Tuesday 27 January 2015

GET SMART: Sleuthing for best #Apps to #WorkSmarter @MicrosoftStore

As a blogger there is some expectation of consistency in my social media sharing and blog posts. Two things stay constant: 1.) I have to meet the commitments I've made whether to businesses or brands in the way of reviews, or readers in the way of regular posts. 2.) There are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. Life doesn't stop because I'm not at home at my laptop. My commitments don't change because I'm on vacation, at a conference, or have to carpool my kids. I still have to work, do reviews, publish and share posts, pictures, and observations with my readers and social media followers.

Given these constants, how do I work SMARTER and different to better meet these commitments? How do I work from anywhere to allow myself the freedom to travel and use those spare minutes between carpooling or life's other commitments most efficiently? What tools or Apps can help me meet my SMART goals, find better balance and get more satisfaction in my personal and professional life.

Some of you may have read my post about SELF being my word for 2015, and that I'm working hard to set SMART goals for both my personal life and my blog. To that end I am on the case to GET SMART and sleuth out the best productivity Apps and tools to meet my goals, manage my time and find some balance between my personal and my social SELF. 

I invite you to follow along on my fact finding mission. I'll be posting regularly about what Apps I find that make me app-y, and please share your favourites with me in the comments section. There are so many Apps I can't possibly find all the good ones, and I would love to learn more about the ones you have found.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Apps and tools to #WorkSmarter.

Note: I was not compensated for this post in any way. The purpose of this post is merely to share information and a chance to win with my readers. All opinions are my own.

Monday 26 January 2015

#GoogleKeyboard #GestureTyping makes me very APP-y, #freeApp, #techtools

I admit I'm not the fastest "texter" in town, or even in my household for that matter. I'm what some might call old school. I text my evil teens in full words and sentences, usually with capitalization and punctuation. What can I say old habits die hard. Not surprisingly texting can be frustrating for me. When the youngest of the evil teens showed me how I could use Google Keyboard and "gesture typing" to text faster, I was pretty excited. I can't believe he waited so long to tell me about it!

Instead of having to type in each individual letter, I move my finger across the keyboard, "gliding" it over the letters that make up the word I want to type. The longer I use its "gesture typing" the better it gets at anticipating what words I'm trying to type. Not only does it look really cool, it's so much faster and easier for me to text, and seems to greatly reduce the number of typos in my text messages. Since this makes me so app-y I thought I would share with the rest of you "old schoolers" who might like to give it a try as well.

Image via Google Play Store

You can find Google Keyboard at the Google Play Store.
The Google Keyboard and its "gesture typing" gets 2 thumbs up from me!

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about what makes me App-y.

Note: I was not compensated in any way for this post. The purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Meet my new pal @myfitnesspal ... Makes me very APP-y! #FreeApp #FitnessTracker

With the new year and my 2015 word being: SELF my focus can't help but include goals to help with healthier lifestyle choices. This includes taking inventory of where I am, where I want to be and how I plan to get there.
In my head I like to believe I am active and my diet is reasonably healthy, and that I exercise more and eat less than I actually do. Simply by tracking both of these I can get an accurate picture of what I am eating and my activity level, and how I might adjust them to reach my goals. More importantly without knowing the reality rather than the guess-timates I will continue to sabotage my own efforts and success. And that my friends, does not make me feel good about mySELF.

At the beginning of this year I started to use a free App called myfitnesspal in combination with a Jawbone Up to track my meals, activity, and sleep patterns. Initially this process was an "exercise" in frustration trying to use the Up App to enter and track my meals and diet. In an effort not to give up before I even got started I found the My Fitness Pal App. 
I personally have no desire to publicly share my weight, the inches I have lost or selfies of myself working out. I do however like the idea of a community where I can find information, resources and support. My fitness Pal is more than an App, it is as much or as little as you want it to be. The App itself is easy to install, and easy to use. In fact much easier than using the Jawbone Up App on it's own, and it easily syncs to the Up App. Personally I give it a 4/5 stars. 

The My Fitness Pal App works with a variety of fitness trackers other than Jawbone Up, including Fitbit, Garmin Connect, and Misfit. 

In addition to the mobile App, there's an entire community available to you, including a blog called Hello Healthy with resources, recipes, links and support, facebook, and twitter to name a few. 

You can find the calorie counter My Fitness Pal App at:

Here's to a Healthy and APP-y 2015!

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about my App-y SELF! 

