birdwatcher

Well, hello! I think I’m back, I hope there are still a few readers left out there!

I thought I’d return with a quick app recommendation. The last few months I’ve spent quite a lot of time sitting on my porch. I wasn’t feeling too well earlier this year, and then I had a minor surgery to fix the problem (it’s all very boring and frankly, TMI for the Internet), and so then I spent my recovery time sitting and reading or knitting and watching all the birds in our yard. I started noticing a lot of different birds that I hadn’t seen before, and wished I had an easy way to identify them.

The Cornell Lab of Orinthology is such a great source for all things bird-related, and it turns out they just released a Bird ID app called Merlin. You just answer a few questions, and it returns a list of possibilities that includes multiple photos of each bird as well as recordings of their songs. So now I can sit on my porch, see a bird, open the app and find out just what it is in seconds.

Earlier this spring I found a beautiful, but sadly dead, little bird in the chicken pen. I had never seen anything like it before. Using the app, I’ve now learned that it’s a male Bullock’s Oriole, and that it was probably in the area for breeding season.

Photo Apr 19, 11 02 19 AM

Photo Aug 15, 11 02 42 AM  Photo Aug 15, 11 02 54 AM

By identifying the birds that you see, information is added to the lab’s database. The app doesn’t save the birds you find, which I found unfortunate, but you can send comments to the developers, and when I sent a message requesting the ability to do just that they were quick to reply that they have many such improvements planned for the near future.

I never thought of myself as a bird watcher, but I may have started researching binoculars for viewing birds.

Some related links:

my three favorite apps right now

1. Mailbox

I love how you can clean out your inbox and re-schedule and organize email into folders.

2. Afterlight

On most of the photos I take with my phone, I use Snapseed for basic adjustments, and then go to Afterlight for beautiful filters. I like that there are lots of options and that the intensity of the filter is adjustable. Filters can also be layered on top of one another.

afterlight 2

3. Nimble Quest

If I play a game on my phone it needs to be the kind of thing I can just pick up and play for a few minutes. I also prefer that my games be adorable. This satisfies both requirements and is totally addictive.

Photo Aug 13, 9 30 08 AM

APPlesauce: Paper

There’s an exciting new development in the Hey Lucy household. Mr. Heylucy is the proud owner of an iPad Mini. It was an anniversary-birthday-Christmas present. I have been ignoring it, because I didn’t think I really had any need to use it, but he is very generous and keeps downloading apps he thinks I might like, and is very happy to share it with me. So I’ll start including the occasional iPad app review, along with my usual iPhone app reviews. I knew there were lots of iPad-specific apps, of course, but we’ve discovered some really beautiful ones that would never work on a little iPhone screen, so I’m really excited to start sharing them here!

My current favorite is called Paper, which you’ve probably heard of if you have an iPad, since it was just named App of the Year. I like it so much that I’m going to write about it anyway. I have a few drawing apps on my phone, but I never use them. They are really powerful and have tons of capabilities, and I’m sure they’re really great, but I find them just too intimidating for my non-artist self. So I had my doubts the first time I opened up Paper. I didn’t buy any of the extra tools at first, the free version comes with just a pen tool, but I starting just making swirls and lines on the page and knew that I had to have all the tools. There’s something about the way the app works that makes all my doodling look good.

Paper is beautifully designed, and opens with an assortment of Moleskine-like notebooks, which you can name and customize as you like. I had fun making covers using Phonto and Poolga wallpapers. You can re-order the notebooks, and add and remove pages, or move pages from one book to another.

paper app

The drawing interface is very simple and intuitive. Choose your tool and just start creating. The color palette is also very easy to use. There are several pre-set color palettes, and you can adjust the color in the large mixing palette to anything you’d like, and then move those colors over to your own palettes. You also have the ability to blend colors, which makes it easy to make the colors in your work of art all cohesive.

flowers

There’s an eraser tool, but you can also undo your work by making a circle gesture with two fingers and “rewind” your last strokes (up to 20, I believe). I’m still no artist, but Paper is so easy to use that I am drawing more. Here’s an evening’s worth of sketches:

paper sketchbook

more sketches

I’m still doing lots of experimenting, but it’s so satisfying to watch my little notebooks fill up with color and lines. There are so many uses for this app, not just drawing, but note-taking, journaling and creating idea repositories.

The creators of Paper have a tumblr blog, showcasing art created with the app.

The Paper website.

Get it in the App Store:
Paper by FiftyThree - FiftyThree, Inc.

some things to do with iPhone photos

At any given time I have hundreds of photos on my phone. It seems a shame to just leave them there, but it always seems like so much work to do anything else. Well, actually, it’s not really. There are several really easy ways to transform those memories and little works of art from electronic media to real life photos, which are much more fun to look at and share, and there are tons of fun ways to display your photos once you get them in your hot little hands.

