PAPERLESS POST: HEMNA reviews the Christmas e-cards you can personalise

Christmas draws ever closer with a mere weekend separating us from roasts and festive puddings, mulled wine and heartily sung carols. It is also prime card-giving season, with 668.9 million Christmas cards sold in the UK (2008) and an astonishing 1.9 billion cards sent in the United States over the festive period (2005).

If like a lot of people, you are pressed for time, the idea of buying several dozen packs of paper cards, envelopes and stamps and having to individually write out each one probably is a difficult thing to move up on your to-do list. You know you have to, but those end-of-year work reports will not get finished up by Santa’s elves, no matter how good a girl or boy you’ve been!

But fear not, you won’t be magically transformed into the greetings card Grinch of Yuletide 2018 if you decide to call upon the services of Paperless Post. Headquartered in New York, Paperless Post is a remarkable, fun and innovative site offering a wide choice of impeccably designed e-cards, invites and even animated flyers, with contemporary designs brimming with flair, festive vibes and colour.

 

In the run-up to Christmas, Paperless Post has launched a range of festive cards and invites to send to your loved ones for Christmas greetings, parties and New Year’s Day celebrations. In collaboration with Paperless Post, HEM News Agency will put one of their personalised Christmas cards on a review road test.

As part of their festive promotions, the online stationery firm is offering customers the chance to spread joy instantly with their online holiday cards that are simple to send and delightful to receive. You can adapt your card’s design, track its delivery to the recipient and upload photographs of your choice, perfect if you like to make themed family greetings cards or at least want something a bit more memorable than a generic glittery robin on the front.

Under the “Holiday, Christmas, and New Year cards” section on the Paperless Post site alone there are a whopping 851 designs alone to choose from, which is far more than you can find in all but the most specialised physical paper card stores. I decided to go with the square format ‘Yule Blooms Christmas’ design as it is festive and professional in appearance in equal measure.

Although the display card is offered in ‘tall’ format’, I found you can choose from six different formats, or ‘design variations’ so if you prefer a particular card size, that option is sorted for you. Choice is a good thing, we must embrace it! Enter your log-in details if you are already signed up at Paperless Post, or alternatively log in with your Facebook or Google account and you can begin customising right away.

 

Firstly you need to choose your ‘backdrop’, which is the background your card will be displayed on. There is one free option, or for the small fee of one ‘coin’ (Paperless Post’s online currency) you can choose from several more. I went for the ‘Pure White –  Holiday’ backdrop with its alluring white snow field and pine needles and holly berries scattered above the top. Très festive, no?. Very easy to do, and just one click is needed.

Hit the Next arrow and the next customisable option is the card’s text. This is where you can really make your card’s message speak from the heart. Here you can change the text size, alignment, typeface, colours and much more, and the sliders make it easier for the less typographically inclined. Using the ‘Colors’ option, which presents their colour options in handy little spots showing the exact hue, I was able to customise the text colours to match HEM News Agency’s blog branding. In the middle of the card is a blank space with patterning reminiscent of the backs of Kodak printed photos we had in our millennial childhood family albums. Just click on that, and the photo editing suite pops up on the left-hand side menu. Here you can upload your photo or choose a pre-uploaded one. I picked the HEMNA logo stored on my laptop.

Following from that, the next option is the Envelope Liner, where you can choose the pattern for the inside of the envelope. While the presented liner choices were not really suitable for a Christmas-themed card, you can use the search box to find some that are. To match the Backdrop I chose earlier, I picked ‘A Christmas Kennel’, which despite its name does not feature dogs, or indeed kennels. Instead experience the natural warmth of holly berries and leaves, which really says ‘Merry Christmas’.

You can then change the envelope’s front with a pretend postage stamp and adapt the text where you address the recipient. However you cannot change the wording at this point, just the typeface and colour. Then it’s on to the reply card, where as with the envelope you can choose the background design. Strangely, I could not find any festive themed designs so had to make do with something more ‘around-the-year’. 

Once you have finished your custom card, the site takes you to the delivery suite where you can enter your recipients’ email addresses. If you are sending the cards out to a whole bunch of friends or family, or to customers as part of business marketing promotions for the Christmas period, you can upload email lists or address books to save yourself the time of manually entering everything. After sending, you can see if the recipient has collected their card and receive messages sent in response.

