Mar 222015
 

You can do some amazing stuff in Photoshop Elements, including creating “Oil Paintings”.  I absolutely love dabbling in PhotoShop Elements  (PSE) and the things you can do with are endless.   I am totally self taught but I own numerous how-to books and have sat through many many how-to videos.   I have tried so many things but to be honest, when you are not immersed in it, you can easily forget the steps. 

About 7 years ago, when my daughter was very involved in a competitive dance program, I started a little “business”.  I should really call it a labour of love of dance because there was no profit.   When there were studio performances where I could take photos, I rented a long, fast lens.   At most competitions, we were not allowed to photograph performances but we could purchase the photos on CD.  In both cases, I used my Photoshop skills to create unique collages or clean up photos for myself and other parents.  Although I made no profit,  I made many a dance mom happy with my creations.

Today I want to share one of my most treasured creations using PSE.  The original photo was purchased on CD at one of the competitions.  In a group ballet picture, my daughter commented to me “Look Mom, I am doing a perfect arabesque!” For her to actually say something positive about a dance photo was pretty rare so I thought I would take a stab at seeing what I could do with it.  She is one of many and I knew  if I “extracted” her from the photo, it would be grainy but  I decided to work on it anyway, just for fun.

Here is the original photo:

Ballet_background copy

There’s Miss Nice in the middle doing a “perfect arabesque” (apparently)

 

Using the tools in PSE, I “extracted” her to a new file.  First, I made a rough selection, similar to the one above and erased all the other dancers.  I then further defined the selection by using the following tools

  • Magic Wand
  • Quick Selection
  • Magnetic Lasso
  • Zoom

Once I had the “cutout”  I was sure to SAVE the selection.  It can be a tedious process to have to re-do.  Trust me I have forgotten to save selections many times.

Because everything in PSE is in layers, I was then able to make copies of the cutout and apply filters as well as experiment with adding various backgrounds.  I must admit, I am far from being an  EXPERT but the more you read up on techniques and experiment, the more you learn. 

A Simple Preliminary Version

The photo below is a simple, preliminary version using a background created using a cloud pattern found in PSE and a fill colour layer.

Paint effect with a cloud background created in Photoshop

 

Screen shot of the layers used.

 

 

Final Version

At the time, I was editing dozens of dance photos for dance parents and I had purchased some interesting backgrounds.  Using the same picture, and a purchased background, I came up with this final version.

Final version printed on canvas

 

The various layers used

 

  In the photo above,

  • Layer 3 is the purchased background. 
  • The layer “Floor” is a copy of the floor from the original picture set at an opacity of 50%.  This allows the reflection on the floor to show through.
  • “Merged layers”  is just that, a layer of all the layers below merged together.  I then made copies of the merged layer to apply various artistic effects.  By making copies, you never ruin or lose your work.
  • For this print, I only used a filter called “Dry Brush”.  I also tried “Underpainting” but as you can see there is no eye symbol next to it so it is not visible.

Before and After Comparison

Below is a comparison of the original and the final with the adjustments made.  The look is very subtle but it looks smooth and not grainy.

A close-up cropped from the original photo: grainy

 

A close up of the finished photo with background removed and “oil paint” filter applied. Hides the graininess.

Once finished, I dropped it off at Costco to be printed on a stretched 12″ x 18″canvas.  I also had it framed with a simple narrow black frame.  It hangs in the hallway next to the guest bath where it often admired by all who see it. 

My Beautiful Ballerina

 

 

I too stop and admire it often. 

Not only am I proud of my work, I am proud of my beautiful daughter who was all of 12 years old at the time.  I have many, many other “creations” of photos taken of various  routines but for some reason, this one really touches my heart.  Even though ballet was not her favourite dance style, she still loved it.   For me this creation really portrays the joy dance gives her.  I will treasure it forever.

Now Miss Nice is at university and still takes dance classes and finds opportunities to perform but it is a far cry from the hours she put in during those 12 years of competitive dance.  April is the beginning of dance competition season.  I don’t miss the craziness of it all but I do miss watching her perform. 

So for now, I will stop in front of this “painting” and reminisce.  

