not my norm

(from Feb. 19)

Caroline and I were on our way home from taking Kate to school one Tuesday, and I happened to have my camera in the car. It was a gorgeous morning, and things were starting to look green, so I stopped here and there for a few shots. They don't go together very well, but I'm dumping them all together anyway! :)

These first couple took me by surprise. I was shooting the green grass and the blue skies when this flock of birds suddenly rose from the fields. It happened so fast, I'm not sure how I managed to grab focus so well!

This one was taken out of my front windshield. I was trying to find one of the red birds that I had seen around, but this guy had to do.

Gorgeous morning light streaming through the green... so exciting to see signs of spring!


fun morning at the arboretum

I've been a bad blogger! I'm behind on my editing, and when you see the picture overload in this post, you'll know why! Overshoot much? :)

The girls and I went with my friend, Liesl (one of my Lens Baby friends and a fellow Aggie) and her little boy to the Arboretum on Monday. We had such a fun morning!


At the pond, with some of the beautiful Chihuly glass sculptures in the background.


More by the pond... and trying to climb a tree.  ;)


And this was one of the artist houses (this one inspired by Georges Seurat). Kate LOVED playing in this house, and I think she would have been content to stay there all day. If only we had a little house like this in our backyard! Too cute.


RadLab Giveaway!!

**This giveaway is now closed. I used to select a number, and the winner is comment #55, Erin Woolwine! Congrats, Erin! You'll get an email from me shortly. Thanks to everyone who entered!**

Now through May 16, there is another coupon code available. It's $50 off your purchase in the TR store using code MOMSDAY. The 15% off code is at the bottom of this post -  that one has no expiration.

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Get excited, y'all!

Totally Rad has offered to give away a copy of RadLab ($149 value) to one lucky reader!
RadLab is a fun editing tool that works with Photoshop CS3 or later and Photoshop Elements 7 or later. (ETA: RadLab now works with Lightroom also!!) I bought my copy 8 months ago when I still knew very little about editing in Photoshop, and it was super easy to use, even then.
Here's a picture of the panel. It opens in PS or PSE through the filters menu. You create your recipe by mixing and matching stylets and adjusting the strength of each using the sliders. What's great is that you get an immediate preview of what your picture will look like when you hover over that adjustment with your cursor. It's not like when you use actions and you have to run it to see how the results suit your image.
Here are some sample before and afters of photos I edited with RadLab. I'm also sharing the RadLab recipes I created for each.Daddy's girl. Download this recipe.

Sweet family. Download this recipe.

My girls. Download this recipe.

To Enter:
Simply leave a comment below!
(Be sure to leave your email address in the comment so I can get in touch with you!)
Bonus Entries:
Spread the word! Share a link to this post on Twitter and/or Facebook.
Leave separate comments letting me know you did each.
Good luck!
Giveaway closes Sunday, May 6th at 8pm CST.
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One more thing...
Totally Rad is offering 15% off anything in their store (including other actions and presets for PS and Lightroom) using coupon code 1338SARAH.

I'm sad.

All of my blog pictures from Friday and back are gone. I was deleting albums from Picassa to clear them off my Google+ profile, and I didn't realize one of those albums contained every single picture from my blog. I was even on the lookout for those, and I completely missed them. I'm sure I just clicked "OK" when it asked me if I was SURE I wanted to delete the album. Good grief.

It'll take time, but I can rebuild most of it. Most of the 365 posts will be easy to fix. The others will be a bit harder since I don't remember what pictures I posted. It takes time to resize images, and do the pretty, rounded corners. There may be a few images that are gone for good.

Join Pinterest!

See that new little teal "P" logo at the top of the blog? I joined Pinterest! I finally started using it a couple of weeks ago, and I love it! It's such a fun and handy site. And maybe a little addicting.

You'll pick up on it fast. Basically, you "pin" online pictures to boards as a way of bookmarking and collecting ideas. Then you can see what other people are pinning, and repin those items if you want. For instance, I have an "events" board, and as I come across cute party planning pictures online, I pin the picture to that board. The link to the site I took it from automatically appears alongside. Click on that new "P" button at the top of the page to browse my boards.

My main "pinning" time is when I'm going through my blog subscriptions in Google Reader. When I come across a neat image or idea, I pin it to my board. Idea NOT lost! Make boards for whatever you're interested in - kids' activities, style, crafts, stuff for the home, recipes, traveling, books to read, etc.!
The site is by invitation only, so email me at spcarlson04 {at} gmail {dot} com or comment below with your email addy, and I'll send you the link! It'll be fun to follow each other and share all the cool ideas we come across.

Public Service Announcement: Google Reader

Tell me if this is you: You happen to have a few free minutes with your computer, and you want to check to see if the blogs you read (like "The Carlson Family") have been updated. The problem is, that some bloggers (we won't name names) go for like a month without posting then suddenly start posting several times in one week. Because you don't want to miss a new post, you check the site regularly, only to find it looks the same as the last 5 times you checked. Also, to open these sites in the first place, you probably just have them all bookmarked in your Favorites tab. You pull it down and click on each one at a time. Or maybe you subscribe to email updates that flood your inbox. I know. This was me a couple of years ago.

If you're raising your hand, don't be embarrassed. This post is for you! Google Reader is the answer to your blog-checking inefficiencies. (And yet it does so much more, too!) For your own sanity, watch this short video tutorial:

What's really cool about Google Reader is that not only can you keep up with the blogs you follow, but you can also receive Facebook notifications and Twitter feeds there too. It's your one stop shop. You can also download a free app for iPhone that allows you to view your Google reader wherever you are.

So what are you waiting for? Get Google Reader. Start clicking those little RSS feed icons and build up your subscriptions. Then come back here and let me know how much you love it. If you already use a reader, feel free to outline the many reasons you couldn't live without it.

And because I can't post without adding a picture of Kate, here 'ya go.