 

My verdict: It was a painless and easy process to create and send your own greetings card. The steps were clearly set out and in a logical order, with tonnes of design choice and options for customising, without being too technical, long-winded or complicated. There could have been more Christmas options for designs though in my opinion. The whole process took less than ten minutes from start to finish (I was writing this article at the same time) and there was no crashing, bugs or other errors during the design process. One thing I really appreciate is the attention to detail that Paperless Post weaves into every part of the design step, and the realism you get from the designs themselves. It is almost an oddly satisfying feeling when you open the email and watch the card glide seamlessly out of the pristine envelope and reveal itself. The designs are eye-catching and brilliant to behold. This is my second time reviewing Paperless and they don’t disappoint!

Choose your Christmas card adventure at paperlesspost.com

 

DISCLAIMER: The article was a sponsored post in collaboration with the online cards and stationery site Paperless Post, of which the author was compensated.

 

 

IMAGE CREDITS:

Paperless Post.

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PHOTO MOMENT: Canadian elf coin

 

A 25-dollar pure silver coloured coin issued by Canada in 2016. The coin, part of a popular and recent tradition of countries issuing coinage with full-colour scenery and even holographic elements, shows a mythological ‘woodland elf’ on the reverse. The elf, dressed in green hat and suit, is busy at work building a wooden birdhouse amidst typical northern Canadian forest scenery. The obverse features a unique profile portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

The coin was recently launched by the Royal Canadian Mint, based on a design by local artist Jesse Koreck, and is being sold at face value in Canada and the United States.

 

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDIT:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Numismatics, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/numismatics_rr
“2016 $25 Woodland Elf Silver Coin for $25” – CoinNews.net via NUMISMATICS (14 October 2016) http://www.rightrelevance.com/search/articles/hero?article=c1d0c3c908112d8b82a9fe698eabfed619d40934&query=numismatics&taccount=numismatics_rr

CHRISTMAS 2015: HEM festive graphic

 

This year’s wallpaper is influenced by the humble Christmas tree, with its merry decoration and celebration of creativity and light. The basis for this year’s graphic is a picture from a photo wallpaper site, the Wallpaper Abyss, depicting a row of trees decked out in blue fairy lights. The text used aligns with the photo’s colour scheme very well and keeps the theme running.

I prepped the image using an old favourite of ours, piZap. It took only around fifteen minutes yesterday morning and is now officially launched today. It will be used here and on the Half-Eaten Mind Facebook page.

I and the Half-Eaten Mind wishes each and every one of you, our friends, supporters, loyal readers, and visitors a very merry Christmas!

IMAGE CREDITS:
“Proudly Serving 2190 Christmas Wallpapers” – Wallpaper Abyss – Alpha Coders/Alpha Coders http://wall.alphacoders.com/by_sub_category.php?id=152808
piZap http://pizap.com/

A DRUGSTORE ADDICTION: 10 Christmas ideas for bloggers

Fashion and beauty blog A Drugstore Addiction has penned a special guide on ten ideas for bloggers to explore this Christmas to get themselves and their readers into the festive spirit.

As the 25th December nears, many bloggers and online writers will be thinking long and hard about what seasonal content they are looking to post, and sometimes it can be tricky to think of revolutionary new ideas especially given the Net is such a crowded place.

A Drugstore Addiction may well be the saving grace of any blogger struggling to come up with something Yuletide related.

The 10 tips are:

