DIY and Organization

My Favorite Phone Apps

Todays post ventures out a bit past what I usually blog about, but the blogs that are easily some of my favorite to read are ones that give me new ideas and things to try. So today I want to chat about apps for our phones!

In a lot of ways I do miss the simplicity of a good old flip phone, and don’t get me started about how longed I sulked when I was told that my beloved Blackberry was a goner. But overtime I finally embraced all that smartphones have to offer, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit I’d be lost without it.

I am always looking around and asking others about what new apps I should try. Honestly, from time to time I’ll just open up the app store and search some key words to see what is out there. Often I’ll download a bunch at once and keep them on a unorganized third screen first while I’m trying them out, and then if I decide I like it I’ll move it over to my organized screens.

Yes, I am Type-A… and yes, my sanity does depend on living the “zero notification life.”

Here are quite a few of my tried and true favorites. I tried my best to categorize them, but that proved a bit harder than I originally thought. And no, none of this is sponsored, just my honest opinions.

Work/Productivity

  • Scannable: This will probably sound strange, but seriously, if you download only ONE app from this blog post, this is the one you never knew you NEEDED in your life. It allows you to scan documents into your phone as a PDF and then directly email it back to yourself or others. I use it all the time and can skip fighting with the office monster machine.
  • Bitly: I use this for shortening links for both work and my blog.  I primarily use it on my desktop but having the app is also pretty handy.
  • Notes: I know there are a ton of different list making and to-do list apps, but honestly for me nothing really beats the default Notes app. It would be a sad day if I lost what I have saved there. With that said, someone did recently recommend Google Keep to me, which is basically the same thing as Notes except it is saved in your Google Drive, so I might switch over to that.
  • Google Drive: This is my lifeline, and it is so convenient to be able to both retrieve and save things straight from my phone.
  • Others: Dictionary, Meltwater Buzz (a service we use for media tracking at work), Voice Memos, Dropbox.

Social Media and Communications Support

Obviously I use apps for all the social media I am on, but I didn’t think they necessarily needed mentioning.

  • WordPress: I run my blog on WordPress, so yes, this one is pretty standard for me.
  • Facebook Page: I am an admin on 5 different Facebook pages, so this app is much more functional then trying to manage the pages from the regular Facebook app.
  • Canva:  If your career is in ANYTHING communications related and you aren’t using www.canva.com, then you aren’t doing your job right. It’s what I use to create all the graphics for my blog and work social media channels, and really, I am nowhere near using it to its full capacity. The day they FINALLY came out with a phone app was like Christmas Day.
  • ABM and Typorama: There are quite a few different social media creative apps for adding words, making collages, etc. These two are the ones I prefer.
  • FILMiC Pro: This is one of the few apps I paid for. When I was traveling for work in Guam last year and needed to shoot some video on my phone, this is what my videographer cousin recommended. It was DEFINITELY worth the $10.99.
  • Others: I haven’t used these much but have dabbled in Boomerang, Watermark and Flipagram.

Lifestyle/Daily Use

One thing that you’ll notice missing, specifically for me, is any news apps. Trust me, I read a LOT of news, and I do have and occasionally look at Medium, AP Mobile, NBC News and CNN, but I rely on my TweetDeck on my desktop and my phone Twitter app for the majority of my news.

