Favorite Apps in 2017

I thought this might be fun.  Welcome to my review of my top ten favorite apps!  Yes, ten.  I know you can only see nine in that image but...keep reading!

These are in order that they appear in the folder, not necessarily in order according to use.  Also, this folder does not really exist on my iPhone.  I created it so I could get a quick picture (screen capture).

Project Life
I will probably end up doing an entire blog post dedicated to my affection for this scrapbooking app.  It's a real time saver and, while it won't replace my enjoyment of traditional scrapbooking, I will be printing more and more 12x12 pages in the months and years to come.

I have a handful of apps I use in concert with the Project Life App and I'll go over those in another post, I promise.  While I'm here, though, I want to mention that in addition to using my iPhone photos, I also download photos from my Flickr and Google Photos accounts directly to my camera roll for easy access.

Scrapbooking in the palm of your hand.  It's what every memory-hoarding mommy needs because it makes journaling oh-so-easy!

I resisted this app for a long time.  I hated - HATED- that my kids had it on their phones and would make them delete it whenever I did a spot check of their apps.  The entire premise made me nervous.  I saw no good use for an app that allowed users to send photos or brief videos to each other that disappeared after a few seconds.  I saw only the potential for misuse.  I figured it was good for sexting and little else.  Paranoid mama here.

Well, I use it quite often now and, while I realize that it can easily be abused, it doesn't mean everyone is going to send or receive pics of naughty bits.  Instead, the abuse mostly comes in the form of too many silly filters being applied whenever boredom or drunkenness strike.

I love those silly pictures and ridiculous videos, though, and intend to keep harassing my friends and family right up until they block me.  Please don't block me.

Ah, Facebook.  I have a love/hate relationship with this site.  I love that I can share in my friends' and family members' lives.  I get to see pictures and videos.  I get to read the funny stories, the slice of life details that I'd otherwise miss.  It's also helped me reconnect to people I would otherwise see or speak to only rarely.

Then there's the politics.  Election seasons are the worst!  I can't say that I'm above it all, either, because I will be the first to admit that I share things that are of interest and concern, especially as they relate to education, the climate, and social equality. I also have a tendency to take on blatant lies that I know result in ridiculous conspiracy theories.  Oh, the Google searches I've undertaken when a headline, article, or video clip spouts nonsense.

Luckily, election seasons don't last forever and eventually the photos and everyday stories reappear. Thank goodness.

PS Express
Photoshop Express is relatively new to my iPhone, and I already love it!  It's already saved more than one poorly shot iPhone photo.  It's by far my favorite photo editor even though I also have a bunch of Creative Cloud apps on my phone, too.  (Lightroom is also great, for the record.)

I love books.  Next to shopping the Kindle store, there's really nothing I enjoy more than scrolling through the book reviews my fellow Goodreads users' posts.  I like seeing what my sister-in-law, Jaime, is currently reading.  Or my cousin, Vanna.  Or my friend, Danielle.  Heck, I even got my mom using it! 

The real draw for me, though, is not just being able to satisfy my curiosity about what others are reading.  I love being able to track my books.  I like knowing what's already on my shelves and what books I need to buy.  I like challenging myself to read some arbitrary number of books each year and then recording my progress as I strive to meet that goal. 

I love looking at other people's pictures.  I love sharing my pictures.  Given these two things, this app and I were meant for each other.  Granted, I don't think I'm nearly as artistic as the majority of the users on this site. 

I'm not on this site all the time, but I definitely use it whenever I need to be inspired. I have a number of boards, some quite common, I'd think.  I have a board for desserts and a board for main/side dishes.  I have a board for cocktails and one for low-calorie snacks.  Then there are the numerous boards dedicated to various crafts, including pallet art, scrapbooking, and photography.  I also have a board dedicated to my dream home library.  Then there's the one with links to various vacation destinations I'd love to cross off my bucket list.  Less useful boards include those with quotes or science fiction and fantasy trivia. 

Of all these boards, the most commonly used are those with recipes.  Need a side dish for the office Christmas party?  Pinterest.  Need a main dish for a birthday dinner?  Pinterest.  Want to impress your guests with a new mixed drink?  Yep, you guessed it, Pinterest.

This app walks you down memory lane.  Once you grant it access to Facebook, Instagram, and whatever other social networking platform it is able to connect with, the app searches for all the pictures and posts you've written on this day in history.  I've had days when it has collected over seven years worth of photos, posts, and tweets. 

Seven years ago my boys were thirteen- and ten-years-old.  I love seeing how much they've grown over the years.  Those are, by far, my favorite Timehop treats.

