Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Finds #12: Handbrake!

Today is my LAST Friday Finds! And it is only appropriate that I bring you a last minute freebie! This is a cool and FREE gadget that anyone giving an ipod as a Christmas gift will want to know about. It's called HandBrake. Actually, I'm pretty sure many already know about this, but for those that don't... HandBrake is an "open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows."

In my lingo: pop a DVD in, use HandBrake and transform it into an MP4 to upload onto the iPod.
In HandBrake lingo: It will turn any DVD-like source (VIDEO_TS folder, DVD image or real DVD and some .VOB and .TS files) and most any multimedia file it can get libavformat to read and libavcodec to decode and convert it the following outputs:

1. File format: MP4, MKV, AVI or OGM
2. Video: MPEG-4, H.264, or Theora (1 or 2 passes or constant quantizer/rate
3. Audio: AAC, MP3, Vorbis or AC-3 pass-through (supports encoding of several
audio tracks)

My techie friend mentioned this to me -- and it is so cool I almost want to go out and get an iPod. Well, I do, and maybe I will after Christmas. Ya never know! (p.s.-check out my techie friend's post about Santa... pretty good stuff!)

Now -- can anyone explaine what a quantizer? It sorta looks like it is spelled wrong, but I cut and pasted it from their web site! Oh, well...

Oh, yeah -- I finally changed my blog from my FALL look to my WINTER look... 6 days before Christmas. I'm right on top of things!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Finds #11: Zazzle Me!

Well, we're winding down our Friday Finds and we are in the homestretch for Christmas. After today, there is only ONE Friday Find left until Christmas... can you believe it? And it will be a freebie you're bound to love.

As luck would have it, my lap top was replaced with a newer model, YAY FOR ME! But and all my Favorites didn't transfer properly -- including the folder I had bookmarked all my Friday Finds in. Fun times, I tell you.

So, off the top of my head, I thought I'd share with you a website that is awesome, fun, and quite clever when it comes to homemade gifting... because in a sense, it is "homemade-gifting-not-quite-homemade-made-easy-for-the-non-crafty-sort". Tongue twister!

This site is perfect for the hard-to-buy person, the bah-humbug person, the terrible three year old that needs a personalized something-something of their own, the budding teenager that's ever so precious and just full of "personality," the friend that loves to ice fish and you can never find anything appropriate for him or his hobby, the sister-in-law that has a cute self-proclaimed slogan (like, "World peace? Who needs World Peace. Pass the chocolate." or "Holy Cows Don't Work -- Ask God!" or "Oh, my ACHING head" or "Love you to pieces, princess!") -- you know... "THAT" person... Wait. That person is me.


By now, you might be asking... "What's that perfect Christmas gift?" (Or, you might be thinking... "WILL SHE EVER GET TO IT ALREADY?!"

Well then... how about an absolutely unique gift you've created just for them? Zazzle is THE place for you. You can upload a graphic, picture, whatever ... add a clever saying that is "hallmark" to that person, and Boom. Ya got a gift.

Ok, so what kind of stuff can you personalize? Oh, joy -- allow me to share. Yes, there are the normal things you'd expect from a personalizing place... but there are also some FUN things(see caps)!

Shirts, hats, SHOES (keds), mugs, bags/totes, APRONS, TIES, greeting cards, business cards, post cards and note cards, POSTAGE STAMPS, POSTERS, CANVAS PRINTS, calenders, mouse pads, STEINS, bumper stickers, magnets, PHOTO SCULPTURES, keychains, BUTTONS, and are you ready for this??? SKATEBOARDS.

How fun is that? Can you imagine your child waking up Christmas morning to find a COOL SKATEBOARD designed just for him or her waiting under the tree?

I don't know how Zazzle does it... but they do.

Finally, the other really cool thing about this is... you can make money at it, too. Yep -- you can put your designs up for sale to the public. In fact, I did just that. I designed a shirt for my Pastorman's wife with a saying she loves (I was unable to actually find a real shirt with it already printed on it -- and -- if anyone from her family is reading this -- keep it to yourselves).

I haven't received it in the mail yet (this week or beginning of next), and I'm dying to see the end result. I'm hoping the quality is nice, because I went CHEAP, and bought the cheapest enlarged my clip art -- so I hope it isn't all pixely) -- I'll keep you posted.

You can go HERE to see the shirts I created (pictured below -- see what YOU can do???). They're cute, in my humble opinion. Oh, and... feel free to buy one or five hundred of them while you're there!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Finds #10

I've got a cool gift idea for you today, and it will enable you to use your creativity with out really using your creativity... if that makes any sense. Basically -- ANYONE can do this -- all you need is a digital picture and a credit or check card.

Today's Idea: Canvas Press: I love this idea -- take an ordinary photo,and turn it into a work of art that is printed on canvas. For $45.99*, you can have an 8x10, "gallery wrap" (the photo gets wrapped around the sides of the canvas) work of art created... people will call you genius, grandparents will weep... and your walls will boast of a beautiful child, family photo, or your favorite flower. Whatever your mind can think of, Canvas Press can turn it into a work of art. Beautiful. Amazing. Why didn't I think of it?

The sample below shows a huge print on the wall of a hospital, but you can see how they wrapped the picture around the canvas. You'll just have to visit the site to see how beautiful their stuff is!

Have I mentioned how much
I love this idea?
*You can create an account for free, upload a picture and play with it yourself to see what you can get. There are many different options you can choose from -- of course, everything costs something! So go play!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Where oh, where have I been???

Not that many people noticed... but I took a blogging break (with the exception of Friday Finds).


