Friday, July 29, 2011

With Moby, No One Is Lost

Divide and conquer isn't just a battle maneuver - in my family, it's the only way we can get everything accomplished that we need to do. Whether it's being on opposite sides of town, with me grocery shopping while Aaron picks the kids up from camp, or just on opposite sides of the zoo with each of us entertaining one child we often find ourselves apart from each other.

So how do we keep in touch? Our phones, of course. And there's nothing more frustrating than trying to get an update on where your spouse is only to get a voicemail message because he can't hear the phone or can't answer it at the moment. Those are the moments when I think, "Just SHOW me where you are!"

Well, now that's possible with the Moby app for iPhone.

Moby is a private location sharing service that lets you stay in touch with friends and family without having to call or send a text. You can share your location with a select group, check in at a particular location, or even send out a request for help. Even if another person doesn't have the Moby app, you can still send them updates on your location.

While some location sharing services allow anyone to see where you are, Moby is completely private, allowing you to control exactly who can see your location.

Hey look, there's my husband.

There are so many uses for this app. Parents of teenagers can have their teens check in when out late to make sure everything is OK without that embarrassing call to mom. When meeting friends, you now no longer have to search when your friends say they're at a restaurant you've never heard of - you can simply see their location and know exactly how to get to them. (Assuming you can read a map, of course.)

For us, it's most useful when we're at the same place. Our two daughters are night and day, which often leaves us taking one kid each to a different location. This app is perfect for checking in so we know where the other pair is and can find them quickly if needed.

Moby works best if all family members have the app downloaded to their iPhone, but anyone can benefit from it as long as one family member has the app on their device and others have access to email. The family member who has the Moby app can share their location with any other family member (whether or not they have the app) and the other person can receive messages from you via email.

Downside: At the moment, Moby is only available for iPhone and iPad users. But fear not - an Android version should be launching in the next month or two! Android users can get on the waitlist to be notified when it's available.

Final thoughts: I do like the Moby app. It is a little hard on battery life, but a new version should be released soon to deal with that flaw. I'm hoping I can convince friends at BlogHer to download it so we can keep track of each other at the conference next week!

Full disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Moby and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Babycakes Makes Baking Easy

I'm a lousy cook. There's no denying it. But I'm a slightly better baker. Given time, lots of counter space, and a lot of mess, I can turn out semi-decent muffins or quick breads. My daughters beg to have lots of baked goods in the house, and knowing I can make muffins has them convinced I can whip up any baked good in a flash.


No, I'm usually a disappointment to my kids, coming up with excuse after excuse as to why I won't bake anything for them. It generally is a big mess, uses a lot of bowls and muffin tins, heats up my kitchen, and the results are rarely spectacular.

In our case, though, running to the grocery for a quick cupcake pickup can't happen either. My older daughter is sensitive to many ingredients, so I have to carefully screen the ingredients. And most store cupcakes come with brightly colored frosting that she can't have.

I was recently offered the chance to review a little machine that promised to be the answer to my prayers. The Babycakes cupcake maker heats up in five minutes, requires very little cleaning, and can bake treats in eight minutes or less.

This is the Foreman Grill of the baking world. Actually, it looks a lot like our (much used) Foreman grill, only in a pretty shade of pink.

With this device, you can use the recipes they suggest or use a boxed mix. (Go with a moist cake mix if using a prepackaged mix.) Me being lazy, I used a box mix for my first try, but have my eye on some of the delicious recipes in the included booklet.

The girls had fun mixing up the batter while I got the cupcake maker ready.

Then we added two tablespoons of batter to each cup, plugged it in, and let it do its magic!

The instruction booklet suggested it would take 5-7 minutes for the cupcakes to cook, even when starting with a cool appliance. They weren't kidding: after 5 minutes, I checked them and the cupcakes were fully cooked!

Getting them out of the cupcake maker was the most difficult part. It says to use a plastic utensil to pop the cupcakes out, but I didn't have anything that was plastic that was both thin enough and wouldn't melt from the heat. So I performed a big no-no and (gently!) used a butter knife to get the cupcakes out. Despite the nonstick surface, I still had trouble getting some of them out, leaving a few cupcakes looking mangled.

Proof that no gadget can make me perfect.

Overall, half a box of cake mix produced 20 cupcakes, all in under 20 minutes! (It normally takes me at least 20 minutes to find my muffin pan.) After they were cooled, we added frosting and let the kids have their first bites.


I like the ease of use of the Babycakes cupcake maker and I can see myself using it often in the future, especially around the holidays. It makes cupcakes lightning-quick, and clean up is easy - just wipe it off after it cools. My only complaint is that it can be tough to get the cupcakes out of the wells without damaging them; I might need to hunt for the right plastic utensil to help me out.

But most of all, I like it because I'm now a hero to my kids, able to make them cupcakes anytime they want with little chance of (fatal) error!

Full disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Babycakes and received a product sample and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Every BlogHer Needs A Shoe Fairy

I've been attending the BlogHer conference since 2006. And since my first year, I always see newcomers asking those who have previously attended for their best tips on surviving the conference. I've given out several tips of my own.

But having done this for so long, and now being 5 years older than I was when I first attended, I will declare my #1 rule of BlogHer to be this: wear comfortable shoes.

Look, I'm a nurse. I know a lot about being on your feet a lot, and I know that you need to take care of your feet. You're going to do A LOT of walking at BlogHer and no matter how cute your shoes are, they won't be so cute if you're limping because of them.

I broke that rule last year. I wore a pair of wedges that quickly became uncomfortable when walking 12 blocks to a party. By the end of the night I was hobbling in pain, and in the morning found gigantic open, raw blisters on my feet that made running the BlogHer 5K that morning VERY difficult. Lesson learned.

This year I'm back to my rule of comfortable shoes only. What's that? No, I won't be wearing tennis shoes and granny shoes - there is such a thing as comfortable AND fashionable.

Exhibit A:
the Violette in Bronze

Aren't these adorable? And they're Naturalizer shoes, so you know they're designed to protect and pamper your feet all day long while still looking great. I've had several pairs of Naturalizer shoes and all of them have kept my feet happy and blister-free.

And everyone wants happy feet, right?

I'm hoping to become Naturalizer's Shoe Fairy at BlogHer this year. If I get the chance, I'll be showing off my sweet new Naturalizer shoes as I stroll the halls in style and comfort. I'd also be performing shoe rescues throughout the conference, bringing comfort to sore feet in need of shoes that are functional as well as fashionable.

I won't be as cute as Neil Patrick Harris, but with happy feet I might just sing and dance.

Maybe I'll even wear wings. Cross your fingers and hope I get the chance to be your Shoe Fairy.

Your Shoe Fairy?

Full disclosure: This opportunity was presented to me by Naturalizer and the Brown Shoe Company, through MyBlogSpark, and this post serves as my entry to win a sponsorship for my attendance at the 2011 BlogHer Conference.