Category Archives: Tips

Feet Of Clay

Let me tell you a story. It’s not a new story, there are very few of those around nowadays. Like many other stories you would have heard, this one is as old as the hills, and as new as today’s newspaper. I’m just going to tell it in a different way, that’s all. The lesson is still the same, as it has been for millennia. The situations, events, circumstances, protagonists etc might all be slightly different, with an infinity of variations, but the archetypes are always the same.

Here’s how it goes:

Once upon a time there was a young girl who noticed a young man. Something about him caught her eye and fired her imagination. She started thinking about what it would be like to be with him all the time, holding his hand, looking into his eyes, hearing his voice uttering words of love. He was all she’d been waiting for her whole life. The future appeared to be a shining mass of bright light, filled with laughter, love and happiness, stretching as far as the eye could see, and beyond. Even the thought of him, and she thought about him all day long, filled her with longing and a deep, almost physical ache. Everything he did was great, brilliant, awesome.

He is quite The Catch.

And so our young lady sets out to get our young man’s attention. He already had a large circle of friends, both male and female. She joined in his social circles online, found out what he liked and disliked, learned about his preferences for Music and made them Her preferences too. Learned what his principles were and made them Her principles. He didn’t like chocolate, so she decided she didn’t either, even though she did. She did everything she could to fit in with his group and then when she felt she’d prepared enough, she set about trying to get his attention. Not to take him away from his friends, but to set herself apart in his eyes as a potential partner in Life. Why not? She’d moulded herself to be just like him, there was no reason for him not to be attracted to her. Surely he would recognise himself in her? She made herself smaller to fit in through the crack in the door of his soul.

And so she centres all her energy on The Courtship.

Her ploy seemed to have worked. Suddenly she found him paying her more attention than ever before. It was almost as if he’d suddenly woken up and noticed her standing before him. Suddenly he was spending a lot of his time with Her, sharing adventures, jokes and his innermost thoughts with her.  He couldn’t believe how much they shared in common. She was so easy to get on with, always had a kind word for him, was sweet, sexy and funny, supported his causes and interests, bought him CDs of his favourite bands, showed him news articles that she knew would interest him. He bought her flowers, took her out on her birthday, brought her around town in his car, surprised her with a romantic dinner, a weekend break in the country, a concert, introduced her to his family, bought her a diamond ring and promised her his eternal love and devotion.

Ahhh, Romance!

And so our intrepid young adventurers got married. They could not afford to buy their own place, so they rented at first. In the beginning, everything was new, rosy and exciting. They discussed having children, and started planning a family. Not long afterwards, out of the blue, he lost his job. She became the main breadwinner while he looked for jobs. The economy was not very good then, the bills started to mount up and still he didn’t have a job. She then found out she was pregnant, and she was not quite prepared for his reaction when she told him. He bemoaned the fact that now they would have another mouth to feed, when they could hardly pay the rent and utilities. She was shocked to her core, and started to wonder at his change of character. He, on the other hand, was enraged at her apparent lack of concern about their financial welfare. How dare she fall pregnant at a time like this? When the baby is born and she is on Maternity Leave, how would they survive if he still hasn’t found a job? What if the baby was ill, deformed or had a disability? How would they care for it then? For the first time, they had a major argument, and he hit her. He was really sorry for it right afterwards, blaming it on the stress of finding a job so he could look after the family. He promised it would never happen again. But it did.

The Honeymoon is over.

The cracks were starting to show in their relationship. She slowly came to realise that her husband’s feet were made of clay. He wasn’t the God she thought he was. For his part, she didn’t seem the genuine article either. Where was the girl that shared so many similarities with him, to the extent that she appeared like his twin soul? Had it only been a farce to win his admiration and attention? Had she changed? Had he changed? Why did they even get married, they had nothing in common? He realised he hadn’t really bothered to get to know the real her, as she’d made herself fit into his world and not the other way round. He decided he could no longer talk to his wife the way they used to. So he turned to his social media circles and started an affair with a mutual friend, who as it turned out also shared lots of things in common with him. SHE was always there for him, always had a kind word, was always on his side, appreciated him for who he was and never tried to change him, sent him little presents in the post, that he had to hide from his wife. She could have been thousands of miles away, or a few doors away, it didn’t matter. Her arms, virtual or real, were always wide open to welcome him, whereas his wife was preoccupied with other matters and had her own interests. All was going well until one day when details of his affair were discovered by his wife.

