Sunday, March 8, 2009

I have moved this blog to a new domain. I hope you'll check out my new review site by clicking the button below. Thanks!

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Creating photo books with Inkubook

As many of my readers know organizing my photos has always been an issue for me. I really struggle with this. I suppose a lot of it has to do with the huge amount of pictures I take and then because of that I get completely overwhelmed with the whole editing, printing and filing process. The more pictures that get backlogged on me the more stressed I get and then the more I procrastinate the project. It's easy for me to ignore because I'm not tripping over my pictures on a daily basis, they are tucked away on my computer. Out of sight, out of mind as they say. It's definitely a viscious cycle that is for sure.

I've heard people talking about photo books for awhile now but they sounded complicated to my simple mind and I seriously didn't want another thing confusing me. In January though I had the opportunity to check out Inkubook, an online photo book publishing service. A service that I absolutely fell in love with.

Love, love, love Inkubook! Now that we've got that out of the way, let me tell you why. From start to finish the process was so EASY. So easy even I could figure it out!

First thing I did was sign up for an account, which is free, and it allows you to play around creating books and having fun yet with no obligation to buy ever. Sweet! I decided to do a 2008 Christmas album and clicked on "start a new book". The next screen gave me two options and this is where I really started to get excited.

The options were:

Autofill my book ~ kick back and let us do the work. Choose your photos and we'll create the first pass of your book


Start from scratch ~ feeling adventurous and creative? Build your book from start to finish.

Gee I wonder which one I picked?? Option #1 of course because I like simple and that sounded simple. And was it ever. All I had to do was select my theme (Contemporary Christmas for me) and upload my pictures (I had about 86 pictures) and then just sit back and wait while Inkubook did all the work. In about 10-15 minutes Inkubook chose the picture size and background pattern for each page and varied it up so each page was different. And because it puts the pictures in in the order you uploaded them they were all in the right sequence. I am not kidding you when I say how blown away I was by this. When the computer was finished doing it's thing, just like that I had a beautiful book with lovely holiday patterned and colored background pages.

At this point I was given the option of making any adjustments I saw fit to either picture placement and size or to the layout and backgrounds. I could also add text if I wanted to. I only needed to move a couple of pictures around and it was super easy to do although to be honest I did run into a little snafu with my cover page. I decided I wanted to change the picture on the cover but when I tried to do it I could only get a tiny picture and of course I wanted it to fill the whole page.

I must admit I panicked for a good couple of minutes before, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a button that said Live Chat. Live Chat, ya right, that'll be the day. I clicked on it and a chat box came up. I wrote hello in the box and sat back thinking I was going to have to wait awhile before anything happened. To say I was a little skeptical would have been an understatement. Would you believe someone immediately typed back hello to me. It was so quick I assumed I was corresponding with a computer but as I explained my problem and this friendly "computer" chatted back with me I realized I was in fact talking to a REAL LIVE person and not only that but she fixed me up lickety split and I was back on my way. Holy smokes how's that for service!

When my book arrived in the mail I simply could not have been more pleased. It is a stunning hardcover book filled with pages and pages of amazing pictures printed on archival-quality silk paper.

The price for a book with 86 pictures? $43.95 which works out to about 51 cents a picture. But keep in mind that these pictures aren't all 4x6 size. I have some 4x6, some 5x7 and some full page pictures included plus I don't have to buy an album on top of that. It's done. Done as in once I get the book I don't have to do a single other thing to it except enjoy it!

The last thing that I want to touch on is that my book is thin which means it takes up way less space on my shelf than a photo album would holding the same amount of pictures. This is perfect for me as I'm fast running out of room on my photo album shelf.

Finally if anyone is interested, Inkubook is offering free shipping right now to residents of the US until the end of February with the code LUVFREESHIP. Also once you have an account set up you'll be notified of any future promotions going on which is nice.

Check it out ~ it's fun, easy, beautiful and FAST!

Did I mention I love Inkubook?! :)

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dymo LetraTag Label Maker LT-100H

As a Professional Organizer you would think that I am in love with the label maker. Truth is I'm not, or should I say, I wasn't. You see I have a pretty fancy dancy label maker that I purchased a couple of years ago but that I rarely used because it was just too complicated for me to figure out. I'm a simple girl, complicated bugs me. I don't have time to mess around with a hundred different bells and whistles.

