It’s My Birthday & a Giveaway

Hola friends. It’s my birthday! It’s my birthday! Birthdays have always been big in my house. Cake, presents, and even eating out of the special birthday plate. (What, you don’t have one?) Today is a VERY special birthday though, because my baby, my eBook that I worked super hard on (and may have cried over a few times) is starting it’s pre sale today, like as in you can pre order it RIGHT NOW!

high-res-book cover

ok…. so what are you waiting for? I’ll be here when you get back.

A couple of notes about the pre order just to make sure we are on the same page (pun intended). 1.) Your card/account will not be charged until the 20th, which is when the book will be delivered digitally to your inbox. 2.) The price of the book will go up on the official launch day which is the 20th of July. So don’t miss out on pre sale pricing!

This is my very first digital product, so I will admit I am a little nervous. I really hope you will love the eBook and will be able to sense the effort, time, and love I put into each chapter. I feel that my blog is a platform I use to reach others, and I hope to encourage, inspire, and motivate with The Average Girl’s Guide to Living an Above Average Life.

pre sale

I wanted to give the opportunity for two of you to get the eBook totally FREE, since it’s my birthday and all. (Please note, don’t let the giveaway stop you from pre ordering. If you win and have already ordered, I will refund your money via paypal!) Please follow the directions below and good luck! The contest runs from now through July 16th. I will announce the winner Monday morning here on the blog.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The technical side of this eBook would not be possible without two very special and encouraging people. Katy built my landing page and sells a host of products and services that any blogger would find helpful. Abby (and Donnie) created the Book Boss program that made me feel like I could really actually do this, and I can’t believe it’s finally here. be sure to show them some love!

QOTD: No question today, just go check out my pre sale page and have a great July 13th! It’s a pretty good date if I do say so myself.

Tech Toys Then and Now

Disclosure: The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

I will admit that I am kind of a tech nerd, and I really hope to have passed on some of my nerdi-ness to my child. My mom tells me that when I was growing up, I always wanted the toys for Christmas/birthdays that involved batteries, moving parts, and “life like” characteristics. I had a dog that really walked next to you on a leash, (go go my walkin’ pup anyone?) as well as a baby that cried and you could feed her a bottle. I also have a PJ Sparkles, and when I was a pre teen the very first Game boy came out. Let’s just stay we had a healthy supply of batteries in our house for all of my toys. I still remember when the JC Penny Christmas catalog would come out every year and I would spend hours circling the toys I wanted. All tech toys of course. Much to my parents dismay, these toys were also the most expensive since the “real life” tech toys were so new.

Of course, “tech toys” have changed a lot since the early 1990’s, but I am still intrigued by them and was excited to introduce Emma Kate to the Code-a-pillar.

Rabbie Ke

This toy was created by Fisher Price, and is available at Best Buy. The premise behind this little guy is that you can hook all of his pieces together in any order you choose, and make him crawl in different directions all around your house. He also lights up and really cute music plays as he is “working”, and Emma Kate loved chasing him around seeing which direction he would go next.

bestbuy1

My favorite feature is the fact that the Code-a-pillar has endless possibilities. It really makes the kids (and adults!) think about which way they want him to go, and what arrangement of pieces you would need to make him end up in a certain spot. For example, you can set up an “obstacle course” and see what configuration you would need to make him go under a chair, around a table, and to the other side of the room without running into anything. It’s a lot of fun!

bestbuy2

I would definitely recommend this product for anyone who loves gadgets, and for those wanting to help teach their kids about problem solving, coming up with solutions, sequencing, and using their imagination (which should be EVERY parent!) Even though Emma Kate is still young, she was so curious and engaged and even helped me take apart the pieces and put them together in a different order (they are really easy to plug into each other).

This toy encourages experimentation as well as problem solving. Each section lights up as the action is happening (when he turns right, the “turn right segment lights up and blinks”.) It is designed for children ages 3-6, but Emma Kate still enjoyed this toy even though she isn’t three yet. I can’t wait to see how she changes the way she plays with is as she grows.

