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Preview: Natalie Jost


Blog Behind the scenes of a maker & mom

Last Build Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2016 13:39:19 +0000


Minimalist Home Screen for Your iPhoneMinimalist Home Screen for Your iPhone

Sun, 04 Sep 2016 19:36:09 +0000

I might be the only person in the world who would care to do this, but in case I'm not, here's how I create a bit of minimalism on my iPhone.  What does that mean? It's simply stripping the screen of visual clutter, the same way minimalists do at home, by paring down to necessities to decrease noise that can distract us. I personally have a little extra sensitivity to visual stimulation, so this might not be as helpful to you as it might be to someone with these sensitivities. To accomplish this I did four things:hide all but the most important appsget to know spotlight and searchuse a blank wallpaper  utilize grayscale mode and triple-click1. Put  away lesser used appsFirst, move all of your "extra" apps into folders. By extra I mean any app you don't use repeatedly every day. If you're not sure, double click your home button to see the most recent apps you've had open. I have about a dozen apps I need to have immediate access to. All the rest are put away.  My primary screen, only the most important apps So, extra apps in folders. Now push those folders off to the right, to another page. On your main page you should have just that one page with your most important apps.   My secondary screen, just folders of lesser used apps 2. Get to know spotlight and search  Spotlight is a program that runs on Apple devices that acts as a shortcut to a few more important things. On iPhone I reach it by swiping to the right from the home screen.  Swipe right from the home screen to see spotlight  First are my more recent contacts, most recently used apps, and then news below that. But from here I can quickly reach my husband or open one of the last few apps I used.  Or, I can swipe down from the home screen to search.  Swipe down to search for an app When I know the name of an app I never have to have it out on my home screen. I can keep it tucked away and access it more quickly from search. Once you get used to this, it will be really handy.  3. Use a blank wallpaperI've found most wallpaper designs to be terribly distracting. They can be beautiful framed on a wall, but behind all my apps, it's too much. Find a solid background or make your own. You may not realize a solid wallpaper background doesn't need to be a particular size. It will be stretched or cropped and being solid, you won't notice the change. I made a solid white background by cropping the white part of a screenshot.  To make a screenshot, press your home button AND the power button at the same time. An image of your screen is now saved to your camera roll as a photo. Go to PHOTOS and EDIT this photo. Choose the CROP tool and crop down to a white portion of the screen. Cropping a screenshot for the whitespace. If you want black or gray, or purple, you can use this same technique. Just grab a screenshot or use any photo that has the color you want to use. Crop down to that portion of the photo and that will be your background image.  Now click the share button on your image and choose SET AS WALLPAPER. Select HOME SCREEN only and your lock screen wallpaper will remain as it was. I still like a pretty photo for my lock screen, just not my home screen. 4. Utilize grayscale & triple-clicking the home screenHere's where this trick gets interesting and maybe too much for some. It's one thing to organize your phone but stripping color may be too far for you. That's okay! But I need it some days. And the good news is that this feature is totally optional and easy to switch on and off.  [...]

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Keep the chic, give me the shabbyKeep the chic, give me the shabby

Thu, 12 May 2016 20:54:31 +0000

The youngest twin’s favorite show right now is Fixer Upper. She’s a spunky eight-year-old with lots to say, so it’s fun to watch her excitement as the show progresses from shabby to chic in a magical 45 minutes. It’s also humbling.

“Wow, that’s a great house! I’d LOOOOOVE to live in that house. I mean, just look at that, that’s awesome!”

That would be the before house she’s getting excited about. You see, we have a very modest 800-or-so square foot house that’s always under construction. Dad is a brick mason who brings his work and his dreams home with him.


Not our house, but it's nice; it probably has two bathrooms.

There’s always a bit of trim not put up yet, a window that needs replacing, primer on the wall that needs paint, or a doorway cut out but not dry-walled yet. He works 10–12 hour days and spends a long weekend once every few months working to make our tiny house a little more comfortable for our family of five.

