Drying Basil

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A follow-up to the post where I document drying flowers - I actually more often am drying fresh herbs. Plants like basil and rosemary are a little happier if you relieve them of some of the weight of their leaves from time-to-time and after taking home 3 basil centerpieces from a summer wedding, I ended up with quite the basil farm.

Basil is best fresh, but if you have too much, drying them in whole leaves and crumbling just before use is a fine second option.

1. Pluck basil leaves.
2. Rubber band in bundles, place paperclip hook
3. Hang in cool, dry space
4. Wait a couple weeks until dry, toss out the yellow-y leaves
5. Place in airtight container, whole.

Pocket Scrapbook

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pocket Scrapbooking

We had all those lovely advice cards from the wedding, plus some advice coasters from a bridal shower, a pile of printed photos from the photographer, assorted wedding programs, invitations, Save the Dates, leftover escort cards, cookie bags, bird origami, and these objects weren't going to make it in another picaboo photo album. So, I browsed JoAnn Fabrics and found a Project Life Value Kit with core cards and woodcuts for $8. A few months later, I stumbled upon a 12x12" Recollections photo album for $12 & the Project Life Photo Pocket Pages Big Variety Pack 2 for $15. So for $35, I had myself a pocket-based scrapbook. I happened to have a piece of paper in the perfect confetti color scheme for the value pack, so I cut it into a couple 4x6s, but mostly 3x4s, used it as a bit more pocket filler.

I don't care much for scrapbooking as a pastime, but if I have to do it, pocket scrapbooking is by far the least painful avenue of attack.
With a few different pocket arrangements provided by the variety pack, and a random smattering of cards, photos, woodcuts, coasters, and advice notes, each page looks different enough from the other. I made the pages double-sided, so I used fewer pocket pages, and thus ended up with lots extra for some other random event, I suppose.

I'm really loving the canned sayings on the core cards, as they relate to the wedding theme. "Why not now?" "Follow your dreams". Likely meant for a different sort of photo album, but it works here in a rather silly manner.

Pocket Scrapbooking
Pocket Scrapbooking
Pocket Scrapbooking
Pocket Scrapbooking
Pocket Scrapbooking

The part I was least enthusiastic about was that all these cards seem to demand personal notes to be written...and I'm just not much for verbalizing this stuff. So for the most part I scripted in captions for what was happening in the photo layout, or the location, or the date, or the names of the bridal party. And then I also added in some song lyrics from the evening, the dessert options, the readings & readers, and our vows. I suppose I could also squeeze in the food menu somewhere, lol. All information not stored in the Picaboo album!
Pocket Scrapbooking
Pocket Scrapbooking
Pocket Scrapbooking
Pocket Scrapbooking
Pocket Scrapbooking

Photo Albums

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Picaboo Madison Hardcover Photo Book in the box
I've finally completed our wedding album, using a sampling of our photographer's photos. I went with a Picaboo Madison Photo Book. It has a front cover with a photo, a glove leather spine and back cover, thick cardstock seamless lay-flat pages, black endpapers, and is shipped in a Picaboo box that my other Classic Photo Books definitely did not have.

Price-wise, the Madison Photo Book and the more expensive Flush Mount Photo Book have their own Groupon Deal: $120 for $200 to spend on a Madison album is pretty good. For Classic Photo Books, I usually go for the $35 for $100 or equivalent 65% off coupons/sales. Conversely, if I'm ordering several albums at a time, I wait for a 40% off + free shipping sale. Picaboo Photo Books take about one week from ordering to arrive, which is pretty speedy.

WYSIWYG Layout Editor

All photo books on Picaboo are designed through a What You See Is What You Get editor, which means you just drag and drop photos onto the pages. They have an auto-layout feature too, but I never use this as the software doesn't really have an eye for design or the ability to prioritize photos. Including every photo would create a prohibitively expensive (or prohibitively ugly) photo book, and the Picaboo Auto Layout doesn't really "select" photos, so much as cram them into any layout possible.

I provide considerable design care to the events before the reception dancing. Black and white layouts, calligraphy text art, song lyrics, no more than 3 photos on a single page. By the time I get to the dance floor photos of any wedding album, I basically just start plopping the photos into 1-9,9-1 photo page layouts.
Picaboo Photo Layout Software
Picaboo Madison Photo Book - seamless lay-flat page spreads

Protective Box

There's some features unique to the Madison Photo Book that are not shared with the Classic books. The first noticeable feature is the storage box that the Madison Photo Book is shipped with. It's a nice touch, especailly since the glove leather cover is a little delicate.
Picaboo Madison Storage Box Picaboo Madison Hardcover Photo Book in the box

Thick Pages

The Madison Photo Book is super thick compared to most Classic Photo Books and this is because the double-thick board pages are about the thickness of a penny. Our wedding album is only 82 pages, but it has the heft of a slab of marble.
Madison Photo Book thickness compares to some Classic Photo Books
Picaboo Madison Photo Book with Cardstock Pages (as thick as a penny!)

Lay-flat Pages

Below is a photo with a Classic (non-lay-flat) Photo Book atop the Madison which is lay-flat. It's a pretty big difference visually, but the price of a Lay-flat Classic Book is only about $20 more than a one without Lay-flat pages. When I have a little extra money on my Groupon/voucher, I most always upgrade to Lay-flat pages, before adding extra pages.
Picaboo Classic Photo Book on top of a Picaboo Madison Photo Book (with seamless lay-flat pages)

Seamless Pages

With Picaboo Classic Photo Books, it's possible to have Seamless Lay-flat, or just Lay-flat [with 1/2" black seams in the middle]. The Madison Photo Book is of the Seamless Lay-flat variety, and gives the option to make some dramatic 22" wide photo spreads. When the album has a seam, you just need to take a little more care to where the seam is, so that you don't cut down through someone's face or an important detail.
Picaboo Madison Photo Book - seamless lay-flat page spreads
Picaboo Madison Photo Book - seamless lay-flat page spreads


While not a super critical detail to me, the Madison book has an extra cardstock page before the endpaper, which are all in black. The Classic albums have a bit of wax paper and white endpapers.
Picaboo Madison Hardcover Photo Book with black endpapers

Glove Leather Cover

The spine and back of the Madison Photo Book are done in glove leather, color of your choice. It's a nice touch, but I care more for the paper quality than the leather quality of the cover. It is very soft, though.
Picaboo Madison Hardcover Photo Book with glove leather back cover


Price-wise, Classic Books start around $20, adding Lay-flat pages adds around $20 to that, and Seamless Lay-flat Books start around $65. The Madison Book starts at $200 and the Flush Mount Book at $400. Minus any coupon/sale. Do not pay full price for any Picaboo product! Check Groupon and the Special Offers page first. Settle for nothing less than 60% off. The marketing approach on these things is weird.
Half my collection of Hardcover Photo Books
Shutterfly & Picaboo Photobooks
More Photo Book discussion, here

So. Many. Photo. Books.

Lately, I've been putting together Classic wedding albums for weddings I've attended, along with an anniversary album for a wedding I formally photographed, two Lay-flat Seamless albums for our mothers, and then our own Madison book. An obsessive wedding album phase that took me on a tour of nearly all of Picaboo's album options. But now I'm all out of weddings to album-ify.
My Recent Picaboo Wedding Albums

Vermont: The Hildene Estate

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Hildene Farm - Abraham Lincoln's son's summer home
There's this farm that once belonged to Abraham Lincoln's son. And for some reason, it's kept up as a museum and a working goat farm. I don't know. At least Hildene has more cultural significance than Hearst Castle. Plus it's a little more classy, in a the biggest architectural splurge is a pipe organ built into the house. The garden is pretty and they do a decent step toward addressing the racial history of Pullman Cars (Roger Lincoln was once CEO).

It's a nice way to spend a day, and the nearby town of Manchester has plenty of restaurants and little shops to keep you busy.

Fancy furnitures A loooooot of wainscotting
Formal Garden - the house Formal Garden - flower close up
Formal Garden - flower close up Formal Garden
Formal Garden
Formal Garden - flower close up
HLDNTeenage goats!
Farm to Maple Pullman Car (Sunbeam)

Success: Fermented Kale Kimchi

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Kale Kimchi - fermenting
That right there is my kale kimchi fermenting away. One day I came home from work and I thought there was a mouse on the counter, but it was just brine escaping from an overfilled jar through my Masontops Pickle Pipes. They're handy for reducing the likelihood of a ferment getting moldy. Which is pretty much the trickiest part of fermenting, because it's otherwise just smushing vegetables into a jar with salty water and letting it sit out for 6 days.

In the end, this Fermented Food Lab: Kale Kimchi isn't actually kimchi (you'd need more than just paprika and cayenne pepper), but it is tasty. Next time I'd consider switching up the spices so it really is kimchi (i.e., gochujang). I'm particularly fond of the 5-day ferment. The 7-day is a little more sauer than I like.

Overall, a success. It's a splendid way to eat my veggies. Would make again.

Kale Kimchi
Kale Kimchi
Cat sniffs kale kimchi

Sprucing Up Apartment Hardware

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Bathroom hardware replaced!
After fixing the slight imbalance in metal hues in the bathroom in the last post, I went on a kick of switching out a bunch of other stuff, like the switchplates and the towel rods. Now everything in there is in some sort of silver hue. If I wanted to be really on top of my game, the sconces & switchplates would be chrome instead of satin nickel, but whatever.

All this for ~$100.

2. Find wall studs, try to place template so that drill holes will land on studs 3. Ensure template is level
5. Drill the hole-marks 6. If no wall stud, drill hole large enough for wall anchors
7. Screw wall brackets into place
9. Use supplied hex key to secure towel rod to bracket
Can now hold towels.
12" Towel rod replaced, too (along with switchplates)

Bathroom Hook - Before Bathroom Hook - After
Bathroom Door - Before Bathroom Door - After
I also occupied myself by painting a majority of the apartment trim a brilliant white semi gloss (Glidden Diamond). Everything except the bathroom interior door, as I ran out of painter's tape. But all the fancy window trim and baseboards and interior doors (not in the entryway/kitchen)! And then promptly covered the fancy window trim up with some cheapo Beme International double curtain rods/brackets in antique brass. 'Topped off with some fancy curtain tie-backs from eBay. We're super fancy here.
Trim + doors painted white New double curtain rods installed

For about 30 days, I didn't have any furniture. So I bought some sweet faded patio furniture off craigslist and promptly installed it on my porch. Instant living room (without replicating furniture being shipped)!
Patio - After

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