What a Rude Awakening!

She was naturally upset and disappointed by his betrayal, and wanted to know how he could do such a thing to her. Had their courtship, romance and marriage all been for nothing? Did their shared history not count for anything? How could he be looking for love elsewhere, when it had always been right there in front of him? Why did he? At first he denied the whole affair, but she had evidence. He tried to pretend that it was only a harmless flirtation, but again the evidence pointed to the contrary. He’d betrayed her trust, invested his time, attention, money and innermost thoughts with another woman. He’d even let the other woman play with his mind and turn him against his own wife. They’d even gotten as far as to promise to leave their respective spouses for each other. How was that a “harmless flirtation”?

This Isn’t What Anyone Expected!

So, what was the answer? Leave or stay? Go and accept the offer to start a new life with the mistress, and deal with the fallout and consequences later? Or stay and reconcile with the wife and promise to be faithful for evermore? Could he ever regain her trust, after what he’d done? Should he accept and admit his wrongdoing, and sincerely make amends for it? Or was his mistress right about his wife being cold and calculative? Did he really ever love his wife, or had he just been in love with the idea of her? As for her, the questions swirling in her mind at this time would be who would look after the family once the baby was born, if she was not at work. And if she could not afford to NOT be at work, who would look after the family while she was at work? Her husband sure didn’t seem interested in being a family man. One minute he promises her that he’d cut off all contact with his mistress, the next he’s back to claiming it wasn’t an affair and that he hadn’t been unfaithful. She knows for a fact that he hasn’t cut off all contact with his mistress, that they are still in touch and still discussing things that should only be discussed between a husband and wife. How can she trust him ever again? He could just be biding his time, playing nice to her until their circumstances improved, and then he’d be gone in a flash, leaving her holding the baby, literally. Where did his loyalties lie? Where had they ever lain? Was she setting herself up for a great fall?

Now we come to the Crossroads.

Choices, choices. Weighing up the pros and cons. No more thoughts about romance or love, just about survival. Could she be able to make it as a single parent? Would he be honourable and live up to his end of the bargain and help support their child? Why are they even bargaining? What happened to their relationship, how did it get to this Crossroads? She must decide whether to cut her losses and go, or stay and try to repair the damage her husband did. Why her? Because he won’t. For his part, he may feel a sense of responsibility or remorse for his actions, or not, but clearly he is torn. He could stay with this stranger who is his wife and try to patch up their relationship…but the temptation placed by his mistress is pulling him still, and he simply can’t bring himself to stop communicating with her. So he keeps going back to the drug that he’s become accustomed to, even though in his head he knows better than to do that. But for now his heart is leading him. It seems so much easier to just give in and go with the flow, rather than fight to regain what he had in the past. He thinks his wife is making a mountain out of a molehill. He just wants things to go back to the way they were before, when he was having his clandestine affair and she was not aware of it. If only she hadn’t found out when she did! He wants to have his cake and to eat it too.

After The Fighting, We All Rest A While.

Both our young lady and young man have now reached an impasse. Everything that had to be argued or discussed has already been argued and discussed. Maybe they just weren’t “meant to be”? They both withdraw internally and try to figure out what went wrong, and how to rectify things, how to reach a compromise. She reads books on relationships, she looks online for stories similar to her own, she joins forums and groups to find answers to her situation. She writes in metaphors and poetry to excoriate this painful period of her life. He throws himself into his hobbies, stays out at night or else holes up in his study. He starts looking at online sex sites for relief, and engages in conversations with total strangers, with the mistaken belief that he will find salvation there. She wonders if she would be better off with another man, one who would embody all that she thought her husband was, before his betrayal. She wonders if history will repeat itself, if all men are the same. He wonders if his mistress will still leave her husband for him, if he were to leave his wife. Unfortunately, by now, as happens quite often with unfaithful spouses, his mistress, being a serial adulterer, has found herself another toyboy, and has declared herself taken. For the moment, at least. But still he keeps going back and knocking at her door, out of force of habit and because he doesn’t know what else to do. He hasn’t bothered to do any soul-searching, to find any answers other than the obvious one staring him in the face. The child in him is hoping that it will all go away on its own and that miraculously, without any effort on his part, everything will be alright again. He misses his mother.

 The Next Step.

