Garanimals Blog

Archive for the ‘Paula Palermo’ tag

July 1st, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Book Not-To-Miss Vacation Excursions on Peek

peek icon

Getting ready for a vacation? There are lots of easy ways to book flights, hotels and rental cars online, but what about booking the things that make the trip truly memorable? What are the best things to do and how do you get them arranged ahead of time? Try peek.com.

Peek is a new site that makes it easy for you to see what great fun activities and excursions are popular at your destination and lets you reserve your tickets before you leave home.

Walking tours, water sports, museums and sporting activities are just some of the options you can explore and decide on while planning your trip. There are also testimonials from well known folks and Peek community members on how they love to spend their time at places like Washington DC, Cape Cod, New York, Cancun and Orlando.

Tired of the beach, the pool or the theme park? Perhaps there’s something you’ve never done before that would be a thrill to try. Ziplining? Kayaking? Ghost tours? Activities like these could make it your best vacation ever. I recently spent a day off in Austin and I can testify that my Bridge Bat kayaking tour was the absolute coolest thing I did. Who knew?

Peek is fairly new so the content isn’t as comprehensive as it will be over time, but if your destination is there, it’s an excellent way to get the inside scoop on the best things to do so you can come back refreshed and rejuvenated. And hopefully with some really good stories to tell.

Download the IOS app here. Can’t wait for the Android app.

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May 20th, 2014 at 7:58 am

Saving and Sharing Family Memories

artmykidmade

We love our kids’ art. Somewhere in my attic is an artist’s portfolio folder filled to the brim with all of the preschool and kindergarten artwork of my first child. There isn’t one for my second child. Yep, the novelty had worn off by child number 2. Sorry sweetie pie!

Even so, I still have plenty of creations from both of them from their school years. I just can’t bring myself to throw them away. I finally did throw away my daughter’s dinosaur diorama from third grade. She’s 19….

Here are a few apps that let you archive the memories without having to keep the originals.

ArtKive is an lets you take photos of your artwork (or any other items of interest), tag them, upload them, and print photo memory books. The app is free, but the books run $25 for 20 pages.

ArtMyKidMade (free) is similar but links with Dropbox, Evernote or Facebook for storing and sharing.  Anything you share on the Art My Kid Made blog could be featured in their Artist of the Day pick.

Another option is Keepy. This site lets you upload photos, artwork, and other mementos to the site, make recordings that tell the story, and share it all with friends and loved ones, who can also reply or comment with text, voice recordings or videos.

Keepy is free for the first 31 items but also offers premium and ultimate plan options for $1.99/month for 101 images and $2.99/month for unlimited.

So get out those folders, baskets and boxes of fabulous art and get clicking. You now have permission to throw away the originals without guilt. Well, maybe save a few.

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March 11th, 2014 at 10:13 am

A Few Apps That Save You Some Bucks

piggy bank

Looking for ways to save when you shop? Here are a few apps that can help you do just that.

RetailMeNot  is a coupon site that houses hundreds of offers for discounts and freebies. Browse by store or category and get promo codes or printable coupons that save you real money. Visit the site before you head out or sign up for emails bringing the deals to you.

Are you a frequent shopper? How cool would it be to get rewarded for just visiting a store? Get the ShopKick app and head out to your favorite store. When you go in, the app lets you know about products and promotions going on in the store. Earn kicks (points) just for walking in and trade in the kicks for gift cards.

Need to shop for car repairs? How about an app that can help you find a good mechanic? Put your car’s make, model and year into RepairPal and the site will recommend local repair shops and provide estimates on common repair procedures. It’s pretty interesting to see the range of prices for standard services.

And don’t forget GasBuddy for getting the lowest price on gas in your neighborhood.

We all love to shop. On the other hand, we also love to have a healthy savings account. With the SavedPlus app,  the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Set up a plan so that when you spend, a predetermined percentage (5%-20%) is automatically sent to a savings account. It’s similar to banks that round up debit card purchases to the next dollar and put the difference into a separate account. Depending on the percentage you choose, this app will build up your savings a lot faster.

Go forth and save.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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February 25th, 2014 at 8:39 am

So Many Books, So Little Time

goodreadsRead any good books lately? There are more format and device options than ever before for getting your fix. I love listening to audiobooks while doing chores, but still love the smell and feel of a hardcover.

With so many great books out there, having options is helpful. Like when traveling, you can load up your ereader and save room in your luggage for shoes, or at least not exceed the weight limit.

Have a lot of time to read? Neither do I. But a new service, Scribd (like Netflix for books) gives you access to thousands of ebooks for less than the cost of one. Read as many as you want every month.

Got some old books hanging around and wonder if they might be valuable? Check out abebooks.com and see whether that old, yellowing copy of To Kill a Mockingbird might actually be worth some money.

If you like to rate, share and explore books from the comfort of your keyboard, try GoodReads. Keep your to-read list, check off ones you’ve finished, and see what others are saying about everything from the classics to the best kids books. The site also makes recommendations based on your lists. It’s fun to get lost and build up that want-to-read list to impossible levels.