“Aw, cool, it looks just like our house!”

Now she’s talking about demo day. I used to be bothered by the mess, and I still get a little frustrated sometimes when I have to shuffle tile and tools to the side to make a sandwich when the kitchen is his current project. And sometimes I day dream about having the money to pay an extra hand to come in a knock it all out in a day or two, but when I look at this little girl flipping out because “oh my gosh, Mom, they have TWO bathrooms” I know there’s something bigger happening in her world.

This kid is learning to be happy with small things and she doesn’t even know it. Without any serious training on our part, she’ll grow up feeling like a home with two bathrooms is a luxury. Paint on every wall with crown molding, consistent flooring from one room to the next, and a counter top that doesn’t scoot when you lean on it, that’s a real prize.

“Woah, I can’t believe that’s the same house! It’s so fancy.”

She’s the same way with toys and books too. Brand new is nice, but there’s something about the dusty stuff. When it’s a little older, it’s usually better quality, built stronger, easier to use, and to love.

I hope she’ll grow up to treat people this way too, not preferring the pretty and the perfect, but appreciating those who need a bit of remodeling just like us. I imagine her someday, getting married and buying her first home, and she’ll choose the fixer-upper, because it feels like home.


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Finding My MotherFinding My Mother

Sun, 08 May 2016 00:45:00 +0000

Being adopted When I was four years old, I stood in a courtroom gazing up at a man in a black robe, in wonder. He asked me if I wanted to be adopted, and if I wanted these people to be my parents. I don't remember what I said, but I remember feeling like there was nothing I wanted more in the world. Adoption day! I was so happy.  I could have broken out in song--I felt like Annie, although I figured out later that the movie didn't come out until the following year. Funny how the memory works. And all of this is the way I remember it. A few external details may be off but my experience of these events is very real and stays with me today. I had a good life, good parents, a good town, and good friends. Knowing about my adoption was a good thing. I read stories about other kids who found out about their adoption later in life and it was devastating. So I was thankful I had a very good reason I was so different from everyone around me. People asked me now and then if I had any interest in finding my birth mother. I always said, no, not right now, but maybe. Someday. I'll know when it's time. Always the same, I'm not really interested right now, but I'll just know when it's time. At some point in my teens I got a look at my parent's files. It wasn't exactly hidden from me, but I didn't feel comfortable asking my mom about these things. It felt sort of like I was cheating on her. But one day after school I peeked in the file cabinet and found out my birth mother's name was Gloria. When my parents' attorney retired and sent my dad his files from the adoption, I discovered she had been married a few times, had used the names Tetreau, Cameron, and Forrest, and that she still lived in the town listed on my birth certificate: Willows, CA. It's in northern California, about an hour north of Sacramento just off Interstate 5. It's one of those places you'd stop for gas and a quick bite before traveling on, never making note of the name of the place you'd just passed through. In fact, from the interstate, the only things visible for miles were a gas station and a diner, and then just open farm land.   Visiting Willows for the first time While in college my freshman year at Sonoma State, barely 18, my roommate drove with me to Willows to look around. I didn't find my mother, but I did talk to a nurse at the hospital who was so kind. She photocopied a page from the phonebook for me that had what might have been Gloria's phone number. I sat on it for a few months before I finally worked up the nerve to call the number. A woman answered, "Hello?" I said, "Hi, is this Gloria?" She said yes. I said, "Oh, sorry, wrong number." CLICK. I still wasn't ready. The Dream At 21 I was living back at home with my parents outside San Diego. One night in the summer I had a really unusual dream. It was one of those where you wake only to find you're still dreaming. I was at my grandma's house in Huntington Beach, CA, staying in the back bedroom at the end of the hall. I woke up to a woman sitting on the edge of the bed. I was startled, though not totally afraid. She was holding my hand, and her hand was similar to mine. She was about my age, and something about her felt familiar but I didn't know why. As she gazed at me I suddenly grew nervous and started to sit up. As I moved to sit, she floated upward and I can still remember the feeling of her toes brushing across my abdomen. It was eerie. I woke up instantly and I knew it was time. This was the moment, and that woman, somehow, was my mother--or a vision of her. My family happened to have our annual trip to Lake Tahoe planned in a few days but as soon as I got back I was determined to try to find my mother. At the Lake Not long after we arrived at the lake, the next morning after we arrived in fact, my mom and I got in an argument. We argued a lot back then, and as I usually did, I got in my car and drove as far[...]

