Wednesday, December 4

The Saga of The Christmas Lights



We are finally getting around to decorating for Christmas. Which means we pulled out the tree from the attic and Paul and the boys set it up. And plugged it in. And unfortunately realized that several sections of the lights were burned out! Not only were they burned out, but the bulbs were blackened. Apparently our fake tree was now a fire hazard.

We have had the tree for 6 years, and it was a cheap pre-lit Walmart one, so it is not completely surprising that the lights burned out. But it is a pain in the rear. We considered buying a new tree, but didn't want to spend $150-$200 so close to Christmas when we had a perfectly good tree that just needed some new lights.

So I decided to go and buy some lights from Walmart. Not wonderful timing since there wasn't a huge selection since people in our area start decorating for Christmas the day after Halloween. I went with the fancy LED lights this time, they were $17/box and I only needed two boxes. I made sure to pick out the warm white lights, I really dislike the bluish bright white lights. Actually dislike is not strong enough of a word, I despise the cool bright white lights with a passion.


So I got home and the boys made sure all of the lights were working and put them on our tall 9.5 foot tree and plugged them in.

I came down to admire our beautiful tree when I noticed something was wrong. The top of the tree had beautiful warm lights, the bottom had cold scary bright white lights. The boys looked at me sheepishly, but it wasn't their fault. It was probably just an isolated incident. Maybe someone had returned the bright white lights and accidentally put the lights in the wrong box.

So the boys, who were being incredibly patient, wrapped up the lights best they could and I brought the box back to Walmart and exchanged it for a new box of warm white lights. Then I went home and plugged them in before putting them on the tree. 

Guess, what, they were also cold bright white!

By this time I was getting very frustrated. It had been two days and not only was our tree not decorated, it only was half-lit! So I called Paul and asked if he could pop over to his Walmart after work and see if they had any warm white light boxes. There was no way I was buying any more of them from my Walmart since they obviously had a bad batch.

Paul HATES going to Walmart. With a passion. But since he is a great guy and loves me he stopped by after a long day of work. And then texted me that they were sold out of all of the warm white lights. I told him to hang on and I went on online trying to find another Walmart that stocked these lights. They were in stock all over town, but then I noticed the reviews.



Interesting, why such low reviews? Let me read a few.




So my issue was not an isolated issue. The manufacturers back in China had no quality control and apparently packed the wrong color white lights in these boxes randomly.  ARGGGGGG.

We had already visited Walmart three times for our tree-lighting ceremony. And now I had one box of warm white lights and one box of cold white lights and a sad-looking undecorated tree. 

Giving up on getting any decent lights at Walmart,  Paul and I went to Target and bought some packs of incandescent warm white lights that not only looked gorgeous, but flicker! And they were on sale. YAY!

I told the boys to box up the Walmart lights, they were going back. As you can see it is impossible to put 300 lights back into that small box. But honesty I didn't care, we had already had to go to the store four times to get lights for our tree, thanks to Walmart's manufacture screw-up! They would have to send them back anyway since they couldn't resale them since the lights did not match the box. 



This morning was our fifth and final trip dealing with Christmas lights. The boys did a great job putting the new ones from Target on the tree. See how warm they look, like little tiny candles. I even have a spare box just in case. Now we can finally put on the ornaments and get out our Christmas village. 

It is starting to feel a lot like Christmas!!! 


Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for all the actions/presets and professional design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


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Wednesday, November 27

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a wonderful day planned with loved ones. It is going to be pretty quiet here as both of my sisters are out-of-town this year. Heather not by choice, her entire family is sick with a cold. But I get to spend the day with Paul, the boys, and my parents so it is going to be nice.

My action and design packs are on sale this weekend, check them out! These packs allow me to post freebies on my blog, so thank you for supporting a small woman-own business. 

I haven't been around much since we have been trying to stay caught up with school before Christmas and we took a little trip to Fredericksburg, TX.  My mom traveled with us and Paul met us for two days. It is a four hour drive to get there, but worth it since it is such a beautiful part of Texas.


We hiked at Pedernales Falls.


The boys had a blast climbing all of the rocks and skipping stones in the water.


It couldn't have been a more beautiful day.


We went to a Pacific War re-enactment. This is the flamethrower guy.


