Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Alternatives to Google Reader (Update)

This is an update for this blog post.

I have narrowed my choices down to three RSS readers:  Feedly, Bloglovin, and The Old Reader.


A number of people have mentioned Bloglovin.  I like it, but I can't say I love it.  For one thing, the main page shows truncated posts in boxes.  If you click on a box, it will open the website in a new tab with a menu bar at the top allowing you to go to other posts in your feed.  Now, this is great for blog authors as it will drive up their numbers.  But for blog readers, it's slower than reading on Google Reader.


Feedly, so far, is my favorite.  Unlike Bloglovin, not only will it import your subscriptions, but it will also keep your folders/categories.  I believe it will also keep your "starred" posts.  Best of all, it has an iPhone/iPad app.  The app is a little tricky to use, but not impossible.

The Old Reader

The Old Reader is supposed to be a LOT like the old Google Reader (before they did a reno on it).  You have to export your data from Google Reader using Google Takeout and then import the subscriptions.xml file to The Old Reader.  Right now, it says, "There are 33370 users in the import queue ahead of you."  I don't know how long of a wait that means, but it looks like it'll be a while before I can fully test out this site.

Needless to say, NetVibes did not make the cut.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Hooded Baby Bath Towel + Baby Doll Blanket

When I was pregnant with Gracie, my sister-in-law made a hooded baby bath towel similar to the one above.  It was one of my favorite gifts and is one that I enjoy making and giving to other expectant mothers.  It's pretty easy to make.  I will show you how I made the one above and give tips on how to make it more easily (fewer mistakes) which I figured out the next time I made some.

Hooded Baby Bath Towel

What you need for one hooded bath towel:

  • A large bath towel
  • Half of a handtowel
  • matching thread
  • A roll of ribbon

If you are making two hooded bath towels, you will need:

  • Two large bath towels
  • One handtowel
  • matching thread
  • Two rolls of ribbon

Step #1:  Sew the ribbon onto the towels first.  This will help you see which side is the right side of the towel.

For the large bath towel, sew ribbon across the width at both ends.  If the towels have the decorative stripes on them (like below), it makes it very easy to sew the ribbon over that.  If the towels do not have the decorative stripes, you have to measure and make sure it's straight.  You also have to be careful when sewing to make sure your seams are straight.

For the handtowel, sew across one end, or, if making two hooded bath towels, sew across both ends.

Step 2:  Fold the large bath towel in half with RIGHT SIDES together.  (The ribbons should be on the inside.)  Measure 8 inches over from the fold and pin.  You will sew a line going down 6 inches.

Measure 8" from the fold and sew a line going 6" down.(The photo shows the ruler measuring 4" - ignore that.)

Step 3:  Pinch the top part together so that it folds evenly over the seam.  See photo below.  Now sew along the edge to sew the layers together.

Step 4:  Measure over about 9-1/2" inches from each end of the handtowel and cut that piece off.  If you are only making one hooded bath towel, you can save the other half for another project.  If making two, you will have two pieces from the ends plus a smaller piece from the middle.

In this photo, I cut the hand towel in half across the width before measuring over 9-1/2" and cutting that piece off.  I prefer not to do it that way anymore.

Step 5:  Fold the handtowel in half right sides together.  Sew down the cut end to make a hat shape.  I used a zigzag stitch to make it strong.

Step 6:  Pin the handtowel hood to the bathtowel with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.  Make sure the middle of the handtowel lines up with the middle of the bathtowel.  This will be difficult to sew since there are so many layers.  Sew slowly and carefully.  I actually broke a needle doing this step.

 Here is Gracie modeling the hooded bath towel.

I made this hooded baby bath towel for a lady at our church who is expecting her first child.  I knew that Gracie would be excited about the Winnie the Pooh ribbon, so I decided to take the leftover handtowel piece and make a baby doll blanket for her.

I later made another Winnie the Pooh hooded baby bath towel for a lady in church whose grandson had a baby.  I made two at once and have kept the extra one for future baby showers.

I also made a camouflaged-theme one for a friend of mine who had a baby boy.  I used tan towels and camouflage ribbon.  I don't have a photo of it, but if she takes any photos with her baby, I'll post it here.

Baby Doll Blanket

Step 1:  Take double fold bias tape (which I already had on hand), open it up, and pin right sides together to the cut end of the towel.  Sew.

Step 2:  Fold the double-fold bias back so that it covers the cut end of the towel.  Sew the other side.  I did it pretty quickly so my stitches look pretty ugly.  (Gracie doesn't care!)

Step 3:  Sew the ribbon across the towel.

Gracie wanted to help put the ribbon on the towel.  It actually goes straight across and not folded back as shown in the photo.

She was happy with her baby doll blanket and put it to good use right away.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blog Post Roundup

Here are a few posts I thought y'all might like to read.

Friendship Must Be Wooed @ All Things Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Right Choice @ Simplicity & Celebration (This is a MUST READ and SHARE article!)

Professional Backslappers @ The Pastor's Perspective

When You Feel Inadequate @ The Better Mom

Winds of Change @ Valerie Write Now

10 Things Moms Should Never Feel Guilty About @ Better in Bulk

Being Busy & Knowing God @ Journal for Women

When You're Spiritually Numb @ Encouraging Words

8 Ways to Help Those Who Grieve @ Encouraging Words

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Alternatives to Google Reader

For an update to this post, go here.

I just found out a couple of days ago that Google Reader is going to be retired on July 1, 2013.  I was pretty upset about that since I have been using Google Reader for over five years.

I immediately began looking for an alternative.  So far, I have looked at two: One is Newsblur, and the other is Netvibes.

I looked at Newsblur first, and I liked how easy it was to import my subscriptions from Google Reader.  However, you can only read 12 subscriptions with the free service.  To read an unlimited number of subscriptions, the annual rate is $25.  I decided not to go with them since I read well over 12 subscriptions (204 as of this writing).

I am now trying Netvibes.  The process to import my subscriptions was a little more tricky, but not horribly difficult.  First, you have to export the info from Google Reader using their Google Takeout service.  Then, you download the zip file.  Finally you upload the XML file to Netvibes.  The one bad thing is that it treated ALL of the posts as unread, so it looked like I had over 7,000 unread posts (instead of 80 which Google Reader said).  I was able to select all and mark as unread.  I did have to do that a couple of times for it to take effect.  I have not yet used it to actually read posts.

I will update this blog as I determine if I will keep Netvibes or go with another service.

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Cake on the Beach

I made a dessert that I haven't made on several years. It is SOOOOOO good!

I got it out of a Hungry Girl book from the library.

This recipe makes 3 servings which is just right for our family (or would be if Gracie would eat it).

1/2 cup yellow cake mix
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1 T water

About 1/4 cup crushed pineapple
1 Jello sugar-free vanilla pudding (which is amazing by itself!)
1 T shredded coconut

Mix first three ingredients in a small bowl. Divide among three small bowls. I use Gracie's plastic baby bowls. Put the three bowls in the microwave and nuke for 45 seconds. Let sit for five minutes.

Poke some holes with a toothpick. Add a layer of crushed pineapple and then a layer of pudding. Put in the fridge for at least an hour.

When ready to serve, garnish with coconut.

Robert suggested to add marshmallows which made Gracie very happy. She tried eating just the marshmallows because the cake didn't pass the sight test. That's ok: more for me!

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