Sometimes at family events, things go wrong. My sister went to Canada for a wedding and her step sister was not having the best of days. She had been quite ill prior to the wedding. Sadly, her battle with illness showed in her face. Delicate retouching helps hide it without disguising who she is.

Click image to enlarge

On an earlier trip, my sister snapped a picture of a Lighthouse on Prince Edward Island. The new trick I learned from Adobe Evangelist Bryan O'Neil Hughes made very short work of cleaning up the power cables.

Click to enlarge

MandarinkeImage via WikipediaWhen life gives you lemons, oranges and mandarins ... make some citrusade!

This is one of those easy method sorts of things I like to share from time to time. I love lemonade and orangeade, but really don't care for the excessive sweetness, calories or the chemicals that are often in bottled drinks or mixes. So every so often I will crack out the juicer and make my own. That way I can control sweetness and flavor.

What you'll need:
A pitcher
filtered water
1-2 cups sweetener (sugar, or no calorie alternatives like Splenda, Equal, agave, stevia)
about 10 fresh citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, mandarins, blood oranges)
cutting board & sharp knife
a hand juicer like this one
fresh mint for garnish (optional)

Simple prep:
Cut all your fruit in half. Set aside one half fruit for garnish. You can use all lemons or any combo of fruits that sounds good. I just made a batch with lemons, blood oranges and mandarin oranges. With the juicer inserted into the mouth of the pitcher, place one half of fruit in right side up. Squeeze firmly and flip the fruit over and squeeze again.  Add cold water, ice and 1/2 cup of sweetener. Stir and taste. Add water or sweetener as needed until you get the balance of flavor and sweet that appeals to you. Grab that reserved fruit half and slice into thin rings. Garnish each glass with fruit and a bit of fresh mint.

That's it. Cool, refreshing and calorie & chemical free!

If you don't drink it right away, it will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.

Extra tip - if you run the squeezed fruit halves (especially the lemons) through your garbage disposal with warm running water it does a nice job of both cleaning and freshening the disposal.

As I noted last week, I have been working on an hourglass bag for KNPR's auction. it's finally done and just in time. The auction opens tomorrow, 2/10/2011!

Trish was happy to model the bag in exchange for my famous homemade turkey chili :)

In Our Hour - artisan-crafted handmade messenger bag by Krystal Hosmer of Sol Sisters
Available at the Western States Public Radio Auction to benefit KNPR

You'll soon be keeping time in this cross-body messenger showcasing a one of a kind applique & beaded hourglass. The top portion of the glass is black and white clocks which turn to a rich golden color as time flows through the hourglass ... in the same way our favorite causes take on new vitality when we choose to support them with our time and money. The hourglass is adorned with czech glass beads from local seller Bead Haven and tiger eye rounds. These were all applied by hand. The steampunk feel is further enhanced with antique brass hardware and a strip of grommet leather across the back pocket.

Detail of the hourglass. Click pic to enlarge.

Big pocket across the back with grommet detail.

Beyond the beauty of the bag, it is also functional as well. The bag measures 12" wide by 9" high. It's loaded with pockets - a small zippered one in the flap for stashing bus passes or other papers, one under the flap for slipping your smart phone into, a zipper pocket in the lining for the "girly" stuff" and a row of three pockets along the back side plus a key hook to stop that annoying digging for keys.  There is also a wide pocket across the entire back of the bag that can hold a letter size file folder or book. The strap is adjustable as well.

The smart phone or sunglasses pocket

A place for a pen, phones, ipod, glasses, keys and just about anything else!
My mom calls this zipper pocket in the flap "the spy compartment." She said it is a great place to put transit passes and boarding papers when traveling.

BUY THIS BAG now and support public radio

I also have two certificates for private Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign tutoring in the auction. You could also use them for social media for business training.
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12:16 PM

Sol for Sol

I was looking for pics to send to a friend this morning and found I had in fact taken good pictures of my crop circle sun bag after all. Being known by Sol Sister, I thought it was time I had a sun bag. It is a recycled messenger made from two pairs of old jeans. The body is legs from Holly's jeans and the handle is the leg from one of my pairs. besides the sun flap, which I love.. my favorite feature on this bag is the iPhone pocket you can just see peaking out. It's made from a bit of my friend Molly's handpainted fabric. My phone slips right in and stays put. I can always find it easily now!.

The flap is constructed with a variation of a technique called Snippets, invented by Cindy Walter in the late 90's. I never purchased one of her books, but I seem to remember seeing a demo on Simply Quilts years ago.

