Tuesday, November 13

Miss You Gata



My grandmother (Gata) passed away peacefully this weekend at 96.

I have been understandable heartbroken, and I was sitting here at my computer trying to get a post up when I decided I needed to put my thoughts about my grandmother down. My writing is disjointed, but I just needed to record some thoughts about this amazing woman. My grandmother was one of my best friends and I miss her so much. 

I know I don't have many photos of her on this post. I started going through my images and it was just too hard right now. So many amazing photos of my grandmother and my boys, I could spend all day going through them all. But right now these beautiful, happy images are bittersweet and I need to savor them a little later. I am just not ready yet.

I grew up in the woods and my grandparents Gata and Popo lived at the bottom of our hill. They were such an important part of my childhood and adulthood, they were always around and an integral part of my family. 

Gata inspired me to love the great outdoors. She taught me how to fish, and how to "pat them on the popo" and throw them back in when they were too small to eat. There was a creek in our neighborhood (pictured above) and Gata and I would fish for hours behind her house. On really nice days we would grab our fishing rods and our dogs and hike for miles alongside of it to this beautiful big pond where we would sit for hours, quietly, enjoying the bird and insect calls.

I don't think we caught much fish, but it wan't about the fish anyway.

Gata said one of her uncles was an actual hobo who traveled all around on trains. She taught my sisters and I how to make a hobo dinner. We would build a little fire outside and throw in opened cans of beans and aluminum-foil wrapped potatoes and cook hotdogs on sticks. 

Nothing ever tasted as delicious as our hobo-cookouts.

It seemed like she always had kittens at her house, and we spent so much time playing with them and finding them good homes. A few made it over to our house. Gata also had many dogs over the years, and they were mostly tiny, mean, and fat!

The only long time I have been away from my grandmother was the four years I went to Texas A&M and the four years we lived in Dallas. The rest of my life I have always lived in town with her. After my grandfather passed she moved in to her own tiny apartment and walked to church. My grandmother never learned to drive, and she always said walking was what kept her healthy. But she had my parents and me to drive her around when needed.

As I drive around our town, there are memories of Gata everywhere. All of the different apartments she lived in. The parks we visited. The grocery store where she shopped. Hobby Lobby, where we spent many hours picking up art supplies for our projects.

She hasn't lived on her own for over a  year, but as I drive by her last apartment I still want to turn the car into the parking lot and stop by for a quick visit. 


Over the years my grandmother has been with my family on so many trips. She was always a blast to bring along, but it did get difficult the last years. She was a 20-year-old trapped in an 90-year-old body, and she didn't want anyone telling her what to do. My goodness, our last trip to Florida was hilarious. My grandmother was in her early 90's and would decide to go walking on the beach by herself and my mom would get worried. Mom would ask Gata to bring someone along with her on these walks and Gata would march into her room, slam the door, and call her friend to complain. She was deaf so we heard every last minute of those conversations... 

My grandmother was an artist, and in so many different medias. She was always learning new things and would pick up a new hobby even in her 90's. She could sew, crochet, paint, do origami, draw, and so much more. I have so many of her beautiful paintings in my house. 

Gata was also a big reader. She said she was too slow, but she was always reading something. She once borrowed my entire Sherlock Holmes set and read every last one. She also loved Christian books, her bible, and Dean Koontz. 

My grandmother was eclectic. And so adventurous. And so uplifting. And could get so angry. And was so loving. And she adored all of her grandchildren and spent so much time playing with them. She was a kid-at-heart and never lost her spark.


When my grandfather was ill and Gata was in her early 80's, I decided I wanted her to have a computer since she was trapped in her house so much. We upgraded and I brought our older computer to her and taught her how to email and use the internet. Until her death she still tells people that the computer saved her life. She couldn't drive, but she could go everywhere on her computer. She also was on Facebook and kept up with her family and friends. 

My grandmother was sharp as a knife and always learning new things. She picked up yoga in her 80's and I would drop in to visit and she would be lifting heavy soup cans to keep her arms in check (her words). She hadn't graduated high school, but my grandmother was one of the smartest people I have ever met. I guess you could say she had common sense or "street smarts". 

Gata lived through some really tragic times. She grew up in the Great Depression and had an abusive mother. She lost her 17-year -old daughter (my mother's sister) in a tragic situation. My grandfather (her husband) had a severe head injury in his 50's so the last decades of his life he was more of a son than a husband to my grandmother. 

