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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