December 10, 2014

Tips for Happy Holidays

This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own. Thank you for reading and I hope you’ll take some of these tips to make the holiday brighter.

Winter and “the holidays” start to take over our conversations as the year comes to a close. There’s lots of talk about food, activities, decorating, more food, ugly sweaters, cookies, lots more food, and the inevitable cancellation because someone is sick. Every year I vow not to get so stressed, and I learned a big lesson about that in 2013. So as winter and “the holidays’ come around for 2014 I want to share with you some healthy essentials to making this time of year more merry, happy, and bright.

1. Eat Breakfast – We all know what happens when mama is sick. Add to it trying to get everyone to wear matching clothes, having to bake 12 dozen cookies for the cookie swap, wrapping a present or two, and keep the kids busy while they’re off from school and there’s just no time in the schedule. I can go on and on about eating healthy and avoiding this food or that. But, how about we just eat. Something. Other than the cookies we’re baking. Starting with a real breakfast – whether it’s a power smoothie, a quick scramble, or even leftovers – is really what we need. Sure, grabbing a muffin on the go works in a pinch, but we’re worth that few minutes to have a real meal.

2. Go to bed at a decent time – See, I didn’t say at 8pm or 10pm. Just a decent time. I’m terrible about staying up late and trying to get all the things done that didn’t get done during the day. Then I’m dragging in the morning. We hustle to get the kids in bed so they get enough sleep, so they don’t get sick, so the jam-packed schedule isn’t sent into disarray. Yet we stay up. I tell you, that’s no way to keep things merry and bright (although some good concealer would help with the bright). Go to bed and if something has to give, then so be it. Chances are, though, you’ll be better prepared to take on the day when you’re rested. Think about it. Santa pulls ONE, JUST ONE, all-nighter a year and he manages to get everything done. The guy’s not up late 365. Embrace your inner Santa and go to bed!

3. Meditate – I’m not talking about communing with the monks or ohming yourself into a trance. I meditate every day. I’ve been doing this for most of 2014 and I find that my 20 minutes of guided meditation make a huge difference. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or rushed it’s nice to pop in the headphone, go to a quiet place, and tune out the world and all its busy-ness for a short time. Sure, locking yourself in the bathroom so you can check your email or just get away for a few minutes sounds great. But, let’s not kid ourselves. No one leaves us alone in there.

4. Be present – Invite friends over, turn off the tech and have a game night, snuggle up and watch a favorite movie, pile in the car and go look at holiday lights. Forget the list of things that have to be done, stop the multi-tasking, don’t keep checking Facebook to see what everyone else is doing. Be present. Being present is a gift to ourselves just as much as it is for the people we’re with. It’s so much fun to take photos and share them immediately, but sharing photos isn’t really all that fun if when you look back on them and you don’t have the 1,000 words to go with them.

5. Make memories – During the holidays we talk a lot about memories. I grew up with big latke parties, huge gatherings at the synagogue, singing, and every night rushing to light the menorah and say the prayers. Memories are what connect us to our past and keep us doing all the things we do for our kids (or grandkids). So we have to help them make their own memories. And when I think about it, rarely are the memories about specific items. They’re about feelings and emotions from shared experiences.

6. Give to others – While giving is a message we hear a lot during the holiday and winter seasons, it’s one of the easiest ways to incorporate good things for us, our family, and others all in one. The best thing is that it doesn’t have to be anything huge or elaborate. Drop a few coins in a donation bucket, take the kids to buy a gift from one of the angel tress at the mall, make cards to drop at a nearby senior center, tuck a positive note where someone will find it, or use your love of technology and Donate a Photo. Giving to others is such an amazing way to boost your own spirit. And it’s a wonderful teaching opportunity for our kids.

None of that seems too hard, does it? Sometimes we just need to see these things and realize we’re worth it. As a way to help you enjoy the holidays more, Johnson & Johnson wants to help you stock up on Healthy Essentials – or create a gift to donate – by helping you save up to $35 on your favorite products (like those Frozen Band-Aid bandages you know would make most any little girl squeal with delight!). Just visit the HealthyEssentials website to grab fantastic savings on those everyday essentials to keep your family healthy.

Sara

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December 9, 2014

Galaxy Note 4

As new smartphones hit the market part of me wants to go out and get them all while part of me wants to take my current devices and hide in a corner. My love of technology, though, has me seeking out the latest and figuring out how they fit into my lifestyle and ways they can improve upon my current device. As part of the Verizon Lifestyle Blogger group I recently received a Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It’s a smartphone, but also referred to as a phablet (phone + tablet = phablet) because of its size and capabilities.

I’ve used the Samsung Galaxy S4, so I’m familiar with the Galaxy family. I’m also much more familiar with the Android OS than when I first got the S4, which was my introduction to Android. Since the S4, I’ve had an LG G2, a Droid Ultra, a Kyocera Brigadier, and the Windows Lumia Icon. I also have an iPhone 6+.

Like many, the excitement about the Galaxy Note 4 is due to its many great productivity features. There are hundreds of sites that will give you the basic tech specs, so I don’t think I need to go over them with you. But why would a busy woman like you want a Samsung Galaxy Note 4? These are my three favorites, that I don’t have with most of my other phones.

Fingerprint Security – there has been a lot of talk lately about using fingerprint recognition on the lock screen. The Note 4 offers this option, although it does take a few steps to set it up and you may not find it on your own. Here’s how:  Settings –> Lock screen –> Screen lock –> Fingerprint. Once you’re here, you’ll train the device to recognize your fingerprint and setup a backup PIN. Then, you can use the biometrics to access the device as well as pay using Paypal or take care of other functions within apps that use this feature.

Use With Gloves – this may be important to a lot of people. Here in Arizona I rarely wear gloves. But when I travel to colder places, take BabyGirl ice skating, or go to outdoor events using my phone becomes a hassle. Not any more! You don’t need special gloves, although Samsung suggests leather gloves. Here’s how:  Pull down the Quick Settings –> Touch Sensitivity. You’ll likely need to press a little harder than usual and may not have the precision you normally have, but you’ll be able to use your phone. Important note: you will not want to leave this setting enabled if you put your phone in your pocket or in your purse where it touches fabric. Doing so may activate 911 and create an awkward situation.

Note 4 S Pen

Take Notes with the S-Pen – there are so many sites that have every tip and trick to using the S-Pen for maximum productivity. For me, the most important thing about the S-Pen is its precision. I know you can use your finger to write on other devices. With the S-Pen though it’s very precise. Also, you can use the S-Pen to annotate other things. So if you’ve taken a photo of notes from a class, you can then add your own notes right over the photo. Sometimes it’s faster the write than it is to type. Also, it’s a great way to sign your actual signature if you need to. This version of the Smart Pen is much more fluid and sensitive there isn’t much of a learning curve to use it.

These are just 3 great features you’ll find to customize how YOU use your phone. You can easily turn this into your “new you” device with some great wellness apps, or maybe download some fun stargazing apps for you and the kids. It’s a versatile phablet that can take you from busy mom to business owner or even chill-out mode!

Once you get your Note 4, don’t stress over transferring everything from your current device. My friend Robyn has you covered on how to transfer your old smartphone to the new Samsung Galaxy Note 4 with Samsung Smart Switch. If you’re thinking you’d like to use it with some bluetooth headphones, try the Plantronics Backbeat Fit.

Disclosure: I was provided a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 at no charge. I am a member of the Verizon Insider team and share information about technology. This review was not required or edited by a third-party. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sara

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