Category Archives: Abby’s Apps

What I’m Into: April 2015

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Techie

The best tech tip I have learned in months: What to do when you accidentally close a tab.

I actually started playing Criminal Case before April, but have really gotten into it this month. It is mainly a hidden object game that is not so challenging that I get frustrated. Because the player is a police detective solving murders, I would not recommend it for children.

This month, I had fun using Hyperlapse to film and speed up some of the incredible storm clouds moving past us.

Travel

One Saturday, we traveled to visit my grandparents and to celebrate our family’s spring birthdays with all the family members who could come. After I assisted Grandma to the lunch table, I sat next to her and assumed that Brian would sit next to me. However, I was surprised and flattered when my aunt wheeled Grandpa in and asked where he wanted to sit, “Oh, I’ll just sit there next to Abby.” Of course I am not going to complain when my 93- and 98-year-old grandparents both want to sit with me!
 My birthday with my grandparents
Spring Birthday Collage 2015

Products

In April, I added the OPI Gel Color My Dogsled is a Hybrid to my collection. It’s a pretty aqua color that reminds me of summer and tropical water.
 OPI Axxium My Dogsled is a Hybrid | StairStories.com

For my birthday this month, Brian gave me this lovely double-infinity necklace and I love it!
 Double-Infinity Necklace |StairStories.com

Around the House

Cola is almost a year old and we started leash training her as soon as we brought her home last July. Despite all our training, she still strained at the end of the leash (or a much as we let her), pulling and jerking so hard that she causes her normal collar caused her to cough and gag. I decided she was old enough for a training collar and – for the sake of my shoulders and her neck – she needed one. The store we shop at for dog supplies did not have any training collars in her size but they did carry a Sporn Non-Pulling Mesh Harness. I was skeptical but desperate, so I bought it. Brian and I had mixed results when we took Cola on our evening walk. Cola was willing but excitedly wiggling when I put the harness on her, but it took some getting used to. There were several periods during the walk when she wriggled, flipped, and twisted trying to bite the leash or get out of the harness. Failing that, she flopped down on a cushy lawn in protest. When she was not fighting or protesting the harness, she walked sedately beside me and even voluntarily sat when I stopped at street corners. Brian and I were impressed with the improvement in her behavior. In the weeks since, she grew accustomed to the harness stopped struggling against it. She does sometimes pull toward something thrilling, like trees or other dogs, but it is much easier to walk her without her constant jerking on my shoulders and her neck.
 Cola's Sporn Stop-Pulling Mesh Harness | StairStories.com

Favorite Reads from around the Web

Blog

I have not posted much this month because teaching has grown more hectic as the semester progressed. Since I started this teaching job three weeks after the semester began, I have been planning lessons as I go and feel as though I am still catching up. The end-of-semester scramble for me has included writing, teaching, and grading all the big writing projects, double-checking that competencies have been met, tallying lab hours, and writing tests. I enjoy the work and the students but, after working all day, I have not been motivated to blog much in the evenings. Honestly, my favorite part of having a hobby blog is that I can take time away when life gets crazy!Weekends when you're a teacher #morecoffee | StairStories.com

What are you into this month?

I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

Disclosure: Some affiliate links included in this post. If you click through, any purchase you make supports this site.

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Filed under Abby's Apps, celebrations, life, milestones, something to try, stories, Travel

What I’m Into: March 2015

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Techie
OverDrive was one of my new iOS apps this month. It was my first audiobook app and I am loving it. With OverDrive, I can check out free audiobooks and ebooks from my local library with my library card. When I check out an ebook, I can select the Kindle format and download the library book right from the Amazon website. I really, really like libraries and technology so this has been a highlight of my month!

Travel
During the second half of spring break, Brian and I traveled to visit his parents and mine for a couple days each. While we were in his hometown, we caught up with his sister and two cousins over delicious homemade tacos. In my hometown, we joined my parents’ Friday night college study and helped out with behind-the-scenes work for the wedding of a couple former students. It was a busy end to the week, but lots of fun!

Products
I tried Tazo Sweet Cinnamon Spice Tea from my mom’s collection while we were visiting and it is delightfully cinnamon-y and very sweet. To my surprise, some of our college students tried and raved about it, too!

Since I caught a rare sale on Tazo teas at my grocery store, I tried Tazo Wild Sweet Orange Tea. It tastes like an herbal version of Tang when it is hot, but I have enjoyed it most when I make it iced. (1 tea bag + 2 cups hot water for 10-15 minutes, then remove tea bag and pour over ice. Delicious!)

