Tag Archives: Apps

Isobel’s Favorite Toddler Apps

7 Feb

It’s been a while since I’ve posted added to my list of favorite apps, and Isobel’s tastes have changed dramatically as she’s matured. Here are her current faves.

Toddler Teasers Shapes: Young children learn shapes and are rewarded with “stickers” that they put in their “sticker book” after identifying 3 shapes correctly. Isobel loves it. After your child selects the correct shape you hear one of a couple different applause noises. Isobel is a fan of the enthusiastic YAY! response, but I love the polite, nearly-but-not-quite-sarcastic golf-clap. We have the free version.

Hatch!: This app is very simple, but even so it can be addictive for young children. A picture of an egg pops up on the screen and your child taps the egg, making it crack and shake, until finally it breaks with a loud BOING! Noise. I think this is very satisfying for toddlers. Inside the egg is one of several animals. It’s not the most thrilling app, nor the most educational (but we do try to have Isobel either name the animal or make the animal noise to bump up the learning) but it was the first app Isobel played and loved. (She loved Bab Bab but she just stared at it.) It’s totally worth it to get the paid version of this app: Hatch! Lite has ads that little fingers will inevitably press on accident, ruining both the game and your ability to put the laundry in the dryer.

Drum Kit: It has been established: my kid loves the drums. This is a hit and miss app for Isobel. Sometimes she’s totally into it, sometimes she’ll smack the drums a couple times and walk away.

Phone Tap: The last time we hung out with our friends Angela & Justin, Isobel got her hands on Angela’s phone. She was so smitten with this app that Anthony and I immediately downloaded it on sight. It is free and features a realistic-ish number pad, actual-ish keypad noises, and even a voice that will answer the phone and ask educational questions.

Night & Day Studios Peekaboo Games

The whole Peekaboo series should win a thousand parenting awards. I cannot emphasize enough how awesome they are and how much Isobel loves, loves, LOVES them. If she sees me with my phone out she’ll ask, “Game? Peekagoo?” If you are looking for one or two games to get your kid, the Peekaboo series is a must. It is a great way for your kid to learn the names of farm animals and to learn the sounds as well. (Animal sounds aren’t just silly—they are a great way to practice vowel and consonant sounds.)

Peekaboo Barn: As your child touches the barn on the screen the door opens revealing an animal that makes a noise. A child’s voice then says the name of that animal. It’s very cute and Isobel tries to imitate the way the child says the name. She actually thinks “goat” is “gope” and it’s so cute I have a hard time correcting her. If you buy the full version, you also have the option of the name being said in Spanish. What’s not to love?

Peekaboo Wild – It’s just like Peekaboo Barn, except your child taps on a bunch of quaking to reveal the animal. Seriously, Isobel learned “hippo” and “ostrich” and “elephant” at a really young age because she loved this game so much. She really thinks a zebra sounds like a dog.

Peekaboo Forest – this one is special because it’s not actually just ‘Peekaboo Forest’—It’s Charlie Harper’s Peekaboo Forest. What this means is that Charlie Harper’s gorgeous Midcentury Modern illustrations have been crafted into the animations for this game. It’s beyond beautiful and more complexly animated than the other two games. It also comes with Spanish audio. It’s one of the most gorgeous apps I’ve seen, for kids or no, but then again, I love Charlie Harper’s work.

Random App Round Up

16 Nov

Here are some random apps that I love. No company has ever given me money for… well, anything at this point really, but especially not to promote their iphone apps. I just like these. “I’m Carrie Anne, and I approve this message!”

Digitally Imported – In the late nineties Anthony and I used to stay up all night dancing to techno music in warehouses. Now if we’re staying up all night it’s because we’re grooving to the repetitive sounds of Isobel whining. Anthony and I still love techno and electronica. Anthony stumbled upon a free app called Digitally Imported with several channels of really, really awesome techno. Several different flavors of techno, too. I love librarianing to music so I listen to this at work a lot.

Chess Free by Optime – A crazy old lady taught me how to play chess in the seventh grade. I hated it! I still do. It’s a character flaw. My husband, however, learned chess from men that were recently released from prison. They were pretty good, seeing as how they had lots of time for practice. At the time, my husband was working at a community center and it was basically his job to 1. play chess 2. play ping pong 3. engage in activities with the children 4. supervise the chess and ping ponging.  Anthony loves chess and he’s quite good at it. He amuses himself sometimes by playing against the computer on this, his favorite chess app. He’s tried a couple but this one is his favorite.

(Note: If you were wondering why you haven’t seen me around Words with Friends for awhile it was because the app died along with my phone. I haven’t reinstated it again, but I’ll let everyone know when I do to get some games going again.)

Offline Map Guide – Oh boy, we could have used this while we were lost in the redwoods. Next time I have to go anywhere with spotty to nonexistent cell reception I’m plotting the way using this app first. We’d be lying in a ravine somewhere gnawed on by possums and mountain lions if it weren’t for the paper map we just happened to have with us (courtesy of my mother).

Tap Forms – Are you obsessively organized? Do you, like me, wish you were obsessively organized? Tap Forms keeps all your forms and information organized. Yessss. The Precioussssss.


I’d love to hear your recommendations about your favorite apps for:

Pregnancy Timelines
To do lists and calendars

Bonus points if they are free!

More Meal Planning Apps and Resources

8 Nov

Here are some random apps that I love. No company has ever given me money for… well, anything at this point really, but especially not to promote their iphone apps. I just like these. “I’m Carrie Anne, and I approve this message!”

Now that Thanksgiving approaches and I’ve been back at work for a few months now, my struggle to get something healthy, delicious, and easy on the table is making me long for summer vacation when I had energy to cook and plan. Now that autumn rolls around I feel like I need help. Enter, technology.

You can find a whole lot of posts about my struggles with meal planning here. You can find the first post about which meal planning apps I use here.

Getting dinner on the table every night is a work in progress, but I’m happy to say I’m doing better at it now than I ever have before, ever. I think some of that has to do with how hard I used to make the process for myself—how complicated, how many steps, how unnecessarily detailed it was. Using my apps at the grocery store, or during the last five minutes of work to plan dinner, or browsing recipes stoveside has changed my life. Technology flawlessly fits in with my philosophy for meal planning: make it easy, make it convenient, and make it simple.

1. Simply Recipes / 101 Cookbooks: these aren’t apps per se, but the writers of these websites have created mobile-friendly versions of their sites for recipe-browsing via smart phone. Going here will show you how to add their icon to your home screen, just like a real app. I cook from Simply Recipes all the freaking time, so I was elated to find this.

2. Go Meals: every once in a while I like to log my meals to look at my nutrition objectively. I always think to myself that I will chart my food particularly when I have a Crohn’s flare up so I can see if something is setting it off, but invariably when I have a Crohn’s flare up I nearly stop eating altogether. The point is, you can track your meals with this app, and if you counting calories is your thing (I could never be bothered) it has the ability to do that, too.

3. English Muffin: I nearly swooned when I found out Nigella has an app! I normally don’t like to pay more than 99 cents for my apps and this one cost a pretty penny at $8. But it’s worth it because it streams all sorts of videos of her cooking and demonstrating recipes and such. Plus she is my girl crush and in a perfect world I’d be married to Anthony, Picard, and Nigella. What?

4. Rules, man: Have you read Michael Ruhlman’s book Ratio? For me it was groundbreaking. From the app: “Ratios are the starting point from which a thousand variations begin. A culinary ratio is simply a proportion of one ingredient relative to another. [This app] puts 28 key ratios in your pocket… The app does all the calculating and converting for you. Just enter the amount of the ingredient, and all the ingredients will appear in their exact proportions.” Squee, I say. Squee.

5. Chow Thanksgiving: Just in time for the holidays, Chow has released a free app that does only one thing–it helps you plan and track what needs to be done the week before Thanksgiving to get your meal on the table while minimizing stress and loss of limbs. I’m honestly not sure if this will be very helpful or not so much, but it’s free so I thought I’d give it a go.


I have relied heavily on certain websites for recipes and inspiration for continuing the nightly family meal. The sites I’ve used the most are:

1. Dinner: a Love Story – one family’s committment to instilling a tradition of family mealtimes. This is my goal for my family.

2. Angerburger – some of the best writing out there. Period. Oh, and also food. And a Viking.

3. Outpost 505 – a couple post their delicious dinners on the web.

4. Lunch in a box – Biggie doesn’t update this site so much anymore, but it’s a treasure trove of information for people who want delicious, homemade food for work. This site is designed for bento enthusiasts, but the information is invaluable even if you use a humble brown bag. I live near enough to SF that I stock up on imported bento items from Japan when I can, but I also invested in a Mr. Bento. I bought one for my husband, too, who was initially exasperated with me but ultimately delighted. He loves his Mr. Bento and the last time he brought his to work a coworker asked him all about it and ordered one for himself on his phone before lunch was over.

