Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter :)

Happy Easter from our house to yours! I snapped a bunch of wonderful photos of the kids today. While this one wasn't the most technically perfect, I love their expressions! :) 

I really need to update the blog and soon, but for now, just some photos of the three little creatures who make my heart go pitter patter. My Easter wish for you is that your heart is as full as mine! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

I am in The Hunger Games mode. I've spent days thinking, watching, reading, listening, and yes..even sleeping The Hunger Games. The problem is...I need to get back to work. And therefore, I think I need to upload some of these thoughts to my blog. I'm not a literary or movie critic, and I don't purport to be a HG expert. But this is what I have to say about The Hunger Games. 

I adored all 3 books. I first read them a little over a year ago. After I read them, I decided that my 11 year old son Nathan could read them, and I bought him the trilogy for his Kindle as well. He loved them as well! Then the slow and long countdown began for this year's movie. I knew that I wanted to see the movie, but as the time grew near, I decided that I'd see it alone at the midnight showing. (Well, the 12:06, to be exact.)

Heading into the weekend, I decided to reread the book and play the soundtrack into the ground. I listened to it practically on a continuous loop from Tuesday on :) I was simply abuzz with HG excitement. 

After watching the movie, I was very excited to see it again. Yesterday, I saw it again with Mr. G. After seeing it twice, here is how I feel about the movie. 

The thoughts are kind of stream of consciousness, so bear with the disorganization :)

I feel like the movie was expertly done. The cinematography was beautiful. The acting was amazing. The story was pure. I'm so pleased that Suzanne Collins had a writing credit and that her hand helped the movie follow the book closely. 

I missed words in the movie. I found it interesting that you didn't hear words like the seam, the hob, or tesserae. I felt like if you hadn't read the book, you may not have fully understood at first the mathematical details behind The Reaping. The contrast between Prim's name only being entered once, and Gale's name being entered 42 times, for instance, and how tesserae factors into that. I missed that there was no explanation of that. I think it is an important point to understand, because we can't comprehend the kind of hunger people in the district experience. 

I am curious how they are going to introduce Madge in movies 2 or 3 (if movies occur). With Madge not giving Kat the pin,  I wonder how they'll explain Madge's behavior and unlikely friendship in books 2 and 3. 

I liked the stark contrast of the lack of color in the clothing from District 12 to the outlandish clothing at The Capitol. 

This is a really little point, but Buttercup, the cat, was supposed to be yellow. Buttercup plays a slightly larger part than one scene in the 3rd book, so I wonder if they'll keep the same cat?

Visuals can be nice, because the "curtsy" that Katniss does for the Gamemakers is priceless!

I was surprised at the lack of music in the movie. After hearing the soundtrack so much, I couldn't help but notice how little of it was actually in the score. 

During the video shown at The Reaping, they speak of the past and show a treaty that would have been signed 74 years prior. It is written in calligraphy and had wax seals as though 74 years prior to present day would have been 1776. Such an odd little detail, but I thought it seemed like an anachronism.

I felt like the hallucination sequence did a really good job of telling the story of Katniss' father's mine accident, but I don't think the daydreaming sequence did an adequate job of telling the story of Peeta throwing Katniss the bread. When reading the words, you get that he knowingly burned the bread and accepted the violent punishment he'd receive for doing so, weighed that with his desire to help Katniss, and make that romantic and noble choice. It speaks so much of his character, and I felt like that was lost in the daydream sequence. Also, Kat was supposed to be 11 when that happened. She doesn't really look younger, and neither does Peeta.

The Capitol residents have an accent in the books, and I found it odd that they didn't keep that. Effie clearly has one, as does President Snow, but others did not.

I loved Cesar Flickerman. Stanley Tucci did such a good job!

Haymitch was one of my favorite parts of the movie. Originally I was disappointed that Hugh Laurie wasn't Haymitch, but Woody Harrelson did such a fantastic job with the role. 

Another one of my favorite moments in the movie was the poetic, creepy justice you see happen with Seneca Crane and the nightlock berries. They don't include that detail in the book, and I found it nice from a storytelling perspective.

In the general sense of things, I think they did a good job keeping the movie as minimally violent as possible. I thought the movie was more violent than the books, for sure. There's something about SEEING a child killing another child that is ridiculously heartbreaking. I think none of it was gratuitous or glorified, though.

Along the same lines, when I read the book, I was sad when Rue died. But seeing her die was worse. I cried. Both times :( 

Seeing Peeta camouflaged was more striking in the movie than anything I could have imagined in the book. It was one of my favorite clever and fun to see. 

