Photo to Pencil Drawing with Photoshop

I saw a really cute scrapbook page, with just the outline of a child’s face blended with a scrapbook paper. It was too cute, I just had to try it! I’ve never had much luck with the technique of turning a photo into a drawing, so looked on you tube for a few different ways, the best one I found was here: Turn a Photograph Into A Drawing | Photoshop CS5 Tutorial
Using Photoshop CS:
Duplicate Background
Ctrl & Shift + U
Duplicate Layer
Press: Ctrl + I (to invert it)
Change blend mode to: Color Dodge
(will look all white)
Go to Layer, Smart Objects
Click on Convert to Smart Object
Go to Filter, Blur, Motion Blur
Set to: Angle 34 and Distance 387
Duplicate Layer, put layer on top
Go to Filter, Stylize, Glowing Edges
Set to: Edge Width 1,
Edge Bright 16, Smoothness 15
Press: Ctrl + I (to invert it)
Change blend mode to: Multiply
Go to Layer, New Adjustment Layer,
Level, and set:
Black input to 12, Midpoint to .8

When I was finished turning the photo into a pencil drawing I flattened it and dragged it my scrapbook page. I changed the blending mode of it until I found the perfect one to match my papers (which are also blended), and added the rest of the elements of the page. I don’t think it looks much like my usual scrapbooking, but then it’s really fun to do something so different, and I LOVE how it turned out!

Avocado Corn Salad

This is our new favorite family recipe!

Avocado Corn Salad
Serves 4
1 can of corn, or two ears of cut corn
2 roma tomatoes
1 medium cucumber, diced
1 avocado
1 tsp. Garlic powder
Lemon Juice
½ tsp. Salt
fresh ground pepper (optional)
Mash avocado with garlic, salt, and lemon. Add to a large bowl with the everything else, combine, refrigerate until ready to use.

Banana Milk

This was a bit of a fail. I loved the simplicity of the idea, just blend a couple bananas in some water, and Banana Milk! I was really hopeful, so we tried it with a few different cereals, and it just didn’t work. I know other people enjoy it, so maybe it will work for you!

Travel Games

The girls and I are going on a flight today, all the way to Arizona! And since we are only using carryons, space for travel toys is limited. We are each taking one pad of paper and pen though, so I quickly googled some ideas for paper and pencil travel games! Here is what I found that I’ll try on the plane:

Two or more players. One player thinks of a word and writes a line for each letter, then draws a gallows. Not a bad idea to give some adult help on this step. The other players try to guess the letters in the word. Each incorrect letter means the first player draws a body part on the gallows. The object is to guess the word before you get “hung” – which is a full body picture on the gallows.

Draw rows of dots. Take turns drawing a line between two dots. The object is to make a box with your lines and the most boxes wins. Players write their initials in the boxes they draw.

Morse Code Writing
Print out the code and have your kids make secret messages in Morse Code.

Story Add-On
Get a piece of paper. The first person writes down a beginning to a story – it can be one sentence – then folds the paper to cover what he wrote. The second person continues the story without looking and adds a detail or action. That person folds the paper over her part. And so forth, until someone ends the story. Open, read, and laugh!

Monster Add-On
Fold a plain piece of paper into four horizontal sections. The first person draws the monster head, folds over the paper so it is covered. The second person draws the neck, shoulders, and arms then folds over. The third person draws the body then folds it over. The fourth person finishes with the legs and feet. Open and check out your masterpiece!

These were found at: Imagination Soup

Eating an Alphabet
Let your half-starved brood describe how hungry they are in this game, best played about half an hour before you make a pit stop for food. This version of the “I’m Packing for a Picnic” game begins when you announce “I’m so hungry I could eat an aviator” (“alligator,” or “apple”). The next player adds on with a B word. She might say, “I’m so hungry I could eat an aviator and a bunny rabbit” (“belly button,” or “bologna slice”). See if you can keep it up until your family is eating zoos, zippers, or zigzags.

I Spy
Someone says, “I spy with my little eye something green.” Whoever guesses the item correctly goes next. You could limit the items to what’s in the area. Or you could get tricky and play I Spied, selecting items that you’ve already passed.

