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Amber MacArthur's Top 5 Holiday Apps for Moms

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

5 Holiday Apps for MomsRemember 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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Smart Cookies: Sandra Hanna's Top 10 Tips for Saving Money

Uncategorized By February 20, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Top 10 Ways to Save MoneyFebruary 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

Uncategorized 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

Uncategorized 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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Pettson's Inventions: App Review

Uncategorized By July 24, 2012 Tags: , , , , No Comments

It’s our new darling!  We keep having to negotiate with the kids for time on the iPad… Pettson is a lovely older man with a fantastic accent.  His friends – including his cat Filimundus – need assistance to drive, drink tea, fly and things.  By assembling machines in the correct way using cogs, spokes, rope, and weights that fall on elephants to create wind, you can flick the invention switch and help these characters reach their goals.

Fantastic for cognition and creativity, this app is worth every penny of the $1.99 price tag in the iTunes store.  You can also encourage your child to play in different languages (French or German).

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

Uncategorized 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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The 50 Best iPad Apps for Kids and Moms

Uncategorized By August 10, 2011 Tags: , , , , , 2 Comments

The iPad has expanded our horizons; it’s fun for everyone, from little kids to older adults, great for reading, playing, working and shopping. Here are 50 great apps for kids and moms, organized by who loves them and what they’re good for!

Kid Apps

Educational

Critteroos By rights, this could be under fun and games, too, but it’s so very educational! Mix and match the various parts of animals to find the “right” combinations, or make hilarious new combos (imagine an emu and a groundhog!).

Cutie Match This is for kids age 5-12, and it is a memory-boosting game that is just so much fun to play, even for older and younger ages!

World of Safari 123 This interactive math game combines learning with animals, always a winning formula when it comes to kids.

Zoo for Kids Little guys can build their own 26-animal zoo in this educational app, coloring them, hearing their noises, and sharing them with friends.

Smarty: Tic-Tac-Toe 1.0 Help your kids learn how to count better and tell time better with this fun tic-tac-toe app.

Fun and Games

Toca Boca The games put out by this company are unbearably cute and funny. The Salon game is hilarious, the Robot Builder game is fun. Paint butterfly wings, be a doctor, the list goes on. These are colorful and irreverent games that even youngsters (2 and up) will love.

HeyHey Colors There are lots of coloring apps out there, but this one is really fascinating and stimulating. Featuring interactive art by the street artist, Blue the Warrior, your child (even young ‘uns) can color, draw and doodle in new and interesting ways!

Doodle Grub This game is similar to “Snake”, where a variety of bugs can be chosen to maneuver around, chasing after apples to eat. Varied and stimulating, and just plain fun.

Virtuoso Piano Free 2HD If you want your kids to learn piano basics but don’t have the space or budget for a real piano, try this app! They will learn the basics of music reading, chords, fingering, and more…and you can plug in the headphones!

iWriteWords This game is technically educational, but it’s so fun I put it in the games category. This will help kids to perfect their handwriting in an enjoyable and stimulating way!

Special Needs Kids

ArtikPiks This flashcard and matching game app is ideal for children with speech sound delay issues

Grace App This app is not just for kids. It is an interface app that non-verbal children and adults can use to interact with the speaking individuals in their lives and communicate their wishes and thoughts. The app uses photos, drawings and has writing and verbal functions, too.

In My Dreams For hearing and non-hearing children alike, this useful and entertaining app helps learn the basics and more advanced principles of sign language.

See.Touch. Learn. Especially made for children with autism and other special needs in mind, this interactive and attractive app helps to track the child’s responses to stimuli, much as picture cards used to.

iPad Apps for the Learning Disabled Here is a link to several other apps for those with learning disabilities, ranked and organized by Match-a-College, an organization that supports kids and adults.

Books

Papa’s Boy This amazing eBook is simply beautiful , with language that doesn’t talk down to a younger child. The animation is fantastic. About a family of mice that live in the leg of a piano, Papa’s Boy isn’t to be missed.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore Written and animated by William Joyce, who once worked for Pixar, this eBook is interactive and visually stunning.

Nursery Rhymes with StoryTime This interactive book of the most beloved nursery rhymes is ideal for bedtime and funtime.

The Penelope Rose A richly animated and engaging new fairy tale, it’s about a fairy in a mythical forest. Full of beautiful music, animation and entertaining games, even your little boys will love it!

The Cat in the Hat What list of kids’ books would be complete without a Dr. Seuss book? This can be read aloud, will auto-play, and can be read by the child. Check out all the Dr. Seuss classics besides this most well-known example!

Free Stuff

Parachute Panic HD Lite This ultra-cute free app looks like flip-book animation drawn out on graph paper, but it is super fun. Rescue your parachutist from the jaws of sharks and other perils!

UConnect Lite An addictive and challenging puzzle game

Cut the Rope HD Lite A mysterious package arrives, with a cute little monster inside, and all it wants is candy! This game is so much fun, and it’s free!

