Before the Wedding

Before attending a wedding a girl has a right to go crazy.

In all possible ways.

Right?

Well, at least, I think so.
 

Me and my boyfriend have been invited to a wedding that is taking place tomorrow. It’s a wedding of my man’s best friend – so it’s really something.

When I was thinking about what to wear, my basic plan was to find a dress that would be very tolerant to …hm, how would I say this – a dress that would be very tolerant to what my love of food brings along.

And let’s not talk about that anymore, please.

Please!
 
 

Last Wednesday, very early in the morning, I packed three apples and set off for a journey to a nearby city to loot it from left to right and from north to south.

I decided to get the dress first and find the accessories that would go with the dress later.

Five hours, one coffee, one Red Bull and one emotional breakdown later, this dress appeared in front of me.

Thank you Marco Pecci of Peek & Cloppenburg – whoever you are – for making this lovely romantic dress for me.

You are my savior.

I think I love you!
 
 

One more coffee and three hours later, I bought the shoes which I am not showing here for indescribable reasons.
 

Whether I could believe or not, the day was almost over and it was time to go home.

Which was awesome because the craze had spread into two days.

On Thursday, I went to find my accessories. Since my dress and my shoes were all black I wanted to cheer the look up and decided to go for the color red.

I bought a bracelet…
 
 

… and a ring.

It’s a diamond ring.

(In my dreams…)
 
 

And then I bought these earrings.

I am not quite sure whether they go with the ring and the bracelet but I don’t worry about it much since they will be perfectly hidden under my hair.

 
 

This is a scarf.

A large scarf.

I bought it instead of a jacket or cardigan or whatever – in case the weather is cold.

I plan to wrap that around my arms so that I am a little warmer.
 
 

I love this scarf as much as a girl can love her scarf.

Just look – it’s half lace and half warm.
 
 

I really adore all the details.

In fact, I might be the only guest who is wishing for some colder weather for tomorrow.
 
 

And then there’s this.

My beloved Ruby Rose.
 
 

Aaahhh!

Doesn’t your heart feel a little warmer right now?
 
 

Look!

There’s more!
 
 

I think I might choose something from this side.

 

I just can’t wait for tomorrow.

See you soon.

Love,

Petra
 

Three Ways to Increase Contrast in Photography

Have you ever considered increasing contrast in your photos?

If I should speak for myself, I clearly remember the days when I was looking at the pictures I’d made and thought:‘Why, oh why does there have to be that ugly gray cast over my photos? I don’t want it to be there. I want my pictures to be vibrant and crisp!’

To solve this problem I first decided to pray and cry and scream and kick around and then cry some more (because that is the usual way how I solve my problems)…and then I remembered that times have changed and all that one needs to do to solve all the problems is to sit on her butt and start googling.

So I googled.

And did I find gorgeous things!

Basically, I came across three ways to increase contrast.

They can be used separately or all together.

Just have a look:

This is a SOOC (straight out of camera) picture that I made a couple of months ago on one of our trips.

And this is what I got after I opened my Photoshop and played for a while.

Note: I am using Photoshop Elements 8.

1. This is the first way to achieve better contrast in your pictures.

The change is rather subtle here – the final picture is a bit more defined and also slightly more vibrant.

To use the first method go to ENHANCE (situated in the tool menu on top of your screen) -> ADJUST LIGHTING -> BRIGHTNESS/CONTRAST.

A small window will pop up.

In that window, drag the Contrast slider to the right just until you like the picture.

Try to be gentle since this method is rather strong.

And here we are with a tad better contrast.

But we want more, right?

2. This is the second method I’ve found.

In this case, go to ENHANCE -> ADJUST COLOR -> ADJUST COLOR CURVES.

A big window will pop up.

In this window you’ll see four sliders. Drag them so that you achieve a slight S-shaped curve on the graph.

This method is very effective, very gentle to the picture and it also pumps up your colors a little.

You just have to love it.

But there’s something that you’ll love even more…you’ll actually love it more than anything in this world…

3. And this is it – raising contrast with UNSHARP MASK.

Yes, I hear you – you use unsharp mask to sharpen your images.

And that is precisely what its primary purpose is.

But if you happen to adjust it ‘crazily’ – you’ll witness a miracle.

Just try it for yourself…go to ENHANCE -> UNSHARP MASK.

Now you’ll see a small window with three sliders – Amount, Radius and Threshold.

We are going to work with first two only.

With the first slider (Amount) go somewhere from 10 to 25 and with the second one (Radius) go almost to the end of the line.

And get amazed!

A am not lying when I say that I nearly shed a tear when I saw the result of this method for the first time.

It’s breathtaking.

The image is so much crisper, vibrant and more real.

I just love it!

Okay, being gentle with photo processing is one thing.

And I highly recommend that.

But being so greedy that you can’t help yourself from applying all the contrast increasing ways you know to one picture is something totally different.

