Apr 28, 2012 Contest/Giveaway
[UPDATE: Congratulations to the winner, comment #177, Jarvis. Thanks so all who entered.]
[UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Thank you to all who entered. The winner will be chosen and announced on Thursday, May 10th. If you do not see your comment listed, it is possible that you did not follow the instructions for answering the question posed in the post. There was an unusually high number of entrants for this giveaway who did not pay attention to the instructions and just commented in the manner of "pick me! pick me!" which, unfortunately, disqualified their entries. I tried to be as lenient as possible in my interpretation of the rules but some simply could not be approved.]
Back in January when I was at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Nokia Lumia 900 took “Best in Show” in the very competitive smartphone category. I got to play with one for just a couple minutes before the other people jostling to get a look made it clear that my time was up. But in that brief time I fell in love with it: the feel of it, and the look of it. I can’t wait to give a real try, which will happen in a few days when I get one to review. But why should I have all the fun with this amazing phone? Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win one too!
The great reviews for the Lumia 900 keep rolling in. Pretty much everyone agrees that it’s a fantastic phone. Why? Because Windows started from scratch, designed an entirely new and exciting smartphone operating system, and then worked closely with Nokia to make sure their phones were designed specifically for this new OS. I’ve reviewed three other Windows phones in the past sixteen months, but nothing from Nokia, so I’m really excited about this one.
Why do I love Windows phones so much? Here are some highlights.
Several other phones that I’ve used recently don’t have a camera button, which frankly just sucks. It’s harder to take a picture one-handed. On the other hand, WP cameras have a nifty little feature where you can tap on the screen, and the camera will focus on that spot, then take the picture automatically. This is great for those times when you don’t want to the camera to shake at all.
The very best part about having a dedicated camera button, though, is that you can wake the phone up, bypass the lock screen, and go right to the camera by just holding down on the camera button. I can’t tell you how many times I missed shots with non-Windows phones because I had to go through too many steps to get to the camera. But with Windows phones, you’ll be ready to take a picture in about two seconds or less. When my kids are doing something adorable I don’t have to fumble – I get the shot in time.
Uploading to Facebook and Twitter is super easy, and can be done right from the picture screen – no need to leave the camera and go open another app. Keep the grandparents up-to-date on what your kids are doing on the fly!
And if you’re worried about losing your photos before you can get home and sync them, you can choose to automatically upload to SkyDrive.
Apr 26, 2012 Paid/Sponsored Post
[The following post was written as part of my paid ambassadorship with Let’s Play, a part of the Dr Pepper/Snapple Group]
I had such a great time last year writing for Let’s Play, a fantastic initiative by Dr Pepper/Snapple to get families moving. I’m back again as an ambassador, and my job today – the one-year anniversary of Let’s Play – is to get you to take the Let’s Play Pledge over on their facebook page. Why? Because moving more is healthy. And burns calories. And is fun. And you signing the pledge can help me look better to my bosses. And, sometimes getting something down on paper (OK, it’s not paper, but you know what I mean) makes it more real.
So all you have to do is pledge to participate in an extra hour of active play each week with your kids. That’s it, sixty minutes! That’s just ten minutes a day, with a day off! Or, you could do it all in one big, fun, hour-long chunk. Here are some of my favorite ideas to get moving with your kids:
Apr 24, 2012 What's Going On
Last week I was reading an article on Cracked.com titled 5 Ways to Hack Your Brain into Awesomeness (that’s about as close as I can get to self-help without barfing). The very first tip was about something called Uberman’s Sleep Schedule, detailed here and here. You may recognize the basic concept from an episode of Seinfeld, where Kramer tried something similar. It seemed to work for a while, but then he fell asleep during sex and slept so hard that his girlfriend thought she’d killed him and had him thrown into a river.
And while I definitely don’t want that to happen to me, I can’t stop thinking about the concept. How many times have you said, “I wish there were more hours in the day!”? I said it just yesterday! At this moment I have a lot of balls in the air: I have literally 11 blog posts half-finished that I started in the past week. I have to pack for a big trip. Our house is being appraised in a few weeks and still needs a lot of work, most of which will be done by me. My daughter’s birthday party is coming up and needs a lot of planning and coordination. And the kids’ school’s biggest fundraiser is also very soon and I need to learn an entirely new system for handling the money, via some online seminars that I don’t really have time for this week. And that’s on top of all of the normal every-day stuff that also has to get done.
Well, it sounds like I could get all of that done and more, if I were willing to try a crazy experiment.
