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an iMac project, from the computer graveyard….

DD rolls her eyes and tells me how silly it is that I am such a fan of The Walking Dead.  Well this could be seen as a zombie, in that is has risen from the graveyard of old Apple stuff we hang on to for far too long.  We only just sold the NeXT we had in storage!

This project, one that the hubby has been keen to do for a long time, finally came to fruition.  We got back the shell of the old Dalmatian spot iMac on Friday and by Saturday night we had it done.  We had considered a ton of options but hubby’s concept of a standing lamp won out over my idea of a tabletop lamp stuffed with bulbs.  It isn’t set in stone YET, but as proof of concept, it works.

Obviously there are no guts inside, so I had to figure out a way to “display” something on a sort of screen.  Rummaging around in my scraproom, I found some vellum.  Both a very firm cardstock weight sheet, and a pad of thinner weight. Perfect.

Thinking back to my trusty folded corners technique (see how to make those at the link) gave me the idea for easily swapping out the images.  PS the lamp is level, it’s my photo that isn’t LOL!


And the ever-useful Washi tape allowed me to attach the “screen” temporarily. You can barely see it but those white blobs at the back and in the front centre?  Thermomorph!


The basic construction is a tripod lamp from Homebase.  The centre of the lampshade was cut away and attached to the bulb holder as normal, with the arms bent up to cradle the iMac.  The Thermomorph both covers the cut end of the shade frame and makes the arms cup the case without fear of scratches.

The case is wired to the lamp shade frame with white Artistic Wire (remember that stuff??) and the centre of the case is full of string lights from IKEA.  Oddly, we just bought these for £10 and now I can only seem to find strings for £29!  That is a huge jump in price.  Glad we got two sets.

We played around with ideas for the image – Hubby’s uncle was on the team that worked on the development of the mouse, so we thought he might be a good choice, but hi-res photos are not easy to find. This one is from the Stanford Mouse site:

Maybe a photo montage using the smaller images? We also thought old Mac desktops might be fun, and found some, the MacPaint image above, and this one, also showing the swap out using the photo corners:

And I found a couple of more colourful images we quite like too:

This one highlights the work still to be done, hiding the cord and cables.

Another thought.  Hubby’s brother does amazing art, using a method he developed and software he wrote to convert photographic data into typographical symbols.  Very cool stuff, and you can see more here.

Brotherhood Of Rust 2

If it was printed on vellum that might be a neat idea too.  The point is, with the corners in place, we can change the screen image whenever we like.

Now, that was fun, but there is painting and tiling to get on with.  <sigh>


Comment driven tutorial – PDF edits

I’ve mentioned it before, but as I had a specific request for editable PDFs, I wanted to take a moment to show the example the anonymous commenter asked for, demonstrated with one of my printables that seems to match her needs. The comment said:

Just a thought, is it possible to make the PDFs editable e.g. if you wanted to personalise the quotations for someone? I noticed someone made something similar using circular calendar tags when wrapping a present and highlighted the person’s actual birthday which looked cool. That’s how I found your website – I was searching for a template (editable) ! xx

The program I use doesn’t create editable PDFs, like a Photoshop or PSE layers file.  As I create and share freebies, I’m not itching to have to buy something that does.  You can’t do it with the free Acrobat.  But there ARE tools that I know are in the Mac Preview program, and I would guess there must be something similar in the Windows version.  I SAY that, but I don’t always believe it LOL! which is why I use a Mac and not a PC. But in THIS case I feel pretty confident it has to be there.  If I show you how *I* do it, you will know what to look for and hopefully be able to do it. I’ll pop the steps for PSE on at the bottom so jump there if you have and use that.

The first thing is to open the PDF in whatever PDF viewer you have.  As I said, on a Mac, it’s Preview.  You MAY have to right-click OPEN WITH > Preview, if your default PDF viewer is Adobe.  I am using one of the circular calendars. I used the bigger one, but for tags, the smaller 4-to-a-page version might work better. And that post has a link for the Monday to Sunday version as well.  You decide.

1. Open the PDF and select the page you want to edit.   Either File > Save As > Give it a new name OR drag the page you want over onto the desktop so you don’t overwrite the original file.


2.  You can see on the drop-down menus all the options


but clicking ANNOTATE in the top bar also brings up most of the tools in an icon bar in Preview.


