Ideas

Cox Smart Home at Canopy at Esencia

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post to spread the word about the Cox Smart Home and Amazon links in post are affiliate links.

Did you know that the average household connects six devices to the internet these days? We are talking phones, laptops, tablets, gaming systems, etc. and that number is expected to increase to 50, yes 50, devices by the year 2022.

I don’t  know about you, but my Wi-Fi can be S-L-O-W at times and it drives me crazy. Lots of spinning rainbow wheels and error pages on dropped web searches. Lagging Wi-Fi can also result in a very irritated 5th grader when it inhibits her from posting one of her fabulous videos on Musical.ly.

With the need for internet connection and speed increasing and our tolerance for slow connection decreasing, Cox Communications and Warmington Residential are paving the way to the future of digital living at one of Orange County’s new master planned communities, Canopy at Esencia in Rancho Mission Viejo with gigabit-internet speed.

It’s the future people.  And it’s here.

CoxSmartHome

This week I got to preview Cox Communications and Warmington Residential’s Cox Smart Home in Esencia where they have designed a modern living space to showcase all of the different ways families are going to be using technology in the future and all that is possible with gig-speed internet. The Cox Smart Home will be open this weekend to the public and I urge you to go  see it for yourself.

Cox Smart Home at Canopy at Esencia Powered by GIGABLAST Internet Speeds
Open to the public
Sat. 10/1/16 and Sun. 10/2/16 from 10am – 6pm
100 Vasto Street, Rancho Mission Viejo, CA 92694

For those of us that are not super techie, let me tell you what living the Gig Life means. Gigabit connectivity gives customers internet speed that is 100, yes 100, times faster than the average speeds offered today. Now that is what we call GIGABLAST!  Sign me up Cox!

With gigabit internet service you can run all your devices at the same time, download an HD movie in less than 60 seconds, upload 1,000 photos in about a minute, download 100 tunes in only 3 seconds, stream live video, do anything that requires heavy bandwidth, and do it at lightning speed.

My Top Five “That is So Cool!” Moments at the Cox Smart Home

I saw so many cool things in every room of the gorgeous three story home, my head was spinning with awe and the times I said, “That is so cool!” were countless. Please just go and see it for yourself because it was impossible to cover everything in this post so I will highlight some of my favorites.

1. Wemo Smart Wi-Fi Enabled Slow Cooker

It’s on Prime mamas, might as well just buy it now.

I didn’t know such a dreamy slow cooker even existed! With three heat settings you can control with your smart phone from wherever you are, you can adjust the temperatures or settings and never risk overcooking a dish again.

Here is fabulous flood blogger Whitney Bond demo-ing the cooker, powered by Gigablast.

Whitney’s tagline is “Traditional Recipes with a Bond Girl Twist.” Check her out, I adore her site. In fact, I am making her One Pot Italian Sausage Shells and Cheese dish tonight. YUM.

wifislowcooker

2. Amazon Echo and Philips Hue Smart Bulb

Echo is a hands-free speaker that connects to the Alexa Voice Service and can control things from playing music, reading books, looking up the weather, and even turn on thermostats and lights with compatible devices.  All you have to do is ask her. Do you guys have one yet? It’s on my birthday list. Honey, are you reading this? Honey?

For example, “Alexa, play me Justin Timberlake!” Done. “Alexa, turn on the light in the kid’s room.” Done. Feels very George Jetson, doesn’t it?

Just another device making our lives easier, powered by Gigablast.

AmazonEcho

3. Virtual Reality Gaming

Welcome to the future of gaming – virtual reality –  where you are not only playing a video game, you are immersed in it. Moms everywhere will be thrilled to learn this technology can also be educational, in a highly entertaining way.

At the Cox Smart Home, I got to meet two young men from Labcoat Studios, an app development company behind virtual reality games and experiences.  They were showcasing one of their virtual reality typing games to help develop keyboard skills.

It was so cool I was squealing with delight as I tried to burst the words with my mad typing skills. See the word “rain” on the screen? That word was coming towards me and I had to type it as fast as I could. SO fun.

VR

4. House Calls of the Future

How many times have you sat there looking at your sick child and wondered if you should take them in to the doctor but dreaded the idea of getting them there?

The telehealth program at CHOC Children’s Hospital has a system that uses modern, digital, communication technologies changing the way patients are able to access care, remotely, 24 hours a day. With the use of the InTouch mobile robot, the technology enables secure, real-time connections between providers and patients.