Now we have both our protagonists wondering what their next step should be. If she decides to let her husband go, there is no guarantee that the next man to walk into his life won’t be just as bad, or worse. There is also no guarantee that she’ll ever find another man who loves her…as she will not be single and free anymore, but a single parent struggling to make ends meet, and she is not getting any younger. That in itself is too high a hurdle for most men to jump. Many will simply look away and walk on. As for him, finding that his mistress is no longer available to him 24/7, he must decide whether to return to wooing his wife back all over again (once he’s worked out whether he really loves her or not) and regaining her trust, or to find another Catch. If the latter, then he goes back to repeat the first step in any relationship all over again. Karma will bite you in the arse!

If our young lady is smart, she will decide NOT to go looking for another relationship. Just let Life happen. Live in the Now, take things one day at a time, as they come. Work on raising her child and finding a means to support her family. Find herself. Whatever the case, DO NOT repeat the typical cycle of Love. If True Love exists, let it come in its own time. If it wants to. The form is not important, the Soul is. It might be another man, it might be a woman, it could even be her husband finally realising his faults and coming back to her. That is unlikely, until he accepts his wrongdoing. You cannot change what you do not accept.

Or, she may find it in the unconditional love, companionship and loyalty of her pets. It is what it is. Let Life Be.

Just be open to all possibilities. But DO NOT repeat the cycle, for that is just futile and the end results will be the same. Again, think in terms of archetypes, as every person is different, every situation unique.

~Don’t say I didn’t warn you~

feet-of-clay(I got this image from a fellow blogger who I’m following, whose descriptions about her own efforts at positive living are in turns inspiring, heartfelt or just downright funny. http://dailydoty.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/feet-of-clay.jpg)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pixite’s New Apps : MATTER and UNION

I wrote about 2 of Pixite’s other Apps, FRAGMENT and TANGENT, previously here. Fragment has now been released on the Android market, hurray, but the others are still only available on iOS. Hopefully they’ll follow Fragment onto the Android platform soon.

Rather than creating hyperlinks to Pixite’s Apps, here is the link to Pixite LLC‘s website itself, where you can see ALL of their Apps.

Pixite’s 2 newest additions to their stable of Apps are MATTER and UNION. Both Apps contain all manner of blending, juxtaposing and layering of objects, shapes, colours, textures.

Each of Pixite’s 4 Apps I’ve mentioned above have a facility for transferring your edited images from one App to another easily. Therefore you’ll be able to process your image in one App, move it over to another whilst in-App, process that, then transfer it back to the first App or even to a third App. Very nifty!

The User Interface of all 4 Apps is pretty uniform and intuitive. I was so excited about trying out MATTER and UNION that I didn’t bother to read the instructions or watch any video tutorials. I jumped right in and had a good play. So I won’t tell you what each button does on the Apps, or how to tweak the effects. The fun lies in making it your own hands-on experience. Go play!

Here are some of my experiments. Some were done purely using MATTER, others purely with UNION, but most of them were the product of both Apps. I’ll be experimenting more with these 2 Apps as well as the older 2, so watch this space! ;)

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Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Fun with FRAGMENT and TANGENT

Fragment and Tangent by the same App developer Pixite, are 2 iOS-only (Apple) Apps that I have on my iPad2. My Samsung Galaxy S4 is my workhorse for artistic creativity. But good what I call “Geometrical Art” Apps are hard to find on the Google Play Store. Fragment and Tangent are 2 of the best in their class. And so sometimes, when I Just have to have some aspect of geometry in my artwork, I turn to my iPad2.

When I do, it’s usually for hour-long sessions, as I must make the most of my time on my iPad2. So I generally use these “random generator” Apps to generate dozens of random images, which I afterwards transfer to my S4 for future use. Did I say already that I love Randomness? :D

Anyhow, this session was particularly fruitful. I’d already got a folder of previously randomly generated images using 2 more of my favourite iOS Apps, AddLib S and AddLib U. So this time, all I had to do was run some of them through Fragment and Tangent.

Et voila! Instant gratification! These are just a few of the images I generated. They will be used in conjunction with other Apps on my S4, to create new pieces of artwork.

Enjoy!

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ADDENDUM:
As of 23rd August 2014, the App “Fragment” is now available on Android. Yay, Happy Days! Also, Pixite have a couple more new Apps that I’m interested in, namely “Union” and “Matter”. I am just playing with these 2 on my iPad2 now, I’ll write about them next.

Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Quit Liking It! Say Something Instead.