Have you dabbled in Photoshop? 

Photoshop Elements is relatively inexpensive compared to the full version.  There are so many great “how-to” books out there.  I usually get mine from the library.  Toronto has an amazing library system.  Some of the books are even available on line, for free,  from the library.  If I really like the book, I may purchase it and add it to my reference library.

So many effects can be created in Photoshop. 
What have you tried? 
I would love to here about your experiments.

 

Joan

Mar 182015
 

I love typography art and I also love a great DIY Knock Off.

Left $2.00. Right $260 on sale for $130! (source)


Ever since I absolutely fell in love with this creation by Virginia at LiveLoveDIY, I knew I just had to “do” an ampersand art piece.

Isn’t this GORGEOUS!

I love her idea of a simple white background and a design created with only thumbtacks.  Brilliant!  And one day I may borrow this idea for a piece of my own.  A monogram perhaps.  We will see.

Then last fall, I received a home decor flyer from one of Canada’s biggest and most iconic retailers, the Hudson’s Bay Company.  There on page 3, just inside the cover was this great, mid-century modern inspired room.  As a furniture painter, I was immediately drawn to the chest of drawers with different stains and THEN, I saw the ampersand print.  (Note:  there are NO AFFILIATE links in this post… just the facts!)

ampersand001 bay ad

I love the multi-stained drawers of the dresser but the ampersand print drew me in

Again, I loved the simplicity of it.  However, when I saw the price in “the fine print”… $130!  on sale from $260!  My mind said

“Hmm… I think I could make this with my Silhouette Cameo and a cheapo dollar store canvas!”

I stashed the flyer on my desk but the plan was always in the back of my mind.  

I found the exact font on Google and some time ago, I picked up some black and white wrapping paper I thought would make a great pattern.

I didn’t get to this project until I was struck down with bronchitis a couple of weeks ago.  Bored out of my mind and not able to do anything too “busy”, I decided to tackle the project. 

I loaded and sized the ampersand font in PhotoShop, saved it, then imported the file to the Silhouette software.   I tried to cut out the black and white wrapping paper only to find it was just too thin.  You see, I am a newbie Silhouette user who, if I continue to screw up like this, will need a new mat.

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Isn’t that pretty? Pretty YES but far to thin for this project.

Next, I checked out my stash of scrap book paper.  Why I have this stash is beyond me.  For years, I thought I would try scrap booking and 10 year later… not a single page.  Regardless, I did not find a suitable monotone paper but I did find paper in my favourite colours.  Colours that made me think about spring! 

The first paper, I ruined because like I said I am a newbie Silhouette user and I have the settings wrong. 

Next page was MAGIC!! and gorgeous!

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The sewer in me told me to use pins to keep it in place. Go figure?

 Using Mod Podge, I glued it into place.  Easy Sm-easy!

For the label, I picked a nice simple font and, similar to the stencils I used for my glass etching gifts, I created a stencil out of cheapo dollar store contact paper.

IMG_0564 copy

Stencil made with Silhouette Cameo and dollar store contact paper

First, I painted over the stencil with Mod Podge to seal the edges before applying the paint.  This step is IMPERATIVE to have crisp edges with no seeping.  Mod Podge dries very quickly so I was able to start to paint the letters.  I was thrilled to find I had the perfect green in my stash of craft paint.

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It took about 3 coats of paint to make a nice solid colour.

I was SO PUMPED with the outcome.  Even with the mistakes, it took me about 2 hours of elapsed time! 

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How cute is this on my mantle with my favourite green bird. I LOVE APPLE GREEN accents!

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What a fresh addition to the mantle!

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It even ties into the dried hydrageas I pilfer from my neighbours bush. (With their permission of course!)

 

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Like I said the scrap book paper had my favourite colours in it. How cute is it on this side of the mantle with my turquoise squirrel?

 

So let’s re-cap the costs incurred:

  • 12 x 16 canvas from Dollarama   $2.00
  • scrap book paper  $0.00
  • craft paint $0.00

So if I bought the print on sale for $130,
I guess I saved $128

AND I think mine is more fun!

 

Do you love it as much as I do?

