Friday, March 26, 2010

I love Apps!

For Christmas this year, my husband and I both got Motorola Droid phones for ourselves.  It does have a bit of a learning curve if you're upgrading from a Razr, but I have to admit I love it now and couldn't go back.

One of my favorite things about my phone is the ability to download Apps.  So here's a review of some of the ones I can't do without.

PS--They're all free, too!

(Disclaimer: These are all through the Droid Marketplace.  I know some are available for the IPhone, but I'm not sure about all.)

  • Shazam
    • What it does: Ever heard a song on the radio and wondered who sang it?  Shazam will take just a few seconds to listen and analyze a song, then give you the artists, title, and record.  It even gives you the option to buy the song.
    • Wishlist: It works 99% of the time, but sometimes if the volume isn't very loud (as in a store or a TV across the room) it won't work.  Otherwise it's spot on every time.
    • Where to get it:

  • Daily Strip
    • What it does: You can choose from 108 (currently, always new ones being added) comic strips to view.  It also has a calendar function, so you can go back to the start of a story line, if you like strips with those.  Has some very unusual ones that aren't in your typical Sunday edition of the paper.
    • Wishlist: There are times that the program can be a bit glitchy (i.e. freezes, has to force close, or takes a looooong time).  But it is a free program that relies on other people's systems as well, so I can't complain that much.
    • Where to get it: Only through the Android Market. Sorry.

  • Pandora
    • What it does: Type in a song or artist that you like.  Pandora will stream similar music.  A great way to broaden your music base.  You can create multiple stations to fit your mood or create a quick mix of all of your stations at once.
    • Wishlist: Pandora can be a bit of a battery hog, and can sometimes freeze or become glitchy.  But it is handling a lot of information all at once, so it's to be expected.  Also dependent on the quality of your 3g connection.
    • Where to get it:

  • EEBA
    • What it does: A mobile version of the envelope system made popular by Dave Ramsey.  You set us categories, budget money into them, then record expenses.  The main screen is a bar graph system that allows you to see how much is left. The great part of this app is that multiple people can use the same account, so Mom, Dad, and kids can enter in their expenses.
    • Wishlist: When first beginning, the interface can take some getting used to.  But, I have to really credit the developers too, because they really listen to their users.  Since I first started using this, three or four different versions have come down the line with new features, all based on user suggestions.
    • Where to get it:

  • Our Groceries
    • What it does: A mobile grocery list.  You can have multiple lists going at the same time (I have a normal list and a wish list), and multiple people can enter in items.  So if Dad realizes he needs more shaving cream, he can add it to the list while at work, instead of trying to remember until he gets home.
    • Wishlist: Sometimes the lists can take a while to refresh and show changes.  More than once I've had to exit the app to get it functioning correctly.
    • Where to get it:

    • What it does: This is a file management system.  I'm pretty OCD about my pictures and like to have them in themed folders. ASTRO will allow you to do this, and also find those pesky download files that you can't seem to access.
    • Wishlist: The interface can be a bit hard to understand at times. (They recently just added online help, so you'll have it made!) But most of my problems come from not knowing/understanding the folder system built into my phone.
    • Where to get it:

  • Calorie Counter
    • What it does: Allows you to keep track of what you've eaten, you're exercise regimen, and your weight.  It even has a barcode scanner that will enter in the food automatically.  You can save favorite foods and exercise regimens.  It's been really helpful since I've started Couch to 5k.
    • Wishlist: This is my newest app, so I'm still trying to figure it out.  The interface isn't very user friendly at times, and you sometimes have to get creative while keeping your food diary (food's won't be listed, or be another brand, etc.)  I haven't used the weight diary, but other users have said it can be glitchy.
    • Where to get it: (This is the online version of the app.  Apparently you can only get the app through a marketplace.)

