Monday, November 14, 2011

My Memories Suite - Digital Scrapbooking Software GIVEAWAY!

Have you ever wanted to try digital scrapbooking? Are you a "traditional" scrapbooker (like me) with more stuff than you can use and no time to use it?  Perhaps you have one or more small people in your house that don't allow for a dedicated scrapping area.  I have one with a scissors fetish who will cut anything he can lay his hands on - tablecloths, winter coats, and the cords to the window blinds, just to name a few. There is NO WAY I would leave scissors laying around, much less my Cricut machine (which I love) or my other paper cutters.

Enter My Memories Suite! This software is fun and simple to use.  I have not done much digital scrapbooking.  I have never taken the time to organize myself, for one thing.  Nor have I bothered to learn how to do it, even though I have Photoshop at my disposal.  I have just not taken the time.

I was asked to review this scrapbooking software, and I have to tell you, I am hooked!  I installed it, opened it up and started playing around, had a grand old time exploring all the possibilities.  Of course, one of the best things about digital scrapbooking is the ability to drag and drop a picture into a pre-made template.  This is one of my favorite pictures of the kids from when Isaac was a baby:

This is a freebie I received from the Share My Memories newsletter.  I thought the colors were great for a picture in the fall leaves.

After watching a tutorial, I created this layout using the free elements included in the software package:

Not too shabby, eh?  I found a picture of Todd and Isaac at Lake Superior this summer.  Then, I chose a paper, added a texture, border, mat, shape and photo corners - all with a few simple clicks.  Easy as that!

I also made a few pages using pictures from Isaac's Halloween party at preschool.  I used some things from My Memories Suite, but included elements I had from other places, too. 

It did take an extra step to import embellishments (the overlay & buttons on the first page, the  hand print and the cat on the last two) but there were no issues with using them.  My Memories Suite comes with a ton of great stuff, and they have lots on their website you can download for free, too.  However, I had quite a bit of stuff I've downloaded for free from here and there, and I wanted to be sure I could use what I already had.  The pumpkins on page 2 are actually a nifty font I downloaded and installed.  I just clicked to add a text box, typed them in, sized and dragged my text box, and voila: a pumpkin border!

I am excited to do more with this nifty software. I have not even scratched the surface of what it can do.  The best part is, I HAVE A FREE COPY TO GIVE AWAY TO A LUCKY WINNER!

Here's what you do:

1. (Required) Visit the My Memories Suite website and poke around.  Come back and share your favorite products with me in the comments.
2. (Optional) "Like" My Memories Suite on Facebook (let me know that you did so in the comments)

3. (Optional) Follow My Memories on Twitter (let me know that you did so in the comments)
4. (Optional) Share about the giveaway on your blog, Facebook page or Twitter account! (let me know you did this &leave me a link in the comments)  If you'd like, you can copy & paste this:

Visit Acorn Hill Academy for a chance to win FREE digital scrapbooking software!

I will announce the lucky winner on Monday, November 28.  Good luck!

If you just can't wait to get started, I have a fabulous coupon code for you!  You can go to the My Memories Suite site and use code STMMMS31018 for $10 discount on your very own copy of the My Memories Suite software, and a $10 credit in the My Memories Store!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Soup - It's What's For Dinner

I do love fall in North Carolina.  After a summer of oppressive humidity, the bright fall days bringing cooler temperatures are quite welcome.  I love the colors and scents of fall, too. Autumn also ushers in soup season.

I made one of my family's favorite soups tonight, and I thought I'd share the recipe.  I got it from Todd's mother, because it's one of his favorites, and have made a few modifications.

Here is the original recipe:

Chicken Tortellini Soup
9 oz pckg frozen broccoli
6 cups water
3 - 1.75 oz cans of condensed chicken broth
1 - 10.75 oz can cream of chicken soup
2 cups cubed, cooked chicken
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup vermouth or water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp basil leaves
1/2 tsp oregano leaves
7 oz pckg cheese tortellini
Parmesan cheese, if desired

In large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine water, broth, soup, chicken, onions, carrots, vermouth, garlic, basil & oregano.  Bring to a boil & add tortellini.  Reduce heat & simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Add broccoli; simmer 5-10 minutes more until broccoli is tender.  Serve with cheese.

