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Favorite Droid apps of 2010

I love my Droid for its apps, no question. I check Market every few weeks, as new apps are coming in all the time.  Some apps have stayed on my phone, some come and go.  If you got a new Android-based phone for the holidays or new year, start loading it up!  Most come with a large SD card (mine is 16gb) and many apps can be stored on the card.  The apps that I seem to only use once or twice, especially the ones that are larger than 5mb, I usually wind up removing.  Apps that access large directories (like cookbook apps) can also use up too much space, so go into Settings, Applications, and Manage Applications to drop some when it's time to make room for more.  Because of this ADD-mentality I have for apps, I typically only download the free ones- another great Droid feature, free! Apps I can't live without: Advanced Task Killer - there are several versions of this and I've tried three, but it was one of the first things the Verizon rep told me upon buying it in

Favorite Holiday Recipes part 2

As stated last week , I have been reorganizing my recipes this year and found four great ones to share for holiday surprises for friends. View last week's post for the first two: Peanut Brittle and Pumpkin Seeds. Two additional easy sweet gift ideas: Rachel Ray's 5 Minute Fudge Ingredients 12 oz chocolate chips 8 oz butterscotch chips 1 can sweetened condensed milk 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 cup walnuts and/or dried currants/cranberries/cherries Directions Dump all ingredients except nuts and currants into a heavy-bottomed warmed pot over low heat and stir until soft.  Once fully melted, add nuts and currants and pour into a round, greased, Angel Food Cake pan.  Don't smooth out the top, and put in fridge to set for 30 minutes.  Pull out and cut into pieces. Wrap and give! Frozen Lemon  Mousee (GREAT for warmer climates seeking winter-y goodies!) Ingredients 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 4 large egg yolks 5 tablespoons sugar 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chi

Favorite Holiday Recipes

Last year I drafted a four-part Elven Idea Factory series for making your own holiday presents, take a peek back for recipes of Irish cream, salsa, biscotti , bathcookies , and more . This year I sorted through 3 years of recipe gathering and reduced my huge binder of sloppy recipes to a medium sized reusable gift box, making my recipes both easier to find and easier to use. I didn't know why a binder wasn't easier to use when I created it, it takes up a lot of counter space, gets spilled on, and the sheets pull out of the hole punch too easily... I switched back to mom's method of using old fashioned "index cards" so I can pull several recipes out at once (realized this was key during the holidays!) AND they're small enough for a  magnet to hold them to the metal stove hood while in use. No spills, and at eye level! Great new system.  In sorting through the mess, I found four of my favorite holiday recipes to share with you, to wrap and share with your fr

Photography 201: Photographer's Holiday Wish List

A big part of Photography 201 is adding accessories and beefing up your photography inventory... here's the shortlist of what's inside my pack and on my Holiday wish list this year... I currently own a little Canon Rebel Xsi that is lightweight for skiing and hiking with, and have two lenses, 18-55mm and 75-300mm. The first accessories I purchase for a new body are extra memory cards, and then get lens filters, cap keepers , and hoods (I prefer the flexible ones over the rigid version for price and damage control) for all my lenses.  Swapping out one set of each accessory between two or three lenses just gets old, really quick, so stock up.  Lenses also don't always come with lens bags, so finding padded bags or a divided camera bag/backpack is also a must-have.  The next addition to my current setup was an angling external flash/speedlight with a white reflector. The on-camera flashes for any body, DSLR or point-and-shoot, are weak, too close to the lens, and not d

The Nissan Leaf - Green Car Vision Award 2010

I watched a movie last year called "Who Killed the Electric Car," and have carried around a pit in my stomach about it since then. Perhaps electric isn't the way to go, but why would someone eliminate possibilities?  Two weeks ago I watched "Fuel," which was far more educational and enlightening than "Who Killed...", but it still offered up some conspiracies about Henry Ford and his Ethanol cars during the prohibition era that shocked me. My head flooded with other theories about all those who have suffered death or torture in contradicting the oil industry over the last 100 years. And as a green enthusiast since the early 90s when I turned of voting age, I have spent the last two decades wondering, when, if ever, will things change? Then I saw Nissan's latest commercial. A polar bear is lounging on a last chunk of ice in the glacier melt.  He jumps off and swims south, then walks further south, past what is obviously the Alaskan-Canadian-Pacific

Greening up your Holidays

This past Tuesday the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council hosted its monthly Talking Green event on "Greening Up Your Holidays," and I spent several days gathering tips in many categories to present on.  I thought I'd post it here as well, enjoy! Halloween Costumes Buy face paints and lipstick without lead, nickel, cobalt, chromium, which can affect brain development cosmeticsdatabase.com Buy safe nail polish from Skin Deep Avoid powder cosmetics which can affect the lungs Skip the hairspray which have toxic chemicals Use non-paraffin (petroleum based) and non-scented candles for cleaner air Create low-impact costumes (used, homemade, etc), or host your own costume swap Food If hosting larger parties, see our Zero Waste Event Guidelines Compost all food waste Use paper bags instead of plastic for baking the turkey Replace canned ingredients with local foods with minimal travel distance for reducing carbon fo

