Friday, September 11

We will never forget!


The boys and I have been watching the news and videos on 9-11 most of the day. I always end up crying. EVERY YEAR. We will never forget the heroes and the victims of that day. 



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Thursday, September 10

I am BACK and Homeschool REVIEWS!


We went to Galveston Island beach for a few nights every month this summer for our summer vacation. It was wonderful!!!

I can't believe I have been away from my blog for 2 months. There has been a lot going on and I will cover it in a later post, but in summary we are doing fine, haven't had Covid YET,  and getting back into the school groove. 

I know a lot more of you might be homeschooling, so I wanted to let you know what we are using this year. We have so many great resources!!! I don't get any affiliate payments for posting about these, I am just excited to talk about what has worked for us.

Writing: We are huge IEW fans. My kids have learned to write using their writing programs. You have to help teach and grade everything of course, but the videos are great and the kids learn so much! Just call or email them if you have any questions about where to start. This link will also help. They have recently updated their writing program and I hope to review it this year. The old one was great so I predict the updated one will be even better.

Spelling: We also use IEW's Phonics Zoo spelling program. This is self-teaching and really has worked for my boys who struggle to spell (just like their mom). I love that it works for both audio and visual learners. 

Literature: The boys are reading some of the classics and we plan on doing the Hillsdale free online class on Mark Twain.

Grammar: I am teaching old-school grammar with diagramming (which I LOVED as a kid) and think Analytical Grammar is the perfect method. I use it as a self-teaching program, but I do grade the tests and make sure there aren't any questions. It takes a few years to get through the program, but your child will be a grammar genius after they are finished. 




Math: We love the Life of Fred math books. They might sound a little crazy, but my boys have learned so much math using them. They are inexpensive, can be used by all of your children, and the kids school themselves!  Duke is working on Geometry after completing Algebra 1 and 2, and Imp just started Algebra 1. I picked up the Zillions of Problems books for both Algebra books for extra review, and for the later chapters it has been helpful. If your kids can work on their own and you want old-school math and not all of that horrible commoncore torture, check these math books out!

Science: Duke started Life of Fred Chemistry (which is pretty easy he says) over the summer and we are watching the Great Course Plus Chemistry and the Universe course. We pay $10/month and always have amazing classes to watch. This one comes with an online book and is really interesting. It is college-level so above our heads at times, but worth watching.

Last year Duke took the Thinkwell Biology course (which they sent me to review) and it was outstanding and very intense. One of the most difficult classes he has taken since it is a college-level science course. The instructor was great and there were plenty of tests to keep him honest and studying. There was also a midterm and end of school test, all automatically graded so your child can't cheat. But Duke studied hard and made an "A"! He is planning on taking the Chemistry course this year. It is also an online video class that you have one year to watch and I would suggest that you buy the optional textbook. I was thinking he could take the Thinkwell AP version Chemistry class and try to place out of chemistry this year. But we need to get on it. Next year he can take honors physics! They have a free trial for 2 weeks on most of their classes if you want to check them out. They are worth it!

American History: We are reading "America, the Last Best Hope". And we are watching a series of free online classes on Hillsdale College called "The Great American Story".  I am really trying to find inspiring American history classes so that my children will be proud to be living in this country. We used Khan Academy last year for World History and it was pretty boring, so we hope to do better this year. We are also watching Great Course Plus for history.

Music: They are self-teaching themselves to play the piano using this book. If you like Star Wars and are a beginner the kids love this music book. I didn't think they could self-teach themselves but it is working pretty well. I put Duke in piano lessons when he was 6 and he stayed 2 years, but he hated it and would cry if I asked him to practice. So I guess they just needed to be older to enjoy it. Now they are self-motivated and sit down to play for fun. Paul is teaching them electric guitar on the side too.

Electives: The boys are both in Civil Air Patrol (can't wait until they can meet for classes again, enough with this stupid online crud) and also will be doing the Cyber Patriots competition with them (cyber security). They also have Bible Study at a neighbors with a group of friends. 

So this is our planned year so far. Things will change and I will update the second term. But we are still loving homeschool and now have more friends doing it thanks to Covid. 

If you have any questions about homeschooling please leave a comment. I would love to chat with you!!!

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, July 7

CoffeeShop "Bold B&W" Photoshop/PSE Fine Art Action!


