I love technology that makes my life easier (who am I kidding, I love ANYTHING that makes my life easier!) so when I heard about the chance to get the new LG G3 smartphone from Verizon (and the opportunity to share how you can score one for free, too ) – I jumped at the chance! Disclosure – it was actually more of a hop-skip type motion…but jump sounded better.
- 4x the resolution of HD, with a 5.5” Quad HD screen
- Crisp photos using a 13 MP camera with Laser Auto Focus and Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)+
- Smart Notice adaptive notifications
- Simply tap to unlock with KNOCK Code™, utilizing over 80,000 lock combinations
- 2.5GHz Snapdragon quad-core processor on The Fastest Nationwide 4G LTE Network
Vlad Savov with theverge.com calls the LG G3 “a phone worth waiting for.” Savov wraps-up his review (you can view the entire article here) with this assessment – “Whether it’s the fun of a quick, laser-guided camera, the reassurance of a long-lasting battery, or the fast performance of a mature Android OS, this phone does everything well.
You can also check out this video to see it up close.
I personally can’t wait to try out the camera on the LG G3. As a blogger (and a mom!) I take most of my pictures on my smartphone, so it’s important to me that I capture photos that are sharp and clear – especially when I’ll be using them with posts online. I’m also crazy excited about a long-lasting battery. I’m on my phone all. day. long. and my current phone’s battery drains quickly. This one promises to outlast the rest.
Do you live in the Houston area? You can get a new LG G3 for FREE!
They will be offering drawings for other LG G3s as well as other prizes throughout the day and tech representatives from LG Mobile will be on hand to answer questions.
This event is part of the LG G3 Countdown, a week-long series of online and in-person special events to help introduce the world to the new LG G3 smartphone. Check out other areas outside of Houston hosting similar events and giveaways here.
So go ahead…jump, hop, skip or go old school and just drive down to the Verizon store tomorrow and get yourself one of those free phones. Because…awesome!
I will receive a LG G3 so I can experience the newest smartphone first hand; however, I did not receive any other compensation for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
In just two days, I’ll be attending Blogger Bash in NYC to learn about the latest and greatest products and initiatives from hundreds of companies. It is going to be a great experience and Tanya Avery and I will be sharing with you what we learn along the way!
I’m SO excited that photographer Anne Geddes will there to unveil her latest project – Under The Sea: a 2015 calendar featuring images of babies as characters in their own underwater pantomime.
Seriously…how cute is this little mermaid?
The 12 images in the calendar end with December’s grand finale The Great Barrier Reef – a tribute to Anne’s home country, Australia. I can’t wait to see it!
Anne Geddes, a world renowned photographer, has been capturing unique and beautiful images of children for years. I enjoyed her work before I became a mother. Now, with two children of my own, I respect and enjoy her talents even more.
It is a goal of mine to become a better photographer…to capture the feeling behind a subject, to bring out the beauty in what already exists - to make people smile. Anne Geddes does this in such a beautiful way. She is truly Living Her Dream, pursuing her passion that started with a small studio in a garage behind her garden and has grown to include a body of work that is loved and enjoyed by millions of people.
What an inspiration.
You can learn more about her new calendar, Under the Sea, here.
I look forward to bringing you news from Blogger Bash soon!
My kids, especially Annie, love to do arts and crafts projects. While hanging out with some friends last week we had a wild streak and decided to break out the paint. Led by the very crafty and talented Kelly with Life In The Middle (love her!) we took some plain canvas shoes (we got ours from Five Below for just $5.00) and turned them into wearable works of art.
This is a pretty easy project that you can do with kids of all ages; however, you can’t be a perfectionist. Embrace the imperfections that make them your own creations. As my son said – “You don’t want them to be perfect or they won’t look like you made them.”
1. We started with solid color canvas shoes and used a pencil to sketch out our designs. Kelly is all kinds of awesome and helped several of us get started! We were also inspired by designs we found online. Google “fish” or “dolphins” and you’ll get all kinds of inspiration for a summer/beach pair of shoes!
2. Next we filled in the designs with fabric paint markers and acrylic paint mixed with a bit of Textile Medium. This allows the paint to become washable fabric paint. Although we won’t wash these, they may get wet from normal wear and we wanted them to be protected.