But Gata never let anything keep her down. She would mourn and then move on. I think her love and complete trust of God and Jesus helped her through the worst of times and gave her complete faith that everything was in God's hands.

My grandmother met the second love of her life in her 80's. Gerald is a few years younger and they had both lost their spouses. Gerald has money and the first year they dated his daughters were worried my grandmother would try to marry him for his money. But Gata didn't want to marry Gerald, she told me she just wanted a beau. 

And was he ever a romanic boyfriend! They spent so much time together going to buffets, church, visiting elderly in the hospital, shopping, and watching the Rockets play.  They Facebooked and emailed and smooched in the church closet. Gerald would always give her little gifts, a cross necklace, a new bible, a pretty watch. If I wanted to see Gata I would have to book time after she checked her schedule, she was always doing something fun with Gerald. They had the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend relationship and it lasted the rest of her life.

Gerald was there for her until the end and I know he is as heartbroken as we are that she is no longer here on earth with us. His family came to love my grandmother as much as we did and they are mourning with us.

Gata was passionate, lovable, funny, intelligent, and sometimes crazy. I have a novel's worth of amazing memories of her, this little post is just a snippet of her life.  I know it was her time, but she is going to be really missed. And one day I hope we can be together again. 

My grandmother inspired me in so many ways, but I learned two very important lessons from her. Never stop learning, and never stop loving life. Gata, you are so loved and we will miss you so much.

Friday, November 9

{Friday Photo Bliss} Galveston Island

Is has been a really rough month. Lots of sickness in my immediate and extended family, some sad news, and dreary rainy weather. Duke brought home the virus ravaging our family. We had a trip planned for hiking/wine drinking at Fredericksburg, Texas, but we had to cancel as he was too sick to go.

He started feeling better and we had a brief window of two days were no one was really sick and we had hope no one else was going to get it. Paul had already hired someone to work for him Tuesday so we headed off to Galveston Island on Monday for one night.

So today's photos are from last week Monday/Tuesday. I have been feeling so cruddy mentally and physically, so it really cheered me up going through these snapshots of our amazing short trip!


When we arrived at the island it was too early to check in at our hotel, so we went to our favorite coffee place on the Strand, Mod Coffeehouse. The boys had decaf and Paul and I had full cafe and it was the perfect way to start our trip.

It is difficult to be sad when you are buzzing on a good coffee.


We stayed at the Holiday Club Vacations Seaside. This was our first time and we had been warned that you have to pay for the most expensive condos right off the gulf. The rest of the hotel is older and on the bay side and you have to drive across the road to get to the beach.

Since it was off-season we were able to get a beautiful two-bedroom condo for $160. The is pricey, but when you are only going for one night you can splurge. And was it ever worth it!

The kitchen was amazing. So much bigger than our kitchen at home!


This was the view from our bedroom. Swoon. The boys bedroom was huge but didn't have a beach-side window. But they didn't pay for it so I figure they couldn't complain.


Sweetie, can we just move here?


Even thought it was the end of October the weather was perfect beach weather. Warm and clear.


We could even go in the water. It took a bit of time to get used to it of course, but it felt so nice once in.


The boys really had a blast.


I have been asking Paul to take more photos of me with the kids and this is what he comes up with. If you squint you can see me out there with the boys. Don't I look skinny and gorgeous?


There is always lots of building castles in the sand.


Burying oneself in the sand.


Digging giant holes in the sand.

One of these days we are going to bring the boys to the beach and they are going to be "too old" and will not get covered in sand and it is going to break my heart. So I am enjoying every little scratchy bit of sand that gets blown my way.


After all of that sand we decided to head back to our hotel and swim in our most gorgeous pool and hot tub.

This was the view from our balcony.

Sweetie, can we please please please just live here permanently?


The next morning I woke to a stunning sunrise.


And we decided to go for a quick walk before breakfast.

Of course I forgot to bring my coffee...


Lots of interesting things float up on the beach overnight. We even saw an entire tree out there stuck on a sand bar!

I just realized that this is the first time the boys actually wanted to go walking. They usually hate to walk on the beach and beg to swim or play in the sand, but this morning they were perfectly happy to walk with their parents.

It was really nice.


After our morning walk we cleaned up and had breakfast.


Then hit the beach again. This time with suits.

Sand castle time.


Holes were dug.


Some swimming took place.


Lots of running.


