Monday, 29 September 2014

The Chez Stutters Garden - September 2014

Since the beginning of September, we've really kicked into gear with the garden.  In the ordinary course of events it's possible that we may have started too early with some of the planting, but it's so much warmer than "usual" earlier than usual that I think we're beyond the threat of frosts.  (It's now almost October, so maybe we weren't quite as reckless with planting things like tomatoes as some people may have thought us.)

This is the Chez Stutters Mk 2 garden.  Three vegetable beds, two citrus trees in the ground, and lots of pots.

If you follow me on Instagram you will have met Groot, the raspberry cane.
This is Groot on September 25th
This is Groot on September 28th
 You can see why he got his name.

We also have an Imperial Mandarin called ... The Mandarin (funny, that) and almost had a Washington Navel orange called Ichabod.  We left him at the store and will get one next week.  Who will possibly be called Ichabod or Ichabod II.  (We are not sure when we became these people.  Apparently our plants have names.)

A selection of pots, containing (from the left) a tomato and basil, basil, basil, perennial basil (M is looking forward to when she can make pesto), lavender and a nastursium.

Sadly that's kind of the extent of the photos of the garden at the moment.  I'll work on some more for next week.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

How I'm using the Project Life App: #1 - Collages

So, the day I got it - which was the day it was released - I wrote up a fairly happy review of the Project Life app here on the blog.

My happiness has not abated, and - in part because I've seen people on the Project Life Australia/New Zealand group wondering "what would you do with this app when you've already got lots of cards and like a physical album", I thought I'd start a series of posts showing how I'm using the app.  Because I'm using it in a lot of different ways.

First up: the collage feature.

I like using 3x4 photos in my layouts.  It lets me have a few more photos, and because I take all my photos on my iPhone, there are a lot of times that I forget to turn the phone to landscape before I click - leaving me with all these portrait photos and a Design A first half left over from last week.

So most weeks I seem to be putting together collages of two 3x4 photos to be printed and then chopped up again.  I've been using the "A Beautiful Mess" app a lot, and also Frame Ur Life for more complicated 6x4 collages on those occasions when I have multiple photos.  But I find both of those very fiddly, and FrameUrLife has incredibly annoying ads.

So I'm really enjoying the collage feature on the PL App.

Below are three collages - all very simple - that I created for Week 38.

Of these three, the bottom two were made with the intention of printing them, cutting them, and (once I'd added some journalling to the "Currently" card), putting them straight into the pockets.  With the top one I only actually needed the App screen shot (of course the App was going to make it into my week's PL!), so I chose one of my favourite cards from the "Everyday Adventure" kit for the other side.  It's now sitting happily with my other 3x4s waiting for the perfect time to use it.

Next time, the main thing I plan to use the app for: planning layouts.  (It's just that I haven't entirely finished the physical layout yet and want to include those photos in the post.)

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

30 Days of Lists - the bases

We're at day 24 of 30 in the September edition of 30Lists, and I find in the depths of my drafts folder... the introductory post I was going to write.

30 Days of Lists is the brainchild of Kam and Amy and is, I guess, a microjournalling challenge.  Every day in March and September there's a prompt for a quick list to write.  The lists get shared in all sorts of ways - on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and blogs.  

People present their lists in all different ways: physical and digital, minibooks, 12x12 layouts, fussy, simple and all things in between.

To make the actual daily journalling as easy as possible, they recommend, as with December Daily, that you prepare your bases beforehand.  That way you just have to pick up the day's base, scribble away, and you're done.

I don't think I was ever going to do this in any way other than using PL.  I looked at a bunch of ideas from other people - I have a Pinterest board you can look at - and eventually landed on using Design G, with one filler card on each page.  (Design G has six spots.)

One of the big things with 30 Days of Lists is not revealing the prompts ahead of time, even though they are available all at once when you sign up - helpful for those of us 17-odd hours ahead of the majority of participants.  So I photographed my layouts once the cards were decided but before my planned next step of putting in the prompts.  (Which, in the end, I didn't do, and I'm glad I didn't.  More on that in a future post.)