3. After the paint dried, we painted over the entire shoes with Mod Podge.
There you go. Easy peasy and inexpensive !
Summer boredom = 0, Family and Friend Fun=1
By now you probably can guess that I love to go out to eat, but finding healthy food options (especially for a quick bite) can sometimes be challenging.
One of my favorite places? Salata.
So when Salata, The Next Generation Salad Bar, recently sent me a gift card to have lunch on them and gave me another one to give away to a, lucky Still Living The Dream reader, I was beyond thrilled. They have a lot of exciting things going on including summer promotions, new locations and new menu items.
I love that Salata doesn’t charge by the weight. You just go down the line and tell them to add whatever you want… they offer unlimited toppings at one set price of $8. But it’s the type of toppings they offer that keep me coming back.
With nearly 50 ingredient options, there is something for everyone.
Here’s how I built my salad yesterday:
- black beans
For just a small amount more ($2 for chicken and $3 for seafood) you can add protein. I added crab meat and topped my salad with fat-free mango dressing (YUM!) and baked pita chips.
Nutrition info (Weight Watchers Points Plus):
Salata’s 10 dressings, all made in-house, are gluten-free. While they are all delicious – they range in calories/fat content. The best options if you are watching your intake? Fat-free Mango and Fat-free Sun-Dried Tomato. Both are delicious but you’ve got to try the fat-free mango…my absolute favorite which is (wait for it) 0 WW points plus! (based on a 1 ounce serving which is 1 ladle at the restaurant) it gives your salad a light but flavorful punch.
Worth the splurge – Chipotle Ranch…not too bad for 3 PP. Delicious but higher in calories/fat – Balsamic Vinaigrette (4 PP) and Lemon Vinaigrette (4 PP).
For the adventurous types, Salata will mix dressings. Fun combos include Ginger-lime and Chipotle Ranch and Mango and Chipotle Ranch.
Salata also offers broccoli, tomato basil and tortilla soups and tortilla wraps and has great homemade tea and lemon-aid flavors.
Summer Tea Promotion:
Speaking of tea and lemon-aid, from now until July 31, guests who purchase a half-gallon tea or lemonade variety will receive one free, reusable Salata tumbler – limit one tumbler per purchase per visit while supplies last!
The house-made teas and lemonades are available in premium flavors like peach lemonade and green tea lemonade, or plum cinnamon tea and the portable jugs are available for $8.00 at any Salata location that serves its signature teas and lemonades. To find the Salata nearest you, visit www.salata.com.
Houston-area Peeps: A New Salata Restaurant Location!
Salata, a Houston-based salad-bar restaurant, has more than 30 corporate-owned and franchise locations in Texas and Southern California and has signed agreements to open 40 more by 2016. They are opening their 34th restaurant (19th in Houston) tomorrow, Thursday, June 19th in River Oaks (1440 W. Grey St.). Doors open at 11:00 a.m. and the first 34 guests to dine will receive a free salad or salad wrap and signature drink of their choice!
Can’t make it to the Houston River Oaks restaurant for the grand opening and still want to try Salata for free? One lucky Still Living The Dream reader will get a $15.00 gift card to check-out Salata’s greatness first-hand. Just leave a comment below telling me what ingredients you love in a salad. Easy-peasy! I’ll select a winner at random on Monday, June 23, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. CST.
I was given a gift card to enjoy lunch at Salata. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are my own!
I don’t mean to brag, but I’d like to think I know a thing or two about pizza.
I have two kids and since we keep pretty busy with work, school and after-school activities, we’ve definitely had our share of “pizza for dinner” nights. Sometimes we are literally so busy, there’s just not enough time to cook a full meal at home. But honestly, sometimes we have plenty of time, we’d just rather spend it playing together then cooking in the kitchen.
When I learned about Papa Murphy’s and their take and bake concept, I was intrigued. As a Papa Murphy’s Mom ambassador, I’ve had the chance to learn more about the food and the company. And I’m impressed.
