Category Archives: Tips

Smartphone Camera: A Useful Tool

Smartphone cameras are great.  They are quick, convenient, and always with us.  Smartphone cameras have been the only cameras my wife and I have used to document our daughters over the past few years.

There are other ways to use your smartphone camera besides taking pictures of your family, food, and memorable moments.  You can take pictures of things you need to remember and get right.

In the past few weeks my wife and daughters have taken pictures of several things and sent them too me.

I needed to get batteries for our digital thermometer so my wife texted me a picture of what we needed.  That made it easy to get replacements.

Energizer batteries

My oldest wanted to use some of her commission money on makeup so she sent me to the store with a picture of what she wanted.  It’s a good thing too… otherwise I would have bought the wrong thing!

Urban Decay package

I take pictures of things I need to get but would probably forget the exact item and size…. like dance tights for my girls.


You can even take pictures of items and price tags to research later!

Fender in store price tag Justice swimsuit pricetag

What are some ways you’ve turned your smartphone camera into a useful tool?

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Saving Time & Getting Productive

Recently I’ve been spending some time figuring out ways to get better organized and more productive.  What I discovered is 3 very useful tools to help.

Computer and smartphone

The first is Dashlane.  I’ve known for awhile that I needed to take my online security more seriously.  Dashlane is helping me do that.

It’s an online password generator and manager.  There’s a free plan and a paid plan.  I got a year of the premium service free but can already see the value in paying the $40 yearly fee when my trial is up.  It’s already saved me a ton of times and made my online accounts more secure.

computer monitor eye

The next way I’m getting organized and getting more done is by utilizing IFTTT.  It’s a computerized way to organize and automate just about any task you can think of.

IFTTT stands for If This Then That which can be easily translated to tasks:  If This happens Then That should happen.  I scan through their website searching for new ways (recipes) that I can utilize the service the way a shoe fan scrolls through Zappos!

Computer Keyboard Closeup

IFTTT is free.  Here are just a few of the ways it’s helping me out:

Whenever I share a a picture on Instagram I have IFTTT tweet it out. If you use Instagram’s built in Twitter sharing it just shares a link. IFTT shares your picture… so it’s likely to get seen more.

I also use IFTTT to track the hours I spend at work and to remind me if I have missed phone calls to return.  These examples barely scratch the surface of what you can do with IFTTT.  You really need to check it out for yourself!

The other piece in my getting organized puzzle is Todoist.  Todoist is a way to create lists of tasks and mark them off as you complete them.  This is right up my ally as I like lists almost as much as I like checking things off lists.

There are iOS and Android apps as well as Chrome browser extensions so you’ll always have your tasks with you.  One thing that Todoist does is to ad a gaming element to your lists with karma points.

The more tasks you do and the more consistent you are in doing them the higher your karma points go.  I’ve only been using Todoist for a few days but I will say this has kept me motivated.

Todoist has both free and paid premium plans.  I just started a free 6 month trial of the premium plan and already plan on paying the $29 yearly fee when my trial is up.

Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them. - David Allen Click To Tweet

These are some of the ways I’m getting organized and getting more done.  What are some of the tips and tricks you use?

(BTW, the way I’ve gotten free trials of Dashlane, Todoist, and several other online options is though AppSumo.)

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Perfect Crockpot Potato Soup

I love potatoes. Baked, fried, mashed… it doesn’t matter how you make them I’ll eat them. One of my favorite ways to eat potatoes in the fall and winter months is in soup.

There are plenty of potato soup recipes out there and I’ve combined parts of several of them to create what I think is the perfect potato soup.

Perfect Crockpot Potato Soup

It’s perfect because it tastes great, is super creamy, and is so simple to make. Just throw a few things in the crockpot in the morning and you’ll have a delicious meal for supper.

This is one recipe every member of my family loves.

Perfect Crockpot Potato Soup 

Here’s what you’ll need:

Perfect Crockpot Potato Soup Ingredients

1 – 26 to 30 oz. bag of frozen, shredded hash browns

1 – 32 oz. container of chicken broth

1 – 26 oz. can of cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup sour cream (light or fat free is fine)

1½ tbsp parsley flakes

¼ tsp ground pepper

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp dried minced garlic

1 – 8 oz. brick of cream cheese (low fat or fat free is fine)

Optional meat: 

Cooked & crumbled bacon or a pound of cooked meat like ham chunks, ground pork, or hamburger.


In the crockpot whisk together the broth, soup, sour cream, and spices. Then stir in the hash browns. No need to thaw them out. If you’re adding meat stir it in now.

Putting together perfect potato crockpot soup

Put the lid on your crockpot, make sure it’s plugged in, and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6.

About a half hour or so before it’s time to dish up soften and stir in the cream cheese.

To serve you can garnish with shredded cheese, crumbled bacon, and chives.

Additional thoughts:

We’ve made this with chunks of leftover smoked pork tenderloin and the flavor was amazing! Ham is also great in it.  Recently we made it with a pound of browned, ground pork and liked that as well.

If you don’t have meat to add don’t worry. It tastes great without it.

Sometime I’m thinking of adding diced onion, ham, and frozen corn to make it into a corn chowder.

What tweaks would you make to this recipe to make it your own?

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