Category:

Tech

freelancing, how to file taxes as a freelancer, TaxSlayer, taxes

Do you know the difference between a cyber fan and a cyberstalker?  Because there definitely is a difference and if you work online you should be aware of what cyberstalking is. You should also familiarize yourself with what catfishing is because there are some really desperate individuals out there.

I live and breathe online. I get it. I make my business public. That’s why I’ll never get to live out my dream of being a politician.Well, that and the fact that I actually have some morals and ethics. Those are hard qualities to reconcile with being a politician. My personal business is just too damn public. It served its purpose. It was cathartic but the downside is…everyone knows my business. I’ve had to forfeit some of my expectation of privacy by doing this.

It wasn’t important at the time. At the time I wrote some of the pieces, believe me, my mental status and processing were much more important than who knew my business. But then the dust settles and it’s out there and, as we all know, once it’s out there. It is out there so be somewhat cautious with your online presence.

A couple months ago, I had a real life face-to-face meeting with a reader. Well, she wasn’t so much of a regular reader as my bank teller who handled a deposit from Pop Sugar once and from there on decided to Google me and follow my writing…everywhere. First I thought maybe she was a fellow writer who wanted some tips on how to pitch Pop Sugar. Normally, I would have been flattered but she did one of those things where you go just one step too far. You know what I mean. We’ve all done it. You know you’ve gone too far fangirl when the other party gives you the “the hell?” look. I think she saw mine all the way from my car.

Anyways, I was a little bit creeped out that my teller not only went fangirl on me but then started telling me how she Googled me and had read my pieces on Scary Mommy, Huffington Post, Latina Mom.me, Parenting, She Knows, The Stir and even stuff as far back as Aiming Low. But, I let it go. I mean after all; I make my life public so what did I expect? Someday I was bound to run into someone other than my family, friends or fellow bloggers who actually read my blog.

But then a couple weeks later I returned and again she referenced things I had published online. Now, again this might not have been creepy except when I write online there is a tiny bit of privacy. For instance, most of you don’t know where I live, have my actual address and social security number at your disposal and know where my kids go to school and what they look like in person. You guys don’t know my husband’s name and I probably won’t run into any of you at the local grocery. Basically, I’m not in any immediate danger of you guys coming to my door and boiling my dog or using me as a skin suit. Her on the other hand, she was creeping me out. And now that I think about it, I probably shouldn’t be writing this at all because SWF might be reading it. Anyways, here’s hoping she’s not!

I’m not going to lie. I started avoiding my bank. I just felt uncomfortable with her level of comfortableness with me. It’s one thing to Google, someone, it’s a completely different thing to actually tell them and continue on like that is normal to do. It certainly wasn’t professional.

I didn’t think it had really affected me until I realized I have 4 very personal posts in my drafts folder. Anyone who has been reading me for a while knows that I don’t leave posts in the drafts folder. I publish it all.

Then last night, I had a very weird and long dream. I’m not going to go all into detail but let’s just say it involved a very not well-thought out panic room, a weirdo and my entire family. The scariest part of all was that after the entire situation was resolved and the aggressor was apprehended in my dream, the creeper looked at me and (Scooby Doo ending like) said very eerily, “It’s okay, I’ll find you again. You’ll be x, y, z, doing x, y, z again soon.” And that was very scary because they mentioned very specific posts from my blog and I woke up ready to shut the whole thing down. But then I remembered, that’s not who I am and I’m not 5-years-old. Nightmares don’t send me running to my mom’s bed anymore. So, I’m hitting publish and I’m leaving it all on the blog.

The moral of the story is that if you don’t want to be labeled an online stalker, don’t tell people you meet in person that you’ve never met before that you’ve Googled them. It’s just weird unless you are vetting someone for a job or a date and definitely don’t do it every time you see them.

Have you ever had an cyberstalker cross over into real life and how did you deal with it?

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shark week, PMS, living authentically online, Domain .ME, blogging, digital influencer, writer, blogger

Disclosure: This post about living authentically online was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Whenever I am asked by digital influencers new to the space or get emails from people contemplating starting a blog or becoming a digital influencer, my first word of advice is to be true to yourself; be authentic in the version of you that you present to the world. The bottom line is that there is only one you and that is what makes each person’s voice online special. Why even try to be someone else? Imitation is not flattering and you are almost always guaranteed to fail at trying to be someone else.

Of course, it is hard to be yourself in life and even harder in the digital space these days. I speak from experience. In fact, just this week, two separate posts landed me in hot water. I spoke my truth, my opinion on what turned out to be a very controversial subject and then, I had to put on my big girl panties and live with the consequences. After all, if you chose to live your life openly and authentically online there will be repercussions, at some point.

Still, I choose to be who I am, flaws and all. Sometimes I rush to snappy judgements or let my emotions guide my writing. This is not always a good thing. There is authentic, then there is too much information and that’s what happens a lot of the time with me and the fact that I lack a filter. People who know me can be forgiving of a rash jump to a conclusion or one time lapse in judgement, the general public who don’t know by by anything other than one singular loud, opinionated post are not usually so forgiving.

In one way, it’s awesome because if you follow me on social media and my blog you know the “real” me but at other times, when I make snap judgements or speak out before I know all the facts, it’s bad because I’ve already put that bad first impression out into the world. I think, it’s only one bad choice but to someone who doesn’t know me, I am just that one bad choice. I think it’s best to find middle ground.

Here are my tips to living authentically online:

Be yourself.

Don’t over edit yourself and write in the way that you speak. No one’s life is sunshine and rainbows all the tie and no one speaks like Shakespeare in real life.

Be honest but hold the nasty.

Put your real thoughts out there. You are allowed to have an opinion. My only word of advice is if it is a heated topic, go ahead and write it out. Mull it over. Come back to it in a few hours and then hit publish if that’s still what you want to say. Believe me, this is the thing I still struggle with.

Develop a thick skin.

If you decide that you want your brand to be all in your face, all the time, then be prepared for backlash. Someday, some time on some topic, someone will disagree with you. In fact, you may just have the most unpopular opinion out there and when you do, the public will let you know. They can be cutting with their words and sometimes they even go for the jugular by attacking not only you personally but your family, thoughts and beliefs. My advice, if you choose to be 100% authentic all the time be prepared for this and either let it roll off your back (easier said than done) or don’t read the comments.

