Friday, August 22, 2014

Here's why PicMonkey is a blogger's best friend!

Jen from Jenerally Informed asked us to share a PicMonkey tutorial as part of the awesome blogging stay-cation she is a part of.  Be sure to head over there and check out her fabulous posts!  And this post, too, since we've shared it with her, and now we're publishing it here.  Because we didn't want to think of anything else to publish today.  Okay?  Okay. 

So what can you do with PicMonkey?


Okay, well not really anything.  But as far as graphics and editing pictures and making awesome buttons and headers and pinnable images. . . well ANYTHING!

So it's pretty understandable why PicMonkey is a blogger's best friend.  And one of the most fabulous things of all:  lots of the features are FREE.

And if they're not free, then they're a part of the Royale subscription, which is $33 a YEAR.  Not too shabby. 

So Jen asked us to share a PicMonkey tutorial, and the question was where to even start?  So I'll be including links to some of the tutorials we've done at Just a Touch of Crazy, plus also give you some pointers on the tools PicMonkey offers that I think are the best for bloggers.

PicMonkey is great for making printables.  And I love making printables.

Also you can play around with adding textures and images as the background for different prints.  Click here to see one of the most popular prints we've made with PicMonkey.   

Emily also shared this tutorial on making your own birthday invitation.  

You can use these techniques to make all sorts of different collages to display in your home or for images for your blog. 

Need some tips on editing photos for your blog to make them stand out?  Click on the image to check out these tutorials:

And I think the greatest tool that PicMonkey has for bloggers is the Overlay tool. 

There are quite a few free overlays you can add, or some that require the Royale membership.  Or you can add your own overlay.  Which is awesome.  That's basically just picking any image that you have on your computer and adding it to whatever image you're making on PicMonkey.  The possibilities with that tool are endless.

Once I made these images,

by opening up a blank image and adding the Jack as a  separate overlay.  Then I added the stick figure as another separate overlay.  I actually drew the stick figure on a piece of paper and the plan was to scan the image into the computer.  But my scanner was broken.  So I took a picture of my drawing and used that as my image instead.  The word bubble is a PicMonkey supplied overlay, as is the heart. 

To make this image:

 I drew that lovely mom in Paint (I know, aren't my art skills so wonderful?) and saved it as a JPEG.  Then I opened up a blank image, added the mom JPEG as an overlay, and added the words.

(You can read the Jack story here, and see what crazy things I say here)

You can also use the overlay to swap out heads and people or add people into scenes, all because the overlay tool has the ability to erase whatever part of the overlay you don't want.

Click here for a tutorial on how to do switch heads with PicMonkey, which can be applied to a lot of different kinds of images you might want to create. 

I used the overlay to make all of these:

Dora and me,

I was also once making this Father's Day print (here's just a part of it.  To see the full print in the post click here)

and I wanted some of the words to look like handwriting.  I couldn't quite find the font I wanted, so instead I hand wrote each word in Paint, saved each word as a JPEG and added them in as separate overlays.  Kind of time consuming, but it gave the print the look I was searching for. 

See what I mean about endless possibilities with the overlay tool?  I love it.  I might marry it :)

Okay, so I hope that some of the information has been helpful!  

Also we are affiliated with PicMonkey.  If you do decide to upgrade to Royale and use any of our links to get there, that would be pretty awesome. 

Happy blogging! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

We're track stars! How to switch out heads on images with PicMonkey.

Emily and I are track stars. Perhaps that's a little something you didn't know about us.

Okay obviously not really.  Obviously that's just our heads on some girls who really are track stars.  These girls.

But with PicMonkey you can pretty much pretend you're a track star.  Or whatever else you want to be.  It's really easy.  Here's how you can use PicMonkey and the Overlay tool to add your head, or someone else's head. . . or feet or hands or anything, to an image. 

First I opened up the image I wanted to use.  The lovely track stars. Then I added a cropped image of just my head as an overlay.

Then I switched to the eraser option and started erasing away everything but my face.  And some of my hair.

Then I positioned my head into place.  You can even rotate your floating head.

Then I added Emily's head.  And erased all but her face and hair.

I used the sideways flip button thing (probably not what it's really called) to have her looking the other way.

Then I positioned her head and touched up with the eraser tool.

And then I saved this image:

Then I re-opened the saved image into PicMonkey and changed it into black and white so that the skin colors wouldn't be so obviously different.  And also cloned out some of "Emily's" brown hair so that just her blonde hair was showing.


We're track stars.  And you can be, too.

Also I used the same techniques when I put my face on the face of Lady Mary when I wrote about how you can pretend you live in Downton Abbey.

P.S.  This is a great way to switch out heads of uncooperative children who won't all smile at the same time in a family picture. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How to add a splash of color to black and white photos using PicMonkey

picmonkey black and white

This is a fun little trick that I love to use.  And it's really really easy!  Which is definitely a plus. 