I think that it’s done by people who want their images to be obnoxiously soaked up with everything there is to get.

I don’t know people like that.

All I know is that the picture above has all three methods applied to it.

(Oh, and in the last picture, that ‘someone’ also freed the horses’ heads from the shadow by going to ENHANCE -> ADJUST LIGHTING -> SHADOWS/HIGHLIGHTS.)

No More Water in Your Drink

It’s so hot these days.

As a result, I need a nice cool drink all the time. Actually, I have a long straw and a huge jar positioned in the center of my place and I walk around sipping on something constantly.

Whatever I do.

Cooking, blogging, ironing… sleeping.

Really.

NOT!

But almost.

So yes, these days I’ve been attached to various iced drinks both physically and emotionally. Which made me contemplate the quality of these drinks. Because I want the first gulp to be of the same quality as the last one. I refuse to accept the situation when my drinks get all watered down from the ice cubes that I had added in.

That’s bad.

Really bad.

Like, I am able to accept many things, but not this one.

I guess it’s even against the basic human rights to have a drink like that.

It’s simply too much.

For this reason, I started to freeze all drinks that I like and transform them into ice cubes. That way, until there’s a freezer in my life, I will never ever have to drink a watered down beverage.

My sweet little victory.

This is frozen raspberry tea.

With a mint leaf inside.

The process of making these cubes is easy.

Just easy.

You prepare your favorite drink, add sugar (if you use it), let it cool a little, pour it into your ice cube tray and freeze it.

That’s it.

I use the cubes for my fruit tea …

… and for my mint tea too.

Yeah, those are mint tea ice cubes.

Yum!

And guess what these are.

Hint: They go to a Frappé Coffee.

Yes, they are coffee ice cubes.

Double yum!

I love these cubes and these drinks. They make summer so much more enjoyable.

Now I’m curious – what is your favorite summer drink, dear friends?

I would LOVE to know…

Mint

I wonder why I love food so much.

I guess I must have been really hungry in one of my past lives.

Or what.

This strong attraction to food comprises mostly cooking and MUNCHING (!!!) on the stuff I’ve prepared.

I love cooking because people are happy when you serve them nice food.

I love eating because… hm… I LOVE eating.

And I love growing my own food because that brings one of the best feelings there are – the feeling of being self sufficient.

Okay, so far I’ve grown one edible plant only – and that’s MINT, to be precise… and I’ve been growing that for one week now but I think that would make a great start to my plant-growing experience and my collection of plants will grow bigger and bigger.

As you already might know, my brain would break if I didn’t share the stuff I’ve learned with you, so here are some very interesting facts about mint:
 
 

Once upon a time, there was one Mint Family and that had many, many children – Mentha being one of them.

Beautiful, luscious Mentha.

Mentha herself had 25 children (no wonder – she was really something) – Spearmint and Peppermint being some of them.

The End.

The moral of this story: ‘You think there’s just one and then you find out there are many.

Did you like the story?

I hope you did.
 
 

To make things easier, let’s just call everyone from the huge Mint Family simply ‘mint‘.

  • Mint is a fast growing plant – one plant, along with a little care, will provide more than enough mint for home use.
  • Mints are perennial which means they keep coming back every year.
  • Since mints do not come true from seed, propagate them by rhizome (roots) cuttings in early spring, by softwood cuttings in summer, or by dividing in the fall.
  • If you want your mint to thrive and enjoy its life to the fullest then you should keep it in semi-shaded position and keep the soil moist (though not waterlogged).
  • Also, mints are very invasive plants and spread like wildfire. So it is always wise to grow them within a container which can be buried in the earth.
  • The leaf, fresh or dried, is the culinary source of mint.
  • Harvesting of mint leaves can be done at any time. Fresh mint leaves should be used immediately or stored up to a couple of days in plastic bags within a refrigerator. Optionally, mint can be frozen. Dried mint leaves should be stored in an airtight container placed in a cool, dark, dry area.
  • There are various ways to use mint – most common uses being culinary, medicinal, cosmetic, as insecticides (to repel mosquitoes) or in aromatherapy.
  • In the kitchen, mint works perfectly with teas, beverages, jellies, syrups, candies, chocolate (After Eight – oh my!) and ice creams. Minted peas and minted new potatoes are firm favorites in England. 



 
 

I like garnishing my sweet desserts with mint leaves.

Also, I love drinking my iced tea with addition of fresh mint.

It’s beyond refreshing!

Oh, you want to know about the ice cubes?

Why they are so strange in color?

Well, that is another obsession of mine – I am currently experimenting with ice… I’ll write more about that in one of my next posts.
 
 

All in all, mint is gorgeous and very much appreciated all over the world.

As I was writing this post I’ve become definitely convinced that I am a huge mint fan.

Do you like mint too?

And if so, then what’s your favorite way to enjoy it?

I’d really like to know…