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Amber MacArthur’s Top 5 Holiday Apps for Moms

apps, GEAR By November 19, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Remember those folks who said computers wouldn’t last and cell phones were a passing fad? Snicker. Not only were the naysayers incorrect, but our tech is now so mainstream and we have so many apps for our smartphones that we need experts to tell us about the true gems. In a special interview with Amber MacArthur, co-host of APP CENTRAL, she revealed her top 5 Holiday Apps for Moms as she gears up to celebrate a spectacular milestone: APP CENTRAL’s 100th episode on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 9:30 p.m. ET on BNN and on CTV, Saturday, Nov. 23 at 5:30 p.m. ET/PT.  100 episodes!  No wonder we need more storage in our phones.  I was ‘appy’ as a clam as we spoke.  (OK I had to say it).

Amber MacArthur’s Top 5 Holiday Apps for Moms

1. Santa’s Magic phonecall iOS – free Call Santa on demand

2. Appy Holidays – allows you to get you xmas lights on your tree to dance to xmas carols. Plug the Appy Holidays Box (Available at Canadian Tire, $59.99) into any tree and turn it into a musical light show! Download the app to your smartphone or use the remote (included) to control your tree’s tunes & make lights dance

3. Martha Stewart Makes Cookies – Holiday Baking app  iOS – $1.99  A mouthwatering assortment of Martha’s favorite cookies is now available at your
fingertips! Learn from the best with this indispensable baking resource, which combines cutting-edge technology with beautiful design and a generous sprinkling of good, old-fashioned fun. With 6 recipe bundles, instructional videos, baking tips, packaging

4. Go Gift – lets you manage your gift list. iOS – $0.99
Thanks to quick reminders and gift status notifications, this is the best holiday app to manage your gift list. You can add photos of people on your list and gift pics to match.

5. Mixologist Drink Recipe App – holiday drinks and low cal drinks.  iOS/Android – $0.99/$1.49
Browse and search through nearly 8,000 drink recipes and over 1,000 ingredients, including holiday and low-cal drinks.

So get downloading to make your life easier, and don’t forget to tune in to the 100th episode of APP CENTRAL as Amber speaks with James Milward, Founder and Executive Producer of Secret Location (CTV.ca’s INTERFERENCE). Milward discusses his new app, Tug of War on Drugs, which reveals the realities of the war on drugs in support of Matthew Cooke’s documentary How to Make Money Selling Drugs. Plus, the APP CENTRAL team tests the latest in waterproof smartphones and phablets.

 

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Best Back To School ipad Apps For Grade School Kids

apps, GEAR By August 11, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Back to School AppsSome back to school iPad apps for grade school kids can help children get organized and help parents save money. Breathe…. With lessons becoming more fun and interactive, kids may find them easier and more organized than the traditional modes of learning. Some of the back to school iPad Apps for grade school kids that make school a happier place are listed below. They can help parents and children eliminate that dreadfully long listed of items required to be purchased before school starts every year, saving you not only money but your time.  Feel free to add your own!

Google Drive: This is a good app for students to learn how to archive their work while also collaborating with other students on documents and spreadsheets on different school projects and notes.  They can access their work in multiple places from any computer and also learn how to use the cloud.

ShowMe: A free and dynamic creation and presentation application providing an iPad app to access the ShowMe database. It allows teachers to create lessons, provide remedial assistance and references for review by students and other teachers, allowing its use across different classes and subject areas.

iHomework: Getting organized before school begins by keeping tabs on your courses, assignments, information on teachers, and preparing your to-do list. This app consists of Questia, an online library providing you with lots of readings and references. All you have to do is sync your iPad with this app.

Kno Textbooks: A great app to make your kid’s backpack lighter with more than 200,000 books to browse through at very at reasonable prices. With one click your kids can have access to flashcards and journals and get the benefit of browsing through interactive 3D models, importing PDFs, accessing email, search engines, dropbox and videos.

Evernote: This is an amazing iPad app with a free notes service with loads of features such as text recognition.  We love it for organizing all forms of notes.

World Atlas 2013: This one puts the whole world in your kid’s hands, with geographical information including time zone, satellite, physical, and political maps with a zoom option, compass and country-related details.