LikeButton

There’s a new thing surfaced on Facebook just now, about how to improve your Facebook experience, by simply NOT hitting the “Like” button. Strange as that may sound, and somewhat illogical, it IS true and it actually works. The premise is that if you DON’T click on the “Like” button, but instead leave comments on posts that interest you, Facebook’s algorithms will actually stop sending you all those annoying links to “Like” this business or that organisation, that celebrity, that political party, that new diet etc. Your feed will instead become more human, with more people entering into actual conversations than never before. All those friends that you’ve  lost into the FB ether may resurface when your feed isn’t top-heavy with news, business, videos etc that your previous clicking on “Like” generated. Try it!

Read these 2 articles about this strategy. The first one by Medium is about NOT clicking on Facebook’s “Like” button and the consequences. The second is by Wired where the writer did the total opposite and clicked “Like” on absolutely everything in their feed.

https://medium.com/@schmutzie/i-quit-liking-things-on-facebook-for-two-weeks-heres-how-it-changed-my-view-of-humanity-29b5102abace

http://www.wired.com/2014/08/i-liked-everything-i-saw-on-facebook-for-two-days-heres-what-it-did-to-me/

So, okay, I’ve only just started this experiment, and right now I’ve no idea how long I’m going to stick to it, or whether it’ll be a lifelong practice.  Even though I actually only started 5 days ago, already I’m seeing a change in my Facebook feed, and I’m feeling way better about myself as a person, as I feel I’ve learnt a great lesson. And that is why I feel prompted to blog about it right away NOW!

Anyway, here are my thoughts on it:

1. It makes me pause and think before I comment. I may be using the 👍 button quite a bit to start with. I have found myself skipping posts that are of no concern to me, instead of simply clicking the “Like” button to acknowledge it because it may have come from a friend. So, my friends who are reading this, apologies if I no longer “like” your comments, posts or images, but rest assured you will instead find a comment from me. 👍 See, I’ve started already! 😄

2. I get more selective about what interests me. The real things that matter get my attention more than updates on who’s cooking or eating what, selfies, who’s on holiday where, online shopping deals, cute kittens (hard one, that). Hopefully, my feed will be more about the things that really matter to the world – like decriminalising cannabis, for one (this will sound strange coming from someone who’s only experience with cannabis was a puff on a joint at a party in Spain 10 years ago. But I have been following Rick Simpson and fellow advocates of the miracle cancer-beating properties of cannabis oil, and I have lost friends and family to cancer in the past and very recently, so the subject is close to my heart).

3. If everyone does this, we’ll be getting many more notifications than before, as more people engage in actual conversation instead of the passive virtual nod which is the “Like” button. As a society, we seem to have somewhat lost the art of conversation. By not clicking on the “Like” button and by saying something instead, we encourage further discussion and communication between friends, which is what Facebook should be about. It’s time to regain control of the true value of Facebook.

4. Funnily enough, with my actively telling Facebook what I “don’t want to see again” re: pages and businesses, it seems to have freed up space in my Wall feed for previously disappeared friends to reappear. So far, around 6 people who quietly vanished from my feed have returned…and without my searching for them to “like” their photos or make comments on their posts yo keep in the loop. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, I can’t be certain.

So, to those of you who have read this, I would kindly ask that you not simply click “Like” on WordPress either, but instead say something about this post. If it moves you to comment, do it. Otherwise, simply share it with your circles in another way. The same goes for every post that you read and like. Quit Liking It! Say something instead. And watch the world unfold before your very eyes. I’m waiting. :-)

 

Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Recycled Gardening

Just a few ideas I found on Pinterest for gardening with recycled materials. I always believed I was cack-handed when it came to gardening…my idea of gardening has always been to “Just stick it in the ground and water it”. I’m clueless about perennials vs annuals, and about when to plant what and where. I live in Australia, most books on gardening relate to the Northern Hemisphere, our seasons are just as topsy turvy as our geography and this only adds to the confusion.

But, that said, many of my “Just stick it in the ground and water it” experiments have actually worked. I have had particular success with succulents, and they are my favourites.