The oval can be used to create the circle, and a drop down menu lets you pick the colour of the circle.  The box with the A in it adds the text and the font window can be opened from that to pick the font, size, and colour.

I rotated the page so it was easier to work on without getting a crick in my neck.  You can rotate back to print.

3.  Edit to add what you like.  For this example, the Happy Birthday message and the date circled.


I would just print the sheet then punch or cut the circle out, punch a hole and tag done. Close without saving if you edited the original rather than dragging the page or duplicating the file!

You could instead use the circle as a card topper for a QUICK card that looks like it was a lot of effort but isn’t.

Other ideas?  Maybe use the arrow tool instead of the circle.  Or edit the month for a special day (Mother’s day, Christmas, Valentines Day) and highlight the date.  Copy just that month onto a blank sheet (use the SELECT tool and Copy > Paste) to make a sheet full of circles for multiple cards or tags

Editing PDFs in Photoshop Elements

I’ve done similar before, but I know people struggle sometimes to translate generic instructions into specific tasks so I’ll go thru it again.

1. Open the PDF in Photoshop Elements.  If it is a multi-page PDF you can only open a single page.


It’s hard to see but page 3 is slightly highlighted with a black border.  Clicking OK opens that page only. PSE also rasterizes the file.  Google it if you care.  In the top menu bar, FILE > DUPLICATE THE single PAGE AND CLOSE THE ORIGINAL PDF so you don’t mistakenly ruin the original.

2. Zoom in on the item you want to edit. Add a NEW LAYER with the Layers menu.  Using the marquee tool (the “marching ants” over November 19th) draw your selection on the new layer.  (You can also use the circle SHAPE (there at the right) if you prefer – just drag it over. It’ll be too big probably, but it will be created on its own layer.  FREE TRANSFORM IT to change the size. I just think it’s easier the other way)



Usually the STROKE option will be active, but to capture the screen grab it isn’t. You can make it bigger or smaller, and pick your colour.




3. Add the text box, select and type your text.





Print.  You don’t even need to save it if you aren’t going to use it again and again.

Personally, I think the tools in Preview are far easier.  If someone who has a PC knows how to do what I did on the Mac, do share.  I make pick DH or DS’s brain.  They both use PCs a bit and might be able to help.

I really should so a workflow capture of the process but when I do I always mess up if it is a longer process. I’ll experiment.  If I can work it out I’ll do a Quicktime movie and share.  Then I only have to sort out a mic for the Mac.  <sigh>




WOYWW 219 – word search info

OK, so I managed to capture all I think you need for this.  But first, a remarkably tidy desk for WOYWW this week!


The process for creating a Word Search background for any use is way easier than you might think. What I use is this link – geared towards teachers, it allows you to create a word search grid simply by filling in the options online.

There is flexibility here, but this is what I did. On the menu screen I changed things to suit me.  Just added a random word and selected COLORS for the word list.  You have to pick SOMETHING in order to create a grid, it won’t let you create just a grid of random characters.  So far as I can tell this just adds the one word to the grid.  It might be interesting to add a list of RELATED words in the CHOOSE YOUR OWN WORDS section and NOT tick the EXISTING WORD LIST. In the generated grid, ones that you type will appear in the grid but not be highlighted unless you change the colour of them.  Imagine  I LOVE YOU highlighted, but other love related words there in the grid – SWEETIE, KISS, HUGS, ADORE, etc. Then the recipient will “see” them even if they aren’t the focus IYKWIM.  I would select FORWARD WORDS ONLY cause backwards ones may not be even marginally noticeable.  I edited the original grid and I didn’t want a lot of actual words in there, but thinking on it,  it might be cool.


I make a few other changes – I make the grid 15 x 25 (or 25 x 15 depending if I want landscape or portrait orientation) and select lower case and Verdana for the font.  That really doesn’t matter as I change the font in my program anyway. Comic Sans is the default and I blinkin’ HATE Comic Sans.  If you wanted to create a grid with actual words you can make the changes on the right, to forward only words, for example.  But again, as I edit it anyway you don’t really need to. This is what you get:


One cool thing is you can copy and past the grid as INDIVIDUAL characters and NOT as an IMAGE of the grid. That makes each character totally editable.  Just selecting them grid to COPY>Paste you can see that:


All I do is then paste THAT into my program then change the font to a monospaced one.  I used Cousine.  I then select the letters to change and to make the words I want to use as the sentiment:


Obviously this is personal preference but I usually make the letters all a medium grey,  so the words (in this case THINKING OF YOU with OF and YOU intersecting) really stand out when I make those letters both BOLD and the colour I want.  One word of caution – I mentioned  it above, but make sure you select a MONOSPACED font.  This means that each character takes up exactly the same space within its block and is placed in the block in the centre.  That means they will all line up as a perfect grid.  Non monospaced fonts won’t!