Anyway, this is adapted from that faint memory and a picture I found of a crop circle that showed up in England in 2004. I opened the pic in Illustrator and traced the outline of the sun. Then I traced it again onto the non-shiny side of Pellon craft fuse fusible interfacing and cut another piece of interfacing large enough for the sun cut out. I snipped up a bunch of light blue, teal, dark blue and cream fabrics into very small bits.. about 1/2" max. I cut out the big center and spirals of the sun shape with an xacto knife. I left those inset circles intact as I was afraid they would rip. They were harder to cut later, once the piece was covered with snippets, but no ripping.

With the sticky/shiny side of the interfacing facing me, I started in the center and piled on the lighter colored snippets near the edges of the sun. Very carefully so as not to get sticky on my iron's sole plate, I ironed them down. Lifting the piece up and shaking very gently every so often to dislodge the extra bits, I went back and made sure every hole was covered. Carefully pick up the whole piece and walk it over to the machine. Then go crazy with stitching all over the snippets to anchor them down. I did all kinds of random swirls. Heading back to the ironing board, I finished layering the outer portion of the facing with darker blues and repeated the stitching all over bit again. Once I had the snippet panel ready, I cut out those inset circles at the end of the swirls. As I said, that was a job ... but the final product was worth it. I layered a second piece of interfacing with the cream batik ironed on under the main panel and top stitched around the edges of the sun several times to make sure it was good and secure. I added some dots with a black pigma marker and sewed on this lovely handmade ceramic disc I got from etsy seller BeadFreaky and in each outer circle, a tiny czech glass disc from my just-round-the-corner wonderland, Bead Haven.

Once you wash the bag a few times you get this neat curling and fraying of the snippets. The extra stitching around the edge of the sun is to make sure the layers stay good and stuck down. I didn't want those thin bits lifting later. I really enjoy this effect and the possibilities.

I made a big for both of my bosses from Christmas using the same cutout technique, although just Vic's had the snippet part.... but sadly, I neglected to take pictures. I did snap this not very good picture of a dragon bag Norah (the sister in Sol Sisters) made for her room mate using the same process. In person, it's very deep green and looks pretty majestic against the black. In this case, we traced & modified an image we found on a google serach.

KNPRImage via WikipediaI am on a tear to accomplish one of my resolutions ... to restock my bag shops after months of nothing! I've got two done and another on the cutting table.

First, here's a new style for me ... an applique bag. This lovely is called "In Our Hour" and it is being made for the Western States Public Radio Auction to support my public radio station, KNPR. This will be a large messenger bag. In this bag, I wanted to embody the idea that time is valuable and there is no time like NOW to support the things that matter to you. I think a lot of people are rediscovering the value of time over money and things these days.

You're seeing the applique and beadwork on the flap, and some of the panels and pockets. I had these two identical clock prints in black and white and color and wanted to get time in the hour glass. My sister helped me draft the hourglass and we are both pretty pleased with how it came out. I used tiny fired Czech glass beads from Bead Haven for the sand and rounds of tiger eye for the finals on the top of the glass. The auction starts February 4th, so I better get this bag done.

Detail of the applique hourglass

Next, my daughter Holly suggested a blue bag and she always liked the flower pot shape. Esmerelda is a small tote with lovely lime green accents in hand dyed fabric made by Karen of Ruby Mountain Dyeworks. You can see this one over in my Artfire shop.

and finally, Tiffany in the City a large hobo style bag. Usually a don't make oversized bags, but this girl is generous! 16" wide by 10" tall. Chic and stylish with neat little reflective glass discs on the mouth of the bag. Also in my Artfire Shop.

So I think I am off to a good start. Next, I have an idea to do a music bag and another cut out bag like my personal sun bag I am carrying around right now. I also have a neat dyed cat panel that will become a small wall quilt soon.
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This holiday I got the chance to give a wonderful gift ... which I almost didn't take. Several months ago my aunt asked me to scan and restore a picture of my grandfather taken in 1945, just as WWII was ending. He served in Her Majesty's Royal Navy throughout the war and survived the sinking of his ship SIX TIMES. In this photo, he is about 25 and my mother was just about a year old. As you can see, the image was heavily damaged during one of the family trips to Australia.

So I scanned it at a very high resolution, front and back and gave back the original - which was promptly misplaced. So here I am with the only copy of a family heirloom and smack dab in the middle of holiday rush. I kept putting the restoration off. I knew it was a LOT of work ... hours and hours. But finally on Christmas morning after the gifts were opened, my sister was napping on the couch and my daughter was absorbed in her new Wii game. We weren't due at my Grandmother's for a few hours, so I decided to try to get this one last gift done. Granddad passed away a few years ago — on December 15th — so this time of year is hard for my Nana. Even if I couldn't get it done, I would at least have tried to keep my promise.