These were found at:

Also we have a great game we play in our family, it’s a portable Scattergories, here is how to play:


Spring is finally really here!! This weekend the huge cherry tree finished blooming and we did a little pre-gardening, and some weeding around the blackberries!

Energy Bars, or Dessert Balls, or whatever!

Hands down these are my new favorite indulgence for the weekend…
All of these fabulous recipes are from Chocolate Covered Katie! :)

Samoa Bars
1 1/2 cups pitted dates, packed
6 TBLS shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla
3 TBLS chocolate chips, or carob chips

Put all the ingredients together in your food processor, and blend.
Line an loaf pan with foil (or wax paper) and, using another piece of foil on top, press the bars as hard as possible. Refrigerate for an hour or so, then cut into bars and individually wrap for on the go snacks!

Fudge Bars
1 cup almonds
1 and 1/3 cups pitted dates
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp chocolate chips

Blend all the ingredients, using a food processor. Form into bars. It might help to put dough in a ziplock bag and close the bag, then shape into a bar.

Cookie Dough Babies
1 cup pitted dates
3TBLS chocolate chips or carob chips
1/2 cup cashews or almonds
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Blend the everything in a food processor.
Roll into tight balls, store in a jar in the fridge.

Leather Jump Ropes

When I can’t get to the gym, or just for fun, I’ve been trying jump rope. I got a book about jump rope for exercise from the library called “Jump Rope Training” by Buddy Lee. My rope is strong cord with wooden handles that I got from Goodwill for $3, and I like it a lot, it’s well weighted.

Jared wanted to try a leather rope, so we put some research into one, apparently it’s a good idea to oil the rope before use so that it doesn’t dry out and crack. The tip we got was from an reviewer to put the leather rope in Wesson Oil for three days, then wipe with a rag, and let dry for a couple days. We did that exactly and it seems to be working fine!

The Spring View

I took a couple days off for spring break last week, and finally had time for a little sewing. Not much, some hemming and mending, and a new reusable bag, but oh I enjoyed the new view out my window, now that it’s SPRING!

Fabulous Real Watermelon Cake!

I saw this idea first in a photo facebook update from a raw vegan about a year ago, and my daughter loved the idea! We really love fruit in our household! After two semi-failed gluten free vegan “cakes”, we remembered this fruit cake, and realized we were going at the problem the wrong way. Instead of trying to find things that sort of taste like our old life, we should just fully embrace the new! So I went looking for watermelon cake instructions. The best I found were here at Paleo Cupboard, however we didn’t even attempt the whipped coconut frosting, our family doesn’t seem to ever like anything made with real coconut. I did some google image searching and discovered that people were making these cakes layered using toothpicks, and that was just too cool not to give it whirl! I wanted to try a fruit compote over it, and even found a good looking recipe, however Meg wanted it fruit and she wanted it all raw, and so it was! She chose all the fruit, and the candles, decorated it herself, and she LOVED the effect!

Meg’s Watermelon Layered Cake
2 Personal Watermelons
1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberries
Small can pineapple rings
Cookie cutters
Cut the ends off the watermelons, then cut the rinds off in a circular fashion. Leave one block of watermelon whole, cut the other block into two rings, cut the rings smaller to make layers. Attach all the layers with toothpicks. Decorate with fruit using more toothpicks!

Chocolate Cake, healthy-ish of course…

Over the last few weeks I tried out a couple recipes for my daughter’s birthday party that was the other day. The first one was good, everyone liked it except my husband, who said it tasted like chocolate covered beans… which is was I suppose…

Black Bean Brownies
1 1/2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed very well
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup pure maple syrup or honey
2 stevia packs or 2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup chocolate chips
optional: more chips, for presentation
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Really blend well. (A blender can work if you absolutely must, but the texture—and even the taste—will be much better in a food processor.) Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut.
This amazing recipe is from one of my new favorite hot spots for vegan desserts: Chocolate Covered Katie

This second recipe was great! But not vegan, and so close to tasting like actual cake that perhaps it was too spot on. The recipe was so complex that the kitchen was a disaster afterward, everything was messy including the blender, the food processer, a sauce pan, measuring cups, two mixing bowls, and the baking pan! On top of that the cake was soooo tasty that we all had an extra piece each, and I gained nearly two pounds from it!

Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cup packed almond meal
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
1 1/2 cup packed pitted dates
1/2 cup water
3 eggs
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Mix together all dry ingredients (almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt) in a bowl and set aside.
3. Place the dates and water in a food processor or strong blender and blend until it forms a smooth paste.
4. Mix the date paste with the wet ingredients (eggs, coconut oil, vanilla), and mix until smooth.
5. Add the wet to the dry and stir until smooth.
6. Grease an 8″ round cake pan, and pour in batter.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes before serving so that it has time to set.
-Make your own almond meal by processing raw almonds until no large chunks remain. Don’t over process because it will turn into almond butter.
-You may soak the dates for a few hours or overnight to make them softer and easier to blend.
-You can melt the coconut oil by putting it into your preheating oven, that saves getting an extra sauce pan messy.
I found the original recipe here: Spoonful of Sugarfree
(The frosting was basic buttercream using vegan butter and almond milk.)

Tomorrow I’ll post what cake we actually ended up doing for Meg’s Birthday Party :)

Focus on Food Essays and Recipes – Part 7

In 2012 I created a series of ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life then. For 2013 I did the same thing, but our focus has shifted slightly. We’ve done all we can at the moment to alter our behaviors when it comes to using too much electricity, or chemicals around the house, or simplifying life, so last year our whole focus was on food, and trying different ways of eating until we found one that stuck. So here is Part Seven of the Seven Part series…

It’s great these days, because we get excited about food seasonally, it’s something to look forward to! When summer came, the first peaches were amazing, now that it’s fall, we’re enjoying autumn squash, including butternut squash, pumpkins, zucchini, and acorn squash, food ingredients that we never cooked with before.

It’s hard to stay hyper focused on something long term. It’s stressful and tiring to stay focused on one life topic, day after day, meal by meal. Sometimes I think we did it the hard way, and other times I know this was how we needed to do it, for our family, to slowly change habits, try out different diets and ways of eating a plant based menu. I feel that with this choice to be simply a whole food plant based vegan, that we are finally on the right track for now, on the path of something healthy that we can maintain long term.

“Many times when people hear about the health transformations they jump right into the lifestyle without fully realizing the mental, emotional and lifestyle changes that are required to succeed long-term. Old unhealthful habits have to be replaced by new healthful ones. This is a very slow and painstaking process that requires conscious effort. You’ll still be living in a culture where destructive habits are encouraged and supported. It will seem sometimes like you’re the only one in the world who cares about living healthfully. On top of all that, you’ll have to have enough resolve and commitment to get through stages of healing that may include feelings of weakness, anxiety, lack of energy, and flu-like symptoms. The process of detoxification can be unpleasant at times. Ultimately, the benefits you reap WILL be equal with the effort you sow.”

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes
1 cup old-fashioned oats (can be gluten-free)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ripe medium bananas, cut into chunks
3/4 cup vanilla almond milk
1 cup of chocolate chips, vegan chips, or carob chips
1. In a blender, add chunks of banana and almond milk. Puree for 30 seconds or until thoroughly blended and smooth. Next add oats, baking powder, and salt into the blender; blend again until batter is well-combined about 1 minute. Set aside to thicken up. After a few minutes check the consistency of the pancake batter it should be somewhat thick. If they appear to too thick, add a tablespoon or two of almond milk and blend again.
2. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with vegan cooking spray or vegan butter and heat over medium heat. Drop batter by 1/4 cup onto skillet and gently spread out a bit with a spoon. Place 5-6 chocolate chips on top of each pancake and cook until bubbles appear on top, about 2 minutes. Gently flip cakes and cook until golden brown on underside, 2 minutes. Wipe skillet clean and repeat with more oil or cooking spray. Top with peanut butter, maple syrup, fruit or whole fruit jam.