Note: I was not compensated for this post. The purpose of this post is merely to share information I thought might be of interest to my readers.

Our favourite ocelot in NEW! @NETFLIX_CA ORIGINAL #TheAdventuresOfPussInBoots #Streamteam

I love when a favourite childhood character or story is reinvented so generations to follow can enjoy connecting that story or character with memories as well. I purchased and put aside books to share with my kids before they were even born, and many a nursery has been decorated in the theme of a loved childhood book character. Introducing our kids to our favourite characters is one of the first ways we bond with our kids. 

Even better is when some of those same characters come to life in a way the whole family can enjoy. 

The new NETFLIX ORIGINAL Series: The Adventures of Puss and Boots does exactly that. As of January 16th, 2015 our favourite boot wearing, swashbuckling ocelot, Puss in Boots is back with new adventures and fun for kids of all ages.

Image via Netflix

Want to meet some of Puss in Boots' buddies? Then be sure to check out Shrek Forever After.

Image via Netflix

Why not make this Friday a Family Movie Night and connect with more of the characters and stories that have been brought to life for those nostalgic and those meeting them for the first time.

For the Big Kids:

Image via Netflix

For the Little Ones:

Image via Netflix

With so many great series and movies to pick from you are sure to find some of your old favourites and maybe some new ones too!

I love this Puss in Boots craft. Perfect for a cold January day when it is too cold to go outside. 

Image & Instructions via Netflix & SPC

And after all that watching and crafting you'll probably need a snack. So why not stay in theme with a Puss in Boots Snack

Image & Recipe via Netflix & SPC
 On Guard and and Happy Streaming!

For streaming suggestions and updates follow 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Netflix Streamteam.

Note: As part of the Netflix Streamteam I receive Netflix and a streaming device free of charge for the purpose of my Streamteam reviews and posts. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday 13 January 2015

@RiseGear #Roller: Pack and Out the Door - As Easy as 1, 2, 3, 4 #travel #packing #system

The Rise Gear was the brainchild of Lee Renshaw in response to his frustration over wrinkled and disorganized clothes when using a duffel bag to pack his clothes for overnight stays. I think most of us can relate to this scenario. So he created Rise Gear, an innovative luggage design with a built-in shelving system that allows you to simple unzip and hang the Rise Gear with all your clothes already neatly organized on the integrated shelves.

I received my Rise Gear Roller just in time for the Blissdom Canada Conference in October, and knew it would be perfect for the road trip and 3 day conference. I love that it is wheeled since the walk from the hotel parking lot to my room was quite a hike. The built-in shelving system made it perfect to quickly hang my clothing in the closet, easily access the different items, and get down to the conference events in record time.

Image via Rise Gear 

Image via Rise Gear 

It made packing the required attire for the Carnival Night, Pyjama Party, Throw Back Party and daily sessions easy, but more importantly it kept the items for each event separate and organized. No unpacking was required, I simply unzipped and hung my Rise Gear Roller in the closet and I was done. Personally I'm not a fan of using hotel drawers or shelves, but with the Roller there is no need.

Shortly after the Blissdom Conference my parents were visiting, and my Mom with her eagle eyes spotted the Roller and wanted details. She was very impressed and thought (rightly so) being Snowbirds the Roller would be perfect for her and my father for the overnight hotel stays on the drive down and back from Florida. They could simply grab one bag from the van, rather than pulling out their big packed luggage and messing with the precision jigsaw puzzle-like packing of the van. 
So it was with great sadness that I gifted them the Roller. They however were overjoyed. They too loved the ease in which they could access and separate their items using the built-in shelves. 

Bon Voyage Roller and Happy Travels!

These are only two situations we found the Rise Gear Roller to be a perfect solution, but I am sure you can think of many more. I found the quality of the build and materials of the Rise Gear luggage to be excellent. Their luggage comes in a number of sizes, styles and colours that are sure to meet your specific needs. 
Be sure to take a peek at my review of the Rise Gear Jumper, all the awesome "packed" into a smaller size.

Did you know Rise Gear was on Dragon's Den? 

Follow Rise Gear on Twitter  and Rise Gear on Facebook for more information on all their products and promotions.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about packing solutions that Rise to the occasion.

Note: I receive a Rise Gear Roller free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and reflect my personal experience with the brand and product.

Monday 12 January 2015

Rx: @StocardAPP Provides Relief from Fat Wallet Syndrome #loyaltycard #freeapp

Love Loyalty and Reward Cards But Hate Fat Wallet Syndrome? 

