Modern Appliances with Retro Design

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A friend of mine bought a home with a late 50’s kitchen – complete with metal cabinets, original appliances, the whole nine yards.  It is cute as a button but less than practical for today’s cooking needs.  If you love the retro look (or love to mix and match like I do – how cool does an old-school style Kitchenaid mixer look on the counter of a sleek modern kitchen?), check out these modern appliances styled to look like they came straight out of your grandma’s house.

Smeg’s very cool European-sized pink retro Washing Machine with built in sink on top – genius! (from CNET.com)

Heartland Appliances Classic line of Ranges, available in electric, gas or the ultramodern dual fuel

Northstar Appliances 1950s-style Refrigerators, complete with with a full complement of modern features, including adjustable shelving & door bins, dual temperature controls, and optional ice maker.

Cool!

Disclaimer – I was not compensated from any of the above mentioned companies for this post, but if Kitchenaid wants to send me a mixer to review, I’d be happy to oblige!

Tech Up a Birthday Party

Yesterday we hosted a party at our home for our son’s 3rd birthday.  We decided on a “Little Man” themed bash, which is all the rage these days, because it was so fitting for our little guy’s personality.

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I decorated the house with ties, black and white photos and all things plaid and manly.

We had big band and jazz music playing, straw fedoras for the kids and even the requisite chocolate mustache lollipops.  Around 35 of our family and friends attended.

I set up a dress up area inside, and sidewalk chalk and a bubble machine outside.  Combined with the new sandbox that our son received as a birthday present, all the kids stayed occupied all afternoon.

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While the party had a decidedly vintage vibe, the tech in our house played a big role.  I used my Sony Dash to play the Slacker radio stations, eliminating the tedious (and expensive) job of creating a party playlist.  If you don’t have a Dash, you can also use your computer to play Slacker for free with your computer speakers.  We also used the AT&T Uverse app on our TV to show a slideshow of Flickrphotos during the party.

 

Here’s how to play a slideshow of photos on your TV:

If you are an AT&T Uverse subscriber, tune your TV to channel 91 – The Online Photo Channel.  Select OK to start the app.  Select the photoset you’d like to view from the list of your available sets.  (If you haven’t linked your Flickr and Uverse accounts, you may have some additional steps to follow first.)  For Weston’s party, I created a new photoset ahead of time with only the photos I wanted in his slideshow.

You can also accomplish this using many internet connected Blu-ray players and different online photo services like Picasa, or by connecting your computer directly to your TV via VGA or HDMI cable, depending on your hardware.  Check out Discovery’s How Stuff Works website for a step-by-step guide – How to Connect Your Computer to Your TV.

The slideshow was a big hit and everyone really enjoyed seeing how our little man has grown.

Bluetooth isn’t just for hands free calling

We bought a new vehicle late last year, and it came with a free trial subscription to Sirius satellite radio.  Living in such a terrible radio market as we do, it was quickly a favorite feature of the new ride.  Before I knew it though, the subscription had run out and my husband and I weren’t sure if the monthly fees (up to $17 a month!) were worth it.

Image representing Pandora as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Luckily, last week I stumbled upon an unknown feature of my new car – bluetooth audio connectivity.  I have loved Pandora for many years, first discovering it and listening on my work computer, and more recently using the Android app on my phone with headphones when I work out.  Now I can listen to it in my car, using that same app and bluetooth.  How awesome!

If your car has built-in bluetooth, simply pair your phone and car, start the Pandora app on your phone (available free in the Android market) and select the MP3 input on your stereo.  If you are a Slacker or Last.fm user, they should work in exactly the same way.

My Favorite Way to Laugh Uncontrollably

by-julia-awkwardIf you haven’t seen this yet, you must go there now.  Having a bad day?  Take a look at someone else’s awkward photos and laugh that stress away.  Works for me every time!

A personal favorite is “The Bird.” It will not disappoint.

www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com

Thanks Technically Incorrect!

The Only Restaurant Website You’ll Ever Need

300px-restaurantI recently stumbled upon Urbanspoon.com when searching for directions to a new restaurant where I was meeting a friend for lunch. Wow, what a find!

It’s a one-stop-shop for all things a foodie would appreciate – it includes all the relevant info like location, map, phone number, price range, and style of food, but I particularly love that they show all available critic reviews, from newspapers, magazines, websites, and the like. You can also see any blog posts about the restaurant and a list of user reviews submitted at Urbanspoon. Talk about know before you go!

The website also features lots of “Best Restaurants” lists in fun & unusual categories – BYOB, Cheap Eats, Free WiFi, and Gluten-Free Friendly restaurants, to name a few. The number of restaurants covered seems pretty robust for the metro area where I live, and even still pretty good when I searched for the more rural area where my mom lives. If you don’t live close enough to one of the major metro areas listed, you can search by state and then find your city for a more specific list.

Get Urbanspoon to go with free apps for iPhone, Blackberry and Droid. I haven’t road-tested this one on my BB (my Curve is woefully lacking space for apps) so you’re on your own there. Let me know if it’s awesome!

Online Resources for Babysitting Services

Finding the occasional weekend babysitter has been a challenge for our family.  Only my husband’s family lives in the same town we do, and while they’ve been great to watch our son whenever they can, we still run into a scheduling conflict every now and then.  Now that my son is nearly two, I would feel comfortable having a college or responsible high school student come and watch him in our home.  I used to babysit all the time as a kid, so I can’t believe how difficult it’s been to find someone.

