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Picture of the week

July 7, 2010

Ding Dong the Bell is Dead

July 2, 2010

Our doorbell died.  As in…thud…kerput…throw it in a hole six feet deep and talk about it’s glory years over a plate of potato salad. 

It actually happened a while back but we had been procrastinating the job of installing the replacement until finally we decided that enough was enough.  It was hanging by it’s wires – not exactly safe for girl scouts selling cookies to notify you they are there to deliver the seventeen boxes of Samoas.  It would totally delay the delivery if they messed with the exposed live wires.  Although, it would be a good plan if I was planning to hijack the wagon full of heavenly deliciousness…not that I would do that.  Afterall, the electricity might melt the chocolate.  Duh.  We knew that the doorbell was pretty bad when the delivery guy told me that we needed to fix the bell because the broken plastic cut his finger.  I was all like “Dude, that’s workers comp…you should go on vacation.”  And then I sterilized the broken button.  Communicable diseases are real people.  I should know :)    

So we headed to our local home improvement store to snag a little five dollar fix.  Since our button was wired, all we needed was a replacement wired push button to install with our existing bell system.  We ended up choosing this oil-rubbed bronze square plate with a dark button.  We liked the style because it didn’t look cheap like our previously plastic version.  And at under $5 it was one of the cheaper options. 

Ok…so how we did it….

First we turned off the power at the breaker box.  We made sure it was off by double checking it with this neon tester.  They are very inexpensive and I would HIGHLY recommend getting one…especially if you ever want to change out light fixtures or outlet plates or stuff that can electrocute you.     

After we determined that the wires were no longer live, we used a screwdriver to unattach the bell button from the wires.  At this point we made a mental note which wire was the ‘hot’ wire and which was the ‘neutral’ wire.  Since both our wires were the same color (a big no-no when it comes to electrical work – one is supposed to be white, the other black) we established the hot one by seeing which screw it was attached to.  The hot one was attached to the brass screw and the neutral one was attached to the silver screw.  That slew of detail for all you home improvement fanatics out there. 

Then we came across a little issue. 

The wires were coming out of a little hole in the trimwork of our door. 

Normally, that wouldn’t matter but in this case, we had a slight problem because the back of our new button was quite a bit bigger than the hole.  There would be no way that this sucker could sit flush against the trim as is.   

Enter Mr. DeWalt drill. 

This baby is like our first child.  Seriously.  Will is no longer a first-born.  He’s gonna have to compete with this puppy his whole life while we say things like “Will, did you hear what DeWalt accomplished today?” and “Will, why can’t you be more like DeWalt?”.  Sometimes Jeremy just walks around with this thing in his hand just to rev it a little.  Let’s just say it’s mildly hot.  And when I say mildly, I mean extremely. 

Anyhoo.  All we did was get out DeWalt and outfit him with a drillbit the same approximate size as the back of the new doorbell button.     

Then, we made the hole a little bit bigger…making sure that the drillbit didn’t touch our wires. 

Then we just followed the instructions included with the doorbell.  We took the hot wire and attached it to one screw by hooking it over the screw head and tightening it down.  Then we did the same with the neutral wire. 

Finally, we pushed the button into the recessed hole and used the finishing screws to attach the bell plate to the trim.  The last step was to turn the power back on and give the puppy a push.

I’m very pleased to announce that our new doorbell button has a clean record and looks pretty good to boot. 

Not too shabby, huh?  It blends seemlessly in, dontcha think? 

Plus, you gotta love a five dollar fix that takes only a minute or two.  I know I do. 

So have you replaced your doorbell before?  Or maybe you did the whole kit-n-kaboodle with a new chime and everything?  I know that I had to hide the ones that play Rocky Top from my boyfriend.  Geez…the Georgia fans would shoot us.  Or perhaps electrical related projects scare you a bit and you don’t go near em?  Tell me all about it and I’ll be right here reading…with bells on :)

Picture of the week

June 30, 2010

Eye Lift

June 28, 2010

There were so many requests on how to boost eyes in photoshop that I couldn’t refuse.  Here’s the how-to:

First you need a photo with some eyes in it.  A-duh.

You also need photoshop.  Not Photoshop Elements because we are going to be using actions…specifically the free actions provided by The Pioneer Woman.  You can go to her site and pick em up.

As an example, I will be using the photo of this little smarty-pants squirt…Cole.  Here is the straight-outta-the-camera shot. 

First I open up the photo in photoshop.  I use the CS4 version for those who are wondering.  As you can see, the actions are saved and open in the right hand column under ‘Actions’.  The first thing I do is apply the ‘SLIGHT LIGHTEN’ action so that the photo is lifted a bit.  Note that if you shoot in JPEG, it is better to underexpose than overexpose….I can never seem to get it right when I am outdoors (something about the sun makes me shoot all crazy)…so if I underexpose, I can salvage a shot in photoshop rather than losing a great photo. 

Anyhoo…here is me lightening the photo:  

See the difference?

Ok…ok…I’ll make this easy on ya.  See the difference now? 

 

After lightening the photo slightly, I wanted it to look a little more contrasty and a little more saturated.  The ‘Boost’ action is perfect for that.  I applied that one directly over my last action and kept it at 100% opacity for the maximum contrastyness (yes that is a word) and saturatedness.   

Here’s Cole baby after the boost:

See how the background looks even greener and the little pink in his lips puckered right up?  Even his little tan and his blue eyes became richer.  In the words of the Mad Hatter – he’s muchier…he’s got more muchness.

