Here I am again real quick to share some collage templates I made last week.  I intended to put them on my last post, but I forgot.  I created a collage template in Ps so that I can put differnt pictures in the same layout.  A lot of photography bloggers use these (normally they are a little more simple) to add interest and design, but save time.  I just had fun making these, but I think I should make some simple ones up to use in my blogging.  I used a texture from Shadowhouse Creations, a map image that I had pinned earlier, some digital tape that I created about a month or two ago.  Then I made the frames, tag, and text background.
I'm not sure how many Ps users read my blog, so I won't get all technical with how I created it, but it was a great learning experience for me. :)

 I feel like when I am aware of the tiny details (or the big ones such as sunsets) then life is a little more adventurous.  My sister agrees. :)

I'm so glad, God worked it out so perfectly for me to go to WV over the summer.

This is me again, back on Jan. 31, 2013. I said earlier that I would not get technical on this post, but I have decided to document my method anyway:
1. I layered images and textures to make my background.
2. I created a tag in Illustrator. (adding color and texture in Ps with clipping masks*)
3. Then I made rounded rectangles for my photo frames. (again, adding color and texture in Ps with clipping masks)
4. Finally, to add the pictures, I drew more rectangles on top of the original rectangles and left them black. These are where my pictures will go.
5. I saved the Photoshop file, and I now have my own collage template to use later.
5. I imported the pictures on new layers, and "clipped" them to the black squares with the clipping mask feature.
And that's it!

*clipping masks: the layer above is "clipped" to the layer below. This is as simple as holding down the Alt key and clicking in between the two layers you want to clip (you should see a box with an arrow when you hover between the two layers.) For example, my picture was right above the shape layer with the black box. Then all I had to do is Alt+click in between the two layers. I still have the freedom to scale and move the picture around until I like how it looks. So fun!

Photography Friday

Passion Flower
I found this flower growing wild at church.  I had never seen it before, but apparently it is a passion flower.

twigs and stuff
Yes, I have a little collection on my desk. :)

oragano, pepper, basil, garlic powder
Greek food! Greek food! :)

spices, garlic, lemon
I made Greek gyros with homemade beef gyro meat, then a Greek salad dressing for a "house salad."
Here's the recipes (except I messed up on the dressing and put lemon and vinegar in it--very strong!)

green bean bloom
I love our little garden (as you can tell by how frequently I take pictures of it.)


corn and sunflowers


I'm looking forward to enjoying my Labor Day Weekend.  I hope you all do too!


Things Unnoticed


The shape of a twig,
The color of sunshine,
The smell of pen and paper,
The blessing of living,
The music of a dozen pleasant conversations,
The emotions behind each “I’m doing great!”
The encouragement a simple smile brings,
The secret fear over-come,
The admiration of the younger,
The moment when sunset gives way to darkness.




Hello clay.  I'm looking forward to lots of quality time together.
Hello rain.  We get along just fine.
Hello Canon camera.  You changed my life.  Really.
Hello art plans.  Everything is so exciting, yet so daunting.
Hello Bible.  You are the most beautiful of all earthly things.
Hello gold spray paint.  Let all things be afraid. :)
Hello Pintrest.  My cooking routine has been transformed.  All things come from Pintrest.
Hello spices.  You are so pretty.
Hello mornings.  I will conquer.
Hello pretty tape (aka: Japanese Washi Tape).  You are magical.
Japanese Washi Tape



Photography Friday

Wednesday, I was trying to eat my lunch outside on campus, but they were blaring this music (I hate welcome week--just call me the Grinch of welcome week).  Needless to say, I packed back up my sandwich and avocado (I love avocados!), my camera, and the 500 Bowls book my instructor had loaned me and headed to a park.  There's a wooded park just five miles from campus, and that's where I escaped.