I’m also a fan of recycling or repurposing objects. To combine the two, here are some ideas from Pinterest that you might want to try your hand at:

image Greenhouse or wind shelter made out of old drink bottles, plastic sheeting and a metal frame.

image Mini greenhouse made out of old picture frames.

image Bicycle tyre rims as a trellis for plants.

image Cut a drinks bottle in half and upturn the bottom half over a potted seedling, to use as a cloche.

image Stopped eating cakes? Turn an old glass cake stand into a terrarium.

image An old glass teapot adds interest to a terrarium.

image Find a use for CD spindles as a terrarium or mini greenhouse.

image Got an old chair that has lost its seat? Turn it into a pretty planter.

image The red of this old toy truck contrasts beautifully with the greens of the succulents.

image Even an old cake tin can become a lush mini garden.

image Row, row, row your boat. Or not, as the case may be.

image Old boots can still be useful.

image Retired! ;)

image Cut a drinks bottle in half. Fill the bottom half with water. Turn the top half upside down, with the cap off, and put it into the bottom half. Place compost into the top half, add plant. Self-watering planter.

image Got an old chest of drawers that you don’t use anymore? Turn it into this pretty tiered planter.

image Turn a broken vase or pot into a cascading garden.

image An old water cistern or toilet tank can be decorated with mosaic, or painted, and used as a pretty flower trough.

image If you have a transparent, deep umbrella or parasol and some stakes, you could make this greenhouse.

image An open-wire basket can be turned into a pretty mini garden.

image Old tea tins, biscuit tins, etc make pretty planters.

Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Printfinity by MOO.COM

MOO is an English company specialising in primarily printing business cards, though they also make postcards, “mini” business cards, flyers, stickers, labels etc. The main website is MOO, however there are regional, geographical differences, in terms of currency displays, depending on which country you are in. For example, if you choose Europe, the site will show you MOO’s prices in Euros.

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MOO’s blurb:


MOO makes life a little less virtual.
We help our customers print things like Business Cards, Postcards and MiniCards, making it easy for them to share information about themselves or their business in the real world.

Print is simple and wonderful. We love it.

We’re a new kind of online printing business
MOO was born out of a love of beautiful, high-quality print.

Printing has been around for centuries, and we’re certainly not the first printer on the web. But, whilst many other printers have chosen to use new technologies to simply reduce the costs of printing (and often the quality), we strive to make print not only cost-effective but better than ever before.

We want to set a new standard for print, with remarkable new products that bring great design and uncompromising, high standards to the web. We’re only young, but when we grow up we want to be the best printer on the internet.

We believe in the power of great design
Design is key to everything MOO does.

Design helps us stand out: from the clothes we wear, to the homes we live in, to the business cards we use. Design tells a story about us and what we stand for.

But professional-quality design has traditionally been expensive or out of reach for most people; we want to change this. We’re passionate about helping people of all abilities design the best looking and highest quality print products: products that will help them or their business look great.

Our company vision is simple but ambitious: “great design for everyone”.

More about MOO…
MOO is an award-winning online print business.

Founded in 2006, MOO aims to disrupt the $100 billion global print industry by combining professional design with the accessibility and reach of the web.

MOO prints millions of cards a month and has hundreds of thousands of customers in over 180 countries. MOO has also become a much-loved brand, with a 75% NetPromoter rating.

The company has won 3 Webby awards (the web’s Oscars), has been profiled in the Financial Times, and was ranked in the top 10 UK start-up companies by the Guardian Newspaper. MOO has offices in London, UK as well as Providence and Boston, USA.

MOO has also raised over $5m in venture capital from the Accelerator Group, Index Ventures and Atlas Venture, the investors behind Skype, Betfair, Lovefilm, Last.fm and MySQL.

My post today is about Printfinity. Printfinity is MOO’s word for a very unique service, one I haven’t come across with other printers.

http://eu.moo.com/about/printfinity.html


What is Printfinity?
It’s the word we invented for a technology that’s completely unique to MOO. With Printfinity you can print a different photo or design on every Business Card, Sticker or Postcard in a pack. It’s a real conversation starter that means you can carry your portfolio in your pocket, show off your favourite products and help people remember your business.

As an artist, I just love the whole idea of Printfinity. For example, instead of printing 10 designs of 100 cards each, and then separating and sorting them into 100 packs of 10 designs, MOO’s Printfinity technology lets me upload my 10 designs onto their template, and then I simply have to specify whether I want 50 or 100 cards. If 50 cards, I will receive 5 of each of the 10 designs. If 100, I will receive 10 of each of the 10 designs. So I end up with just 1 pack of 100 cards, rather than 10 packs of 100 cards. Do the maths.