  • DroidLight
    • What it does: Turns the flash for your phone into a flashlight.  Much stronger than you would think!  Very helpful in movie theaters, or when your husband turns out the hall light before you come to bed. :)
    • Wishlist: The on/off function is easy to accidentally turn off. 
    • Where to get it: Through the Droid marketplace

  • Lightning Bug
    • What it does: A relaxation/white noise generator.  Will play in the background or the forefront.  Also has a built in alarm clock with a wide range of non-teeth-grating alarms.  Lightning Bug comes with six different themes to choose from, each with several customizable features.
    • Wishlist: I stopped using the alarm clock, because some days it just wouldn't work.  There have been a couple of different versions since then, so the issue might be fixed.
    • Where to get it:

  • Ringdroid
    • What it does: A music editor that allows you to cut clips of songs to use for ringtones, notifications, and alarms.
    • Wishlist: Won't edit all types of music (but feel that's probably because of copy protection on the files).  The editing process can be a bit tedious, as well.  But I guess that depends on how OCD you are. :)
    • Where to get it: 

What are your favorite apps?

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    How DO you clean an iron?

     Once upon a time, I thought it would be a cool idea to melt some beads with my mom's iron.  It didn't go well (sticky, gooey mess), and I tried to hide the evidence of my crime (scrape off the big stuff and cross my fingers).

    If only I had this tip from Jamie Council (Check out her blog at, I might not have gotten in trouble!

    You have Stitch Witch residue on your iron (I'm working under the assumption that it would work for other things, too.)

    Iron over a dryer sheet, then a paper towel. Repeat as many times as you need to remove the mess.

    Jamie gives it a big thumbs up!

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Easing into shape

    My husband and I have decided that enough is enough.  We want to get into shape, but without paying for a gym membership.  Based on a friend's FB status, we're going to try the Couch to 5K program.  It's designed to take you from a sedentary life to the ability to run a 5k in 9 weeks.

    It's based on running for small spurts in the beginning, coupled with brisk walking.  As the weeks go on, the running (or jogging) becomes the majority of the workout.

    To help keep track of the time, I'm going to be using the Running into Shape podcast.  It includes a good mix of workout music, timed to the workout.

    Day one starts today.  Pray for me if you don't hear from me soon. :)

    Saturday, March 20, 2010

    Scouring Power

    I don't know how it happened, but my tea kettle has formed some nasty burnt areas on the bottom.  This week I tried out two different scouring solutions. 

    Option 1
    Salt, yup. That's it.  Some sites recommend Kosher salt, but I used plain table salt.

    It seemed to get some of the heavy lifting done. 

    • Cheap
    • No chemical smell at all
    • Got majority of work done
    • Too harsh for more delicate pieces.  I noticed some scratching
    • Didn't do anything for discoloration
    I'd recommend this for heavy duty pots.  Definitely got the job done, but wouldn't work for something scratch prone.  I wouldn't use this for non-stick pans, for instance.

    Option 2
    Baking soda and a tiny bit of water (enough to make a thick paste).  I let it sit for a few minutes.

    This worked more for the discoloration and the small areas that the salt missed. 

    • No chemical smell
    • Worked at removing some discoloration.
    • The baking soda changed color while I scrubbed, so I could really tell the difference.
    • Not as powerful as the salt for big areas.
    I'd recommend this for more delicate pieces or for set in stains.

    My husband added the thought that including lemon juice with the salt might boost the power.  I think I'll give it a try next time. 

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Indian Tex-Mex (Is that a thing?)

    I've been trying to add more variety to my cooking repertoire lately, much to my husband's chagrin.  Some times they turn out good, others bad.  This one turned out good, although my husband and I both agree it's an occasional dish.  Maybe when we're feeling really international.

    It's based on a subscription recipe card that I inherited from my mom.  I know for a fact she only used a handful of them.  Most of them are very strange, but this one turned out pretty good, with a couple of tweaks.

    It's called Nasi Goreng, but we call it Indian Tex-Mex.

