Monday, October 15, 2018

Streaming with Google Chromecast Streaming Media Player

Last year we finally got our house into this century by purchasing new tech gadgets ðŸŽ§!! Where cords once ran from this system to the next the Chromecast Audio eliminated them all together using our Wifi instead! We could also stream crystal clear high resolution sound anywhere we went. This year it was time to switch things up the the new Google Chromecast Streaming Media Player! 


The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.
We can NOW stream from our phone to our TV!! Just by plugging the Chromecast into the HDMI port on our TV. This allows us to watch shows, listen to playlists, play games, and enjoy over 2000 apps (like Netflix, YouTube, YouTube TV, and HBO NOW).
I set up my devices in just a few minutes using my phone, but you can set up the Chrome Audio from a tablet, computer or even your car.
Best part?? Chromecast and Google Home work seamlessly together!! I can now say “Ok Google, play Stranger Things from Netflix on my living room TV.” 
VOLA, I have upgraded my TV without buying a new Smart TV!! Perfect device to give as a gift especially if you have a teen in college!!
Watch movies, shows, live TV, YouTube, and photos streaming on your TV from all of your family’s devices.

How would you use the new Google Chromecast Streaming Media Player?
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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Be an Upstander, the fight against Bullying

This post is in collaboration with Forward Influence Network. All opinions (and memories!) are my own.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month! If you have kids in school you might have already known that because they usually do a week long program on it. Now is a GREAT time to talk to your little one's (and big one's) about bullying both in person and online. I would love to say that my son who is currently in fourth grade has never been the victim of bullying but that is not the case. It seems to be the norm and I would love to encourage that to change!
So many of the kids, that walk through the hallways, have had been bullied or watched it happen. Now with computer labs becoming part of the school curriculum and Social Media being so popular; kids are now also being bullied online. Let us open up the conversation and be an Upstander! 
What is an Upstander you ask??

An Upstander fights bad behavior and stands up for kindness and positivity.

With the young generation growing up on technology we need to remember to teach safe practices. I have partnered with Google, today, to give you some great resources that I think will help you not only start a conversation but fuel your children as they experience bullying both in person and online!
First let's talk about the Be Internet Awesome campaign!! Google’s created this free multifaceted program designed to teach kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence. The program is available in English and Spanish!! Consisting of an an adventure-packed online game about digital safety! Kids will have fun learning about internet safety along with other valuable resources.
These resources include playingInterland with your kids at g.co/KindKingdom and put your kindness skills to the test!
The five areas they focus on for Internet awesomeness are: 
SMART: Where we learn to share with care 
ALERT: Where we learn not to fall for fake 
STRONG: Where we learn how to secure Our digital stuff 
KIND: Where we learn that itʼs cool to be kind 
BRAVE: Where we learn that, when in doubt, we talk it out 
Online, you’ll find the teacher curriculum and family guide (coming soon!) - a complete resource on the basics your family can build on and play with or learn together.
As I stated in the beginning many students have either been bullied or seen bullying first hand! 
Let's try and encourage our young to help those 71% of students who have witnessed bullying to become an Upstander rather than a bystander! 
Here are a few tips:
1. Tell an adult. Often times kids never say anything which can drastically increase the chases of the bullying to continue.
2. Find a way to support the person being targeted. 
3. Calling out the mean behavior when it is safe to do so!
We all want our children to have the best experiences in school. It is no surprise to any of us that they will have struggles along the way. If we open the lines of communication and address problems as they happen these negative experiences will become fewer and less common!
Learn more about how to Be Internet Awesome g.co/BeInternetAwesome. Also be sure to tell your kids’ teachers or other parents about the online curriculum so they can introduce these activities in the classroom!!
Have you ever been bullied?
Has your child ever been bullied, How did you handle it??
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Monday, October 8, 2018

Parenting through the Years

This post is sponsored by the Center for Parent and Teen Communication. All opinions (and memories!) are my own.
THEN:
How I could fit you in my lap while I bottle feed you. How you were determined to do things yourself even when I offered to help. How you knew every lunch lady, janitor and worker by name in your school because you love to make people smile.