Be a Big Girl.

If you still decide to put your views online to be scrutinized (and they will be) be a grown up. If someone calls you ugly and stupid (and at times much worse) for having a contrary opinion, the best response is not to hurl insults back at them. Be a professional. If you can’t respond civilly, then walk away from the conversation. I don’t like to delete comments because I feel like if I put a topic up for debate, it is my reader’s rights to be heard too. However, sometimes reading the comments can become so consuming and overwhelming that I just have to not read them anymore. I am a professional, this is my job but I’m also a human and, not going to lie, sometimes my feelings suffer collateral damage as a result of my opinions and choice to live authentically online.

Last but not least, don’t take it personally.

I know this bit sounds crazy because, after all, if you are living online authentically, it is all very personal for you. When people attack your opinions, your choices, your beliefs it definitely feels personal but remember this, they’ve never actually met you. They don’t know you. They are disagreeing with your stance on a topic, not you the person even though it usually feels like they are. This is a very important thing to remember always.

These are my tips for staying authentic online. There is an understanding of culpability when you live your life online. You have a venue to broadcast your words and thoughts to people all over the world, so even when you are being authentic you should still consider the effect your words can have on those around you. There are ripples to every action we do in the world and online is no exception. Be yourself, but be responsible. Obviously, this too is something I still struggle with but I’ve come to a point where when I make mistakes, I am adult enough to admit it and say sorry if need be.

Living authentically online doesn’t mean you have a license to be mean, judgmental or bully others. It means you have a responsibility to be true to yourself while being watched by the world. So be yourself but remember you are a part of something much larger than just your thoughts from behind a computer screen.

A fun way to let people know who you are and what you’re about from the very beginning is to obtain a .ME domain name as the perfect way to stay authentic online. For example, if you are a homeschooling mama from the south how about SouthernHomeschoolingMama.Me. See it’s fun and it lets the world know what you’re about before they even click into your site.

If you are living authentically online what would your perfect .ME domain name be?

living authentically online, Domain .ME, blogging, digital influencer, writer, blogger

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authenticity online, authentic online, real me, mommy blogger, blogger,mommy guilt, parenting fail, missing firsts, tap, dance

Disclosure: This post about authenticity online was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When I started this blog, The TRUTH about Motherhood, I was known to the Internet as Truthful Mommy. I picked this pseudonym because I planned to bust every parenting myth that ever existed and I was a little leery about putting my face to my truth. I didn’t plan on being the poster child for authenticity online but I had every intention of being the real me.

I wanted to be the voice of the “regular” mom but I wasn’t sure that I was a “regular” mom because I felt like I was doing it so wrong. I didn’t think I was special in anything but my inadequacy. I just wanted to have an open and honest dialogue with other moms online or offline about the ups and downs of motherhood and life. I exist beyond just being a “mommy blogger” on the internet. I am a real person and people need other people. This isn’t just my job, it’s my life. I just wanted a place where I could be my own authentic self.

When I had my first daughter, suddenly, I found myself overwhelmed and completely out of my depth as a parent and as a human being. Every other mom I met made everything look so effortless and they weren’t telling me otherwise. I felt like the ultimate failure. I had so many questions.

Why was my 9-month old crawling backwards? Why couldn’t I ever make the arm to bed transition? Were my kids going to co-sleep until they left for college? Did no one else’s 2-year-old drop the F bomb? Why wouldn’t my toddler eat anything other than damn chicken nuggets? Why was I making all the wrong parenting choices when everyone else was making the right ones? Was I born missing the mom gene?

All the other moms looked so put together at Kinder Music and the Little Gym and I looked like death warmed over.  Motherhood looked effortless on them; like those 18-year-olds who just wake up and look gorgeous. Those were the days before Zombies were all the rage but I’m pretty positive I was the original Mombie. I was perpetually exhausted and about as far away from perfect as I could get. I mean, I was a nice person, trying my best but my best just felt like it fell short.

Then I “really” got to know the other moms and I realized those broads were just as exhausted and out of their depth as I was but they had something called dry shampoo and they never told me about their mommy woes because they were afraid I was going to think less of them. ME? The woman who hadn’t slept in 2 years. The woman who only wore pony tails and makeup she could put on in 2 minutes or less because little people needed every bit of my attention. That’s when I knew, I had to tell the truth for all of our sakes. So I did and it was glorious.

I had to be honest to have authenticity online or it was pointless.

To be fair, I’ve never been much of a liar anyways and my poker face is completely nonexistent so it’s not like I really had a choice but I chose to be the voice of honesty, not necessarily reason, on the internet and that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 7 years. I hope I’ve helped a few people along the way. If comments and private messages are any indication, I’ve had my moments of truth that have landed on desperate ears that needed to know they weren’t alone. That alone was worth bearing my soul naked on the Internet.

I can’t imagine not being my authentic me online or anywhere else in my life. I don’t have the time or desire to be anyone else. I’m definitely rough around the edges, I’ve been known to curse on occasion, and I don’t always say the right thing but who I am online is who I am in person. In fact, the best compliment I’ve ever received has been when meeting readers in real life and having them say that I am exactly who I am online.

I am fully aware that there are times when I overshare and maybe should keep some things to myself. There are times when I hit the publish button and it terrifies me to think what a reader half way across that world might think of me; after all, my skeletons are not hiding neatly in some closet, they are right here for anyone with Google to read. But I can’t over censor myself and pretend that my life is all rainbows and sunshine all the time because it’s not. Sometimes it is but sometimes it’s really shitty; so I share it all here.

For me, being authentic online is the only way that I know how to be. Life is too short to spend all of my time trying to create some fake perfect virtual world that only serves to make others feel bad about what they’re doing. I refuse to be part of the problem. This is me and if you’ve ever read this blog, you know that I’m not perfect but at least with me, you know what you’re getting.

How do you stay true to yourself in life?

What is your definition of authenticity online?

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huawei, Mother's Day, gift Guide, tech

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and as we all know, every mother like every child, is a snowflake and picking just the right gift can be a daunting task if you forget that the only thing moms really want is something from the heart. That’s all it takes to make any of us happy really.

