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Welcome. This blog is my little home on the web. It's mostly about my favorite hobby, digital scrapbooking. You might also find some recipes, home decor projects, or parenting woes. But mostly digital scrapbooking.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Photo Book Comparisons

I ordered another little Shutterfly book. I used a coupon for a free book from my Ikea Family membership. The content of the book is the same as one of the little 6x6 inch ArtsCow books I recently shared. I wanted another copy to give to my niece.

I thought it would be fun to compare some of the different books I have - sizes, print quality, and format options.

First, here is the new book I got - 8x8 inch book from Shutterfly book on the left, next to the similar 6x6 inch book from ArtsCow on the right.

The ArtsCow cover printed a bit darker than the Shutterfly cover. Here is another look at that.

The back covers show a huge difference. In the Shutterfly book, the dark paper has been lightened substantially. I've seen this before in another Shutterfly book with a dark cover. I think their software is applying some kind of correction to the back cover.

Here is a comparison of different sized books: 12x12 vs. 8x8 vs. 6x6.

After seeing them all together, I've decided that 6x6 is just too small. I know some people think 12x12 is too large, but it is still my favorite. But for smaller gift books, I think I will stick to 8x8 in the future.

Here are some more size comparisons. It is interesting to compare the 12x12 and the 6x6. Although the length and width of a 6x6 are half that of a 12x12, the area is one quarter the size.

And here is the same size comparison for the 8x8.

In my post about my little ArtsCow books, I mentioned that the printing was a bit red. It was most noticeable in the skin tone in photographs and in this page with a gray background. Here are some comparisons to show that. Shutterfly vs. ArtsCow:

 Shutterfly vs. Blurb: (this photograph was taken on a different day with different lighting conditions)

But here are all three together. Blurb vs. Shutterfly vs. ArtsCow:

To my eye, the overall color quality of the Blurb book and the Shutterfly book are very similar. The Shutterfly printing is a tad bit darker (very slight). And you can see the red tone to the ArtsCow printing - the gray background looks pink, my son's skin tone is redder than it should be, and my niece's dress looks pink instead of purple.

Finally, I wanted to compare the spine. Both the Shutterfly and the ArtsCow books have spine areas with a very large overlap onto the front and back covers.

In the ArtsCow software I could simply type in my spine text. For Shutterfly I had to make an image to drop in. As you can see, my spine text on the Shutterfly book ended up being too big. I also chose a brown spine on the Shutterfly book to try to blend in with the dark brown background paper.

In comparison, the Blurb book spine area only wraps onto the cover about 1-2 mm. I really like this. If I remember correctly, in Bookify (Blur's online book creation software) the spine is simply typed in. Which is what I like - it's easier to just type something in than to actually design a spine.

One final thing:  my Shutterfly books have a strong unpleasant smell that I have not noticed with Blurb or with ArtsCow. It does dissipate, though, so that's good. (I am particularly sensitive to smells.)

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Solution for Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know a lot of people (although the scientist isn't one of them) who like soft chocolate chip cookies. I like them soft. My brother and sister like them soft. I know because they always undercook their cookies. While I will eat raw cookie dough in a heartbeat, I don't like half-cooked chocolate chip cookies.



My solution:  always eat your chocolate chip cookies fresh baked and still warm off the tray! It's the best way, in my opinion. You can have a soft cookie that is actually all the way cooked and has a nice crunchy edge.

I have been using this recipe lately (with modifications): Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies by Averie Cooks.

My modifications:
  • I use salted butter, and I also add the optional salt in the recipe.
  • I use about 1 and a half cups of chocolate chips (no other chocolate chunks).
  • I use the 2 cups of all purpose flour that she mentions, as an alternative to the mix of all purpose flour and bread flour.
  • And the biggest modification: I make regular sized cookies (my scoop is 1 and a half tablespoons in volume) and I cook them for about 14 minutes to achieve a nice browning on the edges.
And I eat them when they are still warm.

I do refrigerate my pre-made dough balls as she recommends. From my experience with this recipe, I suspect that if you cooked them straight away they would spread out a lot. If I cook my first batch several hours after preparing the dough it will still spread a little. But if cooked the next day (and subsequent days) they hold their shape really well.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

No Taxation Without Representation

Today is Tax Day, and to stand up against the corruption of money in politics, I take a phrase from Federalist Paper 57: "not the rich more than the poor."


