Me in a nutshell

How much of ourselves do we successfully put over on our blogs?

I'm quite rubbish at varying my blog posts enough to talk about the things I like, so I thought I'd do a 'my life in a nutshell' post.

I have Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (M.E.) so it touches upon every area of my life. I'm not all 'woe is me' about it. As long as I draw breath I'm happy to be alive. The alternative is so final! I adapt to each obstacle as it comes, roll with the punches and when I have a good day, I'm like a pocket rocket :)
I love Sons of Anarchy. Kurt Sutter (writer) is a bloody genius. I never buy TV series, but I will collect all the DVDs from this series, as I will the next....

A Game of Thrones is another of my big loves. George R. R. Martin is a great writer and the second series is almost over already *sniff*. I have 4 of the books so far and will collect them all. I thought the fantasy genre would be a bit hard to read but they are awesome books and they suck you right in as a reader.

Make up and nail polish make my heart sing. I do my make up almost every day and I do my nails at least once a week. I buy a lot of beauty products. I mean to take photos of the products I buy, my make up and nails a LOT more than I do. In my opinion, make up and nail shots need a mixture of natural daylight and flash to capture the nuances, and if there's no decent daylight.... no photos. Thankfully my new camera (which should be here by Wednesday) has much higher ISO settings so I should be able to take better photos in poopy lighting conditions. Perfect for sunless English 'summertime', ha! I look forward to taking more beauty shots photos of absolutely errrrrrrrrthang.

Clothes, clothes, clothes, especially dresses. I love clothes but I'm really awful at asking J to take photos of my outfits so most shots are bodged, like the ones above. My new camera has a remote control available, which I think I will purchase if it's not megawads, because then I can make use of my tripod and take my own outfit shots. One of the things I'm most looking forward to on honeymoon is having J around to take pics of my outfits every day :) I really want to take more outfit pics, as dress up is always fun.

Photography is another one of my big loves. 'Proper' DSLR photography, Instagram snaps where at least the filter is given some consideration and hastily-taken camera phone shots - whatever the format, I love taking photos. I used to be semi-serious about it - getting involved in taking shots for local alternative models and events, and doing favours for friends on the way to building myself a portfolio, but as my illnesses got worse the time I was expending taking photos of people out and about and editing them afterwards began to eat into my 'well' time too much. It was all gratis too, so it's not like I had financial compensation to sweeten the pill ;) Now I prefer to photograph inanimate objects unless someone asks really nicely ;) That way I can suit my activities to my health on any given day.

My friends, family and hubby are everything to me. I can deal with whatever life throws at me with these bobby dazzlers behind me.

What would sum you up in a nutshell?

More about friendship

As I said in my last blog, I had a wonderful weekend. On Saturday we went to Salisbury to stay with our mates Mich and Tim for a couple of days. They got married late last year in Scotland with just two other people there, and they threw the big ‘We’re married!’ bash Sunday night.

We arrived about Saturday tea time and got down to the business of getting tipsy (oh OK, drunk) on vodka. 3 of our other friends had come down from Manchester, so there were 7 of us in all. We had a wonderful giggly evening bringing up memories and sinking many drinks. I headed to bed at 2-ish and J and Tim were the last to go off to bed at 3am. I went to sleep with a massive smile on my face after having such a fun evening.

I was amazed to wake up on Saturday and be as fresh as a daisy. I had no hangover at all, which is a rarity for me, but I embraced it! A couple of people were slightly hanging, J included. I was as chirpy as usual, I can't help it when I'm around good people. We went off into Salisbury proper yesterday for lunch and to explore a bit, whilst leaving Mich and Tim to have some quality time with their families. We’d never been to Salisbury before. Long story short - it's epic. If you’re into history and architecture, you’ll be in heaven. Every 5 buildings or so there’s something that would’ve been around in Shakespeare’s time, or even earlier. One building I saw was 13th century, although there are probably more like it we didn’t get to see. We made a beeline for the cathedral after lunch in Wetherspoons, mainly because it’s so tall you’d have to be blind to miss it! It’s immense in size and so beautiful. We didn’t go inside because we were short of time, but we’re going back in 3 weeks so we’ll do a bit more sightseeing then. You could sprain your wrist taking so many photos. There's inspiration everywhere, it's almost overwhelming. It's my dream city so far.

The party on Sunday was really mellow compared to our usual crazy standards ;) It was lovely. We drank a load more and had a sedate little couples dance to Nothing Else Matters, which was Mich and Tim’s first dance song. Pre my illness I'd have been throwing some shapes on the dance floor all night, but I enjoyed watching the others having a dance, and I always dance about in my chair. There was great food, an impromptu entertainer who tried his best to entertain despite some issues with the sound (ahem) and lots of laughing about. You know when you’re in good company because you don’t have to strain for conversation. We make each other laugh just by looking at each other or enjoy the (rare) silences when they come. But usually we just laugh and take the mickey out of each other, share a memory from way-back-when or take silly photos to remind us what happened when we're too drunk to remember. Sometimes friendships are hard work, but not the good ones. They are totally effortless. You just slot together like a jigsaw that's been lovingly pieced together many times. You can be yourself unashamedly, and it's OK. Old friendships are like putting on a cosy old jumper you've had at the back of the wardrobe. So comfy, so familiar, and you wonder why it's been put to the back when you love it like no other. When you put it on, you realise what you've been missing all this time and then you don't want to take it off.

