Monday, March 28, 2011

Daily Craft - Tiny little squares

I'm working on the complimentary cross-stitch piece to go with the Asian butterfly I completed a little while back. It's amazing how each little square is starting to create the bigger picture. I almost think of each stitch as a pixel.

There's a long way to go before this starts looking like something recognizable but it's taking shape.Hoping it won't take over a year like the last one did!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Daily Deuce - If only...

...I could be so comfortable!

It seems that I've been spending way too much time being sick this year. It's only March and I've been hit by the plague again! I'm considering buying a plastic bubble.

The one advantage to being at home mid-week and relegated to the couch is getting to see first hand that my furry baby spends his afternoons looking far too comfy on his favorite pillows. If only I had that luxury myself.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Daily Craft - Crochet hook roll

I have a handful of fabric fat quarters hanging about the house and, as much as I'm enjoying making quilted coasters, figured I'd like to try something new.  Over the years, I've misplaced quite a few of my crochet hooks along with the roll that they were in, so decided to make a new one.  This was a great use for the small-ish fabric pieces, and I just love how the two fabrics look together.  I checked out a variety of tutorials, and made this one using a hybrid of several.  The only thing I did know is that I didn't want the stitching for the inside slots to show on the outside of the roll, as I think it's just neater. 

I'll hopefully have a minute to put together a detailed tutorial for you all soon, as I suspect I'll be making another of these to hold my make-up brushes.  Talk about multi-functional!

What do you look for in a storage case for crochet hooks, knitting needles (or make-up brushes as the case may be)?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Daily Review - Winkflash photobooks

I've been using Winkflash for a photo printing service for many years now.  They used to offer 6 cents for a 4x6 print, with flat rate shipping of $0.99.  Over the last couple of years, their pricing has increased to 8 cents a print (which is hardly a big deal), and the shipping costs are now based on how many prints you order.  I've always been happy with the quality of the prints though, and at $1.99 for an 8x10, it's hard to beat.  Recently, I got a coupon code for a flat rate on the photo books, up to 100 pages, so decided to order one to see how I like it.

Book creation:
To start putting photos into book format, you are given the option of uploading the photos straight from your computer, or opening an existing album in Winkflash to select pictures from.  Personally, I found it easier to just upload into existing albums and it was pretty easy to navigate between albums.

There are a lot of different patterned or themed backgrounds to choose from, plus you can choose from a selection of plain colored backgrounds. The layouts are based on how many photos you want to include on the page.  I did find this somewhat limiting as there were layouts that I'd be envisioning that don't exist.  It would be great to have some kind of custom layout creator, or at least the ability to resize the boxes within the layouts.  Outside of that, it's a simple drag and drop onto the page to place photos.  I also liked that there were framing options for the photos - from simple frames to vignettes and other effects.  There's only a few that I ended up using, but I enjoyed having the choice at all.  The only thing to be aware of while creating your book is that you need to make sure you have the correct page selected (i.e. left or right).  On occasion, I'd have the wrong page selected and make changes to the wrong side, which could be frustrating.  There's also the option to create your own pages in Photoshop (or other editing software) and upload the full page to Winkflash, which is definitely a method I would consider in the future.

I ordered the 8x11 custom cover book, which was $28.95 for the 100 pages plus $6.99 for shipping.  Regularly, that is the price for up to 20 pages, with each additional page costing $1.00.  I don't think I would pay the regular price for the book as what I ordered would have been over $100.  Without the coupon code, I would probably have tried Blurb which has more competitive pricing for the number of pages.

When I ordered the book, the estimated arrival date was March 14.  Guess they got that right, as it arrived just before lunch!  It was about 10 days from the date I ordered to the day it was in hand.

Cover and binding:
The cover is a glossy finish and overall looks very nice.  I would have loved an option for a matte cover though.  The binding appears to be very secure, and overall presentation is really nice.  The only thing I'm disappointed with is that they didn't print the title of the book on the spine, which means it could easily get lost in my rather extensive bookshelf!