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New App: Work Hard Anywhere

Wed, 20 Apr 2016 00:21:04 +0000

For iPhone only yet... it's a little bit like Foursquare but for creatives and freelancers who work remotely on a regular basis. Work Hard Anywhere let's you find and share your favorite places to get a bite, a little WIFI and maybe meet another creative while you're out. I'd imagine it would be even better for travel, to help you find a place near you when you're away from your regular places.


Vintage School

Wed, 27 Jan 2016 20:55:45 +0000

Lately on Instagram I've been posting with the hashtag #vintageschool. Here's why:My three girls have been in and out of school, but they still prefer it at home. My oldest is 13 and the twins are 8. I'm not inherently against public school in any way, but it's a lot like eating packaged foods. It's food, sustenance, it's all decent, just not the best. Homemade is better. Almost always. Public school is just pre-packaged education. It does the job, and it's better than no school at all, but it's not the best, healthiest situation. Not for us. We also don't use a set curriculum.  We never have. I'm really flexible about everything because I want so much for learning to be interesting and fun. That doesn't mean I let them do whatever whenever, and there are days it's a bit of a fight, but I know what each of them can handle and what they need to know at a given age (not grade), and I help them get there. There are a number of good programs out there for homeschooling families, but we have yet to find a one-size-fits-all method that works for us. Some are too vague, others are too restrictive. So we're kind of winging it (and that's okay).  Although I keep a peripheral eye on state standards just to be safe, it's not my guiding force. We're typically led based on whatever vintage book the girls are interested in at the moment, or what comes across my searches at the flea markets and antique stores. Oddly unconventional, for sure, but it works. Why so old school?Personally, I hated school. Even when I was good at it, I felt like it was just something to do, another childhood chore. I was doing it for the A, not for the knowledge itself. I suspect that's just human nature, but in case it's not, I want to try things another way. I want to try to make learning a natural, inherent part of life.I want it to feel like breathing, not like a task, a thing to be checked off a list. "We did an hour of history, two hours of reading, and an hour of math," ought to read "We learned about the history of the American Revolution and the relationship between Britain and the new country just developing. We read a Sherlock Holmes' mystery and learned how to find the cubic mass of a box." After several years browsing bookstores, teaching stores, libraries, even yard sales and online sources, I keep coming back to these old books. There are so many advantages, but the biggest is the simplicity. No superfluous graphicsHow many cartoons and bright colors do kids need? Is it really helpful? We're finding it's not. The kids are markedly overwhelmed when they pick up a modern workbook and they fight me most with these. But when I give them a composition notebook and an activity from the 1945 spelling book, they're right down to business.  Clear TextThe print is often more readable for kids in older books. When looking through books, I find a gradual shift from the early 1900s to mid-century, and today, with more and more illustrations and fewer words. Instructions and key points are often more difficult to find, and there is generally less "meat" in newer books. Writers of these books seem more intent on keeping kids entertained, but for us, it all just gets in the way. The simple use of bold and italics is usually enough to get a point across. It also teaches them how to read real life text, like news and magazine articles, books, and all the things as adults they'll need to be able to read. There won't always be imagery to keep them interested. Physical sizeVintage school books are usually smaller, which makes them easy for little hands to carry and to use. They're lighter too, so when we take school on the go, there's no heavy book bag to lug around. The kids are also less intimidated by smaller books. They tend to think a bigger book means harder or more work.Shorter lessonsBecause[...]