Wish you could read a book in 15 minutes? Well you can’t actually, but with Blinkist, you can get a concise, well written summary of many popular non-fiction titles. It’s a subscription service with a 30 day free trial, but it’s a neat idea for checking out a book to see if you really need to read the whole thing, or can just check it off the list.

For some free read-alouds your little ones, check out this Curious George site, or visit the Barnes & Noble online storytime for some classics. And because you can never really get enough of Goodnight Moon, check out this YouTube video.

Happy Reading!

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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February 11th, 2014 at 10:37 am

5 Fun and Free Apps for Your Toddler

Animal-Touch-Worlds-for-ipadNeed a little electronic diversion for your toddler once in a while? Something to keep them occupied while you take care of other business? Of course you do. Here’s a few apps that should help keep the little one happy and engaged, while learning important skills.

Puzzingo is a great app for your toddler to begin learning about vocabulary and memory in a really fun way. Games and puzzles that they can play alone or with you help build and develop important cognitive skills. Android and iPhone.

Toddler Counting 123 is a charming counting app with fun bright graphics, combining both photos and illustrations. You might even find yourself playing with this one. Android and iPhone.

Animal Touch Worlds is a very basic app that makes it usable for toddlers as young as 18 months. Tap on a scene and an element or experience is activated with a delightful short animation and sound. iPhone and iPad only.

With all the hype surrounding the new Lego movie, Lego® Duplo® Zoo will be a big hit with your little ones. Blending Legos and animals, this little adventure should keep them engaged. Android and iPhone

Oh and just for fun, and maybe for mom’s mindless entertainment too, there’s always Bubble Snap (iPhone) or the Bubble Wrap (Android). Because after all, who doesn’t like popping bubble wrap?

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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January 14th, 2014 at 9:59 am

My Favorite Apps for 2013

best of 2013Time for a trip down memory lane. Which apps did I have a relationship with in 2013 and which ones were a passing fling? Here are my faves.

I have spent many hours browsing the gazillion home photos of Houzz. And even though my kitchen remodel is done, I still find myself searching out more ideas for every room. This site is so addicting.

Every generation of new apps brings features that we used to only dream of, constantly raising the bar. While GPS in and of itself is awesome, Waze brings navigating every car trip to a whole new level. SO helpful to know where the delays, accidents and jams are before heading out.

And what’s up with this crazy weather? While it’s not quite an exact science, the near term weather forecast for your specific location is brought to you by Nooly, right down to  5 minute increments. A most helpful app.

Cleaning out your closet? If you’re like me and find the consignment store option a bit of a chore, try Tradesy.  Simply take a picture of your item, upload it, and wait for the prepaid shipping package when a buyer has chosen it. An easy way to turn your closet into a goldmine.

Looking for a good soundtrack to match your mood or task at hand? I turn to Songza for a great mix. Lately I’ve been grooving on opera, and finding it’s a great background sound when I’m working. Who knew?

And as a footnote, I must give a shout out, for the third year in a row, to Evernote because it’s just…excellent. It has replaced my various piles and folders full of collected clippings, photos and notes. Now I just scan then, tag them, and toss the paper. This killer app is definitely a long term relationship.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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December 31st, 2013 at 8:28 am

A Little Help Getting Organized

2014A new year is upon us. Time for some resolutions. I’ll bet one of them is to get organized, right? That is, once the house is back to pre-holiday order. That in itself is a feat. Once you do that, here’s a few apps that can help.

If you’re finding it harder to keep all your passwords straight (and who isn’t), a password manager can really help. Post it notes under your keyboard or a notebook with all of them listed isn’t very secure. Neither is using the same dog/cat/child name for every site. A better bet is LastPass. It’s free and keeps track of all of your passwords and form-filling information so you don’t have to. It can also generate hard-to-hack passwords for sensitive sites where extra security is important. This is a really useful app.

Another helpful app is Any.do.  It’s a quick and easy way to make your to-do lists on your phone. Things to do today, tomorrow or in coming days. Everything from walking the dog, calling your mom, or checking the Garanimals blog. Easier than a calendar app, you can enter by typing or speaking.  And way better than the handwritten note that you left on the counter.

Speaking of lists, try GroceryIQ to manage your grocery lists on your phone. Create and organize and print your lists by store, aisle or bar code, and synchronize on multiple devices. Or try ZipList and include recipe clipping and in-store deals to streamline the whole grocery shopping process. Anything to make that chore easier gets my vote.

Try these apps and hopefully you can save yourself enough time each week to do something fun. Happy New Year! And may all your resolutions be achieved.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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December 17th, 2013 at 7:57 am

Gifts That Give Twice

helping handsTis the season for shopping and giving. Love it or hate it, it’s hard not to get swept up in the materialism of buying things for people. Not to mention the difficulty of finding just the right gift for everyone.

