Wednesday, July 4, 2018

CLS Summer Blog Hop Stop #3

Thank you for following our Creative Life Scrapbooking Blog Hop on this summer holiday!

One of my favorite things about summer is enjoying the colorful flowers everywhere.  I am not a gardener, but we always pick up flowers to plant in our yard, and I love my hanging baskets and my Boston ferns!   I always take enough photos to make a few scrapbook layouts.

For 2018, I am using Creative Memories "My Memories" Fast2Fab album.  Most of the time, I can use the predesigned pages as-is, but sometimes I need to embellish and add other papers, which is what I did here.

You can click on photos to make them larger!l

I laid out my photos and started thinking about colors and paper, and chose the Full Bloom collection.

I layered the papers alongside the designs on the page.

Then I used the Starburst Punch for a delicate border. I like the linen-look of the predesigned page.

I matted some of my photos, and added Full Bloom embellishments. 

The wreath is in the Full Bloom sticker pack. I popped it up with foam squares, and added the title sticker.

Here is the order of our blog hop today - next you go to Lisa's Workshop!

Karyn's blog: Karyn Crops
Fran's blog: Celebrating Your Beautiful Life
My blog: Julie's Creative Memories Blog (you are here now)
Lisa's blog: Lisa's Workshop
Candace's blog: Scrappin' Jpegs
Noreen's blog: Organized and Creative Mom

Thursday, March 8, 2018

My Photo Print Experiment

Despite the digital age we are now in, with social media photo sharing and photo “slideshows” on our phones, the business of photo printing seems alive and well. I am not talking about printed photo books (although those have replaced traditional photo albums and scrapbooks for many people, and are major industry all by themselves). I mean photo prints, the kind you can hold in your hand, hang on your fridge, put in a frame or a scrapbook.

There are an abundance of companies who offer photo prints in all kinds of sizes and finishes.  No longer are we stuck with just “glossy” - you have options like luster, matte, pearl and metallic.  Prices for a traditional 4x6 print range from free (really!) to 36 cents a piece, depending on the type of paper and quality.  Besides traditional sizes like 4x6, 5x7 and 8x10, many sites offer square prints for Instagram-lovers, poster sizes and more.  

But where to order from?  The corner drugstore, the professional photo company, or something in between?  The range in photo quality is amazingly different from one place to the next.  I set out to test 7 different printing services - I have been wanting to do this for myself, but thought it would be interesting to share with you, my fellow photo-lovers and scrapbookers. 

I ordered the same 8 photos from each of the companies, so I could compare photo quality and color, as well as shipping fees, delivery times, and other pros and cons.  I’ll start by giving you little blurb about my experience with each printer, and then I will show you my side-by-side comparison of the winners and losers for each photo.  I wish you could see them in person, but my scanned-and-uploaded images will have to do! 

Prices shown are for standard 4x6, matte-finish prints. Prices current as of March 2018.

Amazon: 9 cents each.  Uploading and ordering was easy.  If you have a Prime membership, your order ships free.  If not, shipping is $4.  Order arrived quickly, as expected with Amazon!  Packaging was not great.  Overall print quality/color was only OK.  I ordered one of each, but two of the prints had 10 copies each! ( I was not charged for those extras).  

Apple: 12 cents each.  I have a MacBook (which I believe is the only place you can order Apple Prints), and ordering was a piece of cake.  I could even add white borders to my photos and they shipped for $4.  This is Apple’s flat shipping fee, but you can only order up to 300 at a time.  (Who orders more than 300 photos at a time?! Um…scrapbookers!)  Prints were beautifully packaged and arrived in less than a week. 

Print quality was so disappointing!  Color was washed out and many were just grainy.  I love all things Apple, so this made me sad.  I had a suspicion they would not be that great, because I ordered an Apple photobook last year and it was also a little lackluster in photo color and clarity.  

FreePrints:  Up to 85 prints per month: free. Yes, free.  If you order more than that in a month, or order other sizes, you have to pay for those, but they are inexpensive. Shipping is very reasonable and based on the size of your order.  This is an app you use on your phone or tablet; it is fun and easy to use!  Do you take more photos with your camera than a phone? No problem, just upload to a storage provider like Google, Amazon, DropBox, OneDrive - then order from the FreePrints app on your phone/tablet.  

Shipping is not super fast, but reasonably priced. Overall quality was surprisingly good!  They actually beat out the most expensive prints in two of my eight examples.  I love that FreePrints adds the date the photo was taken on the back, which helps when sorting prints for a project. I have read many accounts of their excellent customer service, too. You can order doubles with one click, and even add-on a sturdy little box to hold your photos. 