There has been a lot of discussion about the recent Supreme Court ruling in the McCutcheon case, and the previous Citizens United case. I actually see the judges' point that spending your money on politics is part of free speech. I agree with that. However, what about the bigger picture?

This is what I see as the bigger picture: when it comes to politics in the U.S., money is becoming the only relevant language through which to make your voice heard. And if you don't speak that language (if you don't have a large chunk of money to throw around) then you have no voice.

Every choice has a cost. Thanks to the Supreme Court, we've chosen to uphold the right to free speech through money for the ultra rich. And the cost of that choice: all the rest of us no longer matter.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scrapbook Layouts to Share

I've been scrapping away.

This layout just has some cute pictures. There is nothing too important about it, but I love how it turned out. It has a much more flat look than I usually do.
Sup? Kit, Protectors Set 3, Wire Number Essentials, Cardstock Essentials 3,
and Mobile Ready Font Resolute 2 by Karla Dudley

This one has a similar photo to one of the ones above, with that cute tooth gap. I love how the word-art turned out here on those white paper pieces.
In Love Templates by Scrapping with Liz
Love Collection, Simple Squares 31, and Everyday Essential Cardstock by Gina Marie Huff

The seventh birthday party. For something like this with a lot of pictures, I was tempted to do a double page. But in the end I just fell in love with this template, and I love how it turned out.
And Many More Templates and Scatters, and Big Doodled Alpha and Numbers by Scrapping with Liz
Celebration & Many More Mini Bundle by Etc. by Danyale

And one more. Another one with the gappy teeth, but with a bit of journaling this time to record a bit of the ordeal the baby teeth have been.
Love Collection and Everyday Essential Cardstock by Gina Marie Huff
Recyclables 29 By Scrapping with Liz

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cauliflower Patties

This is one of my favorite side dishes, especially if I've made my meat dish in the crock pot or in the oven. These patties cook on the stove top.



The recipe comes from a book called Quinoa for Families by Rena Patten. Here is the gist of it (with my own slight modifications)

  • Cook a medium sized cauliflower in boiling water until tender. I have always cut my cauliflower into pieces before cooking, but now that I take a closer look at the recipe, I see that she says to cook it first and then cut it into pieces.
  • Drain it, then mash it up.  I use my potato masher in the same pot in which I cooked it. Let it cool a little.
  • Mix the mashed cauliflower with the following:
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • A couple tablespoons of chopped parsley (tonight I substituted about 2 teaspoons of my own dried parsley)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • Now fry them:
  • Pool oil in the bottom of a frying pan and heat it up (maybe medium high ... I start at a 7 and drop down if it seems too hot later). Drop in large spoonfuls (about a heaping 1/4 cup each) of cauliflower and flatten them out with the back of the spoon. I fit four patties in my pan at a time. When they are golden brown on one side, carefully flip them and brown the other side.
  • Transfer to paper towels and repeat.
  • Makes about 8-10 patties.
Even Miller will eat one of these patties (if properly motivated in a super positive matter). When the scientist and I eat them, we dip the bites into Grama's Sweet Chilli Sauce. So yummy!



I think I could eat a whole head of cauliflower prepared this way, but since the scientist can inhale them as fast as I can I've never been able to. Maybe some day. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

New Layouts!

It's been a while since I've had some scrapbooking layouts to share.

Here we've got a local favorite sandwich shop, complete with the cat who lives at the bike store next door and a mural with ... an octopus riding a bike! That's my town!
Happiness Collection, Everyday Essentials Cardstock, and Life365 Hodge Podge 3 by Gina Marie Huff
Bountiful Buttons by Karah Fredricks; Double Monthly Challenge Templates 4 by Scrapping with Liz


Aw, cousins. My mom is an only child, and my dad's brother never had kids. So my siblings and I didn't have any first cousins. Which meant we didn't have to share our grandparents with any other rug rats ... but we didn't have cousins. In college my roommate had cousins come over once and they talked and laughed for hours at the dining room table. I became smitten with the concept of cousins that day. And now I get to see the magic myself every few months. Life is good.
Fresh Linen Papers, Sunshine and Lemon Drop Stickers, Linen Alphabet and Juan Carlos and Fifi by creashens