They did a really good job of showing the love between Gale and Katniss, with so few words. In all of the cutaways Gale never says one word, but I think even the fact that he isn't watching the games when they commence speaks so much. Instead he's in the woods. Liam Hemsworth does such a good job acting with his eyes. 

The camerawork is intentionally shaky in spots. It helps to convey confusion and disorientation in spots, and in other spots it helps you not have to see the goriest parts of such a sad story. 

One of the most interesting things about the movie to me is that it is called The Hunger Games. But I saw the hunger part of their lives downplayed. You don't see Peeta and Katniss stuff themselves sick on the train. You don't see that soup was sold in The Hob filled with dog meat. I just don't think you understand what it is like in Distrct 12 unless you understand the desperation and starvation that occur there. 

There is a great lack of detail surrounding the mutts at the end of the movie. They were scary and all, but their origin has no story or history. The small puzzle pieces that are missing make me really just feel sorry for the viewers who don't read the book. I think the movie alone tells a good story, I just feel some smaller nuances get missed. Some of this is the nature of film. Telling a story visually is different, and I get that.

I missed the detail with the Avoxes. I'm curious how they'll handle it in the 2nd and 3rd movies, if the movies exist, that is :) (I really hope they do!) 

Hands down, one of the most chilling glimpses into the future, should they make more movies, is the scene with President Snow and Seneca Crane. I love President Snow's talk about the appropriate level of hope and his command of Seneca to contain the spark that Katniss is. The seeds of discontent that ultimately lead to the actions in Panem in books (and maybe movies) 2 and 3 are planted, and planted well, I believe. 

I thought Katniss showed more emotion in her face during The Reaping than the books says she showed. That being said, Jennifer Lawrence did an AMAZING job being emotive with her face! ONE look. One expression on her face, while she was facing Prim and her mother said from behind that she had put a dress out for Katniss on Reaping Day. That one look encompassed so much. The role reversal due to her mother's depression, her understandable distrust of her mother, her strong connection as a mother figure for Prim. Jennifer Lawrence did this in more than one scene. She had this particularly horrified look on her face during The Reaping and when arriving at the cornucopia. It spoke volumes. The scene between Cinna and Katniss before going into the arena, with her visible shaking, is award worthy and I hope she is recognized for her hard work. 

Overall, I give the movie a 10. It's one of my favorite books, favorite movies, and favorite adaptations I've ever seen. The movie stayed so true to the book, and it earns so much respect for doing so! I can't wait to learn if they'll do a second or third movie :) Until then, I guess my next countdown will be waiting to see when the DVD is released! :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

My fourth baby, the kidney stone :)

Just a super quick note to update everyone! I'll post the longer story later. But, I haven't been around because I've been dealing with the pain of trying to pass a kidney stone. Finally today, I had surgery to have it removed. I'm in some pain but I'm so happy to have this behind me and I get to go home tomorrow! I hope this finds you happy and no time I'll be back to posting layouts and photos! :) 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Finally Scrapping! :)

I haven't made the time to scrap over the last few months. Since completing my Countdown to Christmas album, I haven't gotten my mojo back. Until this week. I decided if I didn't get started scrapping, it wouldn't get any easier. Just doing it, in this case, was exactly what I needed! :)

Using Got Nothin But Love by Tracie Stroud and Jady Day

My Mountain by Flutter Expressions

Using Capture Life: March by Tracie Stroud

Friday, February 24, 2012

More Cuties! :)

Got around to editing a few more pictures today! I love these ones! :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Coming Or Going

I barely know whether I am coming or going lately! It's the same old stuff, it's just that blogging seems to fall by the wayside. I'm not sure how to make time for it. I realized today I hadn't edited or posted any photos of my kids THIS YEAR! I do really think, that other than Instagram, I hadn't posted any photos since Christmas. The GOOD news is that I've been taking them, just not getting them off the camera. Ever since I started shooting in RAW, and that slowing down my post processing, I've been more and more reluctant to DO my post processing. My flow has become much slower and I'm not good at batch editing. The sheer overwhelming task of it all makes me avoid it entirely. Here are a few of my faves from this month...I'll share some from January too, but let's not get crazy or anything :) 


Friday, February 10, 2012

Lookie lookie--here comes.....Cupcakes :)

I have been so BLAH the last few weeks! Does anyone else have a sincere dislike for the month of January? It's so long and cold and dreary. 

But that's just the was kind of nice here in Lexington, KY. How about where you are? We spent some time outside, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.

