Garanimals Blog

Archive for the ‘Paula Palermo’ tag

November 5th, 2013 at 5:00 am

A Little Help for the Holiday Travels

holidaytravelIt’s “Over the river and through the woods” time!

As we all know, holiday travel can be a major headache but if family isn’t close by and they’re not coming to you, you’ll need any help you can get keeping it merry. Here are a few helpful travel apps. They won’t get you there by clicking your heels, but can help make it a little easier.

If you’re on a road trip and it’s time to eat, try KidsMealDeals to find out which restaurants nearby are offering deals or kids-eat-free promotions. Another handy road app, Kidzout, tells you where there are diaper decks, kid friendly restaurants, play places, as well as medical facilities nearby.

And to try to keep it fun, Sunday Drives lets you know what you’re driving by on your route. Historic places, interesting factoids and scenic routes can take the edge off of boring rides.

Traveling by air? Keeping track of the logistics can be overwhelming. Try the TripCase app. It will consolidate flight, hotel, car rental and other details into a detailed timeline-based itinerary. Include the record locator and/or trip ID and you’ll receive updates with any delays or changes. A little setup during the planning stages can pay back in a big way with a single source for all you need to know when you need it.

And before heading to the airport, check myTSA. Make sure your carry-ons don’t include anything you don’t want confiscated,  or that might delay the already painful process of getting to the gate.

May all your holiday travels be pleasant!

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

Pin It

October 22nd, 2013 at 5:00 am

Don’t Toss Those Egg Cartons – Turn Them Into Toys

boxplayforkidsIsn’t it too funny when your kids have more fun playing with the box the toy came in than with the toy itself. I’ve got loads of photos of my kids climbing in and out of them or wearing them on their heads, walking around with only their little legs sticking out. And as they got older it was great to see what creative ideas they came up with for re-using leftover packaging for fun and imaginative play.

I remember many hours myself playing with boxes and containers as a kid. They provided the raw materials for my homemade version of the Barbie Dreamhouse, complete with furniture made from the styrofoam packing materials.

Well there’s a company, Box Play for Kids, that makes inexpensive stickers that transform empty boxes into fun toys that can entertain your child for hours. They have re-imagined half gallon milk cartons as animals or buildings and empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls as musical instruments and binoculars. My favorite is the keyboard sticker that turns an empty egg carton into a piano.

Check out their website and see what clever ideas they have for recycling everyday objects into something colorful and fun. They even have ideas and kits for parties that are wildly creative. These folks consider play time to be serious business and have created a terrific way to foster a child’s imagination and creativity with simple materials.

Which is your favorite?

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

Pin It

October 8th, 2013 at 10:19 am

Never Pay Full Price Again With Smart Shopping Apps

I just did a Google search on the keywords “coupon shopping” and it returned 163 million results. That’s a lot of information. The couponing industry has come a long way from clipping money savers from the Sunday paper.

Now you can find an app that does the work for you. Have your eye on a particular jacket? You may love it, but not enough to pay full price. No problem, just download the Hukkster button to your browser and click it when you find something you like online. You’ll get notified when the item goes on sale. Wow – that’s easy.

Then there’s RedLaser. It’s a phone app with a variety of features that lets you save money and time on shopping. Looking for a favorite toy? Check out who is selling it locally and for how much. Then if you want you can order it through the app and have it waiting for you at the store. Or, if you are in the store and want to comparison shop, just scan the barcode and the app will quote competing retailer prices. You’ll never pay more than you should again.

A bonus feature of RedLaser lets you scan a food item barcode and discover if there are any allergens in the ingredients. Having nut allergies myself, this is really helpful.

There are many ways to shop and lots of apps out there that let you to search, collect, compare, check in, scan, get alerts, share, review, and of course, buy. It makes clipping coupons the old fashioned way seem so quaint. On the other hand, sitting down with the circulars and a pair of scissors sounds absolutely relaxing.

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

Pin It

September 10th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Get Your Personalized Weather Forecasts With Nooly

How should I dress today? Umbrella or no umbrella?  Ever cancel an event because of a weather forecast only to have the bad weather pass you by? It’s pretty hard to know for sure when it comes to the weather.

The problem with your typical forecast is that it’s usually for a larger region as opposed to your particular location. Sure, the storm will come through your town, but maybe where you are will be just outside the cloud line.