  1. Christmas gift guides (reviews of Christmas-themed gifts or of gift ideas, making your own gifts at home, articles on shops, ideas for gifts for family/friends/colleagues etc).
  2. Christmas wishlists (bloggers can write about what they want most for Christmas, very good for dropping hints to loved ones about what you really want, and that’s not yet another pair of loud red socks).
  3. Christmas make-up designs (such as festive-themed eye makeup, festive colours for lipsticks, features on make-up artists’ best looks for the season or winter generally, recommended for beauty bloggers).
  4. Secret blogging Santa (many bloggers organise ‘secret Santa‘ events for their blogging community, or in real life for their friends; these and their outcome can be featured).
  5. Christmas ‘DIY – arts and crafts (bloggers can get all creative and make their own gifts, decorations, trees, greetings cards, even their ideal Xmas music mixtape!).
  6. Christmas ‘card haul’ (many greetings cards have beautiful designs ranging from traditional Victorian drawings of robins to modern ones with festive memes. Some bloggers will often collect greetings cards and feature the best or most inspirational ones on their sites).
  7. Christmas day trip (especially for lifestyle or travel bloggers, they can blog on a day trip to a Christmassy location, such as a dad’s visit to the local Santa’s grotto with his children, or a blogger’s account of a holiday to Lapland. There is also great ammunition and inspiration in this idea for photographers and artists).
  8. Christmas ‘shopping haul’ (for the shopaholics out there, this is an idea to blog about what you buy in the runup to Christmas, your shopping experiences and any recommended places.)
  9. Recipes (Christmas is a treasure trove for the home cook and foodie – turkey, cakes, Christmas puddings, roasts, festive ethnic foods, biscuits…the list is endless. This is a good time if any to share recipes and ideas, and to set the culinary creativity going).
  10. What I got for Christmas (did you get some cool pressies?, you can blog about them. If anything, it can make gifting even more exciting, especially when you share the good news with your followers/readers. Even if the presents were not so great, you can release your disappointment online).

A Drugstore Addiction is the blog of Jemma, a fashion and make-up blogger and student of marketing from Nottingham and currently studying in Liverpool in the United Kingdom. She is 18 years of age and often blogs from a farmhouse in the East Midlands.

SOURCES:
HEM Bloggers List, The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-bloggers-list
UK Blogger RT, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/UKBlog_RT
Jemma l, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/dsaddictionx
“12 SEASONAL POST IDEAS FOR BLOGGERS” – Jemma, A Drugstore Addiction (10 November 2015) http://www.adrugstoreaddiction.com/2015/11/12-seasonal-post-ideas-for-bloggers.html
“ABOUT” – Jemma, A Drugstore Addiction (13 September 2014) http://www.adrugstoreaddiction.com/p/about.html
IMAGE CREDITS:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

 

GIF MOMENT: Christmas 2014 Gifs + HEM Santa wallpaper

With only a week and a half to go until old Saint Nick squeezes down our chimneys with his big bag of goodies, the Half-Eaten Mind once again brings you a special edition wallpaper and a selection of festive animated images to outshine any Christmas tree.

A good time is coming, I wish it were here,
The very best time in the whole of the year;
I’m counting each day on my fingers and thumbs –
the weeks that must pass before Santa Claus comes.

Then when the first snowflakes begin to come down,
And the wind whistles sharp and the branches turn brown,
I’ll not mind the cold, though my fingers it numbs,
For it brings the time nearer when Santa Claus comes.


– Anonymous

While I’ve outgrown the whole Santa Claus thing, having seen my Mum come home too many times with bags of presents from Primark and Argos; and the house where I now live has no fireplace and chimney for Santa to fall through, and brandy and cookies are so extortionate in price I’d be broke before I’d even bought the Christmas cards, the legend of the bearded one in the red cardigan is still a very magical one, especially for the kids.

The HEM wallpaper for Christmas 2014 pays homage to the chubby old dude with the reindeer-driven sleigh and the cheery “ho ho ho“, by showing him at what he does best, squeezing his ample frame down chimney stacks.

HEM Xmas 2014 Wallpaper pizap.com14185053259981

I used a pre-made Christmas wallpaper from the HD Wallpapers site. This cheery and wintry wallpaper with Santa and his cute reindeer buddies was produced by Zanetine Web Design http://zanetine.com/ who mainly specialise in website building for commercial clients and are based in Amritsar, in the Punjab state of India. I then worked my Christmassy creative magic by uploading the original to the piZap image production site and added a few snowy effects and a reindeer bringing gifts for boys and girls good as gold. Add to that some blog branding with a Yuletide touch and within half-an-hour I was done and dusted. I’m sure Santa will give me an extra prezzie this Xmas just for this adorable wallpaper. Let me know what you think in the comments!!

You’ll be seeing this wallpaper as the official background of the Half-Eaten Mind up until our New Years‘ special shortly before the end of the Christmas break. It will also take pride of place on the HEM Twitter and Facebook pages too, so however you interact with the Half-Eaten Mind, we’ll be spreading some special Christmas cheer as Santa makes his way doing the same on a far grander scale through the night skies.

From myself at the Half-Eaten Mind, I would like to wish of you and your loved ones a very happy Christmas, full of joy, happiness, excitement….and mince pies!