But if your mom is a techie, like myself, there may be some things that might make her high tech heart smile just a little wider than say a crockpot. But hey, if mom’s in to easy to make, on the go crockpot dinners, a new crockpot might be the best gift ever. Me, I prefer tech.

Here is a list of some of the hottest tech gifts this Mother’s Day:

huawei, Mother's Day, gift Guide, tech

The Huawei watch

The Huawei Watch Jewel & Elegant is at the top of my list. It’s inspired by the timeless style of feminine beauty. It’s elegant form complimented by smart technology, seamlessly blends in full functionality with flair. It’s more sophisticated and beautiful than the competition and can be outfitted in a number of different styles. It’s all the beauty of a fine timepiece and all the function of a high-end smart watch.

Powered by Android wear, the Huawei Watch makes keeping active and reaching your health goals effortless. A high-accuracy motion sensor keeps track of your activity and knows when you are walking, running or climbing.

 qardio base, huawei, Mother's Day, gift Guide, tech

The Qardio Base Smart Scale & Body Analyzer

Now, I wouldn’t normally put a scale on a Mother’s Day gift guide but I have to say, I have one and it really is one of my favorite things. The Qardio Base is a smart scale that provides weight and full body composition feedback. It works with an app and provides your weight, BMI and fat percentage. Multiple users can use it and there is even a pregnancy mode that accounts for expectant moms.

Want to know if you’re burning fat and gaining muscle? Or whether you’re actually losing weight not just water? Qardio Base smart scale makes it possible.

It allows you to set your goals and track your progress with clever charts & graphs and it even has a pregnancy mode. It’s the first scale that let’s mom know her body, not just her weight and that makes a difference.

 

Panasonic Lumix ZS100

Whether the mom in your life is an enthusiast or full-auto photographer, the ZS100 delivers the upgrade in image quality a 1-inch sensor affords with just enough zoom lens for a lot of framing flexibility and the capability to be sufficiently fast enough to capture kids and pets in action. Plus the ZS100 supports 4K video for the sharpest video capture possible. It has everything the professional or novice photographer mom could ever want.

qardio base, huawei, Mother's Day, gift Guide, tech, nvidia shield

Shield TV 

Shield TV is a top-of-the-line Android streaming device from NVIDIA. From its sleek, angular design and the world’s largest app ecosystem to exceptional speed (34x faster) and 4k resolution – Shield TV is packed with ultra-modern features to deliver the ultimate entertainment experience by centralizing your favorite shows, movies, games, music and more in one place. With options for all ages – from PBS Kids to ESPN – and the ultimate Android gaming platform, Shield is the must-have travel essential for family trips.

With amazing Google voice capabilities and microphone-equipped remote, you can now find exactly what you want on Netflix or YouTube without seemingly endless clicks as you scroll through libraries. This means mom can pull up her favorite titles, instantly and virtually hands-free. No matter what she’s doing.

 

Olloclip 4-in-1 lens system

Portability, great quality and ease of use, the Olloclip 4-in-1 lens system has it all. It delivers the best-looking images. Your mom the smartphone photographer will get a fisheye, wide-angle and two macro lenses using a mount that works with both front and rear cameras of Apple’s two newest smartphones. All of this comes in a kit that offers great image quality while still being easy to carry. The system takes just a second to attach to her phone and stows away neatly in a pocket or bag using the included cloth pouch.

 

Moleskine Smart Writing Set 

The Moleskine Smart Writing Set may be one of my favorite things ever. It is a 3-part system that includes a Paper Tablet, a Pen+ and the free Moleskine Notes iOS app. This system allows mom to turn anything she writes on the tablet into a digital file. No scanning required.

The Pen+ and its built-in camera picks up the code embedded in the pages of the Paper Tablet and uploads it to the Notes app. It is the perfect gift for moms like me who still like to take written notes. What can I say? I’m old school and I like tangible.

These gifts are sure to make the tech-loving mom in your life smile. I know they’d make my techy heart happy.

What’s at the top of your Mother’s Day wish list this year?

Disclosure: Some of these gifts on this Mother’s Day gift guide were provided to me for review purposes but all opinions are my own.

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T-mobile, Naughty or Nice, Holidays, Christmas, gifts, giveaway, Visa Giftcard

*This post is a sponsored post.

The elves have arrived and everyone is on their best behavior. Well, the kids are certainly trying to be. They want to be on the nice list. Me, I think the naughty list is more fun. Sure being a good girl is great for your reputation but being a little naughty gives a mama a lot more street cred, right?

Christmas is right around the corner, literally 10 days away. It’s been an exhausting venture up to this point. The good thing to do would be to drink lots of water, take lots of deep breaths, have lots of patience and enjoy soaking in every single second of this holiday season but sometimes that’s not possible.

Sometimes, kids are bickering, presents need to be wrapped (because that fat dude in the red suit never seems to wrap anything), you’re exhausted from all the holiday activities and you really just want a stiff cocktail or two and your Netflix. You could do that, and I have, but that usually lands you on the naughty list because life gets infinitely more naughty when cocktails are involved. Either way, none of us is naughty or nice all the time and I think we all deserve a little something nice this holiday season.

I love my tech and T-mobile has some great presents available for that special someone on your naughty or nice list this holiday season. Here are a few of my favorites.

iphone 6 plus, T-mobile, Naughty or Nice, Holidays, Christmas, gifts, giveaway, Visa Giftcard

Apple iPhone 6s Plus in rose gold 128 GB
With 3D Touch, Live Photos, 7000 series aluminum, A9 chip, advanced cameras, 5.5-inch Retina HD display and so much more, you’ll see how – with iPhone 6s Plus – the only thing that’s changed is everything.

ipad air 2, plus, T-mobile, Naughty or Nice, Holidays, Christmas, gifts, giveaway, Visa Giftcard

Apple iPad Air 2 64 GB
At just 6.1mm, the thinnest iPad ever is also the most capable. It has a re-engineered 9.7-inch Retina display, the revolutionary Touch ID fingerprint sensor, a powerful A8X chip with 64-bit architecture, a new iSight camera, an improved FaceTime HD camera, faster wireless, iOS 8, iCloud, and up to 10 hours of battery life. It also comes with great apps for productivity and creativity. And there are many more apps available in the App Store.

iphone watch rose gold, T-mobile, Naughty or Nice, Holidays, Christmas, gifts, giveaway, Visa Giftcard

Apple Watch Sport: 38mm Rose Gold Aluminum Case w/ Lavender Sport Band
To wear it is to love it. Receive and respond to notifications in an instant. Track your daily activity. Control your music using only your voice. Pay for groceries just like that. With Apple Watch, important information and essential features are always just a raise of the wrist away.

