A couple weeks ago I reviewed 5 Online Wedding Photo Book Apps and my favorite choice was Pinhole Press. I got some really great tips and feedback from some of you, and a couple of you mentioned Artifact Uprising. So before I created my book, I took some time to play with Artifact Uprising, and really liked their app. However, I still went with Pinhole Press, and I thought I’d share my findings and what ultimately swayed my opinion.

I set out to design my photo book on both systems at the same time. This way I would see exactly how the products differ and if one had more problems in one area over another. Practically right away I encountered a HUGE problem with Artifact Uprising. They would not allow me to upload any photos larger than 12MB. Yes, 12MB is a very large file size for upload, but Pinhole Press didn’t have this road block. They allowed me to upload as  many huge files as I wanted and the upload time was pretty fast. So I was forced to resize my photos if I wanted to use them on Artifact. Now, I know how to do this because I know photoshop really well, but I would wager to guess that the average user does not know how to downsize their pictures, and would give up at this step. Please tell me if I’m wrong.

Going through photoshop to downsize photos not only takes a long time, but also might compromise the quality of your pictures. For print, you always want to use the highest quality, largest files possible. So obviously it made me nervous to downsize my precious photos (saved as copies of course) not knowing how the print might turn out.

As far as features and general usability, the two systems are very similar. The Pinhole product is lovely white and minimal which I like, and the Artifact layout is a dark interface and has a lot more buttons, weird double click edit tools that I found slightly cumbersome. Overall, they’re pretty similar, and I did like the font choices Artifact gives you.

Major problem #2 was the ability to have a photo span a 2 page spread. This creates a visually stunning layout and was something I was adamant about having in my book. But alas, Artifact Uprising doesn’t allow you to do this. At Pinhole Press, you have to choose the “Panoramic Book“, which gives you a flat inseam on the binding. It’s a bit more expensive, but definitely worth it to me. We had so many beautiful, wide photos I wanted to show off. This is when I stopped using Artifact Uprising, and finished my project with Pinhole Press.

Now, if you don’t care about the 2 page photo spread, and you don’t have super large photos over 12MB, then I really think Artifact Uprising is a great tool—probably better because of the different color cloth bindings, the interesting book jackets, and the font choices. Also, they’re slighly cheaper.

An 8.75 x 8.75 inch photo book with 61 pictures at Pinhole Press is $84.99.

An 8.5 x 8.5 inch photo book with 50 pages at Artifact Uprising is $69 with the ability to add a pages for $1 each.

For those of you who don’t know, I actually get hired to design these kinds of complex creation tools, so it was really interesting for me to dig deep into the usability of these 2 great products. And, I actually know what I’m talking about when I rate them!

I hope this helps you choose the right product for making your next book project. Photo products like the ones Pinhole and Artifact offer are amazing holiday gifts, and as you may have guessed from my timing, that’s exactly what I used them for! But no more, or else I’ll ruin the surprise…

Dec 02, 2013

Wow, well that was a long blog break. Don’t have any excuses this time… I just felt I didn’t have anything to say. I’ve been maintaining this blog for over 5 years, so I tried out what it would feel like to not blog everyday. And it felt ok actually. I think it’s good to question our habits sometimes—really evaluate why we do things. But now that it’s December, I had to come back and give you your December desktop calendar!

Although I haven’t posted anything in a while, I’ve been working a lot behind the scenes. Next year (like, January!) is going to see a blog and portfolio re-design, as well as a whole content shift. It’s kind of scary and overwhelming, but I’m really excited too.

Happy Monday! And Happy Veteran’s Day! I’m so thankful for the brave men and women who have served our country. I am also thankful for no traffic today on my commute to the office which only took me 30 minutes (instead an hour). God Bless America.

I spent the entire weekend obsessively consuming posts from Buzznet blogger Mark Oshiro who reads all 7 Harry Potter books and posts reactions and summaries after each chapter. It is so amazing. I started reading Harry Potter years ago, and have re-read all the books multiple times. I keep going back to these stories because I love the characters, the ongoing struggles, and find them a great escape even though I know what’s going to happen. Mark reads them as an adult for the first time with no background or previous knowledge. Everything is new, suspenseful, dumbfounding and exciting. His reactions are hilarious, and his insights are spot on. He approaches the books with childlike wonder (Diagon Ally! Hermione saves the day AGAIN! Dragons!!!), and also a heavy dose of intellectual analysis of larger themes (racism, classism, bigotry, etc.). If you’re a fan of the books, I highly suggest checking out the archive. I’m starting the 6th book tonight—reading the Half-Blood Prince, and following up each chapter with Mark’s reviews.

