Monday, November 19, 2012

Top 10 apps for Women

When I find something I like, I tend to share it. I've even been accused of being a walking infomercial for some of my favorite products. What can I say? I'm excitable! Over the last year, I've found a lot of apps that entertain me and make my life easier.

For this list, I focused on the apps that help me be productive. I skipped including Facebook, since I'm not very productive on it! Here are some more of my favorites applications.

Most of the apps on this list are free. Of the ones I paid for, I feel that I've more than gotten my moneys worth.

1. Pinterest. Free. I *may* be obsessed with Pinterest. I don't do much actual "pinning" while on
my phone--I don't find it very easy to pin from websites on my iPhone. However, I often refer to my Pinterest boards when I'm shopping--whether it's for decorations or craft ideas.

2. Feedly. Free. I read a lot of decorating, organization, and general interest blogs. Feedly helps me keep them all in one place and scan through them. I use Feedly most often on my phone, although it also has a website interface. It's great for catching up with the week's blog posts while watching Saturday-morning cartoons.

3. Stylebook. $3.99. My love of this app probably deserves its own post. For now, I'll say that it helps me organize my entire wardrobe. I have taken pictures of every item in my closet, from sweaters, to scarves, to shoes. It was quite an undertaking, but now it's so worth it to have every piece of my wardrobe itemized. I can put together different looks, plan my outfits for the week, and even plan my packing lists for trips. Although I think the app is a little pricey, it's paid for itself each time I avoid buying yet another cardigan in a color that I already own!

4. TripIt. Free. This app is great for organizing business trips and even personal travel. Once you set up your account, you can forward all hotel and flight reservations to the email address provided to you by the app. It will organize each of your trips from this information.

5. Couch-to-5K. Free. I don't think I could have started running without this app. It took me all the way from walking to being able to run for 3+ miles. I just used the free app from Zen Labs and it worked fine for me. It tells you when to walk and when to run to help build your endurance. Now I've graduated to the MapMyRun app, but I've gotten a lot of friends--and even my husband--interested in running.

6. GroceryIQ. Free. My husband and I love this app. It allows us to save our grocery list from week to week. We have the app synced between our phones, so we can each add items to the grocery list throughout the week. It also lets you scan bar codes and read lists, which are great time-saving features. Brilliant!

Grocery IQ
7. Amazon PriceCheck. Free. I'm a die-hard Amazon fan. Their Subscribe-n-Save program and Amazon Prime are keys to keeping me sane. I have all of our diapers, wipes, and even vitamins scheduled through Amazon so I don't have to make extra trips to the store. The PriceCheck app lets me scan the barcode of any item while I'm shopping, then compares the store's price to the price on Amazon.Guess what? Amazon usually wins the price war.

8. Instapaper. $3.99. I often come across article links on Facebook or news sites that I don't have time to read. I've added Instapaper's "Read Later" button on my browser. When I click this button, the article is fed into Instaper, without the ads. It's not the prettiest app, but it's very useful for those long waits at the doctor's office.

9. Waze. Free. This app meets all my navigational needs. Gone are the days of having an outdated GPS. Waze isn't perfect, but it gets me where I need to go and you can't beat the price. I don't think I would ever purchase another GPS, now that so many good navigational apps are available.

10 Goodreads. Free. I'm one of those people who always has to be working toward a goal and reading books counts toward my goals! I typically read 2-3 books at a time--one on my kindle, an audiobook for my commute to work, and a parenting book to keep me sane with an active toddler.

I like being able to track all the books I've read and I like to see the recommendations from Goodreads. They are typically right on and I've discovered some great books based on their recommendations and some of the book lists on that site. It's also fun to see what my friends are reading through this site.

So, that's my list of favorite apps. What apps did I miss that should be on this list? I'd love some new ideas, so feel free to share your favorites.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

White gallery wall

I jumped on the gallery wall bandwagon this fall. I've been swooning over pictures on Pinterest of various gallery walls and thought it would be a cool way to liven up our entry wall. These are some of my inspirations:

Young House Love
Thrifty and Chic
Tatertots & Jello

This was a fairly involved project. I wanted an eclectic, yet uniform look. (Is that even possible?) I decided to go with all white frames (i.e., uniform) in different styles (i.e, eclectic). I found most of the frames at Target, Michaels, or AC Moore.

It is surprisingly hard to find white frames in unique shapes. After a lot of frustration, I decided to improvise. I found some shapes that I liked and spray painted the frames white. Easy-peasy.

I didn't want to put a ton of holes in our walls while I got the layout right, so I traced the frame shapes on white paper. Then I taped the papers to the walls. Over the next week, I moved the papers around until I decided on the arrangement. Then I was ready to get hanging!

I ended up using the 3M Sawtooth picture hangers for most of the lower pictures. These are holding up all the pictures, without showing the hooks at the back of the pictures. Voila!

This wall is still a work in progress. I think I'm going to add 2-3 more small frames to fill in a couple of the gaps. I wasn't sure which pictures I wanted to use in all the frames, so I added the craft paper to buy myself some time to decide, while still making the wall look nice.

Over the next few weeks, I'll go into more detail on some of these pictures that I put together.

Click here to see more of my gallery wall inspiration pictures on Pinterest. Yes, I made a whole board devoted to gallery wall ideas!

Have you put any focused Pinterest boards together like this?
Friday, November 9, 2012

Autumn front porch

I went all out with my front porch decorating this year--some might say (e.g., my husband), that I went a little over the top. Well, maybe I did! I love how it came out though.

What do you think?

For the doorway, I used a wreath that I bought several years ago from AC Moore. I also put three strings of leaf garland around the door and another string around each railing going down. I bought the flowers and the ribbon at the bottom of the railings from a local nursery.

The most labor-intensive projects were the pumpkin topiaries. Here's how I did it:

2 planters
Pumpkins--I used craft pumpkins so I could drill through them
2 Wooden dowels
2 Foam cake forms
Spray paint (if desired)

1. If desired, spray paint your pumpkins. For my porch, I sprayed the two small pumpkins silver. I also sprayed a light coat of white paint on the top of the second pumpkins down because I though the orange was a little bright.

2. Drill a hole through the bottom and top of all of the pumpkins except the highest ones (only drill a hole in the bottom of those).

3. Put the wooden dowel through each of the pumpkins, stacking them.

4. Put the bottom of the dowels into the cake forms for stability (otherwise mine kept tipping over).

Love the look and feel of this porch from
Another great porch from

Pantry makeover

I've been obsessed with organization this year. One of the areas I've tackled is the pantry. I love having a pantry for our food, water, and plastic items, but it is hard to keep neat! My main problems were around the baggies and Ziplocs and tea. I was also having trouble organizing bread and snacks for my son. Here was my solution:

To organize the sandwich bags, Ziplocs, and foil, I bought two magazine holders, turned them on their side, and stacked them. This works really well for me. I also write the size of the ziplocs on the sides ("G" for Gallon and "Q" for Quart), to make it easier to find what I need.

For the tea and hot cocoa, I bought a bin from Target with separators. (Similar here.)

For the bottom shelf, I bought two more green bins from Target (wish I bought more of these--they were discontinued way too soon!). I put our breads in one of them, and my toddler's snacks in the other one. 

This pantry is still a work in progress, but this is where we are for now! One of the next projects I want to do is to purchase some plastic liners from the Container Store to go on the wire racks to help keep the boxes and cans from tipping over!
Friday, November 2, 2012

Fall banners

I've always been a fan of paper crafts. I get downright gleeful when I'm in the craft store picking out scrapbook paper. For this project, I wanted to make a banner using supplies that I already had.

I liked the idea of doing a Halloween banner. I was even entertaining the idea about doing a black and silver themed mantel this year. However, there's something about fall greens, oranges, and yellows that makes me happy. So I decided to make a softer banner.

One of my inspirations:

Here's my banner:

And here's a picture of the completed mantel:

To make the banner, I used all supplies I already had:

  • Various scrapbook paper
  • Green ribbon
  • Hole punch
  • Scissors and paper cutter
  • Chipboard letters
I measured the triangles using a ruler--the sides were 6 inches long and the top side was 4 inches long. I used a mini hole punch to make two holes toward the middle of the triangles (I measured these to make them even). I then threaded the ribbon through the holes. After that, I attached the chipboard letters with glue dots onto round paper circles to make them stand out a little more against the scrapbook paper. I then tied the ribbon to the bases of my candle holders and used some fall floral picks to cover the ties.

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