Spread one (days 1-5) uses the Amy Tangerine Plus One minikit, which I love so much I ended up getting a second - and may yet buy it in the app as well.  But the orientation of the cards just didn't give me enough vertical designs to do the whole thing in Plus One (my original plan).

So, on to the second spread:


The second spread, and first double page, uses Fifth and Frolic, the first PL kit I ever bought.  It has turned out to be a kit I just don't use much (there are some designs I love to pieces, and some I really can't stand), so this was a good opportunity to use it.  This runs through days 6-15.


Days 16-25 use Kraft.  Again, it's a kit I don't use as much in my regular PLing, but I really like some elements of it.  And I will actually feel okay about using the hipster glasses card for this (I hope!)

And I'll wrap up days 26-30 with the Kaisercraft Life's Treasures kit.  I think.  I was going to say "Favourite Things" but I'm pretty sure it's not that one.  I like the butterflies.

In the coming days I hope to share the lists I've finished - and to pick up some of those threads I left tantilisingly trailing in this post.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Week 38 at Chez Stutters

Thanks to the new Project Life App I already have last week's layout planned, with the equivalent of sticky notes to remind me what I want to journal about.

But I figure that you readers out there - if there are any :-) - might still like an update.

It was the last week of school, which meant M had various activity days and evening commitments with groups of exchange students, etc.  On Thursday night I went to the AGM of the Emergency Relief organisation run by my local church.  A dear friend who lives in Sydney was the guest speaker, and although her schedule was very tight for her visit, I managed to have a few minutes with her at the end of the meeting.  And her address was characteristically awesome.

Friday night the Swans played North Melbourne to get into the AFL Grand Final, so everything was planned around that.  Friday was also the Scottish Independence Referendum, which we both took ludicrously personally even though neither of us have that much direct connection to Scotland.  Actually Friday was a pretty big day, as M got her contract renewed for another twelve months (hooray!) and M's brother and his boyfriend announced their engagement.  So happy for them!  (Huh, I'm starting to think I'll need an insert for this week after all.  Mostly just to cover Friday.)

Saturday was a gardening day - I hope to have a garden tour up later this week - and then Sunday was church, more gardening, and then an amazing free concert at the Botanic Gardens with The Idea of North - an acapella group that I have adored for 15 years and never seen live.  It was brilliant - and amazing to get a concert like that for free!

A little more gardening once we got home (seriously - we did heaps this weekend!) and then it was time to start thinking about the work week ahead: at least for me.  M is on school holidays, of course.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Currently Creating - 18th September 2014

I really didn't mean for my Currently Creative posts to die in August.  I really did mean to keep them up.  But...

Anyway, we're back, so I'd like to get going from here on in: and I'll warn you now that gardening is being included as creative.

 I think this is the only piece of crochet I've properly finished in the past couple of months.  I also have a purple neckwarmer scarf for me, but I still need to put the buttons on that for it to be finished.

This is a Swans bobble scarf made for my Swans-fan GF.  

I was quite proud of the creativity used in this PL card for my August wrap-up layout.

We got this potting table from ALDI and build it with a minimum of drama (sadly the drawer will not open).  I also started some seedlings, and some cat grass for the kitty boys.  We've also got a bunch of vegetable seedlings planted, including lots of basil.  I'll try to document the garden properly NEXT week.

In addition to all this, the Write Around the Murray writing festival last weekend had its annual effect of at least temporarily kicking me in the butt re: my writing.  I'm trying very hard at the moment to put in at least 30 minutes of writing per day (not counting blog posts).

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Almost instaneous review: the new Project Life App

I haven't yet written anything like what I meant to about Project Life, but the release of the Project Life App may just have made it all even easier.

I put this layout together very quickly this afternoon, basically as a demonstration, and to try out the Just Add Colo(u)r kit, which is available as an in-app purchase for the grand price of $2.49 AUD.  For the Just Add Colo(u)r kit, which has been coveted by PLers the world over.  Or maybe just by me.  Who knows.

I've not been big on square photos, but I've been using Instagram more often of late, so more of my photos will be starting off as squares.  But I do love the pictures on the cards, and I'm really looking forward to playing with it.  Because $2.49!

