Showing posts with label Site Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Site Reviews. Show all posts

Monday, October 1, 2018

Reviewing Vistaprint for Business Cards

Business cards from Vistaprint
I am in the process of starting a small business. An Etsy store to offer my crocheted items to an audience beyond my circle of friends. In this beginning stage of the process, I quickly decided that I wanted a "business card" to include with my sold items. I chose Vistaprint and am thrilled with the service and product they provided. So thrilled that I'm writing this review to share the information with you.


Vistaprint - The "Everything to Market Your Business" Site


I see the Vistaprint commercials frequently. This constant advertising is why I checked out their site first. Sheer laziness on my part. I ordered with some skepticism - as some businesses that advertise the most are not the best. But I am glad I ordered my cards from Vistaprint. Before I start rambling, the mini-review is:

  • Super easy-to-navigate website
  • Many business card styles to choose from
  • Choices ranging from completely designed by you (including your own photo) or use one of the existing designs
  • Preview function that shows you exactly what you have created
  • Fast service (ordered on 8/22 and received on 8/29) even with standard shipping


My Business Cards


I knew I wanted a somewhat "rustic" design. The purpose of the card would be a thank you and continued advertising with my store URL. I needed a thicker paperstock as I would be punching a hole in many of the cards and attaching them to my handmade item with a ribbon.

I was able to choose rounded corners (to avoid snags in my yarn), "standard glossy" front of card (to add to the durability of the card), and print on the back of the card (for a more personal message). Not feeling creative enough to design my own card, I quickly found one of their templates. The overall front design of the template was not adjustable, but I could add customize with my store name.  I could also choose a couple of color variations.  Scroll to the very bottom of this article to see a very small sample of some of the designs. 

The back of the card allows for print. So I added the personalized printed message I wanted. The back of my card is not glossy paper.


I had expected to receive flimsy, poor-quality business cards (like the ones we have at work). Instead, I received cards that I am thrilled with. I paid $25.58 for 100 cards and shipping. 

I will continue my orders with Vistaprint, adding fabric care cards to my packaging. I have also begun to consider purchasing postcards for advertising after seeing all of the fantastic design possibilities.

If you are in need of business cards and other paper products for your business, I highly recommend Vistaprint

finished and ready for delivery - with card attached


Related Links:

Our own Tracey (The Savvy Age) recently reviewed a free online logo maker called DesignEvo. If you feel more confident in your creative abilities than I do mine, DesignEvo Free Logo Maker may be a great site to use. I LOVE the logo she created in "2.5 minutes". 

My Etsy Store. My goal is to retire at The Shack; tending my garden, chickens, and land. That retirement dream includes sitting in a rocking chair on the deck and crocheting. If that crochet adds a very small bit of retirement income (aka more money for yarn) all the better. 


an extremely small sample of some of the existing business card designs on Vistaprint




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

DesignEvo: Free Logo Maker Reviewed

Need a logo in minutes? DesignEvo is a free online logo maker which gives users the ability to make a logo in minutes; whether a novice or graphics professional DesignEvo provides the online software to make, create and design a logo quickly and easily.

Easy As 1-2-3

 

DesignEvo promises that a logo can be made in minutes and what is promised is delivered. I actually timed the making of this logo with a DesignEvo template. I used my lifestyle website and tagline to explore designing a new logo.


How To Use DesignEvo


I launched the free logo maker, scrolled down to my chosen category (Letter), scrolled through the options, entered the website name (or Company Name),  tagline and voila! Total creation time including download and social share =  2.5 minutes.
After creating the logo I quickly modified a few parts of the design. I tweeked the size,  modified the dot icons, changed the background color and then proceeded to download the logo and the required social share.

The requirement for a FREE logo to download for your use is very simple; a social share is required prior to downloading and credit on your website or blog. After downloading you will find a zip file with the logo as a jpg, png and a readme file with the share requirements.


What You See Is What You Get

The design interface is very user friendly and intuitive. Once the logo is created a Preview is available to see your logo on business cards, letterhead or media products.

This is a very nice program for novices to instantly create a logo by using the provided templates; for those with more advanced graphic skills the online software has the features to further customize the logo.



Customize Your Free Logo

Your logo can be easily customized with the color, font and transparency options. If you have the HEX colors for your company then the color of your logo can be changed with a few clicks of the mouse. The interface is clean, self explanatory and easy to navigate; if help is needed video tutorials and FAQ's are available under Support.


Who Is DesignEvo?

The About page of DesignEvo gives insight into the evolution of DesignEvo. Pearl Mountain developed Fotojet, a free online collage maker and is also the creator of DesignEvo. The logo maker is free or users have the option to purchase advanced features for a one time annual fee. Logo features such as resolution, copyright, vector files are restricted to the paid version.


Recommendation

I enjoyed the ease of using DesignEvo, the user friendly interface and the instantaneous results of a ready to use logo within minutes.  Colors, fonts, icons and graphics are just a click away to personalize your logo to your brand or create a brand new logo with a customizable template.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Reviewing Ways to Earn Money That Aren't Your Average 9 to 5 Job

ways to earn money with a side hussle
Image by Lou16
The internet has made the world seem smaller, it has also opened up opportunities for many people to embrace the idea of a side hustle or to even take the place of a more conventional day job.

Let's review a few ways that you can earn money that aren't talked about by your careers adviser in school. The wonderful contributors on this website have embraced several different ways of earning money and if you have similar talents then you may wish to embrace some of their methods.

