Best Apps to Improve Your Life

BEST APPS FOR YOUR BLOGGING & BRAND

Best Apps for Blogging & Brand

This section really delves into six great apps to add to your tablet to help take care of the business side of blogging or running a small online business/presence.

Google Drive: though my husband disagrees and would probably argue Dropbox or Box belongs here (and normally I would agree), Google Drive is amazing for bloggers especially because most of us utilize the Google Apps services.  I often use Google Drive both personally as well as with collaborations for forms, document sharing, notes, and a central location for cloud-based blog documents.  It’s nice to have a central location where I can access blog-only important documents using any device.  And, face it, Google is always improving upon itself.

Facebook Pages Manager: Me and Facebook don’t get along too well, but this app really makes me feel at least in control of certain elements of the Facebook page.  The app gives you all sort of administrative access to your page and helps break down all the numbers and analytics.

Google Analytics: if you aren’t using Google Analytics to keep track of your statistics and numbers, then I highly recommend starting to.  But, now there’s also an app for that.  Learn about how many visitors your site attracts, how long they stay, and get involved with SEO all through the Google Analytics program and app.

Feedly: this and Bloglovin’ quickly replaced Google Reader when it was put in the ever growing Google graveyard.  Though there’s a lot of debate over which one you should choose, you should definitely choose one and fill your feed with quality blogs and sites to help inspire you and make connections.

Time Recording: this is particularly useful for the business and brand side of blogging or online presence.  Are you a VA, designer, consultant?  Then this will help you keep track of your time so you know exactly how long you are spending your time on certain tasks, projects, or assignments.

Google Hangouts: Google seems to be a running theme, right?  Well, Google Hangouts is quickly becoming my go-to social app for communicating with bloggers.  I’ve had video chats on Hangouts and I’ve instant messaged with bloggers and clients using Hangouts.  You can also even make it your main SMS app where you can both receive regular text messages in the app but then easily switch to your email account and IM or make a phone call on there.

BEST APPS FOR PRODUCTIVITY & OPTIMIZATION

Best Apps for Productivity

All of these apps are essentially life enhancers.  They take your phone or tablet and in some way make life a little bit more wow.  From personal assistant like features to AI-like enhancements, these apps may take some patience in setting up but can produce some great results.

Boomerang: I usually use Gmail, but recently decided to give Boomerang a try.  I love the user interface and it’s developing some great features, like scheduled emails!  This is so nice because I work nights at the hospital and therefore stay on night shift schedule through out the week.  So I do my emailing at night and like to schedule certain ones during normal business hours.  The app also gives you the option to temporarily hide emails and the remind you at a later time to respond to them.  In addition, it reminds you to follow up with certain conversations that you deem important enough.  It almost asks as an email personal assistant — you know other than actually doing the writing for you — the app just may take a minute to completely dial in to.

Evernote: I use Evernote as my online diary or note keeper.  If I have ideas, I jot them down in one of my notebooks.  If I’m planning an event, I start a checklist in Evernote: for instance, I have a checklist for what we need to do before our daughter arrives but I also often create checklists to keep track of gift giving for Christmas so I remember what I’ve purchased and who is getting what.  You can do a few other functions, like sharing articles to Evernote within a designated notebook if you’d like to save it for later (but I recommend using Pocket for that).

LastPass: I’ve been using LastPass for a few years now, even before Apple started their Keychain.  But, if you’re familiar with Keychain, then you can stop reading because that’s essentially what LastPass is: a place where all your passwords are stored.  I have crazy, random, LastPass-generated passwords using a variety of characters so I most certainly can’t remember them and need LastPass to do that for me.  It does a great job, and it works with all operating systems: Apple, Android, and Windows.  It’s a plugin on my computer with Chrome and Safari and will automatically log me in if I want it to but it’s also an App on my phone where I can either use it as a browser, a reference guide, or give it the authority to automatically log into my apps when I open them.  It really makes life so much easier now!