In the favours boxes on the tables at the party there were skull and crossbones temporary tattoos amongst other things, so us three girls put them on our boobs. We’re talking about having a similar design tattooed on us for real. We’ve all got tattoos anyway and it’ll be a nice bonding thing, a friendship tattoo. Us 3 girls plus the bride - who couldn’t really be seen with a fake tattoo on her boob in the photos last night so she didn't apply one - all met though a penpal agency for people into rock and metal music about 13 years ago, if memory serves me right. We’ve been through some crap together, lost our share of friends along the way  and have been through personal trials and tribulations along the way. We had a wonderful holiday to Ibiza about 10 years ago, the four of us, and I like to think we'll be friends to the end.

We live all over the country, our boyfriends have come and gone over the years, and two of us are now married. We’re all in a good place, by and large. Our 4 fellas are all bloody diamonds, and as soon as we all get together it just WORKS. It's wonderful to see your friends with brilliant guys who love them to bits. All you could wish for for your friends is happiness and being around them and seeing them so happy is a treat, it really is. When we get together no one really talks about much about work, we just get our party heads on because we see each other so rarely. It’s so good every time we part I think ‘We MUST do this more often!’ and then time goes by, the memories fade, I get caught up in the day to day struggles and too long goes by.

Not this time, though! We have plans to see Mich and Tim in 3 weeks and our Northern buddies in a couple of months.

You can’t put a price on good friendship. I would go to the ends of the earth to see those fuckers.

Who are your oldest friends? Are they far away from you or on your doorstep?

How to use the frame effects on Picmonkey

In Friday's post and yesterday's scheduled post (I'm away) I spoke about the effects on Picmonkey you could use to edit face photos and scenery photos.

Today I wanted to talk about some of the frames you can use on your photos. I'll use the same photo each time.

This is my photo and cannot be used without my express permission

Using the frame icon on the left hand side of the website to access the various frames, I picked Rounded Corners. This seems to be quite a popular edit, I see rounded corner photos on a lot of blogs I read.

Again using the frames icon I picked Museum Matte.

Polaroid Frame.

Photo Corners.

Film Edge

Although you can't really beat the convenience of Instagram for the ability to quickly share your photos with your social network of choice, if you want to do a bit more with your photos you could do a lot worse than Picmonkey.

How to use Picmonkey to edit scenery photos

In yesterday's post I showed you how to use a few features in Picmonkey to edit face photos.

Today I'll show you some of the features you can use to change scenery photos. This won't be an exhaustive list by any means as there are a plethora of effects on the website. This is just a little taster.

I will use the same photo throughout to show off the effects best.

This is my photo and cannot be used without my express permission

Using the chemistry bottle icon on the left of the website, I chose the Cross Process effect.

This reminds me a bit of one of the Instagram effects

 Using my original unedited photo again I chose the black and white effect.

I chose the Time Machine effect and used the default setting, Trixi.

It looks in the style of my mum's 70s era photos

This time I chose the Yester-Colour effect.

This gives you rounded corners by default, but you can also get round corners by clicking on the frames icon on the left hand side of the website.

The HDR effect.

The Focal black and white effect.

As you can see Picmonkey has many more effects than Instagram. If you are used to using a web-based photo editor like I am, there's an advantage to using Picmonkey.

Personally I love Instagram but it doesn't cater to all my photo-editing needs so I'll use Picmonkey once in a while.

No, I'm not being paid for this blog. ;)

Picmonkey replaces Picnik


Long time no post, sorry! I've been sorting out some personal issues.

Many of you will know I love manipulating photos. I was gutted when Picnik closed (apart from the nice full refund when it shut down, ha!)

But, fear not fellow photo-fiddlers! (Try saying that when you've had a few!) There is a new photo editing website on the block - Picmonkey. Best of all, it's totally free at the moment.

It comes from the people behind Picnik, so if you were able to navigate your way around Picnik, Picmonkey will be a breeze.

I thought I'd show you a few photos of myself which I've edited and how simple it is to use. This isn't a tutorial as such, I'll just show you before and after shots and tell you what I changed.

Before. I look gormless, as usual!
So what did I change?

  • I lightly airbrushed my cheeks and eye bags
  • I used the blush boost feature to make my blusher look smoother
  • I used the eye brightener to enhance the catchlights in my eyes
  • I used the mascara feature to enhance my upper eye lashes (if I use it on the bottom lashes it looks too unnatural and spidery.)

All of the 'touch up' effects are found by clicking on the lipstick icon on the left hand side of the website.

Using the edited photo above, I also used the Daguerrotype effect, which is found by clicking on the chemistry bottle icon on the left hand side of the website. (Not to be confused with the Daguerrotype frame effect which includes a rough effect and frame, which is found in the frames icon on the left of the website.)

It's basically a nice, flattering black and white.

Here is a photo of the Daguerrotype frame so you can see the difference.

Disapproving Leah is disapproving

There are dozens and dozens of effects available on Picmonkey. What are you waiting for?! Go and have a look yourself!

It looks like other features like collage will be available soon, and I won't be surprised if there's a premium service coming, where all the best features are chargeable. I had a premium subscription to Picnik so if Picmonkey does bring out a premium service I'll pay for it as I'm always faffing around with my photos.

As much as I love Instagram (and I do love it) I will always want a bit more from photo manipulation. Of course, for sharing photos with various social networking sites in a few clicks Instagram can't be beaten, but I think a bit more work is worth it for the results.

I'm not being paid to plug Picmonkey, by the way (I wish!)

That's all from me. Have a great weekend! 

In tomorrow's post I'll show you how to use Picmonkey effects to edit scenery photos. Sunday's post will show you a range of frames you can use in Picmonkey.