So what ideas shall we discuss? Writing, photography, craft, recommendations, graphic design and even singing to cats!

You have probably heard the saying that if you do something you love you'll never work a day in your life. My late (offline) boss used to love this saying and he lived it too as he was at the office every day until his final two weeks (a month shy of his 90th birthday), he was even still studying a few months earlier! A few people who's articles you may have enjoyed on this site also seem to have taken these words to heart such as Mbg Photo & Wednesday Elf ...

Photography, Graphic Designs & Art


Mbg photo loves both photography and lighthouses so how to combine two loves and earn money at the same time? You sell your photographs of lighthouses on different products that people can purchase online. This is done with the aid of a number of print on demand sites, a popular one of these sites is Zazzle and you can see some wonderful lighthouses at Mgb Photo's Zazzle store - Lighthouse Gifts and Photos.

Zazzle is a great site to upload your own photography on, but you don't have to stop there.  Other popular ways to earn with Zazzle include typographical designs, in fact I had two very popular t-shirt designs that were just word based!  If you have a graphic design background or are an artist you could do well on this site.

Crocheting and Other Crafts


Wednesday Elf enjoys crocheting and she can utilize her talents by selling some of her amazing crocheted plush animals (and other goodies) in her very own Etsy store - Coastal Crochet Crafts.  There are a number of different crafts that you can make and put for sale on Etsy.  So if you enjoy crochet, knitting, jewelry making or even creating butterfly wings for costumes then you can sell your goods on Etsy.

Writing


When it comes to writing there are several different ways to earn money - writing a blog about things you love, reviewing products or even writing a book!   Sylvestermouse loves Christmas and plans for it throughout the year which is why she runs a couple of different sites around the holidays including Christmas Time Treasures.

BarbRad (like many of us) is a self-confessed bookworm and amongst her many book related blogs she reviews books at Bookworm Buffet (an awesome name for a book review site in my opinion!).

Anyone can set up their own website these days whether it's on the blogger platform, wordpress or even a site like weebly.   If that idea is too daunting for you then you could start writing on content sites such as hubpages or wizzley - earning money on these sites takes a while, but it's a good place to ease into the world of online writing.

Writing a book has become a lot easier with the internet because you can publish ebooks yourself.  It takes a lot more discipline to write a book in my opinion though.  One of our wonderful contributors has done this, however, with not just one, but two books - Bev Owen's cozy mysteries can be brought through Amazon.

Uber, Airbnb & Airtasker


Other ways of making money include the ride sharing economy such as Uber - simply use your car (provided it meets the requirements), download the app and you can choose your own hours for making money as a driver.  I know people who do this as a full time income as well as people who do it around other jobs.

Airbnb is a very popular way to cash in on extra room at home that can also lead you to meeting a variety of people.  Friends of ours do very well with this source of income which enables one of them to stay home and look after the children full time.

Airtasker is one way to earn money that I haven't used and nor do I know anyone who has.  I have heard interesting things about it though and it certainly seems like an interesting way to offer up any skills you have to earn money.  I was watching a segment on our local news program where they interviewed the head of airtasker in Australia and he said that the most unusual way someone had made money in the past year was by singing to a pet cat for an hour a day!

Recommendations


Recommending things is a great way to earn money and this can be done in a number of different ways.   One way is to write reviews (as we mentioned under writing) and in this way we can earn advertising income on a blog or we can earn via affiliate marketing.

With affiliate marketing we get a commission on any sales we make when we recommend things so you could look at one of Treasures by Brenda's sites which is called Movie Treasures by Brenda.  This site reviews movies and if you click on the movie and purchase it Brenda can receive a commision.   Another way of making money with affiliate marketing is by setting up a niche site like Heather426 did with Halloween Fun Shoppe and then if people buy anything she features she can earn a commission.

Recommendations are very powerful you've only got to see how many Facebook recommendations you see in a day.  People just can't seem to resist giving recommendations (usually for free).  You don't have to write an article or blog post to earn money with recommendations you could try social marketing (previously called network marketing).

I actually belong to a social marketing company called Arbonne and basically I love the products so recommend them to people and then they buy them through me and I make a commission.  If they start recommending them to other people then I let them know that they could become a consultant themselves and make the commission for themselves instead of sending me clients!

The company I work for provide us with a website so the business can be wholly conducted online, but face to face recommendations works really well and I would recommend a combination of the two to be really successful.

There are a number of social marketing companies around, but my (albeit biased) opinion is that Arbonne is the best so if you are interested in finding out more please send me a message via my Facebook business page or via instagram.

Even More Ways to Make Money


Other ideas for making money is by offering to be a social media manager for small local businesses, setting up and/or looking after websites for local businesses.

Then of course there's always going back to basics and offering handyman services, shopping services, dog walking services.

The list really is endless, whether it's a local task or a global task there really seems as though there's nothing you can't make money from if you think outside of the office cubicle!




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Site Review: Drageda - The Heart of Country Music

Reviewing the Heart of Country Music.
I am in a mood. I don't want the television on - polluting me with all of it's negativity. I'd rather listen to some music. Only trouble is, I'm tired of the local radio stations that play the same songs every hour. When I'm in this mood, a song that I love quickly becomes a song that grates my nerves due to the repetition. Today, I'm in the mood for a specific type of song, a country song that makes me feel good. So I turn to a familiar website for inspiration. Since you may not be familiar with Drageda.com I thought I'd do a quick site review and introduce you.


