Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Goodies

We were invited for Easter dinner and though there was going to be a little egg hunt, I wanted to bring some candy-light goodies for the kids.  Hopefully fake moustaches, fortune-telling pens, and mood rings say Happy Easter!  Put them in a zip-lock bag with a couple of Easter candies:

Stapled a decorative banner, including a cute stamped sticker to cover the staples:

Also included these Easter-themed bubbles:

Put it together in a bag to deliver Easter fun!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pixlr-o-matic App

This is one of my favorite photo apps for adding cool drama to photos: Pixlr-o-Matic by Pixlr.  I currently use the free version, but you can upgrade to Pixlr-o-Matic Plus for 99 cents either in-app or as an app purchase in the iTunes store.  I will say that I'm pretty satisfied with the 25 films/filters, 30 light/textures, and 30 frames available for free, but it does appear you get a TON more for a mere 99 cents more.

Anyhoo, I start with an adorable original:

I scan through the various films/filters.  I LOVE how it does live preview with your pic so you get a pretty good idea from the thumbnail before applying the effect.  This is one of the key reasons it makes it to the top of my faves.

Then I scroll through various light/textures.  No live previews here, which is unfortunate because I didn't quite have the seasoned eye to imagine that the result of the "Devine" effect would look like this (which I liked and felt like a happy accident--looks like sunshine!) from its thumbnail:

Then I check out various frames. Again no live previews, but with frames, which doesn't really affect the photo in an overlay way, it's not really a big deal for me:

And ta-da!

(FYI, I used the free Phonto app to write on this pic)

Every once in a while I like to hit the "shuffle" button on top right. It's great when I'm looking for ideas because it will randomly apply a film, light, and frame to the pic that I wouldn't usually consider putting together:

Sure, there are few things I "wish" this app had:

- Basic photo editor: besides the crop button (that will crop it to a square only), I'd love for this app to have some basic photo editing abilities (more crop options, exposure adjustment, etc.).  I pretty much need to start with a decently exposed/composed pic or one that has been adjusted in another app first (like PS Express).
- Adjustable effects: depending on the photo, sometimes I'd like to adjust the effects to be a bit more subtle--especially some of the light/texture effects or the strength of some of the filter/film effects.
- Layering: I wish I could layer more than film/filter effect or layer more than light/texture effect--obviously this would also be handy with the ability to adjust the effects themselves.

But I would also like to emphasize what I LOVE about this app:

- It's a great value. As a free app, it has an amazing value with the generous offerings of films/filters, light/textures, and frames. And to that end, I have to say that 99 cents seems like a ridiculous bargain for the extensive choices you'd get.
- Great choices. To the end that this is a free app, it's only good a good value if I like offerings and I really like a lot of their films/filters.
- LIVE previews. Some other apps (some which I still like and use) utilize a stock photo with the various filters applied but it's really hard to get an idea of how that filter will look on my photo without seeing it. With live previews, I at least get an idea. Without it, I tend to only try filters that I think would look good because I don't want to spend the time and see what each filter looks like and then I feel I'm limited to my guesses. 

This is a great photo app to make photos more fun, cool, or dramatic.  It's easy to have a lot of fun with this one, especially for a free app!  Anyone who upgraded to Plus have any feedback?

Saturday, March 2, 2013


PicTapGo is one of my new favorite photo apps.  It was created by the folks at Totally Rad who make awesome PhotoShop actions and RadLab. And now it's almost like having Totally Rad on my iPhone--for a $1.99!

What I love is that I can take a cute pic like this:

And see a live preview of the different filters:

So many awesome filters:

And you can adjust the strength of the filter with the slider:

And if you want to compare to the original pic, just hold the left side of the pic:

Also, it's really easy to layer the various filters, you just tap a new filter and adjust the strength of the slider to your preference.  And if you want to see your pic before you applied the current filter, hold down the right side of the pic to see the previous effort:

After applying a combo of filters, you can save "recipes" of it for future photos!  Here's my combo of "Skinny Jeans", "Flare Up", and "EZ-Burn"--I called it "Warm & Brighten".  And bonus, you can share recipes with other PicTapGo users.

Even though PicTapGo doesn't technically have a photo editor, a lot of its filters accomplishes some editing desires (like exposure, saturation, contrast, etc).  For example, this late night pic was fairly underexposed but by selecting various strengths of "Lights On" (raised exposure), "Mama's Tap Shoe's" (gave rich sepia tone), and "E-Z Burn" (subtle vignette), I was able to edit this pic:

Into something that I'd want to share and post:

I named this recipe "Late Night Bar".

My only wish for this app was the ability for some cropping/transforming options (and I will concede it doesn't offer fun frames) but overall, this shortcoming is outweighed by its amazing features:

- LIVE previews (those apps with stock photos with their applied filters just keep me guessing)
- amazing value--anyone drooling to get Totally Rad's RadLab but can't invest in PhotoShop on their computer knows that getting this near-app version is a steal!
- excellent filter choices with simple, easy-to-use interface
- ability to view previous and original pix while editing
- ability to adjust strength of filters
- ability to layer filters
- save and share recipes

Any other PicTapGo folks want to share recipes?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Falling in love with Dymo again

So glad I brought a Dymo labeler! I love how I don't run out of any letter (like letter stickers) and I can just punch out a snappy title so easily:

Now I wish I brought more Dymo tapes!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Crafty in NJ

I traveled up to NJ to help with my mom who had major surgery and decided to pack a few crafty items (a few stamps with mini ink pads, inkjoy pens, washi and paper tapes, and a Dymo), just in case:

So GLAD I did.  I've had some downtime at night and it's been awesome.  I put this Amy Tangerine day book to use that I received as a gift from a good friend.  I typed out "ready or not here we go 2013" for my cover:

Bigger letters would have probably been a better fit for the cover, but I kind of wanted to use what I brought.  Inside, I printed out pix with my Polaroid Z2300 and used my Dymo for some more titling as well as some of the stamps I brought:

One note about the Polaroid Z2300:  the quality of it as a camera is a bit low but it's been so super as a portable printer for pix I take with my iPhone.  Unfortunately, it's a bit of a process--download pix from my iPhone to my laptop, then connect the Polaroid to my laptop and copy desired pix to be printed  to the Polaroid's memory card, then print.  But it's worth it when I want to do some late night scrapping and not make a trip to the Target for prints.  Another plus is that the reasonably-priced 2"x3" Zink photo paper is sticker-backed.  Perfect for scrapping.

I will confess, since getting my scrap on, I made a visit to the local Michael's and acquired a few more goodies, which I promised myself to use on this trip.  Bonus: everything I got was on sale-priced!

Holding myself to my word--made a simple card and decorated the envelope with my new inks:

It feels so good to be crafty again!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Collage Card

I found this Design Sponge tutorial on printing 2x2 square pix (like Instagram or my Hipstamatic) on 4x6 prints--so efficient cost-wise, right?  I chose a variety of pix to make a little collage for a thank you card for the family who hosted us during the holidays.

I know I'm very late with the holiday "thank you" but hopefully the cute pix will make up for the tardiness!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gladys Knight inspiration

The Auntie Karen Foundation is presenting a performance by Gladys Knight here in Columbia, South Carolina.  The school district is hosting an art contest for portraits of Gladys Knight and my girl is working on her entry:

I'll be out of town (heading to see my mom in the hospital in NJ) when they announce the winner but I'm proud of my girl's efforts no matter what.  I really do love that she enjoys drawing so much.  So I hold out hope that she'll be into scrapbooking (or any other creative artsy endeavor that I have some ability too) someday...

Friday, February 1, 2013

Secret Santa

Man, it's been forever since I posted and almost as long as since I got crafty but I at least got to do Secret Santa this year!  When I was out in SoCal last month for my company's Awards banquet, I convinced folks to do four days of Secret Santa.  My person listed Glee, the Nebraska Huskers, cereal, and Katie Holmes among his interests.

The first day I made a mix CD of Glee songs with a card from Katie Holmes:

The second day I made a simple fleece blanket with a Katie Holmes stand-in:

And also a little note from Katie:

It works!

The third day, I made a drawstring bag with leftover Nebraska fleece fabric.  I put a box of cereal in it and Katie told him he could use the bag as a shoe bag when he travels.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a pic.

On the final day, I made a dopp kit using this boxy bag tutorial from Skip To My Lou and embellished it with a Nebraska "N" from leftover fleece fabric.

Instead of oilcloth, I used this cute cowboy fabric:

And inside, I put in this requested ice cream scoop.

Felt so good to be crafty again!