The telemedicine field is rapidly growing so one day we will be able to see our doctor from the comfort of home, on your device, without leaving the house. Again, powered by Gigablast.

The doctor will see you now…

telehealth

5. Distance Learning

With Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. there are so many opportunities to have face-to-face instruction by experts around the globe and the opportunities for education are endless.

At the event, I had the privilege to see the legendary violinist, Jason Yang (who has toured with Madonna!), demonstrating with the use of technology, how he can teach students and stream live seminars in high-definition to his students and fans internationally.

Just think of all the opportunities we will have for children to take music classes from amazing instructors anywhere without the need to chauffeur them. Once again, at speeds powered by Gigiblast.

jasonyang

You guys, please go and check out the Cox Smart Home this weekend with your families.  It will be such a fun outing and you will be in awe of all the amazing things available to residents when you have Gigablast internet service.

Some other amazing features you will get to see are a Wi-Fi BBQ smoker, Wi-Fi vacuum, Wi-Fi pet and pet feeder, Wi-Fi weighing scale, Wi-Fi drawing robot, Cox’s new, Voice Remote Contour TV system and more. (And you might even get the chance to WIN one!!) Go, just go!

About Esencia

Encompassing nearly 23,000 acres, Rancho Mission Viejo (The Ranch) is planned to provide multiple villages which could consist of up to 14,000 homes as well as sites for parks, playgrounds, trails, clubhouses, farms, schools, shopping and entertainment and more in beautiful South Orange County.

The community of Rancho Mission Viejo currently includes villages of Sendero (sold out homes) and Esencia (homes now available for purchase.)

The hillside village of Esencia is the second village on The Ranch and is planned to inlcude 2,810 residential units. For more information visit www.ranchomissionviejo.com.

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21 Quotes and Sayings about Family

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These place cards with quotes and sayings about family were a hit at our family Mother’s Day party which is why I wanted to share them with you.  They would be perfect for any family gathering throughout the year.

quotesandsayingsaboutfamily

I wanted to make our Mother’s Day celebration a focus on family…the importance of family, and the bonds that connect us. We did a big family style table and I created individual place cards with quotes and sayings about family to include.

familyquotesandsayingsplacecards

I created the place cards using a website called PicMonkey.com, which is a free design site. It’s awesome. I use it all the time for photo editing and my blog graphics. Here’s the how-to on how to make your place cards:

Go to PicMonkey.com, then:

1. Click *t design icon at top, then select 8 x 10 and you should be brought to a blank white page 8 x 10 in size.

2. On the left column, click RESIZE, then uncheck “keep proportions” and change 3000 in second box to 3300, this will make your page roughly 8 x 11, or a letter size page you can run through your printer.

3. Click “Tt” icon on left, and add your text.  You can design 4 place cards to a page. Fonts I used are “De Walpergen Pica” and “CoffeeBreak” which is the scripty one and I am obsessed with it. That’s a Premium font for PicMonkey Royale members, but you can sign up for a free 30 trial and get it. If you want to continue using PicMonkey like I do, the $33 per year for all the Premium design perks is SO worth it!

4. When you are done designing, click “Save” and save as a JPG, always using “Sean” for the best quality.  Then you can open it from your computer and print like a normal letter, but on a white card stock.

Your finished design should look something like this:

familyquoteplacecards

5. Then you cut the squares out, and can decorate if you would like.  I cut little scrapbook design pages into strips to give them color, and added them either between the name and the quote, or at the bottom of the place card. I then rolled utensils in napkins, and adhered the place card to the utensil with a double stick tape tab.

And without further ado, here are the quotes and sayings about family I was able to pull off the internet after spending a gazillion hours on Pinterest searching things like quotes and sayings about family, quotes about family, quotes about mothers, cute quotes for kids, bible verses about family, etc.

Quotes and Sayings About Family 

familyquote1 familyquote2 familyquote3 familyquote4 familyquote5 familyquote6 familyquote7

Quotes and Sayings about Mothers 

quotesaboutmoms1 quotesaboutmoms2 quotesaboutmoms3 quotesaboutmoms4

Bible and Faith Based Quotes about Family

religiousfamilyquote1 biblefamilyquote2 religiousfamilyquote3 biblefamilyquote4 biblefamilyquote5 biblefamilyquote6 prayerfamily7

Quotes for the Kids 

quotesforkids1 quotesforkids2 quotesforkids3

And there you have it! Hope this has given you a cute idea on how to personalize your next family party. Everyone loved the quote, and my uncle had us all go around and read ours so we could hear them all. Enjoy!