Drageda.com - The Heart of Country Music


Our very own Review This! contributor, Barbara Tremblay Cipak (Brite-Ideas) is the creator of Drageda.com.  I am not writing this review because she is a co-writer on this site. Rather, I am writing this review because I truly find her personal website to be heart-felt, informational, and helpful.


What is Drageda.com ? 


Drageda.com is "not your typical find a country song site".  Barbara has created the site to assist with finding the right country song for your feeling, special occasion, or that particular moment in your life. Whether it is a birthday, wedding, or memorial.... whether is about family, friendships, love, break-ups, or grief and loss... Barbara reviews and categorizes songs to fit the moment in time.

What in the world does Drageda stand for ?


Drageda stands for Don't Ride Alone Get Emotional Daily Assistance.


Why I Recommend Drageda.com


Even though I listen to country music (I like many genres, and am a radio station surfer, but I tend toward country the most), Barbara's reviews have introduced me to new artists and new songs. 

All of her reviews are heartfelt. She provides the links to the music or videos, her interpretation of the songs, and portions of the lyrics. 

The site is easy to use. There are a variety of categories that are easily accessible via the links at the top of the page. This includes the categories: Breakup, Family, Friend, Funny, Hope, Happy, Love, Perspective, Time Passing, and Death & Loss. There is also a Country Gifts category. Some of those categories have sub-sections.

If you can't find what you need there, or just for fun, check out the Country Song Lists page. While on the website, that link can be found in the very top left corner of the page. You'll be taken to a page where the categories of songs are searchable and listed by category phrases (in 4 different tables) such as:

  • Thank You: I'm feeling so grateful for the people in my life
  • Date Night: Songs for a night of just kissing
  • Cheater: Support songs if the MoFo cheated!
  • USA or July 4th country songs
  • Canada country songs
  • songs to honor Dad
  • songs to celebrate Mom
  • and many more categories
In addition to the specific Drageda.com song reviews, on the right side of the page, there are two itunes sections that list the current top 10 country music videos and the current top 10 country music albums.  Using those sections, I have found songs/videos I wasn't familiar with and because that section links to itunes, I am able to listen to song samples for free (I really like free). 

Finally, and sometimes most importantly to me, there is a noticeable absence of ads and pop-ups. I really find those "subscribe" pop-ups, ads, and websites that are as full of ads as they are content so annoying that I'll sometimes immediately click out of a site. I appreciate that Barbara (whether intentional or not) is so focused on the feelings of the music and the music itself that disruptive ad placement is excluded. What a breath of fresh air these days.

There is only one small addition that would be helpful for me personally on Drageda.com. That would be a section just for music that celebrates country living and the natural world. When I'm in this mood, that is the music I lean toward. However, even without this specific section, I was able to find the perfect song (and it turns out an entire album) that fits my mood today.  Celebrating "country" and the natural world.  



Son of the Sun
by: Dierks Bentley 
album: The Mountain



This is probably a song I would not have found without help from Drageda.comI'm glad to have found it. My home is filled with feel-good music and songs that fit my emotional needs for today. Just how Drageda intended.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Reviewing Chewy.com

I have just received my first order from Chewy.com and I have to say that I think I could get used to having nearly 20 lbs. of pet supplies delivered to my 3rd floor apartment door. 


About Chewy.com


Chewy.com is an online source for pet supplies. A large variety of pets. You can choose to "shop by pet" and that includes: dogs, cats, fish, birds, reptiles, small pets, and horses. 

Their mission statement is:

"We're working to become the largest pet retailer in the world with the most satisfied customers. Our success is measured by the happiness of the people and pets we serve, not simply by the amount of pet supplies we deliver." 

After my experience, I believe that they are working hard to complete that mission.

I found the site to be easy to navigate and super easy to find the items and brands I was shopping for. 

With a coupon I received in the mail, I took the plunge and ordered four cases Willy and Daisy's canned dog food. With the coupon and free shipping combined that dog food cost less than it would have if I had purchased it at Wal-Mart. 


I like to buy my dog and cat supplies in bulk - cutting down on trips to the store. But loading, unloading, and carrying all that up three flights of stairs becomes annoying. Imagine 2 large bags of dog food, a 5 lb. bag of cat food, a container of cat litter, and a case of canned dog food in a typical stock-up shopping trip. That translates to multiple heavy-duty trips up and down the stairs.

Finally, I have browsed the site several times and confirmed that they offer every brand of dog food, dog treat, cat food, and cat litter that I buy. Including one of the dog food brands I purchase that is regularly out-of-stock at my local stores. 


The Reason I'd Give My Experience 4 out of 5 Stars


If I were giving a starred review, I'd give 4 out of 5 stars - subtracting one star for our local delivery service. 

I've learned that in the Baltimore area we have a delivery service in addition to UPS, FedEx, and the postal service. It is called LaserShip. I'm not at all pleased with LaserShip.

LaserShip listed an expected delivery date. Two days after that date, I contacted them. Their response was that there was a delay and I'd receive my shipment in 1-2 days. Those additional days passed and suddenly my tracking information showed that my delivery was "left at door" on the original delivery date that was listed. 

Only problem was... it wasn't left at my door. I happened to be home that evening (and ironically, receiving a delivery of curtains and curtain rods from one of the other delivery services). So I contacted LaserShip again.  After another couple of days their response was that my delivery was lost and I should contact "the seller.".  It was only then that I realized I was not communicating with Chewy.com customer service.