Miss Spider’s Tea Party From the very popular Discovery Kids show, here is a sweet, interactive game with great animation for the little ones who love Miss Spider.

Talking Roby the Robot for iPad Roby the Robot is a customizable robot that you can program to speak words and phrases you type or say in his cute, mechanical voice. Oh, and he dances hip-hop, too!

Mom Apps

Time Management

Intuition: Mom’s Personal Assistant Organize your life with this personal assistant app. Make your to-do lists, shopping lists, organize your calendar, find coupons, and do much more, all in a very colorful and feminine, easy-to-use interface!

Siri Assistant. This virtual assistant can make your life much easier. It works through voice recognition software, so you can tell it to remind you to give to dog his medicine, or what is the best place to get fried chicken in the neighborhood, or call a taxi!

Parenting

Sit or Squat: Bathroom Finder Everyone’s been there: road trip, someone’s gotta go. This handy app locates the nearest bathroom location—including photos, reviews, etc. It is completely dependent on user submissions so may be lacking in some areas, but it’s well worth the free price!

Lie Detector OK, this should be in entertainment. But it is very useful for parenting: this free app tests the stress levels in a person’s voice, potentially indicating that they’re lying. Whether it works or not at truly predicting the truth is debatable,  but it could be very useful for coaxing the truth out of your kids!

OurKids Keep track of all those important family events and moment with this versatile app. Record milestones, vacations, holidays, etc., using photos, text, video and audio—even GPS data! Keyword searchable and chronologically ordered, easy to use.

Mom Maps What mom hasn’t said to herself, what do I do with these kids today? Mom Maps is a free app that helps find fun stuff to do, wherever you happen to be, in the local area.

Craft Finder This free app is put out by Disney, and is indispensible for finding great, fun crafts to do at home with your kids.

iReward Chart In lieu of wall charts and stickers, this app allows you to set up chore/reward charts for your kids on your iPad, then keep track of them. It suggests tasks and rewards, and much more. Customizable, easy to use, and motivates kids to do their stuff and set and follow through on goals.

Finances

Pageonce Bills In order to keep your finances in order, use this free app to upload bills and get statements and reminders on when they’re due, plus bill histories, summaries of where all your money is going, and more.

Health

Period Tracker! Lite Women love this app because it helps them remember and predict their monthly cycle, whether for their periods or for ovulation and fertile times. This cute, lightweight, free app can be upgraded for a chartable version.

SMART-ICE4Family Pray you never need this app, but In Case of Emergency, it’s there! It stores all the vital info about your family members (medical conditions, allergies, contact information, etc.), even record an audio message that can play when the app is opened by emergency responders. You can dial 911 from it, and it will sound an alarm periodically when activated, just in case you can’t be found. Morbid, but very useful!

LoseIt! This great app with help you lose weight realistically. Set goals, log in successes and failures, exercise sessions, calories and foods, etc. It will even tell you if your goal is unrealistic or if you’re being too hard on yourself—or too soft!

Merck Manual Although $9.99 is on the expensive side for an app, this is definitely worth it for your typical worrisome moms. This hefty, comprehensive app remembers searches and compiles lists for you, but more than anything it lets you check symptoms and know when something is wrong.

Entertainment

Words with Friends This game is similar to Scrabble, but you play it via iPhone or iPad, with your chosen opponent receiving a push notice when it’s their turn to respond. It can stretch on for days!

How to Cook Everything Mobile I put this in Entertainment because I love to cook, but it’s also super handy. This app version of the actual cookbook has 2000 recipes, including personal picks from Mark Bittman, handy tips and hints, shopping lists, and all kinds of fun and useful info.

Angry Birds This mobile version of this wildly popular game needs no explanation. It’s simply addictive fun!

Crosswords Anyone who loves crossword puzzles will adore this app, which pulls puzzles from newspapers all over the country, including the New York Times, Chicago Times and even The Onion!

Netflix This is the mobile version of the internet service, which is indispensible!

OverDrive Media Console—Library eBooks and Audiobooks For my fellow bibliophiles, this app lets you tap into the digital catalogs of libraries in your area, so you can read and listen to the bestsellers or your faves.

Shopping

Grocery IQ Use GroceryIQ to create interactive shopping lists by scanning in bar codes from items in your pantry, then check them off as you go. It also searches for coupons, creates menu plans and more.

Target for iPad Say it right: “Tar-zhay!” This awesome all-in-one store is now fully accessible on your iPad, so get all your shopping done, make shopping lists, get updates on sales and specials, and locate stores in your area. Super handy.

Windowshop by Amazon Amazon has everything you could ever possibly need from the net, and it’s all here on Windowshop, but in manageable, customizable, bite-size chunks perfect for window-shopping.

Unique

Flipboard This organizes the highlights from your social networks into a single, comprehensive “magazine” for others to follow instead of multiple streams. Fully customizable.

Notebooks for iPad Use this app to doodle, make lists, write on the go, and more.

Home Routines This will keep you organized and efficient around the house, from bills to chores to kid stuff.

 

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