Category: Gear

Link Round-up: Glow Bowl, Fluffernutter Pie, Hair How-To, Christmas, and More

Posted on Dec 4, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has a DIY glow bowl, graham cracker houses, a hair how-to, ways to use your smart device for Christmas, and more.

 Homemade Interest showed us how to make banana fluffernutter pie and graham cracker houses.

Chocolate Covered Katie shared a Vitamix giveaway that ties in with the release of her new book.

A Beautiful Mess showed us a natural hair how-to with two strand twists.


Muslin and Merlot showed us how to make a glow bowl.

Homemaking Hacks gave us clever ways to use a smart device for the holidays.

A Mom’s Take taught us how to make a reindeer out of a towel to use as a Christmas gift.

The DIY Dreamer taught us how to make deer wood slice ornaments.

Photo credit: Homemade Interest and Muslin and Merlot

Roku 2 SX

Posted on Nov 26, 2014 by No Comments

In the past, if you wanted to watch a movie you either had to hit up the nearest video rental store, swing by the closest Redbox or maybe order a DVD online and wait for it to show up and then wait another 6 months, like me, before finding the time to watch it.

Basically, you were so exhausted from the waiting that by the time you got the damn DVD, you were over it.

Then someone invented Roku, the original streaming player. I just got one of these. I love it.

Millions of people use Roku to choose what they want to watch instantly. Whether you’re in to exploring over 700 channels and hundreds of thousands of movies and shows, delving into what really interests you, or just stumbling across something new, Roku makes it happen easily, instantly and affordably.

Movie night will never be the same.

We have used the Apple TV in the past and loved it and we have also used the WD live, which we also loved, but the Roku is compact, easy to use and is a great addition to our collection.

It takes it to the next level because it’s like cable television, Netflix, Hulu, a gaming system and your computer all bundled together in one small package that’s the size of a hockey puck.

The top-of-the-line Roku 2 XS, the one I own, delivers the best experience in 1080p HD streaming to your TV plus motion-based gaming for an extra dose of great entertainment.

Product Features

600+ channels and growing. Movies and TV shows from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, VUDU and HBO GO, plus live sports, music, news, international, and more, up to 1080p HD.

Game-ready remote. Motion control for playing games and full version of Angry Birds.

One-stop search. Find your favorite movies and TV shows all from one place—no matter if they’re on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video or Hulu Plus.

Free iOS and Android app. Use it like a remote. Browse and add new channels. Even stream your music and photos from your phone or tablet to your TV.

More connectivity options. Includes Ethernet for wired connection and USB for playing music, photos and videos.

The easiest setup. Works with virtually any TV, includes built-in wireless and sets up in minutes.

Roku is the smallest streaming player . It is the size of a hockey puck, streams silently and uses less power than a night-light.

More and more streaming choices

With over 600 entertainment channels and counting, Roku 2 has something for virtually everyone, including:

  • Over 150,000 movies and TV shows at your fingertips from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO GO, VUDU and more
  • Unlimited music from Pandora, MOG, Rid and Live365.
  • Live sports packages.
  • Photo and video sharing via Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa.
  • The top news sources, including MSNBC, Fox News, and WSJ

Roku 2 also brings games to your TV:

  • Enhanced Bluetooth remote features sensors to support motion-based game play, as well as game-ready buttons to support furious button action.
  • Available games include the Angry Birds series, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and Storm in a Teacup.
  • Includes a FREE full version of the Angry Birds game! You can play Angry Birds on a device that is actually large enough for you to see what you are doing. I’ve been using it in our media room. Those birds are as big as I am and I love it. My scores have went through the roof.
  • Built-in MicroSD slot makes it easy to add additional storage for hundreds more games in the future.

Photo Source: Roku

Link Round-up: Superheroes, Churro Bites, Date Ideas, and More

Posted on Oct 16, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has date night ideas, churro bites, a cute Superman and Batman craft, and more.

About Family Crafts showed us how to make duct tape bracelets.

A writer at Mind Body Green shared how she found the clarity to leave her unhappy marriage.

Tone It Up shared fun date night ideas you can do with your significant other or girlfriends.

link ru two scarvs

Muslin and Merlot showed us how to style two scarves at once.

Living Well Spending Less kicked off a challenge—31 day to a clutter-free life.