I contacted Chewy.com customer service. They were professional, quick, and shipped my items a second time. For free. With no run around or misinformation whatsoever.

I received that order on the promised date. 

Related to Chewy.com only, I could imagine myself becoming a regular client. I'm totally sold on the savings and convenience. However, I'm planning on learning more about this LaserShip company to learn if I can receive my Chewy.com orders without LaserShip's "help". 

I highly recommend Chewy.com to other pet owners.


photos courtesy of Pixabay under CC0 license. 






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Review of Zazzle

Have you ever wanted to make a special gift for someone using a photograph you have taken?  If so, Zazzle is a great way to go!


Sea after Storm Throw Pillow
Sea after Storm Throw Pillow
by mbgphoto

The above pillow was made on Zazzle using a photograph I took in Florida.  There is one photo on one side of the pillow and a second photo on the opposite side of the pillow.  Whether you'd like to make a special gift for someone or whether you'd like to open a store and make a little extra money the information on the rest of this post will help you to get started.  This information was taken from a presentation I gave to my photography club.

What is Zazzle?

Zazzle is a program where you can get paid for doing what you love best, creating photographs and art!  It is free to set up, you don't have to carry any inventory and Zazzle handles all the production and customer service issues.  Zazzle has three ways to make money, as a designer, a maker or an associate.  I work as a designer and will concentrate on that aspect in this post.

Designer Program

  1. Upload your photograph or artwork onto products.  Over 250 different products are available.
  2. A customer likes your design and buys it.
  3. Zazzle processes transactions and handles all customer service.
  4. Zazzle prints and ships to customers.
  5. Zazzle sends you a payment for a percentage of sales.

Pricing System

  1. You choose any royalty rate from 5% to 99%
  2. Base price is increased by that amount so you earn your royalty.
  3. Base Price +Your Royalty Percentage=Retail Price

My Experience with Zazzle

  1. Started my first Zazzle store in 2008
  2. Currently have 3 Zazzle stores: mbgphoto, lighthouseenthusiast,and Butterflyblittz.
  3. Example of sales on photo from 2007 of Cabo San Lucas.  From that one photo $1607.28 in royalties.  Sold

    • 836 mugs
    • 333 magnets
    • 52 luggage tags
    • 23 ornaments
    • 16 keychains
    • 2 puzzles
    • 12 buttons
    • 2 postcards

  • I currently have over 6800 products in my three stores and I sell something most every day.  Sometimes it is only a postcard and sometimes it is a bigger sale.    Here are some examples of my products.
  1. Go to zazzle.com
  2. Click on sell on Zazzle in top left hand area
  3. Choose from Designer-Maker-Associate

Steps in Designer Program

  1. Create a Zazzle Account
  2. Open Free designer store and pick a store name
  3. Create design, choose product, upload image, create text if desired, resize image as desired.
  4. Post design for sale "Post for Sale"
  5. Enter key words so customers can find your product. Good key words are essential.

Enjoy!!





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Blogging from the Heart at Treasures, Travel, and Tales

Blogging from the Heart at Treasures, Travel & Tales
In a world of structure that yells "niche, niche" all day, every day, I personally find it extremely refreshing to read a blog written in the old style, from the heart.  Of course niche blogs can be from the heart too, please don't misunderstand me.   But, I love having blogs to visit where I feel like I really get to know the author, not just a niche.  A place where the author tells me about the things she enjoys in life, from the best movie to her favorite soap, or breakfast.  

Who am I specially talking about, you ask?  Well, honestly there are several that I could name, but today I want to tell you about Dawn and her blog "Treasures, Travel, and Tales".  

The blog is exactly what the name implies.  Dawn shares with her readers about the treasures that she has found in life.  Her posts might be about her discovery of figs, roasted beets or pawpaws.  The next week, she might share about traveling to her "shack" in the woods where she plans to retire and how she cooks without a stove or oven in the place.  I frequently find myself laughing with the visual images she creates for her readers while reading her tales.

Treasures, Travel, and Tales is a journal of Dawn's life experiences and every article is an adventure for the reader to share.  Her site is definitely "blogging from the heart" and her heart speaks to mine.


Blogging from the Heart at Treasures, Travel, and Tales
This is Willy and his Chew Treats for Finicky Dogs


What to Expect from Treasures, Travel, and Tales


Review of the Website "Treasures, Travel, and Tales". The author, Dawn, shares with her readers about the treasures that she has found in life.
Keystone Kabins Park Model - Tiny Home Option
If an SEO (search engine optimization) expert stopped by Treasures, Travel, and Tales, they would be critical.  However, that same SEO expert would rip the heart right out of the site and that would be more than a crime.  

Treasures, Travel, and Tales isn't about ranking with Google.  It is about sharing with real people, not bots.  It is what writing online should be about.  It is what writing anywhere should be about.

Visiting Dawn's site is like walking beside a best friend as they experience things in life for the first time.  It's like sharing a musical with someone who has never seen Les Miserables before.  Or listening to a song with sentimental words that speak directly to a feeling we would never be able to express ourselves.

It is not just about the words in her posts either.  Dawn shares the photos she has personally taken.  Her love of nature shows in so many of her images.  She has a bee photo that makes you feel like you could just reach out and touch that little bumble bee.  (Yes, I am going to make you click that link to see the bumble bee yourself!)

Oh, and I don't want to forget to tell you that there is something there for everyone.  Even a crocheter will find a pattern to a crochet beanie hat.



