Tuesday, June 28, 2005

In the Meantime

Ok, so I'm having some technical difficulties with the post for pictures, unveiling, etc., and hoping to get that resolved today. At least now that a week has past I have even more things to post pictures of when I finally get it to work!

In the meantime, I heard about these guys on NPR and from everything I can tell, they are completely legit and a good deal. The deal is you go to this site, sign up, check out the deals, sign up and then refer five friends who also sign up for a deal. Then you get an iPod sent to your door absolutely free. Yup, a 20GB iPod. They also have it for flat screen TVs, XBox, iMac Mini, etc. Anyway, the deals are actually pretty good and you can cancel fairly easily with most of them, many without paying a dime! There are reviews on the site for each of the offers. I did the month of Audible.com and got two audio books, including one for my bookclub. It's great for working out and right now all books are just $10. There's also eFax, which is a great service for small business owners like myself who don't send faxes often enough to warrant buying a fax machine, but do need them occasionally.

Good luck with your freebies!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Come back!

Check back here in a day or two for (what I consider) something very exciting! Just to further your curiostiy, there will be photos involved! That's all I'm saying.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Food, Fun and Friends

Tuesday night was bookclub night. I finally figured out what to cook, too! Everything was great, even though I forgot to add the tomatoes to the antipasto (don't think anyone even knew until now). Here's the menu:
  • Chicken sandwiches: rustic bread, broiled chicken breast, homemade pesto cream cheese spread, grilled red and yellow peppers and sprouts - delicious!
  • Beet Vichyssoise soup: a chilled soup (I like it room temperature) that tastes somewhat like creamy potato and chive soup, but gets this outrageous fuschia color from just one beet! Love this recipe from The New Basics Cookbook!
  • Antipasto with Spring Vegetables: cooked until just tender, then drizzled with an herbed olive oil and vinegar marinade. Perfect lite accompaniment to any meal! Compliments of the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics Cookbook.
  • Cupcakes: The hit of the evening! Two different types to choose from, either rich chocolate or yellow cake, but all of them also had various surprises, like raspberry jam filling, or a peanut butter cup, three different frostings (including one strawberry that I made up and which tasted great!), and a random assortment of toppings sprinkled on. With all of the choices, I had to create a little spreadsheet and color-coded toothpicks to signify which was which. It was so much fun to make!
You just can't beat cooking with and for friends - especially when there's so much to chat about! Book of the month: The Birth of Venus by Anita Dunant. I highly recommend it.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Working from Home

There are many reasons why I enjoy working from home. First, rarely do I need to get dressed up. My typical uniform is capris and either a tank top or short-sleeve shirt, depending on the weather. On occasion, especially when it is cooler, I've been known to spend the entire day in my sweats. It's quite comfy. Plus, my dry cleaning bill is oh so low.

Second, I can run my errands, do laundry, workout, etc., whenever I choose. No need fighting for the treadmill during the lunch-hour rush. I can do my yoga at 2 p.m. or 10 a.m. and still have time for a real shower. I can go to the dentist and not worry about taking sick-time. Not feeling well? No need to call in sick! Just pull up the laptop, keep the Kleenex close at hand, and hammer out whatever I can. Besides, some of those sick medicines actually induce a bit of a creative spur that might not normally occur. I'm not talking hallucinogens, but we all know that pain relievers can make you loopy. I say embrace the loopiness - you never know what will transpire!

Lastly, there is the commute. Ah, the commute. Factor in the morning pit stop for juice or tea, and I can be rearing to go in as little as 15 minutes. Yep, 15 minutes from feet-hitting-the-floor to up-and-running with email in check and the daily activities properly outlined. Some days I even take my office to the beach.

But then of course, I do miss hearing the latest office gossip. My water-cooler gossip consists of asking Tut and Zampa how many fleas they did away with the day before. Water-cooler, water bowl; same diff.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

What do you want to know?

Ok, I'm in over-drive here working on a fair number of projects AND trying to figure out what to cook up for the ol' book club ladies, so my inspiration for posting is utterly spent. I leave it up to you, dear readers. Is there anything that you'd care to know? I'm already compiling my list of "100 things about me", so ask away and it shall be answered!