 

Now….here come the GIFs.

Taken from various free animated image sites, HEM has brought you a healthy mix of the funny, sparkly and traditional, including many vintage examples from the early days of the popular internet (2000’s onwards). Hope you enjoy them, and of course they are free to borrow for your own use. After all, Christmas is about sharing!!

(c) Giphy

 

(c) fg-a.com
(c) fg-a.com
(c) fg-a.com
(c) AnimatedGIF.net & Travlang Online, Inc.
(c) caccioppoli.com
(c) caccioppoli.com
(c) caccioppoli.com
(c) netanimations.net
(c) Gifs.cc
(c) ThinkNice
(c) Profile-Comments.com via ThinkNice
(c) ThinkNice
(c) ThinkNice
(c) ThinkNice
(c) ThinkNice
ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
“When Santa Claus Comes” – Kidspot http://www.kidspot.com.au/Christmas/Christmas-traditions-Christmas-poems-When-Santa-Claus-Comes+3664+661+article.htm
Zanetine home page http://zanetine.com/

 

IMAGE CREDITS:
“MERRY CHRISTMAS JINGLE BELLS” – Zanetine Web Design, HD Wallpapers (2 December 2013) http://www.hdwallpapers.in/merry_christmas_jingle_bells-wallpapers.html
piZap http://pizap.com/
Giphy http://giphy.com/search/christmas-2014/4
“Free Christmas Gifs – Animations – Christmas Clipart” – fg-a.com http://www.fg-a.com/christmas.htm
“CHRISTMAS Images #1-14 of 68” –  AnimatedGIF.net & Travlang Online, Inc. http://www.animatedgif.net/seasonal/xmas/xmas.shtml
“Animated gifs merry christmas feliz navidad nativity wise men santa christmas tree christmas lights carolers snow” – caccioppoli.com http://caccioppoli.com/Animated%20gifs%20merry%20christmas%20feliz%20navidad%20nativity%20wise%20men%20santa%20christmas%20tree%20christmas%20lights%20carolers.html
“Moving Merry Christmas pictures, X-mas tree and Christmas clip art animated gifs” – Christmas animations at netanimations.net/netanimations.net http://www.netanimations.net/Animated_Santa_Clause_Xmas_Christmas_Trees.htm
“Free Christmas Gifs – Animated Christmas Gifs” – Gifs.cc http://www.gifs.cc/christmas-gifs.shtml
“Cute, Funny Christmas Animated GIF Collection (33 GIFs)” – Cute & Funny Christmas GIFs Collection, ThinkNice/ThinkNice.com & WebOrigination.com http://www.thinknice.com/cute-funny-christmas-gifs-collection/

 

 

FESTIVE FILMS: Notting Hill to host Xmas pop-up cinema

A special pop-up cinema where filmgoers have to enter through a wardrobe is set to make a return to the fashionable district of Notting Hill in London, local culture online magazine Londonist reports.

The cultural initiative, called Pop Up Screens, will see what Londonist describes as a ‘winter wonderland of Christmas films‘ will bring a selection of festive films to the 20th Century Theatre in Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill for twelve days, between and including the 12th and 23rd December 2014.

Home Alone (film)
Home Alone (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Among the Christmassy highlights to get people into the Yuletide spirit will be classic and vintage films like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street and a selection of films suitable for children, including the comedies Elf and the films of the Home Alone series, starring Macaulay Culkin as loveable rogue Kevin. Popular Disney princess animation Frozen will also put in a very appropriate appearance. For more grown-up visitors to Pop Up Screens, there will be great flicks like Scrooged, Love Actually, Gremlins and Bad Santa to round up the feast of Hollywood festive films during December.

There will be three screenings at the 2oth Century Theatre per day, meaning there will be plenty of opportunities for shoppers, parents and commuters finishing their working shifts to stop by and unwind. The doors will open an hour before the start of each screening, so no need to rush. There will also be loads of yummy and warmth giving Christmas specialties on hand, such as mulled wine, hot chocolate (with alcohol) and other treats, to help stave off the biting cold.

Tickets for the Pop Up Screens events are from £10 for children and £20 for adults. A list of films, ticket prices and booking details can be found on the Pop Up Screens website.