Some of My Favorite Articles on Treasures, Travel, and Tales


Every article on Treasure, Travel, and Tales is a delight to read.  I do have some favorites that I have featured above and listed below, but they are just a place to get started.  I would love for you to visit the entire site to discover your own favorites.  I know you will find her honesty and wide-eyed exuberance refreshing and fun.

 



Read More Site Reviews on
ReviewThis




All Photos in this Review are Used with Permission from Dawn at Treasures, Travel, and Tales
Cynthia



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Recipes for Real People a Site Review

Recipes for Real People is a recipe and kitchen website that offers recipes and food ideas that are quick, easy, and useful for everyday meals. From Aprons to Vegetables, you will find comfort food recipes, meal ideas, and kitchen gifts for you and your family.

Why I Turn to Recipes for Real People


I can't even begin to guess the number of recipe websites on the internet. So why would I turn to Recipes for Real People?  There are several reasons I look to this site for ideas. Just this morning I woke with many things on my mind. I have household chores to do, reports to write for work, and assorted things I would like to accomplish with my own website. I have to find a way to save some time today.

After unseasonably warm days, a thunderstorm rolled through last night and brought behind it a very cold and cloudy morning. I am craving comfort food and not sure what I have in the kitchen. After having spent the past few days driving around with the Jeep top open and enjoying the warm weather, I had no reason to buy ingredients to make chili or stew. But now it is very cold outside, the furnace is on, I am under the blankets, and I am craving something warm and filling. Something like stew or chili. However, to make either of those things, I'd have to run out to the store.

Thanks to a recipe found on Recipes for Real People, I have found a meal idea and won't have to go to the grocery after all.

I should clarify that I am writing this on Sunday and it will be published on Monday. On Monday I will be back at the office, hard at work - giving my time and energy to others. So I am especially thankful for time-saving ideas that allow me to spend more time on the weekends on myself. 

Hamburger Vegetable Soup Recipe


Susan's Hamburger Vegetable Soup recipe is just the type of thing I am craving.  Her four-ingredient recipe is easy and made from ingredients that are often found in the kitchen at any given time.  I do not currently have any fresh ground beef in the fridge. But I do have ground sausage. So I will substitute the sausage for the ground beef and have a filling, warm, comfort meal and won't have to leave the apartment today!  In fact, come to think of it, I have a few different cans of soup that I could use as substitutes for the vegetable soup in Susan's recipe. Perhaps I'll add the sausage to a can of creamy chicken soup.  I don't know. I will decide later.  But I am relieved that a trip to the grocery is something I can remove from today's full to-do list.  All thanks to Recipes for Real People.


one recipe idea found on Recipes for Real People (photo by Susan)


A few more reasons I turn to Recipes for Real People


  • Recipes for Real People is a website owned by one of our Review This! contributors - Susan Deppner
  • I trust that Susan is sharing recipes that she cooks in her own home
  • these recipes call for few ingredients that are readily available
  • quick and easy prep recipes
  • leftovers are used in the Recipes for Real People kitchen - I am a firm believer in using leftovers
  • Susan's kitchen helpers are adorable


Related Recipe Links


The Review This! contributors share some of their favorite recipes on this site. The variety of recipes, meals, kitchen items, and food reviews that the contributors bring is amazing. From slow cooker beans and TexMex lasagna to buttery shrimp pasta and party menus, there is something to suit everyone's tastes. To see those recipes, use the Review This! recipes tab and scroll. Our own Sylvestermouse Cynthia enjoys food, entertaining, and the holidays.  She is the owner of two food-related sites Fun Food and Cooking for the Holidays.

Fun Food focuses on "fabulous fun food". I swear some of the ideas shown are works of art!  From bright and colorful swirls of jello to snake cakes and food castles, these recipes are as fun to look at as they are tasty to eat.




Cooking for the Holidays is exactly as advertised - meals, desserts, and appetizers specific to holidays and entertaining. This website is elegant and offers recipes that will likely never happen in my little kitchen for one but are perfect for those who enjoy celebrations and entertaining. 









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Reviewing Prime Reading

Free Access to Books, Magazines, and More With Your Amazon Prime Membership


If you love to read, Prime Reading is an Amazon Prime feature that you won't want to miss!
Prime Reading is a Feature of Amazon Prime
that you won't want to miss.
If you're an Amazon Prime customer, you probably already take advantage of free two-day shipping and several of the other discounts and freebies available with Prime. But there's one advantage that you might not be aware of. It's called Prime Reading and if you love to read, it's a feature that you won’t want to miss. Here's how it works.

With Prime Reading, automatically included with your Prime membership, you get access to a library of over a thousand books, magazines, and Audible narration recordings, all at no additional cost. While 1000+ books and magazines doesn't sound like much in the big scheme of the Amazon bookstore, the selection is good and, personally, I've saved quite a bit of money borrowing books and magazines from Prime Reading as opposed to buying them. I think it's a great deal!

Do I Need a Kindle To Use Prime Reading?


You might be wondering if you need a Kindle reader to take advantage of this program and the answer is "no," you do not. As with all e-books in the huge Amazon library, each can be read from your phone, your iPad, or your other Android or iOS device using Amazon's free reading app which is simple to download to your device. If you don't own a Kindle reader or Fire tablet, simply look for the "Read with Our Free App" link below the Kindle format of any book to get started. (To learn more, check out my review of "The Three Best Ways to Read Kindle Books.")