And yes, his flamethrower is real! If you ever get a chance to go to Fredericksburg, be sure to also check out the Pacific War museum, it is incredible. 


I had a romantic date with Paul at Signor Vineyards


Well, my mother and boys were there also. I LOVE this photo! We were playing gin and my mom is happy as always, Paul is hilarious and a complete hottie, Duke is embarrassed, and Imp is trying not to laugh. Every time we go out we try to pack some cards or dominoes. 

I can't believe how many wineries are in this area.  There are over 50, many built just the last few years. Every time we go there we see several new ones. We are light-weights so we can only go to one winery a weekend. ;-) 

Our hotel, the Inn at Barron's Creek, has a parking lot where the wine buses shuttle people to the wineries. I was thinking this was such a great idea so no one drinks and drives, until I saw them drop all of the inebriated people off in the evening and the ones not staying locally stumbled off to their cars to drive home. People, don't drink and drive!!!

Of course we went hiking at my favorite park, Enchanted Rock.

Imp was having a blast, but for some reason his photo-face always looks constipated.


It was cool and the fall colors were spectacular. And we didn't see one snake, so Paul was happy.


And we took our traditional Turkey Pass Trail photo. For some reason Paul loves to have his photo taken here, go figure. 


I didn't want to leave! But no worries, I am sure we will go back soon. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and long weekend!!!

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for all the actions/presets and professional design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


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Thursday, November 21

CoffeeShop "Thankful" Social Media Storyboard Set!


Oh my gosh, where has the time gone? We have resisted Christmas decorating so far (and never got around to carving our pumpkins), but plan on putting up the tree this weekend. My sister Heather and her kids are coming to spend Thanksgiving with our parents and my family, so I am really excited about next week.

This year we are going to break tradition and not serve a turkey. Paul is going to make bbq chicken thighs and Chappell Hill link sausage on the grill. Carving the turkey is always such a hassle and I always get stuck with a lot of white meat, my least favorite part of the turkey. So this year we are going to go crazy and cook meats that everyone likes.

Today I wanted to share some social media square photo templates for Thanksgiving. These are for Photoshop/PSE, so simply add your photos using the clipping masks. You can adjust the text and text color to taste. I love the free fonts on Font Squirrel if you want to use some special fonts. 

These would be perfect for posting on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or even your website or text to your parents!

A special thanks to Lisa Rubel Photography (website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) for allowing me to use her stunning images in my example storyboard.

Download the CoffeeShop "Thankful" Storyboard Set!

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for all the actions/presets and professional design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


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Tuesday, November 12

CoffeeShop "Anna" Fine Art Texture Set!



Hi! So it is actually freezing here in Texas. Literally tonight. Yesterday it was in the 70's, a few weeks ago in the 90's. My poor body doesn't know what to make of these crazy weather changes. We had a trip planned to my parent's county house in East Texas for this weekend, but it is a wooden shack with no insulation and no central heat. I can't fathom sitting around after it gets dark (5:30) now and freezing my rear over a tiny portable heater.

I sound like an old woman, right?



Anyway, Once it warms up some today we are going to get outside, but for now I wanted to share a new beautiful fine art texture set called "Anna". You can use these alone as digital papers on your designs, or layer them over photos and change the blending mode as I did my my example images above. 

Images used in this post: (White Flowers, Purple Flowers, Group of White Flowers, Rose).






Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for all the actions/presets and professional design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


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Thursday, October 31

CoffeeShop "Moody" Lightroom Preset Set!


Oh boy, I haven't been on here for so long and I apologize.

We have had a family cold, then a short beach trip, and just a lot of other little things going on. Imp had his first Civil Air Patrol Cadet promotion. We have a ongoing window leak under a balcony that as of yet hasn't been found, lots of rain and some cold fronts (October has given us weather in the 30's to the 90's), Astro baseball watching (sad face), a death of one of our senior beloved pet rats, and the list goes on.

I have had these presets sitting on my computer since September and since today is Halloween I thought it would be a fun day to share them. They are called "Moody" and include 3 different presets, one that is super glossy and two that are matte. These look amazing on so many images, I love using them! I don't even adjust them much after running them other than using the radial brush to add extra highlights (up the  exposure) where needed.

