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Findery.com: The go to destination for armchair travelers and everyone else

standard September 18, 2014 2 responses

So, here’s the deal, I adore traveling. I love hotel rooms. I love walking around new places. I love, love, love discovering local treasures. Sadly, I don’t have the bank account to fund this love of mine, or the time to manage the jet setting lifestyle I wish I could live. Kids, life, responsibilities… it all colludes to keep me a veteran armchair traveler rather enjoying the real deal. Lucky for me, Findery.com has now made it easy for me to travel around the world doing everything I love without ever leaving my desk chair. Even better, should I eventually ever get to actually pack more than an overnight bag, I’ll already be in the know on all the great things not to miss where I’m going. What can I say about Findery.com? Imagine for a moment that Google Maps and Pinterest had a baby, well, that baby might look a bit like Findery. It’s awesome if you’re looking to research a destination – find the best place to grab a bite, the neatest sight, the “thing” you never thought you’d ever want to know and yet are so glad you discovered. It’s also awesome if, like me, you spend most of your time traveling virtually.

  Or, it’s perfect if you want to find the neat finds that you didn’t even know were in your neighborhood.

  I’m not going anywhere soon, so, in the meantime, I’ll just keep updating some of my own favorite notemaps so others can “travel” with me:

  Follow me on Findery.com and come explore the world with me. I can’t wait to see where you want to go too. If you’re a hard-core mobile user, you’re in luck. The Findery app was JUST released for Android (It’s already out on the Apple App Store). So, if you, like me, can’t resist the smell of fresh apps, download it now and come get your travel on! Findery on Android

Please note: Findery.com is one of my clients. As part of the work I do for them I have been compensated for this post. All words and opinions are mine and mine alone.  

Keeping everyone in a Circle with Life360

standard September 25, 2013 Leave a response

My husband is an attorney. 90% of the time he spends his days sitting at his desk in his office. The rest of the time he’s off at depositions, at mediations, at client meetings, or even in trial. Sometimes he can text me to tell me when to expect him home, sometimes he can’t.

For the most part not knowing is fine. He’s almost always home around 5:30, almost always warns me when he won’t be. And then, once in a while, a deposition runs late, the office team goes out for a drink, or something else comes up and delays him.

I admit, I worry. I can’t help it.

And yes, some night, like last night, it’s annoying to not know. Like, when I’ve gone out of my way to make dinner for the whole family (what the kids call Family Love Dinner) and I get a call just as the spaghetti is done, telling me that he’s just now heading home and he’s three towns over.

I didn’t freak. There was nothing to be done. I served the kids their dinner and put ours aside to be warmed up later, but it would have been nice to know. I would have saved Family Love Dinner for tonight.

As I mentioned, it’s not a question of intent on my husband’s part. If he hasn’t called or texted it’s because he truly can’t. I get that. And with the Life360 app I can check to see where he is, to see if he’s on the road or still at work.

I love it. And now, with the new Circles update, I can expand my use of the app to my friends.

The Circles feature allows you to create different groupings of people so you can easily message a whole group of people or check on everyone at once.

  • Do you have a group of close friends? Create a Circle and let everyone know when you’re heading to the park or out to lunch.
  • Do you have a carpool you rely on for getting the kids to and fro? Create a Circle and always know when your kids are almost home.
  • Going on vacation with your extended family? Create a Circle and let everyone know about dinner plans.
  • Heading to a blogging or work conference? Create a Circle for the people you want to spend the most time with and let everyone know where to assemble.

Circles can be created as easily as they can be erased. They can be temporary or long lasting. They can have just two people in them or as many as you might want. And they make it just so easy to keep everything and everyone nicely connected.

The Life360 app has so much more to offer, but I’ll let you play with it yourself. It’s free to download to either your Android or iOS device. The subscription service gives you access to even more options. Trust me, you want to check it out.

Please note: Life360 is a Splash Creative Media client and, as such, has compensated me to write this post and spread the love about their app. The opinions and stories here are mine and mine alone.

4 days without apps, could you do it?

standard July 8, 2013 3 responses

This is a sponsored post for eBay on behalf of Splash Creative Media.

 This summer my baby is celebrating her 6th birthday. It seems inconceivable that she has been around that long let alone that she’s no longer a baby. And yet, when I think of her I can’t fathom of a world where she isn’t around, making funny quips, giggling, or driving us crazy with one of her tantrums opinionated moments.

Drama Queen from her very first moments.

When I stop to think that the Apple App Store is celebrating its 5th birthday this week I’m equally dumfounded. How is it that just 5 years ago we got along without apps? Without smart phones?