SOURCES:
HEM News Agency, Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-news-agency
Londonist, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Londonist
“Pop Up Screens Returns To Notting Hill For Christmas” – Beth Parnell-Hopkinson, Londonist (25 November 2014) http://londonist.com/2014/11/pop-up-screens-returns-to-notting-hill-for-christmas.php?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=Londonist&utm_content=Pop%20Up%20Screens%20Returns%20To%20Notting%20Hill%20For%20Christmas
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Home alone.jpg” – 20th Century Fox & ThunderPower, Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (27 February 2011) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Home_alone.jpg

PHOTO MOMENT: Cadbury’s Christmas chocolate

(c) Cadbury’s UK

Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a big chunky bar of chocolate. If it’s festive chocolate, even better. One thing I can tell you about retailers in Britain is that they are so passionate about Christmas that they start bringing out festive themed goodies a good few months in advance. In fact the receptionist at my workplace was even telling me how some shops have already started playing Yuletide carols…and this was on Hallowe’en!!

Chocolate maker Cadbury’s, home of the recently revived Wispa bar, among other niceties, has brought out a new chocolate bar that will join their family-sized Dairy Milk collection for the season of goodwill. The latest slabs of cocoa goodness are called ‘Winter Wonderland‘. Instead of the normal square pieces that you can break off and pamper yourself with, this new sweet thang has little Christmas trees instead, alternating between milk chocolate entirely and more yummy milk chocolate topped with white chocolate. Perhaps the inclusion of white chocolate was to steal a march on Nestle and its Milky Bars in the competitive run-up to the big festive season. Maybe they felt a bit bad and Scrooge-like after recently announcing they would no longer make chocolate coins, a Christmas staple, just two months before the big twenty-fifth. Maybe they love snow. But I think Cadbury’s might be on to something here. I have certainly never seen anything like this before, and rum and raisins is not only unpalatable, but it’s getting somewhat antiquated too.

The Winter Wonderland bar looks both appetising and festive. I can imagine little kids (and big kids at heart) itching like they’re sitting on pine needles to chomp down on some cute and irresistable Christmas trees straight after the roast turkey and trimmings. It’s also a good way of sharing out the festive cheer when you’ve got family coming round.

I have a notorious weakness for chocolate. I mean only yesterday I was up at 12.30 in the morning, spooning out and devouring the remains of a Nutella jar at the back of the cupboard that I had almost completely forgotten about. Thank goodness none of my housemates saw me *piercing scream*. Trust me, I had the munchies and chocolate always hits the spot. Which is why I now have extra weight I need to get rid off. Snacking is a sin against the waistline, people. Just say no.

But come Christmas, even if you are constantly on the hunt for the next ‘revolutionary’ diet, you can forgive yourself for hiding the Atkins or Paleo guidebook behind the sofa and allowing yourself the guilty pleasure of deforesting a big bar of Cadbury’s Winter Wonderland chocolate trees. Even if it turns out to be the middle of April and there’s no-one at home to share with *sly wink*. Mum’s the word.

As Cadbury’s would put it “Who says chocolate doesn’t grow on trees?

(c) apinchofsanity/tumblr

DISCLAIMER: I like all kinds of chocolate, not just Cadbury’s. Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and Fry’s Peppermint Cream often feature on my chocolate hitlists.

SOURCE:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
IMAGE CREDIT:
Cadbury UK, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/CadburyUK
“Sooo… it’s Easter today….” – apinchofsanity, tumblr https://www.tumblr.com/search/I’m+eating+chocolate

PHOTO MOMENT: Anjali’s Christmas photomontage

Vijay Shah (writer)

Anjali Shah (image artist/contributor)

This Boxing Day Photo Moment special is brought to you in collaboration with my youngest sister Anjali, who has produced this magnificent photo montage of our family Christmas decorations, using photos I took recently for the article PHOTO MOMENT: Mum’s Christmas decorations for 2013. She has also included some of her own photographic viewpoints of my mother’s Christmas wonderland. The decorations at Anjali’s family home are a heady combination of both traditional and cutting-edge modern components from Santas in those familiar red costumes to glowing LED reindeer.

Anjali has produced a number of images using the photo-editing suite piZap as a side hobby, including many works selected and/or commissioned for the Half-Eaten Mind. Many of her current productions are of her favourite wrestlers from the WWE franchise, which enjoys a long history of following in my family, myself included.

