i should be mopping the floor: May 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Printing Printables: Getting the Most Out of Your Download

I have received a lot of emails on this subject, so I thought it might be time to create a post about printable printing. While it may seem like a no brainer, there's a few steps you can take to ensure you get fantastic, professional prints that were free to download.

I'll be using the recent Kitchen Conversion Printable I released last week as an example in most of my images.

First, I'd like to chat about actual printables and where all they come from and what they should be. I really, really hope I don't step on any toes here, but I am a bit picky about printables. While it's easy for anyone to create these as a great marketing/traffic tool for one's blog, there does need to be a bit of know-how to create one that will print with good results versus mediocre.

I get a little sad when I see a blog advertising their "fast downloads" for printables. 9 out of 10 times, a fast download means it was created as a low resolution image for quicker load/download times. I've even seen some market "72 ppi/dpi" as a good thing for a printable. This just frustrates me. Not to be a print snob {and maybe I am, feel free to call me out on it}, but this is one area I have a lot of experience in and am very passionate about. My bachelor's degree was in graphic design and I've worked in the graphics industry in many capacities. In many cases, I had to learn the hard way regarding the details involved in print. But, it was worth it!

To set the record straight, once and for all:
- Low res images are for web-based resolution...meaning to look at on a computer screen, etc. They are not meant to be printed and will be grainy and fuzzy if printed.
- High res images are for printing. You need "more" resolution to tell your printer that the image needs more ink, that's a round about way of explaining it {rather poorly, actually}. Higher resolution produces more pixels per inch that are filled with color on your image.

Low res= 72 dpi/ppi
High res= 300 dpi/ppi

With free image editing software widely available, I've just noticed a lot of folks out there marketing their own printables under the low res cloud. While it's fine to create a printable in one of these applications, just bump up your size to get good results.

Also, be sure to look for PDFs versus JPEGs in your printables. JPEGs are great for photos and such. But, a PDF will keep the true size of your printable. I did a test run once to see the difference of a printable in both formats. When the JPEG printed, it was significantly smaller than the PDF. You'll know it's a PDF once you've downloaded it and the name of the file ends in ".PDF" instead of ".jpg" or "jpeg". I try to use JPEGS for web images and photos only. You'll notice on the screen shot above that there are two separate files...three actually, for my Mother's Day Printable. One is the preview image that I post on this web site so you can see what you're getting, the other is the PDF that I upload to my upload service that you in turn download. That third PSD file is what I work off of...it's nice to save those in case changes arise. And yes, it's time to clean up my desktop! ;)

Where to print?

I never print at home...honestly, it's more cost effective not to. The cost of my ink cartridges is getting close to the $100 mark {ouch}, and I just can't fathom spending that more often than I already have to. And when I have printed at home, the above results show that it's just not worth it. And look at all that ink I used!

My two go-to places for printing are Staples and Kinko's. There's lots of awesome print shops out there, but for my area and to print a printable super fast, these work great for me.

For the quickest results, I upload printables from my computer directly to the store. This saves mucho time on the pick up end. I hate waiting in line. Whenever I walk in, my order is ready and I'm in & out in no time.

This is the part that I get the most emails about...how do you upload to a printing company?

I'm showing you the site for Staples, but Kinko's site, as well as many others are super similar. {BTW, I'm in no way being endorsed by Staples for this...throwing this in for legal clarification and all that mumbo jumbo}.

Once you've downloaded a printable, save it somewhere easy to access on your computer.

Get started by going to your printer's website. You can probably find it via Google. Here's quick links to some of the most widely used ones:

48 Hour Print {This is an online company without a store front in most cities, so you will need to factor in shipping. It is a WONDERFUL company with OUTSTANDING results, though. I use them for my holiday postcards every year and am giddy with how wonderfully professional they come out. Their site is a bit more involved in that you're dealing with proofs and templates, but if you can utilize this company, they're AWESOME!}

Once you've created a new document, you'll upload from where ever you've saved your printable. 

If you're using a proper high-res printable, uploading may take a few minutes. 
Be patient...it's definitely worth it!

Your site will let you customize your printable. You can choose card stock, have it laminated, etc. Just select the boxes for the options you like. The possibilities are endless. Just laminating a printable makes it dry erase friendly! {BTW, I highly recommend the laminating at FedEx. It's quality is significantly better than other places.}

And lookie, lookie....printing at a printer is not too expensive. And you truly can't beat their quality. The paper is nicer, the ink is shiny and laid on evenly....I could go on & on. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. I'll try to answer within the comments section.

Here's a few examples of printed printables {done at the places I mentioned above}:

Look at the great colors in this one...I could have even laminated it and put magnets on the back to attach it as a fridge dry erase sign. And can you see the slight overlay that allows the graphic background to show through the white? That effect tends to print on the grey-er side on a lot of home printers.