Ok, did you guys know about Land Girls? I came across it because Netflix (rightly) suggested I would like it. It was a show on the BBC that spanned 3 seasons from 2009-2011. Made in the same artistic and story-telling vein as Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey, Land Girls tells the story of the Women’s Land Army during World War II stationed in the rural English countryside. I looked into it and the WLA was actually a real thing! Women signed up and were sent all around the country doing the work of famers and farm hands who were off fighting the war. Which totally makes sense because the country had to produce even more food than usual to feed it’s citizens and troops. Kind of like Rosie the Riveter, but these ladies worked the fields instead. It’s absoluetly amazing to me that I didn’t know this. The show is admittedly not as good as either Downton or Midwife, but I just really love the idea of women pitching in for the war effort by digging ditches and planting potatoes. It’s a short series—only 5 episodes for each 3 seasons—so it isn’t a huge commitment.

Our internet and cable has been out all weekend. Because of the holiday today, it won’t be fixed until tomorrow morning. So I’m working from one of my client’s offices today. I take my high-speed connectivity for granted. So much of my life in online and not having complete access to it 100% of the time totally throws me for a loop. At first I thought it would be the perfect excuse to make sizable dent in my wedding thank you cards, but no! I use Google docs to organize our wedding gifts and address book. So then I thought I’d work on some of my personal projects—wrong again! I have been using Google Docs and email and Evernote and Wunderlist to do all of that. Are we too reliant on the web? Maybe, but it really does improve our lives when we have it. Or maybe I should just make sure to sync my Google Drive and Evernote desktop folders.

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TGIF & Happy Weekend

posted by Amanda // Inspiration

Nov 08, 2013

Well where did this week go? Holy cow, I can’t believe it’s already Friday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Matt’s been working all week, 12+ hour shifts, starting in the late morning and afternoon, so he doesn’t get home until the wee hours. And I’ve been chained to my desk all week working on various projects. Hopefully next week will afford me more time to spend on this here blog. Until then, happy weekend!

(taken this week while running errands)

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Here are some things I found and loved this week:

I am ordering everyone I know these adorable cat and dog calendars this year. What a great idea.

And speaking of gifts, have you seen the new ebook from Chelsea from Lovely Indeed and Chelsey from The Paper Mama: Make Your Day, DIY All Day Long? WANT.

This invisible bike helmet blew my mind.

Most adorable conversation about kids cutting hair… I have a similar story to this actually.

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Meal planning has been something I’ve been working on ever since Matt and I started living together (over a year now). For some reason it was really easy when I lived by myself. I just went to the store and bought what looked good. I didn’t really think about it, and definitely didn’t have a plan.

Recently I feel like I’m finally getting it down so that the whole process isn’t as daunting and doesn’t take as much time. I can put my menu and shopping list together in a couple minutes, and by the end of the week, we’ve successfully eaten healthy home-cooked meals without spending lots of money or wasting a bunch of food. Hooray!

Here are my 5 Tips for Meal Planning for 2 people:

1. Start a Pinterest board (or more) with recipes that look good. I have several: general meals, veggie-centric foods, paleo recipes, desserts & sweets, and drinks. Before I pin a recipe, I try to make sure and look at the ingredient list and process to make sure I have everything I need (like a crock pot) and/or the ingredients will be easy to find (Garam Masala for example). Every week I sort through these boards and look for recipes that stand out. I then print them out, put them in my recipe notebook, and make my shopping list.

2. Only cook 3-4 days a week. One of the biggest mistakes I made when I was starting to cook for Matt and I, was cooking way too much. Most recipes make enough for 4-6 people, so we would have so much left over, and a lot of it went to waste. Also, I would get so worn out by Friday I wouldn’t want to cook anything and we would end up going out anyway. So now I start the week off with 3 cooking days, Monday – Wednesday. Thursday we usually have leftovers and Friday we’ll go out. Over the weekend we’ll use up any other leftovers and/or make another meal and/or go out. It all depends on what we made that week and how busy our schedule is.

3. One crockpot meal a week. A crockpot is a great tool. I use mine all the time to make stews, roasts, chili, etc. I love having a large amount of a single dish that I can eat for lunch, or we can use for another meal during the week. You have to schedule your time differently and throw it together in the morning instead of after work, but once you get that part down, it’s so easy.

4. Vary your protein. This is pretty obvious, but again, takes some planning and thought. One week I realized we ate chicken 3 days in a row… not very exciting. Now for the 3 meals I make every week, I split it up between chicken, beef and pork or sausage. One of those will be a crock pot meal, the other 2 will be roasted, grilled or baked. It’s much easier coming up with meal ideas when you have a variety of cuts to select from.