I used Photoshop CS5's new content aware fill command to do 90% of the crack removal. The secret to good results with this tool is to make small, precise selections. The tool works by examining the surrounding areas and fills the selection with what SHOULD be there. If you give it too much information to chew on, you get a lot of random junk in the fill. The more precise you are, the less cleanup work. So make a small selection followed by Shift+F5 (the keyboard shortcut for the fill box. It is set to content-aware by default) and repeat — a lot. This wiped out the cracks and did a great job of maintaining the canvas-like texture of the original print. That part took about 30 minutes. I did a little manual patching down in the lower right hand corner where that big rip is, but that was about it for crack fixing. I was just floored by how FAST I was able to do the bulk of the work. In earlier versions, this is the part that would have taken hours of very careful patching and cloning. This little feature is one of the BEST additions to CS5, in my opinion.

I choose not to restore the edges of the image. I wanted it to still look "old," but I did make them a bit more regular and made sure his face was completely unobstructed.

Next, I moved onto repairing the tone and sharpness of the image. I used two curves layers for this part. The main curve restored the balance in the highlights, neutrals and shadows and the second curve was set to screen and used to lighten just his face. (You can see how to do both of these steps in this tutorial.) Looking at it now, I need to go back and balance the toning a bit more where the big crack was down the center ... but that would just be another curves layer with a mask to equalize the lighting.

To add sharpness, I used a high pass layer. This technique provides results like an unsharp mask, but gives you much more flexible control. To create a high pass sharpen layer, duplicate the background layer. The use Image>Adjustments >Desaturate to remove all the color. To turn this grayscale layer into the flexible sharpening machine, go under filter menu>other> highpass. Adjust the sliders to until you can clearly see the edges ... like so.

Then change the blend mode on the layer to one of the contrast modes ... usually overlay or soft light. Adjust the opacity as needed for the degree of sharpening you want. For this image it was set to Overlay at 76%. I used a layer mask to reduce the effect around the edges and really make Grandpa stand out from the background. You can create copies of this layer to increase the sharpening effect. It also adds contrast and helps provide depth.

The very last step was a dodge/burn layer to darken the edges. Create a new layer and set the blend mode to soft light and reduce the opacity ... in this case to 65%. Paint on the layer with white where you want to lighten (dodge) and black or gray where you want to darken (burn). Since this is on a layer, rather than directly changing pixels, you can simply delete it if you make a mistake or adjust the opacity. I burned the background a little and the darker parts of his suit.

The creamy paper behind the image is a stock image from

Here's the before and after.

and here is my Nana with her love. She was so enchanted to see his face again. She stopped several times and just looked lovingly at him. I picked out this frame with the sailor knots and I think the two belong together. It was worth every minute I spent to see her so happy! Truly, the best gift for both of us.

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Two more pics from our recent AUG photowalk. I've just made these along with the daisy from an earlier post into a framed triptych for my sister. Handmade holiday! well, in this case a little help from Photoshop.....

This one got a little HDR toning and a copy of the background layer set to multiply with a lens blur on it to make it recede. To get this very crisp detail, I duplicated the background layer and desaturated it. Then I ran a highpass filter (filter>other>highpass). This layer was then set to the soft light blend mode. It maximizes the contrast on edges. I also shifted the color of the flowers toward orange to compliment the other two images in the set, which are vivid orange.

Holly noticed the little ant hanging out on one of the bells. Bet the rain was ringing his gong :) Again, a very subtle HDR tone and a vinegette to recede the background. There was also a curve applied just to darken the greens. I fooled with the light as well by creating a copy of the main layer and setting it to multiply. I erased it off the main focal flowers and reduced the opacity.
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Another image from the AUG photowalk. I was walking with Steve's wife, Edna, over in the rose garden and was really drawn to these stunning orange roses. I looked down and found this cheap plastic rosary Jesus lying in the dirt under the bush. It was just such an odd thing to find. So I picked Jesus up and took him along for the rest of the walk. He's now hanging in my car. I am not sure what this says about me that I find this whole thing a bit funny.. but anyway... here's Rest Among Roses.