And this one...those rainbow colors came out great thanks to FedEx office. It was a very color-saturated printable so my printer would have blown through a cartridge with the sheer amount of ink on this one!

If you're interested in any of my free printables, please click here.
Thanks so much for stopping by today!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hand-Painted French Kitchen Sign...SO EASY!

I originally created this as a guest post over at Hani's Craftionary. Would love to share it with you as well!

I've got a trick to show you to transfer any saying from plain old printer paper to wood.
{And how to "fancy" it up with sandpaper & love}.
You could also use vinyl for this, but probably couldn't rough it up as much!

I started with an old piece of wood...thinking it was from a shorter fence by the nail-markings.

I painted it with a lovely shade of "Bimini Blue" in an acrylic paint.

To create my "wordy fun", I measured the sign and created a document in that size in Photoshop Elements. I tile printed it to keep my dimensions in tact. 
{You could easily do this in any word-processing document...just keep in mind the dimensions of your sign and print as many sheets as you'll need to cover it!}

BTW, this says "The French Market", I used Google's Translate to make sure I had it right (apparently four years of French class waaaaaay back in high school got me nowhere. C'est fou.)

 After printing & trimming the edges, I used painter's tape to adhere it to my sign.
And then...{my little trick from my college days}, trace your words with a fine tipped pen. Press fairly hard so you can make an indention into the wood through the paper. 

Whoops...I had to leave off the fancy French doo-hickey. Size-wise, I wanted the tall letters to not be too high on the sign.
After you've pulled off your paper, you'll see the grooves your pen left. 

For an extra-measure {and because my 30-something-year-old eyes aren't what they used to be}, I outline the letters with a pencil directly on the wood. 

Then I fill in my letters with plain black acrylic paint. The grooves from the pen help the paint stay within the letter's perimeters. (You can see that some of my paint was pulled off by the tape...that's fine since I messed her up with some sand paper later!)

After the letters were completely dry, I went a little crazy with the palm sander. 

My husband drilled three holes in the back for hanging it.

 And there she is!

(Although a wee-bit crooked in this photo), this is where she went in my breakfast area.
~The French Market~

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Dollar Store Kitchen Organization

If you are interested in the printables I created for the following post, click here to download them for free.

My family and I have recently switched to Gluten Free/Low Carb eating. There's a variety of reasons for this, but I won't bore you with all those details now. I will tell you that this new lifestyle has kept me in the kitchen a lot more {and my dishwasher running twice a day...if not more}. The little plastic basket with my assorted measuring spoons {most received when we got married almost ten years ago} had made its way onto the countertop so I didn't have to fish out the correct measuring spoons on my tippy toes to the second shelf in my cabinet. I'll be honest, I already cooked a lot and the last ten years have wreaked havoc on most of my measuring utensils. 

I frequently find the best gems at Dollar Tree, of all places. I just recently noticed all of their new Betty Crocker measuring items...and you know they're only ONE BUCK a set! And I adore red, so these flew right into my basket. I also picked up these self-adhesive hooks from their organizing section (and I must say, they're just as good as the nicer Scotch-brand ones).

I decided I also needed to put together a conversion chart of all of the things I look up the most (my cookbook indexes have gotten a workout lately). I wanted one up in the cabinet so I could quickly reference it. I also use meat temperature charts a lot, too. My meat thermometer just does readings...it doesn't give where the meat should be. I also wanted to put together some sort of fun label for the spoons {sometimes the Dymo isn't always the most attractive label!}.

{This is the first and last time I'll ever create a chart like this in Photoshop of all things...gah! What was I thinking? Took forevahhhhh! But I do love how it turned out!}:

I had everything printed at my local Kinko's. {One of my upcoming posts is about printing free printables and getting fabulous results!} I had them laminate them, too. I can be a messy cook and wouldn't want to ruin these with flying sauce! It's less than $4 to print and laminate them. I used the double-sided foam tape (pictured in the above photo at the top left) to adhere these to the inside of my cabinet door. 

After adhering the charts/label to my cabinet door, I positioned the hooks accordingly.

Instead of just grouping them in the sets I purchased them in, I put like measurements together. This is so much easier than sorting through a set, I just open the door and grab the spoon I need. And, I seriously go through at least three of my tablespoons a day (I may have to go back and get two or three more sets)!

I didn't want to do this with my measuring cups...although the thought did cross my mind. I like them nested. And I didn't want them clanking on the door every time I opened and closed it (but I do think I need to go back and get the red Betty Crocker ones, now)!

I'm so happy I did this...it works much better for me. If you decide to do this, too, watch your placement so it's not directly in front of a shelf...that would be an obstacle in shutting your cabinet door if you did that! This is in my spice cabinet...where I also house all of my mixing bowls and measuring stuff. So, the spices are far enough back from the door that these spoons don't get in the way at all. 

How do you organize your measuring goodies?

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