5. Keep your pantry and fridge well stocked. Here’s a list of my pantry and fridge basics, and some the veggies I make sure I always have on hand: pasta, pasta sauce, canned soup and chili, rice, soy sauce, a couple mustards, lemon juice, onions, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, bell peppers, spinach or baby greens, eggs and a couple kinds of vinegar. I also keep bacon and ground sausage in my meat drawer. So worst case scenario: you have no leftovers and you can’t go out. Using these simple ingredients you can always throw together a healthy meal.

 

Speaking of throw together, last-minute meals, I wanted to share one of our all-time favorites I found on the Nom Nom Paleo blog: Baked Eggs with Meat (scroll all the way to the end of this post). It’s so easy and so delicious, I probably make this every other week, and always have the ingredients ready to go if need be.

Baked Eggs with Meat (adapted from Nom Nom Paleo)

oil/fat of choice

1 diced onion

minced garlic to taste

1 package mushrooms

1 bell pepper or any other veggie you have laying around like carrots or celery

1lb ground sausage

1 jar marinara sauce

1 bag baby greens or spinach

4-6 eggs

Preheat your oven to 350.

In a large, deep sauté pan, brown onion and garlic in your oil or fat of choice. Add mushrooms and any other veggie (NOT LETTUCE) and sauté with salt and pepper until soft and fragrant. Add sausage and brown by moving it around your pan. Stir in your marinara sauce and let it all cook together for a few minutes. Add your lettuce in large handfuls until it wilts.

Pour mixture into a square baking dish. Crack your eggs on top—one in each corner and maybe another 1 or 2 in the middle. Put your baking dish in the oven and set your timer for 8 minutes. Check the consistency of your eggs and bake until your whites are solid and your eggs are runny.

 

One last note: I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you, however I realize every house hold is different. I work from home, so I have access to my kitchen during the day when I get hungry. And Matt is home some days of the week which I know isn’t common for most of you. When he’s working on set, he always gets his breakfasts and lunches provided for, and sometimes even gets dinner. This has been part of my struggle with meal planning because our schedules are always in flux. I might cook more if he’s around home more, and cook less if he’s working all week.

I hope these tips help you! Please let me know if you have any other tips, notes or suggestions. I’m always looking to make this process better, easier, faster and more fun.

(photo above taken during our engagement session by our friends Lukas & Suzy Van Dyke)

Nov 01, 2013

It’s November! Can you believe we’re 2 short months away from 2014?! Crazy. Here’s your November desktop calendar. Click here or the graphic below to download. Hope you enjoy the amethyst and wine inspired color palette.

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Here are some things I found and loved this week:

Have you been keeping up with the JC Penny branding craziness? It’s disappointing.

This makes me want to fly Virgin America everywhere.

Oh how I wish these Brontë Sister Power Dolls were real!

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Oct 31, 2013

Well it’s happened again. It seems we will be going to a party tonight and not watching a scary movie and handing out candy as I had hoped. Time to throw together a last-minute costume!

But if you are staying in, here are my top 8 classic horror film picks along with their original trailers.

1. Wait Until Dark // Less of a horror film, and more of a thriller, this Audrey Hepburn movie will keep you on the edge of your seat.

2. The Shinning // I remember being completely freaked out watching this in middle school. Might be time for a re-watch.

3. Rosemary’s Baby // Lots of creepiness in this old movie. I always find any horror plot around kids and babies extra scary.

4. Silence of the Lambs // I remember my dad had this VHS and I thought the cover was so pretty and I watched it when my parents were out of the house. Bad idea.

5. The Exorcist  // My mom and I watched this one Halloween a few years ago. It’s not as scary now because the visual effects look so fake, but imagine watching this in 1973!

6. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? // This twisted story about 2 sisters isn’t really a horror film, but is still pretty effed up.

7. Psycho // Probably the most notorious horror films of all time. And have you seen the recent movie Hitchcock all about the making of the film? Super interesting.

8. Carrie // True story: I had a slumber party for my 13th birthday, and we watched this movie! Debating whether to see the new one or not.

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Oct 30, 2013

I was inspired to create an actually scary Halloween mix tape. You won’t find Monster Mash or Werewolf Bar Mitzvah on this playlist… instead these songs might make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. I had a lot of fun putting this mix together and I’ve been listening to it all week. I hope you enjoy it too!

