Category Archives: tips and tricks

My Favorite iOS Apps for Mobile Blogging

A Pretty Penny | My Favorite iOS Apps for Mobile Blogging

In my early days of blogging, I relied on my DSLR and Macbook to churn out content. Publishing posts took a lot of time, planning, uploading, and work space.

With the flower shop commanding more of my time and energy, it’s important for me to keep the blog fun and manageable; which means finding ways to share and stay connected as conveniently as possible. Now I can create content anytime, anywhere with my iPhone or iPad and a handful of iOS apps.

Thanks, technology!

Here are 11 of my favorite apps that help me keep the blog updated regularly with limited time:

Instagram – (FREE) Everyone uses this photo-sharing app, but I especially love it for blogging. WordPress recently added an Instagram widget that shares my latest ‘grams in my sidebar; this helps me keep the  blog updated with fresh content, even when I’m not posting.

Facebook Pages Manager- (FREE) This app helps me stay connected with my Facebook audience. I can easily share photos and updates, as well as respond to comments and private messages and keep track of stats.

Paper by FiftyThree- (FREE) This app turns my iPad into a notepad. I can sketch, write, and draw; and then save, share, and stream.

PicTapGo - ($1.99) This simple photography app is the mobile version of RadLab. It puts a variety of Photoshop-style actions and filters in the palm of your hand, turning your iPhone camera snaps into creative images that can be saved for blog  posts or shared across mobile platforms.

Pinterest - (FREE) I prefer the Pinterest iOS app to the web version! It’s so easy to “like” and repin images by touch. I love Pinterest for finding style and beauty inspiration, browsing DIY ideas, and creating my weekly mood board posts.

Polyvore - (FREE) I use this app to create style and beauty collages; like this and this!

TimerCam - (FREE) I don’t always take selfies, but when I do, I prefer TimerCam. Please go back and reread that as The Most Interesting Man in the World. My latest outfit shots were taken on-the-go with this self-timer camera app.

vscocam - (FREE) When I want to spice up a photo quickly, I run it through this photography app to add filters and adjust levels. The majority of my Instagrams are uploaded through vscocam.

Waterlogue - ($2.99) This new photography app turns plain ol’ photos into pretty watercolor illustrations! I love using it for beauty product posts, like this one.

WordPress - (FREE) I can manage nearly every aspect of my blog directly from my iPhone or iPad with the WordPress app. I use it daily to write short posts, share photos, interact with readers, and keep an eye on my stats. Push notifications let me know when I have new followers, new likes on posts, or achieve new milestones in traffic.

Wunderlist - (FREE) Organization at its finest! This is the ultimate to-do list maker and task manager. It’s great for storing blog post ideas, making lists of goals, and tracking deadlines.

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10 beauty cheats every girl should know

{Inspired by Buzzfeed’s popular 27 Life Hacks Every Girl Should Know.}


1. Mascara wands make the best eyebrow brushes. When its time to toss your favorite tube of mascara — you should replace every 3 months to protect your peepers from bacteria — save the wand. Wash it clean with soap and water and, voila, free brow spoolie!

2. Turn any eyeshadow into a long-lasting eyeliner with a drop of saline solution. I learned this trick years ago from Carmindy on What Not to Wear. Wet an eyeliner brush with a drop or two of saline solution (the same stuff you use to clean your contact lenses) then dip the brush into a powder eyeshadow and apply it like liquid liner. When it dries, it’s sweat and smudge proof and lasts all day. I love using this trick with purple, green and teal shadows for a night out.

3. Clean stained fingernails with a whitening toothpaste. Even with a base coat, dark and bright nail polishes can leave behind yellow stains after you take them off. Give your nails a good scrub with a nail brush and a whitening toothpaste to remove them.

4. Beat dry, peeling lips overnight with Aquaphor. I’m terrible at properly hydrating throughout the day, so my lips are always in need of TLC. When they’re really chapped and flakey, I cover them with a generous dab of Aquaphor right before bed. It works its magic overnight, and I remove it with a warm wet wash cloth in the morning. All of the dead skin wipes right off with it, and my lips are left soft and hydrated with minimum effort.

5. Out of eye makeup remover? Olive oil works in a pinch. Bonus: it’s chemical-free and really moisturizing for the delicate skin around your eyes!

6. Freshen up unwashed hair with cornstarch. Cheaper and greener than dry shampoo, corn starch helps absorb oil and odor from your scalp. Sprinkle a tiny amount on your roots (you can always add more if you need to) then brush it through with a boar bristle brush until it’s completely gone.

7. Cure nail fungus with tea tree and olive oil.  I picked up a nail fungus in a salon a couple of years ago, and had the hardest time getting rid of it for good. It started out looking like a tiny bruise under the nail and later the nail started to lift from the bed. Yikes! I tried over-the-counter treatments, but it kept coming back. Then I discovered the tea tree oil trick, and I haven’t had a problem since. Every night, I applied straight tea tree oil to my fingers and toes, rubbing it in to the cuticles and getting it under the infected nails. Tea tree oil can be really drying, so I followed it up with a little organic olive oil. I did this nightly until the fungus disappeared, and I continue to do it several times a week to keep my nails and cuticles healthy. These days, I’m all about home mani/pedis.

8. Dry nail polish in a snap with ice water. Since I started using Essie’s Good to Go quick-dry topcoat, I haven’t had to use this trick, but it’s a good one. Fill a bowl with ice water, then carefully dip your drying nails in for about a minute. If they’re still tacky, dunk them again.

9. Clean makeup brushes with castile soap. You could spend $14 on a 6.75 oz bottle of brush shampoo from Sephora, or you could spend $16 on a 32 oz. bottle of multi-tasking Dr. Bronner’s pure castile soap. This natural and vegan mild cleanser removes every trace of makeup from synthetic brushes, even dissolving long wear foundation and concealers. I’ve also used Dr. Bronner’s to wash my face and soak in the tub, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of its “18-in-1″ power.

10. Grab a stack of napkins on your next Starbucks trip. This one is weird, but true. The coffee powerhouse’s unbleached recycled napkins make excellent blotting papers. So when you stop in for your latte fix (or shaken peach iced green tea) grab a few extra napkins and stash them in your purse for a quick skin touch-up on the go!

easy as pie

JCrew dress (a pretty penny) | pree brulee peach druzy necklace | Nine West belt | Nine West wedges | vintage eelskin clutch (thrifted)


IMG_2963  IMG_2971


Maybe it’s because I was raised on the rules of Stacy & Clinton and weekend marathons of What Not to Wear (both the American and British versions) but the word “comfortable” in the context of style usually makes me crinkle my nose. It conjures up images of sweats, baggy tees, and pajama jeans worn by superwomen who give so much of themselves to everyone around them, and don’t leave much time or energy to dedicate to themselves. Trust me, I understand. However– trust me one more time — there are pieces you can add to your wardrobe that take seconds to put on, and are just as comfortable as those trusty sweats. And feeling pretty and put-together goes a long way in adding a little pep to your step.

Take an easy cotton shirt dress like this one. Throw it on, cinch your waist with a belt, and you’re good to go. Add a necklace if you have an extra 30 seconds to spare before racing out the door to tackle the day’s to-do list. Wear it with flats for running around day, then switch to a wedge or heel for after-hours. You’ll feel like you’re wearing your jammies all day, but you’ll look totally polished and put-together. Your yoga pants won’t even know what hit ‘em.

I love this quote from my friend Kayley’s blog, Sidewalk Ready:

“While clothes may not make the woman, they certainly have a strong effect on her self-confidence… which, I believe, does make the woman.” — Mary Kay Ashe

keeping it together


One of the questions I get most often online and in “real life” is, “How do you manage it all?” And when I stop and think about it, my life is a little crazy right now. I guess when you’re in the middle of it, you don’t realize how precarious your juggling act is. Maybe this is a survival tactic.

So here’s the God’s-honest-truth answer to that million dollar question: most of the time, I don’t.

Balls get dropped. Emails sit in my inbox and collect dust before I have a moment to wade through them. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and tip-toe into the kitchen to call my flower supplier and whisper an important forgotten order into their voicemail. I run out of underwear before I realize it’s been two weeks since I did a load of laundry. I miss networking events because all day I thought it was Tuesday, and holy #$!@ it’s Thursday. I don’t call my mom and dad enough. And that’s just the tip of the slippery iceberg, friends.