First head to PicMonkey and open up the picture you want to edit. 

In this example the picture that I've chosen to edit has already had some other things done to it, just FYI.  Anyway, if the picture is ready to be changed to black and white, click on the Effects tab, and all the wonderful PicMonkey effects will appear.

Click on Black and White, and the black and white tool box will open and another toolbox will appear by the image.  The paint tool box is what will allow you to change selected parts of the picture back to color.  See the two arrows I've drawn so beautifully below?  If the effect box is blue, you will be painting in with the black and white effect.  To make sure you will be painting with the original, make sure the original box is blue.

You can adjust the brush size as you see fit and also can zoom in using that little ball rolly thing on your mouse or if you look in the picture below you can see that little part I've circled.  Click on that and it will allow you to zoom in closer as well.   Also sorry I don't know the proper name for that little rolly thing on the mouse. . . do you?

Also see how I've made the brush bigger?  I can use the bigger brush as I'm painting in the middle of the flower, when I'm not worried about going out of the edges of the flower.  As I get closer to the outside of the flower, I'll make my brush smaller and also zoom in even more.

You can also adjust the brush hardness and the brush strength.  I usually just keep the hardness pretty close to the left and the brush strength at full strength.

If you accidentally mess up and paint some of the original where you still wanted it to be black and white, no worries.  Just change the paint tool box to have the effect part in blue, and then you will be painting with the effect.   So you can just paint back over where you messed up.

When you're satisfied with the look of your image, just hit apply.

Save your image (I always save it with a different name so I'll still have the original on my computer) and you're done!


 And yes I realize that her  face is out of focus and that the flower is in focus.  It was not on purpose.  But then I liked it :)

I've also used this trick for these pictures:

You can have a lot of fun with it!

Also, we are affiliates with PicMonkey, so if you happen to sign up for the Royale service using these links, well that would be pretty awesome.

And also I did these pictures while I was signed in to my Royale account, but the black and white feature on PicMonkey is FREE!  And another cool thing is that you can use these same techniques when you use most of the PicMonkey filters.  So head over there and play around!  Just make sure you have nothing else on the agenda for today. . . because you might get sucked in for hours. . .

Monday, August 18, 2014

8 ways you can pretend you live in Downton Abbey

This random post is because I've been watching Downton Abbey like a crazy person over the past few weeks.  Many people would call it binge watching.   I call it rewarding myself for feeding the kids and doing the laundry.  Since I do those two things every day, it seems only fair that I allot myself an hour, or several hours, to pretend I live in England in a fancy house and have servants.

(My face on Mary's head.  I think I look like a natural Downton Abbey-er)

But sometimes just watching the show is not enough to whisk me away to my imaginary land of fancy dresses and tea parties.  I think I need a little more.  So I've come up with these ways to pretend that I live in Downton Abbey.  You can do them, too.

8 Ways You Can Pretend You Live in Downton Abbey

1.  Get a bell and keep it by your side at all times.  Ring it whenever you want somebody to come to your aide.  The first time you ring it, I'm pretty sure that everyone will come running.  Once the kids find out that you want them to bring you a drink of water or take a dirty diaper to the trash or rub your feet, however, you might have to ring it more consistently and more annoyingly to get them to come.  But keep at it.

2. When your husband is at home, don't get up for breakfast.  Ring your bell and when he comes to see what the heck that noise is, tell him that you're a married woman.  You deserve breakfast in bed.  He might be a bit miffed.  But be adamant.  It's time to set a new standard of living. 

3.  When it's time for dinner make everybody get dressed up in their Sunday best.  (Even though Sunday best will not be fancy enough, it will have to do.  Pretty sure hubby will draw the line at buying tuxedos to wear to dinner every night)

4. Whenever anyone comes over to visit, make everyone in the house go stand out in the front yard or driveway and wait for them.  Make them stand there tall and straight with their hands at their side and grim expressions on their faces.  I think that will make your guests feel welcomed and appreciated and not at all freaked out.  Don't you?

5.  Have everyone address you as "My Lady".

6.  When your husband asks you what's for dinner, hand him the bell and tell him to ask the cook.  (When he tells you there is no cook, you'll have to let him know that that sounds like personal problem.)

7.  Several times throughout the day, put on a fancy dress and walk elegantly around your yard, as if you are contemplating life's greatest troubles.  Watch out for dog poop though, especially if your yard is like my yard.

8.  When it's time for bed, you can't possibly get undressed by yourself.  If you don't have a lady's maid to help you, your husband will have to do.  But hey, he might actually like this part.  