Google Photos 
I debated on swapping this out with Flickr because I love Flickr, too.  However, there is one feature that I think makes Google Photos a tad bit more user friendly.  It's so easy to share albums with people!  I simply have to have their email address and whatever I've uploaded from my iPhone or my DSLR can be shared right to the recipient's phone or computer.  It makes photo sharing super easy.

Summoners War

I can't have a list of my favorite apps and not include this one.  It gets the most use of any app on my phone or tablet. I'm addicted to this game and I feel no shame about it. It's taken me two years to build my team and they're still not as good as they could or should be.  On the bright side, our guild is continually improving.

Most importantly, though, I love that my entire little family of four plays this game together.  Heck, even some of my hubby's coworkers are in our guild.  :-)

How We Met

Once upon a time there was a family that would plan annual rafting trips down the Pere Marquette River in Baldwin, Michigan.  They picked this particular river because it was near the family's favorite summer vacation spot.  Purchased by the sprawling family's patriarch and matriarch (my grandparents), the wooded lot sat on a narrow, sandy two-track road a fair distance outside of town. 

Every summer during the warmest months someone would pick a date and notify the family of this family reunion style event.  Someone would call dibs on the trailers - there were two of them on the lot at this time, one trailer suited to a trailer park and one suited more for camping.  The rest of the family would pitch tents wherever they could manage.

My family lived two and half hours away from the trailer.  In fact, most of the extended family lived near us and traveled just as far.  Three of my grandparent's children had opted to live in or near Fostoria, Michigan, where they had grown up.  Only two had opted to leave and build lives elsewhere.  I had one aunt who had moved to Harrison, Michigan, and another aunt that might have lived in either town or anywhere in between; she's a bit of a gypsy and keeping track of her is almost impossible.

I don't remember the drive.  I imagine I had a book to help me pass the time.  If I had to guess, it would have been a historical romance borrowed from my step-mom's shelves.  I'm not sure what my brothers, BJ and Jake, and my sisters, Megan and Chrissy, were doing.  Surely in those two and half hours there was bickering and potty breaks and a stop for lunch.

I can't even tell you if my dad had successfully claimed one of the trailers.  I don't know if we slept in the big trailer or the little silver one.  Maybe we were in a tent. I don't think so, though.  My guess is that my family of seven was spread out between the two trailers, my dad and step-mom in one of the big bedrooms in the big trailer, my youngest siblings in the living room, and me and my brother, BJ, sharing the silver camper with a handful of similarly-aged cousins. That was fairly standard.

That particular summer there were a lot of family members on that little acre or so of land.  In fact, there even people there that weren't related to us. One family had been invited by my step-grandma; she and the mom of that family had become good friends at work, so step-grandma had invited them along.  Funny enough, my step-grandma invited them to the event and then never showed.

They were strangers to me but, lucky for them, not to everyone there.  The Heisers lived across the street from my aunt and her family.  My cousin, Tonya, was a year younger than their son, Ken. They had grown up together and often shared rides to school.  When he got a new camera, he used her as a model to practice his photography skills.  They played softball together in the summer youth program in their little hometown, the same program my dad had coached for a few years.

He had likely ridden the bus with my cousins Jessica and Adam before they had moved from the Mayville school district to the Millington school district.  Having grown up in a town with a population of about 700-800 people, it was unlikely they had not had some kind of interaction.  I mean, there was one ball park and one candy shop.  They also happened to live on the same road as his best friend, Kenny.

Surely we must have seen each other before, perhaps even talked, but I have only one memory of Ken from before this rafting trip and I swear we never spoke.  I'm not even sure we made eye contact.  He was interested in being on my dad's softball team the next year and was talking to him about the possibility. I was anxious to go the game room down the street and was intent on getting my dad's attention so I could get permission.

Fast forward a year or two and he's joining in on our family fun.  I don't think either one of us thought much would come of our weekend's mild flirtation. I was fifteen and he was seventeen.  I went to Millington High School, he went to Mayville.  We never exchanged numbers or made plans to keep in touch.

Two things stand out in my memory about that weekend.  First, getting thrown into the river by Ken, who swears my black and electric-blue bathing suit was threadbare and nearly see-through.  It wasn't.  I'm sure my parents would have said something if I hadn't noticed myself!

The more treasured memory is from when we walked to the store chatting about various things.  I don't remember anyone else being with us, but I can't imagine my dad letting me wander off with an older boy; dad had a hard enough time with me talking to a boy on the phone. Surely, my siblings or my cousins were with us.  Yet, I only remember walking to the store with Ken.  I remember him buying me a magazine simply because my favorite rock band was featured on the cover.