So when Dymo contacted me to try out their LetraTag LT-100H model I was a little skeptical, considering my track record and all, but my optimism told me to go for it.

Well hello, so easy to use, it's a piece of cake and look at me labeling everything in site, label maker! Gosh this thing is so easy to use and so much less expensive to purchase as well. Now granted it's probably missing some of the "extras" that my old label maker had but because I could never figure them out, I can't even begin to tell you what they were anyway.

I want to be able to just turn the thing on, type up a label, switch from capitals to no capitals with the touch of one button, go from alpha to numerical with just one button, print and be done with it. Is that too much to ask for? Not with this little beauty. It fits into one hand and you can even type up a label just using your thumb if you want to. Now that's convenience!

The actual labels you can buy for it come in quite the variety including ones that are magnetic. Very cool option if I do say so myself. I like that the label backing is split in the middle making them a cinch to peel off too.

The only time I had to actually use the manual (something I don't generally take the time to do) and the one downfall that I could find with this label maker was trying to figure out how to find the apostrophe. It's hidden in with the symbols which still isn't hard to find but I do wish that it had it's own button.

The other thing to consider is that while you can change print sizes and chose from six different font styles (normal, bold, italic, outline, shadow and vertical) you can't change the actual font itself. This doesn't bother me at all though because I like all my labels to be uniform anyway.

If you are looking for a no-nonsense, simple to use AND inexpensive label maker than the Dymo LetraTag may be the one for you.

Oh and did I mention it can also do two line printing if you want, yay! :)

Available for $19.14 through Amazon

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Go! The Essential Guide To Organizing and Moving + giveaway!

Updated to add: This giveaway is now over. The winner is Jerri from Simply Sweet Home!

When I attended the Professional Organizer's Conference last November I had the privilege of meeting two spunky and fun ladies, Gail Shields and Karen Shinn, of Stress-Free Moving. Gail and Karen have recently written an excellent resource book, called Go! The Essential Guide To Organizing and Moving, that will help anyone even thinking about moving come to grips with it.

Let's face it, moving is daunting. I moved within town about five years ago and I still shudder just remembering the stress involved. This book would have been a tremendous help to me way back then.

Go! is designed as a complete moving resource. The first part of the book provides tips, tricks and techniques used to ensure successful moves and the second part is your personal moving workbook. It contains checklists, countdown calendars and note pages to help you keep track of all of the details of your move.

This comprehensive book takes you through each step of the moving process and, with so many things to keep track of, it's comforting to know that someone else has already compiled and provided the critical information and checklists needed for a smooth move. Talk about taking the pressure off.

It's written in easy to read format with pictures scattered throughout for visual interest. It is also wire spiral bound which is essential in a resource and planning guide so that it lies flat for taking notes.

Gail and Karen's Top Ten Tips for an organized move are:

  • Plan ahead
  • Measure carefully to ensure good space planning
  • Ask questions
  • Edit your "stuff" before you move
  • Keep all notes and numbers in the same place
  • Check community resources and recycle
  • Ask for help. It's not always cheaper or easier to do it yourself
  • Select the right equipment to get the job done
  • Always have a Plan B
  • Enjoy the process
Excellent advice ladies, thank you!

Currently the Go! book is only available for purchase from their website, Stress-Free Moving. Price $24.95 Cdn.

Today Karen and Gail are giving away a copy of their book though to one lucky reader! So if you are thinking about moving anytime soon then you'll want to put your name in for sure. All you have to do is just leave a comment below before Monday, January 19th at 6:00 pm PST. Open to everyone.

Good luck!

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

4 great wall calendar options for 2009

Today I'd like to share four very different wall calendar options with you. Each of them is brilliant and effective in it's own way. Some of you may remember I have a bit of a calendar fixation as I like to keep them in nearly every room of my house. I only actually use one though as my main calendar, the rest I just like to look at. It's bizarre, what can I say :)

Every year I gather up some calendars and slowly begin the process of narrowing down which one will take the coveted space in my kitchen as my central calendar. The grand poo-bah if you will. I hate to hurt any of their feelings but there can be only one.

