Five Apps for Productivity

Five Apps for Productivity1. Spark Email by Readdle (MacOS/iOS | Free)
I discovered this email app after finally getting fed-up with Apple’s stock email app, on both my MacBook and my iPhone. I did some research and found this awesome app, which is unfortunately only available for those with Apple devices. It works with any email server so, if you’re like me and have a million email addresses, you can check them all in one place. So what makes it different than Apple’s stock email app? Basically, it comes down to the fact that it’s a bit more oriented towards organization: each email address is color-coded and so when checking your entire inbox, you can see which email came from which address, simply by identifying its color. Spark also has a Smart Inbox, which automatically categorizes your emails to make sorting through your messages quicker. I definitely recommend checking out Spark!

2. Cash by Square (iOS/Android/Website | Free)
I’m sure by now everyone’s heard of Venmo, the app where you can electronically transfer money to and from other users’ bank accounts. However, there is a lesser-known mobile payment service called Cash. I was introduced to this one before I’d heard of Venmo, but I now use them both. However, I find Cash to be much more user-friendly: it’s very simple to use and understand, and doesn’t have the extra social stuff that Venmo does. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re not into Venmo, and it also doesn’t hurt to have two options.

3. Grammarly Keyboard (iOS/Android | Free)
I’ll admit it — I’m a Grammar Nazi. I have been a fan of Grammarly for a while now, and have the grammar checker installed on my computer and so when I found out about Grammarly’s new smartphone keyboard, I was unashamedly excited.  I downloaded it and gave it a try. This is such an awesome app for people who struggle with correct grammar usage, especially when writing an important email or text message. This just kind of amps up your smartphone’s autocorrect by not only offering word suggestions, but also by offering grammar corrections as well. I only wish this could be permanently integrated into every phone’s autocorrect system.

4. Percentage Calculator (iOS/Android | Free; option to remove ads)
If you’re like me, you can’t calculate a percentage to save your life. However, if you’re also like me, you hate paying full price for things, and are constantly on the hunt for good deals, which means you need to calculate percentage discounts (especially at Hobby Lobby, amirite?). There are a few percentage apps on the market, but I like this one best out of the few that I’ve tried. It not only calculates simple percentages, but it also does tips, discounts, price/quantity, percentage increase/decrease, and converts fractions to percentages (yaaas), along with several “business calculator” options. If the math part of your brain is basically useless like mine is, this app is a necessity!

5. PDF Converter Ultimate (iOS/Android | Free; optional in-app purchases)
DISCLAIMER: I was contacted by Cometdocs, and asked to try out their app and to write an honest review.
Converting files to PDF form can be very useful, especially if you have a document that you would prefer to have in image form to share more easily. This PDF converter has a very sleek and user-friendly design, while allowing you to do a whole lot with it. You can easily convert files from Gmail, iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Box. You simply tap the icon from which you’d like to get your file, tap the file that you’d like to convert, choose “convert to PDF,” and the app converts it for you in about a minute or less. Then it shows up in the “converted files” section of the app. I found it very easy to use and this is an extremely useful tool to have, especially if you share files a lot.

Are you interested in giving any of these apps a try?
Let me know what you think if you do!

Five of My Favorite Apps

Five of My Favorite AppsToday’s post is one that I see a lot of bloggers/YouTubers doing and it looks so fun. I am going to share with you five of my favorite apps that I have on my phone, as well as the links so that you can download them yourselves! Let me know in the comments if you have any of these apps, are going to download them, or if you have any suggestions for me!

1. Scribd (iOS/Android | Free to download; paid subscription)
This is an awesome app for readers and is commonly described as the “Netflix for books.” For $8.99 a month, you can access thousands of books, audiobooks, newspapers & magazines, and even sheet music. I use it exclusively for audiobooks because I don’t like reading on my phone. Scribd has a vast variety of audiobooks that you download for one credit. You accumulate three reading credits and one audiobook credit per month and they can accumulate. Also, audiobooks are only around $8 to purchase if you’ve used up all your credits, which is a great price. This app can definitely give Audible a run for its money.

2. iShows (iOS | Free to download & use)
This app is aaamazing. If you know me at all, you know that I am an avid TV show watcher and after a while, it has become very difficult to keep up with all my shows. Then I found this app. It allows you to add the shows that you are currently watching, and you can check off the episodes that you’ve watched already. You can also mark shows as your favorite and archive them. I like to archive the shows that I’ve finished so that I have a record of all of them, as well as the ones that I’m currently watching. This app is also super helpful if you want to find out when a show is releasing a new season.

3. Mint by Intuit (iOS/Android | Free to download & use)
When my husband and I first got married, we had no clue what we were doing with our money. We were both savers and wanted to be financially smart, but we didn’t know how to balance our income and bills so that we didn’t spend more than we made. At first, I tried budgeting with an Excel spreadsheet, but that didn’t last long. Then I tried a few different apps before I found Mint. I like it because it has a website as well, which makes setting up your budget super easy. You link Mint to your bank account and any other accounts that you have (school loans, internet provider, etc.), and then you can clearly see how much income vs. expense you have on a monthly basis. You can then edit your budget to more accurately reflect your monthly expenses and keep track of it on the app. Mint has seriously been a lifesaver in my house!