NOW:
How you can play video games for hours after a long day of practice and work. How I hear the funny things you say to your buddies when they come over to hang out. How determined you are to get a full college scholarship through your immense hockey talent. 

Watching kids grow up can be so hard. We have to let them go sometime, this video touched me in the feel good places:

It goes hand-in-hand with this piece from Dr. Ken Ginsburg at the Center for Parent and Teen Communication. It helps to remember all the things I loved about babyhood and see that a lot of it repeating in the teen years. Check out this new resource because we could all use a guide on this parenting journey.

What are some of your favorite babyhood memories? 
What are your teens excelling in now?

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Sharing about Celiac Disease & Schär products

Enjoy this feature from Allison Slagle, one of my writers, as she shares about Celiac Disease. 
In 2013, a year after my sons birth, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Celiac disease is an auto-immune condition in which your body will attack the lining of your intestine (the part that absorbs nutrients) when you ingest anything with gluten in it. Gluten is a protien that is found in many grains including: Wheat, Rye, Spelt, and Barley. Gluten is found in so many of today’s products. If you look at any number of grocery store staples, you will find that more often that not, the items are not safe for folks with celiac disease. It is estimated that as close to 1/100 people have celiac disease and most do not even know they have it. If you are celiac, ingesting gluten can cause a wide variety of symptoms including gastrointestinal issues, skin issues, anxiety, sleeplessness, weight problems and malnutrition. Luckily, celiac disease has been taken much more seriously in recent years and we have trustworthy, safe, and delicious companies to buy our gluten free items from. One of those companies is Schär gluten free. One of the industry’s leading brands, I can walk into any grocery store and have the ability to pick up a Schär product! In my opinion, Schär does gluten free products perfectly. They sell items that are brilliantly packaged and offer fantastic alternatives for the items I remember eating before my diagnosis. Since gluten is responsible for elasticity of bread and dough, Schär has come up with awesome recipes in their products to mock that classic bread taste! I absolutely love their bread products. The artisan bread collection is just perfect for lunchtime sandwich making.
Schär also has quite an extensive line of treats, sweets, and snacks. Living with celiac disease used to mean giving up everything you loved, now these items are made with celiac customers in mind and are available in the store just like everything else. The chocolate grahams are perfect to bring to a fall bonfire for celiac safe s’mores. They are a wonderful sweet treat that in my opinion is sturdier and more flavorful than a traditional graham cracker.
At any given time, I have a number if Schär products in my pantry. I am so thankful for the care and concern they take for individuals with dietary restrictions. I love that taste and convenience of their product line and will always continue to support them. I look forward to seeing the new products that Schär continues to introduce for me and my family!
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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Global Citizens Festival in NYC with Verizon Up

 Verizon Up is a free rewards program from Verizon Wireless that gives you the opportunity to earn rewards you actually want. Get access to exclusive experiences through the Verizon Up app – from mind-blowing seats for your favorite artists and sports teams to other incredible live events. 
Events like the Global Citizens Festival in NYC, featuring awesome artists like Janet Jackson, Maroon 5, and Shawn Mendes!
Tune in TODAY September 29th from 3pm ET.
At Verizon, they have one mission: to give humans the ability to do more in this world. It’s why we’re partnering with visionaries from just about every industry you can imagine, using technology and data to turn innovative ideas into realities.
If you are a Verizon costumer why not utilize their Rewards program! The festival will be live-streamed on Twitter go check it out. If you are in NYC also check out the Reward Up program because you might be able to score FREE tickets!!
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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Our 2018 Halloween Costume Suggestions

 This post has been sponsored by Dr Seuss and KidzVuz.com. All opinions are my own. 
 Halloween is an exciting time around my home. I get excited to decorate the house, plan for our annual Pumpkin party or pick out costumes! I personally love dressing up! Maybe I want to hold onto the playful child spirit by dressing up. Maybe it is the look in our son's eye when we go all out to create a costume. It's honestly just plain good old fashion fun for a day!  
 Through the years you can easily find a us reading to Mac. Every night before bed he picks out a few book or after school before I make dinner. His GO TO book (series) have always been Dr. Seuss!! I remember reading him these books, practicing them really, when he was still in utero! This year we decided to try out these fun Thing 1 & 2 Costume and Cat in the Hat Bricky Blocks Build-On Snapback for you all.
  What kid (or adult for that matter) wouldn't recognize this beloved character?? 

"Designed for rainy day play and hours of fun, this soft polyester bodysuit features a printed patch with attachable numbers 1-4 so your little one can be any 'Thing' they want".

Can I just say, we had a LOT of fun changing the numbers for these photo ;).
The Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat Thing 1&2 Costume also includes: the bright blue fuzzy wig to make sure they can fly kites in doors in true thing fashion.
 
 Next up let's talk about the Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat Bricky Blocks Build-On Snapback Hat Kit.
As my son gets older costumes become more "kiddish". When he wants to dress up but not full on wear a costume this comes in handy!!

 "Inspired by the beloved children's book, this black snapback features soft black and white ears which frame the iconic white and red stovepipe hat. In the center of the hat is a white brick plate, compatible with most major brick building systems, which is perfect for crafting a variety of designs". 

My son has LOVED creating designs with the bricks and plate on this hat! Each day he creates something new to sport outdoors.
This adorable hat includes: Hat, 122 blocks, and Template
Perfect for a school costume party, trick or trunking or fun Sunday after noon of costume play!!
What are you being for Halloween?
Do you enjoy dressing up in Family themes??
Any guesses what I am dressing up as this year??
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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Laundry Room Makeover

 I have ALWAYS wanted first floor laundry. When I bought my home (12 years ago) it was located in the basement. That is two flights of stairs down and two flights up, EACH load of laundry. After years, let me tell you, it has gotten OLD! This year we decided to tackle refinishing our basement and moving the laundry upstairs, FINALLY!! I have partnered with Mean Green to bring you these DIY related posts!! Hope you continue to enjoy them; 
you can check out our last project: refinishing our basement here.
**I received free products to help facilitate this post. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.
The first step, to our new laundry room, was moving the appliances upstairs. Ok, I hired someone to do that because it required electric and plumbing hookups. Next we needed to clean out the old extra "3rd bedroom". The fact someone ACTUALLY considered this room a "bedroom" is laughable! You can't even fit a bed in it let alone furniture. It does come with a walk in closet which is nice. Other than that it has always been a "catch ALL" room. 
Here are the few things I used to get this little laundry room makeover underway:
Gloves 
Face Masks 
Paint (we used the color Grey blue from Kilz)
Decorative signs
Bins (found these at the Dollar store)
Metal shelf to house our detergents (you can find it here)
This room was an AWFUL green color (see above). 
 We decided to go a little lighter and use a neutral color. 
This paint was fairly inexpensive at around $7 a half gallon. Believe it or not it actually brightened the room up a bit. Even though it is a grey blue it still pulled light into the space. I also added 2 mirrors in the room to make it look larger!
I also started to paint a mural on one of the walls. I love to encourage reading where ever we go. After seeing a few Laundry signs, I knew I just had to continue our love of the Wizarding World and reading into this room!
It is not complete just yet but well on it's way. I was also lucky enough to have my Mother-in Law create these two Laundry signs for us! The first helps tie the Magical theme ( House Elf Liberation Station) and gives us a practical place for our mismatched socks!
The other sign (LOVED) was a gift she gave to us last Christmas that gave me the inspiration for this room.
With our new Laundry room made over, it was time to fill it with quality products! I have to say when you do anywhere between 5 to 8 loads of laundry a week (like I do) products matter!! Above are just a few essentials like, the BIZ laundry collection, that have helped us keep the Hockey smell out of our clothes and house!!
PLUS this DRYEL makes cleaning delicates at home so easy! I can have the guys suits cleaned without making an extra trip to the dry cleaners.
Do you have a Laundry Room Theme?
What house projects are you tackling?
Ever used Mean Green products before??
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Thursday, September 20, 2018