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Guest Blog: How to Organize a Caroling Party

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how-to-organize-a-neighborhood-caroling-party

How To Organize A Neighborhood Kids Caroling Party

Between the parties, presents, and so many twinkle-lit opportunities to celebrate the season, Orange County kids aren’t lacking for holiday activities. But as much fun as it is to partake in the big events around town, sometimes we all crave something a little simpler and closer to home.

Last year I helped organize an evening of old fashioned, door-to-door caroling for the kids in our neighborhood. It was so much fun – and ridiculously low-stress – that we’re doing it again this year, with a few improvements.

Here are 7 tips for organizing a kids caroling party in your neighborhood:

1. Save the date

December fills up fast, so it helps to touch base with a few neighbors ahead of time to set a date. We chose a Sunday evening mid-month, avoiding the party-heavy Friday and Saturday nights and ensuring a good amount of people would be at home in the evening. After settling on the date we sent around a casual save-the-date email and asked people to pass it along.

2. Spread the word

About a week ahead of time, we distributed fliers in every mailbox on our street. The invitation asked people to RSVP so that we’d know how many kids to expect, and also to help provide cookies, hot chocolate, cups, plates and napkins for the post-caroling gathering (which was held in my garage!). This year we’re adding a note letting neighbors who don’t have children know that we’ll be knocking on their door that evening so they’re more likely to answer and be ready to be serenaded.

3. Prep the singers

We held zero rehearsals for our informal caroling party, but we did want the kids to come across as prepared (and also avoid any rogue “Batman smells” improvisations). We sent lyrics to four classic (and easy-to-remember) carols along with the invitation and had printed copies when we gathered in my driveway. Before we set out, we had the kids practice each song a couple of times and reminded them to use their best manners and nicest singing voices. It helped to have a good number of older kids who could read mixed in with the little ones.

4. Start out on the right foot

The biggest mistake we made last year was not knowing if neighbors were at home when we started knocking on doors! The kids were so excited and ready to sing and we had to try three or four homes before someone opened the door. This year we’ll stack the deck in our favor, finding out in advance which neighbors are planning to answer the door. That way if nobody’s home at the fourth or fifth house, we’ll at least have started out successfully.

caroling-kids

5. Be inclusive

We chose non-religious songs for our repertoire, and our flier encouraged families of all celebrating traditions to join in. While nobody spliced hairs over shouting “Merry Christmas” vs “Happy Holidays” as we paraded down the street, I do think it helped to set an inclusive tone and encourage participation from anyone who wanted to come along.

6. Keep it short

The entire event lasted from about 5:30pm until 7. This wasn’t a marathon trick-or-treating session or giant block party. We gathered in my driveway, practiced a couple of times, and then sang at maybe eight or ten houses total. By this point the little ones were getting tired of “Silent Night” and everybody was cold and hungry. Back in my garage we passed out hot chocolate and cookies (nobody set foot inside, making it the easiest holiday gathering to host ever!) and everybody was gone by 7:00pm.

7. Think festive, not perfect

This isn’t the event to take a perfect photo (too dark anyway) or show off a polished performance (not gonna happen). This is about kids and community, neighbors and music. Aside from letting the kids know we expected them to be respectful and cheerful, we let them interpret the experience in their own way. Some shook bells and tambourines; some dressed in their party dresses, others in PJs and reindeer antlers. Many messed up the words or got stage fright when the doors opened. But everybody returned with flushed cheeks and giant grins, and it didn’t have to be perfect to be a party.

The best part of the evening for us mamas was standing back at the curb and watching neighbors’ faces light up at the sight of 15 children singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It didn’t cost a thing, was just steps away from home, and about as full of holiday magic as any other thing we did that season.


Sarah-Powers

 

Sarah Powers is a writer, editor, and co-host of The Mom Hour podcast. She lives in Orange County with her husband and three young kids. Find more of Sarah’s writing by following her on Twitter and Instagram.

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jeans | and | a | T

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Do you think a personal stylist is a luxury or reserved for those with huge budgets? Think again! 

