Polka Dot Cottage

Simplify.

Posted September 17th, 2014 by

Simplification

I think my husband and my kids are growing weary of hearing about my current quest. No. Scratch that. I know they are weary of hearing about it. They have reached the point of being unable to hide their weariness of it. I’ve seen the eyerolls and heard the “here we go again” sighs when I open my mouth to speak about it.

I get it. File management seems really, really boring.

But see, I don’t think they realize quite how interesting the whole thing is to me! And yes, maybe I did tell them about one little bit of the project here, and another little bit there, but each time I have something to say it is actually different than the time before.

No, it seems I’ve over-saturated the market for this kind of talk here at home. It all sounds like the incoherent babblings of a digital-organization super freak to them now. Blah blah blah.

Simplification

So. Guess what. This means it is your lucky day. Oh, yes. You get to hear about my current quest. Maybe you’ll be fascinated. Maybe you’ll read along with rapt attention.

Or maybe you’ll join my family in the “how can this be of interest to anyone, anywhere?” camp. Although I hope not.

So here it is: I’m transitioning from managing my photo library with Picasa to managing it with Lightroom.

It sounds simple enough, assuming I understand the capabilities of both pieces of software. I thoroughly understand Picasa. And I’m learning about Lightroom.

When I started this whole thing, I really only intended to use Lightroom for its Develop module. I’ve been taking photographs in RAW mode since mid-August, which is great for a lot of reasons I won’t go into right now, and Lightroom is a good tool for post-processing RAW files.

I had intended to continue managing my photo library with Picasa, because it has been working well for me for many years. I like that I can easily upload my images to Google+ (which is where I back them up, and where I share them with family), and I love the facial recognition of Picasa. Love. it.

Simplification

But the more I play with Lightroom, the more I see that it can do 90% of Picasa’s tasks along with most of the other non-Picasa uploading I do, and it can initiate these things with less effort. In fact, if Lightroom had facial recognition, I would probably be done with Picasa entirely.

So, I’ve made the decision to use Lightroom for almost every photo-library-related task I have, and just open up Picasa when I need to add some faces to the family photo album.

This is a cool decision and all, but I want to do it differently than I usually do things.

What I mean is, I don’t want to act first and think later. With something as big (over 40K images!) and as important to me as my photo library, I really want to work out the details before I do anything.

Right now I have an organizational system that is working, but is unbelievably complicated. This is something I discovered when I diagrammed it out. My folder structure took up an entire page in my legal pad. Honestly, that really surprised me, because I thought it was all so efficient. It turns out that while my workflow may be a well-oiled machine at this point, it is anything but efficient.

So, I totally need to simplify.

And I am sure Lightroom can do it for me.

And I’ve even written out a new, less-crowded-with-folders, organizational idea in my legal pad.

And I’m chomping at the bit to put it into place.

But I am waiting.

Yes, I know. Little old chronically-impatient me? Waiting? It’s absurd!

Mugs 16/30

I’ve bought a Lightroom 5 book, which is supposed to be the most extensive book out there for discussing the file-management aspect of the software. The other Lightroom modules (like Develop) are ones that I can play around with and learn by doing. But the Library module holds the key to keeping my photos organized and sane.

I want to learn everything I can about what the Library module of Lightroom is capable of, before I start moving things around my hard drives. I’ve already tweaked my plan a little bit in response to some things that I’ve learned while reading, and there may be more tweaks to come.

By not rushing into this, I think I will end up with a folder structure and a workflow that will be sustainable for many years.

And during those many sustainable years, nobody‘s eyes will have to glaze over while I yammer on about folders and files and photos and Lightroom and workflow and and and…

Won’t that be nice? :-)

Book Review: 100 Colorful Ripple Stitches to Crochet

Posted September 16th, 2014 by

100 Colorful RIpple Stitches to Crochet
I spend a lot of time thinking about my next crochet blanket. What colors would I use? Who would I give it to? Would it be motif-based like my others, or striped? What about ripples?