I am thinking of doing a “set” of labelled symbols  and putting them in the main / guest bathroom, a room in need of some colour!

Love to hear from you!  Would love it even more if you followed me on Pinterest or Bloglovin’ or whatever!

 

Joan

 

 

Mar 112015
 
Are photo albums a thing of the past

In this age of digital everything, are physical photo albums a thing of the past?

A LONG Winter and Now:  Bronchitis

I recently shared how my husband and I survived this LONG winter.  I really should have said “mentally” survived!   The day before I shared the long winter post,  I went out snowshoeing with my friend and our two dogs for an hour or so.  It was a bit longer than planned because even before we started, I commented I felt I was getting a cold.  That afternoon we were hit with a big ice storm (yes, ,more crappy winter weather!) and in the evening we lost power until nearly noon the next day. 

I am sure it was just coincidence but I woke up in the cold house with whopping, nasty chest cold!  Bronchitis to be exact. 

Why??
Why me??

Today is Day 8 and it has let up a bit but not to the point I can be really busy and actually move around a lot and “DO” something.   It seems if I move a lot, like dash up the stairs, I have a 15 minute coughing fit.   I am very fortunate, in that I am not working outside the home and do not have small children.  However,  I am in my 50s and this has really “Socked it to Me!”.   (You may need to be a child of the 70s to get that Goldie Hawn line.)

Photo albums a thing of the past

“SOCK IT TO ME” (source)

Sorting Photos

Okay enough “Poor Me”, so what does all this have to do with PHOTO ALBUMS?

You see, I have been an avid photographer for years.  I even developed my own black and white way back in the day so I have DOZENS and DOZENS of photo albums.  I also have HUNDREDs of printed pictures, needing sorting, labeling, filing and framing.  Some stacks go back 3 or 4 years.  These are mostly travel photos along with some family and artistic attempts.   Not all will go into albums, it’s also time to update the gallery wall.

With this bronchitis, I have barely gotten out of my PJs, or bed for that matter, meaning I have been unable to tackle active, productive projects like sanding and painting.  Looking around,  I decided it is time to get out the boxes of photos and empty albums and get to work on them.  Nice quiet, non-stressful activity.  This will also be a MAJOR de-cluttering / organizing task that is SO LONG OVERDUE!

Photo albums a thing of the past

Sorting and Filing is well underway.

 

photoalbum4

This is most but not all of my albums. Looking from top to bottom, you can almost see the “History of Photo Album Styles”. The top row are the peel and stick type!

 

Photo Albums

I love printed photos. 
Do you?
I love to look at them. 
I love to touch them. 
I love to remember and reminisce over them.

Will my daughter and the next generation value photo albums and the memories they hold as much as I do?

Are printed photos and photo albums following a similar path as music?  I distincely remember my first stereo receiver, turntable, cassette deck and then CD player.  Now all gone.

A couple of summers ago, at the encouragement of my husband and daughter, I sorted through all of my albums, selecting HUNDREDS of  important pictures and sent them to be digitized. I have them on both CDs and a dedicated hard drive.   I did the same with the literally hours and hours of family and vacation video we have on 8mm.  It was an expensive venture but it is very important to me that we preserve these memories.

To date, neither my husband or my daughter have taken a look at what we now have on digital.

Is that not a telling sign?

 Is the effort of labeling and filing photos, in order to capture memories of precious times together, now a  futile effort?

I have also realized I have not printed and filed away our pictures from the trip we took in August of 2013 to Prague and Vienna.  Should I bother?  Will this be the last of my photo albums?

Maybe I am just getting old and old fashioned.

Yes, we are all busy.  Life is moving so fast.   Maybe too fast.

Capturing special moments seems to be no longer all that special.  It is instantaneous.  Then it is on to the next “special” moment. 

Regardless, I will continue to tackle this task over the next few days when I need to sit quietly and watch NetFlix or listen to a book from Audible on my phone.

Do you still print photos and fill photo albums?

