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Monday, 8 March 2010
Graphics Toolbox - Have I Mentioned that I Love This Product?
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review

I know that I've said a lot about this product already, and have raved about it. Let me tell you honestly, though, that I wasn't always a fan of Graphics Toolbox. When I first began using it, nothing seemed to work. I would read the guidebook and watch tutorials, but still couldn't seem to create anything. This product wasn't like anything I had ever used. Nothing was the same. It wasn't until I played around with it more, watched and participated in more of the training sessions, and just plain used it, that I began to see the value and love this graphics program.

So, what is so different between this graphics program and so many of the others? To answer that, let me give you some history into Graphics Toolbox. For years, Lynda Hollar was a fashion designer. What I didn't know until recently was that fashion designers very often use elaborate graphics programs that allow you to mix and match clothing; take one item of clothing and changing the color of it; take an item of clothing from one picture and put it in another, all kinds of things. As Lynda was using this, she thought about how great it would be if everyone had a program like this to use. A program that they can use for their business to make a professional looking pamphlet or sign. A program that a student could use to make A+ projects. A program that a scrapbooker could use to improve their scrapbooks. A program that anyone could use to make almost anything. The only problem was that the program the fashion designers use is for...well...fashion designers and can cost into the thousands of dollars. So, Lynda went to the maker of the program that she used with her idea of a graphics program for everyone, and Graphics Toolbox was born.

What is it that makes Graphics Toolbox so different than other graphics programs? Well, if you haven't seen some of the things that John Allen and I have created, let me post them again for you.

This is one of the very first projects that I completed using the Graphics Toolbox software - a story quilt. This project demonstrates many of the really cool things that you can do with this program. You can re-size pictures easily, and using Graphics Toolbox, they don't look distorted when you re-size them. I easily created the picture pattern and used the tonal color change tool to make the picture patterns look antiquish. The ribbon border is actually one of 100's of boarders that come with the program that you can customize any way that you want. And, the lettering is easy to use with dozens of fonts.

This is another creation that I made after attending one of Lynda's online training sessions. Can you pick out the six differences between the two pictures? Lynda is presently in the process of editing and adding these sessions to the website. If you watch a couple of them you may hear some familiar voices as John Allen and I weren't shy in asking questions.

I made this for my blog at the beginning of the Olympics. By this time I was more used to the program and it didn't take long at all. 

Arranging lettering any way you want is easy with Graphics Toolbox. Also notice that I was able to make them transparent so that they don't block out the picture in any way.

I made the two above items just recently for a couple of special occasions that we held here at the mission for some of the folks that attend. The first one was really easy. I found the picture on the internet, used a matching font to add the words, then framed it with a color coordinated border.

The bottom invitation was made using another baby footprint picture I found on the web. I simply cut one of the footprints out - yes, Graphics Toolbox allows you to do that - and colored it pink. I then flipped that footprint to make the opposite matching footprint. I then framed them and re-sized them to make the two different sizes. After placing the large set and using the copy tool and placing the small prints I added the lettering and the boarder.

Now, this is about the extent of the lettering that you can make with Graphics Toolbox. This is a graphics program and not a word processing program. What the makers encourage you to do if you want to add a lot of lettering is to save the graphics that you made and then upload them into whatever processing program that you use. For small jobs like the above, the Graphics Toolbox fonts are fine.

Let me remind you, that Graphics Toolbox is like no other graphics program that you are used to. You really have to throw out all of the preconceived notions that you have about graphics programs and throw out the things that you have learned. The things that you can do with Graphics Toolbox are amazing and really simple after you learn how to do them, but it is a new way of doing things, so it make take a while to get used to. The above is a snapshot of what the Graphics Toolbox program looks like. As you can see, it also looks different than any other graphics program that you have used. But, if you look closely at the buttons on the right side, you will also notice that you can tell what the different buttons mean and do just by looking at them. That's another really neat thing about Graphics Toolbox. The makers wanted it to be easy to use and easy to find the tool that you need. And, even though it is different and will take time to get used to, the very detailed user's manual is quite helpful, and there are many tutorials on the website with many more to come.

I just can't stop raving about this program. I wish there was more room in this post to describe everything. Like the infinite (and I mean infinite) colors that come with Graphics Toolbox, or the way that you can morph a picture into something new, or all the different things that you can do with the fonts, or ... or ... or ...well, you can tell that I really think that this is a special program.

Now, you might be thinking that if the original program costs well over $1000, and if this program is really all that I claim that it is, then it must be worth well into the hundreds of dollars at least. Well, that's where you are wrong. Graphics Toolbox doesn't cost $1000, or even $500. It doesn't even cost $250. Graphics Toolbox sells for just $149.

Yes, I can hear the comments now - "Even $149 is too much to spend for something that you really don't know anything about. Especially in this day and age." Well, you are right. That's why Graphics Toolbox offers a free 30 day full trial of their program. That's right, you can use it for a month free of charge to try it out! Still leery? Go on over and check out their website by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Check out the tutorials that you can view before purchasing. Check out all of the great Graphics Toolbox features. You can also check out what the other TOS Homeschool Crew members think about it by clicking here. Just check it out. I'm sure that after you look around, try it out, and think about it, you'll be convinced that this is one of the greatest things since sliced bread Laughing. And, since this is something that can be used by homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike, I'll end by saying - "Happy Homeschooling"!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was sent a free download of Great Software Tool's Graphics Toolbox program to try out and review on my blog.