I hope everyone had a great 4th of July! We went to a neighbor's house and had a delicious dinner and the boys got to swim with their friends. Then we came home and the boys did their annual spectacular firework show. Unfortunately we didn't have enough fireworks and one of the main ones just blew up! But all in all it was a relaxing and fun day.

Today I wanted to share a new B&W action called "Bold B&W". This action is gorgeous! It is a dark B&W action that is fully adjustable, and you can paint back in lightness where it is needed.  It looks gorgeous on pretty much every type of image, but I really love it on portraits and floral images.






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, June 24

CoffeeShop "Dark & Dramatic Color" Fine Art Photoshop/PSE Action!



Wow, I just realized I haven't posted anything in almost a month.  The last months have been a little overwhelming for me here in the CoffeeShop house. We are used to getting out and doing things like taking little flying trips, going to festivals, and visiting with out-of-town family so these last months with the virus situation has really changed our lives. Like everyone else of course. 

I never realized how important it was for me to get out and about with people, especially since I homeschool and work-at-home.  I MISS PEOPLE SO MUCH!!! So I have been a little anxious/down the last months with all the changes to our normal life and my creativity just disappeared. I would sit at my computer and wouldn't be able think of anything to design...



So I am exercising, playing piano again, taking supplements (magnesium and iron are really helping), reading the Dare book, and trying to get out with the family as much as we can. We have taken a few trips to the beach which was wonderful since that is my happy place. Thankfully we live so close! 

I saw my sister Heather and her kids also for the first time in months and it was so nice! It looks like she might be moving here from Dallas by the end of summer if things work out and I can't tell you how excited we are about this!!! My kids will actually have cousins in town and I can hang out with my sister. 

And finally, I am getting back on my computer to blog/design which is going to really help too. So things are looking up.

I hope you and your family/friends/loved ones are doing ok during these crazy times. I just keep on reminding myself that this isn't forever. We watched "Back to the Future" with the boys and we all decided that if we ever go visit the past we will skip right over the first 6 months of 2020. ;-) 

Yesterday I had some really great actions ideas and wrote two new ones. Today's is a gorgeous dark and dramatic color boost. I love using this one on florals, but you can use it anyway you like. It really adds so much drama to your color images. You can download it toward the bottom of this post.

Images used in this post: (red flowers, purple flower, butterfly).



CoffeeShop "Dark and Dramatic Color" Action Tutorial: 


Open image. You can see the original image I used in this post here.


Run "Dark & Dramatic Color" and adjust layers to taste.


I like to remove some of the "Add Contrast" layer from the flowers, so I click its layer mask and use a soft black brush directly on the flowers.


I also sometimes need to turn on the "Reduce Reds" layer and adjust the opacity to remove some of the red. In this case I turned it on and dialed it down to 30% opacity. 

I hope you enjoy using this new action! Feel free to post your edits on my Facebook page, I love to see what you do with them.


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, May 27

CoffeeShop "Blotter" Fine Art Texture/Overlay Set!


My father loved writing with his fountain pen and I enjoyed watching him press the little paper covered roller over his writing to remove undried ink so it wouldn't smear. He wrote on this old desk blotter that had worn leather trim sides. That inspired me to create these two new textures, one that is a leather/paper blend and also a distressed version.

These textures look great layered over images in Soft Light, Overlay, and Multiply blending modes and can also be used as scrapbooking papers in your designs. They come with free commercial terms of use. You can see the original images here: (white flower, yellow flower).


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, May 20

Life During Corona

I had no idea I haven't posted here in so long. I have been doing an extra job for The Graphics Fairy, so I have been neglecting my own site. But I am back!

So how are you doing? Thankfully the whole Coronovirus situation is slowly calming down here in Texas. Paul never stopped working, which probably saved our marriage. And I had a lot of time at home to get all types of things accomplished, just like all those people I see on Facebook and Instagram.

Maybe I will start off with what I didn't accomplish. I didn't learn a new hobby, I didn't deep clean or organize my house or garage, I did not do any real yard work, I didn't get extra school taught to the kids, I didn't make tons of freebies to share here on my blog, I didn't organize my freezer, I didn't bring out my real camera (except for one day), I didn't read any classics or practice the piano, I didn't learn how to cook any new dishes or bake new treats, I didn't teach my dog not to pull on the leash, and I didn't get ripped and thin.