 

Ok.  Now we are to the point where we can really bring out those baby blues.  Pay attention.  This is the part you were asking about.  In Pioneer Woman’s action set 2, there is one of my favorite actions called “BRING ON THE EYES!”.  And boy, does it. 

First you have to apply the action.

Then, you have to get your little brush ready.  I like to use a little brush with 0% hardness (so that if I go into the little fleshy part of the eyes, it won’t be too apparent).  And then lastly, you must make sure your color is white. 

Then, I zoom in and color in the eyes with the white paintbrush.  Everywhere that you color will become more light and more saturated so try to color in the lines. 

There’s those sparkly little suckers :)

Not really noticable unless you see the before’s & after’s…but alas, the little editing really draws you into see his bright blue eyes instead of focusing elsewhere.  Plus, it whitens the whites and makes the iris of the eye way more saturated…like in real life :)

 

Now the last thing that I always do is sharpen things up.  I apply the “SHARPEN THIS” action.  The same thing applies here…you have to get your little brush and “color” with white the areas that you want to sharpen up.  I like to go on the features and on the outline of the face…so I brush with white over the eyes, the nostrils, the mouth, the jawline and the hair.  I don’t sharpen the skin because then the flaws of the face (like dirt, wrinkles, and eye bags look more apparent). 

There he is in all his lightened, boosted, saturated, sharpened glory. 

And just so you can see what the sharpen tool really does – here is the difference:

 

Now that you have followed along, I know you are dying to see the comparison.  Well, I just want you to realize that this means that the charade of me being a good photographer is coming to an end.  I’m a giant falsehood.  With this little tutorial I hope that you realize that I can no longer pretend to be this fabulous shutterbug…it’s all editing.  Judge me if you want.  I can take it.   

No…that’s a lie.  I can’t take it.  I want your adoration.  I want you to love my skills so much it makes you green with envy.  In the words of Michael Scott – I want you to love me so much it hurts. 

Seriously though.  I can take it. 

That’s a lie.

Not really.

Almost.

Ok.  Back to the photos.  Here is the SOOC shot next to the fully edited version:

 

See the difference?  No?  Mom – go get your glasses.  You have like eight pairs in the office.  Pretty cool huh?  It really ought to be called PhotoMAGIC instead of Photoshop.  It seriously has to be magical to take one of my photos from drab to fab.  And now that you know one of my little tricks, I hope that you can take your lift the eyes of your subjects…afterall, they are the windows into the soul.  Basically you are making other people’s souls better when applying this action.  That’s what the Bible says anyway.  Pretty much :)

A Subtle Hint

June 25, 2010

This is my dad. 

On Father’s Day, he received one of the best family pictures ever. 

Each stick figure was hand sketched by my five year old nephew Cole. 

And in case you were wondering…I have labeled each family member drawn.   

Let’s take a closer look.

First up…my sister, who is Cole’s mom.  Note the prominent hair.  Apparently she is the only one that has any.  Cole is quite accurate with this picture….Lori does have a full head of curls. 

And Jeremy is well-illustrated as well.

We will leave that one to your own imaginations. 

And lastly we have me. 

Since Sunday, I have started a rigorous workout routine and a very strict diet consisting of water and a small bowl of Kleenex with one tablespoon of tabasco sauce.  I got the hint.

Flagged

June 24, 2010

On Memorial Day the only plan we had was to hang a flag pole.  It’s been a long time coming and I really wanted to display the stars & stripes on the outside of our house. 

After thirty minutes of discussion (and when I say discussion I mean my darling boyfriend suffering through numerous shoulder cramps as he held up the flag pole in every possible position as I walked around the house to see it from every possible angle).  We considered hanging it next to our front door, over the garage, over the front door, on the corner where the house meets the garage, even on the large oak in the front yard.  Finally, we decided that the best place was the most simple…right next to the garage. 

Installation was a snap.  All it took was a drill and literally one minute to screw in the pole support bracket.  

As soon as it was attached, the flag just slid right in.

The location ended up being perfect for us…it’s directly over the rose bushes (we try to stay away from those thorny things anyway) and it doesn’t block our motion sensitive lights or get in the way of us pulling out of our garage.  Patriotism never looked so effortless.  And I love the little punch of color on our colorless house.  It makes me want to paint our front door barnyard red.  Don’t be surprised if that happens.  Jeremy – I’m talking to you :)   

Now that is one simple $15 improvement that honors the men & women who have made priceless sacrifices.

And because it wouldn’t be a Bower Power post without a photo of Will…WaBAM!  That’s his evil eye for all terrorists.

So now that you know one of the latest quick fixes here at the ABP home, I wanna know if you have recently made any improvements.  Anybody?  Anyone hang a flag or planning to for the fourth of July?  Or maybe you already have a flag on your exterior?  Where is it?  Is it a decorative one or are you sporting the red white and blue too?

Weedwacker Winner

June 24, 2010

Congratulations to Alicia  – the winner of the Black n Decker Cordless 24 volt String Trimmer/Edger curtesy of the fine folks at Black n Decker and ABP.

Now that Alicia has the fine prize of a cordless (and very powerful) weedeater, she can enjoy a manicured lawn thanks to Black n Decker and thanks to those three guys in her life.  Oh and Alicia, be sure to hold up your end of the deal and make them a Bower Power Pie as reward for all their hard work.  And feel free to send one here too :) 

Seriously though – be on the lookout for an email from me for all the details to claim your prize.  And for those of you who are interested in getting a better looking yard with the Bower Power seal of approval, check out the weedwacker here.  Don’t forget your coupon code – TRIM351 for your freebie!

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