What Is A Blogger? Why I'm Not Considered One

What is a blogger? I often get mistaken for a blogger once people ask what I do for a living. It honestly seems that nowadays people label everything and everyone! I used to get so angry when this happened. In my mind they were basically saying, I was a work from home Mom, who NEEDED something to do (like stay at home parents have nothing to do haha). I should take a moment and say there is NOTHING wrong with being a stay at home Mom who wants a little side business hustle. Don't read my previous statements and think I have somehow judged you! It's more of the WAY people said it to me. As if my years in the corporate world meant nothing nor did my Masters Degree which I obtain through years of dedicated studying. I honestly do not know why I took this phrase, "blogger" so personally. In reality this Media industry is so new that really the term "blogger" was just a generalized statement. Half the people that call me a blogger really had no clue what I did but needed a label to slap on me. So thus a post about my definition of a blogger and why I don't consider myself to be one!
This post was in collaboration with useriq. All opinions are 100% my own.

With a bit of research I found the actual definition of a blogger: "a person who regularly writes material for a blog". I would take that a few steps further and say a blogger is also someone who does NOT get paid to write posts/reviews. This is a HUGE difference to what I actually do here on the Western New Yorker website! I get paid through ADs, you might even see some strategically placed along the right hand side bar----->>>>
Don't worry I am not Social Media platforms that listen in to what you talk about so I can pop ads up (yes that really happens). 
I write articles that endorse brands, companies and destinations in return for compensation. I am NOT a sell out though because if it's crap I WILL not recommend it. PERIOD. I have always been the blunt person you can rely on for an honest answer ( ASK anyone who knows me) and those opinions flow freely in my business life as well. I would NEVER loose my credibility for a paycheck, NEVER! I think I have established that I get paid and my website is a business not a blog. Did you know I track my followers to help figure out what articles to write?? I doubt bloggers even utilize things like customer churn (seeing who has unfollowed them and why). Nothing against bloggers...just curious if they use those types of services...
When you start getting into the realm of writers or members of the Media I think you start to realize there is a HUGE difference between them!! Not everyone can be a Writer/Member of the Media. I am pretty sure ANYONE can be a "blogger". 

Most Members of the Media have a licence and are backed by a publication of some sorts. They broadcast via TV, Radio, Online publications and print to reach the general public on all aspects of life. Even as I write this I am reminded how much legality is also put on writers. When we write, we are held accountable for our articles which includes proper quotations and credits. I can't "re-track" statements because ONLINE once it is PUBLISHED it is out there FOREVER!! So I better make SURE my sources are correct the first time. None of this half crap let's slap a story together nonsense then "re-track" it the next day. For instance, if I made a rash statement about a person I dealt with when reviewing a location. If it is not done properly, I can be held accountable, in court for things like "Defamation of Character". Trust me when I say the hobby blogger has nothing on my legal disclosures! My company contracts are about 8 pages long full of legal mumbo-jumbo. Don't get me wrong, I would never trade my job because I truly do love it but it does have a HUGE serious side.
After a few years of being a hobby my website became an authentic business. I do utilize things like customer churn and am required us to file Business taxes yearly. I hold business insurance, copyrights installed to help protect against any legal issues (You can see all of my FTC disclosures here) and even have my own accounting department! There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that maybe the everyday person might have missed. I hope this post was a little insight into my industry. And if we ever meet and you call me a "blogger" I promise to not take it so personally ;)....well maybe! 