    • 1 lb ground meat (we use lean ground beef, but it's up to you)
    • 1 bell pepper
    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 large apple
    • 1 large tomato
    • 2 small tomatillos (these look like green tomatoes, they have a papery husk on them.  Make sure to remove the husk and wash well)
    • 1 clove of garlic
    • 2 tbs curry powder (as hot or mild as you'd like)
    • Cooked rice (we use brown for the extra texture)
    • Brown the ground meat, add garlic.
    • While browning, chop the vegetables and add them as you go.  I usually put them in in this order: onions, bell pepper, apple, tomatillos, tomato.
    • Add curry powder and cook until vegetables are tender. (As slow as I chop, that's usually only about 5-10 minutes after I finish)
    • Serve over hot rice
    It's a pretty easy dish.  I added the tomatillos for their tartness.  It counteracts the apple and the sweet curry taste without drowning them out completely.  It could look fancy if plated correctly.  Let me know what you think!

    Let it Flow!

    I live in an area notorious for hard water.  While at my house, it's not that bad, I can still see the effects of it.  One of the biggest problems was my shower head.  It's a standard issue, but half of the holes were completely clogged, or barely issuing out a spray.

    I had used some commercial products, to little avail.  They helped a little.  I found the following idea on  (At the time of posting, the site was down.  Hopefully it will return soon)

    I put a sandwich bag filled with enough vinegar to cover the holes and tied it around my shower head.  Then I let it soak overnight and flushed it with water the next morning.

    I think it worked pretty well!  It seemed to have unclogged the shower head completely. It worked as well as the commercial products, but didn't blow them out of the water.

    • Cheap, as always
    • Set and forget style of cleaning
    • Awkward to set up
    I'd recommend this to anyone, as long as they have a stepladder and a spotter! More and more, I'm astonished by how much vinegar does!

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Wow! That looks fancy!

    I'm not sure if this really falls under the realm of review, or just a shameless plug.  Either way, I'd like to introduce you to a great website that I've used a ton in my professional and personal life:

    The site is created, obviously, for scrapbookers in mind.  It has a great section for layouts and products.  However, the section I've used is the font section.

    They have the coolest fonts!  And they're free!!!

    I don't know how they collect their fonts, or who creates them, but if you want something in font form, they have it.

    Need a specialized font for your newsletter about spreading germs?  Check out the G category for "Germs."  It's a great, creepy crawlie font, where the letters have eyes and teeth.  That'll make the kids wash their hands!

    One of my personal favorites is in the C category, Catholic School Girls.  It's that bubbly, flirty handwriting I always wish I had, but never mastered.

    The W-X category is a huge cache of recognizable scripts.  They have the Walt Disney script, Willy Wonka's font, and two different Wild West Themes.

    Whether you are spicing up a form or creating invitations, this is your one stop shop for creative and unique fonts.  I can guarantee that someone will ask you where you got your cool fonts.

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    Linoleum Woes

    My second try at a green cleaner was for my linoleum floors.  We live in a rental house cursed with faux stone linoleum.  It looks nice and all, but I believe in every inch of my being that it leads to people mopping less often, especially if you live in a rental house.

    This recipe is meant for a traditional mop and bucket, so it takes a little more effort than a Swiffer, etc., but it seems to do a better job for me.

    • 1 cup vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon Murphy's Oil Soap (Made with vegetable detergents, advertised at 98% natural)
    • 2 gallons hot water (or enough to fill up your bucket)
    It worked pretty well.  I have to say, it worked about the same as any floor cleaner I've used.  When you mix it together, it does turn a milky color, so it's easy to see when you need to change your water.  It doesn't leave a "clean" perfume afterward, but that may be a plus for you if you're sensitive to perfumes.  I did notice I had to go over the mud tracks a my dogs leave a couple of times to really get it clean, but I think that has more to do with the amount of dirt than anything else.

    • Very cheap.  It cost roughly 15 cents to fill my bucket.  You couldn't even tell I had used any of the Murphy's Oil Soap.
    • No heavy perfume smell
    • Easy to tell when to change the water
    • No stickiness after cleaning, no need to rinse
    • No heavy perfume smell (if you like that sort of thing)
    • Not a very heavy duty cleaner, more for everyday
    On the whole, I think I will continue to use this recipe.  It worked as much as any commercial cleaner does, but is a lot cheaper.  I'm still shocked to see what a big part vinegar has in green cleaning.  It's apparently the main ingredient in everything!