Friday Finds: Link Love for Techies

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Let’s recap the last few weeks in tech (and a few cool gadgets – after all I can’t resist a gadget).

  1. Google Glass was for sale to the public – For one day only (coincidentally the day taxes were due) anyone could be a glass explorer for the low, low price of $1,500. Ouch.
  2. The IDPF Launched the EPUB Zone website – Okay technically this happened a bit earlier than this week but honestly it flew under my radar til now. It’s supposed to give the latest news on EPUB but no one’s updated it since April 8th so stay tuned!
  3. Google’s buildable smartphone “Project Ara” Photos Released – That’s right, soon there’ll be no need to replace your whole phone just to fix a broken screen or get a better camera. This my friends is awesome. It may even get me to switch from iPhone…
  4. Mashable Published a Heartbleed Hitlist – This is a great go-to to see which passwords you absolutely need to change due to the Heartbleed security encryption bug. It’s pretty comprehensive and rest easy, most financial websites were untouched by this nasty bug.
  5. Google Bought a Drone Making Company –  Google has officially joined the ranks of tech companies who own drone companies. The drones made by Titan Aerospace (now a part of Google) are solar powered and can fly for years.
  6. The Roomba equivalent of the printer has been created – The Kickstarter campaign for this little printing wonder is still open to funding (though it’s met it’s goal). So if you’d like a tiny printer on the go check it out!
  7. 3+ hours of portable power for MacBooks without a plug – We’ve all been there, in a meeting, on a train/plain automobile (hopefully you aren’t driving) and that little notification of doom pops up. Your macbook’s about to die. Now instead of scrambling to save all those files, you can plug in to this nifty external battery for mac.

Review and How-to: BlogLovin Read Your Favorite Blogs All in One Place.

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Let’s start today off with a new favorite website of mine: BlogLovin‘. BlogLovin’ solves a very simple but annoying problem. It consolidates all your favorite blogs and their posts into one place.

This may seem pretty superfluous but when you love upwards of 40 food/tech/style blogs and are constantly looking for inspiration it can be really tedious to try and 1.) remember all of the blog names, creative as they may be and 2.) sift through a pile of browser bookmarks. I’d been saving blogs on my chrome browser in a special folder for months but thanks to my secure google log-in it was impossible to view them on my phone…

And then I stumbled across BlogLovin’ by clicking on a social media icon I didn’t recognize on someone else’s blog. It was truly an AH HA! moment. The process is simple, set up an account, search for the blogs you love, then log-in to see all their postings in one place.

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What follows is a quick review and two how-to’s on setting up an account and claiming your blog. If you’re interested then read on!

Let's start today off with a new favorite website of mine: BlogLovin'. BlogLovin' solves a very simple but annoying problem. It consolidates all your favorite blogs and their posts into one place. This may seem pretty superfluous but when you love upwards of 40 food/tech/style blogs and are constantly looking for inspiration it can be really tedious to try and 1.) remember all of the blog names, creative as they may be and 2.) sift through a pile of browser bookmarks. I'd been saving blogs on my chrome browser in a special folder for months but thanks to my secure google log-in it was impossible to view them on my phone... And then I stumbled across BlogLovin' by clicking on a social media icon I didn't recognize on someone else's blog. It was truly an AH HA! moment. The process is simple, set up an account, search for the blogs you love, then log-in to see all their postings in one place. What follows is a quick review and two how-to's on setting up an account and claiming your blog. If you're interested then read on! [taq_review] Quick notes: I love the overall ease and experience of using this website. It's made my blog reading life spectacularly easier and is ideal for those who want to look at a lot of blogs at once. That said there are a few bugs still left in the system. The count of unread articles can go a little haywire at times (even showing negative numbers) and when you follow a blog for the first time you get flooded with all of their recent posts in your feed. That said, all you have to do is mark the posts you're uninterested in as read and they'll be pushed to the bottom of your feed on refresh. On the accessibility note, there are apps to access your feed from all Apple and Android devices, as a train-riding commuter I seriously appreciate this feature. Setting Up BlogLovin' Though BlogLovin' is pretty intuitive lets quickly walk through the steps of setting up your account and following blogs! First step is super easy! Pop on over to bloglovin.com and click the signup link of choice (I prefer email personally but to each their own!).[one_half][/one_half] [one_half_last][/one_half_last] After you've set yourself up you'll be asked to find some blogs you'd like to follow! You can peruse popular blogs and sift through categories if you'd like or if you're impatient like me you can use the search bar (top right corner). [one_half] [/one_half][one_half_last] [caption id="attachment_1673" align="alignnone" width="354"] Be sure to choose the right option! Following "Comments on" is not the same as following a blog[/caption] [/one_half_last] You can always find out more about a blog by clicking on it's name. BlogLovin' will show you their recent posts and images so you can decide whether or not that blog is the right fit for you! (Ignore my dismal number of followers - I'm a blog on here as of roughly a couple of days...)…

BlogLovin' Stats

Intuitive User Interface - 75%
Blogs Available - 90%
Claiming/Setting Up Your Blog - 60%
General User Set Up - 80%
After Set Up Maintenance - 90%
Accessibility - 90%

81%

BlogLovin' is super user friendly and low-maintenance once you've set up which blogs you follow. There are a few bugs in the website's ability to count how many posts are waiting to be read but the choice of blogs is excellent, with most major blogs present and easy to follow.