Makes 10 servings, 1/2 C

I don't know about you, but I have yet to find anything labeled "condensed chicken broth" at the grocery store.  The cans of broth I have (usually Swanson's) specifically say on the label "Do not dilute."  I have diluted them, but I don't think the soup is as tasty.  Tonight, I used 6 cans of chicken broth and 2 cups of vegetable broth.  (I think the 6 cans of broth would have been sufficient, but I didn't look at the labels and assumed that they were 10.75 oz cans instead of 14.5 oz cans and decided I needed extra liquid.  Vegetable broth has a nice flavor.)

I like to add celery to the soup.  I think I added about a cup tonight.  Chicken soup should have celery in it.

I have learned over the years that I am not a huge fan of oregano, so I leave that out and add 1 tsp of basil and approximated 1/2 tsp allspice.  My mother tells me that allspice is a great thing to add to chicken soups, so I do.  I say "approximately," because as I was attempting to measure the allspice over the soup pot, a whole bunch of it dumped onto my half-teaspoon and overflowed into the pot.  I put back what was still on the spoon and called what was still in the pot, good enough.  (I would guess that you are beginning to see why this is not a cooking blog.)

I never have vermouth so I don't put that in.

The best thing about this recipe is that it doesn't ask that you sauté the vegetables first.  You just dump it all in and boil it.  It's wonderful!  I also love that it has lots of veggies so it can be a one-dish meal.  I wish I had remembered to throw some bread in the bread machine, but I will do that tomorrow when we have the leftovers. :-)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Paperback Swap!

Homeschoolers:  have you signed up for Paperback Swap yet?  If not, get thee hence and do so now!

Here is how it works:
1. Sign up for your FREE account.
2. Post books that you would like someone else to have.
3. You receive 2 credits for posting books, and then one credit for each book you send.  With your credits, you can request books that people send to you for FREE!
4. When someone requests a book from you, you have to send it in a fairly timely fashion and pay for media mail postage.

I had heard of Paperback Swap (PBS) quite a while ago, but it seemed like too much work at the time to get books together to post so I could get credits to get books.  However, this past week, I was looking at my bookshelves, which are overrun with books again, and realized that I had a stack right in front of me that could go.  I am terrible about getting them to the library or to Goodwill, but I got them entered into Paperback Swap, and instantly had requests for 4 books.  I mailed those last week and just mailed 4 more today.  I figured it would be a good way for me to get some books to read inexpensively.  Honestly, considering what a new book costs, even from Amazon, it's a good deal even after you pay for the postage.

One of the things I sent off was my boxed set of the Twilight series, in hardcover.  It was expensive to send, and the person requesting it had a lot of restrictions on what she would and would not accept.  My set was in nearly perfect condition, but it was a bugger to get packed, and I do confess to feeling a small amount of irritation at knowing I would get only one credit for all that work.  However, I sent it, because I wanted the books out of my house.  Guess what?  The person who received them emailed me to thank me for packing the books so carefully and said they arrived in perfect condition.  She also gave me 3 more credits, because she didn't think it was fair that I only received one for a  4-book set, especially considering the cost of the postage.  Is that not fabulous? 

Why is this good for homeschoolers?  Well, let me tell you!  When I went the post office, the very nice man who helped me turned out to be a fellow homeschooler.  He told me that his wife gets lots of books for their homeschool from Paperback Swap.  I had an epiphany.  I had not considered the possibility of looking there for school books!  Immediately, I went home and started looking up books we will need for next year.  I have 2 on the way to me as I type this!  If you homeschool, you know how expensive books are, and therefore the gleefulness I feel at getting some from PBS.

I hope I've inspired you to at least consider PBS.  If you homeschool, or read at all, you know you have too many books.  This is a great way to get rid of some that didn't turn out to be fabulous, and get some that you either really want or need in return.  Bibliophiles helping bibliophiles - it's a beautiful thing.