Thursday, November 27, 2014

Book Review - Nirbhaya And Other's Who Dared

First off the bat, let me clear one thing. This book has nothing to do with the Nirbhaya Case! The title is a little misleading, but once you start reading you will find faint echoes of the same case resonating through each story.

 (Click on the image to buy the book right away!)

 This is a book of 22 stories of Women. Women who dared to be different, to change from who they were all their life!  Some are inspired from real stories and some are real stories. Author Kusum Choppra has very clearly and without the use of superfluous words brought home the point with each and every story.

Each story revolves around the woman. She is the central character in each of the stories. She has various names, she comes from a different strata of society, she lives in a different part of the country, but every woman in each story has one thing in common. She decided to stand up for herself.
Even though we call ourselves as being in the 21st century, the mindset of people, men and women have not changed.
The woman is still considered the weak link. A burden for the father, a trade off to the boss for a higher position, a meal ticket, a punching bag, a caretaker!! And what not!
But there comes a time when you have had enough and you have to decide ..ENOUGH is enough! And that's what these women did!

Its heartwarming in some places, its shocking and some stories will make you cringe! But the essence is the same. They Dared and they decided to stand up for themselves. They rebelled against the so called rules of society and decided they wanted to live for themselves.

Is it a must read. I would say, if you like a little dose of read it.

Just a little drawback according to me. I wish the author had started the narratives differently. It just takes a bit of re-reading to know what the story is about. Maybe that was her intention, but I didn't like the narration style...starts abruptly. Guess it comes down to my habit of perfection. It was different enough for me to take notice of that fact!!
 But the ending!! Ahh! Each story ends with such a bang..even a small sentence sounds like a loud clang! Wake up sound kind of! That part I really liked!

Its one of the more different books that I've read. Different. Totally. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Silhouette Cameo...Info Post

I thought its high time I did a post on the Silhouette Cameo...I've probably answered 50 mails and endless whatsapp conversations about this nifty gadget.

Simply put its a digital die cut machine. But it goes beyond that...If I sat down to list what all you can do with it, it would take me days. But lets get down to basics...

What you can cut - you can cut thick paper upto 250 gsm...I don't advocate 300 gsm because the machine is not built to handle that much pressure. But I have cut 300 gsm...but with a nifty trick. More on that later.
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Printer paper
  • Cardstock
  • Thin chipboard - like your cereal boxes 
  • Fabric
  • Vinyl
  • Adhesive paper
  • Transparency etc
This is vinyl I cut with my Silhouette and decorated my Cameo with! 

What else can it do - Replace the blade with a pen tool and you can fake a very fabulous handwriting with your Silhouette.

Print and Cut - Using it in conjunction with your printer, you can print the design and then feed that paper into your Cameo and it will cut around the design.  CAMEO does not print .. only cuts what you've printed... Saving you the trouble of cutting it by hand! Nifty eh!!  It does require a bit of software handling though...but easy once you get the hang of it.

What kind of designs you can cut - If you are a graphic artist or can dabble in Corel or Illustrator, you can cut any image on this earth. But if you are like still can cut any image on earth.
Silhouette comes with a free software and free 50 designs to start you off. (The new Silhouette comes with 100 free designs )Then there is the Silhouette Online Store that has tens of thousands of images that you can download and use.
Most of these designs are priced at 99cents. During sales, they drop to 75 cents, sometimes 50 cents.
And if you buy a 3, 6,12 month subscription to the store the price per image can drop to 10cents too. Depending on your subscription.

Now- there is a Designer Edition of the software, which is basically an upgrade to the free software. It allows you to trace images, use .svg files and host of other features which I've yet to play with. But I use the tracing and svg feature the maximum.
What you can do is trace any vector and get a cut any image you can Google....There is a fabulous 8 part Youtube on tracing . Worth checking out.

This is free image I found on google and traced it to get the ECG line...had to play around with the file for while before I could get it correct...but it works!! 

Another set made with designs from Sihouette Store..the rays, the flowers and the banners...only the sentiments are stamped! 

There are host of graphic artists who design free svg files and you can download and use them. The internet and the Pinterest world is full of free designs that you can search.

What you can't do in Silhouette -
You can't cut glitter paper - Well actually you can cut American Crafts Glitter paper, but that will dull your blade faster. If you are cutting glitter paper, its better to keep that blade exclusively for glitter paper.
You cannot emboss. Not like you can in your die cut Machines. 
There is an engraving tool that is supposed to work, but I haven't tried it.

So what's the downside?
1. The first thing people crib is that they have to keep buying mats and blades. Its not like a darn trimmer where you have to buy a blade every 4 months...unless you are cranking 150 cuts a week...then you need a shitload of blades and mats.
I have had the same blade for almost 8 months...the same mat for 8 months...but I have a re-stick spray which I use every 3 months and the mat is as good as new.
Because I haven't used a whole lot of variety of cardstocks, my blade is good. If I used fibrous cardstock, my blade would have gone for a toss. I use just a standard few brands of cardstocks and that keeps my blade from wear and tear.

