All About Apps

If I had a dollar for every time some asked me, or everyone on Facebook, for iPad/iPhone apps, well, I could buy all of the paid apps I wanted. I remember the excitement of getting my new gadgets (yes, I now proudly own both the iPad and the iPhone) and wanting to open up the world of fun, informative, and useful applications.

Most recently, my sister and I gave our Mom and iPad. Let’s just say that even though she was a computer pioneer when Commodore computers first came out in the 80s, her entry into the 21st century has been somewhat slow.

Anyhow, the following are my favorite apps. I hope you discover at least one new one. I also hope that you will suggest your favorite finds. Unless I state otherwise, the app was free when I got it. 

Functional Apps

Grocery IQ  – This is one of my most used apps. It keeps your grocery list, but the best part is that you can sync it with your spouse’s/roommate’s list. So, if I want clementines and shampoo, I put them on the list, and if the Knight goes to the store, my items are right there in black and white. 

Evernote – This app functions much like the Notes app that comes with the iPad but it is better. I use this for everything: to do lists, keeping track of random bits of information, saving articles. One of my favorite features is the ability to email yourself notes. So if I am at work and I see a recipe I want to make, I copy and paste it into an email message to my evernote address, and then it pops up on my iPad. I also like the ability to organize notes into folders (called notebooks). I have house stuff (what were those drapery measurements again?), baby stuff (for example, two separate a list of  agreed upon baby names and suggested baby names),  food (restaurants to try, menus), etc.

OpenTable – if you don’t already know about this online reservation system, where have you been? The app is excellent and functions better than going to OpenTable on safari.

Nightstand -This allows your iPad/iPhone to function as an alarm clock. I haven’t figured out how to keep the display lit (other than set it to not turn off), but it does what I need. It goes off when I specify. You can also set the alarm to play a song from your music collection.


Kindle – this one seems kind of obvious, but it is worth mentioning. Definitely my favorite reading app, but I’m an Amazon nut. I have found tons of great, free e-books. Skip the “free ebooks collection” (which is mostly old stuff). Go to the Kindle Store and about midway down on the page there is a section for Best Sellers. The second tab is Top 100 Free. You’re welcome 🙂

Overdrive – If I sound cheap, it’s because I am cheap. There are some things I splurge on, but if I can get a deal, I’m all over it. Overdrive allows you to “borrow” free e-books from your local library. (In Fairfax County, the lending period is three weeks.) I don’t know about other libraries, but this is what Fairfax County uses. The collection could be better, but I’ve gotten plenty of great stuff this way. Often there is a waiting list for the titles I want, but they email you when your title is available. It is terrific!

Women’s Health – My favorite magazine has an app. I was initially very put off by the idea of paying close to $4 (I think) per issue. However, they have a yearly subscription available which is close to what I paid for the paper version. It arrives on your iPad in beautiful full color. I love it!

Travel Apps

TripIt – This is my #1 travel app pick. You set up an account and then email your itinerary to from your registered email account. You can simply forward your hotel or airline confirmation email and it plugs all of the data in for you. Then it puts together an itinerary and all of your travel info (flight info, hotel address, etc.) are all in one place. You can also “share” your itinerary with a loved one (or whoever).  There is a paid version of this app available but I can’t figure out why I would need it. The free one works great for me!

Urban Spoon – Technically, this isn’t a travel app, but I have found this to be the best restaurant finding app for travel. I don’t care for the random selection feature, but it is really helpful for finding stuff when you’re on the road or in an unknown place.

Tripadvisor – Please tell me you already know about tripadvisor. I won’t book a hotel without it. The app is very user-friendly and definitely worth downloading.

Kayak – People who know me know that I am a closet travel agent. In other words, I love researching and booking travel. I will gladly help you find a good airfare, hotel, etc. I just enjoy searching for deals and I love this kind of research. Out of all of the travel sites (Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity), this one is my favorite. I still prefer to search on my PC because the interface is better, but this is great when on the go.

Informative Apps

USAToday – I admit that I’m not a newshound. But I do like to have some clue what is going on with current events. USAToday delivers a daily, free version of the newspaper daily. I can’t say I read it every day, but I do regularly. The articles are a good length and very readable.

The Weather Channel – I think this one is self-explanatory, no? I’ve downloaded a few different weather apps and this one is my favorite.

How to Cook Everything – This is going to sound crazy, but I paid for this app. A lot. $9.99. Not cheap. And to make matters worse, I own the cookbook (and the sister cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian). But I heartily recommend this app. Not only are there lots of good recipes with tons of variations within each one, but it has neat tricks like built in timers. I think it was worth it.

Epicurious – download this if you use the website. It is another good cooking app and it is free, so you can’t go wrong.

Fun Apps

Facebook –This is the official app (I think).  Before they finalized this version of the app, I tried some of the other Facebook apps like Friendly and Flipboard. I think they got this right and I use it daily. It doesn’t work perfectly, but it is the best of the bunch.

Sudoku HD – This is the best Sudoku app I have found. Unlike other versions that limit the number of games you can play per day, this seems to be unlimited. There are only a certain number of puzzles at each level, but I haven’t yet gotten through all of the intermediate puzzles and I’ve had it for a while. Definitely turn off or mute the music though or you’ll be hearing it in your sleep.

Netflix – Free app, paid subscription. What can I say about this? You can only watch videos streaming – so it doesn’t work on a plane. Other than that, it is fabulous. I watched a whole season of Army Wives on my iPad.

Pandora – Why did I wait so long to try this out? I’d heard of it but didn’t really understand that it is a free app that allows you to play whatever music your heart desires. You design stations based on your favorite artists. The free version has occasional short commercials, but it is totally worth it.

Talking Tom – This is just a cute, goofy app where the animated cat repeats what you say. It makes me giggle.

Pocket Pond – You’ll get bored with this quickly, but it is worth downloading to appreciate the graphics on your iPad and provide you a zen moment. Touch the screen and the water ripples. The app is free and they allow you to purchase add-ons to enhance your experience. I haven’t fallen for that – I mean, I haven’t taken advantage of that opportunity, so I can’t speak to it.

Doodle Buddy – Like to doodle? Get this app. I’ve done some interesting things during my sleep intermissions. My artwork is available…for a price.

That should get you started. I have more apps on my pad, but these are the top ones. So, what did I miss? I love discovering new apps so bring on the suggestions.


Week 16 Update


It has been a busy week! Short workweeks are great, but they do sometimes force you to jam five days worth of work/stuff into four days. And if you’re like me and spent the weekend away, well, it can be hard to catch your breath. Why yes, my weekend bag is still sitting on the bedroom floor and the only items removed from it are the ones I needed this week.


Anyhow, it’s pregnancy week 16, which I count as 4 months of pregnancy. As a side note, I remember before I was pregnant I just didn’t get the whole “weeks” of pregnancy thing. It was confusing. So I try to tell non-parents how many months I am.


We are now in avocado week, which is great because lately I’ve been obsessed with avocados. My sister has taken to calling the baby her little muffin, and as of late she’s been talking about her peach muffin, her lemon muffin and her orange muffin. Sorry, Laura, but avocado muffins just sound gross so you’re going to have to come up with something else 🙂


The Latest


Yesterday was a milestone day: I wore maternity clothes for the first time. After my boss walked in on me standing up and unbuttoning my pants on Wednesday, I decided it was time to dig into the box of clothes a friend gave me and to try to find something that worked. The pants are not cute or stylish. They didn’t really fit. But OMG it was so absolutely wonderful not to be extremely uncomfortable in my clothes. This weekend I’m going to work on finding a few items that fit better and are professional. 

How I’m Feeling

The same. Good mostly, but a bit tired. Sleep happens some nights, and other nights it is snack time once, twice or three times. I stopped trying to fight it and started trying to plan what to eat when – I mean “if” – it happens.


The Weight Challenge


It is Week 7-ish of the Weight Challenge and I am very impressed with the results. After not seeing Joe for 5 days, his improvements were really noticeable. Whatever he’s doing, it is working. Me: I’m getting bigger. I gained about a half a pound this week (though it feels like more). (Those are my maternity pants.)




 Have a great weekend, everyone!

Week 15 Update

Hello readers! It has been a busy week. Work stuff. Kitchen stuff. Life stuff. All is good though.

The Baby Olive is the size of an orange this week. Yeah!

I have definitely started noticing some big changes. For starters, I can definitely feel where the baby is. I don’t know about you, but when I would think about a pregnant belly/placenta, I would always think of something kind of soft and mushy. It is filled with fluid, right? Now that I type that out is sounds kind of silly. What I actually feel in my lower abdomen is much more like the orange pictured above. It is hard! I guess that makes sense.

Oh, and you know what else? We borrowed that fetal doppler monitor I mentioned previously. I was really proud of myself for not freaking out at all when we heard absolutely nothing. As it turned out, the cord was loose. When we finally heard the heartbeat it was totally amazing! It was way cooler than I imagined it would be. I’m still smiling about it.

How I’m Feeling

I feel pretty good. About the same. Indigestion and sleep are still the big challenges. Other than those issues, I am feeling good, happy and excited.

What’s next?

I’m excited about the baby’s progress through the citrus fruits and it is time for me to try on those maternity clothes I have started receiving. The safety pin/rubber band trick can only take me so far. I have definitely outgrown the majority of my pants. See below.