Photography 201: All I learned from Canon and more

Earlier this month I was blessed to spend an entire weekend with Canon (camera)'s best of the best in Moab, Utah at the Red Cliffs Lodge photographing Arches National Park and cowboys at the ranch. One of Canon's esteemed " Explorers of Light ," Tyler Stableford instructed the class, and four Canon tech representatives and Tyler's #1 man Draper assisted us with trying out high-dollar Canon bodies, lenses of all angles and lengths during the sessions. We were instructed on Tyler's workflow , programs, and editing techniques as well, and went home with three huge prints of our best work after Sunday's critique. All in all in was one the best experiences of my lifetime in terms of photography; having not been in a classroom setting since college, I was able to pack in as much learning as I could in a short two-day workshop. Needless to say the take-away was indescribable; here are some major points for those of you who want to take your photography to t

Photography 101: Weddings

Photographing a wedding is a fun, magical experience for me; I feel like each wedding is its own unique adventure that is propelled by the personalities of the couple and their families. But it can also be a stressful day if the events are hurried, so I have a thorough checklist that I prepare for myself to make sure every shot request gets taken, my equipment is up for the job, and the day flows smoothly for the bride and groom. Having planned my own wedding, that experience now lends its expertise to my day as well. Before the wedding: I always meet with the bride and groom several weeks or months beforehand to discuss their expectations and their package of choice, but then we meet again the week or day before their day to go over the site and day of events. It's often easiest to meet just before their rehearsal to see the location once again. I take these meetings to double check: List of formal and informal shots the bride has requested Wedding colors Number of guests a

Kitchen Maintenance

It's been quite a while since we've had a total McGuyver moment in our house, but last weekend's kitchen maintenance was worth a quick post... At some point last month our freezer started getting warmer, ever so slightly at first, until this month, when it started making water in the ice container. We pulled out the ice tray, cranked the temp knob to max 9, and waited. We turned it on and off, we cranked the fridge temp... nothin'. Then our fears manifested- there was a considerable amount of water in the foot pan. After asking around, it sounded like we were going to need a new unit entirely, but luckily we aren't inclined to give up that easily. So we pulled out the unit (unplugged it and turned off the water for safety) and I took off the back panel to find 10 years of nasty, furry dust, as well as a pan full of water. Neither are easy solutions, apparently. I tried to vacuum the dust out with the hand held and the big vacuum, but that dust wouldn't b

Photobook Printing - 25% off Mixbook.com

Because the market is always changing, early this summer I logged several weeks of research on the subject of Photobooks for a wedding I'm doing later this month. After reviewing dozens of sites, I only came up with about 6 that stood out above the rest. But I had overlooked one that has turned out to be one of my favorites: www.Mixbook.com Mixbook is similar to several other sites in its ease for beginners, offering dozens of templates and programming that's easy to learn. But where Mixbook excels is in some key areas for me. Their tutorials are quick and extremely helpful, from choosing themes to getting ideas to general help, these short videos are an asset to this website for sure. Mixbook offers a huge variety of packages, many different sizes of books and tons of themes, from weddings to baby books to yearbooks, Mixbook definitely makes the design process more fun than its competitors. Within each design set are dozens of page layouts to choose from, from 1 to 2

Photography 101: Food Photography

I was lucky enough to dine with Steamboat F&B Director Liz (and our husbands) earlier this month to shoot some of the great dishes at Hazie's on-mountain Restaurant. We had a long sunny evening to work with and some interesting photo results that made me realize this would be a great Photo101 post. From Hazies Food 7.31.10 When photographing food there are some key settings that your digital camera can improve your shots with. If you've been reading the other Photography101 posts , you'll already know I vehemently urge you to take the Auto Setting training wheels off and shoot in manual modes to make the most of your camera's technology and artificial intellect, which IS smarter than you (deal with it). In regards to lighting, I prefer natural lighting to flash, and an attached flash to the standard on-camera flash. The on-camera flash will make your photos look unprofessionally blown out or ill-exposed, so my tips below are focused on NOT using that standard

Healthy Living 4 of 4: Use the Experts

In previous posts in this series I've highlighted finding healthy options for on your body , in your body , and in your environment, but I realize this is barely scratching the surface of Healthy Living and want to offer up some additional ideas from the factory for follow-through to keep you on the healthy path! Firt, your body knows best. It really does, believe it or not. It's just a matter of whether you can hear it or not! Find the best method for you (meditation, prayer, guru) to get in touch with your higher self and do it sooner than later. This will go a long way for both physical and mental health, security of self, intuition, etc. And when your body begins to speak to you, listen wisely to all the nuances you once ignored. What gives you energy? What gives you peace? What makes you happy? What makes you angry? Second, don't just rely on Western Medicine. While this medical philosophy is great for cutting cancerous moles off your skin, fixing broken femu