Let me share my top four picks with you by telling you a little bit about each of them. I was going to give you a list of the pros and cons of each but I don't think that would be fair. What I may see as a con someone else may see as a plus, only you can decide which one will be suitable for your own unique circumstances. So I'll stick to the facts and then at the end I'll tell you why I choose the one that I did and why it works for me.

Clicking on each calendar title will take you to the online source.

2009 BusyBodyBook Wall Calendar

  • Not your typical monthly calendar...this one is in weekly grid format with seven spacious columns accommodating up to seven family members or other activities such as meal planning or household chores.
  • Each person simply reads down the column to see their appointments/activities for each day.
  • Works well for very busy households with each individual requiring large amounts of daily space.
  • Every other column is lightly shaded to provide differentiation.
  • There is a 4-inch pocket on the inside back cover to hold important papers, receipts or coupons.
  • Offered in two sizes 14" x 11.25" (1 week view) or 14" x 22.5" (2 week view)
  • Price: $14.95

2009 Time Too Family Tracker Calendar

  • Typical monthly format except this calendar runs from Monday to Sunday.
  • Calendar is supersized at 16" x 19" providing large daily squares.
  • Each square has two different color guides at the top and bottom of each white square to assist with tracking of activities. The bottom blue area is to help you differentiate your evening activities from your daytime activities.
  • Weekends easily stand out as they are lightly shaded green boxes.
  • Big green box at the of each month is an area set aside for planning ahead. Beside that is an area to track events that need to be RSVP'd to.
  • Printed on 100% recycled, forest friendly, chlorine free paper.
  • Price: $29.95 currently on sale for $16.95

2009 Family Facts Family Activity Calendar

  • Typical monthly calendar format (Sunday to Saturday) however what sets this calendar apart is that each box (day) has 5 different colored and lightly shaded lines allowing you to assign each family member or activity a different color if you want.
  • Size 14" x 23"
  • Fold out write on/wipe-off boards (dry-erase marker included) to list contacts, reminders, notes to family members or anything else you don't want to forget.
  • Large pocket at the bottom to keep schedules, school handouts, and other important papers.
  • Comes with a large sheet of stickers to mark birthdays, payments and appointments.
  • Price: $12.95

2009 More Time Moms Family Organizer Calendar

  • Typical monthly calendar running Sunday to Saturday with each large square (2.1 x 3.5) complete with 9 lines to write on.
  • Calendar size 15" x 22"
  • Large inside back pocket for bills and loose paperwork.
  • Large sticker sheet included to mark birthdays, appointments and vacations.
  • Can be hung in half month size to accommodate smaller spaces.
  • Each month has additional white space for Kid's Chores and Reminders.
  • Price: $14.99

So as you can see each of these calendars provides something distinctive for your scheduling fantasties functions. The goal is to be able to find a calendar that is easily used by the whole family making it simple and efficient to track who needs to be where and when.

For me I was able to narrow my choices down somewhat because I know from past experience that not only do I prefer to use the typical monthly format (we really don't have enough family activities to warrant the weekly grid format) I also prefer to see big white boxes. Last year I used a calendar that offered colored boxes with various shading and I found it to be too distracting to my eyes and didn't generate the feeling of calmness I crave from seeing big white spaces. Of course keep in mind that this is just what works for me and your needs may be entirely different. Often it does take some trial and error year to year to really cement down your particulars. Because I'd used a completely different calendar last year it really made this year's decision that much easier for me. The calendar I have chosen to be my right hand this year will be the 2009 More Time Moms Family Organizer.

And in case you are worried about the others, please don't. They will be given good homes somewhere else in my house where I can keep an eye on them and still appreciate their beauty :)

Which one do you think would work for you?

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Meet the Pouchee and then try to win one!

Updated: The winner of the very cool hot pink Pouchee is Leanna Miller! Congratulations Leanna!!

If you are home reading this and not out braving the stores on this crazy shopping day you are in for a treat. A treat that doesn't require any early mornings or long line ups AND keeps the contents of your purse so organized you simply won't believe it. It just doesn't get any better than that now does it :)

Let me introduce you to the Pouchee, the Ultimate Purse Organizer!

When organizer friend, Sandy Jenney (be sure to check out her new cute blog design!), first told me about these lovely little beauties, I have to admit I'd never heard of them before. I was intrigued and so she sent me one to try out and it sure didn't take me long to fall in love. Talk about brilliant thinking here ladies.

What makes this product so clever is that it solves a problem that annoys most women especially women that like to switch their purses up on a regular basis. The Pouchee is designed to carry all your essential purse items in one spot so that when you want to change your bag or purse up you simply just grab your Pouchee and move it from one bag to another. Just like that. Two seconds flat. No fumbling around trying to make sure you get everything. Forget having to say ever again "oh drat I left it in my other purse".

Now although this little Pouchee is compact (it's about 7 x 5 in) it holds A LOT. There is room for everything including your sunglasses, credit cards, money, lipsticks, chequebook, keys, notebook, cell phone, etc. Here are some of the features:

  • 5 credit card slots
  • 3 outside pockets (two of them big enough to hold a cell phone)
  • one inside zippered pocket
  • three divided areas inside
  • two inside lipstick pockets
  • magnetic closure
  • flat bottom so it stands alone
  • two cute circle carrying handles

Don't be afraid to carry your Pouchee alone either. When I was at the Professional Organizer's Conference a couple of weeks ago I saw a lady doing just that and she looked fab! They come in both a cotton material and a swanky leatherette and you will absolutely not believe the color selection, it's awesome. Seriously this product is cool and it gets a big thumbs up from me.

Sandy was so nice to totally increase my cool factor by introducing me to this product. Now she wants to do the same with one lucky reader here today. Sandy is giving away a hot pink cotton Pouchee to one of you!!!

Leave a comment by Monday night (Dec 1st) at 6:00 pm PST and you too just might be sporting some new organized coolness in the very near future :)

If you'd like to purchase a Pouchee of your own or for a Christmas gift, you can do so easily enough by visiting Sandy's site, Organize With Sandy.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Couponizer

I've been wanting to do a review of The Couponizer for awhile now. I purchased it quite some time ago and was very pleased with this coupon system and the fact that it comes complete with everything you need to get your coupons organized today in order to start saving money immediately.

Here is a list of what is included:

  1. The Couponizer - a wire bound booklet with 22 pockets and 3 plastic sleeves for storing grocery and other coupons as well as gift cards.
  2. Your Guide to Smart Savings! - a guide by Amy Bergin, the creator of The Couponizer that includes instructions on using the system as well as tips on smart spending, using coupons and the history of coupons.
  3. CoupStacker - a pre-sorting mat with categories that match the pockets in the Couponizer. A real time saver when clipping!
  4. CoupTracker - a list pad for tracking your savings and spending.
  5. Shopping List
  6. Scissors
  7. Durable clear plastic carrying bag

I love that everything is included and I love that it is so easy to use. How many times have you gone to the store only to realize you didn't have your coupons with you or just didn't feel like standing there sorting through them all. How many dollars could you have saved?

Coupons are big business these days and provide an excellent way to reduce your grocery budget in hard economic times. With coupon systems like this one it really couldn't be simpler. You gather all your coupons together and then do a quick sort using the sorting mat that is provided and in no time your coupons are organized by category making it fast to find the one you are looking for when you need it. And because The Couponizer comes with it's own little carrying case you can conveniently leave it in your vehicle so it's available when you hit the grocery store.

For a limited time and as supplies last, Amy is also including FREE, with each Couponizer system purchased, an amazing book by well-known author and television personality, Stephanie Nelson, otherwise known as the Coupon Mom (you may have seen her on Oprah recently). This 154 page book is called The Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom and believe me when I say this book is detailed. Everything you could possibly want to know about couponing is in this book.

Finally I want to share something else that sealed the deal for me that this is an exceptional company. When I ordered my Couponizer there was a problem with the shipping (due to living in Canada) and I ended up paying an unnecessary extra $20.00 in customs fees. I was disappointed and immediately emailed them to explain what had happened. Amy herself emailed me back right away and was so apologetic and didn't even hesitate to reimburse the extra charge I paid. I appreciated that I wasn't given a hassle and the personal friendly service shown to me meant a lot. What a class act in my book!

The Couponizer sells for $19.95 and in my opinion is worth every penny, especially if you have access and are trying to keep track of many coupons at once. It is the first shopping system to offer more than just a holder for coupons, but it is instead a whole system of tools to enable consistent savings.

It just doesn't get any better than that!

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