NEW INFO!  PSE spaces the characters differently than my program does.  Making the text bold makes the letters not line up perfectly.  PSE doesn’t have kerning so other than changing the point size of the SPACES between the letters, space by space, I don’t know how you would do this in PSE.  BUT Ifa, on UKS gave this a go and tells me that you can do it in Word on a PC and the spacing stays the same.  I’ll try to see if I can push DS off his gaming PC and give it a go.

You can make the grid fit an area in a couple of different ways – either create a much larger grid then select just the dimensions you need (say 4 x 6 for a card topper, or 3 x 4 for a Project  Life  printable) OR mess about with the font size, so it fills the space,  or tile the grid if you wanted to fill a 12 x 12 scrapbook page!

I had a thought.  I will go ahead and add the card toppers I created as  PDFs for you.  If you like the idea but don’t want to go thru the steps to create your own, you can use these.

Portrait orientation, JUST A NOTE PDF

Landscape Orientation, THINKING of YOU PDF

I ‘ll also add them as a .png – that will allow you to edit the colour, but I tried and you can’t edit the text as text. You can resize them.

Portrait orientation, JUST A NOTE PNG

Landscape Orientation, THINKING of YOU PNG

Just click ENHANCE > Adjust color > Adjust Hue/Saturation then tick COLORIZE and use the sliders to change to a colour you like.


From there it’s simple…or is it?  It IS simple but takes a few photo to explain so as this is already way longer than a usual WOYWW post I think I’d better save that bit for tomorrow.  Maybe by then I will have some different samples to show you.  Can’t wait? If I say MASKING, will that be enough info for you to have a go yourself? Probably …..

Here is a card from yesterday for you so you can see what it looks like all in this post:


Happy WOYWW!


Endless book pages, digitally

This question came up mere moments ago on UKS and I spent a little bit of time sorting it out and finding links so I could answer, and as I had already done the work, and as non-members can’t see the attachments, I thought I would pop it on to my blog as well.  I have used Alice In Wonderland as an example, but there are lots of books out there available in electronic form.

I started with what I thought was the easiest way to access the TEXT, in a way that can be manipulated easily – that meant Project Gutenberg, which does have Alice In Wonderland available as an e-book.

The problem with e-books is they look like your computer screen.  The fonts are selected for readability, not cause they are nice to look at.  Just grabbing the text from the page online gives you something that just isn’t pretty.


But, if you copy and past the boring screen shot into some program or another (PSE should work, but I use Intaglio.  I imagine WordArt would work on a PC) then change the text, you can get something that approaches usable.  I think this version is best where you may want to use a bit of the actual TEXT, like to add it as a sentiment on a card, or text on an ATC or an art journal page.  One problem I am always having is going to a page in my dictionary, the French/English one that I use when I need book paper words, only to find that I tore it out cut up the word I am looking for!  This gives you an endless supply and lets you change the font a bit.  But to be fair, it’s just a time saver – you get the same thing by typing the text into your program and manipulating it.


I think I would play a bit more with the baseline and kerning of the text, to spread out the words and space the lines more like the original, and make words or phrases easier to cut out.

I have a pack of old paper that Alison passed on to me at crop that works great for printing.  You won’t be able to see if from the photo, but this paper was stored for a long time, and has a nice, ivory/yellowed look to it that makes it look like actual book paper, albeit slightly thicker. A newsprint pad or sketch book might work as well.  I wonder if shops are missing out on selling OLD, yellowed pads at a premium, cause who has time to let one moulder in the sunlight for a month or two?


Good, but nothing like the original if you want to be able to use it in a more decorative way. For that, look for the actual book pages in something like Google books.  Using whatever sort of screen shot capture program you have, and for me on my Mac that’s GRAB, you can take that and print it.


The advantage there is you get the illustrations too!