Mixbook: 15 cents each. This company is better known for their photo books, but they do also offer prints.  Like Shutterfly, they often have discount codes to save on prints or shipping.  Uploading and ordering was easy, prints came pretty fast and the quality was decent - not the best but not the worst, either.  For the price, I’d like better quality. 

Shutterfly: 15 cents each. Coupons can help you save on prints, but beware of this company’s high shipping fees!  Wow.  I paid $15 to ship 140 photos, 8 for my research project here, and the rest for a scrapbook project.  I think that’s nuts. 

Shutterfly prints the photo date on the back, and I would say they get a B+ for print quality.  A reliable standby.  They did crop one of my photos wrong (it was a square and I did not go through and crop them one-by-one or choose the right size, so that was my fault.)  It’s important to go through and make sure you’re ordering the right size. Some sites will warn you that your photo is cropped incorrectly. 

Smugmug: 19 cents each. As a fine example of “you get what you pay for,” Smugmug won almost every photo-quality throw-down I did. If not the winner, they were a very close second.  Shipping was a little high, but the order was processed and shipped quickly.  Smugmug has an elegant, easy-to-use site, but you have to pay to use their service, so that might turn you off right away.  About $50 a year gets you unlimited storage, unfortunately, you have to keep paying in aeternum. Ugh.

Walgreens: 23-33 cents each (where did they come up with those wackadoodle numbers?!), depending on quantity ordered, but there are always coupons, sometimes for 50% off.  

OH, Walgreens, how we love thee… are conveniently located, your shelves stocked with so many things we need, you have a drive-up pharmacy, and your one-hour-photo is a nice idea.  But photo quality? Meh. I had plenty of experience with the one-hour photo and its poor-quality, so I thought I’d order through the mail.  These were not much better.  Walgreens photos came in last or second to last with each comparison.  Shipping was reasonable and fast.  

Note: I did not order from Snapfish because I have read….correct me if I’m wrong…that Amazon uses Snapfish for their printing, so I figured it was the same quality.  I did not try Costco because there is not one close to me and I don’t have a membership.  I realize there are many other options out there….I wanted to test more, but it was getting pricey!  I’d love to hear from you in the comments - but let’s keep it nice and respectful, ok?

Now for the side-by-side comparisons!  These I chose as the best and worst of each photo. You can click on them for a larger image.

This is one of the most extreme examples. On the left, loser Amazon Prints.  Winner, Smugmug on the right. The color and clarity differences are crazy!

This was a tough one to begin with; it was taken with a phone in low light.  Top, winner - Smugmug. Bottom, loser -  Walgreens.

Vibrant warm color and better detail on the right, from FreePrints, but washed-out grainy quality from Apple on the left.

Apple loses again on the left - too dark, and not enough detail.  Smugmug wins this one, on the right.

Mixbook losing print (top) is very yellowish, and the kids facial features are hard to distinguish.  Bottom winner is Smugmug, with more natural color and better detail.  FreePrints also did well with this one (not shown)

Apple loser on the left has less detail and a pinky tone. Apple photo also came out almost foggy, but it's hard to tell on the screen.  Smugmug winner on the right.

Somehow, Apple won this one (top).  Of all 8, it had the most natural color and was least pixelated.  Not sure why!  Loser on the bottom is actually from Shutterfly. It was very grainy.

Apple fails again on the left, with washed-out color and blurred/dark details.  On the right, FreePrints did it best!

What have we learned here? 

Premium prints, like those from Smugmug, come at a high cost. Amazon was cheapest, but quality was disappointing. Walgreens is great if you need one-hour photos, but don't expect too much for clarity and color.  And Apple? Well, photo printing is not their bread and butter, so I guess they don't care if people order their prints or not!  Shutterfly and Mixbook offer decent quality - just wait for a sale and watch the shipping charges.

For now, I think I will go with FreePrints - I like their app, photos, prices and customer service!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Winter Blog Hop with Creative Life Scrapbooking

Helloooo scrapbook world!  It's been awhile since you've heard from me!

I'm delighted to join in Creative Life Scrapbooking's Winter Blog Hop, and I know you'll find some inspiration for your projects from all these talented ladies.

My winter pictures so far have included a lot of snapshots taken in the backyard of our new house.  We live right along a forest preserve, and we really enjoy seeing the changing trees, plus birds, deer, raccoons, foxes and coyotes.  We had lots of snow right around the holidays, which made for some beautiful scenery.

For this layout, I used Creative Memories Christmas Past collection, which was introduced in 2016.  Maybe some of you own this gorgeous collection (or your CM advisor may have some to sell you! ) The nature-inspired greens, grays, creams and reds, plus classic images of greenery, animals, children and Christmas icons are the perfect backdrop for holiday and winter photos.