What Types of Books Are Available for Prime Reading?  


The Prime Reading library consists of books in many genres from nonfiction to romance to business and money and more. Titles include current bestsellers, classics, and likely books by quite a few authors that you haven't read yet. What a great opportunity to explore new titles when you're on a budget (I'm always on a budget!).

The magazines that are available are current issues of many of the bestsellers on the Kindle Newsstand. While e-magazine subscriptions are very reasonably priced, as far as I'm concerned you can't beat "free" for the cost of a magazine. I'll admit, I'd rather borrow HGTV Magazine or Birds & Blooms or Real Simple and read them for free than pay for a subscription. Borrow it, read it, save it for a while then exchange it for something else, all from the comfort of your own computer. It's even "greener" than recycling, don't you agree?

Where Do I Find Prime Reading?


Find Prime Reading Eligible items in the left margin of the Kindle Store.
When you're logged in to your Amazon account, visit the Prime Reading page to see the catalog of what's available and view your personal library. You can always access a link to Prime Reading Eligible items in the left margin of the Kindle store, as shown in the photo.

If you're not an Amazon Prime member yet, this is another great reason to join. Currently the price is just $99 a year, very worth it, especially when you take advantage of all the features of the program that you may not even know exist, including Prime Reading. To see the list of what's included or to join Amazon Prime, just follow the link.

So tell me, if you're a member of Amazon Prime, did you already know about Prime Reading or did you learn something new today? I love to save money on books and magazines and hopefully this information will help you save a few dollars here and there, too. Happy reading!

~Susan
Read more of my reviews.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Site Review of Teabag Folding|Paper Facets

Review of Teabag Folding Site


Teabag Folding rosette from Teabag Folding website
Rosette from Teabag Folding Site
If  you are a fan of hand made cards you will love the site: http://paperfacets.com

It has many beautiful cards for you to purchase and they are very reasonable for such unique designs that are made entirely by hand. Even the shipping is much less than it is on other sites. 

Teabag folding is sort of an obscure paper craft but the results are gorgeous and your card recipients are going to be stunned by the beauty of the cards you give them. I was blown away by all the beautiful cards available on this site.

Learn the Art of Teabag Folding


And if you would like to learn about the craft of paper folding you are in for a treat as the owner has many many tutorials with clear and precise directions to help you from start to finish. (Tea bag folding is also known as flat fold origami.) She also lists and reviews many sources of the supplies you will need to get started making your own beautiful cards and the craft of teabag folding. 


Hand Made card from Paper Facets site
Hand Made Card from Paper Facets
From the beginning of learning the craft, to learning some of the techniques and patterns, to sourcing some of the materials, and her reviews of some of the suppliers and supplies, you will find everything you need to get started and to become an expert on this very unique paper craft. You will also find hints on how to run an arts and crafts business if you want to take it that far. 

As an aside, I met the owner, Sherry, at an event in 2010 and she was very lovely and funny.  I am not surprised that her art is so wonderful. And that's what it is, art. Each and every card is a little work of art. She told a hilarious story of making her designs while on break when she worked at the phone company for many years so she could rush to craft fairs with her beautiful cards and sell them.

Buy Hand Made Cards at the Teabag Folding Website



Rosette from Teabag Folding site
Cut Out Rosette from Teabag Folding Site
I am so glad she now has them online so you don't have to find her at a crafts fair. You can just go to her site: Tea Bag Folding or http://paperfacets.com and look at some of her beautiful cards or you can order custom work too by contacting her on the site. There is lots of information for everyone. from the customer to the beginner to the expert paper craft artisan.

I totally recommend Teabag Folding, both the craft, and the site. Prepare to be enthralled. 

Photos on this page are courtesy of  http://paperfacets.com.


Two books about the paper craft of Origami to get you started:



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, October 3, 2016

FotoJet Free Photo Editor Review

FotoJet is a free online photo editor. It is extremely easy to use and offers photo editing, collage making, and graphic designs. I was skeptical when I signed up. I was certain it would have nothing new to offer that I don't already have access to with other photograph editing programs. But I was wrong. I love the FotoJet designs for social media posts. In this review, I will show you some of the samples I created using minimal time or energy.


Easy Sign up


So far, I've found no gimmicks with the FotoJet photo editor site. My pet peeve is trying to sign up to use a free program only to find that there is some catch. Perhaps you must enter your credit card number in order to register for the "free" site. Or it is free, but you have to download all sorts of things onto your computer and then their tool bar takes over.  Sometimes it is easy to sign in, and really is free, but then you learn that you only get to do one sample of something and your free use has ended. An upgrade (that costs) is required to continue.  I found NONE of those gimmicks with FotoJet. Registering was just this easy:

  • I entered my email address.
  • I entered the password I wanted to use.
  • I went to my email account and clicked the link for email confirmation
  • I returned to the site and began creating


Easy to Use


I clicked the link to confirm and entered the site. Because I'm not tech savvy, I expected to have to spend a day or two trying to figure things out.  I looked for FAQs and directions and found none. There are a few hints (such as using the arrow keys...and I wish I had paid attention to that hint!) while the page is loading. Otherwise, I found no instructions.

But within two hours, I have four photo samples edited.  And I am very excited about them.


FotoJet Editor for Social Media Posts


Personally,  have a really hard time remembering the image size requirements for my social media sites. Sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest have different and ever-changing requirements.  My photos files have multiple photos saved in a variety of sizes and labeled with the site they were created for. FotoJet won 't decrease the amount of photo files I have, but it will take away the need to look at my image size cheat sheet each time I am re-sizing. 