{click to enlarge}
lovely tree

Even though I said I hate welcome week, I do like the first week of classes.  My favorite part about it is getting to set back in my seat and pay attention to the first impressions people make.  Although I'm not in very many classes this semester, I did get to meet two new instructors (they are quite the opposite of each other), two ready-to-make-good-impressions women (also quite opposite of each other), and a creepy staring guy. I love first impressions!

moth and weeds

yellow glow
For some reason, as I sat on my root, eating my sandwich, I found the glow under this leaf very attractive.  Don't you wish you were about half a cm tall so that you could curl up with a book under that lovely yellow shade?

left over chalk
Look what I found on the trail.  It brought back not-too-long-ago memories of friends and summer.

red weed

birds in a tree
Are these mourning doves?  They are so cute.  They were interacting a lot more, but by the time I got dropped all my bags and books on the sidewalk and got my camera out, they were more interested in "that strange girl down there" so I didn't get any pictures of them beak-to-beak.

two little birds

out to eat
My family went out to eat...and I had to choose what to eat.  I hate ordering.  I just want to eat.

homemade card
And here's a little card I made.  It's fun to make such little, simple pieces of art to send away in snail mail.  Maybe I can make a set today.

And here's a few more from earlier this week:
cucumber avocado spring rolls
My sister, MarLeah, helped me make these for supper one night.  Yummy.

Isn't it wonderful that no matter where you go, there will be a sky?  The sky is such a wonderful thing.


P.S. When I say "click to enlarge" that means that if you are on my actual blog (and not hiding in Google reader or some other feed service) you can click on any picture and a slideshow type thing will come up.  Anywhere else, it will probably just show that one picture on a boring white background distastefully aligned to the top left corner.


Cast Thy Bread

May I attempt to share the great challenge I received from studying the 11th chapter of Ecclesiastes?  I remember one night, while singing #343 “Cast Thy Bread upon the Water”, I got very curious about the verse quoted.  Now, months later, it has opened a little to me.

Ecc 11:1-10
(1)  Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.  This challenges me to be generous with charity and, more importantly, sharing the gospel.  God has promised that—according to him—nothing will be wasted.
(2)  Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.   Temporally: The number seven indicates completeness, and eight is going beyond the normal.  There may also be a connection with the number eight and the last part of the verse.  Perhaps in normal times, you are required and able to give “seven”, but harder times may come and you may be called upon to give more than normal.  I think of the African missions.  They need reliable support throughout the year to have food for the orphans and to run the orphanage, but occasionally there are times when they are faced with a huge difficulty (such as a need for a well), and we are called upon to give “eight”.  Spiritually: Most of our life is spent living everyday life.  Of those days, God expects us to live holy and do what we know to do.  We must be ready, however, when he calls us to do more.  If we are faithful in giving God our “seven”, He counts on us to be faithful when he leads us to a greater work.
(3)  If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.  Temporally: All excuses are shallow.  We should be like the clouds who, when they are full, they give, and their giving is unbiased.  Spiritually: God has blessed me so much! If I am full the joy of salvation, I should share it with those God has put in my path.  Like the first verse says, I don’t know what good it will do, and I may think that it doesn’t change many people, but God says it will have return.
(4)  He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.  Temporally: Too much “observing” and trying to understand everything and attempts to calculate whether our gift will be profitable, will keep us from giving.  Spiritually: It is so easy to begin analyzing whether this person or that person is capable of accepting the gospel. It is not our place to decide, and it will hinder us in many circumstances from being a witness.
(5)  As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.  This is the argument against any protest: we do not know everything God knows.
(6)  In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

The last part of the chapter is good too, as it prompts young and old alike to remember eternity.

(7)  Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun:
(8)  But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.
(9)  Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.
(10)  Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.



Sweet Savour

Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.  (Ecc 10:1)

What if I walked into a bakery and was met with the smell of a pig pen?  What if Bath and Body Works reeked of dirty laundry?  These two places have a reputation, therefore, it would be beyond disappointing if aroma of the place was less than desirable.  It would be offensive.  I have been near a pig pen and have endured it; however, if I stepped into a bakery shop that smell like that, I would step right back out.
Christians, people expect certain things of us.  The life we live give us a reputation.  How do we keep from spoiling that expectation of a sweet savour? (side note: the archaic definition of savour is similar to repute.)
I tried to look up verses about a sweet savour, and I found that the phrase is in the Old Testament a lot, and it is always in reference to a sacrifice.  Incense was also used in worship to God in the Old Testament.  I believe the analogy of these is the key to having a sweet savour.
The answer is to have a close personal relationship with God.  When we nurture a relationship with God through willing sacrifice (sweet savour) and prayerful communication (incense Rev 8:4), then our life will smell sweet to Him.  Furthermore, it is only important what God thinks of us.  Trying to always please people will put us under a bondage (I know this), but the bondage of love to Christ is blessed (I know this, too).  Most of the time, a life lived well before God will be pleasing to those around us too, but we cannot always depend on that.  Our focus must always be on God and how we can serve and please him.  May we strive to keep the dead flies (I think of that as selfish motives or desires) out of the ointment.