Affordable Orange County personal stylist, Jen, of  jeans | and | a | T makes personal styling accessible to moms like us who want to feel cute and confident in our every day lives – without breaking the bank. In fact, Jen can take you shopping right in your own closet and put together outfits you didn’t even know you had!

Jen believes style should be available to all budgets, sizes and needs. “I really want women (whether a full time working mama or a stay at home mom), to feel confident in what they wear every day.”

Whether you need to rock an outfit for the carpool, office or date night, she’ll help you put together outfits to put a little extra spring in your step and sparkle in your eye.

Susanne and I recently got to experience a personal styling session with Jen to do a closet detox and styling session. Here is how it all went down…

jeansandat

Susanne’s Closet Detox + Styling Session

My friend Jen has effortless style. She always looks so put together, mixes pattern and color in the most unexpected ways, is ahead of the trends, and rocks a little bit of edge in a classy way.  She is a style maven.

In her own words:

“Fashion is my vacation. It can enable anyone to express themselves in many different ways and that’s what I love most about it. Each year my style evolves and fine tunes. Here I am, 40 (!) and fashion continues to inspire me. I love it. All of it. And I want to share my love for fashion with those around me! And the name…who doesn’t love a great pair of jeans and a T? It has been and always will be a vision of effortless class and simple style.”

I love clothes.  Like, I love them a lot.  I’ve accumulated quite a bit of stuff over the years and I’m not the best at weeding out, so I had a pretty full closet.  Being that I just had my 3rd and final babe and I’m transitioning back to my normal self again I was ready to purge.

I chose The Fashion Fix package which included:

– > Style survey which was completed before first consultation

– > Full closet detox, a review of each item (clothing + accessories) in closet, to be divided into three categories: keepers, tailor-bound, or charity bound

– > Styling of 4-6 outfits within your current wardrobe

– > Disposal of all unwanted items (transportation to local charity)

– > Unlimited access to stylist via text for two months regarding fashion advice, style ideas or just simply what to wear on a Friday night!

– > List of 5 new items needed to round out newly edited wardrobe.  Suggested items provided via Pinterest, Polyvore, etc. to help achieve style ambition!

With Jen’s help I gave away 2 full trash bags, not including the maternity items I had already pulled!  It feels so good to have my closet streamlined.  It was so wonderful to have someone give me an honest opinion as to what worked on me, what doesn’t, what’s dated and what had seen better days.

susandjen

Jen took a few items I love in my closet that just weren’t working and told me how I could tailor them to bring them back to life.  Taking account my height and shape she suggested turning a maxi skirt into a “midi” and a knee length skirt I’m going to have made into a mini.  I’ve held onto these two skirts without a single wear for years because I love the prints- can’t wait to have them back in the mix!

She created outfits out of my clothes I would have NEVER thought to put together that work.

Pulling items I would have considered purging and she made me love them again.  This skirt I actually bought for a neon theme party and she loved it so much she styled an outfit around it!

susoutfit1

Having a stylist on speed dial is also REALLY helpful… I was in a crunch with an outfit the other day and texted Jen for advice, I needed a sweater option.  The dress was a navy and cream stripe and I was wearing a bold turquoise and yellow necklace.  She pointed me in the right direction telling me jewel tones were my friend when I thought I would have had to go with a muted neutral.

Jen took notes as we were moving through my closet and she’s going to send me items she thinks would be good additions to my closet to fill the holes in my wardrobe.  I am very excited for this part of the process!

Here are a few more of the looks she styled for me that day…

susoutfit2

If you have a life event coming up like a high school reunion, major birthday, important work event, baby shower, etc. I highly recommend having Jen come out and style you pretty!

My Closet Detox + Styling Session 

What I loved most about Jen was her honesty. 

There were so many pieces cluttering my closet I never wear because I don’t feel good in them. We went item by item and I could tell just by her face if it was a “please let this go” or “we can work with this!” piece.  Of the ones I didn’t feel good in, she confirmed I made the right choice when I admitted it was time to say good-bye.

And some things surprised me!

Like this Gap dress that is over  5 years old.  I haven’t been wearing it because I know how long I have had it. But what was old can be made NEW again.  Look at the belt she put with it! Never in a million years would I have thought of putting that belt on that dress. But it works!

jen1

I also loved being able to ask her HOW to style certain pieces.  I am obsessed with Golden Tote (affiliate link) and many of my pieces are G.T. ones I wear all the time. However, every now and then I get pieces I like but just don’t know how to wear.

