- 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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In just about a month, my wonderful husband and I will be celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary! WHAT? Yes, it's true, we are that old! As an early gift, Madalynn surprised us with a photo shoot! Our photographer, Melissa @ Aww Snaps Photography, did a great job! And in spite of my trepidation about a photo shoot and my non-photogenic qualities, she was able to get some cute shots of us and the entire experience was a lot of fun!
With these great photos in hand, what could I do except get Photo Christmas Cards printed this year. In 40 years, this is the first time I've done this. Sure, I've included photos in our cards before, but this is the first time that we've had professionally printed photo cards. I think I always felt that it was out of our budget. But, I love receiving photo cards from family and friends and seeing that everyone else and their children are growing just as old as we are! HaHa! It does seem to be the trend of late to send photo cards rather than just regular folded cute Christmas cards. So, this year I took the plunge and it didn't turn out to be nearly as expensive as I thought it was going to be!
Of course, you don't have to have a professional photo done to use it to make a Photo Card, so many of the cards are just creative selfie snapshots! Digital photography certainly helps to keep the costs lower because you can just snap a photo, download it and send it to the printer that you will be using. Then, you just choose the design you want and the process is easy as pie.
Speaking of pie, it is almost Thanksgiving and there are some good deals out there right now for ordering photo cards, so you need to hurry and take advantage of them! Everyone knows that the weekend of Thanksgiving is the best time to send out your Christmas Cards because after that, the chances of them making it into the mail before the New Year is low. (I may or may not be speaking from experience). Anyway, here is a list of places that I have found that I have either used for other projects or one of my kids has used them. There are links to special deals and lots of choices of designs!
Snapfish is a company we have used before for simply printing photos. They do a great job and they are always offering discounts and special offers! But, if you want 75% off of your photo cards, their special for that ends today! So, if you have a photo ready, order right now! It is an easy process. Use code NOELCARD at checkout. Snapfish also offers other photo gifts like books, calendars and canvas prints.
Minted does beautiful photo cards and gifts all year long and their designs are wonderful. But, once again, their 15% discount ends today! So, hurry! If it is your first time ordering from Minted, you will be offered a 20% discount! Minted also has beautiful fabrics and home accessories to choose from. I love looking through their site.
Mixbook Earlier this year I used Mixbook to make a photo book to share with my grandchildren. I love it and I love reading it to my grandchildren. Mixbook offers many photo gifts and book templates. Right now, they are doing 11 days of deals, so you have a few extra days, (until 11-29) to get your photo card order in! Use code BFDEALS at check-out.
Shutterfly is a great place to store photos and print awesome gifts. One year for Christmas, we received an adorable Christmas ornament with our grandson's photo from Alicia and her husband. It is a treasure! Shutterfly is always offering awesome discount offers and freebies. Right now through Thanksgiving they are offering 50% off Christmas Photo Cards, plus an additional 20% off. Use Code EXTRA20. While I was looking at their site, a pop-up came up offering me 4 free gifts! I love free!
Costco Lindsey just let me know about the great deal Costco is for printing Photo Cards! They offer 50 Photo Cards for $13.99 and include gold foil lined envelopes. They also have 20% off of foil embossed cards. Lindsey said that last year they gave her a small photo calendar for free when she ordered cards. I don't know if that is an offer this year, but it sounds cool! Also, you can order your cards one day and then pick them up the next! Or, you may choose delivery within 5-7 days. They also offer photo gifts and one gift that they offer is a plush photo blanket! Wouldn't that be cute with a picture of a pet or a beautiful landscape?
Walgreen's I hadn't thought about using Walgreen's until I received an email from them offering a great deal on Photo Cards. What I loved about them is that I ordered the cards in the morning and I was able to pick them up at my local Walgreen's after lunch! Using the code CARDSTAT through November 30th, you will get 60% off of your card order. If you click on the Deals category on their website, you will see that Walgreen's is offering 75% off of photo books! Who knew that Walgreen's does photo books?
I ordered our photo cards from Walgreen's this year. I was excited to get them the same day. But, you may like another company's designs better or extra offers, so peruse them and see what you think! Just do it quickly so you don't miss the deals! And, Happy Thanksgiving!
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This week for What to Read Wednesday I have something a little different for you. We might want to call it What to Listen To Wednesday because this week’s book is an Audible Original that you can only get on Audible.
When you sign up for Audible you get 2 free Audible Originals every month in addition to one audio book credit every month. Effectively you get 3 books for the price of one! It’s a great deal. And if you’re busy like me sometimes when you try to sit down to read at night you can only get a few sentences in before you start reading the inside of your eyelids. So listening to audio books while cooking or cleaning has been a great way to get my reading in. I highly recommend Audible. It’s been awesome so far
And I have loved the Audible Originals, especially the one I’m recommending today. Rivals: Frenemies Who Changed the World by Scott McCormick. It’s a nonfiction history book that explores different rivalries in history that had an impact on culture, laws, and science. I found the book really interesting and an easy listen. Even if you’re not a history buff you will like this book. Everything is explained in an easy to understand way.
The fun thing about the Audible Originals is that there are sound effects that add to the listening experience. More like a radio program than just having a book read to you. That’s exactly how this book is too!
It’s also a quick listen, just under 3 hours, and I found it mostly without bias except for in the case of Burr and Hamilton but I will let you decide for yourself.
So will you be trying out Audible and their original productions? Let us know 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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