7 fabulous apps for your night routine

What’s your night routine look like? Stressful? Calm? Busy? Chaotic?

I mean, sure, there may be having to put kids to bed, brushing your teeth, and hitting the pillow. But, do you have your routine down to a science? No? Why not?

Okay. It’s not that I do myself, but I do have a few things that help me get to that peaceful and stress-free place. You know. Of feeling prepared for tomorrow. Of feeling that I did some good things today. Oh, and just of feeling some peace altogether. I don’t stick to my plan every day, but it’s not that I’m not reminded to.

Here are some great apps to establish your routine and make your nights, and days, go that much better.

 

1) Fabulous Me - Android - Free

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Fabulous me allows you to create a nighttime routine as goals you want to complete. It reminds you when it’s time to start those goals, and creates a log of when you complete the entries. It gives you letters (tips on goal-setting and goal ideas) and challenges. It really is a robust app and helps you develop night rituals.

What I like about this app is that it gets me to create routines and, usually, stick to them. It is well-known that if you do something for a certain amount of time then you will have the habit pretty much down pat. And, I mean, using the oil cleansing method takes time and effort! Getting things in a flow makes my life so much easier. Laying out my clothes and having them ready in the morning from the jump makes me very, very happy. Okay, not very, very, but it quite a bit. Do it, get it. Make your routine, commit to it, and see that things start moving the way you want them to.

 

2) Insight Timer - IOS & Android - Free

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Insight Timer is a free app that provides guided meditations and a timer in a community atmosphere. You can add friends, join groups, and even see when and where others are meditating. You can be reminded to meditate per the schedule that you set.

Meditation is a period of sitting alone and being in the present. It allows you to let go of the stress of the day and get completely relaxed before bed. Insight Timer is an app that you can use to either record that time, or follow guided meditations. Kids, family, work, and all of the other responsibilities of life can be put to the side for a few minutes a day, right? Use this as a me-time activity and get the benefits of everything that comes with meditation.

 

3) Journey - Android - Free

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Journey is a journaling app that allows you to create a very dynamic diary to capture your day-to-day life. It allows for video entries, supports social networks, can export to Word, and can even sync up with WordPress.

Journaling is one of those things that I tend to start for a while and then stop for a very, very long time. Thanks to apps like HabitBull and built-in notifications, I’ve gotten into somewhat of a routine. Journaling has been proven to help with many different ailments – and, if nothing else, is something to show your progress and evolution over time. If you can’t think of what to journal, no worries! Journey has prompts to give you something good. Of the many features there are, one of the things I love about this app is that it works both on my phone, and in my browser.  The interface is clean, beautiful, and user-friendly. A bonus being that you can set notifications – ensuring that you journal your life story every night.

 

4) Sleep as Android - Android - Free

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Sleep as Android is a robust alarm clock and sleep cycle tracker that will ensure you get up on time and go to bed on time as well. This alarm clock can record movement and any deficient in sleep. Smart wake-up wakes you up at your optimal wake-up time based on time of sleep and your current sleeping pattern.

Now, as silly as it seems, one of my favorite features is the ideal sleep alarm clock. My phone actually tells me when I should go to bed! It is calculated somewhat magically based on how many hours I said I want to sleep, and the deficient that I’ve had over the past few days. It’s not that I listen to my nagging phone all of the time, but I get an idea of the fact that I’ll be super sleepy the next day if I don’t listen to its advice.

The sleep tracker is another magical part of the app. I place the phone next to me when I go to sleep and it tracks my movement, REM periods, and general sleep activity. The next day I can rate my sleep and review previous days. This allows me to analyze my best time to go to sleep, how much sleep I need to feel rested, and things that cause me to have disruptive sleep.

 

5) OffTime - Android - Free

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OffTime is an app that allows you to create profiles to do specific actions on your phone. In this case, our profile would be one fitting our night routine.

With OffTime you can say things such as:

  • Through the night, only allow calls from specific people
  • Through the night, only allow me to access specific apps
  • Disable all notifications from everything except specific apps

Now, with many phones this is built-in. However, this gives you a more detailed way of doing things and is essential if you don’t have this option on your phone. Beyond that, you can use this app to create profiles for specific times of day, meetings, and just when you need to do some focused an uninterrupted work.

 

6) Twilight- Android - Free

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Twilight is an app that adjusts the colors on your screen for better viewing at night. The colors reduce the strain on your eyes and lesson the colors that would keep you up.

Okay. So, this app makes your phone screen look pretty red and a little funky. However, after you use it for some time, that kind of just fades into the background and you get used to it. I know that I like to stay up reading various things at night so this app helps my eyes in some super awesome way. That’s it. I really can’t explain this app. Just, try it. I promise. And, if you hate the tinted screen, just uninstall!

7) Daily Yoga  - Android & IOS - Free (OR subscription plan)

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Daily Yoga is a full-featured yoga app with individual sessions and programs. Each session talks you through each exercise with guidance and music (both of which can be disabled).

Like meditation, yoga is one of those things that’ll help you destress from your day. It’s in this time that you’ll have only you (and your guide) to focus on. Focus on being in the present and focus on your breathing and there is very little chance that you can focus on much of anything else. My favorite thing about this apps are the programs – one of which is specifically geared to having a good night’s sleep. Like many of the other above apps, this app has reminder notifications to let you know that it’s time for you to take action.

Know of some great night routine apps? Sound off in the comments.

5 things to do with receipts after shopping

1) Log your trip

I'm a data girl. I like to know what's going on around me, near me, and all that happened before. My Google Calendar is stock full of events from my past, and of course, events for my future. To get some historical data on my grocery shopping habits, one of the things I like to do is to make a simple log of shopping visits. It takes me less than 10 seconds and allows me to search for previous shopping trips. Why would I need to know that? It helps me visually see the number of trips I do, plus keeps me encouraged on savings. I can see that last month my savings percentages were pretty high -- couponing is paying off! There are two main ways you can track your spending. Continue reading

4 Extraordinary ways to use Google for coupons

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Couponing has unintentionally become one of my  most pervasive hobbies.Outside of the regular grocery store, I also use coupons as much as possible for every part of my family’s life. In my digital life, I consume every digital resource that I can that will help me save and get the most for my money.

Apple’s once omnipresent ad campaign stated that for every issue: “there’s an app for that”.

For me, and a great majority of things: “there’s a coupon for that”.

What can I say? I get it from my grandmother, an old-school couponer, who kept a large family under budget with her coupon drawer. She’s 80+, and still couponing. I wouldn’t call her extreme, but she does have her purchases under her thumb, quite literally, actually.

Outside of the usual ways of finding coupons, I get Google to do a little work for me, and bring me the goods.

      1. When searching for a specific restaurant, add the word coupon, and put that in quotes. Google will only return pages that have both of those words together. E.g. “Huhot coupon”.
      2. Add a date range by going to “search tools” on the far right of the navigation bar located under the search box, and selecting the dropdown labeled “any time”. Past month is best to get the most current deals, and those that have been added to Google’s index.
      3. If you are searching for an entertainment venue in your city, be sure to add your city name in your search.
  • Google alerts

      1. Once you have a good search phrase, or you come across some good results, set up a Google alert so that you can get emailed everytime a page gets indexed by Google that contains what you are looking for. Any time there is a new blog post, a new Facebook status, tweet, or news article with your keywords -- you’ll be notified.
      1. Although I use the RSS reader, Feedly, to consume blog and news stories, there are some blogs that I want to be notified as soon as they post, not when I get around to reading them (e.g. SouthernSavers). For those time sensitive blogs, I use an extension that is available to Google Chrome users called RSS feed reader. This type of extension isn’t exclusive to Google Chrome, but you’ll have to search for an extension if you use a different browser. Essentially, as soon as there is a blog post on of the time sensitive blogs that I peruse, I get an alert right to my browser. Fast, timely, and easy.
    1. This little nifty extension lets you monitor a page, or parts of a page, for changes. Based on an interval, set by you, this extension checks a page for updates. This is extremely useful for companies that don’t use social media, or keep a blog.
    2. Although this particular app is not exclusive to Google Chrome, you’ll have to search for an app for your browser if you are not using Chrome.

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Quick and easy nom nom planning

600px-USDA_dinner_croppedBefore every payday I sit down and plan the meals for the upcoming weeks. Strangely enough, I enjoy it. At one point I used software that would allow me to drag and drop meals onto a calendar day, and it would then create the shopping list for me. I still like that, but have found it to be a little too robust, tedious, and constrictive.

Before I share those programs, my first question to you – do you plan your meals? If no… why not? Believe me, it doesn’t have to take any time, and the positives are great:

  • Saves money – you won’t be tempted to go out to eat, you’ll spend less on junk food, and you won’t have to buy things randomly at the store. PLUS, you can use coupons and sales to your advantage – planning your menu around them.
  • Saves time -- you will eat at home, and will spend less time trying to find something to eat. Even better are crock-pot and casserole dishes that allows your to get in, get things done, and eat something great.
  • Better for you than eating out -- you choose what goes in, you choose how it tastes, and you choose the portion sizes.
  • Eating out becomes a special occasion instead of an everyday thing.

So, how do I plan for nom nom time?

  • Spreadsheets are one of my favorite friends. For header fields for meals I use: Meal type (dinner, snack, dessert), Time to prepare, Time to Cook, Changes (made to original recipe), family rating, and a link to the recipe.  Alternatively (and a lot better), instead of having a link to the recipe, save the recipe in its own folder in your Google drive for easier access and review. On that page, create the list of ingredients at the bottom -- this will make it much easier for you to copy and paste ingredients to the spreadsheet that contains all of your shopping ingredients.
  • Another spreadsheet I use is a master shopping list. This includes things that need to be stock in my household and range from toilet paper to soy sauce. Majority of the items are meal items that we need in case of an emergency, or lunch and breakfast items that we get each month. Each item has a column that includes the brand that we like, and a column for quantity needed. Finally, each item is separated by store and aisle.
  • Another tool that I love to use is Yummly. Yummly is a web app that searches the web for recipes matching exactly what you want or need. From there, you can get a shopping list, and add those items to your master list for that month. This is usually for special meals, or two out-of-the-ordinary meals I have each month.

What next?

  1. Move all items to a master list, list by store, and then by aisle. Add approximate prices.
  2. Look through coupons at this point (or prior to searching for meals), and create a column that indicates which brand you have a coupon for, and the price off.
  3. Add the meals to your calendar. Since you have a repository of meals in a spreadsheet that you like, just drag and drop to your calendar. Be sure to plan easy dishes for busy nights.

This all gets easier over time, and you usually don't have to go out to the web to get new recipes. The most time consuming thing will be to get everything onto the final list, but since that contains just your meal items, it should be fairly easy -- especially if you are making the same meals over and over.

What about you? Any great ideas for making meal planning, fun, quick, and efficient?

Keep calm and nom nom on!

Hi-tech resources to enliven your charm and femininity

femininity

Feminine - ˈfemənən/ - adjective: having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness.

So, let's start out with... if femininity isn't your box of charms, you are welcome to move on. No hurt here.

But, for me, I love being a woman. I don't always show my femininity, but it's always there. The way a woman walks, talks, looks, and charms are all a part of the femineity she brings. You don't have to wear a ton of makeups, walk in high-heels, or wear dresses all the time -- but, there's absolutely nothing wrong with doing any of those things. Be you, right?

Although not exhaustive, these are some resources on bringing out who you are, and defining who you want to be. Do this to make you happy; don't worry about others. When you love who you are, and are comfortable in your own skin, then you can let that love overflow uninterrupted and unconditionally to others. Of course, that's all easier said than done as there are many other things to throw in the mix, but this is one step I made/make towards that direction. Inner beauty is always paramount, but if you don't like who you are on the outside, you may have tough dealings on the inside.

Blogs

There are so many different blogs out there in the blogosphere, and there have been some amazing blogs on being feminine and femininity. However, many of those haven't been updated in quite some time. The below three have been updated with the past couple of months.

  • The Feminine Belle, previously at The Feminine Belle (wordpress.com). -- This is one of my favorite blogs of all time. Her posts are exhaustive, thoughtful, and easy to understand. She covers every aspect of being feminine and fully explains her thoughts on why certain things are important. Not only that, but the images she has are as beautiful as the words she conveys. The major downside here is that the entirety of reading her posts aren't free. I think when I first started reading them, they were. But, that which she leaves on the page is still valuable information. I will say, however, that I did purchase a subscription and wholeheartedly think it is worth it.
  • {The Classy Woman} : primarily focused on beauty and style, her blog has many discounts, ideas, and tips on keeping it classy.
  • The Rules Revisited: much different than the two above, this is done from a male's perspective.

Reddit forums

Reddit is a community site with threads similar to a discussion  forum. You'll find images, tips, questions, and advice scattered across every sub-reddit that you encounter. Those listed below are definitely geared towards being more feminine and developing that inner woman.

Apps

This little app will send you a daily notification of a quote about being feminine. It's good encouragement and will keep you on your toes. I highly recommend setting a daily reminder for the time that you get up so that you'll have the right mindset throughout the day.

femininedaily Feminine Daily: FEMININE DAILY brings the wisdom of Womanhood to you in a form of Mobile App, wake up every day, with Osho, Buddha & many other spiritualists, philosophers & celebrities expressing their love on womanhood! (From the developers) Android | Free

Podcasts about femininity

Both of these are thoughtfully done and comprehensive. The series is amazing and free! Subscribe to both of them and listen to them at your leisure. Highly recommended.

http://www.cynthiaoccelli.com/the-femininity-series/

http://www.divineliving.com/podcast/

Your thoughts

Okay, ladies. Do you know of some others? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to check them out.

Mobile App Review: Laundry Time ~ laundry notifications

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Laundry is downstairs, you are upstairs. You live in an apartment and don't want to stay in the laundry room. Etc, etc. What then do you do? The app Laundry Time helps accommodate your situation by notifying you on your phone that your laundry is done -- and you always have your phone, right? Laundry time is a timer app to countdown when your clothes are finished washing or drying. This is extremely useful if you live in an apartment, or if your washer and dryer is on a different floor.

Once you open the app you’ll notice two separate sections. The left side indicates that it is a washing machine, while the right side, a dryer. Beneath the appliances you'll see a start button, and beneath that, the countdown time.

To change the number of minutes your washer or dryer will run, tap on the numbers below start, and adjust them to where you need them to be.

The next thing is to press start under both appliances.

That’s it! Your countdown has started.

You can use other apps while this app runs in the background, and it will notify you when it is complete.

Laundry time app features

* Intuitive
* Easy to use
* Clean interface
* Simple

Analysis:

Recommended: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥   | Customizability: ♥ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ | Ease of use: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ | Aesthetics: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Integration with other services: None
Has integrated website: No, everything must be done through the mobile app.
Social features: None
Community features: None
Sharing features: none
Badges/Gamification: None

Where to get it:

Free || Android Play

Your thoughts on laundry time?

Would you use this app? Are there any other situations where you think it could be used?

Tech Tidbit: What to do with all of those appliance manuals?

Anytime you purchase new electronics, appliances, or even children's toys, you get a manual that gives you all instructions you could need at that moment, and guidelines for the future.

I used to have a box specifically dedicated to those manuals, and they were easy to find and easy to use. There wasn't anything wrong with it, really. The only issues that could be improved upon were: 1) although they were easy to find, they weren't easy to find information fast and 2) they took up space -- thereby creating clutter.

Suffice to say, almost every manual you get can be found online. Once you find the manual either download it to a folder on your computer or, and much better as an option, save the file to Google Drive or Evernote. Both web services have the ability to save PDF files, and both have the ability to search through the text.

Doing this means that you can:

  • Organize manuals into folders based on their classification.
  • Search quickly for information regarding what you are trying to do (find a recipe, etc.).
  • Share manuals with others -- especially those in your family who are trying to use the same item.

Use a naming system that you can use for another set of folders -- such as saving warranties and receipts. For these, scan the item and place them in the corresponding folder. An example of this kind of system:

Manuals

  • Appliances
    • Toaster manual
    • Bread maker manual
  • Television
    • Remote

Receipts & Warranties

  • Appliances
    • Bread maker manual

If you are concerned about security, either create these on your desktop (though you may lose searching capabilities) or blacken out sensitive information using a photo editor.

Let me know your thoughts!