Of Great Price

Pearl of great price

...more than your dreams.
more than your appearances.
more than your opinions.
more than your time.
more than your money.
more than your life.

Isn't it somewhat liberating to realize nothing is worth as much as salvation and the knowledge of Jesus Chist?  Every time you give something up, you are breaking a band that is tethering you to this earth.  I have been thinking recently of what I can give up in order to have a closer relationship with my Savior.

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.  (Php 3:8)



I Understand

Neosho, Mo.
Sept. 20, 1943
Dear Mac,
   Greetings to you in the name of One who has loved us, and gave us a lively hope, that we shall have eternal life. I am glad for that hope tonight.  We have a reason to be the happiest people in the world, for no others have that hope that we have in our souls, And as we get nearer the Lord & learn more of the secrets of His will, our hopes become brighter.  As one scripture says, “The path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”  Truly we have so much to be thankful for.  I doubt if we can even know how to appreciate salvation as much as we should.  But as we go thro’ the fiery trials that come our way, & then see how wonderfully the Lord delivers us from them all, then we know a little better how to appreciate the Lord.  At least I have found it that way.  In my greatest sufferings, the Lord would come to my rescue when He saw I needed Him most, then I really felt like I had advanced a little more.
   Well I received a very nice and encouraging letter today, from someone I was expecting one from, and I must say I was very glad to get it.  Your letters are always encouraging and helpful to me.  I can easily tell that you are sincere, and that you want the Lord’s will to be done, above everything.  And that causes me to have greater confidence in you.
   I am at last, sending you a picture.  Whether it’s very good or not, maybe you can at least know who it is.  It is better than I had expected it to be, for those kind of pictures are not often very good.  I could have sent it the last time I wrote, but (you guessed it right) I thought you might come in a while & I would give it to you.  I intended to tell you, but forgot that.  So I guess I’m pretty forgetful.  But here it comes now.
   We have been canning apples today.  We didn’t get them all done.  I went home with Wanda Hagne (the other young sister besides myself).  She is a fine girl, & is very spiritual. I always enjoy being with her.  I think it is so helpful to associate with those who are interested in the things of God.  We can talk of His goodness, & it makes the presence of the Lord seem nearer.
   Ellen and Elizabeth Glass came back to Neosho last Thursday.  I don’t know if you remember them or not.  They were at the Monark Campmeeting. They are single girls.  Now that they are here, it will add more to our numbers.
   Oh yes, I heard a compliment on you last week.  When Mother & Shirley (my sister) were here, Shirley asked me if I had any pictures of you, & she & Mother wanted to see it.  Mother said that you had a good appearance & that you looked like a nice boy.  So I was glad to hear that, rather than for her to find fault with you.  Of course I already knew what she said was true, but I am glad she thinks so too.
   Mac, you don’t need to feel that it bothers me because you are undecided yet about what the Lord would have you to do in every way.  I understand how you feel.  I can only say that I am glad you are willing to wait on God & let Him have His way.  No doubt but that it is a cross to you, but Mac I say, keep holding on to the Lord until you know His will.  So long as you keep that decision in your heart, you won’t be going astray and wonder what is wrong.  When a person gets out of the order of the Lord, they always get into trouble.  But those who let Him lead them, they never have anything to regret.  We can see many examples of people  meeting with problems, & making their own decisions, & then later on we can hear them say they regret doing the way they did, & wishing they had of did some other way.  But when we are careful to follow the leadings of the Lord, we always find out He has led us right, & we are glad for it.  And I’m glad you have that kind of decision.  Otherwise you would be in danger of doing the wrong thing.
   And you also said that it might look like a small thing to want the leadings of the Lord about when to come up here.  But I fully agree with you that we need the Lord to uphold us wherever we are, & whatever we are.  So you don’t need to think that it bathers me in the least, because things are not clear to you yet.  (It only has the opposite effect on me.  It makes me think more of you,& have more confidence in you.)
   I know it isn’t a pleasant feeling to not know definitely what the Lord’s will is when we have problems to solve.  So I know it hasn’t been pleasant for you. But just keep trusting.  I don’t worry at all, but what the Lord is going to work it all out for you in His own time.  Maybe He is just letting you be tested out to see if you will keep your decision to trust Him.  So don’t ever let any discouraging thoughts dwell on your mind.  Sometimes the enemy tries to take advantage of us when we are perplexed, & will try to make it appear that it is impossible to find out what we should do.  So if he should try that on you, just don’t listen to it.
   Mac, it is alright that you told me how you felt concerning you & I.  I understand how you meant it.  Since you felt the way you did, it was alright for you to tell me, so I could have time to think & pray about it.  Some people (if they knew it) might think it was rather sudden, but so long as me & the Lord understands that is all that matters.   As you and I are the only ones it concerns, except the Lord.  So long as we keep in His order, that is enough.
   You asked if I have had any more leadings concerning the matter. I hardly know just what to tell you.  But I don’t know definitely yet, what the final answer will be.  But I will say this, that if you have felt clear so far, about the past happenings.  And I’m sure the Lord can help us to know His will concerning the future.  And however He chooses to work it out for us, I’ll be satisfied.
   Well I must be closing for this time.  Keep your faith and trust in Jesus, and He will never fail you.
I’ll say goodbye for now.
As ever,
Carrie Wyatt