Photo and paper quality:
I was actually very happy with the thickness of the paperstock used to print the book.  It has a nice feel to it, and isn't too thin, which would have been my primary concern.  The colors of the photos are nice and rich, and in general very true to the uploaded photo.  There were a few that appear to be slightly darker than I anticipated, but not enough of a difference to be a problem.

Overall, I'm very happy with the photo book and would definitely order another through Winkflash's service, although not without a coupon code for the flat rate.  I definitely have plans to put my photography portfolio in book format and, if the pricing offer is there, I'll be happy to use Winkflash to do it.

FYI, Winkflash is still running the flat rate on their photobooks until March 17, 2011.  The coupon code is ALLBOOKS in case you want to put one together in the next couple of days!

Also, if you sign up with them, you get 50 free prints for your first order.  Use code 50FREE.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Daily Ramblings - Too much fun!

I finally became upgrade eligible and got my new phone today.  I decided to go with the Droid X, and a little birdie told me that Staples generally sells the phones cheaper than Verizon would.  I managed to get the phone, with a case and car charger, for $75 out the door.  Not bad considering the phone alone would have been $100 from the Verizon website, plus they charge tax on the full amount (i.e. $600) rather than what you actually pay.

Of course, the first app that I had to download was Camera 360 - there is a free version, or the pro version for $3.99.  I'm hoping to do a full review at some point once I have figured out all the settings.  In the meantime, here's a couple of photos I snapped in the courtyard at home.  Deuce escaped the confines of the house while I was going outside, so figured I'd grab a quick picture before shooing him back in!

 Using the tilt-shift function.  I'm really going to enjoy this I think!

Deuce in Lomo mode.  
I've created lomo style photos using Photoshop before, but having it built in might be a little too easy.

I'm not usually one for a technology geek out, but I'm definitely having one.  I also love bargains, which I feel like I just got.  Overall, a good Sunday I think.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Daily Ramblings - Farewell Thor

Last night, my in-laws had to make the decision to put down their dog, Thor.  Having grown up with cats, and being allergic to a variety of dogs, Thor was the first pup that I ever loved.  I will remember fondly the many dinners where he'd settle down under the table and give my feet a good licking, or settle down on top of me while sitting on the couch (despite not really being a lap-sized dog).  Even my wedding day was attended by 25 family members, and one very special dog in a bow-tie.  I'm thankful that we were able to spend so many years with him and that he lived to an old age, maintaining his wonderful disposition despite suffering from a variety of medical issues.

Thor, thank you for being a part of our lives and bringing us such joy.  We will miss you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Daily Ramblings - Decisions, Decisions

Last time I upgraded my cell phone, I went from the old talk and text variety to a Blackberry.  I was pretty convinced at the time that I didn't even need anything that fancy, but on the Verizon family plan it made sense for me to get the data pack considering my husband needed it.  The guy at the Verizon store was trying to help me pick out a phone and very nicely asked me what I needed it to do.  The only response I had at the time was "Uh, ring?"

Now that I'm 10 days away from an upgrade though, I'm really excited about the concept of upgrading to a Droid - being able to surf websites properly, play Angry Birds, take decent photos for mobile upload (because let's face it the Blackberry camera sucks).  I even had a weird dream a couple of weeks ago that Droids don't have all the cool photo apps that exist for iPhone and it freaked me out enough that when I woke up, I actually had to go look!  Good news is that there are indeed photo apps for Droid and my subconscious was getting unruly. 

The problem now is that I need to decide which Droid phone to get.  Do I want to go the more basic route - like the Droid Incredible, or aim for something more fancy, like the Droid Global?  The Incredible has the better camera, but the Global has the slide out keyboard (which is a positive because I'm not sure how quickly I'll get used to the on-screen keyboard).  Either way, I'm thrilled to know that there is a Blogger app, which will hopefully allow me to update more regularly during those busy weeks when I feel like I'm being a slacker.

Do you have a Droid?  Any opinions for somebody not phone addicted but ready to take the next step?