5. Simply Recipes – This is my go-to site when I’m looking for a recipe for something. Well, this, Everyday Food, and Epicurious.


November is the month where some people commit to posting every day on their blog. Some people commit to growing facial hair. And some people commit to writing a novel. All honorable, noble pursuits, but my friend Sarcasmically didn’t feel particularly called to do any of these things. And yet she felt left out. So she’s taking on a challenge of another kind: National Deep-fry a New Food Month. I look to her with a mixture admiration and fear as I am personally very intimidated by deep-frying. I check her blog with great anticipation as she’s made some wonderful, heart-stopping (literally) discoveries. My favorite so far? Probably her deep-fried pickle-wrapped-in-bacon experiment. I have a feeling that pregnant ladies everywhere have developed a strange new craving.

Favorite Road Trip Apps

6 Jun

This post is the fourth in a series about iPhone apps I use and enjoy. This is less about being on the cutting edge of technology and more the equivalent of peeking in someone else’s medicine cabinet. Electronic voyeuristic curiosity! I’d love to hear what travel or road-trip apps you enjoy in the comments.

AAA Discounts – The AAA Discount app comes equipped with a GPS map and turn by turn direction route-planner, but this is entirely unnecessary if you have an iPhone. The value of this app is that is seeks out businesses and services in your area that offer discounts to AAA members.

ATM Hunter – This useful app from MasterCard lets users know the locations of the nearest ATMs.

Around Me – Around me lets you search for nearby hotels, coffee shops, gas stations, hospitals, banks, restaurants, etc. Apps along the same lines that I also use are Yelp and CitySearch.

Mad Libs – If you’ve never played Mad Libs then you are an (adjective ending in “-ing”) (noun). Mad Libs are (adjective). I (verb) them! I downloaded the free app and bought the paid one anyway because you have access to a lot of games that are automatically saved. Hours of fun on the road.

Emergency Survival from Wikihow – Not strictly necessary for road trips, but how badass do you feel when you can find, at a moment’s notice, how to control a spooked camel, survive natural disasters, or deal with roadside emergencies? It makes me feel like a seasoned adventurer. The entertainment value of this app alone is worth it and, along with the Mad Libs app, makes for an entertaining road trip.

Good Food Near You – Sure, you have apps that will tell you where the nearest restaurants are, but this app helps you find the healthiest choices in your immediate area. Especially nice if you are health-conscious, on a diet, or travelling with children. Nutritional information and a map to the restaurant is included.

Sit or Squat – This free app is sponsored by Charmin so you have to see irritating bears that don’t know how to wipe their butts occasionally, but for the service it provides it’s worth it. This app shows the location of the bathrooms near you. OMG! Who doesn’t need this?

Mark the Spot This app channels my passive-aggressive frustrations. Or it does nothing. I’m not really sure, but I figure it can’t hurt. Mark the Spot allows you complain directly to AT&T about areas of crappy coverage. I use this app every time I go to the grocery store.

Little Big’s Parenting, Baby, & Mommy Apps List

5 Jun

This post is the third in a series about iPhone apps I use and enjoy. This is less about being on the cutting edge of technology and more the equivalent of peeking in someone else’s medicine cabinet. Electronic voyeuristic curiosity! I’d love to hear what parenting or kid-friendly apps you enjoy in the comments.


Bab Bab Lite – This was the first app I downloaded for Isobel and she has been mesmerized by it from about four months. It’s a digital rattle with some ambient noise. Babies can shake the iPhone or trace their finger lightly across the screen and the rattles respond and change like a kaleidoscope. I have the free version and I’ve been completely satisfied.

White Noise –  my friend’s baby, Kingston, has a love affair with the blow dryer. In the early days it helped him fall asleep and stay asleep. His parents, Angela and Justin, learned very quickly that the White Noise app is their friend, especially on car rides with a fussy baby. The app also offers a variety of other soothing sounds.

Scribble – Use your finger to trace drawings and color. Shake the iPhone like an old school Etch-e-Sketch to clear the screen. Isobel has only recently begun to be interested in this but she still doesn’t quite get it. I think it’s fun and am betting this will be more useful when she’s a bit older.

