Friday, October 31, 2014

Bridge The Smartphone-Computer Gap with Pushbullet

Smartphones are fantastic. Surely that comes as no surprise. But as great as they are, there are still some incredible limitations to their use. Three in particular come to mind:

  1. The difficulty in typing.
  2. The challenge of transferring files from smartphone to computer and vice versa.
  3. The inherent weaknesses in the phone's camera.
Fortunately – and not to sound too cliche – there are apps for each of these problems. But that's just the problem: apps. Plural. Many. I don't have time to download, learn and use multiple apps. I want one app to address all those issues at once.

Thankfully I've found it: Pushbullet. This free app, available on iOS, Android, web and desktop, has become my most indispensable app and addresses each of those issues.



At its most basic level, Pushbullet works as a mail delivery service between your computer and all your mobile devices. And it's fast. 

Pushbullet can push many types of content to all the devices you register with the service. For instance, I can push a link, file, address or list from my computer to my phone and/or tablet, or the other way around. Once an item has been pushed, it is automatically available for use and download on any device you've hooked up.


Here are some of my favorite uses for Pushbullet:
  1. Photos from computer to phone. In my professional career I am responsible for managing multiple Instagram accounts. Sometimes my phone's camera just doesn't quite cut it. Thanks to Pushbullet I can take a picture on my SLR, edit that photo in Photoshop on my computer, size it and push it to my phone, where I can quickly upload it to Instagram.

  2. Text from computer to phone. Continuing with Instagram convenience, I hate typing the caption in Instagram. The app gives you a microscopic amount of space to type within and before I've finished a sentence the text has already scrolled up and I can't see or remember what I've typed. Plus, it's a giant pain to type on a smartphone keyboard – even with great apps like Swype. So, I type my captions on my computer and push them over to my device. So, with two pushes, I can send a perfectly edited and cropped image and the caption. This speeds up the amount of time I spend playing in Instagram.

      
  3. Push a URL to your phone. If typing in Instagram is a pain, typing in a URL (especially a long one) on your phone is a nightmare. Don't bother. Let's say you're browsing the web on your computer and find a great site you'd like to send to your phone for use when you're on the road later that day. If you install the Pushbullet extension, you can right-click on any webpage and send that URL to your devices. Then, with one click of the push notification, your device's browser will instantly be taken to that URL.
  4. Push an image from your phone to computer. Often, I want to send an image I took with my phone's camera to my computer. Again, it's a hassle. I don't want to clog up my inbox by sending it over email, Dropbox isn't much faster and using a syncing cable is, well, old school and slow. Pushbullet speeds up the process. Simply push it from phone to computer and a notification pops up. One click later you have your photo. No logging in. No crazy wait times. Just results.
  5. Push addresses. Often I will browse on my computer for a physical address before I head out somewhere. Rather than write it down or email it to myself, I can push the address through Pushbullet. By clicking on the notification, it will load that address in the Google Maps app on my phone. One click later I have directions to my location.

  6. Subscriptions. Recently, Pushbullet rolled out subscriptions to a variety of services. One of my favorites is the ability to be notified of the final score of my favorite sports teams. This is perfect for when I'm stuck in meetings and can't spare a moment to catch a peek at the game. Of course, when my team loses, I kind of hate this feature...
  7. Push to friends. Not only can you use Pushbullet to sync between your devices, you can also push items to friends. Again, this spares the hassle of email or other apps. And it's fast and simple.

All your pushes are saved in your push feed so you can go back at any time and revisit previous pushes.

Without a doubt, this is one app I definitely recommend downloading. It's a massive time saver and I use it all the time.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ric-Rac Diaper Basket

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for Huggies and Target. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
When our first child was a baby, we lived in a tiny two bedroom apartment. Our little home was so small that it didn't even have a full sized oven. I had to bake everything in cake pan instead of on cookie sheets. Since our space was so small, it never seemed like a big deal to grab a diaper from the changing station in our bedroom before sitting down to change the baby. I kept a few diapers in our living room, but even if I started changing the baby before realizing I was out of diapers, I would cross the tiny apartment in .2 seconds to get another one. 

