Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Favorites- Photo Editing Tricks and More

Welcome to another set of Friday Favorites, where I share some of my favorite things from blogs I've read during the week. None of these are my ideas, but they are things that I'd definitely like to try sometime!

This week I found quite a few photo editing tips. First up is a post on Write. Click. Scrapbook. on preparing photographs of scrapbook pages to be posted, complete with nifty drop shadows. I'm definitely going to have to learn this!

Reading that post made me think of a tip from Karla Dudley that I'd read a few months back on "turning" up the edges of your photos in Photoshop. It might be a cool thing to use on pages posted on my blog, as well.

The Studio Calico blog featured a great post on using Photoshop to add texture to your photos.

Pioneer Woman (when you have a spare afternoon, I suggest you kick back and just take in her whole site!) posted a tutorial on using Photoshop to round the corners of your photos.

There were some great non-Photoshop posts this week, as well. The Hambly blog had a masking tutorial that looks pretty cool.

I love these jeweled leaves from Prima on the Crafty Scrapper blog! There are more colors available here on I have some black leaves in my stash already, and I think some orange and black beads. I bet I could make some cool Halloween leaves!

I think I'm going to have to organize my scrapping and Star Wars books by color after seeing this post on Jamaica Makes. It just looks too cool!

This bug pincushion would make the most adorable sewing project! (Yes, I know, I'm using a lot of exclamation points today!)

And finally, I think I'm going to have to learn to crochet just so I can make a scarf like this one. I mean, seriously, it's Mario!!

Okay, off to clean my craft room so that hopefully I can get some playtime in this weekend. :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sketches for Scrapbooking Part 2: GotSketch and Allison Davis

This post really has two purposes. One is to bring you the final part of my discussion of my favorite scrapbooking sketches (the first post is here if you missed it). The second purpose is to show what happens when I try to scrap outside my "style."

I will admit up front that I do not know what to call my scrapping "style." It's somewhat simple, but not. I like to embellish, but not much. I like pattern and color, but mostly keep that limited to my patterned paper. I like linear. Neat. Clean.

Recently I have found that I scrapbook like Allison Davis, though I'm not sure what to call her style, either. For years I didn't know who she was, just that I had been copying a lot of her layouts from Creating Keepsakes magazine. And I certainly didn't know that she has published four (yes, four!) volumes of scrapbooking sketches!

Imagine my delight when I stumbled across these books. They are self-published for the scrapbooking store that she and her mom run, and each book contains 30 sketches. The sketches are centered mostly around standard size (4x6) photos or crops of 4x6 photos. The layouts are very clean and linear, and dimensions are included for photo size, paper size, and paper placement!

These books are printed in black/white/gray on plain paper and comb bound and do not contain any sample layouts to accompany the sketch. I've found, though, that the sketches are so easy to follow that I don't really miss having an example page to look at.

I scrapped the following page (of a trip to the Louisville Zoo all the way back in 2000) using one of Allison's sketches, and it came together so quickly and easily!

The clean lines of Allison's sketches make embellishing very easy for me. These are definitely my new favorite sketch books!

The final set of sketches that I find myself using often is Valerie Salmon's "Got Sketch" series.

Valerie offers her sketches in two different forums. The first is on her Got Sketch blog. These sketches are free and posted every other week or so, except when the blog goes on hiatus while she runs a paid sketch class on the Got Crafts site (the second place she offers her sketches). Sketches on both sites are accompanied by at least one (often several) example layouts.

I've taken all of the paid Got Sketch classes and have enjoyed them, but at the same time I find Valerie's sketches the most difficult for me to work with. It's not because they aren't well done, because they certainly are. I think it's just a difference in style. Take the layout below (from my brother's wedding) for example.

I love the layout of the photos (again, Valerie uses mostly 4x6 photos or easy crops of 4x6 photos) and the positioning of the patterned papers, but the embellishing hangs me up almost every time with Got Sketch! Maybe it's the large amount of empty space between the photos on the left page that throws me off, though I did place my embellishments according to where they were shown in the sketch.

I'm slightly happier with this next layout (also from my brother's wedding), though I think I could have done a better job choosing the background cardstock color.

This final example layout from a Got Sketch pattern is actually the one in this set that I'm happiest with. The clear photo groupings made it easier for me to place embellishments, and the page doesn't look cluttered even though it contains a ton of photos!

So what do I do when a page doesn't turn out exactly as I would have liked? I put it in my album and move on. :) This is all a learning process, and I've often found that if I just put a page away for a while and come back to it, I'm far less critical of it than when I first finished it.