Mexican Pumpkin Soup
Serves 4
1 TBSP garlic, minced
1 TBSP chili powder
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin (NOT canned pumpkin pie!)
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and well-rinsed
5 medium red potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon oregano
pinch of cayenne or other red pepper
1/3 cup unsweetened soy milk or other non-dairy milk
salt, to taste
¾ cup low-sodium salsa
2 avocado, diced (optional)

Put all ingredients (except avocado) in a soup pot, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Top with diced avocado.

Focus on Food Essays and Recipes – Part 6

In 2012 I created a series of ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life then. For 2013 I did the same thing, but our focus has shifted slightly. We’ve done all we can at the moment to alter our behaviors when it comes to using too much electricity, or chemicals around the house, or simplifying life, so last year our whole focus was on food, and trying different ways of eating until we found one that stuck. So here is Part Six of the Seven Part series…

At the start of the year we tried to eat less meat & cheese, progressing to “vegan’ with the salads and icky tofu that implies. Next we tried going raw, when that didn’t work we tried the raw til four plan. Even that was too difficult for us to maintain, so we tried gluten free vegan for three weeks, but since that was also a no go, we’ve backed up a bit. People are having great results with just a basic whole food plant based vegan diet. Low fat, by only using small amounts of oil, and with a little bit of whole wheat, a bit of fruit for sweetness. It’s the type of menu used in the movie Forks Over Knives, and the book Food Over Medicine. This way of eating provides more variety of food than the other diets we were trying this year, and combined with some exercise is helping to heal and cure people. We’ve eaten this way for most of September, and for the first time all year we’ve been excited to cook healthy meals. Excited to eat what we cook, knowing that it will taste fabulous!

We have also lately been cutting way back on bread/wheat products. “The processing of many breads has led to it becoming addictive to many who find themselves craving the carbs inherent in wheat along with the salt and sugar additives. For many people, wheat is addictive, it meets all the criteria for an addictive product: People crave it, consuming it creates a desire for more, lacking it triggers a withdrawal phenomenon. If you try to quit smoking, you’ve got “crutches” like nicotine patches and gum. If you try and quit wheat, what have you got? Nothing, to my knowledge. Nothing but sheer will power to divorce yourself from this enormously destructive, diabetes-causing, inflammation-provoking, and addictive substance. Though food addiction can be a powerful and debilitating illness, like alcohol and drug addiction, grain addiction can be overcome.”

Burrito Bowl
-2-3 cups cooked rice
-1 can refried beans (no lard), warmed and thinned with a splash water
-1 15 oz. can black beans, drained, rinsed and warmed
-Corn, canned or frozen or fresh, warmed
-1 avocado, smashed up with a little lemon juice and salt added to it
-1 cup or so of Salsa Verde
Layer the above ingredients into some bowls, and enjoy!

Baja Bean Chip Salad
Serves 4
1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can black beans
1 15 oz. can corn
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
2 small avocados, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Salsa or Salsa Verde
Corn tortilla chips

Combine the diced tomatoes, black beans and corn in a colander in the sink and rinse well. Shake well to “dry.” Set out all food on the table, then layer the ingredients anyway you like over a plate of tortilla chips!

Focus on Food Essays and Recipes – Part 5

In 2012 I created a series of ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life then. For 2013 I did the same thing, but our focus has shifted slightly. We’ve done all we can at the moment to alter our behaviors when it comes to using too much electricity, or chemicals around the house, or simplifying life, so last year our whole focus was on food, and trying different ways of eating until we found one that stuck. So here is Part Five of the Seven Part series…

We watched Forks Over Knives in the summer of 2012 along with all the other eye opening movies about plastics, chemicals, electric cars, farming practices, and how modern food is killing us. This was actually the first one we saw regarding going vegan and eating a plant based diet. Knowing that a burger and chocolate cake is “unhealthy” in theory, is different than seeing what a plant based diet can do, even reversing heart disease and diabetes. It was shocking at the time, we absorbed what we were able to, decided to attempt to eat less meat, and then continued watching more documentaries. Our resolve to eat less meat continued, and now that we have achieved a 99% meat free life, with very little dairy, we decided to watch it again. As we watched the movie again, now with a different mindset, we could enjoy better how much sense the movie makes. We also noticed that the “healthy food” they were eating looked so much better than the last time we watched it. Dishes and platters of food that before looked alien and worrying, now were making us hungry! It firmed our resolve to finish out the year focused on food, and solidifying the eating habits that are finally really coming together for us!