Enter an online resource like SitterCity.com.  It’s a kind of internet dating service for families and caregivers, providing sitter profiles, photos, reviews, testimonials, background checks and more.  A 21st century Baby-Sitters Club! (C’mon, I know some of you loved those books as much as I did – admit it!)

SitterCity.com covers more than just what the name implies, including tutors, housekeeping, senior care and pet care.  You can search the site for free and try it out for 7 days, but you need to join to access contact information.  A  membership plan is $9.99 per month with a joining fee of $39.99, which is waived if you commit to one year of membership.

I haven’t used the service yet, but a quick search of the major metropolitan area where I live turned up 3,514 available sitters – whoa!  In reading through the profiles, they seemed to be well-qualified and competent for the most part.  I like the fact that you can get lots of info up front, making it easier to evaluate and narrow down the list of sitters before contacting anyone.  Although it’s pricey, finding a good and reliable weekend babysitter would be worth his/her weight in gold!

sittercityroundlogo_72dpi Sittercity Sitter SearchEnter your zipcode to find a babysitter in your area:

If you do sign up, be sure to save up to $20 with promo code SITTERSAVE.

Have any of you used an online resource to find a sitter?  If not, how did you connect with your weekend sitter?

Spokeo – TMI or handy tool?

In this digital age, our personal information is readily accessible to all – often whether you choose to share it or not.  I’ve been seeing a lot of hubbub lately about a new website called Spokeo, which calls itself a “social network aggregator.”  This seemed like a good idea – I’m all for simplifying information and the channels though which we get it.  That was until I visited Spokeoand searched for my own name.  Immediately two address hits for my name in my state were shown – both my mother’s house and my own.  Innocent enough – sites like Zabasearch and others have shared those kind of public records for years now.  Then I scrolled down…age, occupation, relationship status, interests, how long I’ve lived in my home, a PHOTO OF MY HOME…whoa, whoa, wait a minute.  This is looking more and more like stalker paradise.  Where are they getting this info?

According to the Spokeo Privacy Page:

Spokeo People Search finds only publicly available information by default. Previously this information had been scattered across the Web and ignored by major search engines.  Spokeo is the first service to aggregate this user-generated content from over 40 Web services, giving you new insight into your friends’ online content.

So essentially they are using the information that I’ve put on the internet, plus some public records (particularly Google Street View) that I don’t have control over.  Most of the information listed for me was incorrect, and I think that’s because of my diligence about my privacy settings on various websites.  A word to the wise: don’t expect your social networking sites to keep your privacy by default; in fact, the default settings are usually the least private.  Facebook, for example, allows uploaded photos to be seen by anyone on the internet by default – even those without a Facebook account.  Don’t forget your privacy settings for tagged photos of yourself – if a friend has relied on those default settings and tags a photo of you from last year’s beach vacation or tipsy at the company Christmas party – BAM!  It’s on the internet for your boss, your kid’s teacher, the whole world, and Spokeo, to see.

While it’s impossible to completely hide from anyone or anything on the internet, especially if you are a fan of social networking, I think it’s important to make any would-be evil-doers work to find all this info about us.  Let’s not hand it to them on a silver platter.

To remove your profile from Spokeo, as I did, visit www.spokeo.com/privacy and fill out the online form.  You’ll need the URL of your search result and you will have to provide your email address, presumably to verify your identity.  You will receive an email with a URL link to finish the process.  You’ll need to complete these steps for each listing that appears for your name.

For more tips on protecting your online privacy on Facebook (since it’s the big daddy of them all!), see this great article from The New York TimesThe 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now

When Tech Goes Too Far

Wow, I just had to shake my head when I read this..

FineThanx checks on Grandma so you don’t have to from the Health Tech blog on CNET.com

In my opinion, technology exists to help make our lives easier and free up more time in our day for the things that really matter – family, friends, and the fun stuff.  It shouldn’t be in place to make us further disconnected from the ones we love.  I’m sure the creators of this service had the best of intentions…

What do you thin

Tech Loving Mom is Moving!

No, not the website – the woman!  We have more than outgrown our adorable but tiny first home and are so excited to be moving to a new, roomier place.  Doubled our square footage – hello!  I’m not sure what we’ll even do with that much space, but it’s a problem I look forward to having.  :)   The blog will be on sporadic hiatus over the next month or so as I attempt to pack up this little tech family and move across town.

If you’d like to keep up with us, follow me on Twitter for the latest updates as the move progresses…

Back, and Announcing a New Series!

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I’m back!  While we’re nowhere near done with the settling process in the new house, I just couldn’t wait to jump back in and share with you some of my newest tech loves (Hello Uverse!).

While I was away, I had what I think is a great idea for a new series on the blog.  I am fantastically anal when it comes to making big purchases – televisions, a new cell phone and carrier, etc.  It usually takes me months to research, debate and find the best deal I can before pulling the trigger.  (Which I’m certain stems from my mom – the woman once took nearly two years to decide on a new couch!)  I thought it would be fun to share my decision-making process and show you how much money I saved through my efforts.  I’m calling it “The Selecting Saga” and while it won’t be as enthralling as The Twilight Saga, I hope it will save you a little time if you’re considering a similar big purchase.

First up – “The Selecting a Cell Phone Saga: Evolution”  Coming soon to a computer screen near you!