So, there you have them- my favorite sources for scrapbooking sketches. I hope you found something to inspire you here!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oh, no, she didn't!! (December Daily)

Okay, so she did, and it's actually pretty cool! I've been looking forward to it since she first hinted about it in June.

Ali Edwards has started her December Daily posts for 2009 on her blog! If you've never seen one of her December Daily albums, check out her posts from 2008. My own December Daily is on my blog here (the last post in my series, which links back to all the other posts).

Step one is to gather your supplies. Since she'd already posted about it in June, I started getting prepared then. When I moved my scrap room to the new/old house and reorganized my entire scrap space, I made sure to put all my Christmas items together (I put all the Halloween items together for good measure, as well...hmmm, October Daily next year, maybe?). The paper is all together in its own Cropper Hopper, and the embellishments are all together in an Iris case. Easy peasy.

The two items I hadn't settled on before today were an album and a numbering system.

The album turned out to be an easy choice. I'm going with an 8x8 American Crafts D-Ring album in Chocolate. I briefly considered red, but I am so not a red person and Michaels (where the albums are 40% off this week) didn't have them in green. Last year I made my album with an acrylic cover, and about two months ago it fell off the shelf I store it on and cracked the cover. :( Because of this incident I a) purchased a basket to put all my mini albums in to keep them from falling again and b) won't be doing acrylic covers this year.

For a numbering system, I'm going to go with Ali's 25 Days of December digital overlays from Designer Digitals.

I think my plan is to do either a single photo or a collage of photos from each day and print it with the overlay frame surrounding it. I'm going to use the same loose framework for each page, but I want to use different sizes/types of pages like I did last year so I won't have a hard and fast sketch to follow. I also expect to make use of all those border punches I've been stocking up on over the past year.

As a last little touch, I want to make some of my own embellishments like these from Evalicious, but in a Christmas theme.

I think if I make my embellishments beforehand it will narrow down the choices significantly while I'm making the album and also hopefully give it a unified look across the different pages.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Mafia Wars (and Yoville and Farmville)

Just a quick post of something I found over the weekend that was super useful to me. My Facebook News Feed had become almost unusable because I have friends with a lot of spare time on their hands (apparently) who play all those Facebook games (Farmville, Yoville, Mafia know the lineup) and my News Feed was so filled with those updates that I couldn't find anything else!

I finally got those updates turned off and have had so many people at work ask me how to do it that I thought I would post it here.

Note: You have to do this from a web browser. I don't think it will work from a Windows Mobile or iPhone interface.

  • Find an update from one of these applications on Facebook.
  • Hover your mouse pointer over the update.
  • Watch for a "Hide" button to pop up.
  • Click the small down arrow next to the Hide button. It is very important not to click the Hide button itself or you'll hide everything from this friend!
  • The second option in the menu that pops up should be "Hide (app name) ." Click that.
  • You'll have to do this for every application you want to hide. I did it for about 5 of them and now they're pretty much all gone for me. My News Feed is so much less cluttered!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My New iPhone + Kindle Coming to PC

Ask anyone who has known me for any length of time and they'll confirm that I'm a total techy gadget geek (I'm an engineer by trade, so I think it just comes with the territory).

The Amazon Kindle has intrigued me since the day it was released. I LOVE to read and have stacks of books in several rooms of the house, but since we downsized our living space in June (and are loving every minute of it) space is going to eventually become an issue. Plus, books can be kinda bulky and heavy to carry around, especially with as much travel as I used to do for work (and would not mind doing again one day).

What's held me back from buying a Kindle thus far is partly the price and partly not wanting yet another gadget to carry around in my purse. It's already full of two cell phones, an iPod Classic, my GPS, a small point and shoot camera, and an Archos video player along with my wallet and a water bottle. It definitely does not need to have to hold anything else!

Enter my newest purchase this week- the iPhone (hang with me, I promise we'll get back to the Kindle).

I had resisted buying an iPhone since they came out, not because of anything against Apple (I love all things Mac, after all), but because I just wasn't sure about that touch screen keyboard. I had played with one briefly in Best Buy and just couldn't get the hang of it and preferred the physical keyboard on my Tilt.

So Wednesday morning I was at physical therapy talking to a couple of the employees (who also love all things Mac) about their iPhones and happened to mention my hangups with the keyboard. That's when they told me the thing that convinced me. Apple had added a landscape keyboard to the iPhone, and when I saw that the keys were pretty much the same size as the ones on my Tilt (not to mention that I was due for an upgrade with AT&T anyway and had wanted a thinner phone), I was sold.