I have used MOO’s services a few times, primarily to get business cards made up using Printfinity. I recently ran another batch of 100 cards, using 25 different designs. I got an email from MOO offering me 50% off my next purchase, so I decided to use the same designs and have 100 “mini” cards made up as well. “Mini” cards are, half the size of business cards – 2 of them, placed side by side, make up the size of a normal business card.

Printfinity is a great way of seeing how my art looks on a product, plus I have something to show or give away to customers or potential customers too, like a pocket portfolio. I might get some flyers made up next…

MOO offers a range of different papers and finishes for their products, from a basic, everyday range to a high-end “luxe” range. This suits every budget.

The templates provided by MOO are really easy to use. For text, you get a good choice of fonts and font sizes. Simply write your text, then flip the template over to upload your images.

Delivery costs depend on the country you live in. I ordered mine and received them within 10 days, pretty good for UK to Australia these days. Each set of cards comes in its own robust cardboard box, a nice classy touch, great for presentations.

So, if you’re looking for something different, with a good range of paper options and pricing, ease of use, user-friendly templates, easy repeat ordering, a great customer service and delivery, innovative packaging, then MOO’s the one for you.

Below are examples from Google images of what others have used MOO for:

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Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Transplanted Polar Bears

I used to have a Basil plant, and high aspirations of making my own pesto sauce for pasta. Sadly, I only ever used a few leaves here and there when making spaghetti meatballs (the kid’s favourite dish). So Basil my Basil (yes, really) sat on my kitchen windowsill and just grew and grew. Eventually he reached the top of the window, had flowers which bloomed and died, and leaves which dried and were shed willy nilly all over my kitchen sink.

One day I brutally trimmed Basil down to nothing but 2 shoots. I threw these shoots into a bowl of water and hoped for the best. Luckily, one of the shoots took root. I then decided to re-pot my next generation Basil.

On one of my thrift shop expeditions I’d bought a large Spanish/Portuguese-inspired square bowl for the princely sum of $5.25. I decided this would make a suitable container for Basil my basil.

But when I showed Basil his new home, he looked at me sadly and said, “I’m going to be lonely here all by myself”…so what’s a girl to do but go to her local garden centre to look for some suitable playmates for her lonely basil plant.

I bought a pack of Italian herbs, namely Parsley, Basil and Oregano. (More aspirations of making beautiful Italian dishes SIGH). Now we were ready to begin.

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I’d no intention of making holes in the bottom of my Hispanic bowl, so instead I decided to treat my herb planting like I would a terrarium. Firstly, I filled the bottom of the bowl with some large pebbles. Then with aquarium gravel. Then I put in some aquarium carbon. These would provide the neccessary aeration/filtration for my new herb garden.

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Then, I put in a mixture of general compost, wetting agent, sand and fertiliser.

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Here are the herbs I bought:

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I removed the little plants from their tray, and transplanted them to my prepared Hispanic bowl. I stuck in a rooted Rosemary sprig as well, to add variety.

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Ok, looking good. I spritzed the whole thing well and tamped down the soil around the plants. Then I decided to look through my bag of little toy creatures that I keep meaning to make something with…and decided it was time I released my polar bears into the wild.

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It might not be the North Pole. It might not even be cold. But my 3 transplanted Polar Bears look happy enough. As does Basil, surrounded by his new friends.

Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Pattern Observer

For those of you interested in designing and printing wallpapers, or indeed any kind of surface design, Pattern Observer is an invaluable resource. I cannot praise it highly enough. It offers an insight into the burgeoning surface pattern design industry, you can subscribe to their regular email updates (I do), join their Textile Design Lab to enter into discussion with fellow likeminded artists, keep up to date with the latest news and trends in the industry. There are even e-courses you can sign up for to improve and hone your designing skills, learn new techniques and improve your own sales and marketing.

If you are the least bit serious about becoming a surface pattern designer, or even if you just want to investigate the ins and outs of surface design before you decide, you simply MUST join or follow Pattern Observer.

I love the layout of the blog, which can be used as a launchpad to visit other areas of the Pattern Observer microcosmos, all neatly organised and categorised for your benefit. Use the drop down menu there and you’ll see what I mean.

Pattern Observer can also be found on Facebook. So you can keep abreast of the latest news without even having to leave your favourite social media platform.

One of the many highlights of following Pattern Observer is that each week a different artist is showcased, providing insight into their processes, techniques, business practice, etc. Very useful and inspiring for aspiring designers.