• Anodized aluminum case: this custom alloy is 60 percent stronger than standard aluminum, but just as light.
• Light and tough Ion-X glass display: The display is protected by a lightweight aluminosilicate glass that’s especially resistant to scratches and impact.
• High-performance band: The durable fluoroelastomer band is remarkably flexible, light, and soft. Fits 130 – 200 mm (5.12 – 7.87 inch) wrists.
• Requires an iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, 6 Plus, 6s, or 6s Plus and iOS 8.2 or later.

T-mobile agrees and for a little fun, they are daring you to take their Naughty or Nice Quiz and share your results. I confess, I scored high on the naughty side. What about you?

T-mobile, Naughty or Nice, Holidays, Christmas, gifts, giveaway, Visa Giftcard

GIVEAWAY!
Whether you make the naughty list like us and will be buying your own gifts this year, or if you make the nice list and need some extra cash to buy presents for those you love the most, I’m partnering with T-Mobile to give away one $50 Visa gift card.
Entering is easy:

Simply take the T-mobile Naughty or Nice quiz and share your results on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram using the hashtags, #GifTMobile, #AllIWantforXmas, and #Sweepstakes and tell me in a comment below.

One lucky winner will be chosen at random on December 22.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you naughty or nice this holiday?

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your truth is a lie, moms and daughters, comparing yourself to your mother

Have you been wracking your brain and every gift guide on the Internet trying to find  a gift to wow? The holidays are here and everyone is trying to find that perfect gift for the woman they love. It’s no small feat because women are as different as snowflakes and no two are alike. For example, I am a tech lover but I also like beautiful girly things; CES is my Disney World and beautiful things are my weakness.

These are the top things on my list this year.

If the woman in your life is into tech or fashion, she will love almost everything on this gift guide.

marc jacobs, gift guide, Christmas guide, women, tech, fashion, holidays, Christmas

Marc Jacobs Daisy Dreams

Everyone who knows me, knows that daisies are one of my favorite flowers because my Grandma was named Daisy. Inspired by the boundless spirit of daisies and blue skies, Daisy Dream reflects Marc Jacobs’ irresistible mix of intricate details, elegance, and femininity for a fresh interpretation of the iconic Daisy motif. The fruity-floral fragrance has a light and airy touch, bursting with top notes of blackberry, grapefruit, and pear. The heart notes are introduced with a bouquet of jasmine, lychee, and blue wisteria, and a medley of white woods, musks, and coconut water reveal the base notes.

The glass bottle is enveloped in a shawl of laced daisies, topped with a silver cap, and adorned with gold hues and daisy accents. The bottle is as beautiful as the scent inside. I didn’t think that I could love anything more than my Grandma Daisy but this scent comes close.

 

UGG, gift guide, Christmas guide, women, tech, fashion, holidays, Christmas

UGG® Australia Simmens Short Leather and Wool Boot

Maximize the fashion potential of your wardrobe with this trans-seasonal boot, crafted from waterproof leather with a wool blend shaft and decorative double buckle detail. The Simmens is lined with luxurious, natural wool for moisture-wicking comfort and features a new outsole design, utilizing cork-infused White Spider rubber for optimum traction in slippery situations. $170.

gift guide, Christmas guide, women, tech, fashion, holidays, Christmas, Baublebar, misfit flash

Helena Locket by BaubleBar and Misfit Flash

Make a statement with the Helena locket. It features vintage accents with classic BaubleBar sparkle. The fashion –forward accessories are as smart as they are stunning. The BaubleBar Locket opens to reveal Misfit’s sportiest tech- the Flash fitness tracker. Misfit Flash tracks your sleep and activity levels, including calories burned, distance traveled, steps taken and sleep quality and allows you to set your personal goals and check your progress. The Helena is exclusively available at Target. $69.99

STACKED

The first wireless charging ecosystem for iPhone eliminates the need for cords from the lives of iPhone users. The all-too-familiar feeling of sifting through a bag, crawling under a desk or standing tethered to the wall to charge a phone is now obsolete. STACKED advances the busy lives of mobile users by enabling both a full charge and connectivity at all times, without a life full of wires.

The shortest distance between two points is no distance at all. STACKED charges faster than any other technology because it comes in direct contact with the phone. The beauty of the bundle system is that the Power Pack is what needs to be recharged, not the phone itself. The Power Pack is recharged via the included AC wall adapter, which allows up to five Power Packs to be charged at once. Users can now maintain an arsenal of wireless charging solutions at their disposal at all times. $129.

Aventura, gift guide, Christmas guide, women, tech, fashion, holidays, Christmas

Aventura Clothing

Aventura clothing is a lifestyle apparel brand that makes and sells comfortable clothing with an active focus while being thoughtful to both people and the environment. Aventura is family owned since 1965, creating a supportive family-oriented culture where the little details of life (and clothing) are cherished. Aventura makes the perfect every day clothing. It’s well made, quality clothing made to fit a woman’s body.

Aventura is passionate about creating fashionable clothing with low environmental impact. Their eco-friendly styles not only prevent synthetic fertilizers and farm chemicals from polluting the soil, they look and feel amazing. Now through December 31st, free standard shipping is available.