Entertainment
On Netflix: On the one-year anniversary of the series finale of Psych, I rewatched the last two episodes. That finale is one of my favorite series finales ever!

Around the House
Over spring break, Brian and I built Cola a sandbox. I jokingly called it “a life-sized Zen garden” because the more she digs there, the more “Zen” the rest of our yard will be.
 Our Life-sized Zen Garden

Reading 
I liked The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith because it supports and expands on the homemaking philosophy I try to cultivate: I am a perfectionist and my home is never perfect and I am not a perfect hostess. I have to make a conscious effort to not strive for perfection in my home or my “entertaining” because “perfect” does not feel welcoming or comfortable. Trying for “perfect” also really stresses me out.

I know, I know, how have I never read The Giver (Lois Lowry) before this month? I have known about it for decades and always intended to read it someday. When I first began trying out Overdrive, I saw the audiobook available for check-out and jumped at the chance. I liked the imaginative, detailed story of an unusual boy growing up in a dystopian, homogeneous society. My favorite part was the way the story unfolds primarily from the boy’s point of view, even though an adult reader can read between the lines and guess what may be coming.

I also used Overdrive to check out the eBook of Nowhere to Hide by Sigmund Brouwer. This is an engaging young adult mystery starring three teenaged boys whose cleverness gets them into and out of crisis after crisis. A prevailing question from the main character, King, “When is it okay to lie?” is also the theme of the plot. If you read it, keep in mind that almost every character lies at some point in the story.

Blog
I posted my opinion of Trello Gold after using it for almost a month.

What are you into this month?

I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this post. If you click through, any purchase you make supports this site.

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What I’m Into: February 2015

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I know most people linking up with Leigh Kramer for “What I’m Into” posted a week ago, so I’m a few days late. I have not joined this link-up since November because the end of December found me traveling, visiting, and fighting a miserable sinus infection while trying to show people I really was having a good time with them while feeling icky. The end of January found me leaving a job and starting a teaching job and playing catch up since I started the new job three weeks after the semester started.
 

 

Techie

Google Hangouts provided a little family togetherness this month when my sister and I wanted to video chat and include our parents. Downside: Eli seems to think all of his relatives live in the same place, the computer.

I started using Trello to organize my lists of things I’m trying to remember for home projects and lesson planning and anything else I can think of. It is a bit like having multiple bulletin boards with sticky notes arranged in different lists on each board. I adjusted to it very quickly because it is remarkably similar to a more awkward physical system I used when I worked in accounting. Disclaimer: If you use this link to sign up, Trello gives me a free month of Trello Gold. I don’t know exactly what that is, but it sounds fancy.

An acquaintance suggested the AeroPress Timer app to me and it has opened up many fun experiments for me to try with coffee making! I especially like the 1st Place and Japan recipes from the free Championship Pack. (If you use this app, I get nothing but the joy of sharing which is still pretty great.)

Food

Sweet and Tangy Meatballs, served with brown rice and veggies are a Sunday Lunch favorite at Howe House.

Around the House

Brian and I removed our old back door and then I left for a spa birthday party and Clay came over to help Brian install the new one.

What are you into this month? 

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Filed under Abby's Apps, advice, life, lists, milestones, something to try

Abby’s Apps: RunKeeper

RunKeeper App Review

App Title

RunKeeper

Cost

Free for iOS and Android

What It Does

RunKeeper tracks walking and running workouts via GPS, recording distance, time, and speed. It also offers workouts for experienced or beginning runners.

RunKeeper App Review RunKeeper App Review

RunKeeper App Review

My Opinion

I like having periodic audio updates about my statistics during a workout; it helps me regulate my speed and gauge how much further to go.

What are your favorite health-related apps?

Disclaimer: I don’t own or have any vested interest in this or any other apps nor am I responsible for how you or anyone else choose to use them. Do your own research and make wise decisions!

Reviews of iOS Apps | Abby's Apps at StairStories.com #31Days

This is a part of my 31 Days series, Abby’s Apps, linked up here.

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Abby’s Apps: Breeze [the one I wish I liked]

Today’s app was on my list of apps to share this month and I almost decided against it because the more I use it, the more I dislike it. But I concluded that this series does not have to be only reviews of apps I love. This is one have fallen out of “like” with.

 Breeze: an app I wish I liked | StairStories.com

App Title

Breeze

Cost

Free for iOS

What It Does

The app claims to monitor your activity and to help “effortlessly improve your fitness by giving you guidance and motivation to be more active every day.”