(click to enlarge)


Photography Friday (sort of)

I don't have very many pictures this week (besides the ones I posted yesterday and some specific ones that I'm saving for a later post that I'm working on.  That said, here is what I did today.

I made bread sticks without a bread machine.  {and they were yummy}
I used a recipe from the blog The Country Cook.
bread sticks

in the oven

And I drew sketches of my carousel music box (from this post).  This is a continuous line drawing (everything is connected).  Continuous line drawings are fun, and they really exercise your eye because it's harder to do proportions (notice do not notice the belly). lol  oh well, I didn't allow myself to erase anything. This, along with some other drawings and illustrator projects will be featured in the a fore mentioned post-to-come.
continuous line horse

Have a wonderful weekend!



Just Alone

black eyed susans

I totally indulged myself yesterday.  I went to a park and forgot about time.  I brought my journal, but I have found that when I come here, I end up thinking more and writing less.  There are some places that seem to encourage one to get lost in thought.  When the birds are singing, the bugs are sounding, and the breeze sweeps through the rustling leaves, it doesn’t take long for the peaceful surroundings to take its effect.  What did I think about?  There was probably not a subject untouched as I watched the wind and the sun play a shadow show through the leaves.

Hmmm...I'm not a videographer, but I couldn't help wanting to capture my surroundings.  Actually, good videography amazes me, and I love watching a creatively captured video such as The Piano Guys and Tim Porter.

The Park from Alyssa on Vimeo.

Stay refreshed and inspired.



Photoshop Favorites

I have recently become a member of the Photoshop addicts.  I've only owned it a few months, but there are already certain techniques that I keep going back to.  One of my favorites is...

Gradient overlays:

moth on peach tree
The original--pretty cool, but when I added the blue and orange gradient overlay, I fell in love.

moth on peach tree gradient

light streaks

For an old-camera-light-leak look, use a linear gradient with at least five colors at various widths.  Set the layer mode to overlay.  Finally, add a black and white gradient mask to make the streaks fade at the bottom.

mercy in light
I rarely set a gradient layer to screen mode because it washes the picture out, but when you are looking for a sunny effect go with screen mode and lower the opacity to your liking.

Creamy light

I found this tutorial online, and I'm looking forward to using it more.

I decided to use this technique because the original look way too dark as a thumbnail for my profile pictures on Blogger and Pintrest.  I think it helped lighten it up without compromising the quality of the picture.

Tilt-shift/Iris blur

Photoshop has pretty advanced blur options (although you'll never get the bokeh you might get naturally).  I use a tilt-shift blur when I want to subtly create a point of interest.  Rarely do I use the iris blur unless it is very subtle (such as here).

Grunge brush and texture overlays from Shadowhouse Creations

Shadowhouse Creations has lots of awesome textures.  In fact, I think he is the king of grunge.  This picture has one of his old canvas textures set to overlay mode with the opacity adjusted.

He also has this amazing grunge brush set that I use all the time.  In this picture, I used it as a border.

Do you know of any great Photoshop tips?  I would love to learn more!  Just leave a comment or a link.  :)