Friday, October 11, 2013

1

That's the number of cards I am sending out for Thanksgiving. I know what you're thinking...who sends out Thanksgiving cards? Don't worry, I don't normally send out a card for that holiday and spend most of the year thinking about Christmas cards. But I was asked to review Cardstore.com and after looking over their site I decided to go with Thanksgiving.
This is the packaging for my card.

Anyone that knows me, knows that I spend a lot of time looking at cards. I always have and was that person that sent you a card for your birthday and every holiday. I loved giving cards and then things got digital. No longer would I spend hours in Hallmark or the card aisle at a major store, looking to replenish my stock. Instead I could hop online and create a card and personalize it with pictures. This of course opened up a whole realm of possibilities...and stress. This also cut back on the amount of cards I send out in any given year. Actually, maybe it was the kids that did that. Oh and the price of stamps each year creeping up.

So I spend most of my year looking for deals on cards and trying to plan a perfect family photo. Enter Cardstore, who is run by American Greetings. Their site is friendly, which to me means I was able to find a card I like, put my pictures in it, tweak it and be done.

I have my two go-to sites, which shall remain nameless for this review, but let me just say that both my go-to sites have given me lots of headaches when trying to create the perfect card. I didn't have not one issue with Cardstore. The whole experience was seamless and the prices are decent. There is shipping cost but if you sign up with them, they always have a few deals going on. Trust me, I love me some free shipping!

They will pre-print your return address on your card:
And they will even mail your card out for you and if you are slacking in getting cards out on time, you can create a card and then schedule it to be sent by Cardstore in the future.

Some say that in this digital age, sending a card, even with a photo can be impersonal. I mean you, as the creator don't physically sign the card or even have to touch it. But never fear, you can acutally upload your signature and put that in your card! Now that folks? That's pretty freaking awesome!

This is the card I went with, which has some sentiment about thinking thankful thoughts. The quality of the card stock is nice and thick and the colors are bright. I also liked that I could move my pictures around and get a true crop.

Will I order from Cardstore.com again? I sure would! They have a 100% guarantee, so you really can't go wrong. If you are looking for a new place to get your cards for this holiday, give them a click.



*This review is based upon my experience with using Cardstore.com. I was given one free card in order to review the site. Please note that compensation in the form of a "free" product does NOT effect my opinions in any way. I strive to provide 100% honest feedback about the products being reviewed*


Monday, October 7, 2013

4


Four is the number of times we have gone to the same beach and stayed at the same hotel for our late fall vacation. We usually pack up the car and the roof rack, surprise the kids with a day full of iPad and treats and trek it down to Florida. This year was no exception.

I was reminded about how fun vacation is just this morning when Miss T rolled over to me and said "I had a lot of fun at the faraway beach," and giggled. I could not help by giggle myself...even if it was raining the first few days we got there, it was just what we needed after a full year of making Raleigh home.

Tropical Manor - Daytona Beach Shores
Spencer calls this place the "faraway beach" because we have to drive all day to get there and so now Miss T, does the same. After we left last year he was quick to ask when we would be going back or insinuating what he would do when we DID return. It never occurred to him that we would not go. Amazing how pure and uncluttered a child's mind truly is.

On a whim the Mister decided hitting up Disney and their Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party was a good idea. I could not believe that it would be his first time, along with the kids. I guess I took it for granted all the times my family would go, as I grew up in Florida. We didn't go all the time but enough that going back was very nostalgic for me. I loved remembering the rides and seeing all that had changed. But I especially loved seeing my kids faces when they realized where they were! Happiest place on earth and the kids were proof of that as they stayed up way past their bedtime and enjoyed ever minute of it.

 
Typical family photo...someone not looking or smiling!








The weather cooperated for our night at Disney and the kids enjoyed getting dressed up and trick or treating. There was not a lack of candy and the givers were more than happy to dole it out. I think a lot of the adults were there for just that reason. Free candy and you could do it and not get lambasted for being too old to trick or treat.
Spencer wanted a scary costume this year. Gone are the days of me getting a say and him being something cute. Miss T has changed her mind 3 times already but this choice will stick. Something about Cinderella that has her enchanted.
I'm ready to go back to Disney and I know the kids are too...I wonder if it's silly to stick to these night events? I mean the crowds are there but are not even close to the crowds during the day! I think the most we waited was maybe 15 minutes?

Anyway, the kids are getting bigger and the items I am required to travel with seems to be dwindling. I'm not sure if we have another "faraway beach" trip ahead of us. It might be time to stick closer to home and start using those flight perks.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

18

That's the number of chapters in Melissa Culbertson's new book, Blog Design for Dummies. And while I did not read every single chapter, I did read through enough chapters to hopefully give a decent review. You know, for your average dummy. Because when it comes to design and basic CSS and HTML, I just don't get it. And you can tell by just giving a quick look at my blog, it's design is about as basic as it comes. So as the average blogger, I am here to give you my thoughts.

First let me say that she has packed in a LOT of information. I was actually intimidated because while I have had a blog for a while now, I never really got too deep into the design of my blog. It always seemed so technical and over my head. And the thought of it tying together and being something that more than 5 people might want to read? Surely if you write it, they will come...only they don't always come. But everything in this book is worded in a way as to have you shaking your head in agreement. Because it all makes sense. Melissa isn't clubbing you on the head with the information or drowning you in language that you can't understand. Instead she has broken down the info into terms anyone can understand. Hence the For Dummies part...

There were several chapters in the book that really spoke to me and gave me that "aha" moment about blogging and the bigger picture about why I do it and how to do it even better. I know, you thought that maybe the book was going to be mostly about technical stuff, right? Don't worry, the technical stuff is in there and I did read some of that but the things that resonated with me had more to do with understanding my blog, my voice and my audience. I thought about blogs that I keep going back to and what about their blogs (beside the design) had me coming back and it was simply that they understood their voice and their audience. The fact that they also had a sweet blog design? Icing on the cake.

The technical aspects that caught my attention had to do with things like fonts and why they matter, colors and why those also matter. And lastly SEO basics. I know anytime anyone mentioned SEO, I got a blank look on my face and quickly tuned out. But reading it here? I got it and if I choose to, I know how to apply it.

If you use Wordpress as your platform of choice, there are plenty of plug-ins that are talked about but best of all, you are even shown how to add them to your blog. I've been a Blogger girl from the start and while I have toiled with the idea of switching over...I'm an average, ho-hum blogger and so I will stick with what I sort of know.

If you want a no nonsense approach to kicking your blog up a notch, this is your book. It really does take you from A to Z and doesn't bore you with information you won't ever use. It is a simple way to improve your little space in the internet.

Want to know more about the author? You can find her here. Or here. And even here.