But I also joined Weight Watchers in January and don't think I've mentioned that, here. I'm enjoying it very much! I'm about to have my 6th weigh in on Monday. So far, I've lost 17 lbs and dropped a pant size! 

I'm not the best chef or anything, but I've been in the kitchen a LOT more thanks to WW, and have discovered some great recipes! I got the recipe for these cupcakes online elsewhere, but the icing is my own concoction...I'd love to share it with you now!

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

1 box of strawberry cake mix
8 oz of diet 7-up

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tins
Mix diet 7-up with strawberry cake mix, and pour into 18 cupcake liners.
Bake for 18 minutes


4 oz Neufchatel cheese
1 cup Cool Whip--lite, regular or sugar free
3 packets of Splenda (optional)
sliced strawberries to garnish

Mix together 4 oz cheese, Splenda and 1 cup of Cool Whip using a hand mixer. *Note: You can use cream cheese instead but the Neufchatel is lower in points and point values are based on Nuefchatel. I tried using fat free Cool Whip and it did not whip up properly, but any of the other kinds are suitable and all have similar point values. Once these ingredients are mixed and cupcakes are cooled, spread topping on cupcakes and garnish with fresh strawberry slices. 

Yields 18, Points Plus per serving is 3PP for the cupcake and 1PP for the topping for a total of 4PP =)

Not only did I adore these, but so did my entire family! 

And with that, I'll leave you...and I'll try to not be such a stranger! ;)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy Stabbyday!

Photo courtesy of The Bloggess, of course. 

I felt stabby today.


Like in a "Who wants some next?" sort of way.

Turns out, it was a full moon.

This makes a lot of sense. It's not a bunch of hoopla. My kids turn into raging lunatics at full moon time. They are THE sweetest, most loving and precocious children but they literally become posessed with spawn of fullmoonmonster or something.

And the doctor's office. 


Unfortunately this is a real screenshot of my phone from this afternoon. Nothing out of the ordinary...a few calls to my sister and my husband, a call to the gym to find out what time Spinning class was.

Not that it mattered. Because I had to miss it. Because That call I made this morning to University of Kentucky Polk Dalton Clinic? When they told me, "We can't get you seen today, call the Twilight clinic at 3." This is their policy. "Twilight" means after hours to them and there's a dedicated clinic for it.

So, I had to call at 3. Look how many times I had to try. LOOK! SEVENTY! I got a busy signal sixty nine times before it finally rang. Now tell me I didn't want to throw my m-f phone out the window. I started calling at 3 and you see I finally got through at 3:44. Every time the busy signal came through my blood pressure raised a point.

Why am I stabby?

That's just a few reasons I was stabby. There are more. I'll stop now because I think those alone are enough to make a person stabby.

I took Parker into the clinic. He got diagnosed-ish. Scarlett fever with no longer accompanying strep throat (cured itself the Dr. said). Erupting eczema. (I TOLD THEM he had strep a month ago, I saw the scarlett fever rash then and they refused to see him, telling me to give him benadryl. They are IDIOTS!) He got sent home with a few creams. Hopefully they'll make my little man feel better. The kids were so ridiculously ill-behaved in the clinic that I just wanted to leave them there :P I think they touched EVERY surface, and licked most of them, too. So now they'll be even sicker. Yay.

I'm going to go to sleep now, and hope that I have stabby dreams that help me wake up refreshed and ready to have a not-too-stabby day tomorrow.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I saw a quote today on the Internet. I was so enamored with the quote I decided to make a pretty version of the quote so I could enjoy it even more :) 

I am eating better and exercising this year...I'm a week in so far, and my motivation is great at this point. But history tells me it will wane soon. I'm preemptively working on things to help keep me motivated. And since I also bathe daily, well this just made sense. 

This paper I used is from Bella Gypsy Designs' A Little Hope Fade To White Papers and the font is CK Jot.

Project 365 + 1

So it's a leap year...which means Project 365 becomes Project 366. I am working on it this year with renewed fervor. I feel good about finishing this project. After all, I *did* complete December Daily in 2011. And if I can do that, I can take a measley photo a day, right? Right.

Here are this year's photos, so far :)

1.1.12 | 1 of 365 | A Spoonful of Sugar | I would like to start my album cheerfully, but this project should be truthful, and this was how I began my year. A bag of medication from Walgreen's after a pre-dawn ER visit. I did, however, pick up a bag of Christmas-clearance Cadbury egg candies. Y'know, a spoonful of sugar and all.

2 of 365 | 1.2.12 | 37 Never Looked So Good | We have a birthday boy in the house today! I got him to take a break from the book he was reading this afternoon just long enough to smile for a photo.