Now I would warn that this is probably fine for using on your own art, but I would research it before you used it to make things to sell.  Although I believe Alice is in the public domain, I and not sure  that sort of use, on items to sell, is OK. Some of the pages clearly have COPYRIGHT on them so be careful how you use them!

Anyway, I think this opens up a huge world of possibilities.  And the thought of having an endless supply is appealing.  This is an image I rather stumbled on, but doesn’t it look a bit like a headless dancer?? Can you see it? The area marked 1 at the top is the “neck”, the 4’s are the arms, the lower 1 and 13 the “legs”…



I think it needs a Stampotique head on it, don’t you?



A strange sort of post….

This is a sort of strange post for me.  It concerns crafting, sort of, but from an odd angle.

I am planning on going to a crop on Saturday, and I had said last month that I would bring my Gelli Plate with me, and those cheap paints I mentioned a bit back, so anyone who had seen all the buzz about it could have a look, have a play, and see if it was something they wanted to get in to.

Flash forward – DH had ordered this odd little gadget that basically plugs into the HDMI port of your TV and turns it into an Android tablet.

We have been playing with it a bit, and it seems to work really well.  OK, so it isn’t a Mac product, so for me the learning curve has been higher, but it’s getting easier to use.  The theory is that if you are travelling, for example, all you need is this – no monitor, no keyboard, only a mouse.  With new technology, DH always looks for the thing that will make me WANT to use it, and for this, he loaded up the TED lectures.  From the site:

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.

In the evenings we have been watching the occasional lecture on many and varied topics.  Again, to keep me interested, he usually lets me pick the topics LOL!  Last night we watched this one:

OK, so I know you are wondering how this all ties together….

The talk speaks of the Adoption Curve, which is a classic tool to show the spread of anything (remember the shampoo commercial? You tell 2 friends and they tell two friends, and so on and so on… ) and looks like this:

The talk is about how social networks can be used to predict epidemics, but funnily enough, when I was watching it, my craft-minded brain automatically made a link between this whole concept, and the virus-like spread of the Gelli plate! At first, there were the early adopters – people who maybe had already done gelatin printing and jumped on the plate, maybe with some skepticism, but then took off running.  Little bits of info, a few posts on blogs, and more and more people decided to make the leap.   Just based on my own casual observance of the Gelli posts, I could clearly see this curve replicated in real life!  And really, the same thing happens with all manner of  things, from Candy Crush (which everyone (everyone but me) at the last crop seemed at the very least familiar with, if not actually playing it) to taking up Project Life, etc.

But it also got me thinking about what happens next?  Like many, I got a plate.  I love it, find it hugely fun to play with, and posted a few times on things like classes or videos I had seen, making homemade tools, and eventually a few posts on actual things to make with the prints.  The temptation is to just pull print after print after print and worry about what to do with them later.  Not sure at this point if we are in the Late Majority phase or are already to the Laggards, but my thought is that we might be in the Adoption Gap phase. Because where I had seen a LOT of inspiring sorts of work using the plates, what I was not seeing was as many practical, anyone-could-make-this projects.  There was a TON of work that I would call real art on the Gelli Plate Facebook page.  At first it was just print after print after print. some explaining the techniques, but more just whole posts or videos of HOW to use it, and sample prints.  Then there were many art journal pages and collage work – fine if you do that, but less of a push to actually get a plate if it isn’t your thing.  It is perhaps only more recently that I am seeing stuff that is more mainstream crafting – tags, cards, scrapbook pages incorporating Gelli prints, Tattered Florals flowers for pages or cards, and ATCs.   And that is what, I think, is going to make even the casual crafter look again at the plate and think Do I need that?

It reinforces what someone said to me once, and that is that nothing sells like actual, practical, I can do that examples.  Just showing something and saying This is so cool! is not going to make most people run out and get it.  Seeing a fabulous and inspiring project, with step-by-step instructions on how to replicate it, IS going to push them in that direction. I do know I would be hugely interested in seeing the sales curve of the Gelli Plate, and see where, exactly, the tipping point was, the adoption fall off, or if it is still to come.

So now I am planning on getting out the plate, and having a play, so when I take it to the crop I can feel confident enough to demo it at least a little, rather than just plunking it down on the table and saying Have at it…. I may have to see if I can come up with a small, simple project that people can do so they can see the fun of the playing and printing carried on to a logical, practical, final project.  I’m thinking a card is probably the easiest, but maybe a set of embellishments for a page.  I’ll see what the prints look like and if that inspires me in one direction or another, I’ll run with it.