A-Audio: Rose Gold Lyric On-Ear Headphones

These chic Rose Gold headphones with A-Audio’s distinctive silhouette and sound quality can’t be beat for the music lover on your list. The ear cups with memory foam padding for comfort and isolated sound collapse for easy storage and travel. Built with 40mm custom drivers, powerful circuitry and anti-vibration aluminum for premium sound. Bonus, the Lyric has dual jacks for sharing music with friends. $199

apple watch, gift guide, Christmas guide, women, tech, fashion, holidays, Christmas

38mm Rose Gold Aluminum Case with Lavender Sport Band

I’ve wanted one of these since day one. I finally got one and I am in love and you will be too. It’s all the quality and ease of usability that we have come to know and love in Apple products, right there at your wrist. Apple Watch Sport features a rose gold anodized aluminum case, retina display with Force Touch. It also has a heart rate sensor, accelerometer, and gyroscope with up to 18 hours of battery life. My favorite feature, aside from voice texting, is that its water resistant so no worries if I accidentally run it under the faucet. It’s beautiful, functional and the perfect gift for any woman on your list this year. $350.

Lily Bed, gift guide, Christmas guide, women, tech, fashion, holidays, Christmas

Lily Bed for Women

Women need the most sleep because generally we are the caretakers of the family. Yet, we are the ones who get the least amount of sleep. LilyBed has taken this into consideration and designed the first bed made for a woman’s body but strong enough for a man. A few of the amazing features of the LilyBed mattress in a box include premium cover that’s soft, cool and hypoallergenic, super soft layer surface, responsive core for perfect balance and complimentary full body support. Bottom line, it’s the best night’s sleep I’ve had in years.

gift guide, Christmas guide, women, tech, fashion, holidays, Christmas, , light as a feather, Pandora

PANDORA Light As A Feather Earrings in Sterling Silver

Inspired by the elegance and lightness of feathers, these airy dangle earrings represent stunning, natural beauty. Shimmering stones accentuate the splendor of their stylized form, making them a great choice for eveningwear. Sparkling clear cubic zirconias and swirls of sterling silver depict feathers in these beautiful dangle earrings. $100.00

gift guide, Christmas guide, women, tech, fashion, holidays, Christmas, lomo'instant wide central park

Lomo’Instant Wide Central Park Edition camera + lens system

Lomo’Instant’s new wide instant camera lives up the Lomo rep. This fun vintage-inspired camera kit features three creative shooting modes and comes with three cool lens attachments (wide-angle, close-up, and splitzer), a lens cap that double as a shutter remote control and easy-change color gels that add a wash of color to your photo subjects. It’s like Hipstamatic but in real camera form. I’m as excited about this as I am the USB TypeWriter and Qwerkywriter. $259

nuyu sleep system, gift guide, Christmas guide, women, tech, fashion, holidays, Christmas,

Health o meter™ nuyu™ Sleep System

Sleep solution made of a Bluetooth® enabled sleep mat and app that cycles through temperatures through the night to mimic your body’s circadian rhythm so that you wake up well-rested. It warms slightly when you are going to sleep; cools you down during the middle of the night, and then warms you back up to mimic your natural circadian rhythm.  Starting temperature range: 69° – 105°

Controlled using free nuyu™ app which can be used with the Activity Monitor to track sleep. It is also machine washable mattress pad and hose, washer bag included. $499.99

Olloclip Active Lens

I have a great Nikon DSLR that I depend on for most of my travel and family photos but, honestly, I am a big iPhonographer. My phone is never far away and always convenient to shoot with so I’m super excited about the Olloclip Active Lens. Olloclip Active Lens is a compact, lightweight, 2-in-1 with a telephoto lens and ultra-wide angle lens that snaps onto your iPhone 6/S or iPhone 6 Plus/6S Plus.  It works with both the front and rear facing cameras on the phone too.  Easy to use, just snap it on and snap it off. $99.99

gift guide, Christmas guide, women, tech, fashion, holidays, Christmas, α77 II A-mount camera with APS-C sensor

α77 II A-mount camera with APS-C sensor

Never miss the moment. When extraordinary happens, capture it with the accelerated α77 II with an astounding 79 high-density AF points, 12fps continuous shooting, and a 24.3MP Exmor CMOS sensor. Every moment is made eternal. Translucent Mirror Technology enables precise phase-detection AF in live view and movie modes. $849.

Brooklyn Bedding: #BestMattressEver

Built with individuality and simplicity in mind, Brooklyn Bedding delivers personalized comfort with a bed-in-a-box designed for every type of sleeper. Breaking the “one-comfort-fits-all” mold, three sleep comfort levels cater to every type of sleeper with Soft, Medium and Firm options. Luxurious, soft quilted pillow top cover knitted with moisture-wicking cotton for cloud-like feel and breathability. It’s like sleeping on a cloud. $450 – $1,050

xdoria,gps, gift guide, Christmas guide, women, tech, fashion, holidays, Christmas,

X-Doria: KidGPS 

Every mom I know will want this palm-sized tracking device that notifies parents of their children’s exact location via companion iOS or Android application, providing peace of mind. This user-friendly device that can be tucked in a child’s pocket or clipped on their backpack

Panic alert button sends the current location of a child to multiple devices.

Battery lasts up to seven days and can be recharged via integrated micro-USB port. Tracking services range from $5.99/month for 12 months, or $7.99/month for 6 months

Polaroid Zip

The Zip is a super-simple, instant photo printer. Turn it on, connect it to your iPhone or Android via Bluetooth and hit the print button on the free app. The result: 2X3” full-color instant prints. The Zip uses special photo paper (a 30-pack only costs $14.99) that’s ink free and comes out dry-to-the-touch. $129.99

zara, gift guide, Christmas guide, women, tech, fashion, holidays, Christmas

Zara

Zara is my favorite place to buy affordable clothing that is cute and feminine. The inventory is constantly updating for the seasons and I love the feminine fabrics and cuts. It’s a great selection of outfits for work and evening wear.

gift guide, Christmas guide, women, tech, fashion, holidays, Christmas, dxo-one

DxO One

The DxO One will turn your iPhone or iPad into a DSLR quality camera for less than the price of a DSLR. It pairs perfectly with your iPhone so that you can take amazing photos anywhere. It shoots 2.1-MP photos and 1080p video and you can toggle between the two modes with a tiny 1-inch touch screen on the side of the device. The DxO One gives photographers DSLR-like modes like aperture priority, shutter priority, program and manual. $599.

tipsy elves,gift guide, Christmas guide, women, tech, fashion, holidays, Christmas

Tipsy Elves 

If you are looking for something like nothing else, might I suggest an ugly sweater or Christmas jumper from Tipsy Elves. I recently received the Women’s Blue Reindeer Jumpsuit and they are the super cozy and toasty. The design has a bold blue background a white Fair isle design with grazing reindeer. The front pockets include zippers and a red accent color on the cuffs to complete the outfit. This jumper is great for Christmas morning, lounging during holiday break or wearing to your favorite ugly sweater party. Bonus, it also comes in Mens and children’s sizes.

Margaritaville®: New Key West™ Frozen Concoction Maker®
This is the  perfect gift to celebrate at all the holiday parties and will definitley help you ring in the New Year! Refreshed version of this classic now features an extra-large ice reservoir that holds ice for 3 full pitchers so you can enjoy the party longer before it’s time to refill

· Shaves ice, instead of crushing like other machines, for perfectly smooth beverages

· Margaritaville® maritime detailing that features a new silver base to match modern home décor

· Produces 36-ounces of restaurant-quality frozen drinks

· Includes manual shave & blend controls

· Includes a 36 oz., sturdy glass blending-jar and with Easy Pour lid

Price: $399.99

What’s your favorite present on this gift guide?

Disclosure: Some of the products on this gift guide were provided for review purposes but entirely opinions are my own.

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gift guide, tech for parents, girl's gift guide, Christmas, tech, travel, fashion, chooze, xdoria, kid's fit, American Girl, MaryEllen Larkin

This Christmas holiday I’ve put together a girl’s gift guide that my daughters will flip over. They love tech, they love travel and they love fashion and of course, they love unicorns. Don’t we all?

Anyways, the point is that they love lots of things. In fact, did I mention they’ve put a Storm Trooper Dress, luggage and a trip to New York at the top of their list? Every child is different and every child likes different things but I think this list covers the spectrum of interests for little girls of all ages and interests.

Here are my top picks for the 2015 girl’s gift guide.

girl's gift guide, Christmas, tech, travel, fashion, unicorns

Main Sail Studio Plush Unicorn Head Taxidermy

My girls LOVE unicorns and this handmade soft unicorn faux taxidermy mounted on a ready to hang wooden plaque does not disappoint. You choose the colors for the unicorn head and mane and the plaque. Plaques can be a solid, a two-color ombré with or without glitter. The head is machine sewn and hand sculpted from soft fleece. The horn is made from a textured satin and then coated with a sparkly glaze. It comes with a repositionable butterfly or flower clip. The mane textile varies based on color choice. The mouth, nose, ears and cheeks have hand painted subtle blush color. The eyes are embroidered. At purchase you can send a note with your color ideas. This is the perfect present for every little girl. I can’t wait to see my daughter’s face on Christmas morning when she sees this beautiful piece of unicorn art.

girl's gift guide, Christmas, tech, travel, fashion, chooze,xdoria, kid's fit

X-Doria: KidFit

KidFit is a wireless activity and sleep tracker for ages 5-13 that encourages and motivates kids to play hard and get enough rest.  The KidFit wristband is a one-size-fits-all slap bracelet and is IPX3 (Splash Proof) rated. A daily activity target is customized for each child and scored out of an easy to understand 100 points.

With each sync, the KidFit app motivates and encourages your child to reach their activity and sleep goals.  Built in goals keep kids challenged and parents can set custom goals tied to real world rewards.  The free KidFit app is available for iOS and Android.

chooze,girl's gift guide, Christmas, tech, travel, fashion,

Chooze backpacks, lunch boxes, split leggings and shoes

Chooze is a brand that recognizes children’s innate desire to express themselves through unique wardrobe choices. The freedom to express themselves is the key to unleash their potential. The collection of mismatched shoes, split leggings and reversible backpacks and lunch packs empower kids with creativity, confidence and the power to have a positive impact on the world.

girl's gift guide, Christmas, tech, travel, fashion, chooze, xdoria, kid's fit, American Girl, MaryEllen Larkin

American Girl Mary Ellen Larkin

Maryellen Larkin, the newest character to join American Girl’s popular BeForever line, is an energetic and optimistic girl who follows her heart instead of the crowd growing up in Daytona Beach, Florida, in the 1950s.

The Maryellen doll is 18” tall with warm brown eyes and strawberry-blonde hair in a high ponytail and sideswept bangs. Maryellen’s authentic 1950s outfit features a striped dress, a lacy-knit shrug with a monogramed M, black shoes, underwear, and a ribbon bow for her hair. Includes the paperback book, The One and Only, the first novel-length volume of Maryellen’s classic series by Valerie Tripp.

girl's gift guide, Christmas, tech, travel, fashion, chooze, xdoria, kid's fit, American Girl, MaryEllen Larkin, Julie Albright

American Girl Julie Albright

Julie Albright is bright and sunny on the outside and a fighter on the inside. She likes school, hanging out with friends and playing on the basketball team in 1974. This beautiful, blonde flower child will stand up and fight for what’s right.

American Girl, MaryEllen Larkin

Maryellen’s Television Console

A large television console was truly the entertainment center in Maryellen’s day. This set features a 1950s-style TV console with a built-in make-believe record player and encyclopedia books. Plus, your girl can create and watch her own original videos on the console with her iPad!

The Care and Keeping of Us Book Series

This kit includes twin books, one for girls and one for moms, filled with dozens of how-to-say-it scripts to get the conversations going. These scripts give girls the words to talk about all the big topics from body basics, hygiene, and healthy habits to friends, first crushes, clothing, and more. And mom’s book gives her the actual words to respond to her girl’s questions, as well as scripts to initiate important conversations with her daughter. Plus, a sharing journal lets both moms and girls jot down thoughts, memories, and questions. Two bookmarks are included to guide each other to the latest entry or point out something they don’t want the other to miss.

Disney Playmation

Disney Playmation is a connected wearable experience that triggers imagination and play in children. It’s high tech meets old school and the bottom line is that your child will be moving and using their imagination. The starter pack comes with a arm-mounted Repulsor Cannon that acts as your interface to the imaginary Marvel world.

Little Passports World Edition

Explore the world, one country at a time. Each month, your child will receive letters from Sam and Sophia. The monthly package arrives with fun souvenirs, activity sheets, photos and stickers for your suitcase, map and passport. Your child can also access Boarding Zone for more online games.