Don't you think doing these things will dramatically improve your way of life?  I can't wait to head to the store and gets some bells so I can start trying them out.  And also, it's time to admit that I'm so late in jumping on the Downton Abbey train because for the longest time I thought it was a show about nuns.  You know. . . because in the Sound of Music Sister Maria lived in the abbey and the show is called Downton Abbey. . . 

Well it's not about nuns.  In case you didn't know. 

So who else loves Downton Abbey?  And what were your thoughts at the end of season 3, which I just finished?

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Chubby Baby Legged Belt

"When I have a child she will never. . ."

Haven't we all said that at one time or another?  It's probably the worst way in the world to start a sentence because you can pretty much bet that if you say you will never have a child who. . . . YOU WILL.

One thing I have always said, to myself of course, is that I will never have a child so attached to me that if she isn't wrapped around my waist she's screaming her head off.

Shhhhhhh. .  . if you listen really closely you can hear someone up there in charge of karma laughing his head off. 

Because I have the cutest new accessory. Everyone needs one.  It's all the rage now in fashion.

It is my 18 month old, blonde haired, blue eyed, chubby legged little monster.

5 Sure Signs That You Have a New Accessory, Too
  1. When you go to the bathroom, your baby is sitting on your lap or has been left screaming at the door.
2. When you're cooking dinner, you have 2 extra hands and legs and eyes... and trust me, these extra body parts are not helpful in anyway.

3.When you walk down stairs or up stairs, you get a nice workout because you are packing a little extra weight on your hip.  This is either beneficial because you are building muscle or negative because by the time you reach the top of the stairs you are sweating and can hardly breathe.  
  1. When big brother or big sister try to sit on your lap and get some mommy attention, your accessory makes a beeline for you and is sure to throw a fit until she is wrapped securely around your waist again.
    1. When daddy or auntie or the cute lady at church stretches out her arms to take your accessory she starts flailing around like a bird in an alligator's mouth about to become dinner.
Any of this sound familiar?

But don't you worry I have come up with some ways to make your new accessory work for you... 

1. Always keep a package of fruit chews handy, perhaps tucked in your bra is a great spot. Whip them out (the fruit chews of course) in the bathroom, at dinner preparation time, or when the stranger tries to talk to your chubby legged belt.

2.  Add a pretty colored flower to your accessory that matches your outfit.

3.  Don't put shoes on your baby belt.  Shoes will only get in the way and cause pain and possible bruises.

4.  Instead of shoes, try painting the toes a color that matches.

5.  Remind yourself that despite the constant achy back and sore legs from carrying your accessory around all the time, you are getting some sweet baby-weight lifting buff arms.  Look at them in the mirror when you're feeling down.

Okay, so now on to confession time.  Have you ever said, "I'll never _______" when it comes to parenting?  And are you eating your words?  Tell us and make me feel a little better!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

When Photos Fail. . .

Did you know that behind every good picture, there are about 300 bad ones?

That's a statistic I just made up, but I'm sure there has to be some truth to it, right?

But sometimes the best pictures are the ones that have that added bit of "real" life.  Like when Little Miss was about 9 months old I dressed her up all cute and took some pictures.  And my favorite shots happened at the end of the shoot when she decided to do this:

and of course the inevitable happened:

And what Christmas isn't complete without a picture of an adorably dressed child having a complete meltdown, like Emily's little Kimi:

And I once took a whole photo shoot of pictures with my three kids when Jace was having his "aversion to Little Miss" syndrome, because he thought her bald but kind of hairy head was so incredibly disgusting he couldn't even look at her. 

Then a few years ago we went to Holiday World with our crew (although we were two kids less) and took a lovely group photo.  So happy and fun. . . 

Until you examine it closer:

Uncle Troy:  "This is not my kid"
Little Mack Attack:  "This is not my mother.  Or father.  Or brother."

And sometimes, it's perfectly normal to give up and do a face plant during picture time.

And just when you think you've got that perfect shot,

you notice the kid making the duck face.

But the ones I love looking through the best are when we dress all the cousins up with a certain theme and take about three or four hundred pictures of them hoping hoping hoping to get one decent one.  And that's when my statistic from before has to be true.  Because last year we got this one:

But most of them looked something like this:

And after switching the head of one of the kids (I won't say which one), I got this picture of my three that I love:

When the rest of the pictures looked like this:

 When we were together this year we tried again with a fifties theme.  You can tell that Mack Attack is beyond thrilled. . .

But the real problem was the mobile babies who wouldn't stay put:

 And then there was B-man who pretty much had me in tears of laughter as I looked through the pictures.  He was trying so so hard to smile nice. . .

Until finally you can see that he had given up on thinking there would ever be joy in his life again.

Anyway the best picture from that fun adventure is yet to be determined. . . but we'll be sure to share it with you when we finally find it!

To check out more "photo fails" check out the Mommy Reality challenge with Jen or Celeste and be sure to add your failed photos to the mix.  We'd love to see them!