Around My Family Table taught us how to make churro bites.

Crafts by Amanda shared some comic book craft ideas.

Photo credit: About Family Crafts and Muslin and Merlot

How Much of Your Shopping Do You Do Online?

Posted on Sep 19, 2014 by 4 Comments

Are any of you old enough to remember catalog shopping? I can remember the Sears Christmas catalog coming in the mail somewhere in late September or early October. It always signaled to me that Santa was on his way.

There was something about lying on the floor in front of the crackling fire and studying each page intently, carefully circling each thing that I hoped Santa would consider putting under my tree. That probably took up several hours a week for weeks on end.

After Christmas that collection of wonder was added to the shelf with the magazines that I could cut pictures out of for my various projects.

Well, now you can access almost any kind of store with a few taps on the keyboard. As long as you have a credit or debit card you can buy what you need and have it in your hands within just a few days without ever leaving the house.

It used to be that I had to drive forty miles to a bakery supply to buy things like non-diastatic malt powder for bagel making and other artisan breads. Now I can just go straight to my favorite baking site and max my cards out. Clothes, shoes, books, and even groceries are available 24/7.

It’s crazy. I’d never have to leave my house. In fact, I am just so lucky that I have a family because if I was alone, with working at home, the ability to shop and pay bills online, and my introverted personality I would never leave my bedroom. I have even grocery shopped online and had it delivered when one of our local stores provided that service.

Do you like shopping online? More importantly, do you think it saves you time?

photo credit: StormKatt via photopin cc

Link Round-up: Delicious Snacks, Slow Cooker Tacos, a Backyard Playground, and More

Posted on Sep 4, 2014 by 5 Comments

Today’s link round-up has delicious snacks, some slow cooker tacos, and more.

Chocolate Covered Katie showed us how to make homemade Clif bars.

Choosing Raw taught us how to make caramel mocha bars.

About a Mom taught us how to make cute cereal box notebooks.

link ru backyard playground

Kenarry showed us how to build a backyard playground.

Belle of the Kitchen shared a recipe for slow cooker salsa chicken tacos.

The Michigan Mom shared tips for changing your mindset.

A Simple Pantry shared a recipe for a pumpkin spice latte with marshmallows.

Photo credit: Chocolate Covered Katie and Kenarry

Link Round-up: Keep Your Laptop Safe, Fridge Scrabble, Snacks, and More

Posted on Sep 2, 2014 by 3 Comments

Today’s link round-up has tips for keeping your laptop safe, a way to play Scrabble on the fridge, snacks, and more.

Aunt Peaches showed us a cute seating card display ideas—it uses paintchips.

What the Fork Food Blog showed us how to make homemade peach ice cream.

Southern Girl Ramblings taught us how to make pumpkin cheesecake bars.

link ru fudge balls

Chocolate Covered Katie shared a recipe for secretly healthy chocolate fudge balls.

A Simple Pantry showed us how to make spicy cilantro lime popcorn.

About a Mom shared some tips for keeping your laptop safe.

I Love to Create Blog showed us how to set up an ongoing Scrabble game on the fridge.

Photo credit: Aunt Peaches and Chocolate Covered Katie

The App Generation

Posted on Aug 20, 2014 by No Comments

The App Generation is a book by Professors Howard Gardner and Katie Davis.  The book examines life before digital media and life since. How has life changed for children born after digital media?

I’ve wondered this myself, as I have two children born after digital media had become the standard. They have no idea what it is like to live in a world where instant gratification was not the norm. They don’t understand a world without MP3s, Instagram, iPhones with cameras, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

When I was in college, the Internet was still new and mostly I used my computer for school emails and writing papers. I still used encyclopedias for research. The things I could have done with Google in the late 90’s.

Back then, cellphones were a luxury and by luxury I mean hardly anyone my age had them and those of us who did, seldom actually used them because cellphone plans were outrageously priced. I don’t even think texting existed back then. That’s what pagers were for because who could afford to waste cellphone minutes?

No one has failed to notice that the current generation of youth is deeply and totally involved with digital media. Professors Howard Gardner and Katie Davis name today’s young people The App Generation, and in their book they explore what it means to be “app-dependent” versus “app-enabled” and how life for this generation differs from life before the digital era.

