Thursday, 21 March 2013

Naughty Google!

I am sure that you are all aware of the demise of Google Reader.  I LOVE Google Reader and it has made tracking blogs and news blissfully easy.  But NO!!!!!!!!  When I first read that Google had canned Reader I almost cried and then I ignored it ... someone somewhere will fix it ... surely?!?!?!?!?

But I must move forward and look for alternatives.  I know that many of you have moved to Blog Lovin' but I had a few niggling doubts after reading some comments and started doing some research of my own to find something that would be a fit for me.  I knew I needed a cloud based reader as I use different devises and sometimes even different computers!  There are a bunch of sites that I follow and only just read, and then a smaller bunch of sites that I like to comment on, so I needed to be able to keep my lists, or make new ones.  I downloaded my subscribed sites using Goggle Takeout so that I have a back up if I find that I need to try another option, but I narrowed down my choices to Feedly and Blog Lovin'.

After listing the pros and cons of both I decided to try each one out and put them through their paces.  Both sync (for now) with Google Reader so I didn't have to upload my current list of subscriptions, this was nice and easy.  Both are great options with mobile versions but I have decided to go with Feedly for now.  The main reason for this is the lack of groups or lists in Blog Lovin'.  Unless I have missed it somewhere, I can't sort my blogs into groups and this is a BIG reason for me to go elsewhere.  Feedly also loads heaps faster and I love that I can view my homepage in a few different ways.

**** Edited ... Blog Lovin' does have a groups feature, they just don't mention it in their general help topics.  But unlike Feedly, they didn't keep the groups that I already had from Google Reader.  I would have to go in and re-sort all of my lists again.  So if like me, groups/lists are important to you, then Blog Lovin' could be for you. ****

So here is a brief run down of my Feedly experience so far (in just a day or two!) as it was very strange to start with, but I think that is just because I was so used to Google Reader.  Getting to the Feedly homepage is a breeze as Feedly places a special button next to the home button in your browser toolbar.  Here is a screen shot of the part of my home page that I could fit on the screen of my laptop.  I should also mention that I am using Firefox as my browser.

If you were to scroll down on the above page you would see all of the unread posts listed in the groups or lists that I have them in, with a selection of 'featured' posts at the top.  Clicking on the magnifying glass at the top right will enable you to search for sites either by URL, keyword or tags.  The little lines on the left are the menu (on a wider screen this wouldn't be hidden).  Hovering over it brings up a drop down menu where you can choose to look at lists or individual pages.  You can see my lists in the second section of the menu.  Each one drops down to show all of the blogs in the list.  The third group on the menu are files that I created in Feedly to store posts that I want to be able to come back to, sort of  like a favourites file.

Reading sites from Feedly has proven to be quite easy, but subscribing is even easier!  I have even been able to add my favourite You Tube channels to my subscriptions and now new videos will come up in my reader.  There is a mini tool bar placed on the bottom right of your browsing window.  I almost missed it at first.  It looks like this ...

When browsing the web you can click on this icon and a new menu pops up ... the mini tool bar.

Do you see the mini tool bar on the right?  From this you can even post to Facebook, email the page, and the top green button allows you to preview the site in Feedly.  This was a shot just before I subscribed to one of my favourite channels ... once you click on the preview button the site opens up in Feedly and you can then click 'subscribe', choose a list (if you have them) and it is added to your subscriptions.  The ability to add YouTube channels was definitely an additional check mark for Feedly.

The iPhone app took a little getting used to but it works like a dream and I love that it has been easy to master.  I use the app for scanning all of the blogs that I follow in my lists that I don't comment on very often.  One of those blogs posts about 40 posts a day and I don't read them all, I just skim them and read the ones I want and then mark the whole group as read with the click of one button.  Without the list feature I run the risk of loosing the blogs that I really care about in the mass of other posts.  Those blogs that I like to comment on I read on my computer, it is easier to type :-)

It will be interesting to see how my Feedly experience goes, but so far, so good.  More companies are coming out with reader programs so there might be an even better alternative around the corner.  If you haven't decided on a new reader for yourself then I suggest that you have a look at a few and give a couple a try.  Then you will know which one works the best for you, as it is YOUR reading experience that is important and we all use our feeds differently.