Do you think photo albums will go the way of records and CDs and maybe even DVDs?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Joan

( Did you happen to note the irony in the last sentence before my question? )

 

 

Nov 252014
 

I love dabbling in Photoshop Elements to create unique DIY gifts.   Recently our family was blessed with another baby boy. For me, he is my SEVENTH great nephew and they named him Wesley.  I love it when parents come up with names that are nice and not too common.  As a “welcome to the family” gift, I decided to create a baby  name piece artwork as I had done for his older brother, Liam.

For, Liam, I found a really GREAT Flickr site where the owner has created a collection of pictures for each letter.  (NOTE:  These photos are for NON-commercial use only).    I had an odd shaped rectangular frame, 8″ x 16″,  on hand that was perfect.  Using the letter photos, I created a unique photo alphabet print of his name to fit the frame.    The parents loved it.

Baby name artwork photoshop elements

I love the industrial letter in this print.

For Wesley, I did not have a long narrow frame so decided to be more conventional and create something 8×10.   And rather than a birth announcement, I would just create a cute name graphic.

I tried to find a cute whale image (as in W is for Whale) but I failed.  However, I did find this  cute train graphic via Google and I loved the colours.  Once loaded it into Photoshop Elements, I played around with different fonts and came up with this.

Baby name artwork photoshop elements

W is for WESLEY

After selecting the graphic, the process took me about 30 minutes to complete.  The best part is now that I have the layered Photoshop file which can be easily modified for any new babies who come along… 

I have had a love of photography for decades and I once worked at IBM in a technical and software support role.  So it seemed natural for me to feel comfortable dabbling in Photoshop.  My Photoshop skills have been self taught over the past 10 to 12 years.  The “self taught” part is evident by the dozen or so Photoshop Elements books I own and the number of great online tutorials I have bookmarked. 

Once I get an idea I like (that part takes forever!), I love diving in and experimenting.  For me, these two baby name projects were extremely simple.  Someday I will post some of the tougher stuff I have worked on when my Miss Nice was in competitive dance.    I was a very popular mom at the studio because the dancers and dance moms loved that I could extract the dancer and add a new background and song lyrics, fog or whatever they wanted.  Those projects took time but I loved it.  Here’s an example of one of my favourite lyrical dances Miss Nice performed in 2010.  I loved the song, the costume the dance … the whole package. 

photoshop elements dabbling

Isn’t Miss Nice beautifu? If I do say so myslef!

The original photo was a stage shot with a black floor, stage curtains and banners hanging in the background.  To create this picture, there were 13 layers and various techniques, many of which I ‘ve probably forgotten.  This photo is one of  many on our gallery wall .  Every time I pass it, it brings back great memories of her years of dancing.

Have you ever or do you dabble in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements?

I know PicMonkey is easy and does many of the same functions but I can’t be bothered learning a new program.

I would love to hear from other Photoshop dabblers and pros!
Feel free to  leave a comment or email me!

Joan

Oct 202014
 

I have realized have not posted the finished vintage secretary desk my client wanted  updated with paint a few months ago. 

She initially told me I could to do whatever I wanted to it!  ” I trust you!”  Yikes! 

Many of you reading this might think this would be fun and a time to be super creative and step out of the box but I didn’t feel that way.  Then when it was dropped off, I saw it was a super cute and unique piece and had to double check if she really wanted me to paint it.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Super cute desk with windows and cubbies.

This vintage desk was in excellent shape and the top had cubbyholes  covered with cute little doors with windows.  I loved the hardware too.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk details

Such a unique desk

Being a chicken and not wanting to go mad with this piece, I used Photoshop, to create some crude mock ups of various colours. Here is the post.  In the end, she chose grey but a paler shade.  Whew …  knowing the colour was a relief. 

Updated Vintage Secretary desk mock up

Photoshop mock up in Grey

She also said she did not want a distressed look.  With all the detail on the piece I would have been inclined to go that route.

I used my favourite go to paint Sherwin Williams Pro Classic.  (NO affiliation)  I selected Essential Grey which is supposed to be similar to one of the Annie Sloan colours

I wanted to leave the top wood with a dark stain.  I like the look of wood and paint together.  I had planned on using a stain and poly combo to do the top so I proceeded to paint the body of the desk first.  WRONG!  When I started on the top, I realized my plan was flawed and I really needed to strip it down.  The top being veneer meant I did not want to do too much sanding. 