How to Survive Anything

Let’s face it. With school pressures, social pressures, parental pressures…the teenage years are tough. Your best friend is with you one day, dating your crush the next. But it could be worse! You could be face-to-face with an angry grizzly, or chest-deep in quicksand. Never fear, National Geographic has the solution! In this hilariously informative take on surviving the trials of middle school and the jungles of South America, we combine our expertise on nature and adventure with the fun-and-learning approach of our Nat Geo style…and voila, the perfect advice to conquer any obstacle, whether it threatens life or social status or both. Edgy, young, authoritative, and amusingly illustrated, this title will grab the attention of young teens and gift-buyers alike.

A Friend for Lakota

The Dutchers have the unique experience of living in a tented camp in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains among a pack of wolves, observing and documenting rarely seen social behavior, including bullying.

Treasury of Norse Mythology

Beautifully told by author Donna Jo Napoli, this book is a gorgeously illustrated compilation of Norse myths of gods, goddesses, monsters, and heroes. If your kids are fans of Thor, Vikings, and more, this Treasury contains more of the lyrical tales of the Norse gods, goddesses, trolls, and giants that are perfect for bedtime–or anytime–storytelling.

National Geographic’s Guide to Photography

This amazing book has tips and tricks on how to take great pictures, with advice from Nat Geo photographer Annie Griffiths as well as My Shot kid shutterbugs.

girl's gift guide, Christmas, tech, travel, fashion, unicorns, sony cyber shot

Sony Cyber-shot QX10

Most tweens and teens use their smartphones to take photos and if they want to improve their images, then a camera that affixes to the phone could be an ideal present. This will give better image quality and most importantly, more optical zoom to images.

The Sony Cyber-shot QX10 adds a 10x optical zoom lens, fullHD video recording, and an 18 megapixel sensor to any Android or iOS smartphone, significantly upgrading the camera on most smartphones and giving the extra clarity and reach of 10x optical zoom to boot. Paired with the National Geographic Guide to Photography book and you just may have a little Annie Leibovitz on your hands.

What’s at the top of  your child’s Christmas list this year?

What would you have included on this girl’s gift guide?

Disclosure: Some of the products on this list were provided to me free of charge for review purposes for this gift guide.

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LG appliances, laundry, family, travel,tech, parenting, make life easy

Disclosure: This is a compensated post written by me on behalf of LG Appliances but all opinions on parenting are my own.

Life is hectic when you have children who are involved in everything and parents who are equally as involved. My husband works as a global business analyst; his work comes home with him, but it also takes him away from home.

I work from home full-time as a writer which also takes me on lots of travels (which I love!) but I’m also a member of the school board, room mom for both of our daughter’s classes (party days are a workout for me), a member of the junior league and a volunteer for every activity and field trip there ever was, is or will be at school. Yet, this is the life we chose. This is our version of happiness. What’s the saying? Busyness is close to Godliness? Oh wait, no, that’s cleanliness. Oops!

LG appliances, laundry, family, travel,tech, parenting, make life easy

However, now the girls are following suit and they’re involved in cheer, gymnastics, ballet, tap, robotics, choir and violin plus they both secured parts in the city’s Nutcracker ballet this year. Of course, I volunteer for that too. We’ve always said that we’d encourage them to go for whatever they wanted to try but it leaves us really busy with no time for the everyday chores like dusting and laundry.

Don’t get me wrong, we still wash clothes… so many clothes (all of those uniforms and never ending unpacked luggage. We have tutus and leotards coming out of our noses) but it doesn’t necessarily always get put away.

To add insult, in a crazy turn of events (and a terrible twist of my ankle) I took a tumble on my sister’s wedding day (in which I was the maid of honor) while we were taking wedding party photos (no cocktails were involved) and I broke my leg (while spraining the other one). It’s left us in a terrible debacle because now all of the chaos has fallen onto the shoulders of my dear husband, who at this point can barely see straight he is so exhausted.

The other Saturday, amongst all the chaos that is our lives these days, as we were rushing to get the family out the door for a football game at 8 a.m. in the morning before heading off to pointe class and then on to Nutcracker fittings and before celebrating a particularly peculiar distant relative’s toddler son’s birthday, grape jam dribbled from my daughter’s toast down to the bib of her cheerleading uniform! The humanity!

I heard the screech of my daughter, the moan of my husband and I knew surely something terrible had befallen the house of Cruz. I wheeled myself into the kitchen as quickly as possible to find our not so cheery cheerleader. I immediately insisted that she shed her uniform as I went into full-on manic spot cleaning and continuous praying.

After a rigorous hand washing with vinegar and cold water, I was able to throw it in the washer on delicate and maintain my reputation of super (ordinary, extremely exhausted) mom. Thank goodness for quick thinking and short timed wash cycles. She may have been a little damp but thankfully, it was a beautiful, sunny autumn day!

I’m not sure what would have happened had I not had a good washer and dryer to remedy the situation. I shudder to think of the drama that might have befallen our home that morning!

Thankfully, LG Electronics is devoted to creating home appliances that help simplify household chores while focusing on creating feature-rich appliances, with stylish designs that push technological boundaries to improve the home appliance experience as well as save them time and energy.

LG’s Mega-Capacity Top-Load laundry pair (Models WT7700 and DLEX7700VE) offers enhanced convenience and performance, helping save both time and energy. Users can wash a king size comforter and full set of bedding in a single load; saving time.  With the washer at 5.7 cubic feet of mega-capacity and dryer at 9.0 cubic feet of space, consumers have access to the largest capacity top load washer in its class* possible for loads of laundry.

Top-Load Washer incorporates LG’s time-saving TurboWash®, which provides 30-minutes of time savings on every wash cycle, while the dryer features TurboSteam™, which works gently but powerfully to refresh fabrics and reduce wrinkles in half the time of other steam settings. Both settings deliver greater efficiency and world-class cleaning performance. Perfect for school morning cheerleading uniform emergencies.

