2018 Favorite iPhone Photography Apps

Time for this year's list of my favorite iPhone Photography Apps. My list changes a bit each year when new apps are added to Apple's App Store and as old apps are updated and changed. So (drum roll) here are my favorite dozen for 2018.

1.  Instant - I have tried quite a few apps that imitate old Polaroid cameras. This is a new one for me. I like it because of it's simplicity. It also has the Polaroid sound, a larger border at the bottom for a caption and filters for intensity, vignetter, emulsion and grain.

2.  TaDaa is also a new app to my list. It is a good, easy editing app, but mostly I like it because of its borders. 
Click to download Free with in-app purchases

3.  WordSwag - Pronto and Typorama have been my go-to font apps for quite awhile. However lately I have been using WordSwag a lot. It has fun, graphic fonts that give my photos a bit of whimsy.

4.  ColorStory is a rather addictive filter app. I like it because it has a lot of bright, pastel, playful filters. It comes with basic filters and effects and then you can purchase more. ColorStory seems to add new filters fairly often. Most of the packs are $1.99 or $2.99. This is a fun one.
Click to download Free with in-app purchases

5.  Enlight - You might have seen Enlight around as it is a pretty popular app and I have had it on my favorites list before. This is a pretty hardcore editing app with a bit of a learning curve. But it has some very handy tools for improving your photos.

6.  Hipstamatic is my most used app and is on every one of my favorite apps lists. I have even written an e-book to explain how it works, to give examples of my favorite combinations of lenses, film and flashes and to include links and resources for the large Hipstamatic communities online.

7.  Canva is a terrific app for making posters and images for social media and blogs. You also can create flyers, invitations, greeting cards, business cards, album covers, YouTube art and more. There are lots of free templates and others that you can purchase. All are customizable. It's easy to use and can add a professionally designed look to your graphics.
Click to download Free with in-app purchases

8.  Quickshot - This is a fairly new app from Enlight. It has decent editing tools, but what I like most is the "Strobe" feature. It is a really fun way to capture movement, whether it is kids, pets, sports or just fast action.
Click to download Free with in-app purchases

9.  Diptic is another app that is always on my favorite lists. It is an easy way to make collages and to tell a visual story. The graphic in this post was done in Diptic. Hardly a day goes by when I am not using it for something - especially social media.

10.  Skwrt is my go-to app when an image I have photographed has a problem with perspective. You know, like those times when you photograph a tall building from below and the top of the building looks like the point of a triangle. Skwrt does a great job of straightening those lines and edges so that they are parallel.

11.  Wacopix - I have used the Waterlogue app for years to achieve a watercolor effect. However lately I have been playing around with the Wacopix app. It has some fun watercolor looking options.

12.  Formulas is the app I now use most often to add texture to an image. It is especially useful if you want a vintage or grunge effect. 

If you would like to learn more about iPhone Photography apps, 
I just released the 2018 iPhoneography Wow! ebook.

Top Ten Tips From My Favorite Magazines - January 2018

1.  Saw these tassel earring in the January issue of O. Love them. $58 from harthagerty.com.

2.  I saw this wicker chair in the Jan/Feb issue of Country Living. I am seriously wanting this swivel chair for my desk. It is $499 from Pottery Barn.

3.  I love O magazine, but honestly she has a thing for thousand dollar shoes. The chances of me spending $1,000 for a pair of shoes are zero. Then I discovered these boots. Love them! And they are only $40 from Just Fab. Not sure I could walk in them but my feet would look darn cute sitting!

4.  This is such a cool stoneware painted jug. I saw it in this month's HGTV magazine. And it is only $20 from IKEA.

5.  This month's issue of Country Living is all about creativity. Lorraine Nam is a featured paper artist. You can find her on Instagram @lorrainenam. Her thread is an absolute treat for the eye.

6.  Now this is one very clever idea from Martha Stewart Living. She suggests using inexpensive radiator screens to cover a boring bulletin board. 

7.  Do other people keep walking off with your charging cords? I found this solution in Real Simple... Washi tape. You can get 30 rolls for $7.89  on Amazon. End the "whose charger is this" debate forever.