(c) A. Shah (with some images courtesy of V. Shah)
(c) A. Shah (with some images courtesy of V. Shah)

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CHRISTMAS AWARDS BOUQUET: Nominations by Clouds N Cups & Ajay

Vijay Shah

“For the twenty-second day of Christmas, my blogger friends gave to me….fiii-iii-ve awards!!”

*Record scratches and stops*

*Window shatters*

Well, okay fair enough, I was never much of a good carol singer and my housemates are cursing me under their breath, but right now I am floating higher than Santa’s sleigh jampacked full of gifts, as the Half-Eaten Mind takes receipt of a special festive bouquet of five awards which I have been nominated for by the owners of two blogs, “Clouds N Cups” and Ajaytao 2010.

Our first nomination comes courtesy of Wendy Lee from “Clouds N Cups”. Ms Lee is an Singaporean artisan running a small business designing and making her unique brand of homemade and tailor-made jewellery ranging from rings to cute charm bracelets. She has nominated me for the Blog of the Year 2013 award, which means the Half-Eaten Mind now has a total of three stars collected. 

(c) W. Lee/Clouds N Cups
(c) W. Lee/Clouds N Cups
(c) A. Sheldrake/The Thought Palette
(c) A. Sheldrake/The Thought Palette

The Clouds N Cups original nomination article can be found here:  A Little Something Extra For Someone…

The Half-Eaten Mind’s other four awards have been delivered by keen photographer and loyal Mumbaikar Ajay of Ajaytao 2010. Ajay has selected me after receiving an astonishing 48 nominations for eighteen different awards. Someone has been a  well-behaved blogger, haven’t they!!

(c) Ajay/Ajaytao 2010
(c) Ajay/Ajaytao 2010

Out of these 48 nominations, Ajay has asked me to select four. I have plumped for:

You are a Miracle Blogger Award

miraclebloggeraward
via Ajay Tao

Sunshine Award – floral pattern version

via Ajay Tao
via Ajay Tao

Excellence Award

via Ajay Tao
via Ajay Tao

Lighthouse Award

via Ajay Tao
via Ajay Tao

The Ajaytao 2010 original nomination article can be found here: Christmas Bouquet – Awards – Ajaytao – 48 Nominations

I have not been asked to follow any nominations rules for these awards technically, but if you wish to be nominated for any or all of these awards, please let me know in a comment and consider yourself nominated 🙂

Many, many thanks to both Wendy and Ajay for their lovely nominations – as well as all the other friends who have helped contribute to my rapidly lengthening awards page this December. I love you all!

(c) Photobucket
SOURCES:
“[HalfEatenMind] Please moderate: “DECEMBER AWARD FEST: HEM nominated for 3 awards by Cupitonians”‏ WordPress.com (20 December 2013) private email – Ajaytao2010
IMAGE CREDITS:
“[HalfEatenMind] Please moderate: “DECEMBER AWARD FEST: HEM nominated for 3 awards by Cupitonians”, WordPress.com (19 December 2013) private email – Clouds N Cups (BeWithUs)
“Blog of the Year 2013 Award” – Alyson Sheldrake, The Thought Palette LINK
“[HalfEatenMind] Please moderate: “DECEMBER AWARD FEST: HEM nominated for 3 awards by Cupitonians”‏ WordPress.com (20 December 2013) private email – Ajaytao2010
“Christmas Bouquet – Awards – Ajaytao – 48 Nominations” – Ajay, Ajaytao 2010 (18 December 2013) LINK
“christmas reindeer gif Pictures & Images” – Photobucket LINK

WALLPAPER: Christmas 2013

Vijay Shah

To welcome in the Christmas festive season, I have produced the latest in the series of the Half-Eaten Mind’s wallpapers to mark major festivals. This time round we have created a picture uniquely for the blog at Christmas, thanks to my newly-learned skills at graphical design. The new wallpaper draws on a traditional British/US/northern European interpretation of Xmas celebration, with an emphasis on the darling of kids (and some adults) everywhere, Santa Claus, and of course, lots of snowflakes and a really cool Christmas tree. Here in London, the festive season has already kicked off, with co-workers in my office wandering in a daze of mince pies and mulled wine, wearing reindeer antlers, Santa hats and those ghastly Christmas jumpers that your grandma would balk at. There are beautiful and dazzling decorations set up by councils all over the city, and not surprisingly, we just had to get into the spirit.