Some stick throwing.


Some quiet walks of contemplation.


Then we had to head back to the hotel so we would have time to swim in the pool before checking out.


We had this giant pool all to ourselves, talk about perfect timing for our last-minute trip.


Then we checked out, went to lunch, and then visited  Murdochs to look at the Pleasure Pier.


I have the cutest kids.


And their parents aren't half bad!

And we drove home, so happy and rested.

And then everyone else got SICK!

Stay well and have a great 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.


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Tuesday, November 6

CoffeeShop "Dark Pavement" Texture/Overlay!


I am so sorry I haven't been around, I am still really sick with this horrible virus. Thank goodness the boys are both doing better, but I think they have been a little feral since their mother hasn't been able to get out of bed much the last days. Paul is still out-of-town on business, so I have been a single mom for a few days and it has been quite the adventure.

The new free-lensing action will be out later this week once I get time to get it all put together, but today I wanted to share a new texture. I call it "Dark Pavement" and it is a lovely vintage cracked texture that can be used in soft light, overlay, screen, or multiply blending modes.



(Rose, Leaf, Pink Flower)

Download the CoffeeShop "Dark Pavement" Texture.

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 1

CoffeeShop "10 x 20" Storyboard Set #50!


Sorry I have been MIA the last days. My oldest got really sick last week with some fever/sore throat thing, and then we all eventually caught it. We were supposed to go out of town for several days this last weekend, but had to cancel our trip. We did manage to go to the beach for an overnight which was nice, but now Paul and I are not feeling our best.

But I am back at work today and I wanted to share a new professional Photoshop/PSE 10x20 storyboard set. You can print or post these on the web. Use my nifty Group-It Photoshop/PSE action to quickly load and resize your images.

A special thanks to Lisa Rubel Photography (websiteFacebookInstagramTwitter) for allowing me to use her stunning images in my example storyboard.



I am finishing up a really beautiful Photoshop/PSE action that simulates the freelensing effect and hope to post it late this week or early next week.  I love this type of effect, but I find it difficult to get it via my camera. So I decided to write an action that does it for me! It is completely customizable and you can edit in B&W or color. So far I have been really impressed with how well it works.


after CoffeeShop Freelensing Action



Download the CoffeeShop "10x20 Storyboard" Set #50.

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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Sunday, October 28

CoffeeShop "Pasteur" Fine Art Texture Set!


Today I have a new Fine Art Texture/Overlay pack called "Pasteur". These look lovely applied over images or used as digital paper.

Feel free to use them anyway you want, they come with free commercial terms of use, no attribution necessary!




Download the CoffeeShop "Pasteur" Texture 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.

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Wednesday, October 24

CoffeeShop "Gravestone" Texture Set and "Spooky Forest" Photoshop/PSE Tutorial!


Today I have a beautiful Fine Art texture set and a spooky Photoshop/PSE tutorial to go with it! The "Gravestone" texture set is a beautiful set of three overlays that you can use alone or layered over images. They look great on all types of images; spooky,  baby portraits, landscapes, still life, etc.







Today I wrote a tutorial showing you how I used one of these Gravestone textures and a few free design elements to create this haunting Halloween-inspired image above.

Original images used in this post: (Forest, Flower Vase, Seagull).



CoffeeShop "Spooky Forest  Photoshop/PSE Tutorial:



Open your forest image or download the one I used in this tutorial.


Open and drag and drop the CoffeeShop Gravestone 3 texture on top of the image and resize it to fit.


Put the texture layer in Multiply blending mode.


Add a moon image in Screen blending mode and adjust the opacity to taste. I used this moon and removed the black background.

Add some moonlight by adding a Levels adjustment layer and moving the middle slider up to brighten the image. Then fill the layer mask with black and use a soft white brush at 100% and paint in the layer mask to add the light around the moon.


The moon is too bright, so I copied the Gravestone 3 texture and dragged the copy up and clipped it to the moon layer. I put this texture layer in Hard Light blending mode, 65% opacity.



I selected my favorite bat from this image.


Then I dragged and dropped it over the moon, adjusted  the size, and flipped it.


I want to make it more brown like the image, so I made another copy of the Gravestone 3 texture and clipped it to the bat and put it in Overlay blending mode.


Perfection!!!

I would love to see your edits using these textures/tutorial on my Facebook page.

Download the CoffeeShop "Gravestone" Fine Art Textures!

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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