8.  I saw this collection of cluster lights in January issue of Better Homes and Gardens. This image is of the lobby of the Asbury Park hotel in New Jersey. I love how they have different styles. There are lots of options on Amazon.

9.  Speaking of lights, I saw this very cool red metal outdoor light in the current HGTV magazine.  $49 at cshardware.com

10. One more artist from the creativity issue of Country Living - Meghan Rosko. She makes the most adorable macrons. I have someone in mind for these bicycle macaroons. You can find out more about her at Instagram - @nutmegandhoneybee.

Reading Magazines on Your iPhone and iPad

I have loved magazines since I was in junior high and read all of my older sister's teen magazines. Once I started buying my own I turned back the corners and ripped out pages to save. Over the years I have been known to have file cabinets of articles about places I wanted to travel, crafts I wanted to attempt, outfits I wanted to buy, decorating and gardening tips I wanted to implement.

Now instead of having piles of magazines stashed under my bed, I read them on my iPhone and iPad. Instead of file cabinets full of articles I take screen shots  (hold down the on/off button and home button at the same time) of things I want to remember and save them in my Photo Library Albums. It saves on space, saves trees and I can carry dozens of magazines to read in even the tiniest purses.

The two apps I use to download magazines are Texture and Zinio. With Texture you pay a monthly fee to download as many magazines as you want from their collection of over 200.

With Zinio, you purchase the magazines you want, either by subscription or by individual magazines. I primarily use Zinio when I want a magazine that Texture does not carry.



Colors of Mexico

I seriously want this car. Another photo from this morning’s walk in Ajijic.

Mexican Apple Crumble

I was surprised. I thought it would be like an Apple Muffin. Nevertheless I persisted!

Margarita Chocolates, a Brief History and Other Chocolate Delights

I have discovered three chocolate shops in the small village of Ajijic Mexico. The picture above is my latest stash. I highly recommend Margarita Chocolates.

I am in the land where chocolate began - in Mesoameria around 1900 BC. The Mayans and Aztecs believed that the seeds were divine, a gift from the gods. They made a bitter, fermented drink called xocoatl. Cacao beans were so valuable that they were used as currency.

It wasn't until the cacao seeds were imported to Europe by the Spanish that sugar and honey were added. Chocolate was primarily a delicacy for the wealthy until the late 1700s. The invention of the steam engine made the chocolate process faster and available to the masses.

I have yet to discover a chocolate that I don't like. It's still possible but I would say unlikely. Below are a few favorite chocolate recipes.

Rice Krispy Peanut Butter Balls have been a Christmas tradition since I was a kid. My grandmother would send them to us in a coffee can. My mom would put them into the freezer so they would last until Christmas day. Then we discovered that they were quite yummy frozen as well. 

I found my "go to" chocolate cheesecake recipe years ago in Maida Haetter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts.  

My favorite ice cream is Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia (with dark chocolate chunks of course.) You can get Ben and Jerry's recipe for home made ice cream in their book 
Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

Chocolate Dipped Cherries were always another holiday favorite at our house. Mom used to order them from a local candy store that is long gone. I found a recipe however, in Epicurius.

The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mystery Series

Still Life is the first book in a mystery series about Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. A murder takes place in a rural village south of Montreal. The victim is Jane Neal, a retired school teacher. The locals believe it is a hunting accident, as who would possibly have anything against their beloved Jane. However Inspector Gamache and his colleagues begin to suspect it is murder. And there are quite a few suspects in the charming town of Three Pines.

I bought Still Life at the beginning of the summer and have zipped through the entire series. The last book (so far) is Glass Houses which I bought the day it came out and finished by the next day. No I did not get a whole lot done in that 24 hours but boy was it enjoyable.

The story line, characters and writing in these novels are captivating. If you like being hooked on a mystery and don't need to get a whole lot done for the next month, I highly recommend binge reading Louise Penny's series.

