Riding Horses and Phones in Ajijic, Mexico

The sound of horses going by on my street is as common as the sound of cars. I saw this family, across the street from my house, ride by. The two young men in the front were looking at their smart phones. The woman was taking a selfie. I so love Mexico.

My Top Ten List for My Most Used iPhone Photography Apps

1.  My very favorite, most used iPhone Photography App is Hipstamatic. It has a bit of a learning curve but is well worth it. There are new updates all of the time. It was first released in 2009 and I have been using it since then. If you want help learning Hipstamatic I have created a how to eBook called the Hipstamatic Lens/Film Guide ($3.99). You can purchase it from Lake Tree Press by clicking on the link below. The Hipstamatic app is $2.99 It is rated 4.7 stars out of 1.5 thousand reviews. You can't get much better than that!

2.  For retouching landscapes, waterscapes and architecture I use the Touch Retouch app. Are power lines ruining your photo? Touch Retouch has a line removal tool that is pure magic! There is hardly a day that goes by that I don't use this app. It is $1.99 and is another highly rated app with 4.8 starts and 1.89 reviews. Wow! Now that's a winner. Touch Retouch was originally released in 2010 and I have used it for eight years.

3.  For retouching faces I use Facetune. Why not Touch Retouch? Facetune has a lighter "touch". It makes people look like they've had a good night sleep and might be 5-10 years younger. It does not make them look like they have had a facelift gone bad. It also has a tool to easily brightening teeth and another for sharpening eyes. It was released in 2013 and is $3.99. It has a rating of 4.9 stars with 40.7 thousands reviews. It is definitely a hit! Next time you take a photo of an "older" friend, try Facetune. They will thank you.

4.  Waterlogue was also released in 2013. It will take your photos and turn them into amazing watercolor images that can be printed. It was named as one of the App Store's Best in 2014. I love it and use it often. It does not have as high of rating or as many reviews (329 ratings, 4.6 stars). But everyone I have every shown it to thinks it is great and can't wait to try it. Cost is $3.99 and worth every penny.

5.  There are a number of very good apps to place words onto images. The Typorama app is the one I return to again and again. I like how it makes the words more graphic. It includes several type layout options and you can in-app purchase more. The basic app is free. It has an exceptional 4.8 star rating with nearly 50 thousand review. That is just amazing.

6.  This is a fairly new app for me. I have always recommended iResize for resizing images. However iResize seems to have left the iTunes store. I did some research and discovered Image Size. It has a 4.7 star rating with 5 thousand plus reviews. So far I like it. Also it is free.

7.  The Diptic app is my favorite app for making photo collages. It is super easy to use. There are lots of template options and I find it reliable. I have used it since it first came out in 2010 and continue to use it often. It has a 4.7 star rating from 673 reviewers. The cost is $2.99.

8.  You know how when you photograph a tall building the perspective gets off with the top of the building kind of looking pointy? Well there is an app to fix that. It's called Skwrt. I use it all the time for churches in Mexico. You can see a copy of how well it works here. It was released in 2014 but I only discovered it a couple of years ago when I came to Mexico and wanted better photos of church plazas. It cost $1.99. It only has a 3.6 star rating from 35 reviews. Never the less, I find it to be super handy and easy to use. Although I only use the one perspective tool. I still think it is well work $1.99.

9.  You can do all kinds of things with Image Blender like make double exposures and photos within photos. However, I use it mostly for blending an original photo with a painted version. Sometime I think apps that turn your photos into paintings are a little heavy handed. Image Blender solves this problem for me. It costs $3.99, has a 4.9 star rating with 775 reviews. This is definitely a must have app. It was released in 2011 and is updated regularly.

10.  I don't use Mextures quite as often as I do these other apps. However if I have a photo that's kind of boring with flat lighting, I will run it through Mextures. There is a tiny bit of a learning curve as Mextures works in layers. It is, however worth the effort. It is only $1.99. It was released in 2013, has a 4.0 rating with 66 reviews... not real well known but handy.

So that's my current Top Ten List for My Most Used iPhone Photography Apps. I have purchased an embarrassing number of iPhone Photography apps over the years. Hope this helps you not spend as much money as I have.

