Hanukkah Apps, Videos, and Favorite Tech Gifts

Hanukkah Apps

This post is part of an ongoing series of lifestyle tech as a participant in the Verizon Insider influencer group. I’m thrilled to be part of this group for the past several years and I hope you enjoy my unique perspective on tech for families and entrepreneurs. There are affiliate links in this post, which help me to run this site and buy cool tech I think you’d love to know about.

This year Hanukkah starts on December 24th. This is so exciting! No only do I have something fun to do on December 25th but I get to take advantage of all the sales. And though Hanukkah is a festival holiday and, traditionally, not a big gift-giving holiday, it’s become more and more a celebration that includes gifts. Gifts go well with latkes and pear sauce, right?

What I love about tech is that it allows everyone to get in on the games and fun smartphone apps. Even songs, lots of Hanukkah songs! So I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite Hanukkah tech, from apps to videos to small gifts to things that may qualify as ‘the big gift’ this year.

Fun Hanukkah Apps

Light My Fire (iOS, Andriod) – Created by The Jewish Museum in New York, this app allows you to select one of the many exquisite Hanukkiah from their collection. I love this, especially for college kids and young adults who may not be able to light actual candles where they live. It’s also great for little kids so they can participate in lighting candles. I think it would be a great option for seniors who may not feel comfortable with open flames in their homes or senior living apartments and for parents of kids with special needs that may not be able to light candles in a traditional way.

Menorah (iOS, Android) – This is a nice app, with music by Mo Kiss, that lets you light the candles and sing along. Again, great for those in need of a virtual menorah.

The Chanukkah App (iOS, Android) – With a virtual menorah, some history, and a virtual dreidel game it’s a mobile party! This app features the blessings in 7 languages as well as incorporates social sharing so you can celebrate with your friends all over the world.

‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah (iOS, Android) – An extension of the 2012 musical album of the same name, this app brings lots of fun holiday music to your smartphone with an epic musical battle between Christmas and the Festival of Lights. Something new and fun to give a tech/music spin to your celebration.

Match 8 Hanukkah Game (iOS, Android) – Tired of playing dreidel? Who isn’t! Here’s a fun little game to distract you from whatever it is you need distracting. This candle lighting game will test your skills at speed lighting. A great app for kids of all abilities to get involved in playing Hanukkah games.

Chai on Chanukkah (iOS) – A top app among Jewish families with special needs kids, everyone gets in on the festival fun!

Hanukkah Match Games (iOS, Android) – A Hanukkah twist on the traditional game of matching tiles. Fun for young kids and helps them make a Jewish connection.

Festive YouTube Videos

The Chanukah SongAdam Sandler Chanukah Song (3:55) – The original by Adam Sandler. In 1994, Adam Sandler wrote a Hanukkah song for SNL’s Weekend Update and it’s become a classic. Before this there really weren’t very many non-traditional Chanukah songs, so this is really the one by which all modern songs are measured. Most are parodies, but The Chanukah Song and it’s subsequent versions are all classics. Sandler’s Chanukah Song Part 4 was released in 2015, at a fundraiser with Judd Apatow. (Image Source: NBC)

Sesame Street: Hanukkah With Veronica Monica (2:43) – if your kids love Sesame Street, this is a fun little video of the Hanukkah story. If you like this one, check out Shalom Sesame.

The Maccabeats – Candlelight – Hanukkah (3:41) – Candlelight is a Jewish parody of Taio Cruz’s Dynamite. With over 11 million views, I find myself singing this all year ’round. Funny thing is that when this song came out BabyGirl had never heard Dynamite and months later when she did she thought it was a parody of Candlelight. True story!

The Maccabeat – All About That Nais (2:55) – Not as popular, but still fun, this parody of Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass is a nice little story about latkes, dreidels, bubbies, and presents.

Six13 – Chanukah (Shake It Off) (4:34) – New to the Jewish a Capella scene a few years ago, Six13 puts together a Festival of Lights parody of TayTays Shake It Off. It’s a fun little ditty!

