White Misty Background Tutorial

This is a transition I’ve been really fascinated by lately.

The original picture of New York Cheesecake was nice but I thought it could really use some more lightness and focus on the delicious cake.

And here it is again, after the transition.

The background is brighter, a bit more blurry and romantic.

It feels kind of happy and ethereal.

If you’d like to have a look at how the process goes then I’ve prepared this cute little tutorial just for you.
Note: I am using Photoshop Elements 8 in this tutorial.

1. Open the picture you want to adjust.


Now find out what’s the size of the picture – go up to the Image menu at the top of the screen and choose Resize – Image Size from the list of options, which will bring up Photoshop’s Image Size dialog box. We need to learn what the ‘Pixel Dimensions’ are. Then close the box.

2. Open a new blank (white) file with the same dimensions as the former picture.


3. Now we are going to copy the first picture.

Double click on the first picture and then CTRL+A >> CTRL+C.

4. Next paste the copied picture into the blank file.

To do that double click on the second (blank picture) and then CTRL+V.

In the layers palette (where the arrow is pointing to) we have now two layers open – they are two layers of one picture.

What we do next is kinda ‘rub off’ bits of the top layer so that the bottom (white) layer will be slightly seen.

That’s the mighty trick!

5. For the above mentioned purposes we could really use something called a MASK.

For those of you who use ‘full’ Adobe Photoshop just click MASK.

And you, ELEMENTS users, don’t get scared – on one hand, it is true that Photoshop Elements doesn’t have the MASK, but we are smarter than that. Because we can CHEAT!

But pssst, don’t tell anyone!


Then, on the right-side panel (layers palette), click LAYERS back.

6. Now we need to get the layer which is in the middle position up to the top position.

Drag the middle layer one layer up (so that now we have the layer with the picture we want to improve in the top position).

7. We want the top two layers to marry each other now and function together in perfect harmony.

To achieve that (with the top layer clicked) click LAYER >> CREATE CLIPPING MASK.

And let the fun begin!

8. The red dots represent things you should adjust or have a look at before you start painting.

  1. Click on the white thumbnail in the middle layer (this is really crucial).
  2. Have the foreground color set as black (click ‘D’ key to achieve that).
  3. Click on the brush tool.
  4. From the set of basic brushes choose from the fuzzy ones (I chose 300).
  5. Adjust the size so that it works for your picture.
  6. Adjust the opacity to about 20%.

9. Now you can start painting over the picture – the areas you paint should become slightly whiter.

If something goes wrong, please, check the above 6 points again.
10. Finally, when you’re happy with the result, click LAYER >> FLATTEN and then FILE >> SAVE.

All right. By now you might be asking why you can’t create the white misty background in a simpler way – by painting the background white using a brush tool having the opacity reduced slightly or by using a dodge tool. Of course, that can be done, though it is not advised. Mostly because if you are not happy with the changes you’ve made to the picture, all you can do is click UNDO. And that is not very smart.

With this method, if you wish to go back and do something differently, just click the letter X on your keyboard which will switch the foreground color to white. Then continue painting over the picture and you’ll be able to see how your previous changes are being undone and you are getting back to the original picture.

Enjoy, dear friends.



New York Cheesecake

I love cheesecake.

I know, I know, I love too many things but it just happens to be so…

Yogurt, milk-shakes, cheesecakes – that all makes my world go round.

A few months ago I prepared this delicious Grated Cheesecake and I received some very positive feedback. So I think it’s the highest time to add a new piece into the cheesecake collection.

New York Cheesecake – I’d never had that one before.

After I tasted it, I have this to say:

If New York had nothing else to offer but this cheesecake it would be worth visiting for this piece of sweet pleasure alone.

And you know what?

Let’s prepare it at home – that will be fun!

These are our ingredients.

(Do you like the recipe card? I hope you do – then the four zillion hours I spent making it hasn’t been lost.)

1. In a food processor process whole cookies (waffles) until they are crumbs.

Yes, that is my food processor you are looking at right now – I’m very much into the prehistorical style of cooking.

2. Pour the crumbs into a medium bowl.

3. Add the sugar (1/4 cup – 50 grams).

4. In a small pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat.

5. Pour the butter into the bowl …

6. … and combine all the ingredients.

7. Now grease or spray a 9 inch (23 cm) springform pan.

8. Fill the pan with the crumbly mixture.

9. Using a measuring cup press the mixture over the bottom …

… and about 1 inch (2.5 cm) up the sides of the springform pan.

10. Cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.

11. In the bowl of your electric mixer place the cream cheese, sugar (1 cup – 200 grams) and flour.

12. Beat on medium speed until smooth (about 1 minute).

13. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition.

14. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go.

15. Add the whipping cream, lemon zest and the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated (about 1 minute).

16. Remove the crust from the fridge and pour in the filling.

17. Place the cheesecake pan on a larger baking pan and place in the oven.

18. Bake at 350 F (177 C) for 15 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) and continue to bake for about another 1 1/2 hours or until firm and only the center of the cheesecake looks a little wet and wobbly.

19. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack.