Now we just need an app that makes their lunch every day.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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money saving tips

Smart Cookies: Sandra Hanna’s Top 10 Tips for Saving Money

FAM, self By February 20, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

February is my least-favourite month.  And not just because the only time I was ever dumped was on Valentine’s Day.  Daft cow.  Anyway, holiday bills are still flowing in and the Canadian and US governments are all talking about budgets and fiscal responsibility.  Ugh.  But where finances and family budgeting used to be considered ‘I wish I were an ostrich’ words, Sandra Hanna, co-founder and CEO of Smart Cookies has turned me around.  In sharing her top 10 tips for saving money, she suggests throwing out the term ‘budget’ (too much pressure) and finding hidden ways to save money – making it into a game.  She had so many tips I couldn’t write them fast enough.  I was so inspired and challenged to take charge of my finances.

A Smart Cookie’s Tips on How to Save Money

1.  Sell things you don’t need.  Along the ‘game’ lines, we’ve had a blast taking photos of items and being creative with descriptions.  Taking interesting photos and using terms like “Pottery barn-style dresser” and “shabby chic” can get an item sold quickly.
2.  Instead of heading to the store constantly, save time and money by using food you already haveSupercook.com and Myfridgefood.com will give you recipes with items that you have on hand (and may be craving…)  The recipes they suggest may also get you out of a rut and help your kids to expand their culinary horizons.
3.  Cardswap.ca is a gift card swap so that you can mail in a card you’ll never use and replace it with either cash or a card you need.  While Aunt Betty was kind in giving you a giftcard for a movie, the extra dinner and childcare costs make it not so budget-friendly.  Swap it for something like a new slowcooker – and save even more on comfort food.
4.  Search for the hidden money in your household.  This can be a fun one for children too.  Turning off lights, using Tide Coldwater to save on hot water bills and making a fire instead of turning up the heat can be fun as well as rewarding.  PGeveryday.ca is a great resource for coupons on products you use all the time and the PG Brand Sampler allows you to be sent free products to try.
5.  Hair schools provide a great inexpensive alternative to pricy salons.
6.  Rent, don’t buy expensive clothes.  If you live in the US, Rent the Runway. Enter your zip code, size and event date up to 6 months in advance and our calendar will help find available dresses and accessories. You can book rentals for a 4 or 8 day period.  In Canada?  Rent Frock Repeat. They send you 2 sizes to ensure a good fit.
7.  Choose your apps wisely.  Purchasing apps can be fun – .99 cents here, $2.99 there.  It can add up.  Buy when they are free or on sale – with  Freeappaday.com and Appminer.com and make sure you try the free versions first to ensure you will actually use them.
8.  Apps like www.groceryzen.com allow you to eliminate impulse grocery buys by organizing your grocery list aisle by aisle. (And you won’t forget the milk).
9.  Control your own Entertainment: Vimeo lets you live stream your apple TV and curate your own content.
10.  Save your time (and money) by never waiting on hold with Gethuman.com

One of the key changes I have made is registering for Mint.com, an app and website that tracks my bank accounts, credit cards and budgets.  (Why, exactly did I think $50/month was adequate for clothes?  Funny joke..)  It takes a bit of investigation to realize that your information and passwords are secure, but once you make the leap, you will never be in the dark about your spending patterns.

Sandra’s other inspiration?  Respect moms.  Whether you work outside the home or focus on saving money inside the home (or both), Moms are a very powerful bunch in the financial and budgeting world.

Jill Amery was given the opportunity to interview Sandra Hanna as part of the #PGMom program through Proctor and Gamble.  As always, her opinions are her own.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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10 Ways to Save Money During the Holidays

FAM, self By December 20, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

January is all about new beginnings – thinning out, simplifying and looking forward to longer daylight hours.  So why do we continually sabotage ourselves in December?  According to new research released by Mobilicity, Canada’s smart mobile phone carrier, 58 per cent of Canadians say they spend more than they should during the holidays and a further 59 per cent find themselves making impulse purchases. This overindulgence may lead to feelings of guilt, remorse or the ‘holiday shopping hangover’.

Unfortunately, it’s often parents of young children who are at greatest risk for this holiday overspending phenomenon.  We’ve put together a few tips so that you can start your new year early (and not hide under the covers when your bills come in).

1.  Buy e-books as gifts on Kindle, iBooks or Kobo. They are much less expensive (and environmentally-friendly) than the paper versions.