Blackberry Smothered Peaches
8 oz. peaches
8 oz. blackberries
Slice peaches into a bowl.
Blend blackberries into a sauce and pour onto the slices.

Chocolate Oatmeal
Serves 4

2 cups gluten free rolled oats
2 cups almond milk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 banana, sliced thinly
2 TBSP. chocolate or carob powder
3 apple, chopped into very small squares

In a saucepan combine 2 cups of oats, 2 cups of almond milk, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cook for about eight minutes, stirring frequently. Add vanilla, bananas, and powder. Stir well. Cook for several more minutes, or until desired consistency, do not overcook. Top with bits of apple.

Focus on Food Essays and Recipes – Part 4

In 2012 I created a series of ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life then. For 2013 I did the same thing, but our focus has shifted slightly. We’ve done all we can at the moment to alter our behaviors when it comes to using too much electricity, or chemicals around the house, or simplifying life, so last year our whole focus was on food, and trying different ways of eating until we found one that stuck. So here is Part Four of the Seven Part series…

As we’ve been muddling through new recipes, new flavors, new styles of cooking, we have not been totally successful, falling back on our old patterns of eating when all this newness becomes overwhelming. As a family we agree that when we eat plant based we all feel strong, more energetic, and generally happier. So we decided to recommit over the summer, especially with all the fresh seasonal food choices available. We also discovered something called Raw Till 4, meaning 4pm, it’s a way to get much of the benefits of eating a raw lifestyle, but still have a hot comforting familiar vegan dinner. It’s something that I’ve maintained for three weeks this month, and hope to continue through the summer. “Why go raw? Heat changes the molecular structure of foods, rendering nutrients mostly unusable. Cooked and otherwise denatured or processed food is less digestible than raw food…Biologically-appropriate raw food provides all the nutrients that the body requires, as it does for all the other species of animals on the planet.”

These are the lyrics of my current favorite power song to get me through the cravings:
Something has changed within me, Something is not the same, I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game, Too late for second-guessing, Too late to go back to sleep, It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap! It’s time to try Defying Gravity, I’m through accepting limits, ’cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change, But till I try, I’ll never know!, Defying Gravity from the musical Wicked

Focus on Food Essays and Recipes – Part 3

In 2012 I created a series of ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life then. For 2013 I did the same thing, but our focus has shifted slightly. We’ve done all we can at the moment to alter our behaviors when it comes to using too much electricity, or chemicals around the house, or simplifying life, so last year our whole focus was on food, and trying different ways of eating until we found one that stuck. So here is Part Three of the Seven Part series…

Changing the way you eat is not about cutting foods out of your diet. That’s the part most people get hung up on. It’s not about deprivation, it’s about change. Saying “I’m not going to eat cheese today” gets you nowhere. All you can think about is cheese. Instead, if all day you are thinking about the wonderful juicy peach you bought for an afternoon snack, and how tasty that will be, you have positive thoughts. What we learned this month is to focus on what we are able to enjoy. It can’t be looked at as “I’m going vegan, I can’t eat any ‘real’ food!”, or your list of eating choices will be very limited. It must be “I’m going vegan, I can eat these foods!” Then make a list of healthy sweet and satisfying vegan alternatives such as Pina Colada Juice, Bell Pepper Romaine Salad, Apples & Peanut Butter, Pistachios & Cashews, Cucumber Carrot Salad, and Fresh Oranges. Looking over even this short list, is it any wonder that simply eating healthier food can cure illness? I had the first salad of my life this year, and it was not so bad as I’d imagined!

These are our two favorite recipes from this month:
Pear Juice
2 Pears
2 Green Apples
1/4 Lemon (optional)

Mono Meal of Pears
dipped in real peanut butter and raw honey


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