Unlike most pizza companies, Papa Murphy’s prepares their dough from scratch on-site. When you arrive, you select the type of dough and fresh ingredients and they make the pizza right in front of you. Then you take the pizza home to bake. I love this because you can pick up the pizza anytime and then bake it fresh at home (ideally within 24 hours). Your house smells great as it bakes, but you leave the preparation to the pros!
I was able to take a behind-the-scenes tour of a local store on Tuesday. Don Huff, owner of the Papa Murphy’s in Katy, Texas, showed me, Fred with Mocha Dad, Kristi with Mom’s Confession and Tonda with Digital Kids Media (not pictured) the ropes. As a family-owned business (his wife, son and daughter all work with him!), he caters to those in his community. His goal is to have each customer on their way home with a freshly made pizza under five minutes from the time they arrive. He offers specials like $10 Tuesdays and supports many events in the community including school activities and the YMCA Turkey Trot.
I didn’t realize that Papa Murphy’s started in 1981. Relatively new to the Houston-area (there are currently 19 stores in the Greater Houston area but they have plans to expand), they are the fifth-largest pizza company in the United States.
I love that the store has a kid’s sized picnic table available so kids can sit and color while mom or dad is placing an order. They also offer Mini Murphs - a kid’s size kit in a mini pizza box with pizza dough, sauce, cheese and one topping for just $3.00 so kid’s can make their own pizza at home!
If you are watching your calorie/carbs/fat intake – there’s good news! Papa Murphy’s has delite crust pizzas. The thinner crust is delicious and a healthier option. Last night we had the family size delite with made with half Herb Chicken Mediterrranean and half pepperoni. It was delicious!
- Herb Chicken Mediterreanean (with Olive Oil and Garlic, Mozzarella, Chicken, Spinach, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Feta Cheese).- 5 Weight Watchers PP per piece – (1/12 of he pizza)
- Pepperoni – 5 Weight Watchers PP (9 Weight Watchers PP for a slice of Family Size pepperoni pizza on original crust)
A slice of delite crust pizza with cheese is only 4 Weight Watchers PP (7 Weight Watchers PP for a slice of Family Size cheese pizza on original crust).
Grilling It Up!
In Houston, summers are pretty hot and humid. We try to keep things cool by not heating up the house with the oven. I was excited to hear that Papa Murphy’s Pizza tastes great on the grill as well. I can’t wait to try this next time! They offer instructions for charcoal, wood pellet and gas grills.
Houston Text Club
Want to find out about coupons and special offers from Papa Murphy’s? Text PAPAHOU to 90421. Everyone else, be sure to visit Papa Murphy’s online to find out where the closest store is to you and to take advantage of similar deals!
Have you had Papa Murphy’s pizza? What’s your favorite kind?
As a Papa Murphy’s Mom, I receive products, promotional items and educational material to use and share as I see fit. All opinions are my own and reflect my actual experience.
I’m so excited to be attending the Disney Social Media Moms Conference again this year! It’s an unbelievable opportunity to learn from industry experts while having fun at the happiest place on earth! This year the conference is at Disneyland and there have been hints that some of the speakers will include Maxine Clark; Build A Bear, Doug Bowman; Twitter and Donald Driver; Super Bowl Champion. An awesome speaker line-up, the opportunity to network with incredibly talented bloggers and social media experts AND the chance to play at the park with my family? Dream. Come. True.
Needless to say, my family and I can’t wait to go next week…but we need to start packing. Preparing for a family vacation to Disney combined with a conference can be tricky. We don’t want to forget any park essentials (water bottles, back pack, sunscreen) along with conference must-haves (laptop, camera, mobile chargers). Check out some preparation and packing tips I posted about our Disney World trip last year.
And then there’s the most important part…what to wear!
We like to show our #DisneySide at home with Disney-themed clothes featuring Princesses, our favorite movie characters and (of course) classic Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Wearing Disney-inspired clothes at Disneyland is a must, so we were thrilled to learn about Magic at Play, a clothing collaboration between Disney and Kohl’s that came out April 3, 2014. I was given a gift card to Kohl’s so I could check out the apparel line by Jumping Beans for infants, toddlers, boys sizes 4-7 and girls sizes 4-6x and share what I thought with you.