Apr 16, 2012 Paid/Sponsored Post
[The following post was written as part of my paid ambassadorship with Hidden Valley.]
I have to admit, when I first saw this recipe for Bloomin’ Lasagna on the Hidden Valley website (a version of spinach lasagna with ranch dressing in it), I was skeptical. Actually, I think I wrinkled my nose and said “gross!”
I love ranch dressing. I’ve always loved it on salads, or as a veggie dip, and I add Hidden Valley Ranch mix to mashed potatoes – it’s amazing. But my initial reaction to the very idea of mixing tomato sauce with ranch was not good.
However, curiosity got the best of me. The more I thought about it the more I wanted to see what they tasted like together. Plus, the recipe looked fun – I’d only made lasagna the traditional way, with the noodles layered and the filling in between. I really wanted to try this.
I made this recipe on Saturday for dinner, and it was ridiculously easy. While the lasagna was cooking I mixed the filling ingredients together. I used pre-washed baby spinach since I can’t stand washing greens of any kind. Instead of the Hidden Valley Original Ranch the recipe called for, I used the light version since that’s what I already had open in the fridge. And a great tip for shredding mozzarella: put the block of cheese in the freezer for about 20 minutes first. You don’t want it to freeze, just harden up a bit.
Apr 7, 2012 Around NYC
My kids got to be on The Today Show earlier this week, which was really fun for all of us. And, since it was for the later part of the show, we didn’t even have to get up insanely early like we have for other appearances.
We were picked up by a giant SUV and driven to 30 Rock. Actually, The Today Show broadcasts from 10 Rockefeller Plaza, but when I casually say “30 Rock” I feel like I’m that much closer to someday knowing Tina Fey.
When we got there and opened the car door, flashbulbs immediately started popping – tourists knew exactly where the guests were being dropped off and the crowd started taking pictures before they could even see who was in the car. This delighted my children to no end and made them feel like celebs!
I tweeted that we were on our way to tape something, but that I didn’t know which day it would air. See, I didn’t know there was a fourth hour of The Today Show. I though Kathie Lee and Hoda did the third hour, and that was it. And I didn’t realize that the kids would be on live until shortly before we left the greenroom. Oops. I did manage to warn a few people, but none of the grandparents.
Greenrooms always surprise me by how disappointing they are. There’s never enough room for everyone (the greenroom for a show such as The Today Show is like Grand Central Station) and all of their stuff. Carnie Wilson had to step over me to get her bag. Had I known it was hers sitting there I would’ve been rifling through it while she was singing live on the show with Wilson Phillips. Total missed opportunity. I could’ve been chewing on her breath mints right now.
Apr 6, 2012 Around NYC
Every single spring, on some listserv or moms group or forum I’m on, somebody complains about the reappearance of the ice cream trucks and slushie carts in Brooklyn. This year, since it happened on the much-maligned Park Slope Parents listserv, it’s getting a lot of attention. Everyone from the San Francisco Chronicle to my friend Marinka (writing on Babble’s MomCrunch) to some Park Slope Parents members themselves (with a hilarious parody clarification) have been writing about this latest bit of whining from parents who blame the rest of the world because they have trouble saying “no” effectively to their kids.
The specific complaint that started the brouhaha involved carts entering the actual playground, and personally, I think that sucks. I get aggravated when anybody comes into the playground to sell anything. Most days in good weather we get pestered to buy slushies, cold water, balloons, stuffed animals, and cotton candy. My problem with this is that those people simply aren’t allowed in NYC playgrounds. If you’re not there with a kid, you’re there illegally. I’m sure you’re breaking other rules about vending inside the playground as well, but I just care about the rule that keeps creepy loners in trench coats out. So anybody who wants to ban selling anything within the wrought-iron-fenced confines of the actual city playgrounds, you’ve got my support.
Apr 4, 2012 Around NYC
The new Nissan NV200 (photo courtesy of Nissan)
Last night I went to a press conference introducing New York City’s latest taxi, the Nissan NV200. NYC taxis are always an adventure. You never know if you’re going to get a taxi with a flooded floor, one that smells like feet, a driver who has no clue where he’s going and gets both of you hopelessly lost, or who talks for half an hour about why he wears a tinfoil hat at home (all things that have happened to me since moving to NYC). This new taxi could have a positive impact on three of those situations.
The taxi itself is beautiful, and big. While it won’t seat more people than current cabs, those passengers will be a lot more comfortable. The rear compartment has these features: