Tag Archives: tips

Smartphones: 4 Great Care and Usage Tips

The perks of using a smartphone are things I’m just now getting used to–being able to check my email from anywhere, stay updated on news and social media without turning on the computer, and having true mobile gaming, among many other things.

But smartphones also bring with them a new set of concerns. What do you do about scratches and shattered cases–do you try to repair or get a new phone? How do you charge the thing without feeling deprived for hours as it lies connected firmly to the wall?

While the following post is not a comprehensive list of smartphone hacks, these are all things I’ve personally used to make my smartphone-owning life a lot easier. I think these tips can help you, too.

#1: Use Airplane Mode

One of the greatest tricks I ever learned from the Internet was how to use Airplane Mode to charge my phone WAY faster. In Airplane Mode (found in Settings, most likely), your phone doesn’t have to use energy for data or cell phone signal, so the battery can charge super-fast. However, Airplane Mode also works great for those times when your data or wireless signal is being a little bit finicky–toggling Airplane Mode on and off in the space of about a minute is akin to resetting your wireless router.

#2: Buy a Strong, Protective Case

A case that fully covers your phone (to protect against scratches) and is strong enough to withstand drops is much better than paying for a new phone every few months. I personally use the Otterbox Defender, which has already saved my iPhone (and my sanity) several times. This article at Hongkiat.com shows a few other tough smartphone cases. These cases ARE a bit bulkier, but they do the job.

#3: Clean Your Screen

Clean your screen and any other exposed bits of your smartphone regularly with a soft cloth and spray meant for eyeglasses–I use just a little squirt of eyeglass spray on the cloth, and then wipe down the screen to get rid of collected face and fingertip grease. This helps SO much to not have to touch a dirty greasy phone every day!

#4: Shut Down and Restart Every Week

If you think that shutting down and restarting is only for your computer, think again. I’ve gotten into the practice of shutting down and restarting my phone every Sunday night–it REALLY helps the performance of my phone. After all, that smartphone you hold is a miniature computer; it needs a little rest and relaxation, too! This can really help if you’re having some weird performance issues or display bugs. (Just like with the computers, turning it off and on again can fix most things, LOL)

3 Ways to Break Out of a Gaming Rut

It happens to us all, even with games we absolutely love. Sometimes, you just get TIRED of a game…it doesn’t seem to have the same level of challenge and fun that it used to. Whether the game is on a disc, online, or played on a tabletop, sometimes we just lose interest–it seems we’ve conquered everything.

But wait! Before you sell off that game disc, close out your online account, or trade away all the game pieces, take a moment to rethink. You might not be “done” with the game–you might just need a new perspective on it.

Perspective Change #1: Observe How Others Play

Once you’ve been playing a game for a long time, you can get set in certain ways of playing. You might set up your item inventory the same way all the time, or you might play certain card combos in exactly the same way. All that sameness is very comfortable, but it can also be…boring.

To start shaking up your gaming experience, simply watch other people play the game, and take note of how they do things differently from you. This works even better if you’ve lent them your game/game pieces–for instance, how do they play that Heroclix piece differently from you? What can you learn from their approach? Just taking time to appreciate another’s gaming style as opposed to your own can help you feel less bored about the game.

Perspective Change #2: Try Something New in the Same Old Game

I’m quite guilty of choosing the same character or same playstyle all the time, especially when it comes to fighting games. It’s hard for me to learn a different character’s fighting style when I’ve gotten so used to mashing X for a jump attack or A and B together for a super-punch, and so on. But choosing a different character or playstyle can be just the ticket to refreshing your interest in the game–you just have to be willing to be a “newb” again.

What do I mean by “being a newb?” I mean starting with a playstyle you’re not familiar with at all–trying something completely off-the-wall, something that goes against your traditional choice. It might be difficult at first, but think of it as a new challenge in an old game. (For instance, if you have only played Red decks in Magic: the Gathering, how about trying a Blue or White deck?) Also, ask other players for advice as you try new things; it’s not a cardinal sin, and you might just revive their interest in the game, too!

Perspective Change #3: Teach a Newbie

Not all of us are natural teachers, but you can at least demonstrate the game to a person who’s interested in playing. Show them your favorite parts of the game–if it’s a video game, show them your favorite area of the game, or your weapons/items of choice, for instance. Tell them why you enjoyed these bits of the game so much, and what drew you to these items, etc.

As you show the new player these game features, take time to observe their reactions, and really listen to their questions. For them, this is all uncharted territory–it’s all new and exciting! Allow this attitude of discovery to rub off on you; see your old “boring” game through their eyes. Who knows, they might discover something new about the game or point out a challenge you never knew was there. Remember the old adage about “seeing things with fresh eyes?”


Gaming ruts don’t have to last forever! With these tips, you might just find a whole new gaming experience hiding underneath all that boredom. Give them a shot!

Transform Unwanted Shampoo/Shower Gel into Foamy Hand Soap!

foamysoap Recently, as I purged my bathroom of all sorts of old shower gels and shampoos, I realized I had quite a little collection of almost-but-not-quite-used-up bath products. Most of them were a bit old to continue using for their original purpose, but, being the borderline hoarder that I am, I didn’t like to see wads of money going in the trash can if I could repurpose the leftover products for any other household use.

I was quite at a loss, till I discovered that there was a way to make your own foaming soap using some of these unwanted products. Yes, you read that right–your own foamy soap, without having to go out and buy it! With this process, I’ve been able to both use up leftover products AND save money on hand soap…a definite win-win!

The Process

(There are many blog articles about this out there on the Internet, but the tutorial I followed was this one over at KingdomFirstMom.com. I have added my own tips and advice to this, gained through trial and error.)

  1. First, only use shower gels/shampoos that are see-through for this project. If it’s not a see-through product, it will not foam well at all, AND will gunk up your foamy soap dispenser to boot. (Learn from my fail.)
  2. Make sure your foamy soap dispenser is rinsed out completely.
  3. Measure out 1-2 tablespoons of your chosen product and pour it into your dispenser bottle.
  4. Run a very thin stream of warm water into the dispenser bottle until the bottle is filled up almost all the way to the top, leaving room for the foamy dispenser top to fit in.
  5. Screw the top of the bottle on firmly, and then begin to turn the bottle over and over in your hands slowly to combine the soap and water. (This is important–if you shake the bottle too hard, all the foam will be “stuck” in the bottle and won’t come out the top. Learn from my fail.)
    • I find that turning the bottle over to the rhythm of “thousand-1, thousand-2, thousand-1, thousand-2” works well.
    • Turning the bottle end-over-end ensures that the product distributes throughout all the water in the bottle.
  6. After a few minutes of this slow-churned process, try out your foamy soap by pumping the top a couple of times. (If it doesn’t foam right at first, try a few more pumps, or shake the bottle up a teensy bit faster–some shampoos and shower gels distribute at different rates in water.)
  7. YAY! You have your own foamy soap, made from a repurposed product!

One Final Note: Obtaining a “Foamy Soap” Bottle

The real trick to making anything into “foamy soap” is the bottle, or more accurately, the top of the bottle, which adds air into the soap/water mix as you pump it out of the bottle. There are some fillable foaming soap pumps out there, but most of them have really bad reviews, either for being leaky or for the foamy dispenser part clogging up really easily.

At our house, we had several empty Bath & Body Works foaming soap bottles and pumps lying around; I just rinsed one out and repurposed it for my “homemade” foamy soap. This has worked out really well! So, if you can’t find a foamy soap pump you like, you may want to ask friends if they have any empty storebought soap pumps they’d be willing to let go. One less item of clutter/trash for them, one very cheap way to stretch soap for you!