2.  Utilize the apps on your smartphone to save money.  Some of our favs include: Shopcatch, Groupon, Living Social, Hotels.com, Kayak, AirBNB, and Hipmunk.  In today’s economy, it is perfectly acceptable to gift a daily deal voucher provided you have put careful thought into the desires of the recipient.

3.  Set limits for gifting to family.  Drawing names and setting a $50 limit can be fun and won’t break the bank.

4.  Dropbox is a free service that saves you printing costs and allows you to access your documents and photos from any computer or smartphone.

5.  Flipboard is a fabulous alternative to buying paper magazines.  Big Oven or Food Network Canada house thousands of recipes and can help save money on Hard copy recipe books.

6.  Amazon has a great app that allows you to scan bar codes in stores in order to compare prices to what the item sells for on Amazon.

7.  Shop all year.  Seriously.  When you see a great sale, keep the December holidays in mind and consider buying gifts for friends and family early.  Black Friday sales have also come to Canada and stores like the Bay, Future Shop and Apple are offering deep discounts.

8.  Make sure you research your big purchases.  Tripadvisor, Yelp and Auto Trader are great apps with which to research big ticket items.

9.  We have lots of Homemade Holiday Gift ideas.  Especially when received from children, they are filled with love and sentiment for special people in the kids’ lives.

10.  Give experiences instead of ‘things’.  Offer to babysit for close friends and supply movie tickets.  Take a friend’s children to the zoo.  Make coupons for the kids for extra screen time or a date with Mommy.

There is no need for guilt or remorse due to overspending if you consider the needs of others and plan ahead. (Goodness knows – parents are hard enough on themselves!)  Using technology to make life easier (and cheaper) will help you to embrace your January goals and limit the January holiday shopping ‘hangover’.

Content courtesy of Mobilicity, Canada’s smart mobile carrier.  Find out how to avoid a holiday shopping hangover and reduce your monthly spending all year round with unlimited data, talk and text, without contracts and hidden fees at Mobilicity.ca.  Now that’s smart!

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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The Best Educational iPad Apps for Toddler Learning

apps, GEAR By July 24, 2012 Tags: , , , , 5 Comments

best ipad apps for baby

The iPad is an incredible way to facilitate development and learning in the little ones.  (And it’s also a great excuse to buy one for ourselves!)  Here are a few apps we’ve discovered that will get the little people ready for kindergarten.

1.  AlphaBaby (free): touch the screen and a shape, letter or number will appear. By touching the screen again, a voice will pronounce the name or letter.

2.  Drawing Pad ($1.99): Toddlers have access to a virtual arts & crafts store that comes with brushes, pencils, crayons and stickers.
3.  Squiggles! (free): Let your child’s art work literally come to life with this drawing app. A simple doodle becomes animated and transforms into a bird, sheep’s wool, rocket, and more! Also includes an interactive storybook.
4.  Peekaboo Barn for iPad ($1.99): Let your child learn to identify farm animals with sounds and fun music.

5.  The Tale of Peter Rabbit ($0.99): This beloved children’s classic bring the feel of the traditional book plus interactive elements that teach children words and animal sounds.

6.  Toddler Counting (free): A counting app.  Sorry Mom – it can’t balance your chequebook.

7.  ClickySticky ($1.99): An animated sticker book with hundreds of stickers that can be added to different scenes (aquarium, safari) accompanied by a variety of noises/music.

8.  Toca Kitchen Monsters (free): Let your kids play with their food as they prepare to feed two hungry monsters.  We are huge fans of Toca Kitchen and Toca Store as well.

9.  Beauty and the Beast Storybook Deluxe ($4.99): Vibrant illustrations plus coloring pages and puzzles. You also have the option to record your own voice reading the story.  Because we know you secretly want to be Belle.

10.  Awesome Xylophone Lite (free): this vibrant, virtual xylophone is easy for little ones to use with its bright animation and it’s ability to play chords.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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App Review: Baby Sign Language

apps, GEAR By January 25, 2012 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

These days, teaching sign language to babies is the newest thing. Teaching simple sign language to infants allows parents to communicate with their children even before the little guys learn to talk. Associating such words as “Mommy” and “Daddy” with hand gestures allows babies to learn to get their thoughts across without speaking.

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