Monday, September 28, 2015



With the purchase of a new  Samsung phone and some minor health issues for all three family members we decided to give this free app a try to see if it could help us work through getting better organized with our efforts to live a healthier lifestyle.

The app has many segments and you can use or not use as you want.  It allows you to track/monitor the many categories from water, food and caffeine intake to activity levels to restful sleep and more.

Let’s start with your profile.  In this section you enter your name, sex, height, current weight and indicate your activity level.  I recommend doing this first so the app can calculate other items for you as you move from section to section in setting it up.

To do so you go to the top of the main screen click on the prompts for the profile (the more button) and fill in the simple choices. You can also add a photo at one point if you would care to.  The photo will show up next to your name.

Each section is just as easy to set.  You can set personal goals for items like eating healthier, getting more exercise, getting more rest, controlling your caffeine intake etc.  I suggest exploring each segment thoroughly along the way as you are setting it up.  Pay particular attention to the “more” and info buttons, because by clicking on these you will find how you can set up each segment with more detail and trigger automatic calculations for you.

An example of this is the body mass index or bmi. I had ZERO idea on how to calculate this, but by filling in the various blanks the app calculated it for me automatically.  Let’s just say that number needs to go way down.

When I set my current weight, age, height and weight goal it calculated my daily calorie intake to either maintain that weight (not happening) or what I should eat maximum daily to lose weight.  Both are shown on a chart that helps you see how you are progressing.

By clicking on the trends or track button in each segment you can compare how you are doing in previous days.  By setting your location it automatically rolls over every section at midnight each night, so you are always current.

Tracking your calories and more important your nutrient intake is VERY simple because they include not only your basic apple, milk calorie recording, but by brand and restaurant name.  So if you eat a chicken taco salad from Taco Bueno you can actually type in that term and it will bring up your choices of eating it with or without the tortilla bowl.  You click your choice and it brings up the calorie count for you.  This is very helpful when trying to decide what to eat. 

If you have already consumed it you can simply click it then add your next item, and repeat until you have your whole meal consumed then you click next.

On the next screen you get the option of changing the serving size.  I tend to eat only half of any meal consumed away from home, I can adjust the number of servings by .5 increments easily either up or down. You know sometimes you have to have just one more cookie. 

You can also set what time you ate the meal/snack.  This could be helpful if you are trying to adjust when you want eat the higher calorie items during the first part of the day.

One drawback I have found with this section is it says “per serving size” and some items do NOT have what a serving size is.  An example would be my cereal breakfast did not have how much cereal was a serving size, so I had to check the cereal box to see how much it was, then adjust the consumed amount accordingly.

Most items will tell you what they consider a serving size on the first screen where you enter it.

Once you have your meal/snack (spaces for three meals and three snacks a day) entered it will show that meal or snack total as well as your daily total. 

If you have set a “eat healthier goal” it not only keeps the total but will show you how you are doing toward your goal. Clicking on that chart will bring up not only the weight and calorie but all your nutrient intake for the day showing you what you have consumed, what you should consume daily by your height and weight, and age.  It is also color coded for low, average, and high levels of each nutrient.  This is very helpful if you are trying to control various items like sodium.

Want to increase your activity level?  There are segments for daily steps (my favorite to check constantly), walking at a quick pace, or even running—not this old fat woman. 

Each one tells you how you are doing, how many calories you have burned, and how far you have gone.  For all this to work you may need to allow it to gps your location.

The walking and running segments also will play music, should you desire, from your play list through your phone.

One caveat about this section.  Like I said the steps is a very important part for me, but it wasn’t working properly on my phone.  It was on both men’s, but of course not mine.  I became VERY frustrated about this and set out on a web search on how to fix it.  I found a simple fix that required uninstallation and re-installing the updates.  It took dh less than five minutes to do the steps and it works perfectly now.  Absolutely loved seeing that my shopping at Wal-Mart for good for me foods actually burned a lot of calories and included over 3,000 steps.

Speaking of that, when you do good, you get rewards.  Little congratulatory statements and trophies will suddenly appear on your phone.  Who doesn’t need an ‘atta girl/boy every now and again.

If you have more than one goal set you will have to scroll either right or left to see your goal charts for each goal.  Not a big deal, but it did take me a couple of minutes to figure this out.

As an added bonus there are periodic tips on helping you achieve your goals.  Some of these are very helpful.

All in all I highly suggest if you have this free app on your phone you explore and use it.  If your phone doesn’t have it, I found that you can download it from the Google Play Store.

Because of the few minor failings like the lack of serving size and having to uninstall and re-install I give this app a b+

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Last night we decided to have a “date night” and go out for dinner and a movie.  Our movie choice was a toss-up between “Everest” and “Hotel Transylvania 2”.  We chose “Everest”, so glad we did.

I am going to try to be very careful to not give any spoilers, which is more difficult than you might think where this movie is concerned.

We both went into this movie with no background  information on the incident so it was all a new story to us.  We also were both wishy washy on whether or not we were even interested in the movie.  Therefore, we were a blank slate on our opinions.

It didn’t bode good to us that when we climbed the “mountain” of stairs going to the balcony of the movie theater there was only one other patron in the theater. 

The movie started off, for lack of a better word, busy.  They rushed right into introducing the characters in the backdrop of busy airports in places like Nepal, and Katmandu.

I was interested, as a travel junky, in the locale so I was torn between looking at what was going on in the background and learning the characters.  As the movie went on I learned to identify the players by the color of their snowsuits.  Even at that by the end of the movie I was still trying to sort folks out.  Of course that could have just been me, but then my husband said he had the same problem and still didn’t know who some of the folks were.