The Story of Hanukkah (2:15) – This is a storybook video of the story of Hanukkah geared to help young readers. Perfect for kids!

Favorite Hanukkah Tech

OK, so there isn’t really such a thing as Hanukkah tech (other than the cool electronic Hanukah menorahs) but when it comes to gift giving, Chanukkah can present more challenges than just how to spell Channukkah. Since Hanukah is a festival holiday, many of us grew up with little emphasis on the gift-giving  part of the celebration. Some small gifts for each night (candy, puzzles, games, etc.) or maybe one “big” gift (a bike, designer jeans), but gift giving has only recently become associated with Hanukkah so it can be difficult to figure out the ‘right’ gift. And that’s why I’m taking the stress out of your holiday and giving you some suggestions for gift options for your Hanukkah-celebrating friends and family. [Note: Chanukah begins on Dec. 24th this year, so waiting for those after-Christmas sales is highly encouraged!]

Bluetooth Trackers – These little devices that attach to your keys, slide into your wallet, fit nicely in your center console of the car, attach to a zipper in your luggage, or connect to your child’s backpack, are awesome gifts. I’ve used the Tile, Tile Slim, and Mynt trackers and all have saved me from what could have been stressful moments. When I switched planes (and airports) to allow for a family to stay together, my Mynt tracker gave me peace of mind when I saw that my luggage had arrived to my destination. The Tile tracker was with me on a three week trip to DC this summer and when I left my luggage with the concierge I could see it was safe. And when I can’t find my phone, these little devices let me get an audible tracker even when my phone is on silent. Retail: about $20 each

Portable Speaker – When we went to Israel, we took the UE Boom with us so we could easily listen to music. We take it with us when we travel because it’s so easy to use and doesn’t take up much space. CycleGuy loves it for taking business calls because it turns his smartphone into a real speakerphone. The UE Boom 2 is shockproof and waterproof, making it even more versatile. The UE Roll is small, lightweight, and so easy to use for those with active lifestyles. These range in price, but are well worth the money!

External Smartphone Battery – Let’s face it, we’re busy people and don’t have time to worry about our smartphone running low. Sure, we can get a car charger or connect at home. But, with music and games, social media, and all the photos, those long-life batteries don’t always sync with our busy lives. I have 7 or 8 different powerbanks, each for different purposes. I have the ultra-thin charger for those times I’m going out and have a small evening bag. My original Mophie is always in my purse and CycleGuy has one in his messenger bag. I have a few larger Limefuel chargers with multiple ports so BabyGirl can always plug in with friends.

Multi-Port USB Charger – Seriously, you need one! Instead of plugging in all over the house or fighting for outlets at a hotel, a multi-port USB charger is a dream. I have three of these and they are the best! We have 7 smartphones, a Nexus, two iPads, wireless headphones, CycleGuy’s bike light, and quite a few other things that need to be charged and we can do it with such ease and convenience. A few brands I like are Anker, this value-priced Sabrent 4-port hub, this Photive 6-port rapid charger, as well as the more permanent option of changing out your outlet to a Top Greener Dual USB wall outlet.

Of course, who wouldn’t love a new phone? Sometimes that’s a very personal decision, but if you’re looking for a smartphone that is unique and has really cool add-on options, check out my experience with the Motorola Moto Z Force Droid. And, of course, you can’t go wrong with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge either.

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Sara

Nine Cookbooks To Make Your Life More Delicious

Best Cookbooks

I could probably do an entire post about the benefits of being friends with a baking blogger. There are lots of opportunities to “try this” and not really know what it is yet. The extras that make their way to my house via BabyGirl. Well, you get the picture.

My friend Christi, who brings us Love From the Oven, has introduced me to many different food bloggers just with the posts she shares. My Facebook feed is one giant drool-fest some days. You should follow Christi so you can get all the goodies sent right to your screen!

Anyway, this year, Christi’s book – Smart Cookie – came out and she did a few book signings and TV appearances. It was so happy and proud – as if she were my own family! I got to see the book come together and get a sneak-peak of some of the amazing treats she was making.

So I got to thinking. While I take for granted that I know about Christi’s book, you may not know about Smart Cookie and how awesome it is and how it could change your life forever. Seriously, it’s that fantastic! And I thought some more that you may not know some of her friends that also came out with their own cookbooks, too. So I’m sharing them with you today. It’s kind of like a personal shopper post for great cookbooks. And while most of them are dessert focused, let’s be real and just say that it’s really dessert we all want.

Smart Cookie Cookbook

1. Smart Cookie Cookbook by Christi Farr Johnstone – I’ll start with Christi’s book because, well, she inspired this post and one of the cookies in the book was made because Christi’s daughter and my daughter are best friends and kind of obsessed with narwhals. This is really the book most of us want because Christi will show you how to make cool treats using store-bought baked goods. No baking, just the fun of decorating.

Cake Mix Recipes

2. Make It With A Cake Mix by Lizzy Early – While not the first book of its kind, this book puts all others to shame really. Lizzy takes cake mix to a new level of deliciousness! It’s great if you can make all your baked goods from scratch, but who are we kidding. That’s not going to happen. So instead of not making something, find out how to take a basic cake mix to new levels.

Girl Who Ate Everything

3. The Girl Who Ate Everything by Christy Denney – Family-friendly and kid-approved recipes that would make dinnertime less stressful. Because, well, we can’t always eat dessert first. One of my challenges is coming up with new ways to combine the basic food groups into something new, tasty, and quick.

Dessert Mashups

4. Dessert Mashups by Dorothy Kern – Anyone can make brownies for the bake sale or potluck. So why not kick it up a notch and make things like Cinnamon Roll Cookies or Sconuts? No need to stick with the basics when you can really wow everyone without a lot of extra work.

Cooking With Biscoff

5. Biscoff Cookie & Spread Cookbook by Katrina Bahl – If you’ve never had Biscoff you’re missing out! It’s cookie butter and it’s so delicious. Imagine a jar of peanut butter, except instead of peanuts it’s made with cookies. And then you add it to recipes to create even more amazing treats.

Red Velvet Desserts

6. Red Velvet Lover’s Cookbook by Deborah Harron – There’s more to the red velvet dessert world than just cake and Deborah takes us on this mouth-watering journey to taste over 50 different options. Red Velvet Bread? Oh my!

Cakes with Cakes inside

7. Surprise Inside Cakes by Amanda Rettke – You’ve seen her pictures all over the internet because the cakes and desserts Amanda makes are amazing works of art (and because people steal them!). I’m pretty sure you’ve seen her “heart inside a cake” and thought you could never make anything like that. Well, have no fear! Amanda’s book walks you through creating a masterpiece of your own. There are so many beautiful cake options, you’ll be able to create something special for all the people you love (or want to impress).

Recipe Girl

8. Recipe Girl Cookbook by Lori Lange – With almost 200 recipes, this book will help you with everything from breakfast to dessert, cocktail parties, birthday parties, and everyday. Lori’s recipes are easy to follow and have adaptable options if you need something to be gluten-free or vegetarian. These are recipes for people like you and me – capable in the kitchen but need a little bit of encouragement and direction.

Popcorn Recipes

9. Popcorn Party Cookbook by Ashton Epps Swank – There’s more to popcorn than salt and butter, or cheese. Ashton shows you how to turn this everyday snack into something special and worth of taking center stage at any gathering.

So there you have it — nine cookbooks that will get you back in the kitchen having fun, making delicious food, and sharing your love (and food) with your friends and family. These make great gifts and have so much encouragement written in to the book that they’re like having a dear friend teaching you along the way. I hope you get some (or all) and enjoy trying out new ways to make  your life more rich.

Sara

Starfish Project: Raising Awareness and Money for Exploited Women

Recently a friend of mine made a major career change to do work she is passionate about. She took a job with an organization called Starfish Project.

