quickly sum January up in one post. Frankly, I'd prefer to sleep through January and wake up sometime in February when the skies turn blue and the sun peaks through.   January is the month that usually makes me think that humans should be animals that hibernate..Having both mine and Adam's birthday's to celebrate wouldn't even be reason enough in my mind to pull me out of hibernation if I had my say..  When we lived in WV,  the skies turned gray in October and stayed that way until May.  Along with the blue skies seemed to go people's smiles and everyone seemed to fall into a long winter's funk.  January here this year has been way too similar to those never ending winters we had in WV and I'm longing for spring.. I think God knew that I might give up hope that spring would ever come and he blessed us with a beautiful 74 degree day yesterday.  We went down to a local park and we walked, and played and ate dinner outside and it was the most marvelous day... Today it's dank and dreary..  But hopefully yesterday's beautiful weather will hold me over for a few more weeks.. I have to admit that the cold has brought along some nice moments of snuggling.. But, I'm longing for days of playing barefoot in the backyard.  

    Adam and I share the same birthday and  we soothed each other's old egos and I secretly felt better because he's two years older... Since we do share the day, it is nice now that Emma is old enough that she insists that we have a birthday cake.. That way, we don't feel so silly buying our own cake.  My mom took the girls for a long weekend.  The trip was a day shorter because of the crazy ice that covered the path from here to there.  And the fact that mother nature stole a day of an opportunity to sleep in doesn't help her record in my book.. But we are thankful for the break and ever grateful to my mom for always being willing to adjust in whatever way she has to get them on weekends like that.  I have been told that my sister has some pictures from that weekend.  And we'll only hope that she does better at making those public than I have lately.    On the photography front, I've been doing virtually nothing.. I seem to go through spurts where I can't even stand the thought of carrying a camera around and I seem to be there now.  But, I've been doing a lot of graphic design and retouching work and I'm really excited about some marketing materials that I'm working on for my friend Jay at Click Photography and the new studio that she's opening.  Stay tuned on that one.. 

Okay, before I bore you to death with my monotonous January life, I'll  explain the pictures and be done with it..
   Top Left yep, sigh 33 and 35..  Top Middle:  Emma and her sweet little friend MaKayla at MaKayla's birthday party.. Top Right.  Benjamin and Chloe.  Benjamin is my friend Nellie's little guy that has been battling a disease called Langerhaun Cell Histiocytosis for the past year.  We were ecstatic to get the news  that Benjamin's scans were clear last week!  Nellie went out of town for a couple of days early in January and Benjamin stayed with us.   Chloe seems to think that he should live with us now.  Left Middle Chloe and Maggie after they ate a piece of our birthday cake.  Smurfette, watch out, these two will take you down!  Maggie stayed with us a couple of days while her regular babysitter was out of town and they both had a ball. I laughed and laughed at them because they both play like boys.   Bottom Left is a birthday prank because people will just never let us fully leave youth ministry.. I thought they were calling us old goats or something but apparently there wasn't that much thought and they just thought it would be fun to cut deer out of cardboard and stick them in the snow in our yard.. I was so unexcited about going out in the snow/ice and I thought it improved the look of my front yard by giving me something to chuckle about when I looked out into the frigid cold that I left them there until I went to pick Emma up from school the next day..  I do what I can for the neighborhood.. And, the last three are us attempting to play in the snow.  That lasted all of five minutes before we decided that fun shouldn't be torturous and we all went inside and snuggled up in the bed because we are so OVER IT!!  If that ground hog sees a shadow Wed., I'm going to hunt him down and pull him out of his hole and pick him up by his heels and slap his head against the wall....

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday's Freebie- Free Photoshop Ipod Skin Template

Yay, another freebie!

 This is something that I think every photographer should make a part of their senior packages.  You want more senior photo shoots?  What do teenagers have in front of their face more than anything?  Their I-phones of course.  So what better than to have your favorite senior advertising you to her friends every time she sends out a text?

 I couldn't believe how difficult it was to find a template for an ipod/iphone.  So, I designed one of my own.  This was made to fit an Ipod touch 3 .. But the same template works for an iphone and I'm pretty sure it's close enough to work for all of the touches.  Once you go to a website to have it printed, they will give you the choice of using one of their templates or uploading your own.  Once it's uploaded, you can adjust it just like you want it..   Read on to find out where to get the best print deals on these.