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

My plan to do the top last was not a good idea. LIVE AND LEARN.

Stripping the top was a bit problematic as some of the solution got on the paint and … well you know.  I had to do some repairs to the paint.  SO ANNOYING but totally my fault.  After the top was stripped of its original finish, a nice grain was was revealed.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Stripping the top revealed a nice grain.

I cleaned up the hardware and used a COPPER coloured spray paint.  Something a little different but it tied into the final stained colour of the top.

Although I loved the dark wood, the final updated version is so much more fresh and bright.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Fresh and bright

I love the copper coloured hardware and the walnut stained top.  Even without distressing or glazing, the details still pop.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Copper coloured hardware ties into the walnut stained top.

To keep it bright, I painted the cubbyholes a creamy white.  With the white interior, you can now see the pattern on the glass doors.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

I love the patterned glass on the doors.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

So much brighter

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Before

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

After

 

 

In the end, I think both the client and I are happy we collaborated on this.  You see, I was considering  painting it RED or ROYAL BLUE with a dark glaze and some distressing.  Regardless, I LOVE this final outcome.

Stay tuned to see how I transformed the chair the client uses with this desk!

Has a client ever given you a blank canvas and told you to go to town on a piece?

Did you?

Were they happy? 

I would love to hear from you.
Comments make my day!


Joan

Jun 282014
 

When someone one says “Give me a Break!”  I don’t think this is what they mean..

I posted back in May, for some reason, I was in a funk I could not seem to get out of. I was not able to get at the oh so many paint and upholstery projects I have lined up.  I felt  distracted and shall I say a bit lazy!  Not sure what it was; perhaps that brutally long winter.  At the time, I had been blogging about 8 months and my page views and visitors were up significantly.  But my “followers” were not growing  at the same pace.  Much of the traffic to my blog was coming from my participation in linky parties.   It was becoming clear I was not exploring and taking advantages of other, more productive options available for bloggers. 

So I took a break and did some research, reading and thinking.  Still in a bit of a funk on the work front but was very busy  planning my daughter’s prom / graduation party.

Then, on Friday the 13th,
I got a REAL BREAK!
and not a nice one!

I slipped on a wet floor and went down like a ton of bricks.

I thought I had a sprained ankle because I could put some weight on it but NO… a fractured tibia  (shinbone).

This sucked in so many ways but it could have been worse.  It was my left leg so I can still drive!

Air Cast

This boot is made for walking…

In the two weeks that followed, we had a number of special occasions planned.

We were hosting our last Book Club meeting of the season,  the day after the big break.  Luckily I had set up the dining room for a formal “Great Gatsby” meal before the fall and the meal is “pot luck” and my group is so familiar with my kitchen I had no concerns and was waited on by all 😉 

Then on June 20th, we were hosting a pre- and post- prom party for my daughter and her friends and their families.  You know 45 people mingling around taking photos, eating nibbles and sipping on champagne cocktails.  I could hobble and the week leading up to this, I prepared so many cool things, decor and food, to make it special. 

I was smart though.  I called in a favour from  my bestest friend Gay,  a real estate agent, and asked her if she could be free on Friday to help me.  I do a lot of PhotoShop work for her promotional plan so it was difficult to turn me down. 

OMG without her, I would never have survived the day.  As it turned out the day was PERFECT!!!   Perfect weather.  Perfect food and drinks.  Perfect decor. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

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All the lovely ladies!
(and my peonies in full bloom!)

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This bench by our front door is the location of nearly every “First Day of School” picture for the past 13 years!

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Miss Nice and her Romeo!

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Their school is a dedicated Arts-Only school and this picture shows most of these kids are in the DRAMA program

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That was some limo! A stretch Hummer!

 What was not perfect was I did not get pictures of the decor, the food or the drinks.  I so wanted to do a blog post on it.  You know, get out of my funk.  But NO!  Jusy no time to spare to take photos.  This is definitely a blog issue I will work on… allow WAY more time for things I want to blog about.

Then June 23rd was Miss Nice’s eighteenth birthday and on June 25th was her high school graduation!  Talk about packing it in!