When our second was born earlier this year, I realized keeping diapers in one place in our house wasn't practical. We needed a place to keep diapers downstairs and I wanted something that was cute enough to keep out within easy reach. This basket was the perfect answer, it was easy to make and it serves a functional but fun purpose. 
You will need: 


  • a basket large enough for diapers that has holes in it
  • jumbo ric-rac or ribbon
  • hot glue
  • Huggies Snug & Dry Diapers, find a Target Coupon here!
  • Huggies Natural Care Wipes 
 Thread your ric-rac or ribbon through the holes in your basket. It will make it easier if the ribbon is the general size of the holes in your basket, but they don't have to be the same, it will just make threading easier. With small dabs of hot glue, tac your ric-rac down in the corners of the basket, to keep it from moving around with use.
 You can thread ric-rac through every set of holes that your basket has, or just do the top and bottom like I did. Add your diapers, wipes, lotion and other items you need within easy reach and place it where you can find it. It is so cute it doesn't even have to be put out of site!
We have tried a lot of diapers with both of our girls, but we always come back to shopping at Target for Huggies,especially when our girls start moving around a lot. I personally love the Snug & Dry diapers with Surefit Design that includes a flexible waistband and up to 12 hours of leakage protection. I LOVE that Huggies Natural Care Wipes now come in designer tubs. They are great wipes that I can now personalize to my house or my diaper basket.

I love Target, but the only thing better than a Target shopping trip (and a visit to The Dollar Spot), is not running out of diapers. Target is now offering a subscription service that will allow you to order your diapers and wipes straight to your door every month, so you don't have to worry about running out. I have had to run out to the store at 6 AM, more than once because I didn't realize I was down to the last diaper. This service will help make your life all around easier, and what mom doesn't need that?
To stay up to date with Huggies, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Free Printable Pennant and Washi Tape Party Invitation


The fun of putting together a party starts with the invitations, right? Or am I the only one who wants to host parties just to send out cute invitations...? :) BUT, I always like things to be simple and inexpensive, too -- no elaborate scrapbooked cards for me! So when I saw this glitter-edged menu via Style Me Pretty, I thought it would be the perfect inspiration for a pennant-shaped invitation for an upcoming event I was planning.


I work with the 8-11 year old girls at my church, and this year we decided to have a recognition night where we celebrate the things that each girl has learned and accomplished in the last year. We invited their parents and families and asked them to dress up, so I wanted the invitations to be nice but still girlish. These were perfect -- and as an added bonus, I got to use all of my favorite washi tape designs! (I love this stuff. I did my light switch plates, too!)


Just print, cut, washi -- and you're good to go! White cardstock, only black ink, and a few spare craft supplies -- you could even use real ribbon or fabric scraps! Inexpensive? Check. Easy? Double check.

If you have a Silhouette, you can download the editable and printable file here. If you want the invitation to look like I have it here, you'll also need to download the same (100% free) fonts that I used, both from dafont.com -- That's Font Folks and Lane Narrow. (I left the text "unlocked" so that it's easy for you to edit.)


No Silhouette? Just download the blank printable file here (or using the widget above) and cut them out by hand -- use a straight-edge paper cutter for the edges and then grab a pair of scissors for the inset V of the pennant. My Silhouette wasn't playing nice, so I ended up cutting out all 20-ish of mine by hand, and it wasn't a big deal at all.

And even if you don't have a Silhouette, if you want the invitations to be printed with your information instead of filling them in by hand, you can download the free Silhouette software here. Open the file, update the information, and then print and cut by hand.


Once your invitations are cut out, stick on a strip of washi tape (appx 1/2 inch wide). Or go for glitter tape -- since it was thinner, I opted for two strips instead of one. Easy peasy.

And if you're hosting a holiday party, just use holiday-theme washi tape. So versatile, so simple!

These are sized to fit in the small invitation sized envelopes, too, if you are mailing them or want them to be extra fancy.

The only difficult part is deciding what kind of party to host! :)

Please remember: these downloads are for personal use only, por favor. Please don't redistribute them elsewhere!


Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of 3 kids and wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She happily shows up here at Housewife Eclectic a few times a month, when the creative bug strikes in between projects at her awesome job as a virtual assistant. You can check out her other projects here on Housewife Eclectic, or her former blogger life over at just Lu.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Buffalo Wing Inspired Egg Rolls

When it comes to favorite foods, most people would likely rattle off pizza or some sort of pasta. Not me. Give me wings every day of the week. I love 'em. My new-found love is egg rolls though. So naturally I had to find a way to combine the two.