Also... a shameful promotion... I spent a year testing apps and wrote the iPhoneography Wow! eBook. I released at the beginning of this year. You can find it at Lake Tree Press for $4.99.

Beginning Blogging - the Fun Way in Ajijic Mexico

blogging, blogger, workshop, computer

Have you ever wanted to start a blog but weren't quite sure how to go about it? Not sure what you want it to be about?

I have been blogging since 2009. This workshop will get you going in a fun, creative way. I teach blogging on the Blogger platform. (I have used both Blogger and Wordpress. Blogger is fun, Wordpress is a job and is not fun at all.) If I am going to blog, I want to have a good time doing it...thus I use Blogger.

In this workshop you will have...
Three group 1 ½ hour workshops
Two individual sessions with me to help you move forward
Access to a private Blogging From Mexico Facebook Group (tips, tricks, support)
Invitation to Private Blogging Support Group held once a month (with wine and goodies)

Group workshops are Thursdays 2:00 - 3:30
August 2nd, August 9th, August 16th.

Fee is for all 3 groups workshops, 2 individual sessions, FB group and Support Group and can be
paid in U.S. dollars, Canadian dollars or Mexican pesos. We have a great time, laugh a lot, learn a lot and support each other. Hope you can join us. 

$39 U.S.  Add to Cart
$51 Canadian Add to Cart
750 Mexican Pesos Add to Cart

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Travel Journaling - 4 Class Workshop in Ajijic Mexico

travel, journaling, Mexico, Ajijic, workshops
I always used to take a travel journal with me on trips, but after a day of sightseeing, gallery/museum hopping, eating, walking and shopping I would go back to my hotel just too darn exhausted to write. Eventually I created a travel journal, before I left, with lots of templates and backgrounds started so I could easily fill in bits and pieces of my traveling day without being overwhelmed. Then on a lazy travel day or when I returned home I could fill in the details. This has worked great. So great that I am now offering a Travel Journaling Workshop.

Sign up and work on a journey from the past or prepare for one in your future!

This is a mixed media journaling workshop. We will be creating lots of background pages to jumpstart your inspiration. No art or drawing experience is needed! There are four sessions and each includes different templates and exercises. Fee is for all four classes and can be paid in U.S. dollars, Canadian dollars or Mexican pesos. We are going to have a good time, learn and laugh a lot, make new friends and make fabulous travel journals.

Thursday 10:00 - 11:30
August 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd
$39 U.S. Add to Cart
$51 Canadian Add to Cart
750 Mexican Pesos Add to Cart

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A Year of Blogging and Journaling Ideas

Blogging, Journaling, writing, ideas, inspiration

Ever run out of ideas for your blog or journals? This book provides 365 ideas.. yup one each day for a year, for only about 13¢ a day.

$4.95 U.S.Add to Cart
$6.50 Canadian Add to Cart
95 Mexican Pesos Add to Cart

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Five Summer Reads and Songs to Go With Them

If you have ever been to Cuba you are going to love this novel. If you have never been to Cuba it might make you hesitate. Next Year in Havana is the July pick of Reese Witherspoon's Bookclub. It tells the story of two women grandmother and granddaughter, their family secrets, their experiences in Cuba and their two love stories... one taking place during the revolution. The other takes place in present day Cuba.

I loved it and could not put it down from beginning to finish. (I love retirement where you can binge on a good book.)

Song to go with this book  Havana

Andrew Sean Greer won the Pulitzer Prize for Less. It is a delightful story of a down and out writer who avoids his ex-lover's wedding by going around the world. How can you not love a book with writing like...

"... the plane suffers a prolonged bout of turbulence. Less finds himself searching for an appropriate prayer. He was, however, raised Unitarian; he has only Joan Baez to turn to, and "Diamonds and Rust" gives no solace."

I LOL all the way through this book. It's a perfect summer read.

Song to go with this book Here I Go Again

This book came out in 2010. I don't know how I ever missed reading it as I love all things Sherlock Holms. The Beekeeper's Apprentice picks up on Sherlock's story when he is retired in Sussex when he meets the modern young woman Mary Russell, who becomes first his protege and then his partner.
I am in the middle of it right now and am enjoying it. But then how can you not love a Sherlock Holmes story?