Did you know what a Blogger was??
What would YOUR definition be??
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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The New Sony Noise Canceling Headphones

Have you ever turned up your music to sing loudly when you were excited, happy or just needed a little pick me up? For some, including myself, music has a way of taking us out of our funky moods and putting us in a positive space. When I travel for work, you can find me located in coffee shops with my laptop and a pair of headphones jamming out!
This is a sponsored post in partnership with BestBuy.
Music is a way of expressing yourself and can be a catalyst to break down defenses to help facilitate, motivate and inspire us. Having the right quality equipment to get the optimal sound DOES make all the difference. I used to think it really didn't matter what I used to listen to music with....That was until I heard the crisp sounds flowing through my Sony Noise Canceling Headphones!
Can I just say, you only hear the music!! Nothing Else. Sony’s industry-leading noise cancellation evolves to further immerse you in your music with a proprietary noise cancellation processor, quick charge capabilities, and an updated comfortable design. Listen all day with up to 30 hours of battery life. Quick charging gives five hours of playback with just a 10-minute charge.
The best feature I have completely fallen in love with after switching headphones? Smart Listening by Adaptive Sound Control. It will automatically detect your activity and balances noise canceling levels accordingly!! Whether you are in the market for a new pair of headphones or starting your Christmas shopping early these are such a great option! I found mine at our local Best Buy in the electronic section.

Do you use quality headphones??
What features do you look for in your headphones??
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Friday, September 14, 2018

Benefits of working for yourself-Why I took the plunge

How neat would it be to get FREE stuff sent to you?? Or travel the world in exchange for writing about it?? How about selling your talents through a consulting business?? I know I talk a lot about the hard work behind this website. I talk about the long hours because I wish I had known how much work was behind the scenes before starting. Would it have changed my mind about starting this business/website?...... NO! I just wished someone had told me these things because I would have focused on things a lot differently. If you are ready to blog or start your own consulting business this post WILL help you!
This post was in collaboration with consulting business. All opinions are 100% my own.
I first started blogging on a whim. I was teaching finance classes and sold things on eBay as my full time job. Many people took my classes and I was traveling to different cities every weekend. It became VERY overwhelming. I decided to then start THIS website. I figured this way I could reach more people and help them rather than continue to travel with a small child. Thus, my consulting career started in conjunction with this website. Funny, to look back on it now, as I travel the world with my son while writing. 

I love my job but in the beginning it was simply making money on the side that made me leave my corporate job and having my son! If you have not decided to really get into blogging or working for yourself.... I suggest starting off doing it as a hobby first. Gaining a following takes time. I wish I had a secret magic way to instantly become famous but that is just not how it works. You either buy followers- I DO NOT SUGGEST DONG THAT- or you get them the old fashion way...hard work! 

Honestly there are so many ways to make money these days. I would be lying if I said it was not easy to land jobs in the consulting world. You just need to know where to look. If you excel in Social Media offer to help other bloggers who are less Tech Savvy. Become a VA or Virtual Assistant! They makes some serious cash by helping do online tasks other people don't have time for!! I know several people who help out with LINK threads on Facebook and average $15 each. To simply ReTweet, PIN or Share someone's content on social media. If you did 20 groups at $15 each that is $300 a day!!  Not really a techy person? More of a artsy type, offer to create Media Kits. Again, I have friends who sell those templates for $25-50 EACH. You find 20 bloggers who need a professional Media Kit and VOLA money in the bank.
Blogging/consulting is about about connections, companies, content and readers. I have read so many “How-to” books saying you have to choose ONE niche. I tried this “one niche” idea and found I burnt out quickly. I can only write about gardening posts for so long before I have run out of ideas. I have so MANY talents/interests that I can sell. At first, I focused on Parenting, Traveling and Recipes. Nowadays they call it “lifestyle” writing. I can umbrella several topics under one title. This allows me to work with several companies and write several different types of content. I do not get bored AND I can really focus on my passions! If you are going to work for yourself you NEED to stay focused and passionate about what you are doing. 

Why did I take the plunge into the consulting business world? My reason WHY is nine years old and has the cutest dimples you ever did see. We never had to hire a babysitter because I worked from home. I never had to miss doctor appointments or waste my life away in a thankless job. We travel the world together because my "jobs" has these benefits!! While he grows so does my business empire setting an example you can do anything you put your mind to! If you are thinking about taking the step into self-employment....make sure it fits your family. From someone who already has....I can honestly say I would 100% do it all over again! 
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