Postal Pix

First up is PostalPix, a free iPhone app (and coming soon for Android!) that makes ordering photo prints right from your phone really easy and inexpensive. The service is also really fast, shipping is reasonable, and you can even use PayPal to pay for your prints. The last order I placed got to me in just a few days. They offer a nice variety of sizes, including square prints (4×4, 5×5, and 8×8!), which means they can print Instagram and Hipstamatic photos, no problem. They also print standard sizes up to 8×10. I’ve ordered from them a couple times now, and I’ve been very pleased with the quality. The paper is nice and sturdy, with a matte finish. I’ve even downloaded some of my Nikon photos to my phone from my flickr account, and had those printed and they came out absolutely crisp and clear, and were nice enough to frame!

Here’s what I did with some of my Instagram prints from Postal Pix:

Postal Pix encaustics

I’ve heard of encaustic painting before, but reading this post inspired me to give it a try with some of my photos. I ordered some 5″ x 5″ boards from Dick Blick, and I had some beeswax, so that’s what i used. I definitely need to practice my technique, I messed up a couple prints because I think my iron was too hot and I probably held it in place for too long. Still, I had plenty of successes too. I like the warmth and texture that the beeswax added.

more encaustics

PostalPix also offers aluminum prints, which are so nice. They are a bit pricier, but I ordered this 4×4 print of a photo I took while in Africa, and I love the way it looks. It’s nice and sturdy and seems to be scratch-resistant. The finish is smooth and slightly glossy. I like that it’s something different, and doesn’t need framing. I made a quick little stand for it with a chunk of wood from the yard. I sanded it a bit and then just pounded in a few nails-two in front and one in back. I have a scrap wood/stick thing going on, as you’ll see throughout this post.

aluminum print

Another free iPhone (and Android) app is Postagram. With Postagram you can order postcards, and have them sent anywhere in the world. What’s nice about Postagram is that you can choose not only photos from your camera roll, but also photos directly from Instagram and Facebook.

Postagram postcards are also nice, heavy cardstock, with a glossy finish. You are limited to only square photos (which you scale and crop as you place your order, if they are not already square), but the photo itself can actually be popped out of the postcard for display. You also have the ability to add a personalized message and your own little avatar. For just 99 cents, it’s a nice way to send a greeting to a friend, with the bonus of a nice photo they can save and display.

Postagram is powered by Sincerely, which is also behind the lovely Cartolina Postale app I talked about earlier this year, and several other printing apps that look fun, like Popbooth. You can also buy credits and add contacts to your address book online, to make checking out from your phone even quicker and easier.

Printstagram lacks the convenience a standalone app, but it makes up for it with the variety of products. To order from Printstagram, you’ll need to go to their website and connect to your Instagram account. Then you can choose from a variety of products, from square prints-in two sizes, to stickers, mini books, posters and more. I ordered a set of the mini prints, and chose all my Africa Instagram pictures, plus a few others. They are business card-sized, and extra thick and sturdy. They came nicely packaged in a little brown box, but at the time they took quite a long while to get here, it was a good three weeks or so, and I’m not sure that they are shipping faster yet. While the company is based in California, their products are actually printed and shipped from Hong Kong. You also don’t have the option to order just a print or two, you have to order in the quantities they specify. Still, the quality is good and their products are unique, so if you’re not in a big rush, they are worth the wait.

Printstagram tiny cards

I’m using most of my little prints in a scrapbook, but I wanted to display a few around the house as well. I found some more bits of wood and a few bulldog clips. I had some fun with paint and finishing wax, and used someCommand Picture Hanging Strips for hanging (I only recently discovered these handy little things, I love them!).

display stick

wood block photo holder

Do you need a little more iphoneography inspiration? I thought this was nice:

iPhone shooting techniques

 

Whew! That was a long post with a lot of photos. I hope it was helpful! Has anyone else been printing photos from their phone? Do you have a creative display idea to share?

Cartolina and Cartolina Postale

Cartolina and Cartolina Postale are two of the prettiest apps you can get for your iPhone. Both offer a way for you to send good wishes and greetings to friends and loved ones. With Cartolina, you can choose from three dozen different vintage collage designs, and you have just a few short lines to type your message. There are several holiday themed designs, including Christmas and Halloween, and plenty of choices that would be suitable for birthdays and even Valentine's Day. 

Cartolina

While there are some designs that are not too flowery, there are are just a few that I would consider masculine enough to send to the men in your life. 

Once you've selected your design and typed your message, you can send your card via email, text, facebook, or instagram. It's just $1.99 in the app store.

Cartolina - Cartolina

I've had the Cartolina app for awhile, and I think it's so, so pretty, but I seldom use it, because I'm just not one for sending virtual greetings. Problem solved with the Cartolina Postale app! Not only does this app make it possible to send actual postcard greetings to your friends, you get to add your own photo to your cards. 

Cartolina postale

Again, there are lots of different designs to choose from (thirty-two, to be exact), several with holiday themes. There are several more masculine designs as well, and even some fairly plain ones that will really make your own photo stand out. I think the designs are so well done and there really is something that will complement just about any image you might want to use.

Instead of just a couple lines of text, you have lots of space to write a heartfelt message that will be printed on the back of the postcard. You will have to create an account and add the addresses for the recipients, and they make it fairly simple. Postcards are printed and shipped by Sincerely.com, so if you want to send lots of card, you can go there to import addresses from your email contacts. 