Annie had so much fun, but admittedly had a hard time deciding which pieces to choose from because there were so many options available at Kohl’s in stores and online. In the end she selected three tops, a pair of shorts, leggings and a dress. We loved the blinged out Mickey shirt and the subtle hints of Minnie on the sundress. A major plus….many of the pieces go together, giving you more outfit options. Also, Kohl’s often offers many sales and coupons so you can maximize your dollars. When we went, the entire Magic at Play Jumping Beans clothing line was 30 percent off. We also had an addition 20 percent off coupon AND a $10.00 off coupon that you can use if you spend $30 in apparel for children. Saving money on cute clothes makes me so happy.
What do you think…pretty cool, right? Want to make your dollar stretch even further so you can get more from the collection? How about a giveaway for a $50.00 Kohl’s giftcard?!
Thank you Kohl’s for giving us a gift card to purchase Disney Jumping Bean apparel in order to review. No other compensation was received and as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Woodlands community is just a short drive from where we live in Houston, but with the beautiful scenery…. it feels like a million miles away. When my family and I were recently invited by The Woodlands Resort for a visit over Spring Break, we were thrilled. We all really needed a break and we were curious to check out what new things will be unveiled at the resort this summer. We were especially excited about the chance to play on the water slides and relax pool side with good food, live music and other entertainment they had planned for Spring Breakers of all ages.
Unfortunately, the weather had other plans. Mother nature – you can be cruel sometimes. It was cold and rainy during our entire two-day, one-night stay. Not ideal for outdoor fun…but we still got to enjoy the resort, find out about their renovations and we learned a couple of tricks about how to make the best of dreary weekend weather.
The Woodlands Resort is in the middle of a $60 million dollar expansion including the addition of a new building with 184 guest rooms …plus they are renovating their existing rooms. Check out the new look coming soon!
They are adding a 900-foot lazy river that will wind around the property’s existing Waterscape pools and play area. We can’t wait for this new addition which will be ready in time for summer fun!
In addition to many other renovations and additions, a new steak house is being built to overlook the 18th green of Panther Trail Golf Course as well.
Even with all the new and exciting changes on the horizon, The Woodlands Resort is already a great place to relax with your family and friends. One of the things we enjoyed the most was the excellent customer service and even with the less then ideal weather conditions, we still had fun.
Tips for Making The Best of a Rainy Vacation
1. If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
It’s hard for kids to be so close to beautiful pools and water slides and not dive in. While it was a chilly 60 degrees (that’s cold for Houston!) the Woodlands Resort heated their smaller pool in the back. When the heavy rain slowed down (and there was no sign of thunder or lightening) we let the kids enjoy some time in the water. The nice staff members even let our kids go down the water slide in the front pool (which wasn’t heated – brrr!) once or twice so they could experience it!
2. Enjoy the Rhythm of the Rain
Our room had a balcony overlooking the Forest Oaks Waterscape. While we couldn’t enjoy lounging by the pool, we loved sitting on the balcony with a good book. Protected from the raindrops, we were able to enjoy the outdoors without getting wet.
3. Fun Indoors
The Woodlands Resort moved some of the Spring Break activities they had planned by the pool inside one of their ballrooms including clowns, balloons, live music, games and a movie in the evening. We also played a family game of pool and shuffle board and enjoyed some live jazz music in the lobby. For moms and dads, there’s also a fitness facility and spa. (I definitely intend to take advantage of a massage the next time we visit the resort!) When we had enough of the indoors, the Woodlands Resort shuttle took us to nearby Market Street to enjoy some shopping and dinner at Tommy Bahamas restaurant.
4. Good Food and Conversation
We had a late and lazy lunch in the resort’s dining room. With great views of the property…we enjoyed yummy chicken lettuce wraps. We laughed, acted silly and took our time enjoying our meal. This is a rare treat in our world of rushing from band practice to cheer leading and lacrosse in the evenings. It was really relaxing. Next time we might not even leave our room…we might just put on a good movie and order room service!
What are your tips for making the best of bad weather on vacation?
Many thanks to the Woodlands Resort for treating us to a nice stay at their resort. While some of our expenses were covered in order for us to review the property, all of the thoughts and opinions (and lazy Saturday afternoon) are all my own!