Some of the papers in this collection, like the one on the left with trees and deer, are just too pretty to cover up or cut up!  So I arranged my photos in order to see the deer - it gives a really pretty effect, almost 3-D.  I tried to balance the creams and greens on each page. 

I added hints of red and just a couple embellishments.  Those little red birds are printed on the paper! 

Now & then I order my prints with white borders - it gives a double-matted effect when layered with a paper mat.  These prints were ordered from Apple, directly from my MacBook. The quality is only my next post, I will be comparing photo prints from several different companies. 

I popped up a couple of the embellishments with foam squares, which makes things stand out -especially when using such neutral, soft colors.  Check out the buck in the lower photo...and can you see the coyote in the photo above it? Caught him running through our yard on Christmas morning! 

Stay tuned for my next post, in which I compare photo prints from six different printing services!  Let's see who offers the best quality and value!

And now, continue on your way by visiting Stefani Jone's blog, Crop with Stef

Here is the complete list of Creative Life Scrapbooking members who are in today's hop, click on any name to get to their post:

Noreen Smith
Karyn McDermaid-Rolfe
Fran Allen Smitherman
Julie Tambrini (you are here now)
Stefani Jones
Lisa Brown Graham
Sarah Fitzgerald

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Summer Scrapbook Ideas You Can Use Now! June Blog Hop Stop Number 6

Summer is here at last, and we have oodles of ideas for your warm-weather photos and projects! Thanks for blog-hopping with us.  Be sure to click on my fellow scrappers' links at the end of this post to see their creative ideas. 

My family and I are not doing any major traveling this year, but in 2015, we moved back to the US after several years of living in Africa (yeah, I have a lot of travel-themed pages!)  The Creative Memories Gallivant collection is fantastic - great colors and so many embellishments to choose from.  Much to my delight, they coordinate with the new navy cardstock - thanks for navy blue,  CM!

Here are the layouts I did for that exhausting, but exciting, 24 hours of travel..... 

I get excited about "map" paper, because we've lived so many places and have actually criss-crossed the globe.  

I wanted to highlight our travel route, so I used a pen and these little Gallivant collection "gems."  

I clustered some Gallivant stickers and gems to make my page title.

These luggage tag embellishments were a perfect way to show our itinerary (those are airport codes for Antananarivo, Madagascar; Paris, France and Chicago, Illinois)  I used skinny strips of paper to made the strings.

I love using pocket pages for all the extra pictures - it speeds things up and adds some visual interest.  

The journaling cards from the Variety Mat Pack are pretty basic, which means you can dress them up with the embellishments of your choice.

If you follow my blog, you know I'm a big fan of quick-and-easy pages. This is navy cardstock with a couple simple borders (the swell was made using the Decorative Trimmer), a card from the Mat Pack, and some of the adorable die cuts.  Creative Memories color-coordinated collections make pages SO easy!

This is how the four pages look together - my title page, both sides of the pocket page, and the last page. I like how the pocket pages let a hint of the other pages show through.  

Now I will send you on your way to our last blog, by Stefani over at Crop with Stef.  Whatever your summer brings, I hope we have given you some creative inspiration!  Now, go take pictures of your summer fun! 

Here are all the contributors today from Creative Life Scrapbooking; click on each to see their ideas:

Julie (you are here)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

February Blog Hop

Glad you are along on today's Creative Life Scrapbooking blog hop!

Year after year, we take birthday pictures, and need to make birthday pages, so it's great that Creative Memories frequently introduces new celebration collections!  The newest collection is called Cake My Day, and I am loving the color combos and patterns.  They are useful beyond birthday pages.

I'd like to share with you a few original layouts I created with this collection. At the end, I will list links to the blogs of everyone in our group, so you can click through and be inspired!

**you can click on the photos for a larger image!**

This is actually a title page for an album, which I made with the Cake My Day collection. I don't do many one-photo pages!  But this was a great picture of my kids that I wanted to highlight on the first page.  The word "happy" was made using a thin metal die from Close to My Heart, cut using a Sizzix Big Shot.  The Argyle Border Punch made the vertical black border. 

Here's a bright and cheery birthday layout using Cake My Day paper and stickers (background cardstock is something I had on hand, not sure where it came from!)  I like how the black & white chevron/arrow sticker points to a favorite photo.  I left enough open/blank space on the layout to give the eyes a break; sometimes birthday pages are very busy.  

And one last page from the same birthday party.  Again, tried to keep the layout simple, as the papers are busy. 

That's it!  CM's great collections make color-coordination easy.  Now keep's the list:

Creative Life Scrapbookers participating in today's blog hop:
Julie (that's me)

Find scrapbooking inspiration on our Facebook page, too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Halloween Blog Hop 2016!

Hello and welcome! You have reached Blog Hop stop #4.

I am happy to be back after a long time away from blogging about my creative projects.  The CM Bloggers have joined up again to send you on an online journey of great Halloween scrapbook and paper craft ideas. Below are a couple layouts I did, one using last year's Trick or Treat collection, and the other with our new Bats in the Belfry collection.  Two very different styles - one silly and sweet, and the other with classic and creepy designs, like an old abandoned house.

At the end is a list of all the blog participants today; click on each one for more amazing ideas.

For this first layout, I used the Shape Maker System with Circle cartridge, the Border Maker system with Circle Weave cartridge, and yellow ABC stickers. The paper and other stickers are from the Trick or Treat collection.  Don't own this collection?  No problem - this will work with any Halloween paper/stickers.

You can click on the pictures to get a larger image.

The new Bats in the Belfry collection features great vintage designs and muted colors, perfect for photos beyond just Halloween.  To create this layout, I used the Garden Vine border punch (returning by 2017), the Art Deco border punch (no longer available, sorry!), and to distress the paper in some places, I used a chalking ink.  The vellum shows where your photos could go, but this layout is very versatile and you could arrange your photos in other ways.  The key to this layout is cutting even pieces for each side and lining them up carefully.  

Here are my fellow blog participants today; look for future hops featuring your other favorite bloggers - our next Hop with feature the new CM holiday collection!!

1) Noreen Smith at Organized and Creative Mom
2) Karyn McDermaid Rolfe at Karyn Crops
3) Lisa at Lisa's Workshop
4) Julie at Julie's Creative Memories Blog (you are here now!)
5) Candace at Scrappin' Jpegs

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mother's Day Blog Hop

You have reached stop #5 on our Mother's Day Blog Hop!  Are you feeling inspired yet to create something for the moms in your life?  One of the quickest and most meaningful things to make (besides a CM album, of course!) is a card, using our beautiful papers and embellishments.  I've made several cards to kick-start your creativity; feel free to copy and share!

I LOVE the colors of the Strut Your Stuff paper pack!  Using the Shape Maker system fitted with the Circle Tag,  I punched five petals for the flower, and cut the stem and leaves from the patterned paper. This card is about 5.5x7.5 inches, the size of a standard greeting card. 

I think decorating the inside of cards is nice, if you have time.  I used another Strut
Your Stuff paper, plus the "leftover" circular pieces from punching out the circle tags.

Did you know that the Fall In paper pack plays nicely with Fresh Picks Embellishments?! The purples and teals are nearly a perfect match. To create the fence, I double-punched a strip of Fall In paper using the Picket Fence Border Maker Cartridge. The tiny circles in the flower centers were punched using the Bubbles Border Maker cartridge. The stickers are from the Fall In collection as well. 

This card took a little more time, but it's so cheery!  I think it would be a great one for a child to give to Mom.  I simply punched borders using the Border Maker System and various cartridges and trimmed them to fit the card.  The top border is cut from paper and is stuck on using Foam Squares.  All papers are from the Look On the Bright Side paper pack, except the red one - it's from the Year to Remember pack.  To accommodate all the borders, I made this card about 5x7 inches.

Looking for a quick & easy card? This one is a piece of cake! Using the Be Bold & Flourish collection,  I started with a 10x5 inch piece cut from patterned paper, and folded it to make a square card.  I cut a smaller square and made a white border for it by using the Border Maker system and Button Chain cartridge.  To hide the awkward corners where the borders meet, I added gems from Pastel II embellishments pack.  The "I love U" is cut from a Slide-in Card.  On the inside (below), I simply cut the cute design from one of the papers.  Now there's a nice space to write some thoughts!

For the new mom!  I used paper, embellishments, stickers and cardstock from the NEW Hello Baby collections.  A silver CM pen was used to write the sentiment, and Mint ABC stickers. Use the Boy or Girl collection, or mix them up! On the inside, a Hello Baby slide-in card makes a great place to write. 

The gorgeous Watercolor Love collection is not just for Valentine's Day!  I paired it with wood-grain paper from the Hello Baby Boy pack, and pastel pink ABCs. The key to this panel design is measure twice, cut once!  

I'll be straight with you here - this card will take awhile to make. But it's oh so cute!  Give a tug on the flowers and a mini card slides up from the inside with your message!  I used the Pretty in Pastel paper pack, blue cardstock from the Hello Baby pack, and Pastel II flowers & gems. Photos and instructions below.

Start with two 4x4 cardstock squares

Trim sides of each on a slight angle to make a flower pot shape