Healthy Living 3: Environment and Sustainability

In parts 1 and 2 of this series I discussed the insides and outsides of your body as an aspect of Healthy Living. Read the label of your bath and body products to avoid harmful toxins and improve physical and mental health. Same goes for your food labels and choices and healthy eating, in the post prior to this one on Healthy Eating . But for me a big part of how I live healthy is the health of my environment and my personal sustainability. The overall health of your environment reflects on your overall health. First, I have spent years perfecting our home's energy- in Chinese Medicine the flow of the home is central to the personal health of those dwelling in it. Read up on Feng Shui if you haven't heard of it, but the finer points are easy: remove the clutter, create movement, balance the dark space with light, bring in greenery, and pay attention to electronics (turn them off regularly!) and other potentially energetically harmful items, locations, etc. Such as, d

Healthy Living 2: Healthy Eating

Last week I began the 3-part Healthy Living series for returning to the basics to achieve overall physical and mental health, and covered " Read the Label ." This series is intended to remind you that everything you need to be healthy is within your reach, and to act now for your long-term health rather than re- acting later to any health issues that arise. In addition to being proactive about what you put ON your body (as discussed in Read the Label), it's imperative you do the same WITHIN. But in this day and age, our society doesn't exactly make that easy on us, with quick, easy options at our fingertips that seem on the surface to be healthy, often we make the wrong choice without even knowing it, and even more often, without knowing what the true healthy alternative is. Clause: I'm no nutritionist or medical practitioner, but I find it frustrating that those two jobs are rarely combined. What is written below is from my personal research, years of my

Healthy Living 1 - Read the Label

Since I took an internship at a sustainable learning center in Oregon in 1995, I have been aware that what I put in or on my body reflects the overall health of my physical as well as mental being. So often around me I see people ignoring this fact. This life is our own, and we can make of it what we choose, yet more often than not I hear people say they feel helpless against their health or emotional issues, and don't realize it might just take some minor changes to feel good again. In this series I will address the four topics that I feel are most important to my personal physical health and illness prevention, and hope they align with your needs as well. Part 1 - Read all labels - Be proactive The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has found that 884 chemicals available for use in bath and body products have been reported to the U.S. government as toxic substances , yet the FDA allows many of these chemicals to be used as ingredients because of their lo

Photobook Printing

In starting to look at photobooks as a professional add-on, I'm diving into the options with my researcher's eye. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of photo book printers and photo hosting websites out there, where does one begin? I started with the reviews at the bottom, but shortly began to see that I already had my opinions... AMS If you're an amateur, there is a plethora of choices for family-grade materials. I say family, because with little hands all over photobooks, it's a waste of money to get the super-archival, plush leatherbound versions that are meant for the treasure locker. To start, Shutterfly , Kodak Gallery , and Snapfish are all in the same league, some with more options than others, some with better base designs and help, but all starting at a reasonable price. What you get with these types is photo sharing so families can contribute to the same album. Shop them all to see which format you like the best, which is easiest for you to navigate,

Joan's Gluten Free Great Bakes

It's no wonder this company has the word "great" in the business's name; I've been sampling their products for over a week now and am astonished, truly taken aback, that they are actually gluten free. We've ordered Joan's everything bagel, plain bagel, and english muffins, all with great texture, perfect substituted-flour ratio, and delicious flavor; and after a year of being off these favorite glutenous baked goods, it's sure awesome to have them back! What makes Joan's goods unique is that they arrive frozen in a dry-ice container and are only partially baked (if at all?), so you are instructed to let them defrost (or nuke-defrost) and bake them for twenty minutes at 425. This way you're not toasting and reabaking the bagel or muffin (and reducing the quality of their texture in my opinion), you're actually getting hot, fresh baked goods right from your own oven. Other than Udi's bread, I haven't found anything that actually t

Photography 101: Composition

While in Las Vegas last week, exploring the Paris casino, my husband and I squeezed into a chair, held the camera out in front of us, and snapped a self portrait. Then a stranger sitting next to us asked to help and took the same shot of us, only it was no where near the same shot. While it was a better shot of us humans, it got nothing of the background of Paris. (Notice this stranger made it into our "self" photo too!) What makes excellent photographers stand out above the rest isn't their equipment, it's their eye for composition. If you took everything I learned in four years studying visual arts and crammed it into one word, it would be "composition." What most people do when shooting photographs is look at the shot, hold up the camera, and snap. But sometimes all it takes is a different point of view and a few reminders to improve your photos results by 100%. The goal is to achieve unique photos that even if they're of something quite famil