Exploitation of women all over the world, especially in Asia, is a significant and overwhelming problem. Reading stories of young girls and women sold into sex-slavery and exploited in other ways, and hearing statistics often makes the problem seem completely unfathomable and people just don’t know where to start. And, sadly, this is not an issue isolated in Asia. Every woman, no matter where in the world and no matter her background, is important.

Every woman deserves the chance to provide for her family, grow, and feel valued.

Starfish Project

I want to share with you an amazing organization called Starfish Project which works in three different cities in Asia. They find these women, befriend them, and give them a way out by providing them a range of social, emotional and practical opportunities. While in the Starfish program, women can live in the shelter, receive counseling, get work training, and have a job to provide income for themselves. Their job is to make beautiful jewelry. By buying a piece of jewelry you make these programs, and lasting change in these women’s lives, possible.

You become an advocate.

This summer, Starfish Project is hosting a sale and offering a discount on over 150 of their pieces for two weeks only.

50 | 50 Summer Sale

50% off orders over $50

on over 150 participating products
July 1 12:01 am EST through July 15 at 11:59 pm EST

By purchasing jewelry you are becoming an advocate for exploited women in Asia. Your purchase will give them work for their hands, hope for their hearts, and the knowledge that they are valued by someone who doesn’t even know them.

This sale only lasts for two weeks but the Starfish story is both continuing and growing. Would you become an advocate and join the Starfish Project?

 

You can become an advocate by:

Buying their jewelry and telling your friends. Find all the summer sale items here.

Following the story on their blog, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram

Thanks for becoming an advocate for women in Asia. The problem is huge, but together we can make a difference.
 

Disclosure: I am sharing information about Starfish Project and this deal with you because I am an advocate for the work they do. I do not receive any commissions or free products for this post.

Sara

Save 20% Off Personalized Stationery at Tiny Prints Thru 10/1/13

I love personalized stationery and of the several sites I buy from, Tiny Prints (affiliate link) is one of them. If you’re thinking of personalized stationery, teacher gifts for the holidays, or party invitations head over to Tiny Prints (affiliate link) and take advantage of their sitewide sale and receive 20% Off ALL orders using promotion code AUTUMN13.

You must enter the promotion code during checkout. Remember this so you’re not like me, I mean some people, and have to call and cancel the order when you hit submit and realize you forgot the code.

Fine Print from Tiny Prints: Offer expires 10/1/13 (11:59 P.M. PT). Save 20% off all orders using the code AUTUMN13 at checkout. There is no minimum purchase required for this promotion. This offer cannot be combined with other offers. This offer is not applicable to previously placed orders or toward the purchase of greeting cards, Erin Condren weekly planners, Platinum Design Service, gift cards, gift certificates, calendars or photo books. Offer is only valid on Tiny Prints and is not applicable on treat.com, third-party or partner websites. To prevent abuse, we reserve the right to discontinue or modify this offer at any time without notice. We reserve the right to cancel any order at any time.

Disclosure: The links in this post are affiliate links. That means if you click on the link and make a purchase I may receive a commission payment. Thank you for supporting my site with your purchase.

Sara

Cooking.com – Save 20% Off Entire Order

It’s not often that the online store Cooking.com runs a promotion like this. From 3/11/12 – 4/30/12, get  20% Off Your Entire Order when you use Code C93976 at checkout.

It’s very easy!

All-Clad MC2 Cookware (I love mine!)

Go to Cooking.com

Buy all those cool gadgets you really want.

Upgrade your pots and pans, which you’ve been wanting to do anyway.

Checkout and enter Code C93976

Wait for the delivery person and enjoy your new things!

NOTE: This offer can not be combined with free shipping codes. Other restrictions may apply, see Cooking.com for details.

Disclosure: The included link is an affiliate link. Clicking on the link may provide me with compensation should you make a purchase. 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

Black Friday 2011: Save 20% at SkinStore


20% off Storewide with code Gift20

 

I’ve shopped at SkinStore for years because I hate going all over town for my favorite skin care products. Now you can shop & save on your products too. Nothing like looking your best for less.

Thru 12/5 – Save 20% Storewide with code: GIFT20Shop at SkinStore for Savings

 

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link. Buying through this link may mean I get a commission.