The app itself is free, and postcards are $1.99 each, to send any where in the U.S., and $2.99 for the rest of the world. At first I thought the price was a little high, but if you think about the cost of buying a card and then getting a stamp and mailing it, it's really quite reasonable. Plus, they are so customizable and unique! 

They recently had a free postcard day, so I sent myself one, just to see the quality.

image from www.flickr.com

I'm really happy to recommend Cartolina Postale, my card arrived within about four days, and it's a nice, heavy cardstock. The photo side of the card has a glossy finish, and the photo quality is very good. I will definitely be sending these for birthdays and holidays!  

Cartolina Postale - Cartolina

printstagram

I have a lot of fun taking pictures with my iPhone, and I love sharing them on Instagram. I have a Moleskine notebook that I wanted to use as a small scrapbook for my trip, so I ordered some prints of my Instagram photos from printstagr.am. They just arrived yesterday, and they're so cute. 

 

Photo

 

Did you see what I did there? I Instagrammed my Instagram prints. hee hee! They are small, about the size of a business card, and the paper is very thick and stiff, with a nice matte finish. When I placed my order, they said it would take 4-6 weeks, but I think I got them in about three, so that's not too bad. I know they are trying to get them out faster and it looks like they are doing some upgrading as we speak. 

The mini prints were $12 for 48 (plus $6 shipping), so they're not a bad deal. They also have posters and tiny books and stickers. I'm quite happy with the quality, and will definitely order from them again! 

P.S. Sock darning report tomorrow. I've been gone all day! One sock is darned, two more to go.

this and that

I never even turned on my computer yesterday. I was so scattered, and I kept meaning to get to it and then I just never did. Do you have days like that? I did a lot of things, but in the end I didn't feel like I really accomplished much at all. I'm going to try and do better today, so first thing I'm doing is getting on my computer and writing this post, which will probably be random and scattered like my day was.

image from www.flickr.com

The acorns on the California oaks around here are long and skinny. I have an app called FingerFace and now I think I will put little faces on everything. 

I shared the above photo on Instagram the other day. I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I've limited my Twitter use to blog posts and Instagram these days, I feel like tweeting is like walking into a big party and just shouting out something witty and hoping someone hears (and then RTs it). I don't really love big parties. I think I will stick to Instagram for now, I like looking at everyone's pretty pictures and it's making me be more creative with photography. 

I didn't mention in my book post that I listened to the Song of Ice and Fire series audiobooks recently as well. I came across this Tumblr blog and this re-imagined cover for A Game of Thrones made me laugh really hard. 

Have you seen this? Works of art, re-made. Some are literal, like this beautiful painting and photograph: 

Remake1

And some are more interpretive. I especially liked this one (the pillow case tacked to the wall is an especially nice touch): 

 

Remake2

I've been making a lot of soup lately, albondigas, this hot & sour cabbage soup, sausage and kale soup. I tried this green soup, but it came out kind of thin and watery, with not a lot of flavor. I need to expand my soup repertoire, does anyone have a favorite recipe to share? Preferably without grains or beans. Lots of vegetables are welcome, and I am not afraid to make my own broth. When I'm ready for a break from soup I think I'll try this artichoke, kale & ricotta pie, it looks so good.

I told you I was all scattered! 

Percolator

I had no intention of doing another app review so soon, but I discovered Percolator last night and I love it so much I had to share it Right Now.

Percolator is a fun photo app that turns your pictures into mosaic works of art. 

Photo (2)
You can really fine-tune the effects, and decide just how much of your original image you want to retain. I'm still figuring out what all the different settings do. I love this photo I took of my mother's friend on our last day in Africa, I'm not sure exactly what I did in Percolator, but it's just magical: 

Percolator1
A bowl of yarn becomes a riot of color:

Percolator2
I love the creativity of this app, it makes me feel so artistic, even though its ridiculously easy. Of course there is a flickr group, with lots of interesting work being done in combination with other apps too. 

The website shows the price is $2.99, but it's only $1.99 right now in the app store. I'm not sure how long that will last, so I'd get it quick! There's also an iPad version, which I can only imagine is downright amazing.

Percolator - Tinrocket, LLC

 

band of the day

Time for an app review, don't you think? Once upon a time I used to be pretty hip when it came to music. I knew about lots of obscure bands and kept up with all the latest news. These days I barely listen to the radio, I might be getting a little too old for the mosh pit, and I'm lucky to buy three CDs in a year. Band of the Day to the rescue! This free app is a great way to learn about artists from all sorts of different music genres. 

Photo
Each day a different band or artist is in the spotlight, and you can read reviews, listen to full tracks and share your finds on twitter, facebook, and more. Peruse the calender on the opening screen to view any of the past artists as well. Of course there are also links to buy and download music right away via iTunes. 

Photo (1)

I love the design of the app, it's clean and modern and while the navigation takes a few minutes to figure out, it's really slick and easy to find your way around. I really like that I can discover a new band every day. Maybe I can still be hip in my 40's? Totally worth the price of FREE!

Band Of The Day - 955 Dreams