I thought he was sweet.  And cute.  I didn't think much beyond that, though.

He thought I was too young for him.

The weekend ended and we went back to our respective lives.  Had it not been for my cousin Tonya playing matchmaker in the months following our rafting trip, our lives would have turned out very different.  I'm so grateful she saw something there that we did not because, next to our boys, Ken's the greatest gift I've ever been given.  He is the love of my life and I can't imagine building a life with anyone else.

A Christmas Wishlist

Some years I know exactly what I want Santa to bring me on Christmas day.  A laptop.  An iPhone.  A Silhouette Cameo.  A Nikon D5100.  A new lens for the Nikon.  An iPad.  Another new lens for the Nikon. The list goes on.

This year is different.  My wishlist has been strangely small and I've not been dropping any overt hints in the hubby's direction - he has a direct line to Santa, don't you know?

Yet, as I've been perusing Pinterest for blog post ideas and Pinterest knows it's December, it was suggested that I post an entry about this year's wishlist.  So, here goes.

#1 Most Desired Item:
My oldest boy lands a decent paying job and can start building a future for himself. 

Oh, Santa!  If you can pull some strings from the North Pole and help him out, I'd be quite delighted.  Worrying about your child's future is exhausting.  If there's some means of reducing this anxiety I feel whenever I think about his life without his dad and me to fall back on, I'd be eternally grateful.

This might be something more appropriate to task Our Dear Lord and Savior with, but I'll start with Santa. God has a lot on his plate right now trying to keep the rest of the world from imploding.

#2 Most Desired Item:
Everyone is healthy and safe.

My dad has a couple of upcoming procedures, the most serious of which is the one where the doctor is going to go in and remove some plaque from his arteries.  He's got some blockage going on right now and has opted to wait until after the holidays to get it removed.  At least, I hope this is the most serious problem.  The other procedure is a follow-up to determine why there was blood in his stool.

My mom had a health scare earlier this year, too.  No more of that, please.

My sister-in-law's mother is battling colon cancer right now.  She's on her fifth round of chemo as I write this.  It would be a nice Christmas miracle to have her given a clean bill of health.

Ken's mom and dad always have a variety of ailments.  Fixing any of them would be great!

Then there's the keeping everyone safe thing.  I am paranoid now that we have several teenagers on the road.  Both of my boys are driving.  So many of my nephews drive.  So many of their girlfriends drive.  My friends' children are driving.  Yep, this is definitely high on my list:  keep everyone safe as they travel Michigan's winter roads this year.  Help them navigate the snow and ice.  Help them avoid the idiots that are out there speeding, drinking and driving, distracted driving, and the list goes on.

#3 Most Desired Item:
Let there be no family drama.

Family is awesome, until it's not.  So my third most wanted thing this Christmas is that there is no family drama that will need to be avoided or navigated.  Everyone getting along would be delightful.

#4 Most Desired Item:
Silhouette Cameo vinyl roller thingy.

I tend to do a lot of vinyl projects throughout the year.  This rather inexpensive contraption would help keep the vinyl from slipping sideways and prevent waste.

What?  I'm a selfish creature and like presents that come in boxes, too!

#5 Most Desired Item:
Game of Thrones Seasons 1-6 DVD or BluRay Boxed Set

I've read the books.  I am beginning to suspect George R. R. Martin is punking his book-reading fan base and I'll only get the conclusion to this story by watching the HBO adaptation.

#6 Most Desired Item:
Indoor photography light kit with backdrop setup.

I don't really have a place to put this, but I'd like to have it anyway.  I would love to be able to provide some indoor senior picture options to friends and family.  Mostly, though, I'd like to be able to use it with Gage during his senior year.

Maybe I could set it up in the barn or the garage....I'd figure it out.

#7 Most Desired Item:
Books and movies.

I have a couple of Amazon wishlists dedicated to these two things.  I'd take any of the books or DVDs/BluRays I've highlighted.

#8 Most Desired Item:
Video games.

I have a few games I've been keeping my eye on.  NieR Automata looks intriguing.  So does the Last Guardian.  However, I'm always up for some more Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts titles, too.

#9 Most Desired Item:
Scrapbooking supplies.

I've discovered a new scrapbooking technique that I really like.  I use the Project Life app on my phone to create the foundation of the page.  Then, when I get the 12x12 prints, I like to use stickers, ribbons, and other embellishments to give the page some dimension.  Add in an awesome title made with my Silhouette Cameo machine and it's just about perfect!

#10 Most Desired Item:
Soft peppermint sticks.

They're just yummy.