Enjoying the View from the Willamette

This is my first blog about breast cancer and I find myself staring at the blank page with trepidation. What to write about? Sometimes it feels like all I do is talk about breast cancer… think about breast cancer. Though, truth be told, I think about it and talk about it less often than I did when I was diagnosed in January of 2007.

After a double mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy and then hormone therapy…I’ve spent the past year trying to get my health back into shape. It was at the Komen Race for the Cure Expo that I discovered Pink Phoenix, the first American all breast cancer survivor dragonboating team. Not being much of an athlete, it was my oldest daughter that arm-twisted me into signing up.

Last year was my first season with the Pinks. We practice 10 months out of the year on the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. The first few months were brutal as my out-of-shape body dealt with a lot of exercise. I gave myself until the end of race season to see whether I would stick with the team. Practices 3 times a week and weekend races took much of my time and energy.

By the end of the season last year, I realized that I actually liked paddling (yes, it took that long to like it!). The women are great, the paddling is hard, and the view from the river is absolutely spectacular. I get to see the city from a new perspective.

It’s now 2009…and we are back on the river. I’m not nearly as sore as I was when I first started (even with the 2 month break). I find myself actually happy, which is pretty unusual for me when talking about exercise.

I find myself looking forward to practice tomorrow, rain and all.

Free Fonts!

I love fonts! Do you remember using a typewriter and you were lucky if you had one of the fancy ones that had more than one typeface? Now with the advent of computers, we have thousands of fonts/typefaces available to us. There are just so many to play with!

I found this website that has 1001 Free Fonts…both for Windows and MAC. So if you are looking to spice up your document formatting…check out these fonts.


I really like Glamour Girl, Polo Brush, Speed Ball no. 2, and Moo Cow (for when I’m in one of those moods!).


Public Domain Images

If you are a collage artist like me, then you know the importance of finding images that are in the public domain. This means images that have had their copyrights expired or the creator has expressly given the public the ability to use their work.

Did you know that the minute you commit an original piece to a tangible medium…it is automatically copyrighted? You do not have to put the copyright symbol on your work in order for it to be copyrighted. If you are concerned about copyright then check on the web for more details on how long particular copyrights last.

You might think this is an entry all about copyright…but really it’s to let you know about a fabulous web resource called Wikimedia Commons. This site has thousands of images that can be used free of charge. You’ll want to read the fine print, because some of the images have conditions for public use (like wanting you to credit them if you use them).

Here’s the link…go check them out! And if you have images that you have created and want to put out in the public domain…check out how to upload to Wikimedia Commons.

Wikimedia Commons

Converting Pixels to Inches…How to print a great picture

Do you wonder what size an image or picture will print at? And whether it will be crisp enough? Here’s a tip on figuring all of this out…

You take the pixels and divide by the DPI (dots per inch) to get the size in inches. So if you have an image that is 600 pixels by 300 pixels, you divide 600 by 300 to get 2, and you divide 300 by 300 and get 1. This will give an image that is 2 inches by 1 inch.

You may be asking why 300 DPI? If you are posting an image to the web, you can use 72 DPI because clarity is not as important, and it’s much harder for someone to copy your image (because they won’t want 72 DPI). An image printed at 300 DPI is considered to be standard for most print jobs. For professional photos, you would consider printing at an even higher DPI.

Just remember…the higher the DPI, the bigger the file.

So, one more example. You have opened a photo from your digital camera in your imaging processing program. You want to resize it and print it as a 5×7. Multiply 5 inches by 300 DPI to get 1500 pixels. Multiple 7 inches by 300 DPI to get 2100 pixels. You then resize your photo to 1500 by 2100 at 300 DPI in order to print a 5×7 photo.

Candle Making

It’s Monday…which means it’s time to stir the creative juices! It’s the beginning of February and the days are beginning to get longer…Spring is coming! This is the time of year that I love making candles…a welcoming back of the light, if you will. So yesterday I spent the afternoon with a wonderful group of women making candles. Now to be perfectly honest, it’s more like decorating candles than actually making candles, but the meaning still holds true.

We got clear glass pillar candles (known as 7-day or novena candles), tissue paper and water-thinned glue. This is a messy project (yippee!), but the results are magical. Layering the torn pieces of tissue paper with lots of glue, the candle goes from blank canvas into art. And even better, you don’t really know what you have until the candle dries and you light it. That’s when the light shines through the transparent layers and you can really see what you have created. It’s a very alchemical process!

If you want to try this technique yourself, then here are a few tips.
1. Tear the tissue paper into no bigger than 2×2 inch pieces.
2. Use dark colors first.
3. More than 3 layers of paper on any one spot will affect the candle’s ability to shine through.
4. Uses lots of the glue mixture. Paint on a layer of glue, add paper and paint on more glue…the paper should be completely wet!
5. Once you are done, smooth the papers down with a finger. Remove air bubbles and make sure the edges of all the papers have been smoothed down.
6. Add a sprinkle of glitter if you want! I love glitter and will look for any excuse to use it.
7. Let dry overnight.
8. And remember…don’t put paper on the inside of the candle holder.

Here’ one of the candles I made yesterday…