If you managed to read this all the way thru, I would love to know what you think.  Do you have one?  What made you get one? Was getting one something that was, really, outside your comfort zone? and if you got one, how much have you used it?  Will you carry on using it or will it join the other NEED THAT items in your stash that, in the end, you didn’t really need after all? Or has it opened up your crafty life in some surprising way?  Do tell…..


Turn a Blog tutorial into a PDF

I mentioned this before, but I though I would step thru it for you in case you are interested. PLEASE keep in mind that I use a very specific set of tools and some of them may be Mac-specific things so you may need to translate what *I* do into something YOU can do. But even if this doesn’t work exactly for you it might get you thinking about how you can do something similar.

What I am using:

  • Safari as a browser.  Normally I use one called Camino, a Mac-only browser built, I think on the Mozilla/Firefox bones.  I love it but to be honest I don’t know, in real life, a single other person who uses it.  DH hates it.  I love it.  There you go.
  • Snow Leopard – yes, it’s old, I know.  YMMV with more up-to-date versions of Mac OS
  • Readability – this is not unlike the Google Reader.  It converts a web page into something that looks a bit more like a magazine, without all the distractions.  It works well on Blog posts, getting rid of the headers, the sidebars, etc.

OK so you are surfing’ the web, and you see a blog post that is just loaded with info – lovely photos, step by step instructions, and you really want to save it so you can give it a go later.  You bookmark it, then go back in 3 months  and the bookmark doesn’t work.  DOH!  You wish you had taken screen shots or saved at least an image but it was never going to be easy so you settled for a bookmark.  And it came back to bite you, didn’t it?  Ah well….

But wait – check this out!

1. When on the web page, with the Read It button installed in your browser (and you can see how to do that on the Readability site) you click READ IT

This is what you normally see on my sample blog post:



Lots of info on there, but not all of it what you need to see. When you click READ IT THIS is what you see!


And click that to see THIS:


How tidy is that?  All stripped down and clear of clutter.  See the red circle?  That is a printer icon.  If you click it, it brings up a print window.

2. Click PRINT


I usually opt to Open PDF in PREVIEW, so I can check it to make sure all the pages are included.  I admit it IS a little flaky.  Sometimes you won’t get all the pages, but if you repeat the steps it usually works – or does for me.

3. Once you can see it looks like you want it to, click Save as PDF. Save it.


Now, the title for the PDF will be quite long – Preview of “Blog article title from Blog Name – Readability view”.pdf or something like that.  This is my blog post, so I’ve edited it down a lt.  But I wouldn’t do that if it was someone else’s blog post.  I would want to make sure I knew where it came from.  and obviously you should NEVER share a PDF like this by posting it for download.  Not cool – not your work, not your right to do it.  This is JUST for YOU.

And here is the resulting PDF.  Looks like this:


On the last page it has the link, which is handy if you ignore my suggestion not to edit the PDF title LOL!

Original URL:

There you go.  You now have a PDF of a long blog post, with all the images and the text, so you can save the project for later.  MUCH easier than laboriously grabbing screen shots or copy/pasting text and images to compile your own.

And because it bears repeating, DO NOT SHARE THE PDF without permission of the original blogger!

Now, I know there are other Reader-type things out there.  Readability is just the one I use.  and they might work slightly differently.  All I can suggest is to have a play and see if you can do something similar, if you like the results.


WIP for the week – so much in progress!

I have been mad crazy busy, and not entirely down to crafty things, so I thought I would do a little wrap-up of works in progress, some shared, some not. A mix of papercraft and quilting.  Going back to the oldest thing, is this little quilt.  I was playing around with the Jelly Roll Race idea, of sewing all the strips in one long line, then matching the ends, and sewing, halving the length and doubling the width with each seam.  Google it, it’s well-known.  I thought Humm – I have the 4 or 5 fat quarters, I wonder what would happen if I used them, in fatter “strips? Not a total success, the blocks of colour were too large. I might experiment with alternate rotating of the FQs, first sewing them slightly shorter side to slightly longer side, to vary the way the patches match up, IYKWIM, for the next attempt.