This list should be much longer, but my fingers are tired.

What I did accomplish: Lots of walks, biking, watching Andy Griffith, eating chocolate, and a temporary anxiety disorder.


We did lots of hiking in neighboring parks that thankfully remained open during this crazy time. I would be stark raving mad if I didn't have access to nature.


Gandalf and Bilbo. We were playing with perspective. Duke is 6'1" and Imp is 5'3", so it wasn't too difficult to make Imp look tiny.


We had lots of rest time and tree-climbing time.


 I realized that Imp (left) takes after Paul and Duke (right) takes after me.


Some kind neighbor in the subdivision behind us made some cool biking trails in the greenbelt.


We spent a lot of time by the creek.


Our neighbor's house caught on fire but he was fine. It was a 6-alarm fire according to all the different county firetrucks that came to our neighborhood. The house was saved and we were able to visit with neighbors we hadn't seen in years.


Last month my baby turned 13 and we had my parents over for his birthday party. As you can tell we socially distanced. "Always no hug-ee no kiss-ee until I get a weddin' ring", wait, until we get a vaccine?


I love my imp.


Covid Hair, I don't care.


Stay-at-home orders lifted this month and we had our first breakfast out in weeks! 


Then we hit the Middle Eastern buffet. Now they serve you instead of you serving yourself so I end up eating more.

YUM!


I realized I hadn't accomplished anything during the Covid days, so I pulled out my real camera and tried some free-lensing with Imp and Pippi.

During this pandemic time we lost two older rats (not to the virus but to natural causes) and replaced them with three baby rats so it has been a fun couple of months!


We went fishing and caught nothing but sticks and trees.


This past weekend we had our first vacation since San Antonio (early March). We went to Gaveston Island. The Strand was amazing, lots of people out and about, living their best lives. I think many of us are getting over the "better safe than sorry stay-at-home even if you are young and healthy" mantra and living by "get busy living or get busy dying". Unfortunately life is never going to be safe and I think coronavirus made us realize that.


I feel short.


Traditional running to the ocean photo.


I love this light.


My boys frolicking in the waves. I missed this so much.


I told them it was dinner time.


I brought my handsome lover along. 


Paul, do we have to leave??? This is one of my happy places. If only there were no such thing as hurricanes. Like I said, life just isn't ever going to be safe, so we just have to live it to the fullest! And of course take basic sensible precautions and not be stupid. ;-)

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, May 6

CoffeeShop "Spring Flower Fling" Digital Paper Set!


How are you doing today? We are doing well, just staying busy and trying to finish up school for the semester. I think we will be doing some over the summer, we just haven't been as dedicated as we should have been these last few months. The weather has been pretty but quite hot already with heat indexes in the 90's.

I just can't wait until we can go to the beach, we missed our traditional spring trip this year. Maybe next month? The boys and I haven't even been flying for months. Paul just got checked out on a 6-seater Piper, so we can rent it and actually take a trip with my mom and dad once things settle down! I am really excited since I have never flown with them in a small plane. The four seats in back face each other, so it feels really fancy compared to a 4-seater Piper. But still, no bathroom. ;-)



Today I wanted to share a new digital paper set I made using designs from The Graphics Fairy premium site. I made a pattern and applied several painterly effects and then added a texture. I love how pretty these papers turned out!


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, April 29

CoffeeShop "Sweet Bliss" Fine Art Photoshop/PSE Action!



Hope you and your loved ones are doing well. We are excited that our state of Texas is starting to open up at the end of this week. I can't wait to go shopping in our little local shops and eat at a restaurant. I know it will be a slow process, but at least we are progressing!

Today I wanted to share a new action with you that I call "Sweet Bliss". I saw this butterfly image on Unsplash and loved the soft effects, so decided to write an action that would give me a similar effect. You can click on the image below to access the original.



CoffeeShop "Sweet Bliss" brightens and adds a small pastel color effect. This looks gorgeous on so many images and it is fully adjustable so you can get a lot of effects in one action. Download the free action on the bottom of this post. 

If you have purchased my action pack within the last two years and want my newest version with updated actions (including this one), just email me (address on my other site on the bottom of the page) and I will send it out to you for free!

See the original images here: (Butterfly, Pink Flowers, White Flower).



I then added my gray "Bethany" texture in soft light blending mode twice for this edit. Isn't it beautiful?




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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