Youtube – Don’t overlook the usefulness of an app you already own. Keyboard Cat and other cat videos have changed Isobel’s life. There is nothing like watching her little face as she giggles hysterically at a cat video.


Pediatric SymptomMD – I don’t think this app is necessary so much as it’s nice to have. Pediatric SymptomMD provides at-a-glance advice to look up symptoms and care to help make the best decisions for your child’s care. It also comes with a handy-dandy dosage guide for several OTC medicines.

Contraction Master – We used this app for three or four days before Isobel was born and I loved it. It times your contractions and records their history. Very, very useful because the last thing you want to do while you’re having painful contractions is write shit down.

Nursing Master – I bought a nursing app that was very expensive and, for my purposes, very crappy. Next time we have a baby I’m seriously looking Nursing Master. It has room for detailed feeding logs and works for both nursing and bottle feeding moms. This would have been perfect for me as I had milk flow issues and had to supplement with formula early on.

Expecting – next time I get pregnant I’m going to geek out with the Expecting app. This app comes with a contraction timer, but I still have my old one and I’d prefer a one-touch, simplified app for contractions. Expecting helps you keep track of doctor appointments, photos and note, checklists, due date calculator, and week by week pregnancy progression information. Again I don’t think something like this is necessary if you have a calendar or date book but it’s fun. And when you’re pregnant you need to focus on the fun so you’re not focused on the swelling, the aching, and the nausea.

Total Baby – Angela told me about Total Baby and I immediately lamented not knowing about this when Isobel was a newborn. We tried to record things on paper and inevitably the paper would get lost or be inconveniently far away. My phone, however? I kept that almost as close to me as I did my baby.

This app monitors your baby’s habits, routines, and milestones. The only thing that could make this app better is if they allowed you to store this information in the cloud and access it from the same account on different phones a la Grocery Gadget. This way you could record stuff then hand the kid off to your partner who will, without any hassle from you, have all the necessary caregiving information available right on their phone.

Here’s what Angela says about Total Baby:

“In the beginning I used it to track how much he was eating, how many wet diapers he was doing, his sleep, pretty much everything. Now that he is bigger I use it to track milestones, vaccines, medications, and occasionally when I am curious about the number of ounces he is drinking I will track it for a few days. It can basically hold all the information you would ever want to know about your kid.”

Meal Planning Apps

3 Jun

This post is the second in a series about iPhone apps I use and enjoy. This is less about being on the cutting edge of technology and more the equivalent of peeking in someone else’s medicine cabinet. Electronic voyeuristic curiosity! I’d love to hear what food-related apps you enjoy in the comments.

Shroomies Produce Guide – I have no idea why this is called ‘shroomies’ but it does make me giggle. This app really isn’t as necessary as it claims but I love it none the less. It is supposed to help you choose produce that’s in season but really, you probably don’t need help with that. If you can use your valuable looking skills to see what the store is offering a lot of cheaply then you know what’s in season.

Shroomies does offer the valuable service in the form of providing nutritional information, seasonality (when will asparagus be cheap again?!), how to store and how long to keep it, preparation advice and almost 200 photos and descriptions of all sorts of produce. Have you ever read a recipe and thought, what the heck is kohlrabi? Look it up! I love browsing the photos for inspiration, but I’m weird like that.

RelishI’ve sung Relish’s praises before and I’ll do it again: the iPhone app lets me peruse my weekly shopping list and view the recipe right from my phone, no printouts necessary. You have to have a subscription to Relish’s menu service for this to be useful, however.

Everyday Food – I sort of hate to give Martha even more of my money when she has so much already, but there’s something to be said for not having to leaf through stacks of magazines to find a recipe.

Mise En PlaceI’ve mentioned this app before also and while it over complicates the week night dinner I can’t wait to use this for a big party or holiday such as Thanksgiving. It lets you schedule all the tasks that need to be accomplished for a big meal and can help you figure out what you need to do well in advance. My organization-loving heart swelled when I found this.

Epicurious – The same benefits of the recipe website in handheld form.

Grocery Gadget – I’ve mentioned this app before, too, but when I find something awesome I like to share. Angela originally found this app and I’m so glad she told me about it. It handles far more than just your grocery list and has all sorts of handy features, such as online editing, list sharing so other members of your household have access to them, and full control over list organization. It’s the priciest app I’ve ever purchased but, for me at least, it’s been so worth it.