So if you’d like to know with a little bit more precision whether, and when, the rain will come to your backyard or soccer field, I’ve got just the app.  It’s called Nooly and, using a patented technology called “Nowcasting”,  it provides you with a micro forecast for your specific location as well as a timeline that you can drill down to increments as small as 5 minutes.

How cool is that? Imagine knowing that you’re going to get rained on if you leave now, but you’re good if you just wait 15 minutes? Or that even though the skies are threatening, you’ve got an hour before the thunderstorm arrives to finish soccer practice.

I’ve been using Nooly for the last couple of weeks and I’m a fan. Even though rain was predicted for my area on several different days, Nooly told me it would be dry in my neighborhood – and it was. Pretty neat.

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

Pin It

August 13th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Avoiding Food Allergy Dangers Away From Home

Does someone in your family suffer from food allergies? Does it curtail your restaurant eating or vacations? When you’re not preparing the meal, it’s hard to be sure there isn’t some secret ingredient lurking in your meal (peanut butter in chili?) that can be life threatening.

There’s nothing riskier (or more frustrating) than trying to explain an allergy to non-English-speaking staff at an ethnic restaurant. You think they understood, but you’re not quite sure. provides a convenient solution to the blank-stare-nodding-of-the-head-response. They offer printed materials that clearly state issues with particular ingredients, in various languages.

So if you’re going to a Japanese restaurant and want to be sure they understand that you really can’t have even a little bit of sesame, carry a card from selectwisely with cleary stated explanations in Japanese.

Traveling to a foreign country? You can get cards in the native language which  explain allergies to food, drugs, animals or materials, as well as medical conditions, that can literally change your vacation and possibly save a life.

As someone who has suffered from nut and seed allergies my whole life, I am so grateful for this site. There’s nothing worse than trying to convince  waitstaff that “I think you’ll be ok” isn’t the right answer when I question the ingredients. Thank you selectwisely for giving me that extra assurance.

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

Pin It

July 30th, 2013 at 5:00 am

A Little Help In The Style Department

Sometimes you just don’t know what to wear. You may have lots of clothes in your closet but putting together the the right outfit for the right occasion sometimes makes us cringe.

For help in the style department you might want to try a couple of apps that can help take some of the guesswork out of getting dressed.

StyleUp is a fun app that provides a daily email with a weather- and occasion-appropriate outfit idea to use as a guide for getting dressed for the day. Simply sign up for the service at the StyleUp site. Choose the style that closest resembles your own, give your zip code and you will receive a daily email with an outfit suggestion for your workday. Simply rate each suggestion and over time the recommendations will get closer and closer to your particular taste and wardrobe. You can also browse the website and rate outfits, Pinterest-style, and help the app get a sense of your particular style.

Another option is WhatWeWearWhere. This IOS app is full of snaps of people wearing outfits for different occasions that can give you ideas of what might be appropriate for the workplace, a wedding or other event, a dinner date or at school. See what others are wearing and find out where they bought the items by clicking on the photos. Add your own photos to the categories and create your own closet for inspiration and storing your favorites.

These apps are a pretty creative way to avoid that awful feeling when you show up in jeans and everyone else is wearing cocktail dresses.

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

Pin It

July 16th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Let a Teen Show you How to Eat Healthy

Are you looking for gluten free food ideas? Perhaps you’re considering going paleo. Or maybe you’re just looking for some healthy food recipes to liven up your family menu. If so, you definitely want to check out the Yes to Yummy blog.

Written by a smart and funny 14-year-old named Abby who is, full disclosure, the daughter of a good friend, Yes to Yummy is chock full of excellent recipes and ideas for great tasting gluten- and grain-free food that is healthy and delicious and helps you go paleo with a smile.

Dietary restrictions can be a real roadblock to eating great tasting food. Admit it, gluten-free is a hardship (oh how we love our carbs), and gluten-free products, well, they’re not usually on the high end of the taste charts.

So Abby has put together lots of great recipes that run from hearty dinners to delightful desserts that make you forget that you’re eating right. Her blog is clearly written, with great photos and easy to follow instructions, peppered with colorful commentary that will make you feel like you’re chatting with a good friend. She’s got a great story of her own personal transformation that came about when she changed her diet. Now’s she’s the head chef in her home and her family is reaping the rewards. Lucky them!