QOTD: Do you think this is a cool toy? Did you like tech toys when you were growing up? What was your favorite?

5 Things Friday XVIII

Happy Fri-yay! It’s a hot one here. Going to get up to 94! Lots to do today, but I wanted to pop in and share a few pieces of information with you. Have a great weekend!

1.) A Disney Day: As of Tuesday, June 21, I will be able to price out and book your 2017 Walt Disney World vacation for you! Prices are finally being released and I would love to help you plan a magical trip for your family. Just email me at heather@travelwiththemagic.com for a free quote (remember it’s FREE to use a travel agent, you don’t pay me anything extra for my work!)

akl7

2.) Dessert or protein shake?: I found an amazing recipe on Pinterest for a delicious protein shake/smoothie that, I confess, I have been drinking 4-5 times a week for the past three weeks. It’s that good. It’s super easy to make (did anyone else know butter extract was a thing?) and it tastes delicious!

3.) Relight: I like nice and bright photos, but sometimes my iPhone pictures come out less than desirable, and some of the filters that look brighter also distort color in a way I don’t like, so I started using a free app called Relight and have had great results! Of course using my “big girl” camera would be better, but this is the next best thing for a quick touch up.

4.) WOW week: I’m old school and still call it VBS (vacation Bible school), but our church is hosting over 1200 kids this week and I have been volunteering some and having a blast! I’m so happy to be a part of a special church with an amazing children’s program. Emma Kate has been enjoying it too (she gets to come since I am a volunteer) and I can’t wait for her to be old enough to attend the “real thing”.

f14067d9-210c-40c9-a7f2-783a3624bf04

5.) Bible Study: My small group at church will be doing a women’s Bible study in July and I have been trying to figure out what book we should use. I have a few that seem good I have been looking at but thought I would ask y’all if you have done anything lately you really liked? Looking for something a little on the short/light side for summer. Thanks for any suggestions you have!

QOTD: Did you attend VBS/WOW week as a kid? Any Bible study book ideas?

How To Start a Blog: FREE E-Course

Good morning! How is everyone today? Before I get going on how super excited I am to launch my very first email course (and it’s completely free!), I want to thank those of you that signed up for my free fitness and goal tracking printables. I am new to this e-mail list thing, and I wanted to do something simple yet fun and helpful to YOU to see what kind of traction I would get, and I was very pleased with my results! Also, a huge thank you to those of you that responded to the initial newsletter question. I am still reading them and decided to respond to each of you, but it may take me a few days so hang tight. There is a common theme among the responses I have gotten so far, so I can’t wait to share with each one of you.

Anyway, the free printables were really just an introduction to something I have been wanting to offer for awhile, and that is a free e-course. Blog posts packed with information are great, but some topics are just too big to put into a single post, and could get really overwhelming.

I have truly enjoyed the few e-courses I have participated in, and thought to myself “hey, I can do that!” Basically if you choose to sign up you will be getting a series of five days worth of emails on a topic near and dear to my heart, which is starting a blog.

how to start a blog free e-course

I wrote a blog post about three years ago with tips on starting your own blog, and to this day it is one of my number one most read posts of all time. (All time being 6.5 years, but that’s still a long time!) The post was decent, but I feel like I barely scratched the surface and left a lot of readers hanging on exactly how to go about doing the things I talked about in my blog post. Enter my e-course!

I am SO excited to be offering this to my awesome readers. I know there are a bunch of you out there who would love to start a blog (and would be great at it!) but have no idea where to begin. It can be scary and overwhelming, but it is totally doable. Back when I started blogging, I had no help and just learned as I went.  I want to help you to not make the same mistakes I did, and I want to simplify the process for you. Also, if you already have a blog, you may still enjoy the course because in the last couple days of it, I give some tips and tricks that could be helpful to you.

Please don’t waste months trying to figure things out on your own when I have already done the hard work for you. Sign up for my five day free e-course and get to blogging. I can’t wait to see what you come up with! You can sign up by clicking the photo above or by clicking this link.

QOTD: Have you ever taken an e-course? What was the topic?

PS: You can still sign up to get the free fitness and goal tracking printables, you didn’t miss out!

My “Big Girl” Camera

Several years ago, I bought a “big girl camera”, so that I could take better vacation photos and blog photos. Sadly, with the new technology of camera phones and the use of filters, it hasn’t been as important to use an amazing camera as it used to be (or so I thought.) That and well, I was just being lazy. It’s so much easier to just upload photos form my phone straight to my blog than to shoot, edit, and work with “real” pictures.

12190089_858811977529599_6651112489704784971_n

Exhibit A: iPhone panoramic photo plus filter = good enough, right?

I recently realized I really needed to “up my game” in the photo department, and wanted to find time (haha) to learn to use my camera in manual mode. I had tried many times before but got bogged down in lingo and details that seemed to skip over the VERY basic steps that I needed.

I still need a LOT of work, but I am beginning to see good results on better quality photos that I will be using in m blog posts (not all of them, sorry. A lot of my daily life is snapped quickly on my phone, especially with the baby!) I found a great website that really helped it click for me in my head, and I thought I would pass it along to you and maybe you will find it as helpful as I did.

unnamed (50)

What? You have to have SKILLS to take a picture of your feet with an iPhone. I am a master at this one.

Does anyone have any great beginner photography tips or websites for me? I would love to learn more and keep on practicing my skills (or lack of skills. I’m under no illusions that I actually know what I am doing.)  I currently have a Nikon D5000 to work with. I have the lens that came with it as well as a huge “stalker” lens where I can super-zoom in on people, but that’s it. What else do I need?

QOTD: Photographers HELP! What lens to I need? Any helpful tools/website/blogs I need to follow? I have zero artistic eye!

New Hair and a Texting Question

Good morning my friends and happy hump day. (Said the camel way, of course). Yesterday I did something some would consider drastic….I chopped off my hair. COLLECTIVE GASP! I know, right? It was seriously time. My hair told me it was time. (What, your hair doesn’t talk to you?) Anyway, I had a ponytail holder break on me, and since I haven’t had a haircut in oh…8 months…back when I was pregnant….I knew it was time. I know, I know. I hang my head in shame.

Something you may or may not know about me…I am THE most low maintenance hair person. It’s in a ponytail nine times out of ten because well…I’m lazy, and can think of 100 other things to do with my time besides straighten my long thick hair. I don’t even own a blow dryer. I’m not even kidding. My last one broke a year or two ago and I just never replaced it. Anyway, I was hoping by chopping my hair off, the summer heat would be more bearable for running and, maybe I would take the time to actually straighten it if it wasn’t halfway down my back. We will see. Don’t hold your breathe.

unnamed (20)

Do you chop off your hair as the seasons change? Just curious. I stood my ground though and said no to bangs. EVERY TIME I cut my bangs I immediately, like as in ten minutes later, regret it. You should have to sign a mental health waiver to get bangs cut. It’s that traumatizing. Let’s move on shall we?

I was chatting with a friend the other day about texting, and realized something pretty funny. I am the type of person that texts back IMMEDIATELY. I always have my phone next to me or in my hand, so I will reply as long as I’m not on the phone or changing a diaper or something fun like that. Seriously, if you text me and I don’t respond within ten minutes, call the cops, because I may be dead. I have friends that I text with daily, and some are like me and respond instantly (and I in turn get worried if I don’t hear back within a few minutes), and then I have some that may go hours or even days without texting me back. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!? Someone please help me. Is this a blogger/social media thing? Because I am always on social media due to the nature of my work, am I just more prone to responding quickly to texts?

iphone6

It’s honestly something I never really thought about until now. Someone please enlighten me? Am I a freak? (Bobby, you are not allowed to answer, k thanks.) I’m not saying there is anything wrong with any particular way or timeframe, I just find it fascinating.

Oh, on that note, my husband will be sitting on the couch and get a text and just ignore it. I’m all like AREN’T YOU GOING TO READ THAT? It seriously makes me twitch. Ok, so maybe I do have a problem. Also, don’t leave me a voicemail. There is a good chance you will never hear from me. If you call and I don’t answer, text me and tell me what you want me to do (call you back, etc.) I’m not sure why but I really dislike listening to voicemail. Oh, also if I don’t have your number in my phone and you call me, I probably won’t answer. I refuse to talk to solicitors and that’s usually who the no-name calls are from. So now that you know ALL of my “phone quirks,” I think it’s time for me to be quiet before you never come back to my blog again. if you need me, text, don’t call. Smile

QOTD: What is your texting style? Do you like voicemail? How often do you cut your hair?

My Favorite Social Media Apps

Social media is a big part of my life, and since I am on the go a lot, so are social media apps for my phone and iPad. I wanted to share some of my favorites with you, aside from the obvious Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. The following apps are all things that HELP already existing accounts you may have on those platforms.

social media apps

Buffer: The Buffer app is a great tool for scheduling things like Tweets and Facebook posts. You can add in 10 updates with the free version and they will be posted during the day at times you set, so you don’t have to worry about posting too many things at once. You can also add a buffer button at the top of your toolbar, so anytime you are on a blog or website and see an article you want to tweet or post about but don’t want to do it this minute, you just click the button and the post gets composed and added to your buffer que to be posted at a later time, it’s so easy. My favorite feature is that I can see the likes, comments, shares, and reach for each post.

Facebook Pages Manager: This one should be a given if you have a Facebook fan page. It is especially helpful if you have multiple pages like I do. I can easily toggle between them and see notifications and messages, write new posts, post photos, etc. Without having to go into my actual Facebook app.

Flipboard: This is a great app where you can get up to date content and news that would be relevant to your blog or topics of interest to your followers. (You pick the topics that come up). Once you find an article or story you like, you can share straight to Facebook or Twitter among others. This is a great tool to increase engagement and is a good conversation starter among your followers.

Snapseed: This is a photo editing tool I use a lot before I post photos to Instagram. It has a lot of basic options like frames, straighten, and copping, but also has some great ways to fine tune the coloring, sharpness, and focus of an image. There are a ton of editing choices and it’s fun to play around with.

 

QOTD: What is your favorite app that helps with social media?

September Weekend Happenings

Good morning! I hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine had some stressful moments but had some fun ones as well.

Bobby surprised me with a new iPhone 6 on Friday. We were eligible for the upgrade and cheaper price, and with the trade in of my 4s it was free! I have never had the “newest” device so it’s kind of fun.

iphone6

Since this was potentially our last weekend EVER without a child, (whoa) I wanted to hang out a lot with Bobby, and do some of my favorite things. I worked hard last week to get most of my work done, but ended up with some last minute work that took up a huge chunk of time Friday-Sunday, but we still managed to go on a date on Saturday and I got to watch football.

We went to lunch on Saturday and then Bobby took me to see The Maze Runner. I can’t remember the last time I went to the movies. It was really good! They did a great job. Of course, the book was better (when isn’t it, really?) but I didn’t feel cheated like I do with a lot of other book-to-movies.

Saturday night we watched some football, and after church on Sunday we watched the Saints FINALLY get a win for the season. They still made me nervous, but whew! I was starting to really wonder.

DSC_2310

Bella was getting quite skeptical of the Saints, too.

Sunday night I did some cleaning up around the house, and just relaxing watching more football and hanging out with Bobby. I can’t believe very soon things around here are going to be not so quiet!

Oh! I will be closing my baby pool tonight, so get your hunches in if you want to guess! Winner gets a prize!

*For two Fitness (maternity workout apparel) is having a SALE this week, up to 30% off! Be sure to check it out! Their stuff is SO comfy and adorable!

QOTD: Did you read The Maze Runner? Have you seen or do you plan to see the movie? Thoughts? Did your football team win this weekend? I went 1-1 with the Saints and LSU.

No Internet

Hey guys! Sorry for the MIA. If you have been following on Twitter, Instagram, or my Facebook page you know we have been busy moving…and busy NOT having internet (thanks AT&T!) Yall, it’s ridiculous how many times we have been lied to by them over the past week. I still have NO idea when we will be getting internet, so I got as much work done yesterday as I could while we still had access to our rental for the last day. Please hang with me this week as posting may be sporadic. I promise to come back with house pictures and such!

Just to give you an idea of how angry I was on Thursday….Bobby took this photo of me on the phone with AT&T Uverse, trying to understand a woman who did NOT speak English telling me they couldn’t give me an installation date due to a problem at a local facility….whatever that means. Oy.

photo (5)

Not too flattering I know, but just keeping it real. On to happy things!

I have a couple of giveaway winners to announce! First, the custom tutu. Remember, if you didn’t win, just contact Leslie and tell her you found her from my blog and she will give you FREE SHIPPING!

Winner is: Andee Thompson Hodo. Please email me at throughheatherslookingglass@gmail.com to claim your prize!

Next up is the Balance bar and Wal-Mart gift card giveaway winner: Amanda Stevens. Please email me to claim your prize!

I will continue to post from my phone via my social media accounts, so I will be around, and will be helping my clients with their vacations as well, so no worries anyone! Have a great Monday, hopefully I can rejoin the online world from my laptop soon.

QOTD: Have you had issues with internet installation before? Seems like it’s a rampant problem!

Magellan Echo Review

Awhile back I was contacted to review a cool new device called the Magellan Echo. At first I wasn’t so sure why this device was special, but upon further reading, I realized this was nothing like anything I had ever used.  It also comes in several pretty colors!

IMG_1343

Echo solves the biggest problem when doing sports with a smartphone. How many times have you used a running app on your phone, and got aggravated because you had to keep pulling it out of your pocket or armband to check you time and pace? Or, when running in the bright sun, having to figure out a way to read your smart phone’s screen to see how your run is going? The Echo fixes this by syncing your info from your app to a wrist watch!

Echo streams data and controls from your smartphone to your wrist. At a glance, you can see things like distance, pace, and heart rate from certain apps on your phone in realtime.echo_fea_fitness_1_2

With your phone in your pocket or in an armband, etc., remote controls make it easy to do things like Start, Stop, Lap as well as Music controls like Play/Pause, and hanging to the next song. Also, tapping the screen turns the page to show more date screens. Echo uses Bluetooth Smart to connect your smartphone and watch.

Apps bring Echo to life on your wrist. They are working with the leading fitness apps to ensure that your favorite app works with Echo. Strava, MapMyRun, MapMyRide, Wahoo Fitness, iSmoothRun, iMobileIntervals and other apps will be announced soon. (I am currently using Strava on mine).

The device is always on and ready to go. Echo does not need to be recharged, it uses very low power technology and runs off of a replaceable coin cell battery.
Echo’s low power technologies also help preserve the battery of your smartphone. Using Echo means your phone screen stays off, which saves your smartphone battery for more important functions. Also, When you’re not running or biking, Echo is an everyday watch showing the day, date and time.

The model I was sent also came with a heart rate monitor, but you can also purchase the watch alone without this feature. I really liked not having to stare into a glaring screen to see what was going on with my phone app, or worry about draining my battery. The screen on the watch is large and easy to read, and I really love that you aren’t just limited to one app like if you are using a regular GPS watch. Depending on your preference or activity, you have many options with more coming!

QOTD: What are your thoughts on a device like this? What other apps would you like to see the Echo work with?