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A grad picture on the bench was a must!

It has now been two weeks since my big break and the pain has subsided quite a bit.  I quite like the feel of the air-cast when I put it on.   It nice and snug and makes me feel more stable. 

Mr. Nice and I leased a golf membership for the summer at a private club, making this break VERY untimely and expensive.  However, I plan to go to the range this week and see how much it puts me off balance.  We can always take a cart!

Today, I am going to tackle some paint projects because the weather here in Toronto is magnificent!  And I want to go outside!

Similar to my post back in the winter,  Make Like Nike and “Just Do It”   I plan on getting off my butt, out of my funk and be productive regardless of my leg.

In the meantime, I have one more decision to make: 
In the first week of July, do I really want to fly to England to see my in-laws while sporting a cast? or should I go in the fall when Mr. Nice usually goes alone? 

Have you taken a long flight with a cast on?

Have you ever had a bad Friday the 13th? 

Stay tuned for more projects and posts because I believe I am back!

Joan

 

Be sure to follow me on Bloglovin! 
and comments just make my day!
(And I could use a break!  LOL)

May 262014
 

Twenty years ago, Mr. Nice and I moved into what we were certain would be a forever home.  We were a couple of DINKs at the time (Double Income No Kids) and wanted a special home with character, entertainment space and perhaps a ravine lot.  When we walked through this house with the realtor, we were not impressed with the decor but we sure were impressed with the lot, the layout and of course the full sized snooker table in the large family room on the lower walkout level.  I often joke,”We bought a snooker table and the house came with it!”  LOL. 

Move ahead a few years and my company down-sized, I took a severence package and took some time to re-think my life.  During this time, although we were in our late thirties, we decided to have a baby.  In 1996, we were blessed with a beautiful and tiny baby girl.  Here comes the fun part.  One of my neighbours announced she too was pregnant and a few months later, a new family moved in and they too were expecting a baby.  So in the summer of 1996, on a court of only 7 houses, THREE babies were born, our daughter and two boys.   The other families also had daughters a couple years older than the babies so we had 5 young children.   Needless to say, we all became great friends.  We used to pull up our lawn chairs in the street and watch the kids on their trikes and wagons and bikes and roller blades.

Tredvalley_gang_May97 2

Our motley crew in May 1997.
( I never said all the pictures were “good”)

 All three girls ended up dancing at the same dance studio. Car-pooling was a breeze!   The girls continued with dance for many years and the boys moved on to hockey. 

I have always enjoyed photography and have dozens of photo albums to prove it.  So it just seemed natural that I became the Memory Keeper.  I always had my camera or our video camera on hand for every get-togther.  The everyday stuff and the special day stuff too.    The little dancers were always putting on “shows” for us which sometimes involved lipstick and tutus on everyone…. including the boys.  My photos and footage have been useful in marking more recent events like significant birthdays and graduation.

Interestingly, the three 1996 babies never went to the same school. For elementary one Roman Catholic, one public and one French Immersion.  The same happened when they entered high school. 

Roll ahead to 2014… as a result of invitations by local friends, they ALL went to the same prom!  I think the families were more excited about this fact than the kids were!   And of course there had to be a photo session and in front of our fireplace was the spot.  You see EVERY year on Halloween, prior to the dads taking them Trick or Treating, we met in our home and took their picture in front of our fireplace.

This was one of the "dark" years.  2002

This was one of the “dark” years. 2002

Now back to Prom Night…

THAT WAS THEN

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And
THIS IS NOW

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WHAT A GOOD LOOKING GROUP!

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…and Miss Nice still thinks they’re crazy!

I fear in the age of digital photography with phones, the role of “Memory Keeper” will be lost. 
I wish more people would take the time to sort and store and PRINT!

So many people snap and share and then move on. 

Mr. Nice and I and the other two sets of parents treasure all the pictures we have taken and shared. 

Those five kids believe they grew up on the best street ever!
And now they love to sit and watch the crazy videos we took of them. 
Many are hysterical!

Do you have a Memory Keeper in your life?

“Beautiful hours move so quickly.”
― Irene Hunt, Up a Road Slowly  

Time is so fleeting!

 

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