Follow the Yes to Yummy blog or like her (along with 4000+ others) on Facebook to participate in the dialogue .

Well done Abby!

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

Pin It

July 2nd, 2013 at 10:31 am

Turn Your Summer Photos Into Art

Looking for some creative photo apps for you or your kids? Here’s a few that can provide some fun and funny effects on your smartphone photos.

For IOS:

InstaBlend – take two photos and blend them into a double exposure. Easy to use but the ads and popups are annoying, unless you upgrade.

Scrap It HD – a kid friendly digital scrapbooking app with loads of design elements, effects and features.

For Android:

PicsArt Photo Studio – create art from you photos and share with your network. This app has tools for making grids, collages, drawings and artistic effects, as well as photo editing tools. A good all in one app.

Fotodanz – turn your photos into cinemagraphs by adding animation. This tool allows you to create fun little 3-5 second movies by animating some or all of you photo. You can add filters too.

Picture Decorator – use stamps, stickers, frames and effects to jazz up your photos. Write notes on the picture and doodle with your fingers and share.

For Either and/or PC

InstaCollage Pro – Create collages with choices of creative frames and layouts beyond the standard grid. It’s easy to use and it’s really fun to play with the filters and effects. Free for a limited time! – put your kid on a wanted poster (I did), a movie screen or lots more. Pick an effect, pick a photo and process. It’s lots of fun and the easy to use templates make it a cinch to use.

Summer’s here and chances are you’ll be taking lots of pics of your fun summer activities. These apps help you embellish, organize and share the good times creatively. Let your artistic side shine!

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

Pin It

June 18th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Personalized Mobile Greeting Cards with Cleverbug

Somewhere between sending a $5 paper card (plus postage) and wishing your friend or loved one Happy Birthday via Facebook post, lies a better way.

As much as we would like to be thoughtful and personal and send a hand signed greeting card through the mail, many of us fall a little short on the planning and execution, and end up doing the Facebook post the day of the event. You can’t beat the price, but it’s a little cheesy for people you should make an effort for.

For that somewhere in between, there is Cleverbug. This app, by linking to your Facebook account (which you must do for it to work), allows you to send a personalized greeting card to your Facebook friends, using a photo from their page, and a greeting that you create using the app.

Cleverbug matches attributes of the recipient, i.e. male/female, friend/family, etc. and give you a selection of appropriate card designs. Add your personal touch and the end result is a unique card, delivered to them by mail.

Each card costs $2.99 but can be sent anywhere in the world. You have the option to let Cleverbug send the card or they will send it to you to mail yourself.

With your customized message, and the recipient’s photo, the result is actually more personal than a store bought card, and cheaper too. Cleverbug does the printing and mailing for you, saving you the trip to the store and the post office. A pretty convenient combination of technology with a very personal touch.

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

Pin It

June 4th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Let Your Voice Do The Typing with Google Conversational Search

First there was search. Really, can you even remember where we got our info before search engines? How incredibly useful to be able to just type in anything and get links to all the information related to that topic you could want (or not).

Then came the ability to speak to your computer and enter your search topic verbally. Just click on the handy dandy microphone icon in the search box and ask away. Depending on the specific question, the Google lady will answer you. How handy is that?

Now, Google has taken verbal search one step further with Conversational Search in their Chrome browser. Ask a question, like “What’s the temperature in Miami?” The Google lady will answer, “It’s 80 degrees in Miami right now.” But if you wanted a little more info about Miami right now, you could phrase the next question “is it raining there?”

With conversational search, the response will be “ Yes (or No) it is (not) raining in Miami right now”. Notice the second question did not mention Miami, but since the original question was about Miami, the search engine will relate the raining “there” to the prior question and continue giving you information about Miami. Sort of like how humans can carry on a conversation. Your computer just got a little more human!

I’ve tried this out and had mixed results. Sometimes it works great and my jaw drops a little. Other times the connection is lost between the first and second question. But you and I both know that Google software geeks are hard at work making this concept a reality.

When they do get it right, there’s going to be a lot more talking than typing going on between us and our computers. Yeah, it’s a little scary, but imagine having all that search capability not just at your fingertips, but just by asking.

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

Pin It