The Apple App Store launched on July 10, 2008 with the eBay app, so, eBay Mobile is also celebrating its 5th anniversary this week. In honor of this celebration they posed a bit of a challenge to 200 of their consumers.

They asked them to go without apps for 4 days.

Easy right? These apps are something they’ve only had to rely on for the last 5 years. Surely they’d be able to get along without them for 4 measly days, right?

Well, 1/3rd of them couldn’t. The rest found that once they got their apps back they were happier, less frustrated, calmer, and more productive.

There is no doubt that if I didn’t have my smart phone I’d be able to survive. Despite my husband’s belief to the contrary, I am not addicted to the thing (emotionally attached, yes, addicted no…), but I do rely on it heavily.

  • Without it I’d get lost frequently. I rely on my maps app more than I should admit.
  • Without it I’d have to be home more often. I use my mail app to stay in touch with clients while on the go with kids. 
  • Without it I think I’d be more lonely. Many a times my text and social media apps have made it possible for me to find friends who are also out and about so we can meet up and hang out. 
  • Without it I’d never know what to get at the grocery store. My husband and I both have a grocery app that allows us to add things to a central list from our remote locations. 
  • Without it my purse would be even heavier than it already is. I rely heavily on my book apps to help me cart around reading materials for myself and the kids. 
  • Without it I’d never know where I’m supposed to be. I have reminders for everything in my calendar app. As it is it’s nothing short of miraculous that the kids don’t miss appointments or school things, without the app there’s not a snowball’s chance in Hell that library books would get to school on the right day or that I’d know when the kids have minimum days. 

If I think about it, clearly I used to get along without all of these things. I had GPS in the car, I had a paper calendar, I checked email at work or when I was home. It was all do-able, but there’s no doubt at all that having a smartphone has made me more connected, more organized, and more flexible than I used to be.

Time for a Twitter party!
Come help me and the Splash Creative Media team celebrate the eBay Mobile 5th Anniversary on Wednesday, July 10th with a 1 hour Twitter party starting at 12pmPST. We’ll talk some more about how apps have improved our lives! I can’t wait to hear your stories!

We’ll be giving away $300 in eBay gift cards so be sure to RSVP and get the party details here. 

Date: Wednesday, July 10
Time: 12-1pm PST
Party URL: www.ebay.com/mobile5(Party URL will be live on the day of the event.)
Hashtag: #eBayMobile Please note: you must participate from that URL to be eligible to win.
Prizes: $25 eBay gift cards given away every 5 minutes to a Tweeter who has RSVPd below and is actively participating in the party from the above URL.

Please note: eBay is a client of Splash Creative Media, my digital media agency. I am being compensated to write this post and run this Twitter party, but my love for all things eBay and app related is mine and mine alone.

The Microsoft Stores; A few facts you’d never guess

standard May 14, 2013 37 responses

(Want to win a $100 Microsoft Giftcard? Be sure to read to the bottom!)

I’m writing this post on a laptop. It’s a PC. I bought it on Amazon just over two years ago. How did I pick it? It was the one on super sale on Black Thursday.

No. Really.

I’d tell you what it can do, but really, I have no clue. I just know that it turns on and it works. I need little else.

So when I was asked to go take a spin around a Microsoft store I said “Sure!” because I’m friendly like that, but I really had no expectations.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I expected a few computers, a couple games, and some boxes of software. I’m pretty sure I didn’t expect a clean open space with incredibly friendly staffers who wanted nothing more than to let my kids play with each and every computer and tablet in the store while they answered a million and one of my questions.

You see, here’s the deal.

That oldest kid of mine is turning 8 in four days. At school they’re working on computers, creating Power Point Presentations, writing paragraphs, making flyers. (Whatever happened to teaching a little digital mouse to draw a box? Seriously, kids these days, they don’t know what they’re missing…)

I’m loath to share my laptop at home. Partly because I’m often on it working. And partly because… MINE… not sharing.

I know, I’m mean.

So it’s about time for us to get the kids a computer of their own and since they’re not quite as web savvy as me, it needs to be one with some easy to set up parental controls.

So I dragged the kids to a Microsoft store to see if they could help me on my quest.

It took the kids about thirty seconds to find a computer (each) and to sit down to play.

In no time at all Little L had badgered a store employee into loaning her a stylus.

And I just walked around bug eyed.

Windows 8 was really designed with touch screens in mind, so every single computer (and tablet, duh) in the store has a touch screen.

Every. Single. One.

It was like stepping into the future.

Of course for the kids it’s a no brainer. The fact that my computer doesn’t have a touch screen baffles them.

I watched them play around for a bit before accosting a lovely employee and starting my lengthy series of questions. If you have Windows 8 on a non-touch screen device you know how frustrating it can be. On a touch screen it becomes a thing of beauty.