Still Life/Book One - from iBooks    from Amazon 

A Fatal Grace / Book Two - from iBooks   from Amazon

The Cruelest Month/ Book Three - from iBooks    from Amazon

A Rule Against Murder/ Book Four - from iBooks    from Amazon

The Brutal Telling / Book Five - from iBooks    from Amazon

Bury Your Dead/ Book Six - from iBooks    from Amazon

A Trick of the Light/ Book Seven - from iBooks    from Amazon

The Beautiful Mystery/Book Eight - from iBooks    from Amazon

How the Light Gets In/Book Nine - from iBooks    from Amazon

The Long Way Home/Book Ten - from iBooks    from Amazon

The Nature of the Beast/ Book Eleven - from iBooks    from Amazon

A Great Beckoning/Book Twelve - from iBooks    from Amazon

Glass Houses/Book Thirteen - from iBooks    from Amazon

Sending "Real" Postcards From Your iPhone and iPad

Sending regular postcards to family and friends, through the mail, can be a bit of a hassle when you travel. First you have to buy the postcards, then you have to find a post office to buy stamps and mail them. And then, from some locations, it can be rather iffy if they will ever be received.

I like sending real, old-fashioned postcards. These days it feels like a treat instead of just getting a photo via email or a text message. Well now you can send "real" postcards directly from your iPhone with an app. There are several companies that will mail a postcard for you. I have tested a number of them and my favorite is Pixinote. The quality is good. It's easy to use and your postcard is mailed in an envelope so it will arrive in good shape.

After you download Pixinote you will sign up and fill in your information. I had a bit of a problem with this because I did not have a choice of an address outside of the U.S. I contacted Pixinote and they got back to me in just a few minutes. They said to use their address. So if you are an expat, currently living outside of the U.S. here is the address to use as your own.

14E Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Suite B
Larkspur, CA 94939

Once you have signed up it's time to create your first postcard. Click on the left side of the card to import one of your favorite images from your iPhone or iPad. Then click on the right side of the card to write a three line message. Click on the "add recipients" blue bar at the bottom of the screen. Once you have added the names and addresses from your contacts, click "done" in the upper right corner. Next click on the "All set?" blue bar. You can choose to make your postcard private and then you buy credits to mail your postcard. One note is $3, five notes are $12 and 20 notes are $40. That's all there is to it!

Click on the AppStore button below to download Pixinote. It's free!

It's National Waffle Day - August 24th

Who knew? Here are sixteen waffle recipes from Better Homes and Gardens. Yummmm. I need to get a new waffle iron as I sold mine before coming to Mexico (too heavy to fit in suitcase). Here are a few I like if anyone has room in their suitcase to bring me one from the U.S.


Ajijic and Capturing Unexpected Moments with Your iPhone Camera

Mexico holds surprises around every corner. In San Miguel it was often a parade suddenly appearing. In Ajijic it is horses and ponies. On my morning walk I saw a rider on a horse turn the corner, shortly followed by this pony. So sweet. I barely got my iPhone camera up fast enough.

That reminds me. Did you know that if you are in a hurry to take a picture with your iPhone Camera and your iPhone is asleep, just swipe right to left. You then will be in your camera without having to put in a password or fingerprint first. It's a perfect iPhone feature for catching unexpected moments.

First Impressions of Lake Chapala

San Miguel de Allende reminded me of San Francisco. Ajijic on Lake Chapala reminds me of Santa Cruz California. Lola and I have only been here a few days but we have managed to find...
•good coffee
•delicious flan
•a couple of small grocery stores
•the local farmacia (pharmacy)
•delightful neighborhoods for Lola's and my daily walks
•the "malecon" walkway along the shore
•a yummy ice cream place that serves cappuccino with your choice of ice cream
•the Lake Chapala Society where expats linger over breakfast, lunch, wine and beer
•several used furniture places where many treasures are waiting for me to set up a home

I have a politically like-minded friend who also yells at television news and talks to herself and pets. It gets a bit confusing, but we have decided as long as I am staying with her we will begin each sentence with each other's names so we both can stop saying "what?"

Today I met a couple who have invited me out to dinner. She is the first cousin of Richard Nixon and has some fascinating stories about their family's history.

Lola has two new kitty companions - one who likes her and one who avoids her. Lola has already sniffed ½ of downtown Ajijic and has discovered that stretched out on Mexican tile floors is the perfect place to be on a warm day.

And so the next part of our adventure begins...