I experimented with hacking it up and re-sewing it back together in different ways, then finally hacked it in to large squares, maybe 12 x 12, with the goal of having the most interesting mix of bits in each block.  I sliced THEM, inserting strips of super bright solids, and a bit of a B&W dotty scrap, did sone framing of the randomly sized bits, then laid it all out and joined in rows or blocks.  It was all a bit of a puzzle,  but I ended up quite liking the result.  I added some sashing and backed it with that cheetah print fleece that I mentioned once having NO IDEA what I might use it for.  I then experimented with BIG STITCH quilting with some high contrast, for each block, pearle cotton.  It’s appealing to me, but clearly my BIG STITCHES need some uniformity, although I actually LIKE the very rustic and almost childlike look of the imperfect stitches. Or at least that’s what I tell myself LOL!


So then I started quilting that other dotty one, using the CM circle cutter as a template.  Stitches getting better, more uniform, but still not there yet.  They get better towards the end of a long session, then by the next session, they get a bit less precise.


Like it on the front, but REALLY like it on the back! Those circles really POP.


I also have on the go the LARGE one that I posted last week – that one is my first serious attempt at machine quilting,  Straight lines all of them, but that’s OK.  Three of the four long panels are pieced and quilted and trimmed – they will eventually be joined into a whole piece using the QAYG joining.  I find the long panels straddle the line between QAYG and full-on free-motion machine quilting, in the sense that they still need to be manipulated thru the machine, but are not as cumbersome as a full pieced top would be.  I consider it a sort of intermediate step. This is a slightly earlier stage, with only two of them quilted and only one trimmed.  Still playing around with the placement and orientation of the bias colour block strips, as I let it grow fairly organically, with no real plan when I began, except it was going to be sliced and the color blocks inserted with the alternating light/dark areas.  I think of it as my Escalator quilt LOL!


The chili clock has moved on a lot too!  I have been using UTEE (thanks to all commenters who suggested that) to emboss the chilis. and leaving it rather pebble-y, not super smooth.  I’ve added the ones I previously Glossy Accented as the bottom layer, around the edges, so I can still USE them rather than cut a whole load more and re-do them.  I also did two more sets in two different sizes, so I can fill the whole surround, more or less. I also did the numbers (just the four) on green chilis and MAY decide to do the rest of the numbers, slightly smaller, as well.  Just the centre to sort out! Here’s the progress shot. Nothing except the edging of peppers around the black frame is stuck down so it’s all a bit of a mess at the moment:


I am determined to sort it fully over the weekend.

My last WIP is the ATC play for WOYWW.  I think I have decided on a plan of action.  I’ll do ONE that is unique, that is for the person for the “official” swap (i.e the person above or below me, whichever it is) and then as many as I feel like making that will be earmarked for those WOYWWers who want to swap additional ATCs outside the official one that I know/follow.  I may also do a handful that will be for people who want to swap but who are not ones that I manage to get to every week.  This is the one for people I follow, or at least the germ of the idea – I think you can guess where it’s going.  Gelli prints come in to play, the background on card, the topper on deli paper:


Just two more bits LOL! First, I thought I would repost the printable I did ages ago, of ATC backers.  If they appeal and you can use them, do feel free to grab them.


I am sort of planning to update them – I want to look at a few more to make sure I’ve included all the usual info (Title, card series info, date made, email or address, and a signature on this one – am I missing anything??) and maybe update the font and colours.  I really like the title of ATC by Me so will probably stick with that.  I have an idea using my current pattern obsession (can you guess what it is?) but not 100% sure it will work like I want it to.

Last, finally, is a bit of software.  DH pointed me in the direction of this nifty little thing – called TextExpander.  Mac only, I’m afraid, but there may be a comparable PC thing, I don’t know.  Anyway, this week I was so late, doing my WOYWW visits and struggled with stuff that kept getting in my way on the day.  I was determined to at the very least visit anyone who visited ME and left a comment and then try to hit as many of the blogs that are people I know or think of as ones I “follow.” Now I know the whole copy/paste of the same generic comment in every blog (Nice desk with no indication the post was actually read) is not looked on favourably by some, and I have never done that, but I did want to note my lateness but NOT have to copy that into the comments section, then either type or copy and paste my blog name in a two-step process – since I don’t use Blogger or Google blogging, I always have to select Open ID and WordPress and fill in that info then submit and publish (for every comment!) What TextExpander does is let me type a snippet of text and assign it an abbreviation.  Then, every time I type that abbreviation, I get a little BLOOP noise and the text replaces the abbreviation.  Magic.  The abbreviation has to be something you aren’t going to type on its own (like WOYWW wouldn’t work, but for me, w late (all one word) gets replaced with this:
Happy WOYWW!