It’s great to give this season’s must-have toys or electronics, but giving opportunity to someone in need can really capture the spirit of giving, especially for those on our list who really don’t need any more “things”. And there are many ways to do that.

If you want to give locally, consider donating to a local school’s classroom project with DonorsChoose.org. Support literacy by donating to Reach Out and Read, which provides free books to families via their pediatricians. Both of these sites allow you to find needs right in your community and allow you to choose where your gift is actually going.

Most communities have a Meals on Wheels Program that provides nutritious meals for seniors and the housebound. There’s also God’s Love We Deliver in the tri-state area that provides meals for those who are sick.

Toys for Tots and the USPS Letters to Santa programs are great ways to help provide toys to needy children to make their Christmas special.

Global organizations such as UNICEF, Save the Children, Oxfam and Heifer International make it easy for you to donate mosquito nets, vaccinations, goats, bees and other sustainable gifts that can give a struggling family a chance to pull themselves up.

Also, look to your favorite stores and brands for opportunities to give back by buying items that include a charitable donation as part of the purchase price. TOMS shoes provide a pair to someone in need for every pair purchased. (Red) has a wide range of items that provide a portion of the proceeds to fight HIV/AIDS.

There are teachers, children, seniors, veterans, disadvantaged women and youth in your community and around the world that need a helping hand. And there are many ways you can do just that. And from my own experiences, the response to a charitable gift is much more gratifying than the response to a tie or iPhone case. That’s the spirit!

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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December 3rd, 2013 at 5:00 am

Cool Tech Gift Ideas for the Holidays

perfect giftHere we are again. Shopping for the holidays. Trying to find just the right gift for everyone on your list is enough to cause an outbreak of hives. I’m always looking for creative and useful ideas so I’m an easy target for all the “best of” lists. So from a tech mom perspective, I’ll pass on a few of the best ones I’ve found. The good news is you don’t have to spend a fortune to give tech!

Have a look at ThinkGeek.com. This unique site is a mecca for fun and quirky items that celebrate the uniqueness of their love of say, zombies and bacon.

Want to give an experience rather than a thing? Check out cloud9living.com and see what kind of unique opportunities exist in your region. Some of them are rather pricey but there are options for everything from flying to fly fishing for all budgets.

Looking for a way to get more from your TV? Stream videos and internet content with Google’s Chromecast. At $35 and the size of a USB drive, simply plug it in to your HDTV (wifi required) and watch movies, TV shows, videos or listen to music on the big screen, all controlled by your smartphone or computer.

For the music lover, portable Bluetooth speakers that let you hear your digital tunes wirelessly are a terrific idea. At the higher end are Jawbone, Sonos, and Bose options but there are many other lower cost options too.

Flash drives are a great stocking stuffer. And there are tons of novelty models out there from sushi, cartoon characters and my favorite, a rubber thumb.

WiFi SD cards are another great gift. Use these cards in your camera to enable automatic uploading to your PC or the web. Nice!

How about turning your iPad into an air hockey game? What? Yes, for under $15, iPieces is an app that does just that. Check it out at Pressman Toys.

And for that personalized gift, how about a custom iPhone case from Casetagram? Turn a favorite photo into a canvas work of art or a dozen adorable photos into a monthly calendar for the grandparents. Sites like Shutterfly, Snapfish and CafePress offer many options for turning photos into creative gifts.  Sure beats a tie or yet another scarf.

May your holidays be merry and bright. And your gift giving a joy!

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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November 19th, 2013 at 9:33 am

Music To Match Your Mood

Media-songza-iconDo you listen to tunes when you’re working, surfing, or socializing online? iTunes? Pandora? Streaming your favorite radio station? Great tunes can help get you motivated and enrich your time online, but sometimes you need to mix it up a little. If so, I’ve found a few sites that you might want to try.

If you’re looking for some variation in your musical diet, try Songza.com. Pick a playlist by mood or music style, or even by decade and sit back and let the music concierge play you some great tunes. You might choose a playlist of old favorites that make you smile and sing along, hear new indie artists, or listen to film scores or showtunes. Need a holiday music fix? Some Hawaiian tunes? There are playlists for them.

Other times, you might just want some atmospheric background sounds that don’t distract you. For that try Calm.com. The sounds of rain, birds, or running water can help take the edge off and allow you to focus on your work. If I can’t be on the beach, the sound of the sea is a nice alternative.

Are you a walker or runner? Don’t you just love it when the perfect song comes on that keeps you motivated? TempoRun is a $3 app that will look at your music library and sort the songs into categories that match your walk/run speed. Choose your speed and the app plays the tunes that match that tempo so you can concentrate on your workout without having to skip past the slow love songs while you’re in a full out sprint.

Need some help brushing your teeth? Try BrushDJ, an app that plays a song from your library for exactly two minutes so you can be sure that you’re brushing your teeth for the recommended length of time. I’m not sure I need to bring an app along when I brush, but this one can help your little ones learn healthy dental habits.

Happy listening!

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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