Case in point, this long sleeveless sweater.  Not a problem for Jen, she showed me exactly how to wear it! I love this outfit, one of my new favorites I never knew I had in my closet!

jen2

As we were going through my accessories, Jen eyed one particular scarf and got a little twinkle in her eye. “I love this.” she said.

I was assuming she would put it on me like I had been wearing it – as a scarf around my neck – but no! To my amazement she made it into a wrap skirt, belted it and paired with a cropped denim jacket into a look I just love!

jen3

Affordable Orange County Personal Stylist

There are many personal stylists out there so I wanted I asked Jen from her perspective what makes jeans | and | a | T unique.

“I work with most any price point and I’m honest. So many people look at styling as a luxury service – and while I do have certain requirements as far as budget is concerned, I think it’s a lot less then most people expect. Second, I’m honest. I tell it like it is. If I don’t like something in your closet (whether brand new-or 4 years old-$20 or $400 – I’ll tell ya.) That’s what I’m  here for! Clients appreciate that and love the streamlined closet they walk into days after I visit. I’m also always available…in a pinch on a Friday night? – shoot me a photo and I’ll lead you in the right direction! Availability, accessibility and honesty – that’s what makes me tick.”

To learn more and following Jen on Social Media visit:

www.jeansandat.com

@jeans_and_a_t on Instagram.

www.facebook.com/jeans.and.a.T.OC

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A Fun Activity at Home for Little Kids

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A Fun Activity at Home for Little Kids

Today, I’d like to share a fun activity at home for little kids this summer…because as much as I love to be an on-the-go mama, with on-the-go kids, sometimes it’s nice to just be at home and enjoy some downtime (especially in the afternoon when it is so HOT to play outside!).

On the flip side, I can only play Legos or My Little Ponies so much before my eye starts to twitch (just keepin’ it real, moms!).  Which means that I am constantly trying to invent (or have the kids invent and create) fun indoor games to play…and if I can get some stealthy learning lessons in there, I will!  Here’s what I call the “Toy Store” game…and it kept them busy for at least two hours!

Prep work

First, I explained that we were going to make a toy store in our playroom – you can pretty much make up any kind of store, but we liked the idea of a toy store the best.  I thought if we played grocery store, they may eat all the “merchandise” before the game even began – lol!

I asked them each to pick seven toys (you can choose any number you want) and set them aside.

“Build” your toy store

Next, I gave them the task of “building” their store.  We have these large play “bricks,” which worked perfectly, but let their imaginations take over.  Part of the fun is letting them create this space!  Get out blankets, blocks, fabric boxes, let them move kid furniture around…whatever they want to do.  My one rule – they had to work together as a team.

Pricing

Then, I had them work on price tags. Here’s where you can sneak in a math lesson and work on fine motor skills.  Each of my kiddos have different things they need to practice, so I assigned each kid a job.  My 5-year-old had to trace rectangles (to immulate price tags) and then carefully cut them out. Next, my 7-year-old assigned each price tag a different monetary value.

A Fun Activity at Home for Little Kids_2

Raid your piggy bank

Here’s my kids’ favorite part – I had them dump out their piggy banks and put handfuls of real money in little ziplock bags. I had them each categorize pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters – then pick them up (a great fine motor building activity!) and put them in their ziplocks.  They thought they were rich!

Set-up your store

Here’s when we put the final touches on their “store.”  I had them place each of their chosen toys in the store space, and then assign each toy a price tag.  Just for fun, I threw in a handful of Dollar Store toys so they had some cool, new things to “buy.”  They were thrilled!

Time to shop!

And, finally…it’s shopping time!  They could each pick out one toy at a time to “buy,” and they brought me (their trusty cashier) the toy and the price tag.  Then, they had to count out the exact change to purchase the item. This was awesome for so many reasons – they practiced counting, money denominations, how they could reach a certain price several different ways (depending on their available coins), adding, subtracting – the math lessons rocked in this game!  Here’s a picture of each of my kiddies, deep in thought (and counting).

A Fun Activity at Home for Little Kids_3

Overall, this was a really fun game that both kids enjoyed…and like I said, it took a good two hours! They worked as a team, used their creativity, practiced math, and even got to “buy” some new toys.  They loved it, and asked if we could play “toy store” everyday.  This is a huge compliment coming from them (even though they had already moved on by the next day – lol!).

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