My Tools

These are the tools I use to make my life easier and to do the things I love.  It’s an ever-changing list that I will update often.  You know how when you find something you love and you want to tell everyone about it?  That’s the intent behind this list!

Blogging

  • Akismet: This is the WordPress plugin that fights comment spam.  Akismet blocks it beautifully.  I never even see it.
  • Feedburner: This is the service I use to manage my RSS feed.  This free Google tool makes it easy for people to subscribe to your blog via RSS.
  • FileZilla: This is the free FTP software I use to transfer my PDF files from my local computer to my server, the the directory of my choice.  Pretty simple and it works great.  I use this for all my PDFs found on my Projects to Make page.
  • GreenGeeks: This is my web hosting service. I have never had a single issue with their service or have really had any reason to contact them.  Which is a good thing.  Also, I like their eco-friendly attitude.  With the vast amounts of energy web hosters consume, I like that GreenGeeks replace, with wind power, 3 times the amount of energy their websites use.
  • Google Analytics: This is the best free analytics service, courtesy of the GrandDaddy of search.  This is what I use to track pageviews, visitors, traffic source, and a ton more.  I used TentBlogger’s Visual Guide to set it up on my blog.
  • MacBook Air: My LOVED laptop.  I have the 13″ version.  I am a PC Girl Gone Mac.  Enough said.
  • MailChimp: This is the service I use to manage my email, for those who like to receive my blog updates to their email inbox.  I use their free plan, and it is a pleasure to use.  They have an awesome Resources page – check out their MailChimp for Bloggers guide.
  • PDF Toolkit +: An uber-helpful Mac App that I use to compress PDF files to a manageable size for posting to the web.  This $1.99 app is a lifesaver for me, since I publish PDF tutorials.
  • Pixelmator: This is what I use for my graphic design needs.  I am by no means a graphic designer, but this program for the Mac is a good choice for non-experts who don’t feel like spending a ton of money or time learning Photoshop.
  • WooThemes: This is my WordPress theme service. No, I did not design my blog myself!  They have lots of theme template designs to choose from, and the one I chose is called PixelPress. NOTE: I switched to WooThemes from Elegant Themes in March 2013 since I wanted an ecommerce solution.
  • WordPress: This is my blogging platform.  I haven’t ever used anything else.  It’s free, has tons of features, and is super-simple to use.  I love it.

Photography

  • iPhone 5S: This is my smartphone, but I actually use it as a camera WAY more than for talking.  And note, this is my only camera.  Yep, I may very well be the only blogger without a DSLR. NOTE: I switched to an iPhone 5S  from an iPhone 4S in September 2013 since I broke the display screen.
  • iPhone Photography eBook: This is an eBook that I am currently reading to improve my iPhone photography.  I found this by following ProBlogger, Darren Rowse, who also blogs his photography passion at Digital Photography School.
  • Glif: This is a nifty little gadget that I use to attach my iPhone to a tripod.  I found them on Kickstarter and backed them.  It feels good to support a quality product.
  • Instagram: This is an iPhone app that is basically a social network for photo sharing.  I love their photo filters – they make every single one of my photos look awesome.  To see some of my photos, check out my Instagam profile on your computer or follow me on your smartphone at @angelabdesign.
  • Picasa: This is a photo editing and sharing service, another free tool by the folks at Google.  I use the Mac app version to prep the photos that I want to insert into my blog posts.  I generally just do two things in Picasa: apply my blog name as a watermark and resize the photo to a standard size for my blog.  It does both those things automatically for me.

Productivity

  • Chrome: This is my internet browser. It has a fast load time and I love how it seamlessly interacts with all of Google’s other products.
  • Composition Book Day Planner: This is my day planner that I made from a Composition Book.  It is completely tailored to me, and I love it.
  • Evernote: Although I don’t use it as much as I used to, this is what I use to store online resources I don’t want to forget.  I use it mainly for personal tasks.  I save pictures of my favorite products in my Products Evernote folder. That way, when I’m shopping I don’t get the wrong masacara ever again!  Also, it comes in handy for cooking – I have a Recipes Evernote folder that I view on my iPad in the kitchen while cooking.
  • Highrise: This is a web application that I use to track people and my interactions with them.  It’s CRM software, or a web-based contact manager, developed by 37signals.  I use the free plan, which suits my needs just fine right now.  My favorite feature is tagging: you can assign customized tags to people or companies, and export all your contacts to Excel, by tag.  I also like that when you enter a contact’s Twitter handle, their photo will automatically populate in Highrise.
  • Mail: This is what I use for my email.  I haven’t used anything else while I’ve had a Mac – I haven’t seen the need.  It’s simple and just works.
  • PayPal: This is my invoicing system. It lives in the cloud and allows my customers and clients to pay instantly by credit card. I use the free standard version.
  • Platform Planner: This is the planner I use for my blog, my platform. It’s a series of free printable worksheets that I’ve cut/pasted into a composition book.  I designed it for myself, since I wanted a simple way to organize, focus, and keep track of what’s important on my platform. Feel free to use either the free or paid versions that I’ve made publicly available.
  • Quip: This is a modern word processor that works great on my laptop, tablet, and even my phone.  When I need to collaborate with someone on a document, Quip.com is the place I go.  I can share documents and folders so we can edit and brainstorm together in a simple workspace, and we can see a complete history of our revisions and comments. It’s a simple and fresh app that’s a joy to use.  NOTE: I switched to Quip from Pages (by Apple) in 2013 since Quip is SO much better for mobile use and collaboration.
  • Skitch: I use this program to take a screenshot of my laptop screen.  You can annotate the screenshot with arrows, text, and many other shapes, then save it as an image file.  I use the free Mac app.
  • Trello: This is my favorite productivity tool.  I use it all day, every day.  I even made a video about it:  How to Manage Your Physical, Mental, and Creative Space with Trello.  I was one of the very early users and have been hooked from day one.  I’m a List Girl, so I know what I’m talking about 🙂 I still can’t believe that it’s free.

Sewing

  • Clover Black Gold Needles: These are the needles I use for hand sewing.  I don’t know what it is about the black plating on these things, but they go through the fabric super-smooth.
  • Fat Quarter Shop: A massive online fabric shop, named after the ever-popular and versatile quarter-yard of fabric cut into a rectangle.  They offer a huge selection of quality cotton fabrics and super-fast shipping.  I love their efficient website and their dedication to the online sewing community.  Their active presence on Twitter is just icing on the cake for me 🙂
  • Juki TL-2010Q: This is my primary sewing machine. I love-lovity-lovity-love this machine.  When I’m not sewing on her, I wish was sewing on her. I bought  her at raichert.com, who are some great folks.  I love this machine for a ton of reasons which I won’t post here.  At some point I should take the time to stop sewing on her and write a post.  Someday.   NOTE: I switched  from a Singer Futura CE-250 in November 2013.
  • Mark-B-Gone Pen: This is the water-soluble pen that I use to notate markings on my fabric.  It disappears with water.
  • SINGER Expert Finish Iron: This is my iron. For someone who sews or quilts, this is important.  I bought it because it’s one of the most powerful ones out there: 1700 watts that makes it generate lots of steam.  This iron gets super-hot, and the heft and the smooth stainless steel soleplate make this iron work fabulously.  NOTE: I switched  to the Singer Expert from an Oliso Iron in 2013. I don’t know if I just press too fast, but the auto-lift machinery always got in my way and actually wrinkled the fabric worse.
  • Singer® Patchwork 7285Q: This is my small & mobile sewing machine.  It will come in handy when I go to Modern Quilt Guild meetings, sewing retreats, or to Mom’s house.  I bought it online from Jo-Ann Fabrics on Black Friday 2012, for less than $200!  It came with an extension table, a canvas cover, needle up/down, and 11 feet!  Even a walking foot and a gathering foot!  A super value for a sweet little machine.  This will undoubtedly be the machine I teach Chloe how to sew with 🙂
  • Tracing Paper: This is the tracing paper I use to transfer the pattern pieces when I use projects that have their templates printed on heavier paper.  I really like that it’s three feet tall, giving me tons of area to work with when tracing patterns.  This roll is going to last me a long time.

Screencasting

  • GarageBand: This is Apple’s very fun music app.  You can record your own original stuff or use some of their pre-recorded loops.  When we first got our iPad we played around with the GarageBand app, and I thought it was just a toy or a game app.  But it’s actually really useful – I used a couple loops in my screencast video, using the app on my MacBook Air.  Very cool.
  • Incompetech: This is a music website, where you can download royalty-free music to use in your projects.  There are a lot of ugly and hard-to-use music websites out there, so finding this simple and easy site was a relief.  I used a free tune for my tutorial video How to Make a Day Planner from a Composition Book, and added an attribution at the end of the video.
  • Keynote: This is the Apple software that I like the best.  It’s basically Apple’s version of Microsoft PowerPoint.  But I don’t use it for presentations.  I use it for designing handmade projects, for videos, and to create beautiful PDFs.  It is so dang easy to use and is actually fun to use!  I used Keynote to make my media kit found on my Advertising page and I also used it to make my video for How to Manage Your Physical, Mental, and Creative Space with Trello.
  • ScreenFlow:  I use this to record my screen for making screencast videos.  Fun to use and easy to learn.
  • Snowball Microphone: This is the microphone I use to record my voice for my screencast video.  It is my first microphone purchase.  I’m not a sound expert, but it seems to be a good quality product.