Sunday, June 9, 2013

Linen Hat with pink roses

linen hat with roses 102.jpgThis 1920's Cloche hat is not too difficult to make but it is a little time consuming. The cost is minimal because you can make it out of old clothes from the thrift shop.  I found a lovely white linen skirt that was in good shape, I thought it would be perfect for a hat.  The hatband matches the trim around the edge of the brim. The pink roses on the side of the hat add a nice feminine touch. patriotic tote bag 011.jpgSewing machine, scissors, thread, measuring tape, straight pins, I used 3 shirts and a skirt, the straight white linen skirt for the hat itself, 1 white, cotton shirt for the lining, one pink cotton shirt for the fabric roses and a light green linen shirt for the hatband and trim around the edge of the brim.  I used a styrofoam head to pin the hat to as I worked on it. You will also need an iron and 1/2 yard of heavy weight interfacing for the brim. 

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Ask for Lower Car Insurance Rates if You Work From Home

Working from home necessarily means reducing the amount of time you spend driving. If you don't leave the house often, let your insurance company know to help reduce your rates.

Car insurance rates are determined by a variety of factors including what car you drive, where you live, and your driving history. It also includes how much time you actually spend traveling. If you don't have a commute, that's a lot less time on the road which translates into a lot fewer chances to get in an accident. Of course, as always, the best way to reduce your bills is to ask.

Saving Money on Car Insurance When Working From Home |

Photo by Anthony Crider.

Not Just Another Notes App: Why You Should Use Google Keep

When Google Keep launched, it never got the fanfare it deserved. The people that did review it compared it to all the wrong apps, like Evernote or Microsoft OneNote. That's a shame, because a surprisingly good note taking app went under the radar, underrated for coming up short against contenders it wasn't designed to face. It's about time to give Google Keep a fair shake, see where it shines, and how it fits in with the competition.

It was a little less than a week after we lost Google Reader that Google Keep launched. Naturally, the first thing everyone said was "Why should I use this if Google's just going to kill it someday?" We all know everyone's worried about what Google might kill next, but that doesn't mean you can't trust any Google service ever again, and it's certainly no reason to avoid a perfectly good one that's here, now, and begging to be used.

Simply, Google Keep is a syncing notepad that connects to Google Drive. It also supports photo notes, voice notes, and checklists. We covered it when it launched, but the short version is that Google Keep lets you quickly take and save those notes, photos, voice memos, and checklists to Google Drive, and then access them again on any other web-connected device you use. It's ideal for quick note-taking on the go, anyone who appreciates simple, fast note-taking tools or to-do apps, or for saving notes on the desktop that you know you'll need on your Android phone, like shopping lists, addresses, phone numbers, checklists and to-do lists, or conference call codes. Keep even supports Google Apps accounts, so you can use it with your own domain or a business account.

The interface is colorful and easy to use. Those colors are actually organization tools that make it easy to tell your personal notes apart from your work-related ones, or your family-related ones, and so on. Google Keep's shallow learning curve, the Android app, the web interface, and the the Google Keep Chrome App all make getting it into your regular workflow easy, regardless of whether you prefer taking notes on the desktop or on your Android phone or tablet. Bottom line? If you're not using a syncing note-taking app yet, you love Android, and Google Chrome is your default browser, Keep could be the productivity and organizational tool for you. Let's take a look at some of its best features and how to apply them.

