Stress Free App Review

To help me relax and sleep better, I’ve tried a few relaxation apps on my iPhone. The one I’m reviewing today is called, “Stress Free,” by Andrew Johnson.

As a mother of three kids, my life is extremely busy these days. Now that school is back in session, I have one child in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school. Yes. Three kids in three different schools.

Meditation and Relaxation AppTo help me relax and sleep better, I’ve tried a few relaxation apps on my iPhone. The one I’m reviewing today is called, “Stress Free,” by Andrew Johnson.

The app is easy to use. After installation, just open it up and check on the settings. You can adjust the length of the program according to your needs. Choose whether to include the audio instructions, short or long relaxation program, how many times to repeat the program, and how to end (sleep or wake up).

Johnson has a pleasant voice, and the background sounds are soothing. I listen with headphones on when I go to bed.

The program itself consists of Andrew Johnson talking you through a relaxation progression, followed by some suggestions on how to deal with stress. Honestly, I don’t remember exactly what Johnson says during the second half of the program, because I usually fall asleep before it’s finished.

“Stress Free” is available in the Apple Store for $2.99. I’m not convinced it’s making me “stress free,” but it is helping me fall asleep peacefully, and that’s worth $2.99 to me!

George Takei’s Amazon Product Reviews

George TakeiGeorge Takei is Emperor of the social networking universe, from Twitter to Facebook and Amazon.com!

Wait. What? Did I just say “Amazon.com?” That’s not a social network! But George Takei is making it social by writing hilarious product reviews and sharing them with all of his fans and followers!

Here are a few excerpts from some of Takei’s reviews.

From George Takei’s review of the Matrix Zorb Human Hamster Ball:

Oh myyy. Friends, you haven’t experienced Newton’s Third Law of Motion until your Human Hamster Ball collides with a semi heading the opposite way. I ricocheted like an eight ball and flew several hundred feet, then bounced from car to car until I finally came to rest somewhere along Rodeo Drive.

From George Takei’s review of Bacon Shaped Bandages:

Not to pork fun at an injury, but nothing strips the pain away like meating friends out dressed like this. “That’s sow wrong, George!” they squeal. But fat chance they let such a pig idea go. In fact, they often rip it off quickly–after giving me the cold shoulder.

From George Takei’s review of Canned Unicorn Meat:

Unfortunately, I found this unicorn meat brand to be quite similar to spam, both in texture and blandness. I’d been hoping for that zestier kick that comes from the rump cuts of other mythical and fantastical creatures, such as griffins or centaurs (for the latter, serve only the back half of the creature with guests, or it gets awkward).

To read the rest of his entertaining reviews, head over to George Takei’s reviewer page on Amazon.

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Reviews: Grapples and Petite Treats

photo of GrapplesHello, friends! I have tried some great new things, and you might like these, too.

First, my family tried some snappy new flavored apples. They are called Grapples (pronounced grape-lz), and they are real apples, but they smell like grapes. That might sound like a strange combination, but you should try these Grapples.

They start out as regular Fuji apples (my favorite kind of apples), which are crisp, juicy and sweet. Then the growers use some kind of proprietary magical process to infuse the apples with grape essence, which gives the fruits an extremely fruity fragrance, and a slightly grapey flavor.

It’s hard to describe, but it’s delicious. If you enjoy a crisp, sweet apple with a fantastic aroma and a sense of novelty, give Grapples a try.

photo of Petite Treats bookThe second new thing I’m sharing is this cute little recipe book, called “Petite Treats.”

From the authors of “Mini Pies” and founders of the Seattle-based Mini Empire Bakery, “Petite Treats” shows you how to miniaturize everything from tiny fruit scones and mini pies to bite-size brownies and cutesy cannoli —sweet satisfaction guaranteed.

This book includes dozens of full-color photos and easy-to-follow recipes, as well as decorating and presentation tips.

I haven’t had a chance to make any of the recipes in the book yet, but the pictures are drool-inducing. I’m looking forward to trying the tiny doughnuts and mini whoopie pies! You can order “Petite Treats” from Amazon.

How to Connect with Teens


I have three children, and the oldest is almost 14 years old. Parenting is certainly different with teenagers than it is with babies and toddlers, and I’m looking for ideas.

I was excited to get a copy of the new book, “21 Ways to Connect with Your Kids,” by Christian author Kathi Lipp. Even if you’re not a Christian, the tips for family activities are pretty good.

In 21 Ways to Connect with Your Kids, Lipp offers simple ideas and activities for parents that will appeal to children of all ages and personalities (expressive, analytical, driving and amiable). She also includes tips for the teenage years, ideas for step and blended families, and encouragement for single parents.

Although the book feels a bit “churchy” for me at times, I do like the tips for conversation starters! They’re a great way to get kids talking, and you don’t need any special equipment. You can use these talking points at the dinner table or in the car.

  • What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
  • Would you rather fly or be invisible?
  • What’s your favorite family tradition?
  • Who is the funniest person you know? Why is he or she funny?

I also like some of the “50 Ways to Connect with Boys.” As my teenager gets older, his activities and interests change. Some of these might be fun to do together.

  • Build something.
  • Grill dinner.
  • Watch funny YouTube videos. (My son loves this one!)
  • Make slime.
  • Try to break a world record.

If you have any other tips for dealing with a teenager, please share! Thank you!

Songza Music Concierge

Make room for this app on your phone! I just gave it a try, and of all the music apps I’ve used, Songza is my new favorite!

Make room for this app on your phone! I just gave it a try, and of all the music apps I’ve used, Songza is my new favorite!

Songza beats I Heart Radio, Pandora, and Spotify, hands-down. Why?

  • No in-programming audio ads.
  • Text ads are unobtrusive and easy to X and hide.
  • Great variety of pre-curated playlists.
  • Find music by genre, decade, occasion or mood.
  • Price of the app: FREE
  • Price for unlimited music streaming: FREE

If you’re looking for a great music app that’s FREE, you must give Songza a try! Let me know what you think, and which playlist is your favorite!

ChoreMonster.com aims to make chores more enjoyable for kids and parents

choremonster logo Getting my children to help with household chores can be a daily battle. It’s no fun, and everybody ends up feeling grumpy. Right?

ChoreMonster.com is an online system of chore assignments and rewards. It lets parents assign chores for kids by choosing from the default list or adding customized tasks. Each chore can be customized by due date, frequency, and points awarded.

Each child gets his own account, where the chores and rewards are presented in a colorful, easy-to-use interface. Kids can view assigned chores, check them off when they’re done, and see how many points they have earned. When they’ve saved enough points, they can redeem points for parent-defined rewards.

My kids have been using ChoreMonster for a couple of days now, and they’re still in the “this is so cool” phase. They enjoy suggesting chores and rewards for me to add to the system. They’re accumulating points and saving up for the big rewards (playdate with a friend, doughnuts, and a trip to the children’s museum, to name a few).

I like ChoreMonster because the kids go to the computer to see what they can do to earn points and help out around the house. This cuts down on the number of times I hear “Mom!” during the afternoon, which is nice. It also reduces the number of requests I get for treats and things, because they know how many points they need to save before they can be rewarded with something special.

We’ll see how they continue using ChoreMonster. Usually, they’re excited about any new chore system for about 1 week, and then they’re back to dreading chores. Maybe the combination of the computerized format, the scorekeeping, and the rewards-for-points system, will encourage them to stay with the ChoreMonster program! It’s kind of like a game!

ChoreMonster.com is still in beta mode, but the developer has given me an invitation code to share. If you’d like to give the free ChoreMonster system a try, just visit ChoreMonster.com and enter geekmom in the code field at the top of the page. Then follow the instructions to confirm your account.

Let me know what you think of the system. What kind of chores and rewards will you include in your family’s assignments? Do your kids do chores more willingly when it’s kind of like a game?

What’s My Password? LastPass to the Rescue!

I’ve been trying to do the right thing when it comes to my passwords:

  • Use a unique password for every login.
  • Make the password complicated and hard to guess.
  • Don’t use words that can be found in the dictionary.
  • Include numbers, capital letters and symbols.
  • Don’t write down your login information.

In other words, choose the most random combination of letters/numbers/symbols, don’t write it down, and then remember dozens of these in your head. The problem is, not only does a great password make it hard for hackers to guess, but it also makes it impossible for ME to remember!

Tired of hearing me complain, “I can’t remember my password!” my husband recommended I try LastPass. It’s a service that stores all of your passwords and locks them up with one super-sneaky Master Password. “The Last Password You’ll Have to Remember.” So I gave it a try…

Download LastPass

I downloaded the free version of LastPass, which works on both my MacBook and Acer notebook. There is also a premium version for about $12/year.

I got it installed and set up my Master Password, gave LastPass permission to import all of my saved logins from my browsers, and started surfing. It seems to work like a charm! If I’ve already had my browser save a password, LastPass already knows it! If I need to create a new password, LastPass will generate a tricky one for me, fill it in, save it, and autofill it for me!

I haven’t tried the Premium version yet. I believe it includes support for managing passwords on my iPhone. I may need that, too. For now, LastPass is my new favorite online utility. No, this isn’t a paid review. But if LastPass wants to send me a free Premium membership, I’ll take it! 🙂 [EDIT: LastPass found this post and gave me a free year of Premium service, which means I can use it on my iPhone, too! yaaay! Thank you, LastPass!]

If you need help managing passwords, I think you should download LastPass and give it a try. Let me know what you think!