Well, let me share.

First, we put our dog to sleep on Wednesday, November 12. That was a tough thing. We knew she was old. We knew she was sick. We knew it was coming. What I didn't expect was to take her to the vet for a checkup and to see why her belly was swollen, and to be told she was in end-stage liver failure, and to prolong her life any longer than THAT DAY would be unwise and unkind. So I walked in at 11:45 WITH our dog, and left at 1:00 permanently WITHOUT our dog. And dropped $200 in the process. I cried my eyes out. And Hunter didn't miss a beat. "Mommy, good girl at the docors?" (he leaves out the t) or "Mommy, good girl dead."

Sigh. How do you reply to that? Yes, son, she is indeed dead.

Our poor dog. She was a part of our lives for 15 years and three months. She was the sweetest most adorable dog in all the earth. She patiently endured torment from children without a complaint, was faithful to the end, and returned our love each and every day. She knew she was loved. We knew she loved us.

Having said that -- I still won't be getting another dog anytime soon. If ever. Unless maybe my precious son begs me for one, in which case, I will probably slam my hand in the car door first to draw my attention away from the fact that we might be bringing another dog into my home. I'm sure my husband feels the same way.

Anyway -- the very next day, I was slammed with a miserable cold that robbed me completely of my voice for 5 days. I couldn't even whisper.

Then, upon having sufficiently recovered (it took 10 days!), I spent several days preparing items for a craft show. Which was followed by ANOTHER cold. I totally blame the flu shot for this one.

Somewhere in there we celebrated my 41st birthday. It's all a blur... quite possibly brought on by two cycles of antibiotics and enough cough syrup to drown a small animal -- like that blasted rabbit that ate all my veggies in the garden this summer. Thank goodness my doctor prescribed cough syrup with codeine last week. I'm loving that stuff. I mean -- it works really great. You should try it.

Oh, yeah ... I also sank into a 3-week bout of depression. Not sure where that came from, but it hit me pretty hard. I hate it when depression sneaks up on you and takes you for all your worth before you even have a chance to realize that it's taking you, if you know what I mean.

In the midst of all this funk, we attended a cooking class hosted in a woman's kitchen. We had fun. It was good. And I'm still in a depressed funk.

Then, we went to North Carolina for Thanksgiving, and I got sick. Again. This time, sinuses. And I'm firmly convinced that it had EVERYTHING to do with driving up and down in the mountains for 7 hours. Each way.

Now, I'm preparing for Christmas. I'm a wee bit overwhelmed by the quantity of things I've committed myself to MAKE (sew, bead, bake), and may, in fact, decide to purchase gifts and gift cards instead of MAKING gifts after all. It may be the one saving grace for keeping my sanity intact. We'll see after this weekend, as I'm planning on sewing all day Saturday.

And I know Etsy has homemade stuff. I love Etsy stuff -- really, I do -- but I look at it all and think, I can't possibly pay for that when I can MAKE IT and MAKE IT GOOD. Yeah, I'm prolific. Whatever.

As of this writing -- I'm still sick with the tail end of the cold that will be forever known as the Great Cold of 2008. Fortunately, Christmas preparations always make me happy and joyful, and I'm greatly anticipating the celebration of the birth of our Savior. Although somehow, I committed to singing 4 songs this season -- one is a quartet of Let There Be Light, one is a duet called Mirror Mirror (Barlow Girl), one is a solo of What Child Is This, and one that is six people singing Chrismastime -- I'm not sure about the last one, as I don't recall signing up for that one. I was handed a cd and music on the fly last Tuesday night at church, and at this point, I'm not sure what I did with either one.

And sadly, my voice has not been fully returned to me after this last month of colds (hence, the Great Cold of 2008), nor can I hold out a note for any length of time without running out of breath or cracking. And my lungs are still hurting. This should be interesting! Four songs will sap my voice for sure, as I lost my ability to sing strongly when I had my tonsils removed about 5 years ago. I was trained in a classical style, sang some light opera with my voice coach, sang in choral groups through my young adult life (that is the one good thing about public schools -- or rather, USED to be a good thing) and now? My voice pretty much sucks. Can you say that on a Christian-family-friendly blog? Because it does.

Has that happened to anyone else??? Any tips?

I still have to find that one elusive good picture for our Christmas cards. That always gets me each and every year, and I find my Christmas cards get mailed out later and later and later -- oh heck. I may just use a picture from the summer. Who cares that Hunter is in shorts, right?

Speaking of Hunter ... He JUST learned about Santa -- not sure who told him about this man dressed in red, but we have repeatedly said that mommy and daddy bring Christmas gifts for Christmas. Maybe this ho-ho man can fill his stocking. Still undecided about that, as I refuse to cloud the true meaning of Christmas with a fantasy-man that has at some point acquired vast sums of money and can make presents magically appear under our Christmas tree. If only it were true. That would have saved me a ton of money.

Now I'm depressed again. Just kidding!

Does anyone have any tips on teaching a child how to say S's?? For instance, Spank is Pank. And it isn't all the time, just most of the time. It's cute now, but I'm pretty sure Hunter will appreciate being able to say words with S when he's 18 and the captain of the high school football team. I mean... how motivating could it possibly be to hear the team captain say, "Let's give these pansies a good panking!"

So that's what's been going on here. It is 12:34 am, I'm battling insomnia, my brain is jammed with lists and tasks and projects, oh, yeah -- work is busy, and I'm fresh out of blogging ideas, although I'm sure I'll come up with something for the week!

Any thoughts?

Enjoy your week.