Here I’m simply posting the links to bring together Parts 1 and 2 of Pattern Observer’s primers on wallpaper printing techniques through the ages. A potted history, if you will, for your enjoyment.

http://patternobserver.com/2014/05/05/wallpaper-printing-methods-part/

http://patternobserver.com/2014/06/02/wallpaper-printing-methods-part-ii/

For those wanting to take the guesswork out of designing pattern repeats, check out Pattern Observer’s 5 week self-study e-course, The Ultimate Guide to Repeats. Be aware though, this course assumes some prior knowledge of, and experience with, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

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(Photo taken from the blog’s “About” page shows Pattern Observer founder Michelle Fifis and her family.)

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http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Fun, Artistic AND Educational

Feeling creative or artistic but can’t draw to save your life? Join the club! Fear not, though. Here is an App that will entertain as well as educate you at the same time.

It’s called Kinetica. Put simply, it’s an app that plays with shapes and elements of different artists’ techniques and produces random configurations of it that can be saved and used on your mobile device as backgrounds, to create your own arty cards, share with friends etc.

The 12 different styles highlighted by Kinetica are:

(Shapes)
Circles
Spirals
Florals
Glyphs
Science
Palettes
Bulbs
Triangles

(Artists)
Mondrian
Miro
Kandinsky
Calder

Here’s the educational part. While exploring each individual artist’s style, (see above), tapping on the “i” button on the bottom right corner of the page brings you to the Wikipedia page dedicated to that particular artist.

The App developer, Alex Lamb, says this of Kinetica: (screenshot taken from within the App itself)

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Using Kinetica is really easy and intuitive. Across the top and bottom of the page are icons that control various aspects, such as background colour, dots that can be used to rearrange your configuration, a randomization button, a freeze/unfreeze frame icon, a button to change from one style or colourpath to another, a > button to Play or put your configuration in motion.

Here are a few screenshots to show you what playing with Kinetica can result in:

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Now go have fun!

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DON’T QUIT!

Alas, alack! Now that I am on Android KitKat 4.4.2 (ominous drum roll, please), 2 of my must-have Apps for “harmonious blending”, namely Blend Collage and Photo Tangler, have stopped saving my work, rendering themselves essentially useless. I have contacted both App developers, and to date have not gotten any acknowledgement or response. So, all day yesterday and today I have been searching on Android’s Google Play Store for alternatives.

One after another, I discarded all potential replacement Apps for my beloved, newly departed Blend Collage and Photo Tangler. What I wanted was an App with that feathered edges look, so I could collage different backgrounds together seamlessly without any hard edges.

I do have a back-up, thankfully. My Samsung Note 10.1 2014 edition has not been updated to KitKat 4.4.2, so both Blend Collage and Photo Tangler still work on it. Problem is, I don’t tend to carry the Note around with me, and all my photos are on my S4. I have transferred the bulk of my background images over to the Note now, so, if I have no other alternative, I will process my background collages on the Note, then transfer them back to the S4 for further processing. Pain in the proverbial, though!

As I tried and discarded App after App today, something at the back of my mind niggled me. At the last hour, literally, just before midnight last night, I decided to test out my theory…

…which was to utilise an App that I’ve only ever used for one thing – cutting out images. I figured if that App could cut out images for me, it MUST have a collage function somewhere to paste all those cutouts.

Yes!!! My hunch was correct. Face palm I have been so silly to have ignored that little niggling voice in my head all day…The App is my beloved AThumb Cut. And it gives me the all-important feathering of the edges. Hurrah!

Some screenshots to show you the pathway on AThumb Cut. And just so I remember the steps myself. Remember: the key is the Jigsaw icon.

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With AThumb Cut’s “Jigsaw” collage function, I am able to manipulate each component image individually. I am not limited as to how many images I want to cobble together. I can resize, twist or distort up to a complete 360° rotation, freeze/unfreeze in place, I can tweak the opacity or transparency of each individual component image, and most importantly, use the “Edge Transparency” and “Edge Colour” sliders to create the feathering of the edges.

Here are a few more “collaged backgrounds” I’ve created:

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So, who’s a happy bunny again? I shook my fist at the sky and yelled “I’ll never give up!”…and my efforts were rewarded.

This famous Anonymous poem sums it up perfectly:

Everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When they might have won, had they stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit!

Posted from WordPress for Android.

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