MA (8) (so very late this week!)

Then I can have my blog name stored in my command+P (paste) and both sign my comment and fill in my blog info in two strokes.  Normally I even type my “signature” and Happy WOYWW! every time, so this lets me spend MORE time reading the post and focusing on the content of the comment, rather than the generic stuff. If you have a Mac, check it out – there is a trial download.  If you are on a PC and know a way to do this, feel free to comment so others can see.  In just a day or two I have already found it massively useful for a number of things.

Good lord, that got way longer than I planned!  I’ll  hope to get the clock sorted and post the final at some point over the weekend. Thanks for sticking with me if you managed to read ALLLL the bits.  Kudos to you if you did!


E-reader holder

One of the Christmas gifts my daughter gave me was a little fabric stand for my iPad.

The choice of fabric was hers, and I love it because she picked it for me, but she clearly has no idea what my taste is, IYKWIM.


Now I have never been a fan of e-readers.  I vastly prefer actual books.  BUT DH stumbled on a book (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry) that he gulped down in about two days.  Very unusual for him – he reads, but not so much fiction.  He suggested I read it and as it was already on his Kindle it seemed silly not to read it that way.  I did, and I really enjoyed it.  What surprised me is that I liked reading it on the Kindle more than I expected.  At first, the whole way you had to grip it, to avoid triggering a page turn got on my nerves A LOT.  But when I remembered this beanbag, it solved that and other issues.  For example, I read while I eat (breakfast and lunch, which I tend to eat on my own, never dinner, which we eat as a family) and the issues with real books (keeping to book open, turning the pages and not getting food on them, etc) can be solved with an e-reader if you can solve the problems e-readers and meal-time reading (keeping them at the right angle for easy reading.) This little beanbag worked a treat.


Basically it is constructed like those sour cream containers (US ones, not UK ones) where you take a rectangle of paper (or in this case fabric) and sew a tube.  Sew one end closed, fill with styrofoam balls (the small ones like for bean bag stuffing) then sew the other end closed the opposite.  You can see a paper version on Dan99‘s blog if that is difficult to picture. This bean bag is exactly the same, scaled up.

I think DH intended I would use it for my iPad, but I never USE my iPad, really, unless I am laying down.  Except to Skype DS at Uni, and that is the one case where this beanbag holder is less than ideal as the mic is blocked by the fabric. I should give it a go with a YouTube video or something, to see if the VOLUME on playback is affected like the MIC is for conversation.  If not, I can see using this more often.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to share it.  The company he bought it from, at a craft fair, is called ebeanies.


Resizing Printables – a How-to

You know the old saying Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime? well, I think it applies here, a bit.  I offered adding some of my printables that I had resized to fit my 2.5 x 3.5 baseball (Pokemon) card holders for my own odd version of a Project Life-style book, and when I looked at the file I had I realized it was fine for A4 but a little too long for US letter.  While I was thinking I would need to create a new sheet that fit both I got to thinking that it would be far better to step people through the process of how to re-size ANY printable in PDF or .jpg form.

I first recorded a QuickTime movie but when I added it to YouTube the size was so small in the tiny window it was all a bit pointless.  I know you can zoom in I just haven’t learned how to do it yet – and whether that is only when using a camera to video the screen or if, in fact, there is a built-in zoom in QuickTime I don’t know.  Anyway I went a different way and grabbed screen shots instead so I could really focus on the important info.

OK,  First step is to download a set of printables.  I used some of my own for this but did test it out with others I had on my Mac.  It all works.  I didn’t actually try .png files but from working with them I am sure it will work the same (or easier)

1. Click on the printable PDF or file and OPEN WITH > Photoshop Elements.  when you do you may see this sort of screen.  Click OK if you do.  If the PDF is multiple pages you can pick ONE page to open at a time.


2. The PDF will open as a whole page.  Some people create their printables in a lower resolution.  Mine are 300dpi but look at that.  It will matter what resolution you set your new blank file to – and frankly if the resolution is low, like 72dpi, I’d pick different printables!


3. Select the Marquee tool (the little dashed box) and draw a selection around the one you want to resize.  You really have to do the individually because you need to get the sizing right.