I have to admit, I have been intrigued by the idea of a ripple blanket for some time. Despite the fact that all four of us in the family now have our own crocheted lap blankets, and there is no need for more of them, I can’t seem to stop thinking about the next one. And I often picture it as a ripple.

With this background, you can imagine I was happy to see 100 Colorful Ripple Stitches to Crochet land on my doorstep.

100 Colorful Ripple Stitches to Crochet
I’ll bet you didn’t know there were so many variations on the simple ripple.

Leonie Morgan presents fifty different types of ripple, along with an alternate color scheme for each. (Cascade 220 is used throughout the book, and all colors are specified, so it’s easy to exactly replicate the look of a particular ripple, if you want to.)

There are single-crochet ripples, half-double-crochet ripples, granny ripples, bobble ripples, and shell ripples. There are evenly-spaced ripples and ripples of varying heights.

100 Colorful RIpple Stitches to Crochet
There are even ripples that are worked as motifs.

I never stopped to think about a star as a type of ripple, but I suppose it is!

100 Colorful RIpple Stitches to Crochet
100 Colorful RIpple Stitches to Crochet
There are some attractive finished projects in the book, too, including the expected afghan or two, pillows, and a scarf.

The instructions are clear, the colors are bright, and the ripples are tempting. Oh, so tempting!

You can get a copy of 100 Colorful Ripple Stitches to Crochet at Amazon and other book stores or local yarn shops.

(The usual disclaimers apply re: books received, reviews given, and links provided.)

More Morning Coffee?

Posted September 15th, 2014 by

Be the next interviewee in Polka Dot Cottage's Morning Coffee series

So now that fall is upon us, and the old routines are starting back up, I am considering running some more Morning Coffee interviews.

I have one interview completed and ready to go, and that will be posted next Monday, but after that I’ve got nothing lined-up.

So. What are your thoughts on this? Do you want to read more of these interviews? Do I start searching for more interviewees? Do you, perhaps, want to be interviewed?

The thing is, producing these interviews can be a time-consuming thing. I’m perfectly willing to put in the time, if you are enjoying reading the interviews. If you’re all kind of lukewarm on the idea, though, maybe it’s time to put the idea to rest. For a little while at least.

Please use them comments (or email me!) and let me know what you think about continuing the Morning Coffee series beyond next week.

TWiP: back in the swing

Posted September 13th, 2014 by

This Week in Pictures

As if it’s not coffeelicious enough that my Project 365’s current theme is “a month of mugs,” I even snuck an Instagram photo in there of iced coffee this week. It may all be just a little much.

I wonder, though, is there really any such thing?

This week started with a mini vacation for me, and continued on with efforts to get back into some semblance of a productive daily routine. I’ve made progress in the “routine” department, I think, but the jury is still out on how “productive” it has all been. I’m having the hardest time concentrating on my work tasks!

Next week may have to be all about me cracking the whip on myself…

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365, plus some everyday-life images I posted on Instagram during the previous week. (FYI, my daily photo project this year has changing monthly themes. For September it’s simple: mugs. A month of my morning coffee and other delicious drinks.)

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…

Saturday

365: Mugs 6/30 – I’m packing up for a weekend away. Just little old me.

Instagram: And so begins a day of Lisa Fun that my family is no-doubt happy to be missing :-)

Instagram: I was specifically told not to bring home any sheep or rabbits but good Lord! How am I supposed to resist an angora bunny basking in the breeze of an electric fan?

Sunday

365: Mugs 7/30 – Enjoying a hotel breakfast. Actually, "enjoying" might be too strong a word. The toast is hard as a rock, and the coffee is so dark I had to water it down. Good sausage patty, though :-)

Monday

Instagram: Hello, gym. We seem to have lost touch with each other all summer…

365: Mugs 8/30 – Time to get down to business. I’ve been putting off writing this ebook all summer. Coming soon: the Neutral Squares Blanket pattern + tutorial :-)

Tuesday

365: Mugs 9/30 – This morning’s task: taking pictures for an upcoming book review.

Instagram: A certain @iamflufy, who has the ability to be cozy *anywhere* has found himself a new hangout nook.