Then the Stocard App is for you. 

I have loads of loyalty and reward cards, some of which like Aeroplan and HBC I've had for more than 25 years. In the beginning it was pretty manageable, but over the years the number of loyalty cards has greatly increased. I even have some U.S. loyalty cards since I travel there at least a couple of times a year. Most loyalty programs offered in both the U.S. and Canada are separate, which means I have a Canadian Eddie Bauer points card and an American one. But as often as not I can't find the card, or have forgotten the card, or have chosen to forgo the points because carrying around all these plastic cards gives me Fat Wallet Syndrome.  

I recently discovered a break through in the treatment of the once untreatable Fat Wallet Syndrome in the form of Stocard APP
This APP stores all your loyalty card information right on your smartphone. You simply scan the barcode, and or take a picture of the loyalty card and manually enter the relevant information. 

Image via Stocard

The APP provided immediate relief for my Fat Wallet Syndrome and I was surprised to realize after entering all my loyalty cards they total more than 30.

The Stocard APP is free and extremely user friendly. Personally I love it and give it a two thumbs up! 

Rx: You can fill your Stocard prescription at:

Image via Stocard

I no longer miss out on opportunities to earn points, and that is just good budgeting and a smart approach to using loyalty cards. Now it's only my points balance not my wallet that gets fat these days. 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Fat Wallet Syndrome.

Note: I was not compensated in any way for this post. The purpose of this post was merely to share information I thought would be of interest to my readers.

Saturday 10 January 2015

Trying New Things: First Blog Post Written on my Phone #businessanywhere

I'm old school ... well if you ask my evil teens they'd say just plain old, but still I like to think I am open to trying new things. So in this time of mobile and constant connectivity I thought I would try to write at least one post completely using my phone including; a written portion and at least one photo.

I admit not my favourite way to write a post but nice to know I can do it in a pinch.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about #businessanywhere.

Monday 5 January 2015

Todd's Tech Story: How @KingstonTech #MobileliteWirelessG2 saved Christmas #tech #review via @cantoncathy

We all have our stories about tech and how it makes our lives just that little bit easier. For me it often revolves around travel and road trips with my teen boys. You can see from my post Toy Story: My Tech Toy Story about the Kingston Technology Mobilelite Wireless G2 how tech has both helped and changed over the years for me.

I have met many friends on-line who share my love of technology and gadgets. Once such friend is Todd. You may know him as @tgreenc on twitter.
He wears many hats as a parent, a partner, a twitter and tech enthusiast, and Head Electronics Elf.
This is Todd's tech story about the Kingston Technology Mobilelite Wireless G2.

How the Kingston MobileLite Wireless G2 Saved Christmas

It was the Night of the concert with too much to do.
Mommy was getting stressed out and Daddy was to.
The dress needed pressing and shoes had to be found,
 And all while trying to get my daughter to sit down.

We’ve all been there; whether it’s for a birthday party, recital or other event that requires our children to be dressed to the nines. It takes a finely executed plan to make sure everything is done and nothing is forgotten. If you are anything like me what can go wrong will go wrong; be it a tear in the tights or tight fitting shoes, or the unexpected that always seems to come up when there is no time to fix it.

 That’s where the Kingston Technology MobileLite Wireless G2 came to my rescue. Being the Head Electronics Elf comes with responsibilities, it requires me to make sure that everything must remain at full capacity at all times. Sounds easy enough right? ... But tonight was not the night to look down at a phone that said 20%. That’s where the G2 came to my rescue, and a last minute grab to stick in a coat pocket made sure that those priceless Christmas concert moments would not be missed.

The Kingston MobileLite Wireless G2 has a built in 4640 mAh battery which is good for up to 13 hours continuous use or to make sure Daddy (aka Head Electronics Elf) does not have to sleep on the couch because he forgot to charge the electronics. On the way to the concert I downloaded the free iOS app (also available for android) and not only was it charging my phone it was also transferring the pictures that I took directly to the micro SD card in my G2 which would make sharing with my girlfriend that much easier when we arrived home.

With these great specs and a two year warranty with free technical support I highly recommend this product to anyone who is always on the go.

Via Kingston Technology

Note: I (Todd) received a Kingston Technology Mobilelite Wireless G2 for the purpose of this post all opinions are my own and reflect my experiences while reviewing the quality of performance and the brand that stands behind it

Be sure to follow Kingston Technology on Twitter and Kingston Technology on Facebook for updates on all their products. 