 3 of 365 | 1.3.12 | RIP Kennedy | Yes, my Kindle's name is Kennedy. She died and I spent a good portion of my day on the phone with Amazon customer service, weighing my options and researching, and ultimately picking out a new Kindle Touch at no cost to me, which will arrive Thursday.

4 of 365 | 1.4.12 | Good Choices | It's time for me to be less of a fatty so I joined Weight Watchers. I've had some success in the past doing their online version, but this is my first time going to meetings. I went to a meeting today. It was fun :)

5 of 365 | 1.5.12 | Meet Kendall | The UPS man brought my new baby today. I always name my belongings mnemonically. Since I named my last Kindle Kennedy, I needed a new name for this one. Meet Kendall. (By default, the screen said "Jolena's 2nd Kindle". I was SO not letting that fly.)

6 of 365 | 1.6.12 | Hard At Play | Naomi was saving our living room, one villain at a time, this afternoon. As Spidergirl. With her Nerf gun.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Creating A Signature Clickable To Multiple Destinations

I'm going to help you make a forum signature, or siggy, that is divided into different sections. This will make different areas of your signature clickable thru to different destinations. 

First, you're going to create your signature using your program. The forum guidelines of the places you frequent will dictate your size, but the one I made was 600x300 pixels. I used Paint Shop Pro X3 to create my signature and this tutorial. I'm also a PSCS2 user, however, and the idea will translate to any program, you may just need to tweak slightly for your program. I've followed plenty of PS tutorials in PSP :) 

When you're creating your siggy, you're going to want to be sure the area you want people to click thru to get to your gallery, for instance, doesn't overlap with the area they would click thru to get to your blog.

Here's a preview of the files you're going to have when we're done with the tutorial:

A finished 600x300 pixel .png file, and 5 different columns saved as individual .png files.

First, open your finished .png siggy in your program.

Because my siggy is 600 pixels wide and I want it to click thru 5 ways, I divide 600 by 5 and get 120 pixels.   I go to View>Change Grid, Guide & Snap Properties and change my Current Image Settings to 120x120.  I also ensure my grid is "on" by using my keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Alt+G or choosing View>Grid.

If you are working with a 600 pixel wide canvas and want your image to click thru to 6 locations, grid it 100x100 pixels. If you are working with a 600 pixel wide canvas and want your image to click thru to 4 locations, grid it 150x150 pixels, and so on and so forth.

Once I select "OK" my image will be gridded.

Select Ctrl+ Shift+ G to Snap to Grid or you can do it from View>Snap To Grid. Use the Selection Tool to select the first column only. Copy your selection by choosing Edit>Copy or a keyboard shortcut and paste your selection as a new image by choosing Edit>Paste As New Image or using a keyboard shortcut. Save the new image as a .png (I saved mine part 1, part 2, part 3, etc but name yours whatever you'd like.)

Once that is done, select the the area of the second column using the Selection Tool and repeat the steps above.  

Do this for all of the columns you wish to have. I saved 5 separate .png files. 

Upload them to your photo hosting site. I used Photobucket. 

Once you have that done, go to the Control Panel for the forum you want to display your siggy in and select Edit Signature.

(I'm not going to include screenshots for this portion because every forum could be different but the steps should be similar no matter what.)

Paste in the image code for your first column from your image hosting site in your signature box.

[IMG] [/IMG]

Highlight this image code with your mouse and select the "Insert Link" button. A box will pop up asking you where to link the image to. Paste into the popup box the web location you want that portion of your siggy to link to. 

When you're finished with that, it will look like this:


With NO SPACES, you'll continue to do this for all of the columns you have created. It will look like a lot of info when you're done!

My code, when I was all done, looked like this:


I am NOT a tutorial writer by trade, but I hope you've found it helpful. I am HAPPY to answer any questions you might have or assist you if you are struggling with this! Just leave me a message here if you have any questions! 

January Scrapping Portfolio

I want to make a post for me to keep a running tally of my January layouts for the Sweet Shoppe Designs Scrapper's Portfolio. I'll have a thread at SSD but I also want to keep them here, for me. <3

Doodle Days by Jacque Larsen
Embrace the Everyday by Traci Reed Designs
Font is The Future Freaks Me Out by Heather Hess
Misc doodles by MandaBean and Fee Jardine

Sweet Shoppe Designs January Scrapper's Portfolio #15

The Little Things You Say by Lauren Grier Designs
Not Quite The Full Picture by Little Green Frog Designs

Zoom Zoom by Zoe Pearn
Transformers 13 by Lauren Reid