One familiar face and voice haunted us the whole movie because we could not place who was playing the character Beck.  A check of IMDB jarred our memories, the part was played quite well by Josh Brolin.  He is the only actor we truly recognized while at the movie.

Once I read the list of actors on IMDB I recognized a few other names, but most were unknowns to me.  I actually think this added to the movie experience for us.

Based on a true life event the movie is a chronological event from the beginning of the trip to where they are now, but it was not done in a true documentary format. Which I was again thankful for.

It did have a bit of history across the screen in the beginning, which we appreciated.

As the movie moved on it also had locations typed across the screen to help you figure out exactly where they were and what was going on.  We found it helpful.  It did not hinder the flow of the movie at all. In fact I highly recommend you read each bit of info they supply you.  It really helped us follow the story line.

From the first meeting of the mountaineers the story line develops and draws you in.  You find yourself pulling for the different characters, identifying with the breathing difficulties, feeling their exhaustion, and emotions.

We didn’t realize it as we watched the movie how tense we were during the show.  It was only afterward, as we relaxed, we both realized we had been very tense during the last part of the movie.

We were both so engrossed in the movie we refused to take a much needed bathroom break toward the end of the long feature, because we didn’t want to miss a ssingle second of it.

Spectacular aerial views draw you in to the story line, giving you the feel that you are actually on Mount Everest.  You develop great respect for the mountain with its temperamental weather changes and its defiance against man.

Both my husband and I give this movie a strong “A” rating.  However, that being said.  We love based on true life  movies, like “Argo” and similar.  If you need bang, bang shoot’em up type movies to be entertained then this might not be the movie for you.

This is a movie that makes you think and makes for good discussion afterwards.

I wish I could tell you more about the movie, but it would involve spoilers and that wouldn’t be right. 

Jan who still wants to see "Hotel Transylvania 2" in OK

Monday, February 16, 2015

BUILDING OUR FAMILY QUILT: a book review on four different books on scrapbooking your Family Heritage.

"Why waste your money looking up your family tree? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you." -- Mark Twain

Normally I read a book and post a review of it.  This time, however, I have read four different books on the same subject and decided I would post a comparison review of the four.  

Each deals with the subject of researching and scrapbooking your family heritage.  A subject near and dear to my heart.  I will list them from my least favorite to my favorite of the four.  My plan is to glean the best from all four to create a series of scrapbooks on my son’s ancestry that I call the Family Quilt. 

Coming in at fourth place is Memory Maker’s “Family Tree page ideas for Scrapbookers, 130 ways to create a scrapbook legacy.

Had I read this book first I might have been more impressed with it and the various versions of family trees and how to create them, but it had the unfortunate happenstance of being read after the one I deemed my favorite of the four.
If you are a true genealogy beginner, then this book may rate higher up the food chain for you.  

 It starts with several good ideas on how to do your basic research into your family history.   I basically skimmed over this part because I have been doing research since 1989 and all the hints I saw were things I’ve already done.   However, not everyone has played with dead people for decades like I have and the info there could be quite helpful.

The book does have some good layout ideas if you strictly want to use the “tree” concept throughout your entire scrapbook, with various creative ways to create the tree.  However, it left very little room for journaling and I am a person, as you well know, that likes to include journaling. 

It did have a couple of good ideas that I am certain I will incorporate into my own scrapbook, such as an accordion fold section for small photos or journallng and the half page fold ins at a diagonal to add a little dimension to the book.

Included in the back of the book are a few patterns that you could photo copy to create certain designs.  I gave this one an overall rating of a B- simply because it did not inspire me the way the other three did.

Third place honors go to “Scrapbooking Your Family History” by Laura Best.
She too includes helpful hints on researching your family history, as well as some creative ideas on how to display cherished memorabilia.  I liked several of the display and journaling ideas in this book.  

She goes into colors, time periods and themes much more than the previous book, which I find extremely helpful. I gave this book a strong B+ in my rating system.
Coming in a very close second to number one is Creating Keepsakes “Scrapbooking Family Heritage  . It includes over 800 Creative Designs and tips. 

From using small envelopes and ephemera to leaving a space for great Uncle Harvey’s photo you know you will find some day this book covers it all.  It also include where to find many of the items it suggests you use.  Which can be a plus if you want a very certain look. 

From rustic to elegant, and comical to serious it has a concept for the type of page you are looking for.  I did notice a heavy use of vellum in these ideas, but each to their own taste. 

Journaling is pushed far more in this book than the previous two and I like that.  If you do not share the stories now, they may be lost forever. 

It even suggests ways to hide journaling to prevent an overcrowded page.  Again a big plus.  

Texture and dimension are addressed, as well as ways to create certain looks without a major expense.  All in all I give this book an A-.

Okay here it is my #1 favorite of the four and it barely beat out its sister book. Also by Creating Keepsakes “Scrapbooking Your Family History, the Ultimate Workbook”. With a bonus of 72 forms you can download for free.  

It wasn’t just that bonus that won my heart, but it did go a long way.  It was the step by step layout of ideas and how to incorporate them into your own family history to tell the story of your family for generations to come.

I am going to give you a little bonus myself right here.  The downloads can be found at either:  or  

I found myself immersed in reading the family history on the sample pages as I went along through the book.  The simple yet beautiful way the authors told the family story made the family come alive for me.  This is the type of scrapbook(s) I want to create.

Needless to say I gave this book an A, to get an A+ I would suggest checking both the Creating Keepsakes books out of your local library to get the best of all worlds on how to create your own Family History.  Jan who can’t wait to get started on her family quilt scrapbook in OK