Listen on Spotify

(image source)

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Halloween is coming up fast, but as for right now, Matt and I still don’t have any plans. This always seems to happen. I plan on staying in, watching a scary movie and handing out candy, but at the last second, we decide to go to a party… and I have to throw a costume together. I’ve gotten pretty good at repurposing clothing from my wardrobe into costumes. Here are 3 of my favorites that might help you this year.

Costume #1: Hogwarts Student // This is definitely my go-to. It’s comfortable, and only requires one obscure prop: a stick.

Here’s what you need:

Costume: a white blouse, a skirt in any color, tights or knee highs, a gray cardigan, a striped scarf, a leather satchel, boots, glasses are a nice effect if you have them.

Beauty: hair in a ponytail or down

Props: something “wand-like” (a stick from your backyard works fine), maybe a Harry Potter book in your bag for effect. I have a Ravenclaw patch and sew it loosely on my cardigan.

1. Ray Ban RX5285 from Glasses.com   //   2. Chiffon Blouse from H&M   //   3. Jaclyn Skirt from Monki   //   4. Rag & Bone Eldon Stripe Scarf from Scoop NYC   //   5. Twist & Tango Kenya Cardigan from The Dressing Room   //   6. Women Knee High Socks from Uniqulo   //   7. Harry Potter Hogwarts Magical Wand Prop Replica from TOYNK.com   //   8. Cambridge Satchel from Shopbop   //   9. Rock and Candy Spraypaint Boot from DSW

 

Costume #2: Peter Pan or Tinkerbell // I recently bought a cute green dress, and this costume idea immediately popped into my head.

Here’s what you need:

Costume: a green dress, a brown rope or braid style belt, green tights, moccasins, green hat optional. If you get cold, bring a Native American inspired blanket, sweater or poncho.

Beauty: for Peter, pull your hair back, ideally under a green hat. For Tink wear it in a top-knot bun.

Props: a bag of “pixie dust”, maybe a pocket knife Peter. Definitely pick up some wings for Tink.

1. Ana Field Hat  from Zolando   //   2. Merona Plus Sized Sleeveless Tank Dress from Target   //   3. Clark’s Originals Sylvie Moccasins from Zolando   //   4.  Pretty Navajo Poncho from Accessorize   //   5. Fringe Soga Belt from Calypso St Barth   //   6. Fogal 490 Waves Tights from Pret A Beaute

 

Costume #3: Holly Golightly // I’m leaning toward this one this year.

Here’s what you need:

Costume: a little black dress, black heels, string of peals, any gaudy costume jewelry, dark sunglasses, a black clutch.

Beauty: definitely pin it up, maybe into a french twist if you can do it. Don’t forget the cat eye.

Props: gloves are ideal, cigarettes, and maybe a paper bag with donuts to share.

1. Sephora Collection Cat Eye Velvet Eyeliner Applique from Sephora   //   2. Black Skater Dress from Dorothy Perkins   //   3. Deco Statement Earrings from Calypso St Barth   //   4. Luella Cat Eye Sunglasses from Witchery   //   5. Hayley 3 Layer Pearl Necklace from Forever New   //   6. Jill Sander Leather Long Gloves from StyleBop   //   7. Saint Laurent Micro Mallettes Leather Clutch from Matches Fashion   //   8. Christian Louboutin So Kate patent leather pump from Barney’s New York

 

It’s been over 2 months since our wedding, and we still haven’t sent out one official thank you note. I feel horrible about it actually, but I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of the project. I want to make each one individual and special, and there are so many! So I worked on some over the weekend and I’m starting to get on a roll. I went back and re-read this post, and it really helped. Do you have any advice? (In case you were wondering, we got that crock-pot above for our wedding and I love it!)

The Holidays are coming! Ever since Matt and I have been together, I’ve spent Christmas at my parent’s and New Years in PA with Matt’s family (the photo above is from last year’s trip). But this year we’re married, and thing are changing. We’ll be spending Christmas in Pennsylvania this time, and that leaves the week after and New Years up in the air. Maybe we’ll come home and have a Los Angeles New Year, or maybe we’ll travel somewhere special just the two of us. Are you guys already planning for the Holidays?

I used to LOVE Halloween. It was my favorite holiday—candy, dressing up, raucous parties… Ever since college though, I feel like an old person. I just don’t really care anymore. I would rather stay home and open the door for trick-or-treaters than leave my house. Am I alone in this? A lot of my friends still go out and paint the town on Halloween, and I just don’t feel like I can keep up. To try and boost my spirits, I’m planning some Halloween posts this week! (Check out the pumpkin I carved over the weekend)

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