Sara

Black Friday 2011: eBags Discount


Best Brands. Best Prices. Free Shipping On All Ord

 

To celebrate Black Friday and Cyber Monday, eBags is offering one of their best discounts of the year. The more you buy, the more you save! I’ve purchased from them in the past and given that one of our suitcases bit the dust on our last trip I’ll be luggage shopping this weekend.

Extra 25% Off + Free Shipping Over $75 at eBags!

This is ONLY VALID from 11/24 at 12:01am MST to 11/28 at 11:59pm MST

If you need new luggage, a purse, backpack, phone covers, tablet covers or sleeves or computer bags now is the time to save big!

 

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link. Buying through this link may mean I get a commission.

Sara

5 Ways to be Realistic About Holiday Shopping

As you likely know, I suck at shopping for me. But when it comes to gift giving, I am in heaven. I love buying things for other people. I like asking questions to find out about things they like, don’t like, want to try, place to go and all that double-knot spy kind of stuff. I most enjoy seeing or hearing their reaction when they open their gift to find something that is really meaningful to them.

Let’s just all admit that we’ve received gifts that are meaningless to us but hold a great deal of meaning or importance to the giver. I’m not talking about the ugly necklace from your aunt that was your grandmothers that you really don’t want, will never wear, but has sentimental value. I’m also not including gifts from little kids that they made for us (but really, gold spray painted macaroni necklaces are always at the top of every mom’s list!). What I’m talking about are those gifts from our mothers-in-law that are her favorite stinky, smelly lotion and will end up in the donation bin faster than Ozzy Osbourne can say the F-word. I’m thinking of those gifts from friends or family that are either a regifted something or were bought because it was cheap, on-sale, near the cash register, or shoved in the back of the closet from 3 years ago.

Now, don’t’ get me wrong. I think re-gifting is OK under some circumstances. But that’s another blog post. Today it’s about being realistic about our holiday shopping. We can’t all rush to Neiman Marcus to pick up their newest $19,000 must-have gift. But what we can do is take some time now, before the rush and the crush, and be mindful about the gifts we’re going to give.

5 Ways To Be Realistic About Holiday Shopping

1. Decide who gets and who doesn’t – this could be budget based or logistical, but decide now who you’ll be shopping for. Write it down and really think who’s going to make the list. Make the list, check it twice. Heck, check it 200 times! But only put people on the list that you really want to buy for. Don’t buy for people because you think you have to or they buy for you or you don’t want to look cheap. You’ll look cheap and the gift will be horrible because you won’t put the time into it. This isn’t about being mean or dissing anyone. It’s about being real and having focus.

2. Set a Budget – Maybe you did this before you made your list of people. If you did, then now you get to divvy it up among all the people on your list. If you didn’t set a budget, now’s the time to do it. Whether it’s a per-person limit or an overall total, determine up front what you’re comfortable spending. Write it down, engrave it in stone, write it on your hand in sharpie, post sticky note in your house or your car or do whatever you need to remind you. If you have to take cash out of the bank, then so be it. Spend ONLY that cash. When it’s done, then so are you. And you’ll have to figure out something else. But don’t over-spend just because you’re stressed out and just pick up anything. It’s not easy to stick to a budget, but you’ll feel better if you do. Most importantly, make the budget realistic. If you don’t think spending $10 on Aunt Ella is realistic either spend more (only if you have it! Aunt Ella doesn’t want you to go into debt for her) or just give her a lovely card. If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it. Work within your means and your budget! Stay tuned here for great holiday gifts that won’t break the bank!

3. Plan ahead – what do you want that person to get from you? Have they mentioned a book or restaurant they’re looking forward to? Do they have a hobby or a passion for something that you can support? Do they need a new scarf, sweater, mug, backpack, or set of knives? Have they dropped hints? Can you go in on a bigger gift with someone else? Think about their gift for more than 62 seconds while you’re speeding through Target at 9:46pm on Christmas Eve.