The Weight Challenge

I’m doing my part. I am up about another pound. From what I have read, I am well within the normal weight gain at this point. I’m good with that. The American Pregnancy Association website says that women can expect to gain 1-2 pounds per week in the second and third trimesters. I am on pace.

Challenge Week 6

A belly shot

Check out my middle-of-the-night project. Thanks to Carla for the Diptic recommendation. Pretty cool, huh?

Weeks 1-5

We are glad to see that Joe’s height returned for week 3. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Try This! Tortellini, White Bean, and Spinach Soup

It makes me so happy to hear that you have tried and liked my recipes. Even if it is just the cookie dough dip 🙂 I am having fun pulling out my favorite recipes.

Today I’m thinking soup. Here is another recipe that is super easy and much more than the sum of its parts. As always, my notes/comments are in brackets.

Tortellini, White Bean, and Spinach Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
3 cloves garlic — minced
2 cups spinach — coarsely chopped
2/3 cup water
16 ounces navy beans — drained [you can also use cannellini beans]
14 1/2 ounces vegetable broth [you can sub chicken broth]
14 1/2 Ounces no-salt-added whole tomatoes — undrained and chopped
14 1/2 ounces artichoke hearts — quartered [Use frozen if you can find them; they are far superior to canned, IMO]
9 ounces cheese tortellini — uncooked
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese — grated

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, bell pepper, seasoning, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add spinach and next 5 ingredients (spinach through artichokes); bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 2 minutes. Add tortellini; cook until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with cheese.

Source: Cooking Light- 11/97

Makes 6 servings

Per serving: Calories: 281; Fat: 5.7g; Protein: 15g; Fiber 4.2g


Weight Challenge Update

As I mentioned yesterday, my weight is holding steady. I’m getting about 4-5 moderate workouts per week, and trying to balance cardio, stretching and weights. I am really happy about how things are going.

Joe, despite his disclaimers about last weekend, is doing great. I think you’ll see that he is slimming down. He is doing a good job of eating well and exercising. He is also really getting into his celebrity status on this blog and has big plans for future blog pictures. I think he is practicing future poses. But for now, he is taking this very seriously and insists that we must be perfectly consistent in our pictures. No, he won’t smile. Yes, he will continue wearing only white shirts for picture day. His tie must go over his shoulder and he must look straight ahead. Okay, boss! 🙂

Check it out! (It is too bad you can’t see my cute shoes. But I guess that’s not what these pics are about…)

Week 5(ish)

I am so excited about this! Go, Joe! I see him every day but when I look at the pcitures the progress is very apparent.

On a related note, does anyone have suggestions for how I can do a slide show or side-by-side comparison? I am not really familiar with the photo editors out there, so your help would be most appreciated.

As a bonus, I feel like sharing a picture that will probably get me in hot water. Just so you know, Joe does have a good sense of humor. See what happened when he lost a bet? It had something to do with Clemson losing a game and a very small t-shirt.

Have a terrific weekend!

Week 14 Update

Hello, hello! It’s another great day! After a bit of a rough stretch, I am very appreciative of the 7 hours of sleep I got last night and my relatively calm stomach today. 

It is officially week 14 and the Little Olive is the size of a lemon! Olives and lemons…makes me think of the Mediterranean! Ahhhhh.The Latest

All is good on the pregnancy front. I would say that the morning sickness phase is pretty much over. I’ve moved on to chronic indigestion – which I’ve decided is preferable to morning sickness so I am happy. The sleep/hypoglycemia issue has improved slightly and now I can get about 6-7 hours/night about 4 nights/week. I never thought that I’d be so happy about what used to be an insufficient amount of sleep. I’m doing okay, though.

My weight has remained steady (I’m about 4 pounds up from my weight before this pregnancy – about 9-10 up from my normal weight). I feel like the weight is shifting around a bit and is becoming more pronounced in my belly. As it should be! I think the running and weight lifting have been helping. I even went back to yoga this week!

I’ve learned some things in the past few days. For example, spicy food is not my friend right now. [Grossness warning!] Leaving aside its effect on indigestion, let’s just say that getting sick after eating jalapenos is an entirely awful experience I would like to avoid from this point forward. Have you ever had jalapeno in your nose? I can tell you it is incredibly unpleasant. 

What’s Next?

Not much to report on next steps. It is a few weeks until my next medical appointment. That is just a check-up. According to the OB calendar from my doctor’s office, they’ll be checking the uterine size. Hmmm. That sounds curious.