How many of us parents can remember, once the Internet was common for everyone to use, how easy it made life?

For instance, I no longer have to wait when my brain is stumped on what the name is of that actor who nobody can remember. I just type in the clues and Google figures it out. I no longer have to pour over cookbooks for hours, I can just type in the ingredients I have and voila, a recipe appears. In fact, I no longer have to wait for anything.

Gardner and Davis are concerned with three vital areas of adolescent life: identity, intimacy, and imagination. Our children are losing these capabilities because they no longer need them.

Through innovative research, including interviews of young people, focus groups of those who work with them, and a unique comparison of youthful artistic productions before and after the digital revolution, the authors uncover the drawbacks of apps: they may foreclose a sense of identity, encourage superficial relations with others and stunt creative imagination. These all become too easy when you are sitting behind a screen instead of interacting face-to-face.

On the other hand, benefits of apps are equally compelling: they can promote a strong sense of identity, allow deep relationships, and stimulate creativity. For instance, you are freer to be who you are and more likely to find a community of your peers when your pool of people is the entire Internet versus just the 200 people that attend your high school.

Sometimes intimacy is easier when you don’t have to look someone in the eye because you don’t have that immediate sense of rejection and reaction.

The challenge is to figure out the best ways that apps can be used in your life. Like everything else, it is up to us to make the most of what we have access to.

Do you think life was better before digital media or after?

Photo Source: Amazon

Link Round-up: Recipes, Sending Condolences, Back to School, and More

Posted on Aug 5, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has a delicious salad recipe, a cookie dough protein shake, tips for sending condolences, back to school organization tips, and more.

Chocolate Covered Katie shared a recipe for a cookie dough protein shake.

Mind Body Green shared a recipe for a simple pH balancing alkaline salad.

A Beautiful Mess gathered some Chemex coffee brewing tips.

link ru fabric paint

Fynes Designs showed us how to use fabric paint.

Cupcakes and Cashmere shared tips for sending condolences.

Written Reality gave us some organizational tips for getting kids ready to go back to school.

Find It Make It Love It refinished a piano bench and it looks beautiful.

Photo credit: Chocolate Covered Katie and Fynes Designs

Tips for Successfully Working from Home

Posted on Jul 25, 2014 by No Comments

If you are like me and you work from home, you have probably spent a lot of time trying to find the best way to make working from home work for you. It’s not as easy as it sounds. You’d think you stay in your jammies all day, close the door, pop some bonbons and just do your work but that is not how it works. There is a lot more involved in working from home.

Here are a few tips to help you survive working from home:

Have a dedicated office with a door that closes. Seriously, set aside a specific place in your house that is used exclusively for work.  If you do so, you will be able to deduct it from your taxes and it will help you to get into work mode.

Cultivate an IT contact so there’s someone to call when the Internet goes kaput or a video conference link doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. Mine is my husband. He is an engineer turned IT guy who specialized in graphic design. It’s like he knew he was going to marry a blogger.

Participate in office networking opportunities. I freelance but if you are working remotely and there is an actual office near where you live, making a cameo appearance from time to time is not the worst idea. Not being onsite can make it difficult to form office relationships and even more difficult to advance to a managerial position.

Set clear standards for when you’re available to available to work and to family. Create a daily work schedule. Mine is 8 am-2:30 pm, I break until the girls are in bed at 7, then I usually work again from 8 pm- midnight. On Fridays, I work half a day and on the weekends, I don’t work at all. 

It’s easy to get sucked into being available to work any time, any day, but I have committed to not working when the girls are home from school. The most important thing I do is raising my daughters. Everything else is secondary at this point in their lives and mine.

Make sure that you set well-defined work hours to avoid phone calls and emails without boundaries on your personal time. I don’t take phone calls after 3:00 pm because that is when my girls get dismissed from school.

Pay your taxes. There is nothing worse than a surprise payment of $10,000 on April 15th. Make sure that you set aside some money each month to pay your taxes or at the very least make sure that you expect it.

Last year, I almost had a heart attack half way through getting our taxes done because I realized I was going to owe a substantial amount of money. That’s why it is important to keep track of any money that you paid out for the year for your business or freelancing; those write offs help balance it all out in the end.

What is your best work at home tip for success?

Photo Source: Travis Isaacs