At this point you are not too worried about being exact.  A smidge bigger or smaller is not going to make a tremendous difference – get as close as you can.

4. Copy the selection by either using your keyboard command (and I use Apple > C but not sure what it is on a PC – you will know) OR click EDIT > Copy.  This copies your selection to the clipboard.


5.  Now you can select File > NEW > Image from clipboard. This creates a new file the exact size of your selection and opens it.


6. Now you need to resize the image.  This is how I do it.  The difference in ratio between 3 x 4 and 2.5 x 3.5 is minor.  MOST things are going to look fine even if the resizing is not kept in exact proportion, but obviously if you do it and it looks rubbish, you will have to work a little harder to make it right.  But I’m betting that is going to be a very occasional situation. Click Image > Resize and in the box UNTICK CONSTRAIN PROPORTIONS and fill in the dimensions you want your final image to be. Note that mine shows it is 300 dpi in the Resolution box.


Once you have done that, your small single image file will be resized.

7. Open a new file. I selected A4 but you can do US Letter if you need to.  Make sure the resolution of your NEW FILE matches the resolution of your single image file.


8. Now it is just a matter of DRAGGING the smaller single image on to your new file.  You can then carry on resizing as many of the single blocks as you want – you can even open OTHER printables, resize just an image or two, and drag them ALL over till you have filled the sheet. Drag them to place them on the sheet.   You can rotate them to make them all one orientation then save and print.


Easy Peasy.

Now, if you have a Mac you can simply open the PDF in Preview and use the TOOLS option to select just a single “card” then copy it and paste it into another image editing file (me, a lover of ancient technology, I use AppleWorks and Intaglio but I see no reason Pages wouldn’t work) and bypass Photoshop entirely.  And I imagine that a PDF viewer for the PC must have some similar method of copying a selection.  The perhaps Word Art?  I am all adrift with PC stuff, sorry.  But I am hoping that once you see the method you can translate that into a method that works for you.

If you do, report back!  Inquiring minds want to know.

Now I will re-do the sheet so it prints on US letter without cutting it off and add them perhaps tomorrow.


Windows Users – this one’s for you!

If you are a Windows user (or indeed if you are a Mac user and fancied the calendar I showed yesterday but couldn’t be bothered to do it) this one is for you. A reminder that this is a standard paper size (A4 or US Letter 8.5 x 11)  top half of the page blank, bottom half of the page with calendar) and includes UK or US Holidays.

It occurred to me that it was possible, in fact quite EASY, to do one additional step to make the calendars that work into printable PDFs for download! All that was required was to set it up for printing but do the Print > PDF > Save as PDF step one more time.  So I did.

There are two calendars, two versions. First, my favourite, BIG DATE.  This is what the calendar grid looks like:

I love that it includes the small Last Month/Next Month at the bottom and the grayed out dates to complete the grid.  The one you see has the UK holidays but I did a US Holidays version as well, in US letter size.  The be honest, I think the A4 version would have fit fine on the US letter paper, but as I had to make the Holidays version, it seemed silly not to make it US Letter as well.

UK Holidays/A4 paper BIG DATE

US Holidays/8.5 x 11 BIG DATE

Next, I did the Picture Calendar version, which looks like this:

UK Holidays/A4 paper Picture Calendar

US Holidays/8.5 x 11 Picture Calendar

I did play around with the option to change fonts but it refused to use the ones I picked so these are the standard, as they come, fonts.  I have also worked out how to remove the photo pages and replace them with blank pages, which makes all the other calendars work too, but I’m not going to make them all.  These two are the most useful.  The others either have coloured page backgrounds  (so too greedy with ink), Like VINTAGE:

Or are too “cute” to be of universal appeal, like Kids Cutouts:

And there may very well be more options for this process in later versions of the Mac OS than Snow Leopard, so Mac users do experiment!

I have a LOT on today – this is our scaled down and time-shifted Thanksgiving day.  DS is still up in Scotland, and the meal has been totally planned by DD – turkey, gravy, roast potatoes, green beans (or broccoli, she is still undecided) and pineapple upside down cake with custard.  I’ve never made one, nor eaten one, but it’s what she wants so I’m having a go.  So probably no more crafting for me today.  I put these on UKS for download (at least the UK versions) and people have tested them but if there are any issues, comment and I’ll have a look and sort it if need be.

Happy (late) Thanksgiving !