User Rating: Be the first one !
81

Quick notes: I love the overall ease and experience of using this website. It’s made my blog reading life spectacularly easier and is ideal for those who want to look at a lot of blogs at once. That said there are a few bugs still left in the system. The count of unread articles can go a little haywire at times (even showing negative numbers) and when you follow a blog for the first time you get flooded with all of their recent posts in your feed. That said, all you have to do is mark the posts you’re uninterested in as read and they’ll be pushed to the bottom of your feed on refresh. On the accessibility note, there are apps to access your feed from all Apple and Android devices, as a train-riding commuter I seriously appreciate this feature.

Setting Up BlogLovin’

Though BlogLovin’ is pretty intuitive lets quickly walk through the steps of setting up your account and following blogs!

  1. First step is super easy! Pop on over to bloglovin.com and click the signup link of choice (I prefer email personally but to each their own!).[one_half]Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.08.47 AM[/one_half] [one_half_last]Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.09.03 AM[/one_half_last]
  2. After you’ve set yourself up you’ll be asked to find some blogs you’d like to follow! You can peruse popular blogs and sift through categories if you’d like or if you’re impatient like me you can use the search bar (top right corner). [one_half]
    Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.09.38 AM[/one_half][one_half_last]

    Be sure to choose the right option! Following "Comments on" is not the same as following a blog

    Be sure to choose the right option! Following “Comments on” is not the same as following a blog

    [/one_half_last]

  3. You can always find out more about a blog by clicking on it’s name. BlogLovin’ will show you their recent posts and images so you can decide whether or not that blog is the right fit for you! (Ignore my dismal number of followers – I’m a blog on here as of roughly a couple of days…)Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.10.19 AM
  4. Should you want to unfollow someone: Click on the link to the Blog’s name (not the post name) in your feed. Then when on that posts page click on the button that says “following”. This will unfollow the blog.
    Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.36.47 AMScreen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.36.21 AM

You’re good to go! Interested in getting your blog onto BlogLovin’? Read on!

Claiming Your Blog on BlogLovin’

Now what if you’re a blogger and want your blog to be indexed by this super fabulous site? First things first, you have to have an RSS feed set up for this to work. So if you haven’t done that yet you’ll want to.

  1. In your newly acquired BlogLovin’ account click on the little circle in between the search bar and the alert bell:Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.43.40 AM
  2. In the drop down menu click “your blogs”
    Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.14.17 AM
  3. Once the page loads click “Claim your blog” and in the search box that pops up (image on bottom) paste your full blog URLScreen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.14.26 AMScreen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.14.38 AM
  4. If you’ve got an RSS feed you’re blog should be recognized, select your blog and you’ll be given a snippet of code to paste into a new post (it will display as a BlogLovin’ button). I created a blank posting (if you do it this way, wait ’til off-hours so your readers aren’t confused) with the button in it, published it and then popped back over to BlogLovin’ to confirm that the connection had gone through.
  5. Once you make the connection to BlogLovin’ it may take a little while for all of your recent posts to be indexed. Don’t worry they will show up!

Note: If you can’t get your blog to appear in search, check out the support link for that here or for BlogLovin’s notes on claiming your blog look at this page.

Recipe: Grandma Jean’s Sour Cream Twist Cookies

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Today is all about inherited recipes. When my Grandma Jean passed away, many of her recipes disappeared. The foods that my father and his brothers craved and would miss for years to come were lost in a shuffle of papers and personal items. That is until a few year’s ago when we stumbled across my grandmother’s recipe for Gingerbread and White Sauce. My sister agreed to make it for my father’s birthday and it was an immediate hit. Before the gingerbread even hit the table he had sent a picture to all of his brothers. We’d gotten a bit of grandma back. Now that cake is not only a birthday tradition for my father but a few of his brothers too! 

There was one recipe that my father especially missed. As a child dad used to help his mother roll out the dough for her German Sour Cream Twists. These quirky cookies sat in a glass jar near the door at my grandparents home and I can distinctly remember my father making a bee-line for the cookie jar every time we visited (sometimes before my sister, mother and I had even gotten out of the car).

For the better part of a decade after grandma had passed the sour cream twist cookies were often mentioned at family gatherings. My father would ask if anyone had found the recipe, and the answer was always a no. But this year at Christmas, an aunt of mine mentioned that she’d found a recipe in some papers and that she thought it may be the one we were looking for. My father got the recipe from her and not two days later, we were preparing the cookies with bated breath. Were these the cookies?

I made the recipe with a few bumps and moments of panic along the way. It turns out that grandma was a big fan of minimalist instructions, she knew the recipes so well that she’d skip steps in her written recipe. We all felt a little closer to her that day, but the best part was that just like he did as a kid, my dad rolled out the dough.

I’m happy to say that these are the cookies. I’ve filled in the blanks and I hope you’ll all enjoy them as much as we have!

Grandma Jean’s Sour Cream Twist Cookies

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These flaky and a tiny bit chewy cookies do need to be refrigerated for 2 hours. They are slightly sweet, look beautiful and are delicious with coffee.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup shortening butter flavored (you can find this in the baking aisle)
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks – beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375° F
  2. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl with the salt.
  3. Cut in the shortening.  Note: You’ll want whole slivers of shortening in the dough to get a nice flaky cookie. This is pretty sticky work, you may find easier with colder shortening that’s been in the fridge for about ten minutes.
  4. Dissolve the yeast completely in hot-warm water. (No need to add sugar to make the yeast double in size, just let it dissolve.)  This may take a moment or two. Try to resist poking the murky mix with a fork… it sadly does not speed up the process. But it does pass the time!
  5. Stir the yeast into the flour mixture, then stir in the sour cream, the beaten eggs and the vanilla.
  6. Cover the bowl and dough with damp cloth and refrigerate 2 hours.
  7. Cut the dough in half, set half aside.
  8. Roll out the first ½ of the dough on a heavily sugared board or counter top into a rectangle about 8 x 10-inches.  Note: This is about the size of a standard piece of printer paper (A2). Remember to sugar the countertop to about 9 x 11-inches to keep the dough from sticking as you roll it out! 
  9. Fold two ends in to the center of the rectangle (like the top and bottom halves of an envelope).  Sugar the top of the dough and the counter top and roll the dough out again to ¼ inch thickness. Slice 1-inch wide strips into the rolled out dough.
  10. Repeat steps 8-9 with the second half of the dough.
  11. Twist the ends of each slice in opposite directions making the cookie look like a nice spiral. Bend the spirals in the center to make a horseshoe shape and place on an un-greased cookie sheet.
  12. Bake for 15-20 minutes until just slightly golden brown. Sprinkle with sugar while the cookies are still hot and enjoy!
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Mmmmmm Flaky!

Gift Guide: For Techies Part 2

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I am undeniably a gadget and gizmo enthusiast. So it only makes sense that I’d crave all the latest tech toys on the market. If you know a techie like me than any of these gifts are sure to please!

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  1. Pencil by Fifty Three ($50 or $60) – I love this concept! And these “pencils” are such a hit that their backordered. Fear not though! They’ve made a special card to give at Christmas if your pencil hasn’t arrived yet.ht_charging_phone_purse_nt_120918_wg

  2. Everpurse Phone Charging Clutches ($189-330) – These cute little clutches are deceptively functional. They come in leather, good ole fabric and more! No more dead phones!il_570xN.525763720_tnin

  3. Felt iPad Case ($28) – I love the look of this industrial felt iPad case, it’s sturdy and has the benefit of an extra pocket.il_570xN.539576342_bnxs

  4. Handcrafted USB/Pocket knife combo ($96) – I’m amused by this oddly rugged and tech combo. Maybe not a great gift for the average Joe but I bet there are a lot of men out there who’d love this!

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  1. Powerbag Backpack ($180) – For those who’d like to charge more than just their phone, or maybe don’t feel comfortable carrying a clutch. This backpack will charge 3 devices at once!

6. Photojojo Phone Lens Series ($20-$30 or a pack of 3 for $50) – These nifty little clip on lenses bring the power of a large digital camera to your phone for an affordable price! With options like telephoto, wide angle and fisheye you’re covered!

Olive Wood Nesting Bowls - Set of 3

 

  1. Eco-Friendly Bamboo Bluetooth Keyboard ($99) – Sustainably made and meant to last, this is a unique option to the standard bluetooth keyboard.

3doodler

  1. 3Doodler (Pre-Order $99) – No room for a bulky 3d printer? Grab this lightweight little pen and doodle your creations! 610Qf-n7xsL._SL1500_

  2. WeMo Smart lightswitch ($50) – This smart switch works with your wireless router and your smart phone to let you turn on and off (or time) your lights from anywhere!811nvG+LgML._SL1500_10. Chromecast ($30) – I’ll admit it took me awhile to come around to chromecast, but I’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews! Simply plug in the chromecast to one of your hdmi ports and stream your computer contents live to your tv! (Great for Hulu and Netflix users!)

 

15 No-Bake Recipes: Round Up

The latest bits and bites from around the web! I’ve rounded up these fabulous recipes from some amazing cooks plus 11 more for Brit + Co in an article called 26 Stellar No-Bake Holiday Desserts. You’ll love these recipes and they should take some of the stress out of the holidays! Each article and photo (if from a different source) is credited to it’s original author, so pop on over and check ’em out!

1. Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies: I literally keep quick cook oats and a jar of peanut butter in my kitchen just in case I spontaneously want to make these cookies. Yes they are that good. (source Foodista)

2. White Chocolate No-Bake Cheesecake: These petite little cheesecakes make a delightful and colorful treat! (source: Sprinkle Bakes)

3. Thin Mint Cookies: It’s about time for girl scout cookies again! But for that vast number of months that are sadly cookie-free here’s a great alternative! (source: Everyday Reading)

4. Scotcheroo Bar: Buns in My Oven has remade a family-favorite with this rice krispy meets chocolate bar. Warning! Invite friends over or accidentally eat the whole pan. (source: Buns in My Oven/image: Mom’s Galley)

5. Triple Chocolate Brownies: There is so much chocolate in these dense little brownies that it will satisfy even the strongest of cocoa cravings. (source: Food 52)

6. Peppermint Fudge: The adorable-ness of this no bake fudge it only added to with those peppermint striped marshmallows. (source: Shugary Sweets)

7. Vanilla Panna Cotta and Pomegranate Jelly: This dessert sounds and looks extra classy and is sure to dress up any dinner party. (source: Inspired Edibles)

8. Rum Balls: A holiday classic is revamped in this step-by-step video. (source: Joy of Baking)

9. Peanut Butter Bar: In case you prefer that your peanut butter outweigh the chocolate, or maybe you just want a HUGE peanut butter cup, give these a try! (source: Our Best Bites/photo: Runs on Sundae)

10. Mini Grasshopper Pies: Single serving desserts are fun to eat and look at and these minty green grass hopper pies are the best of both worlds. That green bakers twine really adds to the effect! (source: A Pretty Life in the Suburbs)

11. Samoa Bars: Yes I’ve got Girl Scout cookies on the brain but to be fair Samoas are my absolute favorite! (source: Babble)

12. Vegan Peanut Butter Cacao Fudge Bars: Vegans should not have to miss out on life’s sweet side, especially not chocolate. In comes this ingenious recipe! (source: Lunch Box Bunch)

13. Oreo Truffles: Oreos have a little something special to them, which is why and Oreo cookie anything tastes so good! Bakerella has captured that full Oreo flavor in these dense little bites. (source Bakerella)

14. S’More Pie:  Any pie that adds full-sized marshmallows to the top then torches them is both the coolest and most fun pie in the bunch! (source: Brown Eyed Baker)

15. Orange and Cream Pie: In case chocolate just isn’t your thing (yes choc-aholics, that does happen) here is a delicious fruity option for dessert. (source: Joy the Baker)

Check out the other 11 recipes in my article at Brit + Co!

Circuit Scribe: A Pen That Draws Working Electrical Circuits!

Hey folks! What follows is an article I wrote for Brit + Co recently on a really amazing product. You can find the original article here. Personally I’m hoping it’s made available in schools nationwide! Imagine how much these would help with learning the concepts of circuitry.

Wouldn’t middle school have been a lot cooler if our gelly roller pens could have made our notebooks light up? A whole generation may now have electrifying doodles with these Circuit Scribe Pens.

Created by ElectronInks Incorporated out of lab of Professor Jennifer Lewis’ lab at the University of Illinois. These pens currently use the shells of Sakura Gelly Roll Metallic Pens (yes, the same ones that decorated countless notebooks with names, kitty drawings, and emoticons before emoticons existed) to easily draw and doodle using their special electricity conducting ink.

The end result is a working electrical circuit on a plain old piece of paper! That means making a simple circuit just got a whole lot easier and requires far fewer wires and boxy pieces of specialty equipment.

The ink in the prototype pens is non-toxic, water-based, and silver in color. Each gelly roll pen is cleaned by hand before the special prototype ink is added to it and pushed to the tip using compressed air.

The truly special thing about Circuit Scribe is how easy it is to use. For the maker using it, it’s just like writing with a pen! And with their Kickstarter you also get the chance to have their reusable magnetic circuit parts and a special notebook. Oh and be sure to check out their illuminating “circuit stickers“!

Care to know how this spectacular ink is made? Check out this video!