LG’s EasyLoad™ Dryer is the first to open two ways, from the top (hamper style) to easily toss in wet clothes from the washer and sideways to quickly unload dry clothes into the laundry basket. This unique setup allows users to easily transfer clothes through the top to minimize bending and dropping clothes on the floor, makes it easier than ever to drop in and unload laundry. If only the dryer could fold and put the clothes away, the world would be a perfect place.

What would you do with the 30 extra minutes in your day thanks to LG’s TurboWash® technology? Tell us in the comments for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card!

*Based on manufacturers published specs of top load washers with a width of 29 inches or less.

 

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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

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Connected home, tech, Phillips, Hue

Disclaimer:  I’ve been compensated by Best Buy in the form of a new Phillips hue A19 Starter Kit, Phillips hue Go personal wire free smart lights and a Netgear Router with DST adapter and Geek Squad service for free.

Technological advances are making life so much easier than it used to be. One of my favorite technological advances of today is the smart home. We live in such a busy world, getting busier every single day, that anything that makes life easier is a good thing in my book especially if it makes life with my family better.

The new Philips hue A19 Starter Kit and hue Go personal wire free smart lights 800 lumens are part of a Connected Home Story.  The kit enables you to experience home lighting in a new way by adjusting colors, timers, alerts and more from your phone. It’s more than just the ability to turn lights on and off, it’s freedom from having to argue with your kids whether or not they turned their bathroom light off before they left the house.

It’s the ability to schedule lights to come on when you are traveling to deter burglars. It’s the ability to set wake up sunrises for the children by allowing lights to gradually come on at a set time versus the harsh blare of an alarm clock and it completely avoids the frustration that tends to ensue when a parent has to continually return to rouse an overtired child or belligerent tween or teen from bed after a late night of talking on the phone with friends.

The A19 starter kit allows you to experience home lighting and transform the way you use light by adjusting colors, timers, alerts and more from your phone or mobile device. The bulbs, accessory lights and bridge work with your Wi-Fi to let you create mood-setting color schemes, or enjoy the right light setting for reading, relaxing, concentrating and many more. You can also easily maintain an automatic schedule while you’re vacationing – so that it looks like you’re home.

It works with Apple HomeKit so you can control your lights with Siri voice control on your iPhone. Turns your existing hue lights into HomeKit controllable lights and discover exciting new use cases through 3rd party homekit apps that also control door locks thermostats and more.

It’s so versatile, you can use it as personal reading light in a dark room, create bright lighting in a room with little existing lighting or no electrical outlets, use it as a kid’s night light, or take it outside to provide ambience on the patio. It also helps you to wake up fresh and energized in the morning with deep dimming. The gradually increasing light intensity gives you the feeling you are waking up from sunrise – gently and naturally. My kids love this and it’s so much gentler than startling them awake by turning on bright lights.

The lights offer 5 patented “natural dynamic effects”: Cozy Candle, Sunday Coffee, Meditation, Enchanted Forest, and Night Adventure. Each dynamic effect has its own mix of colors to set the right mood. You can also choose from fine-tuned shades of white including the soothing “Relax” setting, the vibrant “Energize” setting and more – no need for buying different white bulbs

The Netgear® Nighthawk™ DST Router and DST Adapter with Geek Squad included, new and exclusively at Best Buy provides an easy, all-in-one solution to support your home’s connected devices.

As the number of Wi-Fi dependent products increase in a home they put a strain on the home’s network, especially the router. With the interest in online gaming and 4k TVs, connected devices such as smart thermostats, plus the need to stream shows from Netflix or hulu, it places even more demands on the network. Many households may experience slow Wi-Fi, dropped calls, or experience “dead zones” – which could be improved upon with an “AC” router, Wi-Fi extenders and expert help.

The AC1900 comes with one DST, or “Dead Spot Terminator,” adapter – to eliminate your Wi-Fi dead zones. Additional adapters can be purchased for other dead zones.

This high-performance router was built to support 10+ connected devices – you can also prioritize devices for streaming videos or music, and included advanced features for lag-free gaming. So the girls can be streaming Netflix, I can watch a movie on PLEX while the Big Guy plays Call of Duty and all the laptops and iPad are charging and there is no worry about lags in show playing.

We love having a connected home. Lights are just the beginning. We can control the thermostat, the electronics and make our home safer for all of us.

 

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lightroom, photography, photoshop, photography software

Disclaimer: I’ve been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received Lightroom for free.

Since having my children, the quality of photos I take has taken on a greater importance. A photo is no longer just a snapshot; it is a memory of a moment of my child’s life. Everyone knows that when you are a parent, childhood is fleeting and every second together counts.

During my childhood, I remember my father taking loads of photos and video. This is probably why it is so important to me to do the same. I love looing back of old photos of my childhood. It jogs memories and brings on the warm and fuzzies almost always. However, the photos are not of the highest quality.

There are a lot of snapshots from my toddler years where I look like a flicker of light or as a teen where the shadows are wreaking havoc on the photo making it almost unrecognizable. This is why I am so excited about the software available for photos these days.

I am finally at a point in my life where I own a high quality DSLR and I’ve had enough experience to know what components make a fantastic photo. However, even after a decade of shooting almost daily, I still need to tweak and adjust after shooting. This is why I was thrilled when I got the chance to use Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan.

It’s a 1-year subscription (encompassing Photoshop Creative Cloud and Lightroom Creative Cloud). This software plan is all about enhanced photo editing and convenience with the multi-screen capabilities provided by the Cloud. It allows me to take my best shots and make them even better.

The Creative Cloud Photography plan is all about enhanced photo editing and convenience with the multi-screen capabilities provided by the Cloud ($119.99 regular retail for a 1-year subscription). It allows active photographers who want to be able to create and access their vision on any device, to do so anywhere.
It allows me to perfect my photography from everyday edits to total transformations, the Creative Cloud plan lets you retouch and manipulate images in just about any way you can imagine.
It allows me to organize, edit and share images from anywhere, on my computer, on the web, on my iPad and even on my iPhone or Android device. And when you make an editor flag a favorite in one place, it’s automatically updated everywhere else through Adobe CreativeSync technology.
Lightroom creative cloud is my favorite new software to use to edit the photos of the moments that mean the most in my life; the photos of my family. I want these memories to be as vivid in frames on my wall as they are in my mind.

What’s your favorite Lightroom feature?

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