They can take any name that I’ve made for myself
They can take any pride I’ve got as well
There are some things that I can’t afford to lose
I could be nobody as long as I’m someone to you – Andy Gullahorn
Last weekend Ed and Annie attended a daddy-daughter dance. Annie picked out a fancy dress in her closet to wear and started counting down the hours until it was time to leave, the moment she woke up Saturday morning.
I rushed around all day running errands which included a stop at Target to get some tights for her to wear with her dress. I stopped by the jewelry department (because, jewelry!) and saw some earrings that I knew she would love.
When I got home, I gave Ed the box.
“Those are cute, but why don’t you just give them to her,” he said.
“No – these need to come from you,” I told him.
Later…after Ed gave them to her and I helped her put them on; she ran to the bathroom to see how they looked. I saw her smiling in the mirror as she pulled her hair to the side to get a better look. I could tell she felt pretty, but I knew it was more than that.
She felt loved.
I live vicariously through the relationship my daughter and husband have together. While my mom was awesome at taking care of three girls by herself, I missed moments like these growing up without a father. I’m so grateful that Annie has a dad that loves her with all his heart.
He is there for the daily stuff…getting ready for school, homework, cheer practice. He wipes her tears when she gets hurt and captures proud moments on film…first steps, learning to ride a bike, singing in a school play.
Annie and I are very close, but I know that the bond between a daddy and his daughter is special.
When it was time to go, they walked hand-in-hand out the door. I followed them out front and watched Ed take her to the passenger side of the truck and open the door for her. She looked back at me and grinned from ear-to-ear, she couldn’t believe the royal treatment!
And I saw it in her eyes as they drove away. Our old Toyota pick-up truck was her carriage; the driver…her prince. And my heart broke in a million pieces, in the best possible way.
I stood in the drive-way long after they were out of sight. These moments in life…they take our breath away.
The last two weeks have been quite an adjustment for my family. I accepted a new position with a company that requires me to work outside of my home. I’ve been working full-time for the last six years, but my office was based in my house which offered me a little more flexibility with scheduling.
Don’t get me wrong, there were challenges with working from home as well. I would find myself working almost all the time because I didn’t have a clear start and end to my work day. My kids complained that I was always on the computer and I often found myself working all hours of the night.
And I know I’m blessed. The company I’m working for now is wonderful. The people are so nice. The work is great.
But it’s still a change and change of any kind can be stressful. I feel guilty because I’m not at home as much with my kids. And finding time to work out and eating healthfully is definitely more challenging. The days seem shorter and my to-do list is longer.
I’m not unique. These are issues many parents struggles with.
I heard about a recent online class called Soul Comfort offered through an extraordinary organization called The Brave Girls Club and they’ve graciously given me free access to their class and the opportunity to share the news with you along with the opportunity for YOU to attend for free!
Soul Comfort is a fresh new concept using art and journaling as a means to relax and comfort yourself and to get grounded while dealing with the craziness of every-day living.
This course if full of beautiful projects to fuel your creativity in very simple and easy ways that are meditational and relaxing , beautiful comforting things that will have your soul infused into them so that you want to keep them forever.
The instructor, Melody, promises to teach you some new habits of creativity mixed with simplicity (I love, love, love to create…it’s so therapeutic!) and that all the supplies you will need will fit into one fabric tote bag so that you can take it with you where ever you go! You’ll learn new ways to journal and the process will be relaxing, fun and simple. You’ll also have the opportunity to interact with other participants through a private Facebook page.
I can’t wait to attend! Here’s the down low:
- Supply List - simple, inexpensive supplies
- Register Here - tuition $99
- Class begins September 24. Access the online classroom through January 2, 2014.
- Divided into 4 segments, with a new one released every two weeks to give you lots of space to breathe
Doesn’t this class sound wonderful? How would you like to attend for free? One lucky reader will get a pass to class at no-charge. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me what is it about ‘Soul Comfort’ that makes you want to take this Brave Girl class?
That’s it…easy, peasy! I’ll pick a winner at random on Sunday, September 22, 2013, at noon CST.
The Brave Girls Club and this class fits perfectly with my motto:
Be Brave, Be Fierce, Believe.