Some days, I dominate my to-do list with time and energy to spare {ahhh, those days}. Other days, I want to hide in my bed for 48 hours and pretend my looming responsibilities don’t exist. {Respect to you mommas out there who juggle work and littles; I can’t even imagine it.}

Unfortunately, you don’t get sick days when you’re the big cheese and your fate rests on your tired droopy shoulders, so I’m working on achieving more balance and organization in my day-to-day. Please note that I said working on. As in, I don’t have all the answers. But I do have a few “keep it together” practices for myself to keep me going {and I don’t even drink coffee}. Even if you’re not self-employed but feeling a little overwhelmed, try these out and see if they help!

Write it down.

Or even better, write it down twice. I pride myself on my elephant-like memory (for serious, it’s a steel trap) but even I can’t remember every little detail or customer request. I keep all of my calendars, to-do lists, and project details in a binder that goes with me just about everywhere. I love the arc customizable notebook line by Staples, because you can tailor your day planner with dozens of styles and options. I also keep pretty notebooks and colorful pens near all my workstations at home and at the shop, because — let’s be real — I’m more likely to use an organizational system if it’s cute. I also try to keep my iCalendar updated and synced with my iPhone so my schedule is always on-hand.

Eat well.

Not to be confused with it’s elitist and unachievable sister, Eat Perfectly. Go ahead, eat a cupcake and don’t beat yourself up about it, but make sure you’re fueling your body with the good stuff, too. A car can’t run on cheap gas, and you can’t run on non-fat lattes and Happy Meals. My super-healthy friend, Lisa, put this all in perspective for me one day when I was bummed about falling off my gluten-free diet wagon. She said to forget about trying to follow some unachievable diet perfectly. Just try to make more good decisions than bad, and eventually it becomes a lifestyle! I swear by green monsters and home-cooked meals. No matter how tired I am at the end of the day, I try to cook a healthy dinner every night for Chad and me.

Get a hobby. 

For me, it’s this blog. Among my other favorites are photography, jewelry-making, cooking, restyling, music, and reading . The point is to have an outlet to focus on, and to flex your creative muscle. Before I started A Pretty Penny, I thought my hobby was shopping. But it was really just a time-filler and temporary band-aid that ended up getting me in a lot of financial trouble and exacerbated my stress and anxiety.

Know when to ask for back-up.

I’m a perfectionist and control freak, and I hate to ask for help. Some sick part of my brain equates reaching out for back-up with weakness, I think. So rather than teach someone else a task so I can take it off my plate, or accept a kind offer for assistance, I prefer to do it allll myself until my plate runneth over into the dark corners of oblivion. It’s not because I want all the glory or think other people are incompetent, it’s because I guess I think I can do it all and when I do it all it will be exactly the way I want it. This is stupid. And I’m working on it. Don’t be like me. Know when you’re getting a little overloaded and need someone to step in and take some of your to-do list off your hands.

Lose the guilt.

It took me a long time to learn the power of saying no. Or, in my southern-raised case: “no, thank you.” As in, “No, thank you, I can’t make it to XYZ this weekend because I’ve had a really crazy week and I just need to clean my house and take a 6-hour nap,” or “As much as I love the cause of ABC Organization, I don’t think I can commit my time on the board this year because I’m a little overextended and probably wouldn’t be much help.” Don’t feel guilty because you can’t do it all. Otherwise you’re going to find yourself stretched thinner than plastic wrap and you’re going to be worthless in just about all of it.

Follow the 80/20 rule.

I was chatting with a relative at a family get-together last night. He’s a seasoned and accomplished businessman, who’s had several successful and different ventures throughout his career. We were talking about how busy things have been at the shop, and laughing about the myth of “business ownership equals more time and freedom” {trust me ya’ll, it does not}. He told me to always remember the 80/20 rule.

Forget the illusion that you’re going to finish 100% of your to-do list every day. Just make sure you finish at least 80% before you lock it up every night. The remaining 20% can wait until tomorrow. If it’s one of those rare and luxurious days that you finish 80% early, start on the rest and see how far you get and call it a win. But as long as you’re always operating on 80/20, and getting 80% of everything done every day, you’ll make it and be successful.

Make time for fun.

It doesn’t really matter what your idea of “fun” is, just make sure you pencil in time for plenty of it. You know what they say about all work and no play.

I’d love to hear your “keep it together” practices, too! If there’s something that works for you that I haven’t mentioned here, please share it in the comments. I’m sure we’ll all appreciate any tips we can get!