Click Link Below to Download

Yes, that is my seven year old's I-pod and no I'm not an indulgent parent.  She has been asking for a Nintendo DSI for two years and since she shows virtually no interest in any video game ever, I have refused to spend $150 for something she won't use.  

But, when she started asking for an Ipod touch and I began to think of it's benefits to me (road trips with no whining)  I warmed up to the idea.  And since my husband is a Ninja when it comes to getting things free, and I'm cheap frugal, I went with the idea when he was able to score one FREE.. And no he's not in to anything illegal.. But, I'm already giving you an excellent marking idea as well as a freebie template.  A girl's got to hold on to some secrets.   

I searched the net for the cheapest prices and landed at Gelaskins where I printed this skin for $6.99. To quote Gelaskins: "They're skins! Translation: self adhesive vinyl decals. They're made with pure awesomeness"   and I have to agree!  Not only do that they print Ipod skins but they also print 100s of other skins for other electronics.  And I was more than satisfied with the quality.  I will definitely be using them again!

Happy Weekend!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thoughts From The Slammer

I've lost my mojo... I keep waiting for inspiration to strike so I can write.   But, I've had nothing for months..  I can't even seem to formulate a comment to something someone else has written that I feel strongly about... I think I'm in "fix it" mode, trying to get back the organization that I lost during the holiday season.   And, 2010 was an emotionally trying year and I think I need a break from reflecting... Things have been so heavy.  And the thing I'm needing more than anything is a night like so many I had when I was a teenager.  When my best friend, Kristen, and I would giggle all night long until the point my parents yelled at us because we were keeping them awake.. Oh for just one night to be the one giggling again...

Anyway, since I have absolutely nothing deep or moving to share because I can't stand another ounce of seriousness right now, I'll share what I wasted my time amusing myself with yesterday.

My sister sent me one of those survey e-mails..  You know, "2011 Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends and Family".. Well, since I filled out at least 2011 of those surveys during our time in youth ministry trying to make sure I didn't hurt a single teenager's feelings, I usually skip these things from adults thinking that they can take the rejection... But, my sister put a little personal pressure in there saying I was the "most likely to respond"and there was the part in the directions that said to be honest and not be lame and mess up the fun... Am I the only one that sees the irony in that statement?  Anyway, I didn't want to crush my sister's high opinion of my dependability so, here is my response..

Welcome to the new 2011 edition of getting to know your family and friends.. Here is what you are supposed to do, and try not to be lame and spoil the fun--this means YOU! 
Change all the answers so that they apply to you. Then send this to a bunch of people you know, INCLUDING the person who sent it to you. 
Some of you may get this several times; that means you have lots of friends. The easiest way to do it is to hit 'forward' so you can delete and change the answers. Have fun and be truthful! 
What color are your socks right now? 
orange, that's all they let us have here

What are you listening to right now?
The lady in the cell next to me singing "Stormy Weather"

What was the last thing you ate? Not sure... Mystery meat?

Can you drive a stick shift? 
unfortunately yes.  That's what got me in this place.  Grand Theft Auto.. and all over a candy apple red Dodge Dart.  

Last person you spoke to on the phone? 
"It's me again Margaret". 

Do you like the person who sent this to you? 
Everyone has some sick affection for their mentors don't they? 

How old are you today? 
Old enough to know better but still to young to care

What is your favorite sport to watch on TV? 
Demolition Derby

What is your favorite drink? 

Have you ever dyed your hair?
 only when I needed a disguise after the bank robbery 

Favorite food? Anything that isn't roadkill 

What is the last movie you watched? 
"The Longest Yard"

Favorite day of the week? Sunday, that's when my baby daddy visits

How do you vent? scrub toilets--- with a toothbrush
What was your favorite toy as a child? 
 a tatoo gun
What is your favorite season? 

Cherries or Blueberries? yep

Do you want your friends to e-mail you back? 
Down to my last friend.  I knocked the others off.   

Who is the most likely to respond? my probation officer

Living situation just me, Thelma and Louise

When was the last time you cried? 
when "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die"

What is on the floor of your closet right now? 
a chalk outline

Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending this to? 
you, "friend"

What did you do last night? Lets just say I don't think I'll be allowed back in that Walmart 

What are you most afraid of? small tight spaces and a woman named Butch

Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers?

Favorite dog breed?

Sweet or Salty? yep

How many states have you lived in? let's see-- state of paranoia, state of distress, state of annoyance, state of denial, state of confusion.... Hey, tonight is the state of the union!  
Diamonds or pearls? 