We’re still deciding on whether to find out the gender. If you know me at all, you have definitely guessed that I want to know. Like now. I have to admit I am a bit surprised to learn that the Knight would prefer to wait. We’ll figure it out. I really don’t want to “convince” him to find out if he really doesn’t want to. I’m sure I can handle waiting. I love the idea of it. I love when my friends wait and reveal the big news on day of the baby’s birth.

A few people have suggested that I can find out and not tell him. A good idea in theory, but I think he might get a clue when I say, “Honey, I’m not going to tell you what it is, but can you please paint the nursery this beautiful shade of pink?” Even if we went with yellow or green, I don’t believe that I wouldn’t slip out with “she’s kicking!” or something. We can find out at our 20 week ultrasound, which happens to be a couple of days after my birthday.

By the Way (My Kitchen Update)

Spyder Soapstone

In non-pregnancy news, I am really excited about how the kitchen is coming along. We finally picked out our counters (spyder soapstone) and as of last night about half of the cabinets are installed. It is so fabulous coming home to see the progress every night. I will post some pictures this weekend or next week. I have photographed the daily evolution and I can’t wait to see the final product. We should be mostly finished in about a week.

We have been thrilled with our contractor so far. Thanks to Beth for recommending Sabri Eriksen (more about this later). I think it helps that the Knight has been home with the workers most of the time. Everyone appears to be having a good time. I’ve heard stories of the Knight feeding everyone chili and I’ve learned that guys enjoy the green juice he makes daily. Earlier this week I came home and the TV was on the “Mexicana” digital music channel (the Knight’s choice). He reported that everyone enjoyed that selection. How adorable is my husband?

As long as I think of it as upscale camping, I am fine with the chaos. It can be a little frustrating to just try to have a simple bowl of cereal when you have to go to one room for the spoon and bowl, another room for the cereal, and then another for the milk. I wanted a protein shake after my run on Sunday and after searching for what I needed for a few minutes I just gave up and had a banana. (I still haven’t found the immersion blender.)  

It has been pointed out that I shouldn’t complain about any of this since I do in fact have a second kitchen on the lower level. But, in my defense, I tried prepping (not even cooking) two recipes this weekend and it was a bit of an ordeal. [Cue the violins.] I had to closely study each recipe so I could collect the bowls, measuring cups/spoons, knives, cutting boards, and ingredients I needed. Then I carried the entire load downstairs.

I won’t even complain about the lack of counter space down there because I know that some of you work with a lot less. Then, just when I would get into a groove I would realize I forgot the salt. Or the vanilla. Or whatever. I’d have to drag myself back upstairs for the ingredient. And let’s not talk about the fact that we don’t heat the downstairs (yes, our choice) so on Sunday when I made guacamole for the Super Bowl (thanks to Es for this awesome recipe) I did so wearing my coat, hat and scarf. When I was finished I had to wash everything by HAND (gasp!) and then carry it all back upstairs. I know, my life is horribly tough! 🙂 Would you be more sympathetic if I threw in the “but I’m pregnant! line”? Hahaha!

 The Weight Challenge

Due to scheduling issues, the weight challenge update will be delayed until tomorrow. Joe asked me to share that he slacked off a bit last weekend. There was dinner out for his wife’s birthday (sorry ladies, Joe’s spoken for) and then there was the Superbowl. But he’s back on track now. Stay tuned!


Try This! (Cookie Dough Dip)

For the most part, I try to prepare food at home that I feel good about putting in my body. I find it so satisfying to cook a healthy, delicious meal. Then, when I go out, I can splurge a little and enjoy foods that I don’t eat regularly. There’s something nice about not knowing how much butter/fat/salt has been added to your treats.

This recipe, however, is not what I would consider heart healthy . Let’s just be honest about it. It is just plain decadent and delicious. I did use reduced fat cream cheese, but I’m not going to pretend that makes it health food. 🙂 In my opinion, this recipe is worth the calories. I brought it to a girls night out on Saturday and it got rave reviews.

My favorite dipper was the juicy green apples, followed by pretzels crisps. The graham crackers were good, too.

Credit: Tasty Kitchen Blog

Cookie Dough Dip

A super simple dip that tastes just like cookie dough! Works great as an appetizer or as dessert; serve with graham crackers, cookies, juicy apples or salty pretzels!

  • ½ cups Butter (1 Stick)
  • ⅓ cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 block (8 Oz. Block) Cream Cheese, Softened
  • ½ cups Powdered Sugar
  • ¾ cups Chocolate Chips

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture starts to bubble. Set aside to cool, and whisk in vanilla.

Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar for 60 seconds. With mixer on low speed, add in brown sugar and butter mixture. Mix until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Garnish with additional chopped chocolate, if desired. Serve with fruit, cookies, crackers, pretzels or a spoon.

Previous Older Entries