(There was a storm going on behind the window as I was taking this picture – so I was struggling, struggling with the light.)

20. I also ran a knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cheesecake (this procedure helps prevent the surface from cracking as it cools).

21. In a medium bowl mix the sour cream, sugar (2 tablespoons – 30 grams) and the vanilla.

22. Spread the topping over the warm cheesecake and return to oven to bake for 15 more minutes.

23. Remove from the oven and let cool (this cheesecake tastes best after being refrigerated for about 12 hours).

I garnished the top of the cake with some canned strawberries and strawberry sauce and ate it in about three microseconds.

Enjoy, dear friends, it’s a very nice experience.

(This lovely recipe was adapted from Joyofbaking.com.)

Crochet Spring Placemat

crochet placemat free pattern

(Update: To see more of my patterns, please visit my ONLINE SHOP!)


I have a confession to make.

I really, really love making placemats.

Tough one, right? I hope you’ll be able to fall asleep after that.

It might all have started a couple of weeks ago when I was making these Easter Placemats – that was real fun.

What really fascinates me when it comes to crocheted placemats might be how easy they are to create – you just go left and right and left and right… while watching your favorite program – and before you notice it, it’s done.

And then I love, love, love the moment when I add the edging and a little decoration – that’s just magical…

If you’d like to make these cute placemats and let everyone enjoy their meals even more then I’ve prepared this how to’ for you:

crochet placemat free pattern

1. Start by making a very loose (!) chain of 73 stitches.

2. Then crochet DC (double crochet) into each stitch.

3. Continue making 37 rows all together. And the green part is done.

crochet placemat free pattern

4. The edging is very simple: *5 DC into one stitch, skip one stitch, 1 SC (single crochet), skip one stitch* … and repeat this along the edge up to the corner.

crochet placemat free pattern by zoomyummy.com

5. This is how I made the corners: after you’ve done the last ‘5 DC’ before the corner, skip one stitch and then crochet 1DC – 1TC (triple crochet) – 1 DC into the corner stitch, slip one stitch and continue as in the step 4.

crochet placemat free pattern by zoomyummy.com

6. Now the lovely flower – this one is quite easy too:

Row 1: Chain 8

Row 2: Chain 2, 17 DC, join with slip stitch

Row 3: *Chain 6, skip 3 stitches, SC* – repeat this 6 times

Row 4: around each petal crochet: *DC – DC – DC – CH – DC – DC – DC – SC* – repeat 6 times and finish off.

crochet placemat free pattern by zoomyummy.com

7. For the cute swirly ornaments I made two chains of 40 stitches and sewed them (along with the flower) into place.

crochet placemat free pattern by zoomyummy.com

Cute, ha?

I hope the things I’ve just written make at least a little sense.

And of course – Enjoy, dear friends!



(Update: To see more of my patterns, please visit my ONLINE SHOP!)


Contrast and Sharpening – These I Love Most…

I always let my pictures meet Photoshop – just because my pictures love it.

And who am I to say ‘no’ to them.

They totally love the welcoming and friendly attitude of  this wonderful piece of software.

And how it beautifies them.

They hug and kiss together and then I let them dance in a perfect and happy harmony.

Of all the procedures my pictures love and regularly enjoy, there are two that are their most favorite – increasing contrast and sharpening.

This is the original picture.

I took it last weekend when we (me and my boyfriend) visited one wonderful park in our neighborhood.

I was dazzled by the new-born green leaves that had transformed all nature into a huge energizing pool of pure vitality.

I stood under a tree and noticed how the sun shined through the leaves.

And that made me completely happy.

So I took the picture.

Of course, the story continued…

I opened the picture in Photoshop (not under the tree but when we came back home and I cleaned mud off my shoes).

Anyway, I decided to increase the contrast first.

That’s what I always do as the first thing – because that’s the most wonderful change to a picture I know.

If you’ve never increased the contrast on your photos, then please DO…

You’ll be amazed by how the gray, hazy film (that covers all straight-out-of-camera pictures) disappears in an instant.


Then this window appears – there you click OK.

You’ll see two horizontal lines on the right panel now – so go ahead and play with the contrast to achieve the look you like best.

Then click LAYER  >>   FLATTEN IMAGE.

Now to the sharpening.

Things look better sharper – this is the basic truth.

Now you know it.

(Don’t thank me – send eggnog, please.)

To make your images look sharper click ENHANCE >> UNSHARP MASK (yeah, you use unsharp mask for sharpening, isn’t that fun?).

Then again, play with the numbers to reach the result you find most appealing.

I opted for 170 in the amount window and 1.0 in the radius window.

Because I wanted to keep the picture rather dreamy, I felt no need to go overboard with the sharpness.

And that’s it!

So again, this is the picture before…

… and after.

I love how the veins of the leaf stand out now.

Oh, and the bokeh in the background – that always makes a photographer want to jump with joy.

Before and after.

Just try it, it’s easy.

(And if you don’t have Photoshop, don’t you worry for a second. Go and grab GIMP – it’s a freely distributed photo software and it’s gorgeous. And it’s free.  And have I mentioned it’s for free?)

Have a wonderful day.


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