This image got several curves layers.. one for overall color and one to pop and darken the greens in the leaves. It also got a dodge/burn layer (blank layer set on overlay blend mode. Paint with white to lighten and black to darken, adjust opacity as needed). There was also a Black and White adjustment with a slight blue gray tint applied to the rosary to make it look more metallic and less plastic. Another burn layer to make the dark edges. Some lens blur to recede the background and a copy of the background layer with a high pass filter to really enhance the detail in the roses and rosary.
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Yesterday, despite the rain several Las Vegas AUG members hit the trails at The Las Vegas Springs Preserve for our first Photowalk. The gray weather actually revealed some interesting and unusual sights, such as water flowing in the creeks and streams and the rainchains and rain fountains in action. The low light also provided for some very vibrant flower shots.

note: these shots were all taken with pocket Canon SD1100 IS point and shot handheld.

I took over 100 images. Here's a few of the before and afters from my first batch...

This daisy sprinkled with drops was just so stunning and vibrant.. especially after a little boost with Photoshop CS5 built in HDR toning. HDR effects can be over the top, or they can be subtle as this one is. I love how the center of the flower almost glows. I also isolated the dirt background sections and pixeleted them to force the flower to the front. The whole thing also got a contrast bump through a black and white layer set on soft light at a lowered opacity.

These orange leaves against the building are such a rare sight in Vegas, where most trees are evergreens or do not change color in the fall. I loved the echoes of the copper building with the vibrant leaves. I adjusted the curves and bumped the vibrance then experimented with the lens blur filer on the left side...

Although Saguaros are not native to our part of the Mojave, they do grow well here. The cactus walk was all lit up as part of The Preserve's annual light display. This majestic fellow got a boost in the sky, a little repair down on the lower right where there was some blow out and a bit of light painting on the cactus itself.  I also used a color layer set on color burn to create the vignette effect.

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I am late to the coffee drinking game. I didn't take it up until well into my 30's and to this day most coffee, especially that from a store with a certain green circle logo, tastes bitter and burnt. Like a lot of people, I take mine with creme and sweetener to help overcome these factors. As my mother says when we go out "Bring us more creme that you think any two people could possibly need, then bring extra." Anything for caffeine, right?

 Roasted coffee beans, the world's primary sour...Image via Wikipedia

   My days start early now that school is in session, but after the child has been dropped off I have about an hour and a half to myself before I have to head for work. Every morning I have a little of this simple spiced coffee to start my day ... along with a bowl of museli, a sprinkle wheat germ, cinnamon and nutmeg topped greek yogurt and berries. I know it sounds oh so disgustingly healthy ... but as my recent blood tests indicate - a drop of over 30 points in bad cholesterol with no medication and no other changes is nothing to laugh at. She also said my risk of a heart attack has plummeted to less that .5% thanks to all that whole grain. But anyway.. back to coffee....

You'll need:

whole bean coffee - I like hazelnut or cinnamon flavors but this works just as well with plain. For my tastes, I like a light or medium roast.

A small coffee grinder

and your spices....
Whole Caradmom
Whole cloves
Whole bark cinnamon curls
Whole Star Anise

Green and black Cardamom via Wikipedia
Cinnamon spiceImage via WikipediaStar AniseImage by Swamibu via Flickr  
Wise-shopper advice:
You can find whole spices at reasonable prices at ethnic markets, especially Indian and Asian. The packages spices in chain grocery stores are vastly overpriced. I found a national brand bottle of about 1 oz. whole cardamom at Albertson's for $15.99! 4 times as much in bulk at the Indian market was $3.99. It pays to venture out to look for these things!

By the way - If you are thinking these are the same things that go into a Chai latte, you are right! And you can easily use loose black tea instead of coffee to make your own chai.

Now comes the very easy part,  pour some beans into the grinder ... add in some of all of the whole spices and grind in batches. Dump the coffee back into the bag, give it a nice shake to distribute and use it just like any other ground coffee. As it percolates, it picks up the flavors from the spices and becomes much mellower. I like mine with real half-n-half (fat free half-n-half just makes no sense. Half of the half-n-half is creme. Non-fat creme is just like milk only composed of bad-for-you chemicals so what's the point?) and a packet of Splenda.

If you do not have a grinder, you can still enjoy this by getting a small metal tea ball. Put your whole spices in it and put it in the decanter before you turn the coffeemaker on. You can reuse the same spices for several pots then make up a new ball every few days. If you use cardamom in the tea ball, gently crush the pods just enough to crack them to release the flavor.

Another twist on this is to buy some bulk dried mint while you are out. Add a heaping teaspoon to the ground coffee along with a spoonful of cooking cocoa and you have instant mint chocolate coffee!

Hope you enjoy this easy fall treat!

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