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Posted by tink38570 at 6:06 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, 13 March 2010 12:14 AM CST
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A New Men's Monday Meme Will Be Posted Tonight!
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Men's Monday Meme


It has been a couple of weeks since I made my big boo-boo and extended the Men's Monday Meme question until today, so I wanted to refresh your memories. Since I have posted many more things and the latest questions aren't front and center, I am posting a link to them again here. Just click here and join in the discussion! It will be on until midnight tonight after which a new question will be posted.

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Posted by tink38570 at 3:09 PM CST
Updated: Monday, 8 March 2010 3:57 PM CST
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Sunday, 7 March 2010
Camping Anyone?
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: BCM International

Today was a beautiful day. Warm outside. Clear skies. It made me finally think of spring. Days like today get me excited because after spring comes summer, and you know what happens in the summer don't you? Camp!

Many of you know that for over 25 years Sarah and I have been involved in Christian camping in one way or another. This summer will be no different. Although we no longer work at an overnight camp, we still run day camps for the kids that we work with that live here in the projects. This year we haven't decided exactly how many to run but we do know that it will be either three or four. That, along with our regular ministries and our community garden will probably be all that we can handle.

We love camp, and think that it is a valuable part of a child's life. Now, I know that if you lived closer, you would want to send your child to one of our day camps Cool. But, unfortunately, so many of you live too far away, so I decided to introduce you to BCM International's camping ministry. They have been doing camps for almost as long as they have been doing Bible clubs for kids. They have dozens of camps all over the world and they recently put together a little collage of some of the camps that they run. I decided to post it here for you all to see.


I have had the pleasure of seeing a few of BCM's camps in person and can tell you that they are magical, Christ filled places. For more information on BCM's Christian Camping ministry, please click here to go to their website.

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Posted by tink38570 at 9:47 PM CST
Updated: Monday, 8 March 2010 9:01 PM CST
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Saturday, 6 March 2010
Somedays It's Just Not Easy Being a Missionary
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: Ministry

Some days it's not easy being a missionary... 

Some days it's not easy being a husband...

Some days it's not easy being a Christian...

Some days life is just hard...

Today was one of those days.

Sarah has been away tending to a sick grandmother for a few days. It was a tough couple of days for her.

Then, she gets home and the house is a mess. The boys and I hadn't done our part to help out. So, she's upset that the house is a mess.

Then she has to run all over creation getting ready for a baby shower that the mission is hosting for a girl from the projects.

She's tired from the mission of mercy she's been on; angry about the house; and frustrated because there is so much to do. This does not make for a very happy momma.

Finally the shower begins. Most of the guests are from the low income housing area that we serve with a few of the girls family members.

But, lo and behold, who should walk in, but two ladies from a large local church that just happen to be acquainted with the girl. And, of course, what should they do upon entering the mission? They open all of the doors and look in every room.

They look in the nursery...thank goodness that's straightened up.  

They look in my office...the office that I never use...the office that's basically used for storage of teaching materials...the office that is overflowing and a mess right now.

They look in the storage room...the one that the ladies are working on organizing...the one that is also a mess.

They look in the kitchen...the kitchen that the ladies have been cooking in all morning...the kitchen that the ladies cooked in the night before for a birthday party that we had for one of the ladies that attends the mission...the kitchen that was used the night before that for another birthday party.

Oh...and did I mention that this church that they attend is one of our supporting churches? Sarah calls me up soon after they arrive and is in tears.

Did they sit down and talk with Sarah about the ministries that we have here at the mission? Did they ask how are children's program is doing, or the ladies cooking class, or the Sunday meal and Bible Study that we have? Did they mingle with the people and ask what the mission means to them? No. One lady left before the food was served, the other lady left right after eating.

Thank goodness that another lady from that church was there. A lady that is our treasurer and is on our board. A lady that knows us well and knows our limitations and strengths and is always supportive. Hopefully she will smooth things over if there is anything said.

I know that by writing all of this, I am having a very judgmental spirit myself. And, I know it is wrong. Let me apologize right now for my spirit that is out of fellowship. I did however say that I would be real on my blog. I said that I would tell it like it is and tell how I really feel. Well, this is how I really feel right now. After I close my laptop, I need to stop, drop, and pray. But...

Some days it's not easy being a missionary... 

Some days it's not easy being a husband...

Some days it's not easy being a Christian...

Some days life is just hard. 

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Posted by tink38570 at 11:13 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, 6 March 2010 11:18 PM CST
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Friday, 5 March 2010
Have You Hugged Your Child Today?
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Compassion International

Compassion Bloggers: Kenya 2010 

Have you been reading the Kenya Compassion bloggers? Your heart will be broken. Have you hugged your child today? If you're on twitter, here is a list of all of their twitter addresses. If you're not a tweeter, click on the banner above and it will take you to the CompassionBloggers page that has links to all of their blogs.

CompassionBloggers in Kenya @lvhanson @keelymarie @MckMama @DetzelPretzel @kentshaffer @WeareTHATfamily @theshaungroves @Jonesbones5

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Posted by tink38570 at 11:30 AM CST
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