Song to go with this book  Roar

Lately I have been drawn to novels about multi-generational women. This debut novel by Lauren K. Denton is about a young woman, Sara who lives in New Orleans and runs a fashionable shop and her grandmother Mags who own a run down b&b in Sweetwater Alabama. It's a sweet book, well written with lovely characters. If you need a "gentle" story without terrorists, spies, violence this one is lovely.

Song to go with this book Sweet Home Alabama

Speaking of presidents... Bill Clinton and James Patterson's mystery, The President Is Missing, is getting great reviews. Publisher's Weekly describes it as "a page-turning thriller that rivals the best work of such genre titans as Brad Meltzer and Vince Flynn." Indeed that is high praise. I think it will be a fun next read after Hope Never Dies.

Song to go with this book Theme From Jaws

A Must Have App for Easily Splitting Restaurant Bills

Do you hate to make the waiter write up 5 or 6 separate checks? The Tab app is the easy, fun way to split up a restaurant bill. 


You just launch the app and take a photo of your receipt. Everyone then taps on the items they ordered. The tax and tip are divided proportionally.


Everyone can then see their share and pay their portion. You can then view and share details of the completed bills. It's free at the iPhone/iPad App Store.

2018 Fourth of July Playlist

In the past I have liked to post a Fourth of July Playlist. You can see the 2017 list by clicking here. However this year I have such mixed feeling. The U.S. no longer feels recognizable. Snatching children away from their parents, NRA propaganda is more important than our children's lives, unbelievable hate and violence, unchecked greed and a bat-shit crazy president and republican congress.

So this year I am posting protest songs. The birth of the United States originated with protests and revolution. So in that tradition, here are ten songs to sing on this Fourth of July.

Photographing One Thing Every Day for a Year with Your iPhone

In 2012, while recovering from a near fatal truck accident, Mark Hirsch purchased an iPhone. The first photograph he took with his phone was of "That Tree." He was instantly hooked and continued taking an iPhone photograph of the same tree in the Wisconsin cornfield every day for a year. His book "That Tree" was published by the Press Syndication Group. 

His story has been featured by many worldwide media organizations including CBS Sunday Morning, National Public Radio, The Huffington Post, NBC News, The Daily Mail (UK), The Guardian, and The Sierra Club.

If you were going to photograph one subject, every day for a year, what would it be?

Change The World

It doesn't get much better than this.

Top Ten Tips From My Favorite Magazines - June

1.  Am on my summer sandal hunt and thought these looked comfy. I saw them in the June issue of O. They are called LaaLaa sandals and are from Ugg. Just wonder if that cozy heel would feel too hot. $60 now $34.99 .

2.  I have been wearing kimonos with pants and tops since the 1970s. Looks like that style is back again. Yay! I always loved it. This kimono was also in O and is from Chicos. $169

3.  Read about this Mexican cookbook in the Magnolia Journal. It is on my wish list at Amazon.

4.  Interesting article about naps in the June issue of Prevention Magazine. It says that naps of moderate length (about 60 minutes) can leave you feeling groggy. 30 minute naps help to boost short-term energy. 90 minute naps help restore energy from lack of sleep.

5.  Bright colors are definitely my thing these days. I am on the look out for four used chairs that I can paint and re-upholster in bright colors.

6.  This cute umbrella is from Pier1. I tend to stay away from red outdoor umbrellas for my courtyard because they fade. What I like about this one is the fringe. I think there is a trip to the fabric store to buy fringe and a glue gun in my future.

7.  Every summer besides sandals, I buy the perfect straw bag. I have been doing that since I was about 17 and got my first one in San Francisco's Cost Plus. I really like this cross-body raffia bag from Yonder Living. I have never been to their website before. They have lots of great stuff. I saw this bag in a magazine I have never read before The Simple Things. I think it might bcome a regular for me.

8.  This recipe for Vegetable and Cheese Taco Cups was in Prevention. But then I googled "taco cups" and there are a gazillion to choose from. These should make perfect summer appetizers.

9.  Love this black powder-coated-iron chair with Sunbrella cushion. It is from Storimodern and is a bit pricey for me at $729 (with free shipping). But, love that bright yellow and black combination. When I got married in 1971 I wanted everything for my kitchen to be black, white and yellow.