Good luck Reader hunting,

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Crafting with Studio Calico

If you read my last post you will know that a friend and I subscribed to a kit club for 7 months .  I loved my first kit and I made two layouts from it amidst moving house at the end of last year!  I haven't had a chance to post them and as crafting time is sparse this week I will share them now.

Why are you not crafting instead of blogging you may ask?  I have a very good reason for it, I have set my alarm for early tomorrow morning to watch a friend teaching a craft class on U-stream with Helmar and will soon be heading to bed.  If you are awake and at your computer at 11pm GMT Tuesday then click HERE to watch the class with Amy from Sparkling Gnome Studios.  You can also watch a recording of the class at any time if you happen to be sleeping/working when it is live :-)

Here are my layouts, both from the Character Breakfast at the Grand Floridian Hotel.  The first one is all about eating ice-cream for breakfast :-)  The papers in this kit were soooooo pretty!

The second page is about meeting Mary Poppins!!!!  I had to get into this photo!  Mary Poppins and Alice in Wonderland were my MUST meet characters :-)

I wasn't sure how to use the butterfly sequins but I think it turned out nicely.

Happy Crafting!
Chipper :-)

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Counterfeit Kit March

Over at the Counterfeit Kit Challenge site the inspiration kit for March was the Noel Mignon's Soda Shoppe Kit.  It was a HUGE kit with very lovely colours and lots of yummy bits and pieces.

I still have LOADS left from my mega Feb kit, but it is starting to lack whole sheets of 12x12.  I am only 1/3rd of the way through my stack of photos that I am working on so I have decided to make an 'add on' kit inspired by Soda Shoppe to help me finish ALL of the photos from this vacation.
Here is what is left from my Feb kit ...

Feb kit left-overs

All of the patterned papers are now part sheets, and I am a patterned paper junkie!  So here is my 'add on' kit to bulk it out and help me finish.  I am sure no one will mind the slight cheat :-)  This time I am even going to name my kit (a first for me!) ... Down South (cause that is where the photos were taken LOL)

Down South

A while ago I joined a kit club (shock! horror!) with a friend.  It was a very popular club and it sounded great, especially as if we ordered together we got the international postage for free if we spent over the minimum.  We loved our first kit, we liked the second, we didn't really like any other kit for the rest of the subscription.  After awhile they all started to look the same, with the same brands (one of which is NOT a fav of mine), and not many embellishments/stickers.

I had used a few bits from the first two and made some layouts which I haven't had time to post, but after that they just piled up in their lovely brown bags.  Today I opened them all and sorted them out.  Papers in one pile, cardstock, stickers, buttons, embellishments, die cuts, and stamps in other piles.  I chose all of the pieces for Down South from these items.  Hmmmmm ... making a kit from kits .... 'Tis a bit ironic :-)

I was already using aqua, yellow and green in my kit but I loved the splash of red in the inspiration kit.  So I added more of the other colours and some red in slightly more muted shades.  I LOVE the camera washi tape and can't wait to use it.

This particular kit club that I subscribed to liked to add die-cuts in most of their kits.  This was a bit tiresome as they were mostly white based and were even added to kits that were cream based.  I have a pile of much of the same thing repeated so I have dug out a couple I might be able to make work and added them to this kit.

My favourite part of getting my kits were the stamps and alphas.  I have added a few sets that I haven't used yet but that might work with my theme.  I also added the stamp set with the frame to try and counterfeit some of the stickers in the inspiration kit.  I am also still keeping the tools and stamps that were in my Feb kit.  All in all this is quite a bit of stuff to use as it is one and a half kits rolled into one!

One last thing that I added was a sheet of card pre-stamped with sentiments that I might use.  I was crafting with friends and borrowed a set of Darkroom Door stamps to stamp out a page with the images that I loved.  I won't use all of them in this kit as many of these will be used for cards, but I will be trying to use a few bits, especially the words.

Hopefully I will get some crafting done this month, even if it is just half an hour!  Kits certainly help when time is short.


Friday, 8 March 2013

Story Telling Sunday March 2013 - Photo Heavy

This year Storytelling Sunday asks you to "pick your precious".  This is how Sian described it ...

Start looking around, see what you love. Pick Your Precious is for short story tellers and for long. You can take the idea of simply a photo with a few words; or, if you are a can't-stop-yourself storyteller, you can expand as much as you like. The thing to keep in mind is that at the end of the year you'll have a permanent record of the little things you hold dear - and your family will know why you are holding onto them! Doesn't that sound like it might be worth it? No more "Do you really need that?"
Please join us this year.  It only takes a minute and even if you only write a story or two, that will be a few more of your stories written down. I know that I am incredibly late this month and I will post why later.

Pick Your Precious - March

My Maternal Grandma was a very important figure in my life.  It was this Grandma who bought the doll house for me that I spoke about last month.  My Grandma was an integral figure in my life, living with us for long periods of time after my mom and dad separated when I was two.  Here is a picture of us (albeit VERY red!) from when I was a toddler.  I love this photo and wish the colour was better.  My Grandma was almost 6' tall and very large boned so unfortunately her jewelry doesn't fit me.  I remember her wearing the think necklace in this picture her whole life.  Any piece I own is just HUGE!

This Grandma was an interior decorator but turned her hands at many things over the years after she divorced when her kids were little.  She was an adventurer like me and even dragged her kids across the world in the late 60's to Australia.  This is where my mom met my dad.  Grandma didn't last here as she found it was too conservative for a single mom (with terrible woman's wages) and she moved back to the US without my mom who was by now engaged.

Fast forward a handful or two of years and Grandma moved to Australia to help my mom after her attempt to work things out with my dad failed.  Grandma lived with us on and off after that in between mission trips to countries like Fiji and even China.  Grandma even smuggled Bibles into China when it wasn't safe to do so!  She died unexpected while preparing for a trip to Russia after the fall of the USSR. She could only stay in Australia for a certain length of time before needing her passport to be stamped elsewhere.  So she began traveling. In between she would turn her hand to all sorts of jobs that earned her the money for her next trip.  Many of the items in my 'precious' boxes are from my Grandma.  Due to other circumstances, I haven't had an opportunity to spend quality time with my boxes so I am going to share a precious that I inherited from my Grandma.

Grandma didn't have many personal items but there are a few things that she shipped all over the world and in between temporary travel we looked after.  Here is a photo of my brother and I and cousins either dropping Grandma to the airport or picking her up.  We did this quite often!  I am the eldest in the photo and sporting a spiral perm!

One of the items that my Grandma shipped everywhere was her set of 'Liberty Blue' dinnerware.  Grandma used it as everyday dishes and when living with us my brother and I broke quite a few breakfast bowls!  I inherited it and have cherished it every day since.  It was packed up in a tea-chest until I moved out of home but I have to admit I only use it for 'good'.  My husband isn't a fan of any blue and white dinnerware and he is terrified of breaking it, so it sits in a cupboard on display until I can bring it out for dinner parties.  We ALWAYS use it at Thanksgiving and that is when I feel closest to my Grandma.  She was always home for Thanksgiving and it was my favourite holiday as my parents didn't fight over us ... this was just my mom's holiday and dad never worried about it.  I can smell Grandma baking pies in my memory as I type this.

I have to admit only knowing family legend about this dinnerware as I never expected my Grandma to go so soon.  It was always a part of her house and I never heard her stories about it.  There is now a book available detailing the pieces in more detail and one day I would like a copy.  I love the pictures on each piece and know most of the stories behind each scene.  I probably know my US history about as well as I know my Australian history!  I am truly a child of the two countries, but I don't fit perfectly in either.  I am always asked where I'm from ... my accent isn't a fit for anywhere.  I think that is why I loved living in Ireland so much, no one had any expectations of what I should be like.

An inscription on the back of a piece

I will leave the story here as I am close to tear,s and just share photos of the pieces with you.  I have service for 6 with additional dinner plates that I found in Portabello Rd, London and in small street market in Amsterdam.  One day I would like to add to the set and have service for 12.

The soup tureen is my favourite and features the Boston Tea Party on the lid.

The side of the soup tureen.  Many pieces feature Paul Revere like the salt shaker.

Here is a close up of the lid.

There is a full tea/coffee set.  The sugar bowl shows Betsy Ross sewing the flag.

This poor sugar bowl was in constant use by my Grandma and we broke the lid at some point.

Here are some of the platters and bowls.  I love the large platter with Washington crossing the Delaware.

These are the plates and the bottom right is a soup bowl.

Well done if you made it this far :-)  See you next month for Storytelling Sunday and please do pop over to the other stories.  I will endevour to read them over the next week.