2. The learning curve for the Silhouette software is a little high, but not hard.
There are millions of tutorials and amazing amazing groups on Facebook that jump and guide you in a second. I love love those Groups. Absolutely free of negativity, and oh they love to share! Love those ladies!
I have always suggested to those who ever approach me about whether to buy the silhouette, download the software first. Its free to download even without the machine. Watch tutorials and play around with your software. Then buy the machine. Download the software here (scroll to the bottom and on the right is the Legacy Version. That is what I use. You can try the Basic Edition V3 if you are a little brave)
Coz I do know a lot of people who have just jumped and bought the machine and then don't use it because the software curve is high or they just don't know what to do with the machine once they get it.

Its not like your Big shot where you don't have to think. You need to know what you want to cut and how the design to look before you cut.
You need to figure out what kind of paper works for you, what kind of settings for the blade work for that paper.
If you think that's too much headache..its not for you.
Its kind of like getting to know someone ... what works, what doesn't work, how to trick it to get it to work for you...kind of like getting your boyfriend to do the work while making him think he is the boss!! hehe!!

So I'll wrap up this post here....and part 2 will have answers to whatever questions you have on this post!!

Toodles!! Till the next post!

P.s. I'm happy to answer questions and do some research. Because it widens my horizons, but please don't be so lazy that you just post the question and expect me to answer without you lifting a finger. If you want to buy a Cameo you at least need to know what the Cameo is. Read up, watch videos and use Google. After that if you have queries , feel free to ask me. I'll be happy to answer. But after all this big gyan you come and ask what is a Cameo....sigh....

P.P.S I am not going to compare this with other digital die cut machines...Simply because I own only the Silhouette Cameo. I'm not going to buy another one, so I'm not going to read up on The Brother Scan -n- Cut, The Cricut Expressions 2, The Cricut Explore etc. Unless you want to send me another one and have me compare!! I'm all game!! (Bwahhahaa!)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Experiment of a different kind...

First of all, let me thank you for a the abundant wishes on my birthday!! I was totally overwhelmed at the number of messages that kept popping up on my Time line. Thank you so much for that.

A surprise cake at our dinner date!!

But after that day..I disappeared off Facebook. I wanted to stay away from it. And hence the delay in thanking all of you for my wishes and hugs and blessings you showered on me.

I've been restless since a while. At some point I thought it was depression, and then it dawned that I was restless because of Facebook. Strange as it may seem, even that might not be the correct reason. But I wanted to test the theory out. So on my birthday, I decided not to touch Facebook for 10 days. What Followed was amazing, as if the Universe had decided to honor my wish!

Festivals followed, and then my vacation. Second day into my vacation, my phone broke down. And so I was off Facebook, Whatsapp and everything social. Third day of my vacation, my watch stopped working. I had no clue of time, since hotels don't have a clock. I love that about a hotel... no need to watch the time.

View from my hotel room!! Sheer bliss!

And by day 5, I was so much at peace. I had so much time to ponder, reflect and decide how to change a few things around me.

I had been addicted to Facebook and recently all I found on it were the bitch wars, the bullying, the putting down of  people. Even though it is a means of social interaction, most of what I saw was bullying, mocking,  condescending tones in comments. A personal experience left me very very hurt and thus my decision to pull back from Facebook. I am going to give it not more time that I need to be there. Check for my favorite people and log the hell out.

The sharing part was almost non-existant. If someone queried a tutorial, despite them learning from someone else, they refused to share. And that made me mad and sad.  And these were people I thought I knew. Where crafting was a way to connect with other like minded people, now its a power game. It has become a way to make money...and there is no passion in it. A hobby without a passion is just a business. Each to her own. But that is not me. Will never be me.
Thankfully I still have some real awesome gem of people I call friends and who are more than happy to share their passion...and that is what I will love about them, honor that and cherish them for being who they are!

And this restlessness was also the reason I took a break from crafting, from my DT commitments.
It is strange that something like this can affect me so much. But it did and thankfully opened my eyes...and it made me dig deep into my soul...and probably showed me a new direction. I've just found the road, I still have to walk on it...but I will. Anything that brings me peace...I hate the restlessness.

I'm going back to good old days of blogging and checking blogs, rather than checking on Facebook and liking it and leaving no comment.

My biggest regret is that despite having 100+ wishes from friends who are crafters, I did not get a single card in the mail. But then that blame comes to me too...I haven't sent out any myself this year despite it being one thing I wanted to do. So lets see this year how I do....

Things will be different. That's for sure! but some will remain the same!

Like my love for doing reviews, and answering boat load of questions!!

So that's it for my Experiments of a different kind!! What do you think??
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