- The Music! Let's get that right out of the way because it is what a lot of people appreciate right off the bat. Even without a subscription you can get tons of great music. You can access Pandora or I Heart Radio and many other stations. If you are an Amazon Prime Member, you can get Amazon Music Unlimited for just $7.99 per month and ask for specific songs. You can also do this with a Spotify account.
- Audible Stories! If you belong to Kindle Unlimited, you can get Alexa to read you those books aloud! Or, you can sign up for Audible and get tons of books. Even if you only sign up for the free trial you will get two free books. There are also other books available that if you ask her, Alexa will just read them to you. Especially kids books. I am still figuring this out, but I am often surprised that when I ask her to read to me, she will tell me a book that is available. One thing she reads to me daily is The Book of Mormon. She will read you 19 verses per day to be able to have it completed in one year.
- Games (and my party idea)! Alexa loves to play games with you! Well, at least she sounds like she does. I play Jeopardy on her almost daily during the week. If you are a Jeopardy fan, you can play and extra question from that day's show's categories 5 days a week. Before long you will be feeling like Ken Jennings. But, my favorite game and the basis of my next family party idea is Song Quiz! This is a game for 1-4 people. If you are playing solo, Alexa finds you people from around the country to compete against. You begin by telling her how many people (or teams) are playing and then which decade of music you would like to compete in. You may choose from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, or 2010s. Then, beginning with player 1, she will play you a clip of music from original artists. When the clip stops, you have a few short seconds to give the title of the song and the name of the artist. You can say repeat to give yourself more time to think. If you get either the title or the artist, you will get some points. My husband and I like to to start in the 60s and work our way through the 80s. Here is my party idea! I call it the APPLES, PEACHES PUMPKIN PIE PARTY- (named after the song) Obviously the food would match the name. I think that at a family party we could divide into 4 teams, mixing and matching the ages of the participants so that there will be people on each team who should know the music from each decade. We can keep track of who wins each round on a white board and have prizes of the cheesy musical variety of some kind. It sounds like so much fun!
- TRIVIA! Alexa can answer a lot of pop culture questions, historical questions and various other questions about factual information. So, for example we were watching Blue Bloods and I remembered Tom Selleck from back in his Magnum PI days. I wondered how old he must be now? So, I asked Alexa and she told me! (74 years old!) If I had wanted to know his net worth, she would have told me that as well! But, that seems pretty invasive!
- Timers and Reminders! It is so convenient when you need a quick timer to just ask the Amazon Echo to set a two minute timer or whatever you need. You can also have it set an alert for you. If you are expecting packages to be delivered, you can ask Alexa, "Where is my stuff?" and she will tell you where it is and when it should be delivered. When it is delivered, she flashes a yellow light and lets you know that you have notifications.
- Drop In on Family Members Who Have Alexa! I don't do this very often, but if phones are dead and I need to talk to my son or his wife, I can just ask Alexa to drop in on them. I call out and they can hear me on their device! (It usually startles them or me when reversed.) My son's family just received a video device to attach to their Echo so that they can call and see others who also have the camera.
- Smart Plugs! I don't have one yet, but these seem great because you can plug in lights or TVs or whatever you want into these things and ask Alexa to turn them on and off by voice command. Christmas tree lights would be great or exterior lights. There are a myriad of uses.
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Last year at Christmas, Maddy got my husband and I an Amazon Echo device for Christmas. (There is it on our messy end table). I was excited about it because my experience with Echo devices had been that you could ask Alexa for a song and she would play it for you! But, beyond that I was pretty clueless and my husband was even more clueless that I was about the fun we could have with this little beauty. Our kids make fun of how lacking we are in technology skills, and using Alexa has certainly been a learning curve for us. But, now, a year later, I am ready to share with some of our favorite uses for our Echo.
Amazon Echo Devices continue to get smarter and smarter and are able to do more and more to help you out in your day to day routine, plus add fun and entertainment to your life! These things that I have found to be of benefit to our family are probably just scratching the surface of the uses available. If you haven't tried out the Echo Device for yourself, you may want to give it a try! You obviously don't need to be a computer guru to understand how to work it, as you can see. If you do use the Amazon Echo Device, you may have a few ideas to fill me in on that will make my experience even better! Please share in the comments below!
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I love looking for new nativity scenes during the Christmas Season. I have a small collection of nativities, including a special on from Ecuador and a handmade one from Maddy which are treasures, that I put out each year. So, this blog post is one of my favorites to write during the Christmas season because I get to spend time "researching" what nativities are out there that I havent seen. (By researching, I may mean shopping for my own collection.)
I am going to start this year's collection of my favorite finds with one figurine that is not a nativity, but it does remind me of the Savior and I love it so much that I had to add it to today's collection. It is called "White Woodland Santa with Baby Jesus." It is so sweet. When my children were little, I would tell them that Santa would never have begun bringing gifts if it hadn't been for Jesus' birth. Now that they are all adults and have outgrown Santa, they believe in Jesus more than ever so, this figure really spoke to me when I saw it and I want it! It is a Jim Shore piece.
I am a big fan of Jim Shore's work, so it is no wonder that I included a couple more of his pieces. Here are two nativity ornaments that I love.
I also enjoy nativities that keep you gazing at them because they are so intricate or detailed.
I always like to make sure that there is a nativity set that my grandchildren are allowed to touch and play with. What better way for them to learn the true story of the birth of Jesus Christ? This year, I am looking at this set by Melissa and Doug! Melissa and Doug products are always good quality. This set looks sturdy and durable. There is a simple to assemble stable and 11 wooden figures. I know my grandchildren would love it!
. This year I am again participating in #LIghtTheWorld. It is a way of "transforming Christmas into a season of service." If you participate, you can receive a text each day reminding you of small acts of service that you can perform each day until Christmas. Today I just finished Day 4. I have been able to do each act of service so far and my heart is full of love for my Savior and for my fellowman today! If you would like to take part,just click this link and find out what you can do and how easy it is. It will change you and you will feel joy!
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Today for What to Read Wednesday I want to suggest a book that has been out a few years already and had a movie made from it that won Academy Awards: Room by Emma Donoghue.
Room is one of those books that you're not sure of at first. It's told from the perspective of a 5 year old boy which bothers some people who read it. But once you get into the story it's easy to get past that.
The story is about a boy, Jack, and his Ma who are trapped in an eleven ft square room. I don't want to give too much away because I feel the book is better that way. But I will say this book is very thought provoking and a testament to the bond between mother and child. The book deals with heavy topics, and a lot of them including trauma, rape, suicide, and family struggles, but because it comes from Jack's perspective you don't put the book down feeling depressed and hollow. My final feeling when finishing the book was hope. And I think that's one of the reasons I loved it.
This isn't a book I would recommend for young children, despite it being told from the perspective of a 5 year old, but older teens and adults could probably handle the themes of the book.
This is another book that I listened to on my phone. They had different voice actors for characters and I think that really helped to keep me engaged. I love listening to books because it helps me to stay up on my reading and taking care of my home. If you're busy and on the go like me, listening to books is a great way to get extra reading in! I have been using Audible and I love it. You can try it out here.
If you've seen the movie before, I would still recommend the book. I too watched the movie before reading the book, and I still feel the book is different enough that it is worth your time. (Although I do think the movie did a great job staying true to the story). The movie is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video too. If you don't have Prime, what are you waiting for?
So have you read Room? Will you be picking it up and trying it out? I promise you won't regret it. I loved it and all though it deals with heavy subjects it's really thought provoking and a beautiful book. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Creators of Hot Cocoa Bombs! (copyrighted)
Helen Reynolds: Mother of six children , grandmother to ten and counting! I love to cook, craft and create things and I especially love doing that with my family, So, when my lawyer daughter, Lindsey, my artist daughter, Madalynn, and I came up with the idea of Hot Cocoa Bombs, this blog was born. Then, one more daughter, with her technical and science skills, plus creativity has joined in to round us out! Read more about us here!
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