Tag Archives: tech

Appreciating the Ordinary (& a Giveaway)

Living Between Milestones | StairStories.com
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Sometimes it seems that we live only for highlights between ordinary days. Some of us live on weekends between work weeks or on holidays between classes. We seem in-between when we are out of school but not working, working but not at the jobs we want, working and not yet retired. We feel in-between when we are adults but not married, married but without children, have children who do not yet sleep through the nights, and so on.

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What I’m Into: February 2016

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Where is the year going?  It feels like everything is rushing by while I try to keep up with relationships and teaching and college ministry and church and housework. I have been brainstorming for some upcoming posts, so stay tuned while I try to find time to post more than once a month every couple months.

 

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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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Trello Gold Review

Trello Gold Review | StairStories.com

I recently posted about trying out Trello and was grateful that a couple readers signed up for Trello with my referral link, which gave me a couple free months to try out Trello Gold. According to the informational page for the Gold version, it provides several additional services for users:

  • Attachments up to 250 mb (a standard user can add attachments up to 10 mb)
  • Nine premium backgrounds and the ability to upload other background images
  • Premium stickers to add to cards besides the standard ones and the ability to upload other sticker images
  • The ability to upload an emoji if the hundreds available to standard users are not quite right
After using it for almost a month, it is my opinion that Trello Gold can make the interface more fun and, potentially, more distracting if you find yourself scrolling through the myriad of stickers or changing backgrounds constantly. The features would probably be even more fun for me if I were sharing boards with people, but so far I have been using them only for my personal planning and list making. The feature I have enjoyed most from Trello Gold has been the ability to change the backgrounds from the six standard colors to more interesting images like beautiful nature photos.

I do not plan to keep my Trello Gold subscription after my free months are up, primarily because I cannot justify paying $5 per month solely to have pretty backgrounds. As I use Trello more, though, I will keep the Gold features in mind. I really like the layout and standard features and do plan to continue using it to organize my lesson planning and other projects. Disclaimer: If you use this link to sign up, Trello gives me a free month of Trello Gold.

Do you use Trello or another organizational app? Tell me about it in the comments!

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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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What I’m Into: October 2014

Techie

I finally got around to setting up custom typing shortcuts on my iPhone. They are marvelous for reducing the amount of typing I have to do!


DesignLoveFest has had some creatively artistic wallpapers lately that I’ve downloaded to use on my phone and computers.


I started a series this month, Abby’s Apps, about my favorite apps as part of 31 Days but did not post every day because things got hectic.
Reviews of iOS Apps | Abby's Apps at StairStories.com #31Days

Clothes

I made a purse! Okay, it is really more like I re-made a purse but I am very happy with the finished result. It originally weighed over two pounds – when it was completely empty! The new purse weighs a bit less than one pound. Now that is a healthy “diet.”

Purse Re-fashion | StairStories.comPurse Re-fashion | StairStories.com Purse Re-fashion | StairStories.com

I also made my costume for Halloween, which did not take any sewing, but involved lots of cutting and painting. We ordered Brian’s online because making it would have been outside the realm of my limited sewing skills. When it arrived, though, the costume fit uncomfortably and I spent an evening altering it anyway. Still, it was much easier than making the whole thing from scratch! If you are curious about our costumes, I will post photos on Twitter and Instagram tonight (Halloween night). We will be handing out popcorn at the college’s costume dance party and have refused to tell our students until then.

Food

We tried a frittata for the first time and it was a delicious way to use up some leftovers. with whole wheat spaghetti, ground turkey, baby ‘bella mushrooms, broccoli, and scallions.


Big batches of cinnamon syrup and gingerbread syrup always make coffee taste like fall to me!


I have been making apple chips for my snacks… and Cola’s. I read that dried apples make nice, healthy dog treats and store-bought treats concern me with what seems like a lack of quality control. Brian refuses to share my apple chip snacks because he thinks it is weird and gross that I make the same exact snack food for myself and our dog. What do you think?


Semi-homemade apple-cinnamon crescent rolls (of my own invented recipe) are a fast fall side dish or dessert.
Apple-Cinnamon Crescent Roll | StairStories.com

Watching

On TV: NCIS: LA has certainly had some fun twists this month! I will not give anything away but have enjoyed seeing more of Nell and Hetty’s character development. I am also enjoying Scorpion, about a team of almost antisocial geniuses who form a tight-knit group and end up working as government problem-solvers.

On Youtube: Consumer Reports channel, especially their “What to Get… & Forget” series. I also loved this sweet story that happens to be a scotch ad.


Friends

We held our Second Annual Classic Mystery Movie Night at Howe House this month. The Campus Christian Fellowship students come and bring friends for snacks and a movie that was probably made before I was born. The movie selection for the evening is never announced ahead of time because whoever is there at the beginning of the party gets to choose by consensus from the movies we provide. (This gets quite a few of them there “on time!”) This year, the three people who were at the previous Classic Mystery Movie Night wanted to watch Charade again and none of the others had seen it or had objections. Our CMMN may turn into an annual showing of Charade at this rate!
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Two of our college students decided to be baptized this month!
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We had twelve people eating pasta around our table for Sunday lunch last weekend but it was so crazy that I forgot to take a photo.


Around the House

Our adorable and [sometimes annoyingly] energetic pup is five months old now and has developed a bolder demeanor we are trying to train. We encourage chasing squirrels and rabbits out of the yard and discourage eating the tomatoes, tomato vines, and various other “people possessions.” We encourage making new friends and discourage jumping on people or furniture.
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Brian and I replaced the gutters along the front of our house so now there will not be a waterfall directly over the front door every time it rains. I really liked getting to climb up the ladder and use the drill to mount brackets while Brian handed me supplies. Even before our wedding, we agreed that I would get to do most ladder-climbing tasks because I enjoy it and Brian does not.

2014-10-17 15.51.38 2014-10-17 16.21.47 2014-10-18 16.59.09


What have you been into lately?


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

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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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