FotoJet Photo Designs for Instagram


My first attempt was designing an Instagram photo with a personal photo for my personal blog.  I chose the design, chose my photo, dragged my photo onto the design and voila, was nearly finished. I clicked on the text boxes to add my wording, dragged it to where it looked best, and resized it easily. I also changed text colors and fonts easily. When finished, I saved it to my computer.




To show the variety of designs, I used a second design with the same photo. I think it gives my photo an entirely different look.





FotoJet Photo Designs for Pinterest


I then did the same for the designs sized for Pinterest.  With permission from our photography contributor Mary Beth, I used her amazing beach photos for these designs.





Aren't her photos gorgeous?! Anyway, with the first design, I dragged and dropped two photos, clicked on their existing text boxes, and changed the wording to my own. With the second image, I dragged and dropped the photo, changed the opacity of the existing text box, and left their text as is. 

What a happy coincidence to find a design with my name.


FotoJet Social Media Designs in Summary


I had a bit of difficulty finding the trash bin initially.  But I am content with clicking around and trying things out. Clearly, the "click and hope" technique worked well for me. Everything else was very easy to navigate. Especially after I started using the directional arrows to move the photos. 

I hope that FotoJet adds even more designs for Instagram and Pinterest. And perhaps some for Twitter.  Overall, I really like this free photo editor.  It seems to be a program free of gimmicks and tricks to purchase upgrades.  It is easy.  And if your goal is to create attractive images for your social media sites with as little muss and fuss as possible, I think you will be thrilled with FotoJet.


Related Links:



Thank you to Mary Beth for allowing me to use her amazing beach photos for these examples.  You can read more about her photography on Review This as well as purchase her items in her Sunrise/Sunset collection

The first image is a FotoJet design using a photo from Pixabay.  In addition to choosing one of your own photos while creating your designs, FotoJet includes a handy link to choose free photos from Pixabay.

You will find other helpful site reviews on ReviewThis!




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review of Picmonkey Photo Editing Site

Why I Love PicMonkey.com, Plus Tips For Using It

Picmonkey review

Until I discovered PicMonkey, I was stuck with using the free photo editing program that came on my HP laptop, and using Paint, the standard accessory in the Windows platform for computers. But now I am hooked on PicMonkey! It is my favorite free photo editing software! 

I never got around to buying Photoshop, and though I tried to use Gimp, it just was too hard for me to decipher. (Gimp is touted as a free version of Photoshop and many of my friends swear by it, but maybe I am software challenged.) So I thought I would show you some of the ways I use PicMonkey to edit and embellish my photos for articles on the internet and how you can too.

First of all, if you don't have an account,  just go to PicMonkey.com and sign up for an account. Once there you will see a page that varies as far as the image, but at the very top you will always see this:

Picmonkey header photo


You can see that I am signed in, but if you are not, just click on "Log In" on the right, and then you can begin editing.

You can also see the 4 buttons in the center that show where to start your photo editing project. For basic and advanced editing of your own photos, click "Edit." I will cover "Design," and "Touch Up" and "Collage" further down this page.

Once you do, it will show a screen asking you where to get the photo you want to edit. You can choose your computer, Facebook, One Drive, or their own new platform, Hub. Most people are probably going to choose a photo from their own computer so I will explain using that option.

Once you click on "Computer" it will open a window to your own files. Just scroll to your photo folders and click on the photo you wish to edit. That will place it on the screen in PicMonkey.  You will notice that on the left is a row of buttons. At the very top is a symbol of lines and dots and if you hover over that, it says "Basic Edits."  If you click it you see a list of edits you can do.  Here is an example of a photo I uploaded to the editor with the sidebar showing the menu:

PicMonkey Review



The first thing I like to do is open the "Rotate" button. (3rd button down on the left) You can rotate your photo in all directions, to change the orientation from horizontal to vertical and also to change the top to the bottom, just by clicking the arrows. But what I like to do is play with the "Straighten" slider. I guess I don't hold my camera steady as I often have photos that are crooked. But that is an easy fix in PicMonkey. Just slide the arrow till you have a straight photo and click "Apply." It even has guidelines to make it easy for you.
PicMonkey Review


Then I like to open the "Crop" button. The reason I straighten before I crop is that straightening sometimes takes part of the photo off, so I want the whole thing straightened before cropping.  Here you can see the crop lines I am going to use. You can drag the lines around till you are happy with your photo.

PicMonkey Review

Here it is after I clicked on "Crop." You can move the crop lines wherever you want them. When you are satisfied, just click "Apply" and then your photo will be magically cropped like this one.

PicMonkey Review


Then I like to do some basic editing so I click on "Exposure." The first thing I do is click on "Auto Adjust." This is often all that I do, as it seems to make my photos pop and look great. But you can also play with all the sliders and if you like the way a photo looks you can click "Apply" and those changes will be done.  When you are satisfied, just close that little window by clicking "Cancel" or "Apply," whichever is the case. Here  are how the other sections look when they are open. On this rose photo I have not done any other edits. I just cropped it and auto adjusted the exposure.

