October 18, 2011

A Meaningful Gift for a Growing Girl

I spent the other day cleaning out my kids' playroom. The amount of abused and neglected toys made me sad. What a waste. We spend so much money on plastic toys that are rarely played with, when in reality, our children are happiest with an old sheet over the kitchen table playing "fort".

I was so impressed when my friend Molly decided to make a Bellflower Book to celebrate her daughter's 10th birthday. Instead of picking something up at the area "super store", she created a book full of childhood memories and letters from friends and loved ones. The finished product made me cry. It was beautiful. The best thing about this gift is that her daughter Maddie will now enter her preteen years with a book full of love and encouragement to remind her how special she is and boost her self confidence during what can sometimes be a difficult time in a young woman's life.

Just like Molly told me, "How many toys does a kid really need? I want to do something meaningful that she can treasure forever". I look forward to other parents discovering how Bellflower Books can enrich the lives of their children.

October 13, 2011

Helpful Hints for your Bellflower Book - Enlarging Photos

How to Enlarge the Photos in Your Bellflower Book

If you, or one of your contributors, has added a photo to your Bellflower Book that appears small on the page preview, we highly recommend that you take a few minutes to enlarge the photo.  Your final book will look much better if your photos are the proper size.  See the before and after example below.

Note that you do not need the "original" digital photo file in order to re-size the picture.  We will show you how to do it using the file that is already uploaded to the Bellflower Book page.

The Page Preview BEFORE the photo was enlarged

Page Preview with enlarged photo
Step 1:  After you have signed into your Bellflower account, go to the "Pages" tab and the  "Edit" screen.  Right click on the photo and save the photo to your computer as a “Bitmap” file.  

Step 2:  After you have saved your photo, open it in the wonderful photo enhancing (free) website 

·         If you do not currently use Picasa, start by downloading the free software and click "run" when asked if you want to "run" or "save" the software.  It only takes about 30 seconds, depending on the speed of your internet connection.
·         To open your photo in Picasa, find the photo you want to enlarge in your Windows Explorer and then right click on the file.  Choose the "Open with" option and then click on "Picasa."

When the photo appears in Picasa, click on the green picnic button labeled "Picnik" (see black arrow below), which will allow you to edit the picture.  Then click "yes" to confirm.

Step 3:  Your photo will automatically open in Picnik, as shown below.  Click on the “resize” button located on the left hand at the bottom of the row of choices (see black arrow below).

Step 4:  Next, you will need to enter new dimensions for your photo (see white arrow below).  The dimensions you enter will depend on whether the orientation of your photo is  horizontal (long) or vertical (tall).  The "keep proportions" box is checked by default.  Do not un-check that box.

·         For Horizontal pictures - enter 4000 in the first input box.  The second dimension will automatically calculate based on your photo's original proportions.
·         For Vertical pictures - enter 2800 in the first input box.  The second dimension will automatically calculate based on your photo's original proportions.

Click the “apply” button, which is underneath the boxes where you entered the dimensions. 

Next, click the yellow button at the top right that says “Save to Picasa” (see black arrow below) .  On the pop-up screen that follows, click the "replace" button to replace the original (small) photo and apply the resize.

Step 5:  You will then be automatically taken back to Picasa's main window.  From here,  simply save this file by clicking on the "File" menu and then choosing "Save As".

Step 6:  Go back to and from the "Pages" tab, click the "Edit" button.  The last thing you need to do is to switch out the "small" photo file for the enlarged photo file that you just created in Picasa. 

Click on the "Browse" button underneath the photo (see black arrow below).  Find the folder where you saved the enlarged photo and select the appropriate file. 

Step 7:  Lastly, go back to the "Pages" tab and click on the "Preview" button to see how your enlarged photo will look on the printed page. 

The finished product!

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