Sunday, July 30, 2017

Google Photos - How to Use it and Why to Use it

We have had one of those summers that just seems to go on forever. Absolute perfection. We have had a perfect balance of lazy days and busy days. We have gone on day trips, and vacation trips. We have been on trails and been to the ocean. We have done tons of household projects, and also watched tons of Netflix. 

Icon Image Retrieved From Here
One of my favorite projects I've completed this summer is a full blown digital cleanse. It's something I've wanted to do for a while, but just haven't gotten a round to it until now. I spent the month of June converting all my Microsoft documents/spreadsheets to google docs/sheets, deleting all old and unnecessary files, consolidating apps on all our devices, color coding and organizing my google drive, purging my Pinterest files, and taking both my school and personal emails down to 0, that's right ZERO emails. But my favorite digital cleanse project by far is the restructuring of my digital photos. Enter Google Photos. 

I actually didn't intend to include a digital photo reorganization in my digital cleanse because I'm actually really obsessive about how I store my photos. Usually, around the end of the month, I upload all my photos from my phone and organize them into folders by year and month, then cross reference them by videos, boys' pictures, blog pictures, etc. You get the point. So I didn't think I needed much help there. But then, I crushed (and I mean crushed) my old phone (RIP Moto X) and had to get a new one. You know how when you get a new one, it just takes a few days to figure things out. Well it was in this time period that I got sucked into google photos because the new phone kept using it as a default. Since I'm a Google purist at heart, I can't believe it took me this long to get on board with the photos app, but I am so glad I found it. 

So all that to say, if you aren't using google photos for your digital photos, you are totally missing out! Here's all the things I love about google photos and a little tutorial along the way. 


To get the most out of Google Photos, you have to sync your phone (or computer, or device) to the app. It will automatically ask you to do this in the process of setting up. What this does is backs up all your photos and videos as you take them. As your device recognizes other apps where you have photos (messaging, Instagram, Facebook (I'm assuming)), it will prompt you to back up photos from these places too. You can easily go into the settings and change your sync options. For example, I was syncing from my camera app AND Instagram, and then realized that I was getting double photos synced, because all of my Instagram photos come from my camera app. So I just turned off the Instagram Sync. To do this, just go to settings, back up and sync, choose folders to sync. Bam. Done. 

One more thing on syncing. Once your apps are synced, if you try to delete a picture from your camera app, Google Photos will notify you that if you delete a photo, then it will also be deleted from Google Photos - you know because they are all synced up now. Don't worry, though. Google Photos totally has you covered. It took me a while to figure this out, and it was honestly the feature that pushed me over the edge into full blown commitment to this app. To clear you phone's storage, simply go into settings on the google app, and click free up space. And you know what? The app automatically clears out any pictures and videos that are taking up space on your phone (only the ones that have been backed up by google photos). So then you have cleared up storage for more google apps AND you have access to all your photos through the App. 

This feature is my absolute favorite feature of Google Photos. Because as I mentioned earlier, I love cross referencing my photos so I can find exactly what picture I'm looking for. The cool thing about the photos app however, is that it recognizes faces, places, and category of picture, and sorts them for you! Say what? 

Here's what the front page of my albums looks like. It also sorts the images from wherever they came from on your phone (camera, downloads, etc.)

The "People" album let's you identify people in pictures. Then it can find all those people and sort them. So now I can just search for a specific person and it will pull up all of the pictures of them. It is ridiculously accurate, but occasionally does mix up Lex and Eli. They do look an awful lot alike. 

If you have your location turned on, the places feature will categorize by city. 

But the really fun category is the "things" category, which categorizes your pictures by what they are. It's interesting to see how the photos get categorized. 

Among others, I have a playgrounds category in this folder. 

Interestingly, I apparently also have enough pictures of turtles in my photos that there's a category just for them.

And one more thing, you can also customize your albums if you need a folder that's not already listed. For example, I started an album for the screenshots I'm using in this blog post so I could find and upload them easier. 

Much like all google apps, it is very easy to share photos with other people. You can share a single photo or an album. What I love though, is that other people can also add photos to that same album. So when we were on vacation, I started an album for vacation pictures. Then my mom and sister in law uploaded all of their pics too so we all had a shared album and could access all the photos. Perfect and practical. 

A Few More Things

The Assistant tab also has some really cool things. For example, you can create and order photo books (although I haven't gotten too far with this one so I can't attest to how easy it is). There are also animations, which puts multiple photos into a fast running slideshow loop. You can do some really fun things with this one. 

You can also make collages which I also haven't tried yet. 

Editing: You can edit photos within the photos app but there aren't a whole lot of options. There are great filters and you can crop and adjust light, etc. but not much more than that. For the record, my favorite editing app right now is Snapseed. It's also made by google so totally compatible. AND you can sync it right to the google photos app so that every photo you edit gets automatically uploaded. 

So that's my pitch for Google Photos. If you don't have a picture management system (other than just dumping them into a folder), this one is really easy to use. I highly recommend it! 

Friday, July 14, 2017

My Sweet Eli

And then he was 6. I am so proud of this kid. I am proud of his kindness, his generosity, his work ethic, and how he treats those around him. I can't believe he is 6 already.  He makes me laugh every single day. Happy 6th birthday, buddy! Here's a look back on this past year.

Starting with his annual birthday interview.

Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Eli: Police Officer 

Me: What's your favorite food?
Eli: Cheese

Me: What's your favorite snack?
Eli: Crackers

Me: What's your favorite thing we did this summer?
Eli: Water balloons

Me: What's your favorite thing to do outside?
Eli: Be in the water

Me: What's your favorite thing to do inside?
Eli: Cuddle 

Me: What is your favorite color?
Eli: Blue

Me: What makes you happy?
Eli: Mommy

Me: Where do you like to go?
Eli: Ohio

 Always the Adventurer. If there is something to climb on, jump over, or race to, he is on it!

1st Day of Kindergarten. He was so excited.  

Finally tall enough for the roller coaster at the state fair!

All Personality. 

 He loves, loves, loves the outdoors!

He was so excited during the first snow fall. He said, "It's like all the birds are pooping on me!"
 He still loves cooking and helping however he can around the house.
 He always tries to make people smile.

And out of nowhere, he just grew up!

 I love that he still loves taking naps. If he's just a little bit tired, all it takes is a fuzzy blanket and a stuffed animal in his arms and his is out like a light.

This was the year he decided on an instrument to play. He began ukulele lessons in February and picked it up really quickly.

Bad picture, but I LOVE how he is rocking it.
He practices all the time.

And got to perform in front of a crowd at the Farmers Market.

    He put 2 more seasons of soccer in the books.

And another season of tball.

He loves animals.

 And worked so hard in school. He learned to read this year!

  He has no fear of a little dirt.

   He is full of life and spunk.

Every single day, he makes me so proud. Eli, May your next year be even half as awesome as you are.

Happy Birthday sweet boy!
Read about Eli's 4th birthday here. 
Read about his 5th birthday here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Introducing My Bullet Journal

Each summer, I give myself a project to work on so my brain doesn't turn to mush over the summer. Some summers, my blog is the project, some summers, it's a goal to try so many new recipes, and some summers, it's a giant bucket list to complete. Last summer, my project was to master the art of lettering (handwritten fonts). For the record, I didn't "master it," but have had gotten way better with lots of practice. Last year I liked to spend my spare time writing the NATO phonetic alphabet (you know - alpha, bravo, charlie, delta...) in as many fonts as I could think of or make up. Learning the NATO alphabet was a goal of mine a couple of winter breaks ago so it was good to practice. Anyhow, I digress.

So this summer, I decided to put all that font practice to good use by diving into my very own bullet journal.

What is a bullet journal, you ask?

If you've never ever heard of this process, then it's best to get started on the website that started it all (click here to find it). In short though, it's a handwritten analog system for journaling and planning. It has progressed to also be an artistic outlet. The best part is, however, that you can customize it however you want for whatever you need. 

You might like a bullet journal if:
 - You like making lists 
 - You are a compulsive planner
 - You like all things antiquated 
 - You like to journal
 - You like to doodle 
 - Any combination of the above

Longtime readers know that I am an avid list maker (remember the list of lists from 2013?) I make lists of everything. So having a central spot for all of those lists is my favorite part of the bullet journal. I'm not a "compulsive" planner per se, but I do like to be prepared so I guess I am somewhat of a planner. I do like antiquated things like handwriting in a digital age (don't get me wrong. My google calendar isn't going anywhere, with or without the bullet journal). I've always been a journaler, but not really an organized one. I journal here and there but not consistently (except for the 750 words project I completed last year.) I've never been really artistic, but my favorite bujo layouts are all filled with doodles, so I figured I could learn to doodle the same way I'm learning to play bass... by googling it. So... that's how I convinced myself to start the bujo process.

How does one get started on a bullet journal?

There are tons of bullet journal products out there and they are really reasonable. I didn't do a ton of research before I delved in and purchased these Huhuhero pens from Amazon. I also got this mint green bullet journal, also from Amazon. Both products get 2 thumbs up from me. Reasonably priced and they both do their job.

What I soon learned however is that really all you need is graph paper and any pens you want. I'll write soon about how my first bullet journal evolved into two bullet journals. It's not the "traditional method," but like I said, you can do whatever you want with your bullet journal so that it works for you. 

I have my supplies. Now what? 

You can find inspiration for your bullet journal all over pinterest and instagram. Popular hashtags to search for include #bujo #bujojunkies #bulletjournals #bulletjournaladdict #bulletjournalcommunity #bulletjournalinspiration... you get the point. 

Using that inspiration, decide what you are going to use bullet journal for. Journaling, planning, just fun stuff? 

I searched and searched and decided to start my journal with a layout of the year. It was a good easy way to start my book. 

Here is a glimpse of a few of the pages in my journal. I'll go into more detail and show more pages in a future post, but this gives you an idea of what I'm filling my bujo with. 

My monthly layout for July. In past months, I've done more of a narrative, but this month I'm doing a doodle a day (exept for day 1 when I hadn't yet decided about the doodle thing). I love including moon phases on my monthly layout... you know, because it's good to know when the full moon is coming.

Here's my summer page that I update daily. 

I created a page to help me learn bass notes (and another page to write out the bass lines to songs I'm learning). 

I created a page to help me plan for a road trip we took back in June.

And I love putting quotes in to fill up empty spaces on each page. This was a weekly layout page and a format that I loved. 

And another...

And then what? 

So right now, I'm using my bujo for monthly journaling, weekly planning, menu planning (on and off again), list making (favorite songs, favorite Ted Talks, planning (house projects, trips)), and doodling. Each one could get its own post so I won't overload you all at once. Some people have written about how bullet journals completely changed their lives. I'm not there yet. Right now, it is something I do completely for fun (says the person who is addicted to organizing data on google spreadsheets, you know, because it's fun). I'll be back soon with updates on how this hobby progresses.