Wednesday

365: Mugs 10/30 – On the agenda today: shipping.

Thursday

365: Mugs 11/30 – I finished making all the lunches, and was firmly in the "going back to bed" camp, until I stepped outside to see my high-schooler off. Suddenly I was in the "breakfast on the front steps" camp. My neighborhood is so peaceful at 6:50am.

Instagram: Normally i am all about the stripey paper straw, but when it comes to iced coffee nothing keeps the ice and mocha syrup well-stirred like a good old plastic straw :-)

Instagram: I just downloaded #vscocam. Because I need more photo apps to play with, clearly.

Friday

365: Mugs 12/30 – This morning’s coffee was enjoyed over some birthday shopping for a couple of little friends.

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

Weekend Favorites

Posted September 12th, 2014 by

Oh, I just love this week’s mosaic! It’s so bright and colorful, while still being cozy. I usually build these mosaics in dribs and drabs over the course of a week, so they don’t always have a cohesiveness to them. This one delivers nicely, I think.

On Flickr

The mosaic below represents other people’s pictures that spoke to me this week. Be sure to click on the titles below the mosaic, if you want to know more about the image or the photographer behind it.

(follow me on flickr)

Weekend Favorites at Polka Dot Cottage

1. bunnies, 2. threads, 3. Get low II., 4. Arrivals, 5. three queens, 6. Shortly before Autumn, 7. the September sunset, 8. Mariquita., 9. morning dews, 10. Dragon Scales, 11. Marlowe Monkey, 12. Attempt at another sock yarn blanket…, 13. Greece is…, 14. Pink girls, 15. 035, 16. Eye candy never hurts, 17. Bridge Street, Lambertville, NJ, 18. changes, 19. nomnom!, 20. Sunflower, 21. 217, 22. blanket roll, 23. I’ll get back to posting quilty stuff soon…but I can’t resist sharing this cuteness!!, 24. violas, 25. フェンスと花, 26. Do Good Stitches: Happy Houses Quilt, 27. Been Sewing!, 28. Postcard from Sweden quilt, 29. Easy to inspire, 30. Colours, 31. front of the bench, 32. 048.CR2

Around the Web

I spend some time earlier in the week sharing my favorite crafty links through social media. And then I repeat them here on Fridays.

  • How-to Make Homemade Nut Butters – recipes and tips from Tasty Yummies. Oh, these look so delicious. And there’s plenty of useful information here, too.
  • Crochet Granny Square Zippered Pouch – a tutorial from Skip To My Lou. This is so pretty! And since I think my sons would rather poke their eyes out than put their school pencils in one of these, I would repurpose the instructions and make myself a wallet.
  • Building Better Bags: Hardware Resources – a list from Betz White. I am so into bag-making in my mind. I mean, looking at Betz’s bags in particular really gets me thinking about sewing my own bags, what they’d look like, what I’d carry in them… and still my sewing machine gathers dust. I’m bookmarking this resource list for the day I actually begin to act on my bag-making daydreams!
  • antler – a knitting show-and-tell from a Friend to knit with. I tend to stay away from knitting pullovers for myself, but I really like the look of this one. Tempting. Very tempting.
  • Aibell Pullover – a knitting pattern by Kelene Kinnersly, via berroco design studio. Alright, here’s another pullover pattern that really grabs me. I think the universe is telling me something. I love the cables. I would avoid knitting boredom so much more easily with a cabled design.
  • Half Hexie Star Table Runner – a sewing pattern from CraftyPod. I love the color scheme Diane used here. And what really grabs me is the fact that you really can’t tell at first glance that hexagons had anything to do with this design at all.
  • Big Telecom vs THE WORLD – a call to action from Cory Doctorow, via Boing Boing. Not sure what the big deal is about Net Neutrality? Cory Doctorow explains it here in plain English, and provides a link for you to get involved. You can simply sign a petition, or you can go a step further and donate to the cause. This is important if you value your Internet freedom.

Have a great Friday! The weather where I live is looking to be really nice – I hope the same for you!

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