But the point of my post is to review the Brand! New! Project Life app that was only just released a few hours ago.

The app sells for $3.49 AUD (I think?  I need to wait for the credit card statement to come through) and comes with four included kits: Kraft, Midnight, and Strawberry Core Kits, and the School themed cards.  The included layouts are designs A, C, D, K, L, N, P, and U, and Squared Away 9, 10 and 15.

In-app purchases at the moment are in the picture to the left, along with their prices in AUD: I think the Everyday Adventure edition is from the Stampin' Up collaboration?   Also, while I initially thought that this screencap from the App Store had all of the current in-app purchases, I think there are actually two other Extra Layout packages.  
When you open the app, there's a skippable video from Becky Higgins if, like me, you're just NOT a video person.  Then you get to the home screen:  

The help text will go away after a while - it disappeared for me and I had to go into the "info" section to get it back again for this screenshot.

"Make a page" is the obvious starting place, where you put pictures and cards together into traditional PL Layouts.  

"Make a collage" is how you can put smaller photos into 6x4s for easier printing, or 6x8s for the new 6x8 albums.  There's a good variety of layouts for collages in both 6x4 and 6x8, and in the 6x4 collection, some layouts I hadn't thought of using before.  I can totally see this replacing A Beautiful Mess and Frame Ur Life, which are the two apps I'm using at the moment (the ads in Frame Ur Life are driving me totally nuts and I'll be glad to dump it, but it had layouts that ABM didn't - and this app does!)  I'm also looking forward to seeing whether I can use the collages to do enlarged versions of photos to use in standard 12x12 layouts - something which I did for the layout a couple weeks ago that I haven't finished yet.

"My Library" collects your Work In Progress, completed pages and completed collages, the kits you own and then links to the additional kits available (currently Americana, Plus One, Azure, Daydreamer, Everyday Adventure, Honey, Just Add Colo(u)r, Road Trip, Seafoam, and Summer.  Becky's announcement post for the app says
"each month we’ll be releasing more collections until ultimately we’ll have almost ALL of the collections available in the app."
On to a slightly closer look at "Make a page":

Tapping on any square will zoom in and give the option of choosing a photo or a card, and once you have chosen "card" instead of photo, which kit and then which card you want.

You can drag and drop photos to swap them between positions, which I love because it's just like I do when I'm working on a physical layout.  And once you're done, the export/save button lets you share directly to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or by email or sms.  The export button lets you save a full-sized layout as either 8x8 or 12x12 in the camera roll for uploading via dropbox or whatever other method you choose (which is how I got the layout at the top of this post.

Things I hope are coming:

I hope that in the future you'll be able to:

  • add text to filler cards
  • change the justification of text within a filler card - I often want a centered heading and then left justified text.  If you can do that, I haven't worked out how yet.
  • [Edit: Oh, and a plain/neutral cardstock kit, preferably included free, but I'd probably pay for it.  Especially because I'm going to use this at least as much for planning as for saved layouts.]
  • Share directly to Pinterest.
And I really hope that the Cats themed cards will be added, and soon, because it's the kittyboys' album that I do digitally.

I can totally see myself using this to plan out my layouts before I print my photos.  It's going to make the visualisation a breeze - I'm doing this already for last week's spread, because for Reasons I haven't yet got the photos printed up.  I can also see myself using the collage feature a LOT, especially for the couple of 6x8 albums I have.  The kittyboys' album is so going to be created on this app, and I can really see the advantage for people who haven't gone and bought umpteen Core Kits and things like that - which is why I'm already recommending it to a couple of friends who I think will love the ease and the digitalness.  Yes, I just made that word up.

It really is as great as the publicity said it would be, and the prices are so much lower than I think everyone was expecting.

Questions or requests for screencaps, ask away and I'll do my best.  I'm happy to champion this app, because I love it already.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Catterday - 13 September 2014

It's been a while since I gave you a Catterday post, and I'm sorry for that.

Our kitty boys have been ours for almost a school term now - next Saturday is the first day of the school holidays, and it was on the first day of the last school holidays that we brought our boys home.

They've got us beautifully trained up, I'd say.  But it's become very clear that the natural habitat of a cat is the box.