FYI: All of these questions will be answered in a post in a few days. There may be posts in-between this and the answer, but the answers will come!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Many Ways of Printing

If you are ever considering going into a field where any type of professional type printing is required, my recommendation is to learn as much as you can about all of the various types. If possible, work in a print shop, or even ask just to be a shadow for a day (they'll probably be more willing if you offer to help out as much as possible without pay and stay out of the way. Go on a slow day.).

It seems everytime I turn around I learn something new about printing processes. This is the quick nitty-gritty from all that I have gleamed in the world of printing:
  • Inkjet: This is the most common type of printing and is what many, many folks have in their homes and offices. Inkjets are commonly used by home photo enthusiasts because they can produce images similar to those you might get at a photo processing center. (Note: can is the key word here. Not all inkjet printers produce high-quality photos and many often require special photo-ink cartridges and paper to achieve the photo-lab look.) Inkjet printers can range from $25-$1000, but you should expect to pay about $100 for a decent one. Ink cartridges average anywhere from $12-30 bucks. Your per page cost is right around $.15-$.25.
  • Laser: Laser printing is the other type that is often found in homes and offices. Laser printers generally print crisper text than inkjets, though do not always have as high-quality for photos. The initial cost of laser printers is higher than inkjets, averaging about $175 for anything decent, but ink is much cheaper, going as low as one cent per page. If you are printing lots of text or simple line art, I recommend laser printing.
  • Thermography: This type of printing creates a raised texture by mixing special powder with the ink. The effect is very similar to the process of using embossing powder if you are a crafter at all. Thermography is a cheaper alternative to the engraving process (discussed further down) and many people cannot tell the difference between the two. It is often used on invitations and is usually the cheapest commercial printing method. Printers are used to short-runs (less than 500) with thermographic printing. Many commercial printers can accomodate your thermography needs, but always check.
  • Digital: This is a fairly new process aimed at replicating the look of offset at a less expensive cost. The quality is somewhere between a high-end laser and offset. Short-runs of about 250 or more are also usually acceptable with this process and there is no limit to colors since it does not require film or plates. Everything is 4-color. Not all print houses print digitally, but it is becoming more common.
  • Offset: This type of printing is often used for medium to large runs, such as magazines, catalogs, greeting cards, etc. It is the most commonly used method of commercial printing and produces crisp images and text. Images (text and graphics) are converted into a plate or film and then transfered onto the paper. If you want to know exactly how this process works, check out this article. Offset does use the 4-color process, meaning that you can specify to use 1-, 2-, 3- or 4-color inks. The fewer number of inks, the cheaper the cost. Most commercial printers offer offset printing.
  • Letterpress: When the first newspapers and books were produced, they were done so via the letterpress. This gorgeous form of printing went out of style for awhile but is fast coming back onto the scene as an art in itself. Letterpress printing gives you an imprinted, debossed product that requires extra thick stock (100 pound or heavier). The original process featured individual letters and images carved out of block in mirrored fashion (so that the letter 'd' looked like 'b' and so forth). These blocks were then layed out piece by piece, including blank squares, or "spacers". A layer of ink was applied to the surface, then a sheet of paper laid down, followed by a heavy roller that pushed the paper down onto the inked blocks, thus producing the debossed image. If you are interested in learning more about it, here is a great introduction to letterpress by Five Roses. (Side note: someday I'll have a letterpress... {sigh} ) There are many antique letterpresses out there, as well as newer models, and you are no longer limited to individual blocks since plates can be made of virtually any design. You must go to a letterpress specific printer if you want this type of printing. Pricing is moderate and you will pay less with the fewer colors you use. This is a great method for formal invitations and correspondance.
  • Engraved: As stated earlier, this form of printing is similar to thermography in that it produces a slightly raised look and feel. Engraving does cost quite a bit more, which is why many people opt for thermography. Paper-snobs (gee, couldn't be any here, could there?) can tell the difference between the two processes because thermography often produces a plastic-like texture. One of the easiest ways to see if something has been printed with thermography versus engraving is to feel the backside of the paper. If the back is flat and has no indentations, it is thermography. If you can feel the grooves where the paper was pushed up into the design, it is an engraved piece. Not all commercial printers have the ability to engrave, but many do. Again, you are limited to the four-color process.
Well, it wasn't quick, but I hope it offered some insight to printing needs. Best advice if you are looking to have a job printed is to develop a relationship with your printer and ask lots of questions. Another resource I recommend is the Pocket Pal, which designers, printers and anyone having anything to do with the field swear by. Have fun printing!