(c) V. Shah/HalfEatenMind

Created online with photo-editing website piZap, the official Half-Eaten Mind wallpaper/commemorative image for Christmas 2013 was the result of just over an hour’s worth of preparation and editing. I started with one of the festive backgrounds piZap has released especially for the festival of goodwill and peace to all men (and women). They had an incredible choice but I wanted a background that was simple, wintry and suitable, because I did not want it to dominate the other visual elements which were going to be added in afterwards. I chose this blue snowy template, because it suits well how we see Christmas here in Great Britain. Cold, blustery, cloudy, windy and with snowflakes coming so fast at you, you may well wonder if they could slice off the pompom from your Santa hat your girlfriend pleaded with you to wear to her parent’s place.

I then used piZap’s tricky, but very useful, cut-and-paste image tool, to bring in images sourced from the nets via a Creative Commons search, just so I don’t fall foul of any copyright holders. A DMCA notice is never a splendid Xmas prezzie. I found the cool groovy Santa from a website named “hd Wallpapers Arena”, a warehouse of funky festive images that would make excellent greetings cards. I liked that he was traditional in looks and attire, but he had that contemporary ‘thang’ going on. The reindeer have been left in the North Pole tundra, while Santa must have gone down to the West Coast and got his sleigh ‘pimped up’ by X-hibit and his merry men of car tune-ups.  As he jets through the night sky with a haul of presents for all the good boys and girls, Santa has ramped up the cool factor.

Also using the image tool I turned to one of the images I previously featured in an article on my Mum’s Christmas decorations. There was one picture that really caught my attention and that was the white tree my mother had set up in the living room, with all the lights on and the room darkened. The vivid colour scheme of a blue and white tree with a mind-numbing array of baubles, tinsel and lights of all kinds felt perfect. Just like the tree, HEM features a wide variety of stories and features. If we had a proper office, I would have carted off Mum’s tree in a wheelbarrow and stuck it right there in the middle of said office.

Going crazy from tiredness and armed with a paint and erase thingamibob, I soon began mercilessly chopping up yet another picture. The iPhone held by the snowman at the bottom of the picture comes from the DeviantArt site, which specialises in ‘deviant art’ produced by artists in all kinds of media. The image was sawn out of a pixellated wallpaper depicting the older iPhone model, and was created by a DeviantArt wallpaper designer and site member named ‘Martz90’. The wallpaper by this artist can be found in the image credits section below this article and there’s a version for both iPads and desktops. I chose an iPhone, not because I like iPhones. Well I do like them but I am a confident Android fanboy. This type of image was chosen because I wanted to reflect the importance of technology in relation to news, but in a subtle manner. As you may well be aware, news organisations (and small-time news bloggers such as myself) get a lot of input into our reader figures from people using smartphones and the like. This is my way of paying the compliment back.

I also intended to include a stack of newspapers, again on the news theme that makes this blog, but sadly I could not find a decent enough image from the CC search, so I dropped that idea. Tis’ a shame really, but at least the snowman won’t be saddled with a sore back and icicles from carrying a paper round delivery.

The snowman with the fashionable gadget and the open present box were images supplied by the piZap clip art gallery, under the topic ‘Holidays and Festive Occasions’. Of course, finally no HEM wallpaper would be complete without our now-more-official mascot Woodsy the owl, raining down from Santa’s turbo-charged sleigh to bring you hard-hitting news, great features and all manners of festive fun and goodwill.

(c) FourWallsOnly.com
(c) FourWallsOnly.com

I will be using this creation as the official wallpaper for both the blog’s background and for our Twitter feed at @halfeatenmind. The image is being hosted from and is visible on the HEM Flickr photostream, which you can find a link to at the header on the top of this page.

It is my sincerest hope that you like this wallpaper and you are more than welcome to comment, criticise or show me your own examples. Many thanks for reading, and the Half-Eaten Mind wishes you all a very Merry Christmas.

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IMAGE CREDITS:
piZap LINK
My own photography. You can view the article on Mum’s Christmas decorations at this LINK.
“Santa Sleigh” – hd Wallpapers Arena (26 October 2013) LINK
“Pixalated: iPhone 4 Wallpaper” – Martz90, deviantART LINK
“merry christmas and happy new year 2013 gif” – FourWallsOnly.com LINK