My kids? Took to it like ducks to water.

While I learned about the Windows 8 Family Safety features they played with games, with the camera, and with the Fresh Paint app.

We left easily an hour or so after we had arrived. The staff let my kids play to their heart’s content and even let me email myself the photos of themselves that the kids snapped.

As geeky as this sounds, we’ll go back. The kids had a blast.

I expected a computer store and we found something much more than just that. Just like the Microsoft people had promised!

A few facts for you about the Microsoft stores

– There are 66 stores so far and more opening soon.
– Of those 66, 35 are considered “full line” stores and offer a “theater” in the back of the store.
– In these “theaters” the stores offer workshops to train people on various Microsoft softwares or other helpful things.
– These workshops are free. (Check the website for your local store’s calendar.)
– If the store doesn’t offer a workshop you’d like to take, talk to the manager. They’ll create a workshop for you (and your team if you want!)
– These personalized workshops are… you guessed it… free.
–  Many stores offer summer “camp” options for kids!
– These camps are free.
– All the stores offer persona shopping sessions. They’ll help you chose a computer, set it up, and customize it.
– Personal shopping sessions are free (you know, other than the price of the computer…)
– You can even host events in the “theaters.” Events, like birthday parties, MNOs, scout gatherings, or just get togethers. You can play games on a huge screen and enjoy some refreshments. You don’t even have to clean up.
– You guessed it. These events? Free. 
– Want an XBox game, but want to try it first?
– You can try it for free in the stores. 

Basically, all the services are free. You can even bring in a computer you bought elsewhere and they’ll be happy to help you configure it.

I like my tech as much as the next gal, but I’ve never been drawn to hang out in computer stores like some people in my family. I have to admit that might just change now. It’s refreshing to be greeted by staff that seemed genuinely happy that we were in the store without feeling like we needed to spend money to keep them that way.

Want to win a $100 Microsoft Giftcard? 
Leave me a comment below telling me what you hope to find in a Microsoft store!
(Winner will be drawn at random Monday, May 20th at 9pm PST and announced on this post. US residents only please.)  (All the bloggers listed as co-hosts below are also hosting giveaways! Feel free to enter as many as you wish!)

Congratulations Mama V! According to Random.org You’re the winner of this giveaway!

Want to know more?
Join me and other bloggers along with official Microsoft representatives for  a one hour #GoMicrosoft Twitter party on Tuesday, May 14 at 1p ET/noon CT/10a PT (you know, today…). All of the bloggers participating have checked out their own local Microsoft store and they‘ll be able to back up everything I’ve said!  RSVP via this Twtvite:  http://twtvite.com/GoMicrosoft

What: Microsoft stores across the country have more to offer than just tech products. Many Microsoft locations offer an Answer Desk, in-store events, personal computer training and much more! 
During this Twitter chat we’ll be exploring all of the ways that the experts at Microsoft can help make your life easier. Your Microsoft store isn’t just a place to shop, but a fun place to visit – for both you and your kids! 
Prizes: We will be giving away six prizes to randomly selected winners. Five winners who answer trivia questions during the party will receive $25 Microsoft retail store gift cards, and one grand prize winner will be chosen for a $500 Microsoft retail store gift card!

Hosts: @MicrosoftStore, @theMotherhood, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

Heather, Sprittibee@sprittibee (THAT’S ME!)
Candy, Mommypalooza@mommypalooz
Kelly, Kansas City Mamas@KCMamaKelly
Kristen, Dine and Dish@DineandDish
Mara, Kosher on a Budget@kosheronabudget
Claudya, Unknown Mami@UnknownMami
Heather, Rookie Moms@rookiemoms
Jessica, It’s My Life@kikarose
Jen, The Mom Reviews@themomjen
TerriAnn, Cookies and Clogs@cookiesANDclogs
Divina, Dancing Hot Dogs@DancingHotdogs
JessieLeigh, Parenting Miracles@micropreemies
Marianna, Green Mama’s Pad@GreenMamasPad
Rachel, Rachel Ferrucci@RachelFerrucci
Sarah, Sarah’s Cucina Bella@SarahWCaron
Lisa, Crazy Adventures in Parenting@crazyadventures
Clay, Dad Labs@daddyclay
Kim, Prairie Mama@prairiemama
Stephanie, The Candid Pastor’s Wife@stephaniepete
Christine, Boston Mamas@bostonmamas
Christy, Quirky Fusion@QuirkyFusion
Mackenzie, The Centsible Family@TheCentsibleFamily
Erika, Musings of a SAHM@MusingsSAHM

Please note: I am being compensated for this post by The Motherhood for Microsoft. As always all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.