10. I almost never get regular old mail any more. Really... when someone says mailbox I think email. I do love photographing old mailboxes though. This is a photograph I took many years ago. I read in some magazine this month... and I can't seem to find it again, to put an old mailbox in your garden to store your yard clippers and gardening gloves. That that was such a fun idea.

Mexico Has Changed My Relationship With Color

My sense of color has certainly changed while being in Mexico. It's as if there is not a color that could be too bright for me. Yellow? I love the shade that yells "Good Morning!" Blues? I want the Caribbean. Reds? Don't give me a sophisticated burgundy. I want a red that almost tips into orange. For the first time in my life I like orange and lime green... two colors that I never would have gone near in my previous life.

So I am seriously considering "Stiletto Love" red for a wall in my living room, "Pensive Plum" in a fabric for my two couches, "Sockeye" peach for the master bedroom and "Pacific Coast Blue" for one wall in the guest room. What do you think?

Scanning In the Notes App on Your iPhone and iPad

Did you know that you now can scan directly into your notes? I find this particularly helpful with recipes from friends or magazines.

1.  Notes is part of the iPhone/iPad operating system. Tap on the yellow and white icon that looks like an old school notepad.
2.  If needed click on "New Folder" in the bottom right corner.
3.  Name your folder and click on "Save." I called mine "Recipes."
4.  You now will see your new folders among your list of folders. This is just an empty folder. Click on the folder to start adding notes.
5.  Click on the new notes icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
6.  Type the Title of your note. Mine is Pineapple-Hibiscus Cocktail. Then click on the + within a circle above the keyboard.
7.  Click on Scan Document.
8.  Hold your iPhone (scanner/camera) above the document and click on the white button. You then will be able to drag corner handles to adjust the cropping. 
9.  Tap on "Keep Scan" in the bottom right corner.
10.Next tap on "Save" in the bottom right corner.
11.Your scan is now saved into your notes. In this case in the Pineapple-Hibiscus Cocktail note. You can type in more information underneath the scan.
12. If you tap on the back arrow in the upper left corner you will now see that your new note with the scan is now in your folder.

Top Ten Tips From My Favorite Magazines - April

1.  I saw this quote from Ursula K. Le Guin in this month's O Magazine. It just seems like such a good reminder for right now.

2.  Also from O is the book Posters for Change. It's a book with 50 removable posters. I have always had a thing for protest posters and this features some good ones. It is available from Amazon for $22.09 in paperback or $9.60 for the Kindle version.

3.  It is way past Easter but this tree with hanging eggs so reminded me of my Mom. She placed a branch in a vase and put it in the dining room fifty plus years ago. During different holidays she would hang different things from the branches. At Easter it was eggs. At Christmas ornaments. During the summer it was small bird houses and at Halloween little ghosts made from napkins.

4.  Good to know that dog owners are less likely to develop heart disease. I saw this in Better Homes and Gardens. Research from a 12 year study found that our doggy friends help to relieve stress and encourage us to exercise.

5.  Love love love this headboard from Anthropologie.

6.  This month's Country Living featured this wonderful Dutch Door. I have always wanted a Dutch Door and especially like the color of this one, with the curved top and white molding.

7.  I meditate every day. Lion's Roar Magazine always has lots of inspiration. I loved the idea in April's issue to dedicate your meditations to others. I had never thought of that before. 

8.  Another fun book (featured in Country Living) is Tin Can Homestead. This book is based on the Instagram site of the same name. It follows the story of how one couple created "a new life in an old airstream." Available on Amazon. Hardcover is $25. Kindle is $13.99

9.  There is only one kind of photography that I like as much as iPhone Photography and that is polaroids. I found this snazzy Instant Camera in Country Living. You can purchase the camera at Amazon.

10. I love a silk kimono with jeans or slacks. I saw this lovely green reversible kimono jacket in Good House Keeping. You can find it at NY and Company for $129.95.

Walking the Malecon

I love walking along the malec√≥n in Ajijic. There is always a beautiful view. Most days there is sunshine. Sometimes it is peacefully quite. Other days there are interesting people, children playing, music and vendors. 

I took this photo with my iPhone 7Plus. I then edited the image in the Hipstamatic app, using the John S lens and Ina's 1969 film.