The result is this recipe for a tasty buffalo wing inspired egg rolls. To be perfectly honest, there aren't actually any chicken wings in this recipe, though you could definitely do it. But that would require some time pulling chicken off bones.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets
Louisiana hot sauce (AKA buffalo sauce)
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 can Corn, cooked
1 Jalapeno, diced
Tortilla strips
Egg roll wrappers
Oil for frying
Celery
Ranch dressing

PREPARATION

  1. Prepare the fried chicken by frying the cutlets in vegetable oil at 350 degrees (about medium heat on the stove top) until cooked through and the outside starts to become crispy. Don't fry too long or your chicken will become dry.
  2. Melt the butter in the microwave and mix in the desired amount of hot sauce. Mix well until the butter and sauce become smooth. Add the fried chicken and coat well.
  3. Remove the chicken and slice into 1/4" to 1/2" strips. Return to the sauce and mix well.
  4. Prepare each egg roll by placing the fried chicken strips down the middle (you may want to add a little hot sauce for extra flavor, but not so much that your egg roll is swimming in sauce). Top with cooked corn, jalapeno and tortilla strips. Roll up the egg roll.
  5. Fry the egg rolls in vegetable oil in a pan on the stove top on medium heat until the egg roll turns a nice golden brown. Flip the egg rolls and continue to fry until the other side is golden brown.
  6. Remove from heat and place on a paper towel lined plate. Let sit for a few minutes.
  7. Serve with celery sticks and dip in ranch dressing.
This is perfect tailgate food. It's finger food, it's fried (multiple times) and there's something to dip it in. While I will always advocate for the real deal when it comes to wings, these egg rolls definitely hit the spot.

Monday, October 27, 2014

10 Candy Corn Ideas

Whether you hate it or love it, you have to admit, that few things represent fall and Halloween more than Candy Corn. This festive little candy is used to decorate, fill vases, and of course as a snack. Here are 10 of my favorite Candy Corn ideas. Some use the candy itself, some just use the general idea of candy corn, but all are perfect for this time of year. So what about you? Do you love it? Or hate it?
 Candy Corn Cookies on PBS.
 Candy Corn Wreath by the Trendy Tree,
 Candy Corn Drink on Raining Hot Coupons.
Candy Corn Button Art by Repeat Crafter Me

 Homemade Butterfingers by Pip and Ebby

 Candy Corn Ornaments by Housewife Eclectic
 Halloween Party Candy Corn Banner from The Pin Junkie
 Candy Corn Truffle Bark by The Gunny Sack.
 Candy Corn Poke Cake from Wine and Glue
Healthy Candy Corn Snack by Family Fresh Meals.
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Kids Halloween: Monster Paper Bags

When I am searching for crafts for class parties, I want them to have a purpose. The hand print bats from a couple days ago help the kids practice their scissor skills. Today's craft is less about practicing a certain skill and more about being practical. The kids need a place to take home their goodies from the party, and a boring paper bag is just that, boring.

You will need:

  • paper bags
  • stickers, pom poms, foam, googly eyes
  • glue
  • scissors
  • crayons


 I try to have as many different things for the kids to glue on as possible, so they can really make it their own. The thing I have noticed that kids love the most is the googly eyes, so I usually plan on at least a few sets per kid. If you are worried about having enough, make sure you have crayons and markers on hand so that they can decorate, even without lots of extra items.
The wonderful thing about this simple craft is that you can stretch or shrink the time it takes to fit your timetable. Do you need it to take up more time? Tell them to color the whole bag? Running short on time? Glue the eyes on and call it good. These little goody bags are perfect for taking home those decorated sugar cookies with gobs of frosting, or whatever else you have going on at your party. 

How about you? Do you help with the parties at your child's school?
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kids Halloween: Witch Hat Ring Toss

What Kindergarten class party would be complete without games? For a class party, I look for games that are easy to set up and take down and don't require a full time adult, just someone who can keep an eye on the game while helping with a craft. In my experience, you usually only end up with a few adults for a whole classroom of children, so games that the kids can manage are a must. 

You will need: 
  • witch hats
  • glow bracelets, with bracelet connectors


I found these cute little hat decorations at the dollar store, but you could easily use witch hats stuffed with newspaper. Glow sticks make the perfect tossing rings. For these smaller hats, we used the little plastic connectors to create one larger ring with two bracelets. If you used full sized hats, you would probably need to use three.  
We tested this game out at a party my daughter had this week and it was a smash hit. The kids loved tossing the rings onto witches hats. I think it would have kept them busy for a long time if I had let them keep playing. 
I did buy a bag of glow in the dark bouncy balls for prizes for playing the game. They were really reasonably priced and I thought it was fun to get a little prize for making the ring onto the hats. 

What games are you playing at your classroom Halloween party this year?
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