I made an appointment with an iPhone personal shopper at the Apple Store down the street from work and in 25 minutes over lunch had purchased my phone, had it activated, and been given a short course in how to work with it. When I told my Dad a couple of days later that I had purchased it, he said he was surprised because I'd never even talked about wanting one. I told him that until about three hours before I bought it, I didn't know, either! :)

This is where the Kindle comes back into play (glad you're still hanging in there with me!). Amazon has a great Kindle App for the iPhone (and it's free!), and as a test I've downloaded a few of the free eBooks that are available and enjoy reading them. I'm just not sure I want to read every new book I purchase on my phone.
And then Thursday (along with the Windows 7 launch), Amazon did something that nearly had me jumping around happy in my cube. They announced that Kindle software for the PC will be released later this year.

My last hangup with Kindle books finally has a solution, and I foresee a lot more digital books in my future. And the really cool thing? Whether I read the book on my iPhone or PC (well, Windows in VMWare Fusion on my Mac), the Kindle application will sync my current page between the two, sort of like a digital bookmark. I'll be able to switch from one to the other pretty much seamlessly. How cool is that?!?

Okay, enough techy ramblings. Time for me to go make breakfast. :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Favorites - More Minis

Welcome to another edition of Friday Favorites! At the time of this posting I'll probably be all groggy and drugged out and like, hey, dude, and wondering why the nurse is screaming at me. Why does it always sound like they're screaming at you when you wake up from anesthesia? Or is that just me?

Anyway, I'll have plenty of time to sit on my rear end this weekend and make stuff, so here goes a post full of things that have inspired me this week.

Let's kick things off with a series of mini albums, shall we?

I love this tiny little thing from the Hambly Screen Prints blog. And it's super quick and easy to make! At least, they make it look easy...

How about this cutie? Its cover is made from a Starbucks coffee cup. No joke!!

I could use some new binding techniques, and this pamphlet binding tutorial looks super cool.

Okay, on with things other than mini about these adorable mini calendars from Elle's Studio instead? Methinks I shall have to order a set of these soon.

I have to admit that I was not prepared to see a post on Write.Click.Scrapbook entitled "Yoda is My Homeboy." It definitely caught my attention, though, and so did the author's ideas for decorating her son's room with a Star Wars theme. Since my own scrap room is heavy on the Scrappy and in desperate need of some Jedi, I will have to follow suit very soon.

Pinefeather posted these lovely Christmas cards on her blog. Aren't the little button trees adorable?!?

She also posted a cool knot-tying tutorial on her blog. I definitely could use some practice in this area.

And to wrap things up (ooooh, bad pun, I know), check out this cool article on making a gift bow out of a magazine page.

Happy weekend creating! (I think it's funny how I write like a bunch of people read this, even though I think I have a grand total of six readers, all of whom are related to me). :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Making the Bed

I was inspired by a recent post on the SEI Lifestye blog. The writer had elevated the chore of bedmaking to an art form, and I found myself positively drooling over the beautifully layered sheets, blankets, and pillowcases, not to mention the yummy bunting banner!

It made me think about the bed in my own scrap room, which also doubles as the guest room, and the place where I've been flopping while rehabbing from knee surgery.

I had made the bed over with a pretty, neutral quilt from Anthropologie that I just love (you can see it under the shams and the second layered quilt), but something was just missing. I hung some extra paper lanterns that I had to try to add some more color to the corner, but it still felt unbalanced.

Then I had a bad day last Friday. I mean, a really bad day. You see, I was on track to graduate from physical therapy tomorrow, and also on track to be jogging again two weeks from last Friday. But when I went to my orthopedist for a follow-up last Friday afternoon and was told that I was going to have to have my knee scoped again. There has been a big build-up of scar tissue in the last 6 weeks that impeding my range of motion, and they have to go clean it out. The surgery won't be as invasive as last time, but it's setting my recovery schedule back by about a month.

Needless to say, I was bummed. So I bought another quilt at Anthropologie to make me feel better. :) This one is called Quintana Roo, and when it's layered at the end of the bed it adds just the right touch of color to balance out the curtains on the other side of the room.

I also added these punchy euro shams- they and the quilt were both on clearance, and now this bed is just too much fun to look at!