4. Get Them Something THEY Want – you may think that the Dice-o-matic is awesome, but not everyone will. So don’t get it for your nephew who just got his first apartment. He won’t care and you’ll become that aunt. You may love yoga but your BFF may not want the yoga mat DVD combo you think is so great – especially since she’s never once gone to ‘bring a friend night’ even though you’ve asked her every week for the past 2 years. You may hate that your brother in law spends 3 hours a night playing Farmville but giving him a $10 gift card to play his game might make him stop sending you requests to plant corn or support his pig farm. Think about this like a business – It’s not what YOU want, it’s what the CONSUMER wants!

5. Have Fun – holiday shopping can be a drag some times. But the whole point of giving gifts is to show your love, appreciation, kindness toward others. You want them to know you care. So have fun! Think outside the box, mix things us, step outside your comfort zone. Gift recipients aren’t stupid, they know when we just get any ol’ thing for them. We give gifts because we want to (or, that’s why we should), not because we are obligated. Have fun seeing their perspective, have fun wrapping it, have fun in giving it! Think about how much fun kids have buying gifts for mom and dad, grandma and grandpa. They could buy grandpa a can of WD-40 because they know he is always fixing things, and the child is so filled with joy and excitement for this seemingly boring gift.

Whatever winter holiday you observe, regardless of whether it’s a major gift giving one or not, it’s on the calendar well in advance. There’s no ned to pretend it sneaks up on us. So let’s all get started so we can get finished and sit back and enjoy relaxing and enjoying all those other events that will take place.

I don’t profess that these 5 tips will save you time or money or sanity. But what I do believe is that being prepared goes a long way to allowing us to make better decisions. And better decision is how we save time, money and sanity!

If you have other tips, please share them! Can’t have too many tips to get us all through what is sure to be a busy time.

Sara

When a Printed Invitation or Announcement is How You Roll

It’s been awhile since I’ve needed printed invitations or announcements, but that doesn’t stop me from looking at all the new designs. You can do so much with them, and they really just take the coolness factor up a notch. At Social Soiree, Storkie created post cards for the attendees so they could send to their families. It was a really unique idea and all of our guest thought it was great. I know BabyGirl was so excited when she received the one I sent to her.

I’ve never used Storkie, but Alecia at Savings and Stewardship swears by them. Personally, I think she’s talking about having another baby just so she can order birth announcement from Storkie. I could be wrong, but …. Anyway, Alecia has very nice taste in such things (I hope she doesn’t read this because it will just inflate her ego).

So if you’re in the market for quality printed invitations and announcements, try Storkie. It’s a hands-on company that will help you if you need it. I know how it is when buying something so important online. Knowing there is someone on the other end of the line really gives peace of mind.

 

Disclosure: Storkie sponsored Social Soiree. I received no compensation. As a hostess of the event I did agree to tell you about them. 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.

image credit: Storkie

Sara

What To Do With Gift Cards To Stores You Don’t Like?

Social Soiree introduced me to the site Plastic Jungle. I knew there was such a thing out there but I wasn’t really sure about it. If you’re like me you have gift cards to stores you don’t really shop at. Or maybe not, because you don’t suck at shopping like I do.

Evidently you can sell your unwanted gift cards at a reputable site, not just Craig’s List or online auction sites. And what’s pretty cool too is you can buy someone else’s discards – AT A DISCOUNT! Why didn’t I think of this?

So if you have gift cards in your purse (or a pile on your desk) see if you can get some money for them. Sure you might not get 100% value for it but it’s better than nothing. As I tell BabyGirl all the time – 50% of something is usually better than 100% of nothing. I know, my wisdom is mind boggling.

Of course, I could just tell you to send me the gift cards and I could sell them at the Indoor Swap Market (it’s too hot to be hawkin’ wares outdoors!) but that won’t help you save for your someday. And yes, you could always donate them, but if you were going to do that you’d have done that a long time ago.

Dial up the interwebs to Plastic Jungle and get shopping!

Disclosure: Plastic Jungle sponsored Social Soiree. I received no compensation. As a hostess of the event I did agree to tell you about them. 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