Thank you so much Todd for sharing your story with me! Not only are the pictures lovely, I'm always happy when I hear about others experiences with current tech and gadgets, and how they make our lives easier. Word of mouth and my friends' and family's personal experience always makes deciding which products to invest my hard earned money on easier, and reduces disappointment. 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about tech in our lives.

Note: I was not compensated for this post. The purpose of this post was merely to share information with my readers. 

Thursday 1 January 2015

My Word for 2015: SELF ... discovery, love, acceptance, worth, esteem, confidence...It's all about Me, Myself and I

Last year I had a word ... one word that captured my goal or theme for my blog and ultimately for myself for that year. 
It has been quite a learning curve since I started my blog July 5th, 2013. My ability to learn some lessons more successful with some than others, but learning definitely dominated my blogging experience in 2014.

Today is January 1st, 2015. This year I want to continue to learn, but on a more personal level. 
My word for 2015:

I want to learn to look inward at mySELF and my blog and learn to love mySELF, accept mySELF, to have SELF confidence, SELF respect, SELF descovery, and positive SELF image and SELF esteem. 

These are not easy lessons. Learning to love and accept one's SELF with all the good the bad and ugly is a challenging thing to do. My relationship with mySELF is often a rocky one that like any relationship worth having requires putting in the time and effort to make it work. 

On December 28th, 2014 someone who does not follow me on twitter randomly tweeted 
"Can you not think out loud so much?"
and shortly after that someone else who does not follow me on twitter favourited that tweet.

This tweet has stayed with me over the past few days. 
For some reason this random thoughtless tweet really stung. I know it's ridiculous to let someone I don't know override other positive comments, or feedback. In my head I know there are some basic SELF preservation rules that come with blogging and putting yourself our there, such as ignore stupid tweets like the one above. In my head I know someone not following me or unfollowing me although a personal decision, really isn't personal and certainly not a criteria I should use to judge mySELF. 
In my heart this tweet is in large bold print and hard to ignore. In my heart I know this has more to do with me than the other person. In my heart I know only I can change that.

I am a list maker, a user of outlines, and timelines, and agendas. I have always found breaking things down into smaller pieces and having a plan helps me to focus and make more effective use of my time. 

In 2015 the "plan" is to establish my SMART goals for mySELF.

I want to learn to see and acknowledge my SELF worth, and set a reasonable criteria in which to measure this. I want to accept and believe areas that need improvement do not negate areas I excel at, and celebrating others successes should not make me feel bad about myself and my achievements (or lack there of). This will be the year I manage SELF doubt rather than it managing me.

If there are areas in my life that I need to change or improve upon, I want to take a hard look at what I am doing to successfully make those changes, and what I am doing to sabotage successfully reaching my goals or making change. I want to maximize the first and minimize the second.

I want a mechanism to remind mySELF I have a voice and a platform to use it. What I think and have to say matters. I can use my voice for good and to amplify those whose voices might not otherwise be heard. All "my thinking out loud" is how I share, inform, and link information, people and ideas. I want the SELF confidence to use this voice to reach others in a meaningful way. My education, size, age, shape, skin colour or gender does not change that right or my ability to do so. 

Since my blog is ultimately about me it's easy to be lured into a endless cycle of questioning my value and interpreting blog numbers and followers as a personal and negative reflection of mySELF. This often leads to comparing mySELF to others, and wondering why they have success where I do not. It is also easier to blame circumstance rather then set goals and take action to bring about change. 

Today I start the process of  making this year all about Me, Myself and I. Setting goals to work towards being the very best Me I can be; both as a person and a blogger, in that order. With a pad of paper and a pen in hand I begin to set out both my personal and blog SMART Goals for 2015. What, When, Who, Why, Where and How. How they are linked, where they cross-over, and when they should not.

In the mean time ...
 I ask myself the following with each post:

What is the purpose and motivation for writing this post?
Did this post come from a honest and positive place?
Is it about something either I personally have an interest in or feel my readers would be interested in?
Did I try my best to write about something in a way that entertains, links, informs, or reaches people?
Did I remind mySELF: If only one person reads this post and benefits from it in some small way, that good enough? 

If I can answer yes to these questions then I think I'm off to a good start to 2015!

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about me! 
p.s. The answer to the tweet: NO I cannot "not think out loud so much"!