Breeze: an app I wish I liked | StairStories.com

Breeze: an app I wish I liked | StairStories.com

Breeze: an app I wish I liked | StairStories.com

 


 

 

My Opinion

From my perspective, it is a pretty, sleek pedometer for iOS. The app must stay open, running in the background, but does not seem to drain my phone battery more than normal. Breeze has issues refreshing the data when I return to it after using other apps. In addition, the constant notifications are annoying. The app acts like a needy friend with all its reminders and alerts. I wish there were a way to dial back the notifications instead of all on or all off. Furthermore, I dislike the arbitrarily assigned goals for my activity level each day.

Breeze: an app I wish I liked | StairStories.com
 Breeze: an app I wish I liked | StairStories.com


Breeze: an app I wish I liked | StairStories.com

Ultimately, the pedometer in the Health app that comes standard with iOS8 may be a good replacement for Breeze but I have not used it enough to know. Breeze is okay if you like the reminders and interface and getting assigned a “spirit animal.” I have not completely given up on my relationship with Breeze but I am looking for a replacement and will keep you posted.

Do you have a pedometer app that you love? Tell me in the comments.

Disclaimer: I don’t own or have any vested interest in this or any other apps nor am I responsible for how you or anyone else choose to use them. Do your own research and make wise decisions!

Reviews of iOS Apps | Abby's Apps at StairStories.com #31Days

This is a part of my 31 Days series, Abby’s Apps, linked up here.

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Abby’s Apps: WebMD

WebMD: Good App, just not for Hypochondriacs!

App Title

WebMD

Cost

Free for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire.

What It Does

Users can look up symptoms, attempt self-diagnosis (for the purpose of knowing when to seek medical attention, of course), find first aid advice, read descriptions of medical tests and procedures, peruse descriptions of medicines or conditions, and more.

WebMD: Good App, just not for Hypochondriacs!

WebMD: Good App, just not for Hypochondriacs!


WebMD: Good App, just not for Hypochondriacs!

What I Like

Having WebMD on my phone is like having a medical reference book on hand at all times. Sure, it is possible to scare of gross yourself out if you misuse it, but I avoid that. When I had a minor cuticle infection, the WebMD app gave me at-home treatments to try and it cleared up before I went to the doctor.

WebMD: Good App, just not for Hypochondriacs!

WebMD: Good App, just not for Hypochondriacs!

WebMD: Good App, just not for Hypochondriacs!

WebMD: Good App, just not for Hypochondriacs!

What I Dislike

Having this app easily accessible on one’s phone could lead to compulsive symptom checking and chronic misdiagnosis for hypochondriacs (like a few of my friends). If this is you, please do not download WebMD. It is an excellent app for everyone else.

Disclaimer: I don’t own or have any vested interest in this or any other apps nor am I responsible for how you or anyone else choose to use them. Do your own research and make wise decisions!

Reviews of iOS Apps | Abby's Apps at StairStories.com #31Days
This is a part of my 31 Days series, Abby’s Apps, linked up here.


 

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Abby’s Apps: Lose It!

Lose It! App for making healthy choices & losing weight | StairStories.com

App Title

Lose It!

Cost

Free for iOS and Android and on the official website.

What It Does

Users can set goals to lose, gain, or maintain weight. Based on the goal, the app sets a daily calorie budget. After that, users add foods and exercises as they go. Adding most foods and exercises is quick and it is simple to add recipes or foods that are not already in the Lose It database.

What I Like

Whenever I use this app consistently, it feels a bit like a game and encourages me to be strategic about my food and exercise choices. For instance, one of my favorite indulgences is a cinnamon chip scone from Panera Bread and, at 530 calories, is enough to wreck a day of healthy eating! On rare occasions when get to indulge, I ask for the scone to be cut in half (either to share or have the rest on a different day). Later, I add a nice, long walk to my day to balance out my treat.

Exercise counts as negative calories!

The bar code scanner is by far the easiest way to add foods when I still have food package.

What I Dislike

I wish the app would stop suggesting I invite my friends to connect with me on the Lose It network. I really do not want to.

Disclaimer: I don’t own or have any vested interest in this or any other apps nor am I responsible for how you or anyone else choose to use them. Do your own research and make wise decisions!

Reviews of iOS Apps | Abby's Apps at StairStories.com #31Days
This is a part of my 31 Days series, Abby’s Apps, linked up here.

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Abby’s Apps: White Noise & Dog Training

Happy Saturday! Today Brian and I are replacing gutters on our house, so I am trying to keep this short. This is the first of my favorite health-related apps in the 31 Days of Abby’s Apps series.
 
