Category: Gear

How Much of Your Shopping Do You Do Online?

Posted on Sep 19, 2014 by No 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 2 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 1 Comment

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

Social Media Engagement for Dummies

Posted on Jul 2, 2014 by 1 Comment

I recently received a copy of Social Media Engagement for Dummies written by Aliza Sherman and Danielle Smith. It’s an amazing how-to book for those who are new to social media, need some guidance in how to work on behalf of brands, or just want to learn to make social media work better for their own brand.

A lot of people use social media these days for themselves, for their brand, and employers but there is a big difference between being on a social media soapbox and engaging in social media. You need to do more than just shout out into the social media abyss to have social media work for your brand.

Social Media Engagement for Dummies will teach you how to use social media engagement to close the deal and turn prospects into customers. Learn how to involve your customer through video, blogs and email.  This book gives you the resources and knowledge to do it.

The key to social media success is engagement and this book will outline success for you.

When you focus on the engagement side of a social media marketing strategy, you’ll build and grow relationships with followers and customers, create appropriate content for customers, analyze response, and keep campaigns on target for optimal reach.

Learn to build trust, spark conversations and use video and other tools. This creative book is a must-read if you want to discover how to successfully use social marketing.

Social Media Engagement for Dummies:

  • Helps you build and foster social media relationships with potential customers, fans, followers, and current customers
  • Shows you how to spark actions, reactions, or interactions–and make things happen
  • Explores the fundamentals, especially for do-it-yourself small-business owners and marketers
  • Covers building trust and credibility, creating connections, encouraging sharing, using social networks to engage, using email marketing or SEO to engage, and much more

Social Media Engagement For Dummies will help you connect on levels you never dreamed of before and make yourself a social media asset for any company that works with you. Social Media Engagement for Dummies is an absolute must-have for any blogger who wants to grow their community and engage with their readers.

What is your favorite social media engagement tip?

Image credit: Amazon

Link Round-up: Summer Camp, Hot Air Balloon Watercolor Art, 4th of July Crafts, and More

Posted on Jun 26, 2014 by 1 Comment

Today’s link round-up has printables for summer camp, hot air balloon watercolor art, and more.

The Thrifty Couple shared a great summer money-making idea.

Suzy Sitcom shared a Pennsylvania Dutch hot German potato salad recipe.

Eighteen25 shared 20 4th of July projects.

link ru summer camp

A Virtuous Woman shared a summer camp care package idea, plus printables.

Design Dazzle posted a fun hot air balloon watercolor art idea.

Homemade Interest shared five tips for a successful yard sale.

We Know Stuff gave us a fun craft—suncatchers kids will love to make.

Photo credit: The Thrifty Couple and A Virtuous Woman

Warning: Your Smartphone May Be Hurting Your Health

Posted on Mar 24, 2014 by 2 Comments

New research at Kent State University has linked poor health in college students with high frequency of smartphone usage. The study was done because, as we all know, television, video games and computers lend themselves to a sedentary lifestyle. They all require a degree of focus and that you sit while using them.

But the smartphone is mobile so researchers were curious to know if, since it was feasible to do moderate physical activity while on your phone, would people do that?

Over 300 college students were surveyed on their cell phone use and physical activity levels. Forty-nine of the 300 had their fitness level and body composition tested. The results showed that student who spent large amounts of times on their phones, some as much as 14 hours a day, were less healthy than those who used it for 1-2 hours a day.

The study revealed that students who were spending 14 hours a day on their cell phones were much more likely to be engaging in other forms of sedentary activities. They were already more inclined to do less physical activity.

Honestly, I work online and I do spend a lot of time on the computer and my smartphone, but even to me 14 hours a day seems excessive.

My assumption is that since the research found that high frequency users were less likely to be physically active, low frequency users were more likely to be more physically active and use the smartphone as a tool to be more physically active.

I would say that this is definitely a case of which came first, the chicken or the egg; the smart phone or the laziness?

I think that people who are more likely to use the phone as an excuse for not working out are simply lazier in the first place and never wanted to workout. The phone buzzing, people calling and texting or them getting distracted by the Internet or an app is simply just another excuse not to workout.

Honestly, if you want to be active, turn the ringer off, pop that sucker in an armband, crank up some music and go for a walk. Use it to keep track of your activity, your food and your measurements. Link it with your Fitbit, or whatever tracker you use.

A phone (smart or otherwise) cannot make you work out or keep you from it; it is up to you to make up your mind and get healthy. The phone as an excuse is just that, an excuse.

There are a million and one ways to get healthy with your smartphone if you have the desire. Today there is a never-ending list of health apps, physical activity trackers, calorie counters, nutrition label readers and even workout guides.

New technology should mean new and ingenious ways to get healthy, but we first have to want it. We have to put in the time, effort and hard work. So, if you spend most of your days surfing the net and sitting on your butt, don’t be surprised when your butt gets bigger. It has nothing to do with your phone or technology and everything to do with you.

Which do you think came first, the laziness or the technology?

Photo Source: Miss Karen