After my little shopping expedition on Friday I went to photograph a high school football game (they let me go out on the field!!). Toward the end it was sooooo cold and misting rain (so the camera got put away). When I got home I crawled into this bed and snuggled under both quilts and slept until 9am the next morning. So I think it was a good purchase. :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sketches for Scrapbooking Part 1: PageMaps and Reflections

I will be the first to admit that I can't scrapbook without a sketch. Okay, maybe I *can*, but I'm almost always disappointed in the results when I try. I enjoy putting color combinations together and playing with product, but when it comes to placement of items on a page I can get really, really stuck.

Enter sketches. They've been around for ages in scrapbooking and there are tons of places to find them, some free and some not so free. Lately I've done a lot of scrapping with sketches from four different sources and wanted to talk about each of them- two today and two some time next week. There are many, many, many more sketch sources available besides these four, but I'm only going to discuss the ones I use most often.

First up are PageMaps by Becky Fleck. I love these sketches for their diversity. She includes all sizes of pages and different orientations for 8.5x11 and 6x12 pages. Photo sizes vary greatly, so these are best to use if you know how to crop, resize, and print (or have printed) your own photos.

PageMaps are available free on Becky's site, and she provides a new set monthly. There are archives of the past several years of sketches available, so you're sure to find something useful. Becky also published a book containing even more sketches last year.

This is a 12x12 single page layout I made based on a PageMaps sketch. Remember that trip I took to IKEA a couple of months ago? Well, here is the page about it!

And this is a 12x12 2-page layout about my niece's birthday last month, also based on a PageMaps sketch.

Overall I find that pages I make based on PageMaps sketches have a clean, uncluttered look and are easy to accent (embellish).

The next set of scrapbooking sketches that I find I turn to often is the Reflections program by Close to My Heart. There are currently three books available- Cherish, Imagine, and Reflections- with more planned in the future. Of the three currently available Reflections is probably my favorite. All three books are based on 2-page layouts, but Reflections goes a step further and shows you how to mix and match (and rotate) a series of single page layouts to make two page spreads, giving you more options for including different numbers of photos on your pages.

One of my very favorite features of this sketch series is the inclusion of sizes, cutting, and assembly instructions for both the photo and paper portions of the layout. There's no guessing sizes or placement here! Perfect for when I want to scrap, but at the same time I want to turn off my brain. Also, most of the photos used in these sketches are standard 4x6, 5x7, or 8x10 sizes, or are so close that you can easily crop them to the proper size after printing.

The layout below was based on a pair of sketches from Reflections and contains photos from my brother's wedding in 2005.

You can probably already see the differences between Reflections sketches and PageMaps sketches. Reflections sketches are much more heavily layered and have a more "formal" look to them. This can make them difficult to embellish sometimes since everything is so heavily regimented.

Next week I'll talk about two more sketch sources- GotSketch by Valerie Salmon and my new favorite, the Sketches for Scrapbooking series from Scrapbook Generation.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Building a Light Box

Today's post will feature the return of my scrapbook layouts. Not just mini albums or cards or little projects, but actual layouts.

Like this one from my Dad's birthday a couple of years ago (hi, Dad!).

For the longest time I was moving and had no time to scrap, and now I have time to scrap and have made a LOT of pages, but I was never happy with any of the photos I took of them. Unfortunately I don't have a wonderful place in my house with all kinds of great natural light that I can set them up and photograph them, so I did the next best thing and built a light box.

It looks a little like this. Actually, a lot like this. Okay, okay, so it looks exactly like this.

It's constructed of CPVC pipe and connectors, a white bed sheet, and a BUNCH of lamps (containing 100w equivalent CF bulbs) that I pilfered from around the house. You can find the instructions here if you want to build your own. I changed the dimensions up to make mine large enough to photograph a set of 2 12x12 pages.

I needed something to attach the pages to, so Darren came to the rescue with a length of scrap metal and some cable ties (I swear those things are more useful than duct tape). The metal is tied to the top rail of the box, and then I use some teeny tiny (yet freakishly strong) neodymium magnets to hold it in place.

See? It doesn't take much magnet to hold it up, and they get cropped out of the final photo.

I'm still working on ways to get the camera angle completely straight on the layout when it's hung. Part of the problem is that the bottom outside edges of the pages are not anchored and have a tendency to bow slightly backward. The other part of the problem is that I hold the camera a little crooked because I still don't own a tripod. I'm working on that. :)

Still, I'm pretty happy with the results as they are a lot better than the layout photos I used to take!

Here's another example of a page I photographed in the box and then edited in Picasa. Editing involves cropping and straightening and adjusting the white balance if necessary.

Hopefully this is the first post in a major scrapping comeback for me. I should have plenty of time this weekend since I have knee surgery on Friday. AGAIN! They have to clean some stuff out from last time. Joy. :(