Some pictures of mushrooms. Mushrooms!! Unfortunately, it has dried out again, and no more mushrooms.
Almost Spring and Morning on the Lake (Alpha) by Etc. by Danyale
Double Monthly Challenge Templates 5 by Scrapping with Liz

Birds too! Some of these pictures will be familiar.
Lifelines No. 1 Templates by creashens;  Burst Papers, Wildflower Kit, and Bare Necessities 2 Stitches by creashens
Brushed Up Life 1 by Karla Dudley

Simple & Sweet Album Templates III by Scrapping with Liz; Gentle Rain by Etc. by Danyale

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

ArtsCow 6 Inch Book Review with Coupon Code for You

I have some new printed books to share. This was my first purchase from ArtsCow. I ordered two 6-inch hardcover books using a coupon code that got me the first book for 99 cents and the second book for 6.99 ($1 off) with free shipping. I have a similar coupon code to share with you at the end of this post.

The books are for my son, so he can have some of his own little scrapbooks to look at. I just chose various pages from my yearly books that fit together in a theme. I made a school book and a holiday book.

There is no getting around that a 6x6 inch book is small, especially when you are used to 12x12.  I like to place multiple photo spots on a page, so many of the pictures are very small. The text is small too, although I could still read all of it. These 6 inch books are too small for my preference, but they are just right for a little one to enjoy.

The fist book had scrapbook pages about Preschool and Kindergarten activities.

The outside edges of the book measure really close to 6 inches. Here is a picture of the width measurement, and the height measurement is also 6 inches.

The inside pages are actually a little smaller than 6 inches. They measure about 5.75 inches on a side.

I used the default text size for the spine, and it is nice and large. I have a white spine. I can't remember if you can customize the spine color.

The end sheets are a textured white paper. I like it. I'm a huge fan of textured white paper.

The first page is a right hand side page. You can put in a "title" page, but I just went right to scrapbook layouts.



The pages are stitched in the middle. It doesn't look especially strong.

The base book comes with 20 pages. The 20th page is on the left side, and then there are three blank white pages that follow. (You can pay to have those pages filled with your images if you want, otherwise you just have white pages at the end. And you can probably add even more pages to your book. )

Here is the other book. These have (mostly) holiday pictures from Sears. We always paid to have the permission to print the images, so it's all legit.




The print quality is pretty good. The colors are nice. I did notice that the skin tones came out a little on the red side.  And the gray background paper on this following page printed a bit pink.

I placed my order on a Friday and received the package in my US Mail Box 18 days later - so about 2.5 weeks to get my order. The normal shipping charges on ArtsCow books seem a little high to me. And every book has a shipping charge, even if you buy multiple books in a single order. But I understand they are shipping from Hong Kong, so maybe that is reasonable.

I'm quite happy with these books, and I want to order more, if I can get another free shipping deal. I just hate paying for shipping. I'd like to get several more of these little books printed throughout the year, and save them up for Christmas gifts.

Since I used a 99 cent coupon code on my order, ArtsCow gave me another 99 cent coupon to share with people. For every person who uses this code, I will get a $1 reward to spend at ArtsCow.  This code is good for:

  • 99 cents for a 6x6 inch or 5x7 inch book
  • Additional 6x6 inch or 5x7 inch books for $6.99 (a $1 discount)
  • Free shipping on your order
  • One 99 cent coupon per household- so if you've already used a similar discount code, I don't think you will not be able to use this one.
  • This code is good through February 28, 2015; up to 20,000 orders; and ArtsCow can terminate the promotion at any time.
  • CODE: Z099BOOKA5495
I actually wish I had ordered more books, but since I wasn't sure if I would like them I only ordered two. I had thought that I would still be able to use other 99 cent codes that other people share, but I don't think it works that way. So, I will be on the lookout in the coming months for more special deals from ArtsCow. I'd really rather buy made in the USA, but for some fun little gifts like these at a great price, I will consider international.

Thanks for stopping by!