These are written for the newest Lightroom Classic, but if you have an older version and can't run these let me know in the comments and I will make them backwards compatible. I absolutely hate that Lightroom presets are now in a different format. ARGGGGGH! You can download the presets towards the bottom of this post.

So what are your plans tonight? We are skipping trick-or-treating since the boys are older but are starting a new tradition of staying in at home and having pizza, some candy treats, and watching a scary movie. Have a great night tonight!!!

Original images used in this post: Sheep, Mountain, Lake, Tree.




  original


CoffeeShop Moody Matte Unsaturated


CoffeeShop Moody Glossy


original


CoffeeShop Moody Glossy (with radial brush on light with increased exposure)


Original


CoffeeShop Moody Glossy


CoffeeShop Moody Matte

Download the CoffeeShop "Moody" Lightroom Preset Set!

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for all the actions/presets and professional design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


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Thursday, October 17

CoffeeShop "Marble" Fine Art Texture Set


I have a new set of gorgeous marble textures to share with you today! These really look great on still life images. I like using the black one in Screen blending mode as I did in my example above. You can also use these as digital papers.





Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for all the actions/presets and professional design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


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Tuesday, October 15

CoffeeShop "8x10" Mat" Set!


Today I have a new set of 8x10 storyboards that have digital drop-shadow mats. I personally don't like to buy paper mats for my photos when I frame them, so I design my own custom ones with drop-shadows, add my images, and print and frame ! Super easy and no one knows the difference unless they take your frame apart.

This set contains 5 mats for Photoshop/PSE. You add images using the clipping masks and then adjust the drop-shadow effect to taste. The "paper" mat's color can also be changed to coordinate with your house or image.

Feel free to change the size of the mats before adding your images. You can also add digital paper to the mats, I will post a tutorial later this week. These storyboards can also be posted on the web.


A special thanks to Lisa Rubel Photography (website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) for allowing me to use her stunning images in my example storyboard.




Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for all the actions/presets and professional design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


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Thursday, October 10

CoffeeShop "Portrait Mini" Photoshop/PSE Retouching Action!


One of the strengths of Photoshop and PSE is that you can retouch images quickly without making "Plastic People" (unlike most apps out there).

The photographer Amanda Hunter ( Facebook) contacted me the other day and asked if I could make a mini-version of my huge CoffeeShop Portrait Toolbox 2.0 action. She wanted it distilled down to a simple six layer version and I loved her suggestion. So today I am sharing my newest portrait retouching action called CoffeeShop "Portrait Mini".

This action adjusts contrast, brightens your image, smooths skin, enhances eyes, and whitens teeth. It works in both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. I posted a little tutorial below how to use it, and you can download the free action on the bottom of this post.

I really appreciate when readers make suggestions for my blog, so thank you Amanda!




CoffeeShop "Portrait Mini" Photoshop/PSE Action Tutorial:


Open up your image and start the action. 

Adjust the Curves to taste. I pulled up the middle a bit to slightly lighten the image.


After the action finishes running you will see 6 new layers but your image won't look much different other than slightly brighter. 

Adjust the opacity of the top three layers and paint on the layer masks on the bottom three. 

Define: This layer adds definition to the shadows in your image, so it really looks great on most hair/brows/lashes. Adjust the opacity of this layer to taste.


Brighten Everything: Adds brightness to your image. Adjust the opacity to taste. 


Brightens Whites: This layer adds a nice contrast to the lighter parts of your image. Adjust the opacity to taste.


Whiten Teeth: Click on to select the black layer mask on this layer and then use a hard white brush to paint on the teeth. If you want to see where you are painting as seen above, click the "\" key. The background will turn red and you will see where you are adding the layer effects. Click the "\" key again to remove the red.


Skin Smoothing: Click on the black layer mask of this layer and then use a semi-soft white brush to paint softness on the skin. Avoid the lips, eyes, brows, tip of nose, etc. Then adjust the opacity of that layer to taste.


Eye Pop: Click on the black layer mask of this layer and use a hard white brush to paint on the iris to make the eyes really pop.


This retouching is quite subtle but really enhances the image! And no plastic person, it just looks like good lighting.

Download the CoffeeShop "Portrait Mini" Photoshop/PSE Action.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for all the actions/presets and professional design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


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