Using a white noise app to train yourself & your dog | StairStories.com

App Title 

Ambiance and Ambiance Lite

Cost 

What It Does

Ambiance is basically a background or white noise player. It lets users choose from thousands of free sounds, record their own sounds, or combine sounds to create their own custom blend. The Lite version only allows users to download three sounds.

What I Like

I sleep best with a white noise in the background to muffle any small, middle-of-the-night noises. My favorites are rain, brook, vacuuming, or fan sounds. I looooove sleeping while it rains!

Puppy Training

I also have a furnace sound downloaded on my kitchen iPod and we play it for Cola, our puppy when she is supposed to be in bed sleeping. We have used the same sound since we brought her home and now she is trained or conditioned to it. When we let her out for the last time before bed, we turn on Ambiance and she runs right to her kennel when she comes back inside.

What I Dislike

It would be nice if the Premium version were free, but I do not mind supporting a quality app that I use daily.
 
Disclaimer: I don’t own or have any vested interest in this or any other apps nor am I responsible for how you or anyone else choose to use them. Do your own research and make wise decisions!
Reviews of iOS Apps | Abby's Apps at StairStories.com #31Days
This is a part of my 31 Days series, Abby’s Apps, linked up here.

 

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Abby’s Apps: Duolingo

Several months ago, my husband walked into our dining room where I was looking at my phone and heard an unfamiliar voice saying something unintelligible.

“What is that?” he asked.

“Portuguese.”

“Why?”

“Um, I got a new app. I want to learn Portuguese.”

Since then, I have switched to Spanish because I want to improve my conversational skills for my job.
 

Language-Learning App for Smartphones | Abby's Apps


Title:
Duolingo

Cost: Free for iOS and Android

What It Does: Enjoyable and engaging language learning activities for over Users select a language skill and then have the option to quiz out or to learn each lesson of the skill separately.


Language-Learning App for Smartphones | Abby's Apps
Language-Learning App for Smartphones | Abby's Apps


Language-Learning App for Smartphones | Abby's AppsLanguage-Learning App for Smartphones | Abby's Apps

What I Like: This is one of the few language learning apps I have used and enjoyed. First, it is convenient because it is always on my phone. Second, I like that one of the activities tests my pronunciation. Third, Duolingo keeps track of how long it has been since I reviewed a topic and shows a meter as a graphic representation of the strength of the skill. The goal is to keep all the meters topped off!

Language-Learning App for Smartphones | Abby's Apps
Language-Learning App for Smartphones | Abby's Apps


Language-Learning App for Smartphones | Abby's Apps
Language-Learning App for Smartphones | Abby's Apps

What I Dislike: Nothing, this is one of my favorite apps!
 

Disclaimer: I don’t own or have any vested interest in this or any other apps nor am I responsible for how you or anyone else choose to use them. Do your own research and make wise decisions!

Reviews of iOS Apps | Abby's Apps at StairStories.com #31Days

This is a part of my 31 Days series, Abby’s Apps, linked up here.

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Abby’s Apps: Quizlet

Quizlet App Review | StairStories.com

Title: Quizlet

Cost: Free for iOS and Android and on the website

What It Does: The app allows users to create free electronic flashcards or use shared ones to learn information. The cards can be made and used and ever printed via the website. With the mobile app, users can access all the same card sets for review or playing a matching game. The app also makes the cards available for offline use. Students can use the sets like traditional flashcards, looking at one side and guessing the answer before they check themselves, or they can play one of the two games or simply look at the list of terms.

Online Games With Flash Cards
Scatter is a matching game where the learner clicks and drags the two parts of each card together to clear them from the screen. In Space Race, definition cards move across the screen and the player must type the correct term before it reaches the other side.

What I Like: Since school started in August, I have been using Quizlet to make flashcards for the high school students I work with. So far, I have made sets for vocabulary learning and learning how to combine root words with suffixes. As an added bonus, they can use my flashcards (along with any they create) online or on their smart phones.

 
What I Dislike: I do not like creating card sets on the mobile app, but will sometimes make a correction to a set. I prefer an actual keyboard for lots of typing, so I create sets on my desktop. On the mobile app, I would like there to be another game in addition to matching and trying to beat my previous time.

 
Disclaimer: I don’t own or have any vested interest in this or any other apps nor am I responsible for how you or anyone else choose to use them. Do your own research and make wise decisions!

Reviews of iOS Apps | Abby's Apps at StairStories.com #31Days


This is a part of my 31 Days series, Abby’s Apps, linked up here.

 

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