4. Walmart (iOS/Android | Free to download & use)
Along with budgeting, I also love to save money. I have several money-saving/refund apps, but one of my favorites that many people might not know about is the Walmart app. This is a refund app, and all you have to do is scan your receipt and submit it to the Savings Catcher part of the app. After a few days of processing, it will let you know if it has found any of the items that you purchased at a lower price (dollar stores, Target, etc.). If so, the app will reimburse the difference to you. Usually, this will just be a few cents, but if you’re lucky, it can be a few dollars! You can then transfer your accumulated reimbursements to a Walmart gift card to spend later. I accumulated about $30 before I cashed in my first gift card, and I used it for groceries!

5. Hiya (iOS/Android | Free to download & use)
I discovered this app after I started receiving a TON of unknown/spam phone calls nearly every day. Hiya came in very handy because you can look up unknown numbers by simply copying and pasting the number into Hiya’s search bar, and it will tell you if the number has been reported as a scam/fraud or suspected spam. This app also allows users to give others details about suspicious numbers (i.e. “This person tried to get my credit card information…”). I also like using Hiya to simply identify numbers that I haven’t saved in my phone, even if they’re not spam.

DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored post

I am always looking for new apps to make my life easier or just to have fun with. Do you have any app recommendations that you think I’d enjoy? Tell me in the comments! I’d love to do another of these Favorite App posts in the future.

Five Tips for Healthy Succulents

Five Tips for Healthy SucculentsI moved to Houston in January 2016, and I had to leave my cat behind with my mom. I grew up with animals and so I found myself very lonely without a furry companion. I decided that the way to solve my problem was to buy a plant. I had brought a Lucky Bamboo with me when I moved, and so I decided I would continue with that trend. Succulents were just beginning to gain the popularity that they have now, and I quickly jumped on the bandwagon.

By March, I’d moved back home and had all the room I could desire and quickly expanded my succulent garden. By August, I had more succulents than I could count, and I had learned a whole lot about what succulents like and what they don’t. Even though I don’t have all the space I once had (the porch at our apartment is minuscule), I do have an Aloe Vera and a Jade, and my knowledge is still being put to use. I’d like to share with you five of the most important tips from my experience in hopes that it will help you have healthier succies.

1. Container

While it’s super trendy right now to plant succulents in cute, unique planters like teacups or terrariums, that doesn’t mean that they’re always the best option for the succulent. The key is to make sure that your planter has a drainage hole. You can still use all sorts of fun and unique items to plant your succulents in, but you will just have to create a drainage hole first. I have planted succulents in everything from teacups and mugs to small bowls to coffee tins, but I always added drainage holes with my Dremel.

The reason that drainage holes are so important is that succulents hate sitting in water. They will die of root rot much more quickly than they will die of dehydration. So if their soil is too damp for too long, the poor plant is pretty much doomed. The drainage holes allow for the excess water to quickly escape the pot and get away from the roots.

2. Soil

Like I mentioned in my last tip, succulents don’t like wet soil. When looking to purchase soil for your succulents, make sure to choose a soil that’s labeled specifically for succulents and cacti. This is the brand that I’ve used most consistently and I’ve never had a problem with it. Succulent soil is made with a mixture that aerates much more easily and is less dense than other potting soil, which allows the roots to get more air. I also like to mix in equal parts Perlite into my soil for extra aeration, just to be safe.

3. Light

Succulents, just like any other plant, need sunlight to thrive. But some need more than others, and so it’s always a good idea to save the little tag that comes with your succulent so that you can research its species to see how much light it actually needs.

Just like people, too much direct sunlight isn’t good for succulents, regardless of if they need a little light or a lot. They can get sunburnt and, while a sunburnt leaf won’t kill the plant, it doesn’t heal like it does on our skin. Too much light and sunburn will eventually kill the succulent, so keep an eye on your succulents, especially in the summertime.

It’s a good idea to keep your succies in a spot (indoors or outdoors) where they can get full morning light and filtered afternoon light because morning light is much less harsh than afternoon light is.

4. Temperature & Climate

The answer to this can vary based on where you live. But the short answer to what temperature and climate succulents like is: hot and dry. But many of them can survive colder temperatures — some even as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. But others don’t like it any lower than 50 degrees. It’s a good idea to take your succulents inside in temperatures below freezing because they are primarily composed of water and freezing temperatures can be devastating to them. It would also be beneficial to look up your succulent’s species and what USDA Plant Hardiness Zone you live in because this will help you understand more precisely what temperature your succulents prefer. I live in Zone 8b, which means that my succulents can grow outside for a good portion of the year because we don’t have temperatures below freezing very often.

5. Water

Succulents seem to have a reputation as plants that are super hard to kill. But in my experience, I’ve found that they can be pretty finicky. Contrary to popular belief, they actually CAN die, and this can happen rather suddenly if you’re not careful.

Succulents are native to dry, desert areas where there are long periods of drought, followed by heavy rains. This means that succulents innately want that same watering pattern, even if you don’t live in the desert.

After much trial and error and lots of tragic succulent deaths, I’ve learned to only water my succulents when they look like they need it. Then, I completely soak the soil until the excess water drains out of the drainage hole.

Keep an eye on your succulents. If they are over-watered, the leaves will become yellow or white and squishy. If the roots have rotted, it becomes very difficult to save your succulent. If it’s under-watered, the leaves will begin to fall off and the plant will stop growing. Luckily, it’s quite easy to recover an under-watered succulent. After getting enough water, it’ll usually perk up after a day or two. So, a good rule of thumb is: if you’re unsure, don’t water.

More Info

For tons of information and tips on succulents, go check out Cassidy at Succulents and Sunshine! I learned a lot from her and I LOVE her book, which you can buy here.

Have any of you gotten into the succulent craze?! What are your favorite species?