  • Spotify:  I pay for a premium account so that I don’t need Wi-Fi to access my music, which also means that this app takes up the most room on my phone. But I listen to music ALL DAY LONG so it’s worth it to me, especially since moving to the city and spend much more time as a pedestrian, running outside and riding the Metro. I realized quickly that it was probably unsafe to be without my phone and I didn’t want to carry both that and an iPOD. And yes, I am definitely #TeamSpotify over Pandora…
  • WomanLog: Ladies, basically you need this app for all the things.
  • HumorCast: My weather app of choice is actually WeatherBug, but I also have HumorCast because for each day it gives you a funny and usually sarcastic message based on the what the weather is doing.
  • Airline-specific apps and Wallet to carry your ticket: Going to play the “millennial” card here… People, it’s 2017, learn to use these. I shudder thinking of my early days of flying a lot in college and not having these as an easy go-to for checking in and receiving flight updates. And I literally pout when, on occasion, they still have to print my ticket out instead of letting me use the digital one. (Yes, I’m a travel snob.)
  • Shazam: Ever watch a TV show and wander what song they are playing? This app “listens” and reports back. Problem solved! (And you can connect it straight to your Spotify app!)
  • Peet’s: My chain-coffee shop of choice (since it’s right near work). It has a virtual punch card and they are pretty great about sending you other specials.
  • Ibotta: Recently I started using this for getting cash back on purchases (mainly food). All you do is scan in your receipt and then match it up with things on special that you bought. Use my referral code (RCTYHWL) if you’re interested so we’ll both earn more 🙂
  • MyFitnessPal: I don’t always remember to use it, but I’ve found it handy for tracking eating, water intake and working out, because it helps give you a scope of what you are actually accomplishing (or not accomplishing.)
  • Bible Gateway: There are so many choices out there but I think this one is the most mobile friendly and interactive.
  • Venmo: This is another MUST HAVE. It’s a money exchange/”I owe you” app that makes paying people back or trying to figure out how to split a bill so much more simple, and more importantly, not awkward. My old roommate actually used to pay me for all of our bills this way.
  • Capital One Wallet: Pretty straight forward, and I also use the WellsFargo app for banking, but I was sold on this app for my credit card, because when I thought I lost it recently, I was able to click one button and “freeze” it from being used. Plus it sends you updates on your account and can log digital receipts.
  • CBS Sports: My sports news app of choice. I like that it allows me to flag “my teams” and sends me news notifications and score updates.
  • iBooks: I am still a fan of a real book over digital, but I finally gave in when I went to Asia for 3 weeks this year and forbade myself to pack 4 clunky books in my suitcase. Now it has been kind of nice when I have a few extra minutes here and there.
  • Others: Maps (with a love/hate relationship of course), Beats Pill+, Nelnet (for my student loans), Etsy, LIKEtoKNOW.it, Groupon, Nike+RunClub, Netflix, Kansas State Alumni Association, SheReadsTruth.

City Living

  • Uber: Living in the city, this a must and I definitely prefer it over taking a taxi. I do use Lyft every once in a while, but its drivers always seem to have a heck of a time finding my apartment building so I kind of gave up on them.
  • Parkmobile: Say goodbye to feeding coins to the meter and having it run out on you before you can get back.
  • Smithsonian: It’s helpful when you are looking for what events are going on, but mainly I really like it for its map features. This app was essential for helping me learn my way around DC.
  • OpenTable: Allows you to check on and make restaurant reservations.
  • Grubhub: Food delivery for optimal laziness.
  • DCRider: My DC metro app of choice.

Just for Fun

  • IMDb: I’ve always been a bit of a nerd about entertainment behind the scenes, so this app definitely enables that.
  • ZUI Days: This is a fun countdown app that that allows you to track things that you are counting down to (like my grandparents visit in 15 days) or milestones in the past (like my work anniversary, which is 2 years, 6 months and 11 days.)
  • Timehop: Connects to your social media accounts and gives you a daily trip down memory lane with posts and pictures from years past on that particular day.
  • Coloring Book for Me: It’s a COLORING BOOK APP (!!) with fun designs and a variety of color palettes. If I am doing something where I have a few minutes to kill, this is a nice, creative change from scrolling through social media
  • Others: Overall I’m not really into phone games but occasionally I’ll play Word Crack, Sudoku and good old Solitaire. Sorry, no Candy Crush addiction over here.

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Alright, now that I’ve shared my phone, what am I missing? What other apps should I try?

DIY and Organization

Christmas Crafting

I have never done much for Christmas decorations in my own home so far, and since moving into my new (and very small) apartment this year, finally getting a tree was still out of the question.

I do have a nice windowsill abobe my air unit where I normally display a few picture frames, and it has been way too long since I have had a creative project to work on, so I decided that I would utilize the space for a little decor.

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When I first moved in, I built a entertainment center/shelving unit out of 2×12’s (I think?) and cinder blocks, and had a few extra pieces left after the boards were cut for length

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I put two coats of regular acrylic paint on the board and let it dry.

Note to self: Do not try to FaceTime with your sister and work on a painting project, when you do not have the proper space to do the project in the first place. It is a miracle I did not get paint anywhere it was not supposed to be besides my arm.

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When I went to Michael’s for paint, I saw this flat wooden tree and broke my rule of only going in to get paint… luckily it was not too spendy. While the board dried, I painted this and alternated each row with red and bronze.

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This was the after photo for step one. I took the smaller brush that I used on the tree and did not clean it out so that there would still be some of the drying, clumpy red paint in it, which seemed to help with the uneven brush strokes. I used a dark grey that I already had and the same bronze paint. After I had made some of the bigger strokes I wiped the brush off and continued to dry brush back and forth over the color that I had just applied,

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While the board dried again I switched back over to the tree, which was now dry (after two coats) and applied these rhinestone stickers along the seam of each layer. The nice part was that the rhinestones were grouped together in strips, which is great because there is no way that I have the patience to apply each of those individually. I got them in the sticker section at Michael’s.

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Moving back over to the board, my next step was to take sandpaper to it. I varied the types of strokes I made and the pressure to get the look that I wanted.

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The final step for the tree was to wrap this garland from Michael’s around it. I tacked it with glue in about four spots to that I could get everything to hang just right. As you can see I could technically hang it on the wall somewhere but it is doing just fine propped up on the windowsill.

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The final part of the other project was to glue the ornaments to the board. I saw these ornaments at Target a few weeks ago and fell in love, which essentially inspired me to go ahead and do a little decorating. I just took all of their hangers off and used tacky glue to secure them on.

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And here is the final look! The two little ferns are from Trader Joe’s and Frosty came from my family’s store in Oregon a few years ago.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Amanda

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Link up.

mor

DIY and Organization

Office Décor for Spring and Summer

Friends, it is FINALLY spring!

I feel a bit silly saying that considering that we have had spring weather here for two weeks or so now and then had a cold front come through on the actual first of day of spring.
Thank you, Mother Nature.

Anyway, for as much as I loved my winter décor in my office, I have been anxious to finally change it out to bright colors for spring and summer. For a while, I considered splitting the seasons as I did for fall and winter, but these two seasons always running together and considering how much travel I will have over the next few months, it just made more sense.

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See my Fall decorations HERE.
And my Winter decorations HERE.

Fall is my favorite season overall, but my love for flowers, sunshine, summer nights and all things warm weather related knows no end. The first day that it was 70 degrees here, I was so happy, and if my mother didn’t already know that the change of the season make me a little loopy then she probably would have thought I was on something.

Once again, I was happy with how everything came together and turned out. My co-workers are still amused that I put so much effort into this, but I think they are starting to understand that I need my office space to be put together and cheery for me to feel comfortable and productive. And I’ve said it before, but creative projects like this is a therapy outlet for me. Now if only my wallet would feel the same way!

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This display sits on top of my bookshelf. The glass terrarium is the same one from Michael’s that I bought for my winter display. I was really struggling with how I could use it again for these seasons until I was actually back at the store in the aisle I had first found it and was reminded of what a terrarium actually is. After picking out the layers to fill it with I ended up planning the rest of the decorations and flowers for the wreath around the rich color scheme. The turquoise chalkboard sign was a find from the $3 dollar bins at the Target and the purple lantern was another random find at Michael’s that was just too cute not to add.

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This display sits on one corner of my U-shaped desk. The flowers are all silks leftover from the one I used in the burlap wreath. The little tin is actually from my evergreen tree (or branch?) that I bought for my winter décor from Trader Joes. The “fleurs” basket and bottles were on my must-have list when I was planning my decorations out and I found them on a sale at Michaels! I am really excited for the wheat display and plan on keeping that out year-round. The wheat bouquet are just silks from Michaels, but the kernels are from our supplies here at the office and I layered each of the six U.S. wheat classes in the vase.

Happy Spring!

Cheers.

DIY and Organization

Office Winter Décor

When I first moved into my own office and decorated for fall (see that post here), I really only did so because fall is my favorite season and I thought the decorations would go well with the burlap wreath I had just made. But then my co-workers asked if I planned on switching it out for each holiday or season, and I suddenly realized I had somewhat unintentionally committed .

I don’t mind though, I mean decorated and doing things like this are kind of in my blood. Plus, when people come off the elevator into our lobby they can see straight into my office so I like that they have something nice to see.

I decided though that planning to change things out for each holiday just wasn’t practical, so for the most part, I have settled on the seasons.

I STILL haven’t finished organizing my shelf or hanging up some of my regular stuff, but winter has officially arrived in my office!

To make my decorations last through February I tried to focus on the winter season instead of just the holidays. For being 25 years old I have a bit of an obsession with the character Olaf from Frozen. I would like to clarify though, that I did not buy him for myself. Last year before Christmas, I kept sending pictures to my Mom of all of the giant stuffed Olaf’s I saw in the store or mentioned on Facebook, and joked that it was too bad that I was WAY too old to have one. So, of course this more practical sized Olaf found his way to my stocking. Anyway, after brainstorming what kind of theme I wanted to go with for my decorations, snowmen, blues and golds just seemed like the perfect fit.

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This display sits on one corner of my U-shaped desk. The table top tree and the couple of snowmen ornaments are actually mine from when I was a kid. (Thanks for sending them Mom!) The ball ornaments that you see here, as well as in the picture below in the terrarium and the wreath are all from Target. The tree skirt is actually a  small table runner from, also from Target. I originally bought the gold sticks as ornaments, but they overwhelmed the little tree so I stole the mason jar that I stash my makeup brushes in at home, and problem solved!

I realize the tree is still more of a Christmas decoration so I’ll have to eventually decide if it is going to come down much sooner than everything else.

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This display sits on top of my bookshelf. The little evergreen “tree” is from Trader Joes (only $4!) and the sign is from Target (only $3!) The glass terrarium is from Michael’s, along with the smaller fillers. After growing up in a flower shop I should have known better than to buy so many things covered in glitter. I guess for some reason I didn’t think these silks would shed as much. But no, they did. MY OFFICE WAS COVERED. It’s a good thing I’m a pro at cleaning it up and that’s not something you typically get fired for.

Cheers.

DIY and Organization

Office Fall Décor + Burlap Wreath

I spent the first six months at my new job sharing an office with one of my colleagues.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually didn’t mind that much and in many ways, since she had only started 4 months ahead of me, it was a great way to learn the job and get to know her.

But a few weeks ago we were able to shuffle around and now I have my own office, and I have to admit, I really missed having my own space. I’m a true believer that creating a space that supports your habits, personality and creativity is important for balance and staying motivated.

I’m not quite done hanging things up and getting my office in order, but the first thing I did was add a few touches of fall décor, and I couldn’t wait to share.

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The silks, wooden pumpkin and tin vase are from Michaels and the other pumpkins are all from Target. Everything is new this year. I’m really disappointed that the closest Hobby Lobby is over an hour away from me, but Michaels’ always has things super marked down, which is great because I have trouble staying away.

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This is my other fall display sitting on top of my bookshelf. The pumpkin container I’ve had for a few years from a birthday flower arrangement my parents sent and the small wire pumpkins I found in the $3 bins that sit in the front of the store at Target. The DIY wreath is my favorite though! I have wanted to make one for quite a while now and was planning on it this past winter, until my big move happened.

To make it I used this tutorial:

The tutorial is pretty thorough, but I did have to re-watch a couple of times and re-did my first section a few times before I got the pattern of it down. The video said to use wire to first attach the burlap and that is what I had planned on using…until I forgot it in the shopping cart at the store. Even though I was going back the next day, I was impatient to get started and used safety pins to secure it instead and that seemed to work fine.

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I made mine on a 24-inch frame and used 4, 10-yard rolls of burlap that was 4 inches wide.

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For decorations I used a fall garland, a few of the small pumpkins from Target and fall silk bouquet. This is also the part where I share, for people who don’t know me, that my family owns a flower shop and home décor store, so I have an arsenal of random talents that only result in the constant itch to decorate things and spend way too much at Hobby Lobby and Michaels. I will say though, my school projects growing up were always pretty awesome because I essentially lived in a craft store and have a LOT of really creative people in my family.

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I wanted everything to be attached to the wreath with wire because I want to option of changing the décor out with the season. So for the pumpkins, I hot-glued a few pieces of wire to them.

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One of my friends back in Oregon already has plans for me to make her one when I visit for Christmas and one of my co-workers wants to pay me to make one for his home’s entry way. He then proceeded to make sure that everyone in our office had stopped by my office to see it.

In my family’s group text the conversation went like this:

Grampy: “Where did you buy that?”
Me: “I made it.”
Grampy: “Really? Outstanding… you must have grown up in a flower shop.”
Me: “Yeah, I guess I learned a thing or two.”

Cheers!

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fall decor link up

I LOVE looking at other people’s décor ideas, so I’m excited to link up with Rachel and Astleigh for their Halloween/Fall décor link-up!

DIY and Organization

DIY Lately.

I’ve been pretty crafty over the last couple of months, so I thought I would share.

Really, all of the baking on Pinterest makes me feel inadequate, so I had to compensate somehow.


1. Hanging Wooden “O” Monogram

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My childhood best friend Richole up and got herself hitched last summer to Dustin Osbourne, and right away they moved into a new home. They didn’t have much to start decorating with so I went ahead and helped out.

I painted this medium-sized wooden letter that I got from Hobby Lobby and embellished with lots of fun bling, that I also I got from the holy ground.
(i.e. Hobby Lobby.)

(Warning, I’m a huge fan of Hobby Lobby)

2. Holiday Silk Arrangement

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Yah, sure I’ve already blogged about this. But I’m still just so proud.

3. Grey and Yellow Decorative Bottles

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Decorating bottles is kind of my new thing, and while these ones are my first, I have a whole Pinterest board bursting with future ideas.

I made these ones for my best friend Megan’s birthday, who recently did a new bedspread and color scheme for her bedroom. I used a tequila bottle and two different wine bottles, and all of the accessories are from Hobby Lobby. One fun thing I found was that instead of buying individual twine string, it also comes in a ribbon that looks like you used individual strands. For the paint I used acrylic. Now there may be more preferable kinds of paint to use on glass, but I like that acrylic is fast-drying (I’m an extremely impatient person) and I particularly like the texture that it leaves. You may not be able to see in the picture, but I also used metallic colored silver and gold sharpies to add some final detailing.

4. Purple and Blue Painted Bottles

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So I lied. THESE were technically my first bottle project, but I didn’t decorate them like the ones above, so they don’t count, right?

Anyways, I painted these when I moved into a new place last year and got a new bed spread set. I already had the skinny blue bottle (on the bottom right) and the mosaic vase (on the bottom left) and decided to build my look around them. Again, I used acrylic paints and the few embellishments were random decorative things that I already had. As for as the bottles go… well there’s a little bit of everything up there 🙂

5. Hanging Wooden “E” Wine  Cork Monogram

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So this is the only project on here that I (kind of) got from a specific pin on Pinterest.

I’ve been wanting to do something with wine corks for a while, and have been religiously saving my stash for the right project. Now I kept and used my broken ones because 1. I like how they look and 2. I’m really bad at removing the cork perfectly. Like the “O” I got this large-sized wooden letter at Hobby Lobby. I was making this one at home in Oregon over my holiday break to I access to my family flower shop and their “library” of spray paint. For this I used a matte black for the front and then lined all of the edges in metallic gold. All of the button embellishments came from Hobby Lobby, but all of the rest came from the odds and ends drawer at our shop. This was a Christmas present for my uncle Josh and Sonia, and the future home they is searching for.

DIY and Organization

It’s In My Genes

A few weeks ago I spent my birthday weekend in Ellinwood, Kansas with my best friends Megan and Kyla. To pass the afternoon we visited a few adorable little antique shops where I found these treasures below. I knew immediately that I wanted to use the crock to hold a silk arrangement that I could change out seasonally.

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Growing up in a flower shop, you pick up on some rather unique skills. Call it a curse if you will, but I can’t look at any room or decoration and not try to make a project out of it. I spent about $30 to buy these silks at Hobby Lobby. Since they go really well with my living room colors and decor, my plan is that I will be able to leave them out from mid-October through January, because they encompass fall, Thanksgiving AND the holidays. For the base, I used a white styrofoam ball to secure everything.

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While I was making it, I started to think about how natural this creative part of me comes. My family has owned Cottage Flowers now for 26 years, first my grandma and now my mom. It’s a part of almost every memory I have. The flower shop is where I grew up.

I have chosen to spend my career in agriculture. I think what farmers do is honorable and I will never bore of learning more, and sharing that with others. But I do think that what my family does is important too. No, it might not bear a lot of responsibility, like feeding the world does, but it does make people happy. A little touch of decor makes every home a little warmer and a bouquet of flowers can make one’s day a little bit brighter.

When I’m talking with my farmers I like to share that I too come from a family business.
We’ve had setbacks and seen growth, and we have customers that depend on us.
Their kids were driving tractors, while I was cleaning flowers.
We are a family, just like them.
So I too am proud, proud to be a 3rd generation florist.

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And let’s be honest, I’m pretty excited to showoff the final product.

I guess the holiday season has officially arrived!