Between voice notes, image notes, and text, Google Keep has a number of features to help you stay organized that you may not be aware of (or be using in another app already). Here are a few examples:

Google Keep is fast. Google Keep is really fast, even on older devices. The app itself requires Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher, but even older devices that have been upgrades don't have a problem with the app. Adding quick-notes is as simple as tapping the text box at the top of the Keep window and typing—it's best for those times when someone's giving you a phone number or address that you want to remember but tapping a half-dozen times just to start typing makes you wish you had pen and paper. Just below the quick note field are the individual buttons for text notes, checklists, voice notes, and images, and adding each of them is just as quick. You don't have to tap around or switch views just to add different types of notes, and you don't have to switch views to see different types of notes, either.Google Keep's voice notes are better than the competition. Adding voice notes in Google Keep is as simple as tapping the microphone and speaking. Once you're finished speaking, the app converts your speech to text, but it also attaches the original voice recording to the note so you can play it back and hear yourself. The last time we saw a feature like this so well integrated with a simple note-taking app (especially one that also supports to-do lists) was in the (now defunct) ReQall, and Keep does it much better. ReQall's banner feature was quickly-transcribed voice notes, and since it all but died, no other to-do app has really stepped up (and the ones that have offer terrible transcription). Fans of the also-defunct Jott know what I mean. Making quick recordings to yourself in the car on the commute home saves you from typing while driving, and honestly, sometimes it's just easier to talk than it is to type. Google already knows how to do speech-to-text well, so it's no surprise it's implemented well in Keep.

Google Drive syncing means your data is portable (and you own it). Regardless of whether you think Keep is around to stay (personally, I think it is—it's likely destined to be a core feature of Android, and will probably be more closely integrated when Key Lime Pie arrives), Google Drive definitely is. Since Keep is so closely integrated with Drive, everything you store will be available in Drive within seconds. Plus, it doesn't matter whether you're making your notes on the web or on your Android phone—it's all there in moments.Google Keep's webapp is fast, minimal, and functional. Most of us, when we get to work or sit down at our desks, want to put our phones down, dock them, charge them, and get to work on our computers. Just because you're working on a computer doesn't mean you have to use a different to-do or note-taking app. Keep's Chrome App and even the web interface make it easy to continue using the service from your computer the moment you put your phone down. Plus, Google Keep was actually designed to function well both on Android and the web. Many of our favorite to-do apps work great on your smartphone, but suck on the desktop—if they're available via the web at all.Search and archive make organization crazy simple. Keep brings some of that old Gmail magic to a note-taking app. Instead of just deleting your checklists when you're finished with them, or deleting photos you've saved when you buy the item you snapped a pic of, archive them instead. They'll be easily searchable if you ever want to find them again, and yes—if you didn't know, Google Keep does have universal search, not just for titles, but for note contents as well.Google Keep's home screen widget is awesome. Google Keep isn't the first app to feature a home screen widget that works well for to-dos, but since Keep's widget combines your notes and the ability to quickly add new notes without opening the app first, you'll want to make room on a home screen for it.Google Keep isn't perfect. If you're not an Android user, the webapp is good, but it's not as robust as it could be, and it's missing the ability to add voice notes (although color-coding, photos, and checklists are still there). Still, it's a far sight better than the web versions of some other to-do apps we've seen. If you're an iOS user though, you're out in the cold, at least for now. If you don't like Google Drive, you can't move your notes to another service like Dropbox or Keep is also missing tags, and even though the built-in search is great, tags and categories would be a welcome addition to keep everything neatly organized. Even so, it's seriously fast, completely free, and a strong contender...when compared against the right alternatives.

Much of the launch coverage around Google Keep compared it to tools like Evernote or Microsoft OneNote, which makes sense since they're the juggernauts of the category, but Google Keep isn't really designed to compete with them. Plus, Google isn't trying to lure Evernote, OneNote, or Springpad users away from their preferred apps to Google Keep instead—it won't work. Their goal is to give every Android user a simple syncing notepad with their Android phones that they can also use on the desktop.

Former Lifehacker editor (and occasional contributor) Kevin Purdy put it nicely in this column at IT World, where he ponders the same question I asked when Keep launched; "Why are people miffed that Google finally added a notepad feature to Android?"

Google Keep is not Evernote. It is not, at least at this point, a robust tool meant to fit into a total Google workflow. It is the equivalent of Notes on the iPhone: a space in which to write quickly, with online backup and access as the only real feature. If you put the Keep widget on your home screen—or, on phones running the relatively new Android 4.2 or later versions, on your lock screen—then you can very, very quickly record a voice transcription, snap a photo, or jot out a quick list. It's accessible through Google Drive, and you can read and edit through a full browser, but Keep is mostly a phone tool. It will likely be standard on future Android phones, and it will only grow features at a slow pace.
Comparing Google Keep to those Evernote is a bit like comparing a screwdriver to your favorite cordless drill. One is a generic, basic tool that can be used in multiple ways, but has its limits. The latter is a tool that can be used in place of the former, has a broader set of use cases, and is admittedly more powerful. Even so, your cordless drill needs to be charged regularly, properly stored, and you need to put a little effort into fetching it and using it, while your screwdriver is probably in your desk drawer already.

Similarly, Google Keep is designed to sit quietly on your Android phone and in Chrome, waiting for you to need it and then use it. To the contrary, a tool like Evernote requires you be invested in using it, and already know how it works best for you. They can exist side-by-side, or you can use one over the other depending on the job in question, and your personal preference. Regardless of your preference though, they're not playing in the same field.

If you're looking for services to put Google Keep up against, it's better compared to some of the more basic, fast, and flexible syncing note-taking apps on the market. For example, our favorite syncing note-taker for Android, Flick Note, and Simplenote, the simple, plain-text note taking service is connects to, offer a similar (if not pared down) feature set to Google Keep.

Simplenote isn't alone here. Fetchnotes, another service we like, and previously mentioned organizational tool Workflowy are both closer competitors to Google Keep than apps like Evernote or OneNote. In fact, right after Google Keep launched, the developer of Colornote Notepad for Android called Google out for building a note-taking app that looked and worked almost exactly like his long-standing utility (which is still available if you want to check it out).

If you're using one of these syncing note-takers to keep your to-do list organized, keep a running grocery list, or organize your to-dos in simple lists and plain text, Google Keep can offer those features (assuming you're invested in Android and Google Chrome, and don't prefer iOS or another browser) and then some. Those are the apps Google is gunning for. More importantly, the features that Google Keep offers—and the ones we'll see added to Keep as it evolves—are the basic tools Google wants to add to Drive, Android, Chrome, and eventually, Chrome OS.

Get Faster Data Speeds on Your iPhone with This Hacked Update

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DIY River Stone Planter

Not very many items are needed to make these planters, and they are probably one of the most inexpensive projects I've come across (always a plus). 

What to get:
-Pot or planter (I used some spare terra cotta pots wasting away in our garage, as well as a plastic one. To save money, I'd recommend checking around in storage before purchasing new planters)
-Hot glue gun
-River Stones (I found my river stones at Dollar Tree ---$1 for a pretty decent sized bag--- but they can also be found at any craft store. Or, hey!, why not gather your own while going on a nature walk or visiting any river or lake?

When your planter is done:
-Don't forget your lovely flower and potting soil for planting!

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Nutella Candy: Ferrero Rocher

ferrerorocher.jpgMake your own Ferrero Rocher candy with only four ingredients!  If you've never experienced the chocolate hazelnut blss that is Ferrero Rocher, then you don't know what you've been missing.  Fortunately, this homemade version is every bit as good (I even think better), than the store bought kind.  And if you're already a Nutella fan, then you know you're in for a delight.  This is a very easy recipe for homemade Ferreros and tastes like absolute heaven, so I do hope you give it a try! ingredients.jpgIngredients  1 cup (155g) whole raw hazelnuts - separate out 36 good looking whole nuts for the centers1 cup (255g) Nutella hazelnut chocolate spread1/2 cup (75g) crushed hazelnut wafer cookies (I used Pepperidge Farm’s Pirouettes, but any wafer will do!)1 cup (175g) chocolate: dark or milk - your choice. Use something nicer than chocolate chips. I was really sad I tried this shortcut.
Tools BowlsSpoon or silicone spatulaCookie Scoop - I use this one Cookie sheet or tray 
Makes about 3 dozen

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