Pushbullet: this allows you to sync all of your devices in one regardless of what your operating systems may be.  For instance, Apple has this function but you have to use Apple for all your devices.  Pushbullet integrates my Apple computer with my Android tablet with my Android phone.  Essentially what happens is if you receive a text message on your phone but you’re working on your computer, you can respond on your computer.  You can also share links or photos quickly and easily between devices and it has universal copy and paste.  The copy and paste function is very nice because sometimes I’ll discover a great article on my phone via social media but will want to delve in and open it on my tablet with the bigger screen.

Pocket: In some ways, Pocket is very similar to Evernote.  My husband swears by Pocket and it’s a very successful app with integrations within several other apps making it very easy to read an article, watch a video, or view and image and then save it for later in one easy step.  What makes it better than Evernote is the beautiful interface.  Once you’ve started saving content to your pocket, you can then go in and view them in a reader-type format akin to Flipboard, Feedly, or Pinterest.

Trigger: with a user-friendly interface, this app allows you to automate settings and tasks on your phone/tablet such as turning on/off your bluetooth, WiFi, and other features that can help streamline activities.  For instance, my husband has it automated to send me a text everyday between 4pm and 6pm when he connects to his car’s bluetooth.  The text lets me know he’s on his way home.  I love this because then I know how to gauge when to have dinner ready because if this message was automatically sent, then he’d probably forget to text me.

BEST APPS FOR ENTERTAINMENT

Best Apps for Entertainment

I probably could have put Netflix, Hulu, Watch ABC, Plex, HBO Go or any other assorted apps that are out there for watching movies and TV, but you already know all about those.  These three are my favorites that you may not know about.

Songza: man, I love Songza.  It’s our favorite music playlist app that has long replaced Pandora, Slacker, and iHeart Radio.  There are no adds and the premade playlists are actually quite excellent.  You can also listen to music based on your mood (Angsty, Celebratory, Gloomy, Motivational, Soothing, Warm) or your activity (Ballroom Dancing, Cooking with Friends, Driving in the Left Lane, Getting Married, Girls Night Out, Housework, Reading in a Coffee Shop, Sleeping, Yoga, etc).  And, this great app can be Chromecasted (score!).

Chromecast: so, the app is only necessarily to set up the Google Chromecast device ($35), but then you are good to go forever to Chromecast anything that supports Chromecast.  I’ve talked about this before because it continually remains almost a best friend to our devices and our lives.  Missed the episode of Scandal and didn’t record it?  Watch it on your TV by casting the episode from ABC.com to your TV without plugging anything in.  Netflix junkie?  Chromecast the app from your tablet to your TV — or any TV that has a Chromecast device (a little USB jump drive looking device that plugs in to your TV).  At my in-laws’ house, we will cast YouTube videos on their TV and watch them together in their living room.  What the device allows you to do is essentially make any device the remote control for your TV and it supports more and more apps all the time.

Amazon Music: we originally started using this app because Amazon is where we buy our music.  But now, Amazon Prime now offers free music downloading for music greater than 6 months old.  So, I went in and now have a lot of my old favorite albums all mine completely for free (I haven’t listened to Kenny Chesney in forever and now own that Tom Petty album I’ve been wanting but couldn’t justify buying before this).  This feature is only available to Amazon Prime customers, but with all the other Prime benefits I highly encourage we all be Prime customers anyways.

BEST APPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHY

Best Apps for Photography

There are a lot of wonderful photography apps across each of the operating systems and many that gear towards both broad editing as well as specific features, like the Lumie app is all about bokeh.  These three were chosen for being great broad editing apps and therefore are self explanatory: Snapseed, Camera 360, and Photo Editor by Aviary.

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Fall Harvest Salad

Fall Harvest Kale Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
Fall is the season of change. It’s a time when we begin to turn in our crisp cob salads for hearty chicken soups. We trade our flip flops, and sun block for cozy boots and sweaters. It’s the time of year when we trade light bright hours for soft dark ones.

This salad is a perfect blending of this transition. Warm roasted late fall vegetables add a heft to the light crisp flavor of the kale and apples. Then it’s all tied together with a tangy Maple Balsamic dressing that makes your taste buds sing. You could call this a power salad since it’s loaded down with an amazing mix of vegetables that provides a large blend of vitamins that are so necessary to ward of the coming winter cold season.