Remember my friends, you are awesome and deserve to make time for yourself and to follow your dreams. I believe in you!
I am so grateful to the Brave Girls Club to be given the opportunity to attend this class free-of-charge, share the details with you and offer a free class to one, lucky Still Living The Dream reader.
I did it!
On Monday I finished my first Sprint Triathlon – a 400 meter swim, 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile run event.
My friend, Tanya, and I have been training for most of the summer and I knew I still had SO much room for improvement, but I finished strong and…
It. Felt. Great.
My swim was definitely my weakest link. I knew that going into it. I finished next to last (21st out of 22) in my age group (40-44 year old women). But then I picked up speed during transition and passed many people in the bike portion…moving up to 13th in my age group.
It was one of the hottest runs I’ve ever done (it’s still summer in Houston!) and after the 12-mile bike ride my legs felt like bricks. I thought I was running close to 11 minute miles but I found out afterwards that my pace was 9:05! I finished the run in 8th place in my age group…11th place overall.
I’m hooked! Soon, I’m going to sign up for swim lessons and start working towards my next one.
People have asked me how I prepared. I didn’t follow any certain plan but two things I attribute to my success:
1. Having a friend to work out with. Working towards a common goal with Tanya helped me stay motivated, focused and made the process more fun. I couldn’t have done it without her.
2. Taking it a bit easy during the week before which included an hour-long massage!
I worked out intensely for an extended period of time, so taking it a bit easy the week before helped me regroup. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be treated to a massage by my friends at Massage Envy Spa in Houston. They treated me to a 60-minute massage at one of their 29 Houston locations. It was a great experience.
The timing for their invitation was perfect. I had no idea how much I needed it until I was done! I thought I’d be in for a relaxing experience…which it was. But when you arrive at Massage Envy you fill out paperwork that helps them get to know your needs and what areas to work on. When they found out that I was preparing to race, they paired me up with a massage therapist, Melissa, who has experience with stretching and deep muscle massage.
The experience was almost like a combination of yoga, stretching and massage. She worked out the kinks in my shoulders (from leaning over on my bike’s aerobars), released the build-up of lactic acid in my legs and stretched out my muscles. It felt so good. I truly felt like she was helping my body heal and prepare for Monday’s event.
One of the reasons I don’t get massages more often is because of the cost. Massages at most spas can be very expensive but Massage Envy Spa offers member clients a monthly massage for just $59.00, plus any additional massages for the month at just $39.00. While they offer massage at a discounted price, the visit for me was even better than I had experienced at some spas that charge two or three times the amount.
The environment was relaxing (the tranquil water-fall room was so peaceful!), the staff was knowledgable, experienced and caring (they asked me questions about the race and cheered me on…even the folks who worked at the front desk!) and Melissa (my massage therapist) was a pro.
Thank you, Melissa, for taking my health in your hands and taking good care of me last week. I know that I was better prepared for my big day because of your help!
Whether you are preparing for an athletic event, have a problem area that needs addressing or just want to relax and nurture your body and soul, I highly recommend Massage Envy Spa. A great day to go to Massage Envy would be September 18, 2013 when the 29 Houston-area Massage Envy Spas will donate $10 from every one-hour massage or facial to the Arthritis Foundation during their Healing Hands for Arthritis Event.
How would you like to be treated to a free massage? Thanks to Massage Envy, one Still Living The Dream reader in Houston will score a free 1-hour massage. All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me why you need to relax. One person will be selected at random on Wednesday, September 11, 2013, at 11:59 p.m. CST to receive a massage at one of Massage Envy Spa’s 29 Houston locations.
Do you follow me?
Yes? Well, you rock! For every one below you score an additional entry. (If you don’t already do one or all below then no worries. You can still get extra entries by signing up. Just leave a separate comment for each that you do.
- Follow Still Living The Dream on Pinterest
- Follow Still Living The Dream on Twitter
- Like Still Living The Dream on Facebook
- Tweet this: “I need to relax with a free massage from @MassageEnvyHou http://bit.ly/1dGDQva @jpatrickcomm”
Thank you to Massage Envy Spa Houston for sponsoring this review and giveaway and offering me and one Still Living The Dream reader a complimentary massage. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are my own.