 What is your favorite flower?  self-rising

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge--Innocent Wonder

This post is for a Photo challenge over at I Heart Faces. The lighting was low and admittedly, this isn't my best photography.  However, for the theme of "innocent wonder" I just couldn't pass it up.  This is my three year old on her daddy's shoulders looking at the star on the Christmas tree as I plugged it in to light it.

But  [she] treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.  Luke 2:19

Friday, January 21, 2011


That's what Adam said he'd do if I told anyone this... So what did I do?  I came straight to my blog and facebook of course..

Anyway, this is the song that he came in insisting that I listen to because it made him all teary eyed..  Emma loves Taylor Swift.  Or at least that's Adam's excuse for listening to her.  

If you know me, it's a given that it did more than make me teary eyed.. It reminds me of my mom and how I want my girls to feel about me.  And really, I love the fact that it made Adam teary eyed..

Freebie Friday-- Valentine's Day Photoshop Photo Card Template

Another Valentine's Day Photo Card Template

Link Expires on 1/21/2012 Click Below to Download

Valentines Photoshop Photo Card Template

Friday, January 14, 2011

Family Friday - More Family Photos and the Hinkle Christmas Card

I wanted to make sure that mom got out all of her Christmas cards before I posted this. But, I couldn't skip it because 1. I need to post the family pictures anyway. 2. I still laugh every time I see it.   I ordered her cards from Vistaprint and saved out the ones that needed to be mailed so that I could mail them for her and then sent the rest to her so she could hand them out at work.  Well, the Trussville Post Office lost them.  Seriously, it's the worst post office ever.  If you live in Trussville, get insurance!  It's probably worth the drive to the next town.. Anyway, the cards finally showed up a couple of weeks later.  Hopefully she's handed them all out by now.

Since our family had a tough year in 2010, my mom thought that something funny and lighthearted was the way to go.

This is what I came up with:



I thought that this design would only look right on a folded card and it proved to be a bit of challenge to find a place that printed folded cards at a reasonable enough price for us to order 150. Vistaprint, hands down had the best price. And I was very happy with the quality of the card.

The photo-- Once again, utilize your tri-pod.  I didn't even have to swap any heads on these.  Make sure you double click on the bottom photo and check out Chloe's "silly pose". 

Free Valentine Photo Card Photoshop Template

Click "Free Photoshop Valentine's Day Card Template" to download your free template

If you need help using a template, shoot me an e-mail at

Friday, January 07, 2011

80's Tacky Day

Funny story with this one...

Emma came in the other day and said, "Mom, Friday is tacky day.  I don't have any tacky clothes so can I wear one of your shirts"?  OUCH... I got a good laugh and spent a few minutes trying to see me through her eyes.. I remember when my mom was in her 30s... She seemed so grown up to me..  Many days, I still feel like a kid trying to raise a kid.  I wonder if my mom felt as un-equipped to be raising children as I do some days...

Anyway, after stroking my bruised ego and a little further investigation, I learned that it was "80's tacky" day  and she had already done a little 80's research of her own.  And she was planning on taking the leggings and over-sized T-shirt route with a large belt.  Or at least that was her defense...

So, I started pulling up 80's pictures on the internet and Cindi Lauper videos.. And, we came up with an outfit that I think might have just won me some coolness points..

And if you too are feeling nostalgic, I've got a fun site for you to check out:  Like Totally 80s.  I laughed and laughed... I'm pretty sure we could have gone with any fad from the decade and totally covered the tacky part.  Banana clips, acid washed jeans, scrunchies, tied rolled pants, jelly bracelets, jelly shoes, reebok high tops, Michael jackson jacket...   I totally have the urge to put on some stirrup pants today!  I'm thinking 80's party for the grown ups.. Any takers?

**Edit** I've had some questions about where I found all the things that she's wearing so I thought I'd include that...

I didn't buy a thing specifically for this.  We did already have it all at the house.. I broke down and bought some stuff when we had 70's week but when this one came up, I decided that they were going to be having these things too often for me to buy an outfit every time it came up...

I get my resourcefulness from my mom who taught me how to pinch a penny until it screams..

*The black shirt and leggings are actually a unitard from dance. (We fully tested it to make sure it would come    down over her shoulders so she could got to the bathroom at school ;)

*The skirt came from me making an exception and going to Walmart  after Halloween because they had their costumes 90% off.. They didn't have anything good left.. But since I HATE Walmart, I didn't want the trip to be in vain so I grabbed a skirt for each of the girls and paid $1.30 for each.  She is wearing both to make it more poofy.

*The shoes are Dorothy shoes from their dress up box that I spray painted with some metallic paint that I had left over from a harp we made in children's church.

*The leg warmers are actually legs cut off of tights that are too small for Chloe.

* The bow in her hair is from the princess tulle skirts  that we made for her birthday..

* The things on her arms are from Chloe's Wonder Woman costume.

* Beads and sunglasses from the dress up box.

* The gloves came from a pack of two that I bought because I wanted pink gloves for Chloe and they only
   came in a pack of two.  I just cut the fingers off.

*  And I'm a little embarrassed to admit it but the shirt and belt are from her regular wardrobe.. She likes the

* And believe it or not, I still had a crimping iron from when the girls we worked with in youth ministry had me
   crimp their hair.

And, one day, they'll have a 90's day and I'll be totally prepared because I saved all of my teen magazines!


Thursday, January 06, 2011

Blog Hop-- The Secret to My Success With the Family Photos..

My father-in-law has been begging for a family picture of the WHOLE family since my niece was born in July of 2008.  That proved to be a difficult task since one of the family members (me) is also the photographer.. So, I spent the past few months mastering using my tri-pod and then filling the photography gap with photoshop skills so that my children won't grow up and wonder what I looked like when they were kids..

My mother-in-law posted our family picture on her facebook page and everyone was amazed that we didn't have a bad expression in the whole bunch..  While I did enjoy tricking people into thinking I'm that great of a photographer, it kind of made me feel like a fake.. Plus, I thought it would be an awesome edit to enter in the editing Blog Hop over at Pixel Perfect so I decided to reveal The secret to my success.. Besides, I think that in the era of digital photography, The editing is at least half of the talent anyway...

So I give you the before pictures.. Yes, pictures as in plural... My secret to getting a great family picture with children in it?  Take more than one..

So,  I instructed the adults to not worry about what the kids were doing and to just worry about themselves in the picture and to not make a move once the picture was taken.   I sat the camera up on the tripod and sat the time and was able to get a decent picture of the adults.

 Once I knew that my part of me being in it had been taken care of, I was able to move away from the camera and get a good picture of the three kids..  Then I managed to get a decent picture of the three girls once I was able to move behind the camera and dance and sing like a fool..

Then, using Photoshop Elements 8.0,  I cropped the three girls out of the second picture and pasted it into the other picture.  Using various editing techniques: erasing, smudging, airbrushing, cloning etc, I blended the edges.  It's really just a decide as you go, a little here, a little there kind of thing.  It wasn't that difficult.  Just tedious.. I was fortunate to get all three girls smiling or I would have cropped them all out of a different picture.

I cropped it in a little closer and straightened it from where the camera was leaning a bit on the tripod.  The rest is just your basic lighting, color, smoothing, defining edits..

Dana Ellis
Thoughts on Life After Dirty Diapers

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Hiatus-- The Hunger Games

Some wonderful friends from church (I'm still not sure who was involved) gave us an I-pad for Christmas.  Which, resulted in me getting Adam's Kindle and Adam using the I-pad which was just fine with me since the Kindle means me having to learn less new technology..  And upon my acceptance of the Kindle, Adam convinced me to read "The Hunger Games", a trilogy in which I'm now totally absorbed.. I read the first book in less than 24 hours.  But after the first book, I decided I could neglect my children no longer (don't worry, they were in the excellent care of my mother while we were visiting during Christmas).  But, since we're back at home and I have to once again, be a responsible parent, I can only read during children-sleeping-hours which explains my blogging absence..   Which Adam always warns me will lose my blogger audience.

Due to my reduction in blogger comments, I have resolved that I have already lost my audience, aside from my photography friends downloading my existing free templates. THANK YOU PHOTOGRAPHY FRIENDS FOR KEEPING MY TRAFFIC UP.  It's a cheap tactic but it works.    But, just in case, you actually care what I have to say... I have a plan!  You too my friend, should join me in reading "The Hunger Games".  I promise, you'll be absorbed, and it will keep you occupied until I am once again inspired to blog and we can  meet again and share a new camaraderie having experienced the games together..  And Adam can get some amazon credit because you used his Amazon associate link below to order the books..

Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset