October 5 2017

My New Helper is a Keeper

The image and title above may have already clued you in to what I am going to tell you about today. A few weeks ago, I was listening to one of Ann Kroeker’s Podcasts. She mentioned something I hadn’t yet heard of, Google Keep. Since I had no idea what it was, I asked Google, “Ok Google, What is Google Keep?” I got the following answer from Google:

Google Keep is a note-taking service developed by Google. Launched on March 20, 2013, Google Keep is available on the web, and has mobile apps for the Android and iOS mobile operating systems.”

Thank you, Google. I went to YouTube and typed in Google Keep and watched a couple of tutorials and was immediately blown away by how powerful a tool this could be. I had to have it! Now! How had I not known about this? Thank you, Ann Kroeker, writing coach for sharing this tidbit! My life is forever changed because I listened to your podcast!

You can listen to it here in about ten minutes start to finish. If you’d rather read than listen, you can find the blog post here: Ep 112: My Best Writing Tools to Get More Done (at Home and on the Go)

I was very excited about all the possibilities, so I went to the Google Play Store and downloaded the Android version right away. I played with it some on my phone and couldn’t wait to get home and see the desktop version of it. It is very easy to use. The only problem I had was accidentally archiving a post when I didn’t mean to, but even that is easily undone.

In the few weeks since I began using the app on my Android phone and the online version on both my desktop and my Surface Pro 2, I have found it to be the one app I would not give up on my phone. Yes, it is that awesome! Did I mention it is FREE?

I have taken notes at meetings, made lists of things to remember to talk over at my next Dr appointment, made to do lists, taken notes on books I was reading including a photo of the cover. I have taken screenshots of research I was doing on a DIY project then attached the screenshot to the note and had Keep grab the text from the image so that all of it is editable, savable and searchable. I have done research online and taken notes which included several source URL links. I decided I might want to refer to some snippets of info and wanted to create a note about them but was feeling too lazy to type them all in on my phone, so I used the microphone on the keyboard and spoke them into text that was typed before my eyes super accurately. At one point I was dictating a note about being a writer and Keep typed rider, but as I kept talking it figured out I meant writer and went back and changed it before I was finished dictating the note, right before my eyes. How cool is that? Google Keep understands what I am thinking, sometimes better than I do myself.

I have color-coded, labeled, pinned and even archived some of my notes. I can reorder the things on my to-do list so the most important ones are on top. I can add blog ideas to my ongoing list wherever I am because my phone is always with me. There is a Keep shortcut on the main screen because I use it that much. I even added shortcuts to my computer desktops for faster access too.

I love that I can use the checkboxes on my lists and check things off. The checked items go to the bottom of the list where they can be quickly referenced when someone wants to know what you have gotten done today. You can also uncheck all the boxes at once or just the individual ones you need. This is excellent for grocery lists. The list items can be sorted by the department they are in such as vegetables, dairy or meat. I could share the list with a collaborator (Hubby) and then Hubby would be able to access the list on his phone and shop in one department while I shop in another to finish the shopping much faster.

I just figured out another cool way to use this on my phone hands-free. I said, “Ok Google, add a note to Google Keep to finish blog article.” See the results below.

When I clicked Open Keep as shown above, it took me to the Keep app where I found the little gem shown below waiting for me. You can see it is super fast by the times shown in the screenshots.

Notice the little play button below the little, dotted line in the screenshot above? If I click on it, I hear my voice telling Google what I want the note to say. When I am finished with this task, I can either archive or just delete the note to keep the Keep notepad from getting cluttered.

So many uses! Did I mention you could dictate portions of your novel into this and save the notes in Keep and Google Docs or that from Google Docs you can pull up your Google Keep notepad and drag and drop parts of any of your Keep notes into an open Google Doc? Story notes, plot ideas, character details, bits of dialog, all able to be easily added to a Scrivener file when you get back to your computer, all searchable and editable.

See what I mean? This is exciting! There are so many possible uses for it. A boss using Google Keep could create and share daily to do lists with several employees, and any and all could make changes to the list throughout the day checking off the things that were finished. Each checkbox could begin with the name of the person being assigned to do the task.

Here are some of the excellent Tutorials I found that explain all the wonders of Google Keep much better than I could because seeing is believing. There are loads of videos to tell you how various people use Google Keep.

Google Keep Awesomeness:

Google Keep 2017 Tutorial – Online Notes:

How to use Google Keep – Full Tutorial:

Using Google Keep to Track Projects:

Google Keep – The Most Beautiful To Do List Ever!:

There are so many more uses I have yet to explore but I am using Google Keep on a daily basis for all the thoughts in my brain that might otherwise leak out through the cracks and be lost forever.

June 29 2017

Learn to Crochet Edging on Fleece Blankets

Rotary Cutter with Skip-Stitch Blade

Crochet edging is a great way to add a personal touch to a fleece blanket. There are so many options for fleece available. Here are two I have bought to edge as gifts for specific people. Both of these team prints were bought at Hancock Fabrics. I used black yarn to add trim to both. When making a blanket for an adult, I usually get 2 yards (60 x 72 inches)  or if the person is particularly tall, 2-1/4 yards (60 x 81 inches). These blankets are very snuggly and washable, perfect for car trips or watching TV under on a chilly night.

University of Cincinnati Bearcats Fleece Fabric
University of Alabama Crimson Tide Fleece Fabric

Shark Baby BlanketNote the stitches on this one mimic the teeth and gums on the sharks.

Learn to make these easy blankets yourself. Continue reading

June 22 2017

Crochet for Better Mental Health

Have you ever considered learning to knit or crochet? Perhaps you should. It could help your all around mental health.

I have discovered that I like the mind-numbing meditative comfort of knowing I can make the hat pattern I make all the time. I have to focus a bit at the beginning of each hat and count the stitches in each row before moving on, but then I can just crochet and talk to those around me without fear of messing up. It is very relaxing and enjoyable as long as my carpel tunnel doesn’t act up too much.

The fact that most of the hats I make will be given to the homeless and help make them warmer and let them know that someone cares about them only makes it that much better.

I can carry the things I need to make each hat in either a quart or gallon sized slider plastic storage bag. Easy enough to tuck into my tote bag or toss in the trunk so I can always have something constructive to do. Much of the yarn I use to make the hats has been donated to me for this purpose. It is my pleasure to find ways to make almost every hat unique and beautiful. I especially enjoy using variegated yarns because you never know what sort of pattern you will end up with. Note the diagonal striping in the brown hat shown below. I have fun putting different yarns together to see how they will turn out. See some of the photos below to see how pair different solid color yarns with the same variegated yarn can drastically change the way it looks. Here are some of my latest creations. So far, I have made 24 hats in 2017.

Continue reading

May 18 2017

Traveling in Tennessee

Sometimes, you just need a good long road trip. You never know what you will see along the way. It is also nice to not be the one driving so you can take photos when the opportunity arises. We hadn’t even gotten out of Indiana when this interesting truck was suddenly in front of us. I took the photo mostly because kid number two seems to like all things with mustaches. I also took it so I could figure out what it was all about. Thanks to my friend, Tina, I now know this is a reference to the movie Tombstone. The phrase was uttered by Val Kilmer, who played Doc Holliday.

During the week we stayed in the Pigeon Forge area of Tennessee, we took a side trip into the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. The first stop was Cades Cove. This was enjoyable because there were lots of old buildings in a village like setting.  They had a little stamp you could use in your park passport booklet, but since I didn’t have one of those I asked if I could just stamp it on some blank receipt tape to put in my bullet journal later. They gladly let me have a small bit of their register tape and I stamped it and tucked it away. It wasn’t until later in the day that I noticed the stamp was dated the day before we went because nobody thought to change the date. My excuse is that I was on vacation and not thinking about the actual date on the calendar. Continue reading

April 28 2017

The Cozy Chipmunk Cabin

By the time you read this, we will be on our way back from another relaxing week away from everyday life. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. The one below was taken on the way to our cabin on Friday night. It took us a little longer than expected to get out of the house and on the road, then we had to run a couple of errands on the way. So, it was after dark before we arrived at our home for the week. This is what we saw at the end of the road leading to our cabin, so we didn’t really know what to expect. Continue reading