The really cool thing about this dressing is that it goes wonderfully as a marinade for not just vegetables but salmon, and chicken as well. So you while the salad doesn’t need meat to make it complete there’s nothing wrong with adding it in.
 Fall Harvest Salad 2

Fall Harvest Kale Salad (serves 4-6)

½ a medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded & cubed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of broccoli florets
4 cups chopped kale
½ a red onion, sliced thin
1 crisp apple, cored and chopped
½ whole pecans

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the squash over a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over it. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, tossing once, until the squash is soft and the edges browned. 5-10 minutes before it is finished clear a space on the tray and add the broccoli to cook for the remainder for the remainder of the time. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl toss the kale, apple onions, and pecans with prepared dressing (Recipe follows). Add slightly cooled squash and broccoli to the bowl and toss lightly. Serve immediately.

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp whole grain mustard
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or jar. Stir well to combine and serve. Can remain in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Guest Posts Recipes Seasons

Amberly is the blogger behind Life with Amberly & Joe.  They have inspired a lot of readers with their money posts as well as their marriage posts, and I’ve collaborated with her a few times of the past year or so and just adore her — making her an exciting addition to the Charming team.  Here’s a little introduction to those who may not know her, but you can expect her money & finances posts once a month here on The Charming as well as many more inspiring posts on Life with Amberly & Joe.
Amberly is a Family Studies major who believes that quality time, traditions and communication help to build healthy relationships. She blogs about marriage and money because she believes that finances can become a non taboo subject in the marriage relationship with a little work. Making money a part of your every day conversation will help to build a stronger relationship with your spouse.
Connect with her here: BlogTwitterFacebookPinterest • Instagram

 

Bloggers

October 2014

 

Einstein Brothers coffee with a toasted pumpkin bagel topped with pumpkin smear.  Yep, delicious.  When I have an early morning that doesn’t include work, I love stopping by Einstein for this magic combination.

ASOS.com  I’ve loved ASOS for a long time, but now that I’m pregnant and I’m in need of maternity clothes, I’m even more in love.  I’d say ASOS has affordable clothing options — which they do — but that also have a lovely selection of dress-up items for any price point.  I didn’t spend much time on my bridal shower dress or my rehearsal dinner outfit and for both just threw something together.  For our baby shower, I wanted to actually put some thought into the dress and not just go for something cheap that looks good.  ASOS has so many options, including the exact dress I had in mind.  I’m so excited to wear the dress tomorrow to celebrate our little girl with loved ones.

Lindt Crunchy Nougat.  Deliciousness for chocolate lovers everywhere.

Moroccan Argan Oil.  I put this oil on my dry hair to add some moisture to my hair, especially as the months get drier.  It also helps soften and tame my hair, particularly when it’s maybe day two since I’ve washed my hair.

Energems.  I love Energems to just pop in my mouth when I need an energy boost.  There are three flavors: chocolate, mint, and peanut butter.  They are all tasty and really do the trick to boost my energy!  The first time I had a serving, I went and cleaned the house for a good couple of hours.

LG G3.  I was originally a Samsung girl, but needed a switch to something new.  The LG G3 is perfect and I am totally in love with my new phone.  The camera, it’s Android, the customization, the size, the screen resolution, the power, it’s just my new best friend!

What I'm Loving

Let’s talk flowers . . .
Letstalkflowers-2
Just like fashion, there are seasonal trends in floral arranging, too. This fall, the “it” bouquets feature saturated tones, earthy accents and layered textures.
When arranging your next assortment, keep these things in mind:
  • Fuchsia and orange roses add the perfect punch of color.
  • Sunflowers act as the focal point of an arrangement–they like being the largest flower in the bunch.
  • The best autumn fillers are cattails, button pons and springs of wheat.
Letstalkflowers-1
Looking for more ways to decorate your place this fall? Read our Fall re-Fresh post here (link: http://thecharmingblog.com/2014/09/10/a-fall-re-fresh/).

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