PicMonkey ReviewPicMonkey ReviewPicMonkey Review

If you make a mistake, there is an "Undo" button. At the very bottom of the screen is a backwards arrow. Just click that anytime you are not happy with your design and undo the last step! You can actually keep hitting "Undo" until you get back to a place where you are happy and then continue your design from there.
.
PicMonkey Review

More Tricks for Using PicMonkey


Now besides the  "Basic Edits" you can do a lot of different effects. One I use a lot is the "Text" function to add text to photos. This is great for making photos for Pinterest and other media like Twitter. So just click on "Text" and you will see this: (photo on the right)




Notice the slider on the right. Use it to scroll through all the choices of Font you can use.


I am going to use Marcelle Script so I just click on it and change the color of the script in the little box that pops up. I will use a very pale shade of blue but you can pick whatever you want. Move the box wherever you want and drag the edges to make it bigger or smaller. Then start adding text in the box. Example is below.

PicMonkey Review


And below is a picture of it after adding the text. Just click on the photo somewhere else besides the text box when you are finished and the text box disappears and your text is there.

Peace-Love-Travel-Light blog


Now let's say I want a background under the text. You can add any number of special effects by clicking the buttons on the left and scrolling till you find a design you like and clicking on the photo to place it. You can also move it around on the photo. Just click on it once and drag it wherever you want it. Here  I have added a ribbon. Once I clicked on it and placed it I changed the color to White. Then I added text over that.

Peace-Love-Travel-Light site


There are plenty of other effects you can use on the left too. The "Touch Up" ones are great for faces! And if you want a set of photos in a theme, there are lots of themed effects. They have a Zombie theme, Victorian theme, and lots more!  Just click on any of them to see all the things you can do. It would take me hours and hours to go over all the wonderful effects you can create, but the easier and more fun way to learn it is to add a photo and play with all the buttons to see what you can do! PicMonkey also has tutorials explaining how to use all the functions. Just scroll down on the Home page and you will see them.

Here are a few things I did to the image after I got the text and the ribbon trim on it. First are different edges. One is a simple box edge and next is a craft scissors edge.

State Flowers of the USA Coloring Blog

Best Coloring Books for Adults Blog

Then I added an effect called "Frost" which adds the color of the frame as a brushed effect all around the edges, and on the lower one I added a "Bokeh" overlay to make it sparkly. These are just a few of the effects you can get!

Aurora Art Supplies Colored Pencils
State Flowers of the USA Coloring Blog


PicMonkey Review


Using PicMonkey for Graphic Design

You can also use PicMonkey to design graphics and my favorite, Facebook covers. Up above where it says "Edit, Touch Up, Design, Collage," click on "Design." Then you will see a square, a Facebook cover, different sizes, and a custom option. To do a Facebook cover, just click that option and it opens up a screen with the exact size you need. Next click on "Overlay" on the left. You have your choice of many there, so you can scroll through and have fun designing your own cover by adding a combination of effects on the screen. Or you can add your own, just click on "Your Own" at the top. Here I have used the same photo of roses by clicking on the file in my computer and then dragging the edges out till the whole template is covered. Then I have added some text on top of that. It's now ready to upload to a Facebook page.

PicMonkey Review


One more thing that I think is pretty cool is that when you are designing, you can choose your background or even make a transparent background for designs you might be doing for Zazzle or other design platforms. For that you go to "Basic Edits," and click on "Canvas Color." If I wanted to make a round logo for example, I would choose a transparent background and then overlay a circle from the "Geometric Shapes" overlay section. Then I would put whatever design I wanted inside the circle, like text, colors, and/or textures. Once I have saved the design I have a round logo. Here is the one I designed for my Aurora Art Supplies products and website.
PicMonkey Review


And here are some Photos I edited in PicMonkey and added banners and text to use on my Amazon ads for my Aurora Art Supplies Colored Pencils and Water Color Pencils.


Using PicMonkey for Website Design 


Okay let's say I want to design a background for a website. And maybe I want a Blue sparkly one. First I would add Blue as my background color. Next I would go to the textures in the "Overlay" section and start adding them till I have an effect I want and then save it. Then I would go to the editor in my Wordpress theme and where it says to add a background, I would upload that file. Voila, a custom background. Here is one I made so you can see. I used a Blue solid color, then "Space" overlay,  then a "Bokeh" overlay. I played with the saturation till I liked it and saved it.

PicMonkey Review


There are so many effects you could really play for hours and design any number of cool things. And I didn't go into the "Collage" function, but all you do for that one is click on the "Collage" button above, pick a style from the left side menu and add photos to the cells by dragging them to the one you like. You can even design text boxes and add them as one of the photos of the collage. My friend Kim is a master of PicMonkey collages. Here is one she made for her educational site for kids to learn State facts.

PicMonkey Review

A very useful function that I use all the time is the "Resize" function at the bottom of the "Basic Edits."  Just click on it and you can make your photo whatever size you need! Very useful for websites!

So I guess you could say I am a PicMonkey addict now! Try it and I bet you will be too!  But a few of the fonts and effects are premium so you have to pay extra for those. Well I wanted them for a project so I signed up for one month only ($5) so I could make some cool designs. Then I reverted back.  A few days later PicMonkey sent me an email asking me why I cancelled the premium version and one of the answers you could pick was "It costs too much." That's what I picked and then they offered it to me for $33 a year, or less than $3 a month.  So if you want the premium version, that's how you can get it for less. Try it for a month at $5 and then cancel. I love  bargains, don't you? Thank you PicMonkey! 

*Of course, this may have been a one time offer, I can't promise that the offer will always be there. But it doesn't hurt to try, does it? 






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.