Upgrade Your Tech This Tax Refund Season

PicMonkey Image-3

This post was sponsored by Samsung as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

It’s almost tax refund season which means that soon, many of us are going to have some cash in our pockets. Because of this, these next couple months are a popular time to upgrade technology. Walmart helps make that extra cash in our pockets go the extra mile by offering great deals on Samsung products. Whether you are looking to upgrade your smartphone to a newer version, get a tablet so you can stay connected on the go, want a larger television for watching your favorite shows or want to make the audio in your home better, Walmart has a variety of options to choose from. Below I’m sharing some of the best Samsung offers you can find at Walmart this tax refund season.

Smartphones

Many of us use our smartphones on a daily (usually hourly!) basis so it’s important that we have technology that can meet all of our needs. Whether you need a phone with a long battery life so you can check your work email when you are on the go, need plenty of storage space to keep all your photos. or use social media to stay connected with your loved ones, a quality smartphone is a must!

Straight Talk GS5 @ $199

Available at Walmart and Walmart.com here.

The Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE Prepaid Smartphone has a fast quad-core dual processor that is ideal for everything, from gaming to multitasking. It also has 5.1″ full HD super AMOLED touchscreen that makes all of your phone activity come alive. The incredibly powerful 16MP camera on this Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone takes breathtaking photos. The 2.1 megapixel front-facing camera can be used for selfies and video phone calls. No need to worry about memory, the Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE prepaid smartphone has an internal memory of 16GB. This phone is also designed to be water-resistant as well.

 Straight Talk GS7 @599

Available at Walmart and Walmart.com here.

The Straight Talk Galaxy S7 G930VL LTE is the smartphone your life can’t do without. It’s big on screen and slim on profile. And with an IP68 rating that protects it from spills, splashes and even dunks, you can forget about searching the internet for magical solutions to dry out your smartphone. Just wipe if off and keep going. When the sun sets and the fun starts, the world’s first dualpixel smartphone camera makes capturing low-light photos a breeze. No more photos where your awesome night out with friends looks like blurry shapes in a cave. And stop waiting around for your phone to charge. With fast wireless charging, the Straight Talk Galaxy S7 powers up from 0 to 100 percent in no time. Plus deciding which photo album to scrap just so you can add something new is now a distant memory. With expandable memory you can add up to 200GB to keep the content you love, and keep adding to it.

Tablets

Tablets are great for live streaming our favorite shows on the go or keeping the kids occupied on long road trips. If you don’t have a tablet yet, you’ll want to check out this cool Samsung one!

Tab E 9.6”

Available at Walmart and Walmart.com here.

The 7,300mAh battery keeps you powered up to watch, read and game at home or on the go. The Galaxy Tab E was made to go wherever you go and do whatever you want to do. From watching a movie with the family at home to reading a bestseller at the coffee shop, the big, bright screen keeps everyone entertained. Enjoy more of your favorite music, photos, movies and games on the go with a microSD card that expands your tablet’s memory from 16GB to up to an additional 128GB. Make shareable moments better with the Galaxy Tab E’s advanced camera features. Catch more in each photo with Panorama and Continuous Shot modes. Video chat from anywhere. And quickly toggle between camera and video modes. With the Galaxy Tab E, you won’t miss a thing.

Televisions 

Televisions have changed so much over the past decades. When we finally upgraded to smart tv’s, watching television became much more enjoyable. Now there are even newer advancements in televisions that produce better quality images and a sharper picture.

UHD TV – U60KU6270

Available at Walmart and Walmart.com here.

This Samsung television provides 4K UHD Picture Quality which provides an incredible picture and dramatic detail. Its 4K resolution means everything you watch looks 4x sharper than Full HD. This tv has a slim design so nothing stands between you and your viewing experience. This television has Smart View which means that you can watch your tv entertainment on your mobile device or watch your mobile media on your TV via the Smart View App.

Audio

There is nothing better than being able to watch movies in your own home and have such great sound that you feel like you are in the theater. A television alone will not give you the sound you are looking for so you have to add on audio elements that have the volume, bass and power that you need to make movie night more memorable.

DAV- Soundbar – HW-KM36

Available at Walmart and Walmart.com here.

 The Samsung Bluetooth Soundbar 2.1ch 130W Wireless Subwoofer (HW-KM36/ZA) helps you to enjoy cinematic sound for a more immersive experience. It features TV SoundConnect to make it easy to set up with just one push of a button. The Bluetooth design means that you can connect wirelessly with no clutter. This TV soundbar utilizes 3D SoundPlus, a feature that makes 3D movies more incredible by analyzing the depth of the images as they appear, then synchronizing to what’s onscreen for making the illusion of three dimensions even more powerful. Its 130 watts deliver the volume, bass and power that you need to make movie night more memorable. It’s 2.1 channels of sound allow for stereo sound. You can use the Samsung Audio Remote App from your phone or smart device to control your home theater. This unit’s subwoofer gives the outstanding quality of sound that you require.

What technology are you looking to upgrade this year?

 

Personally, I hope to add some audio products, like the Samsung Bluetooth Soundbar, into our living room.

An Interview With ‘Timeless’ Actress Abigail Spencer

1121_TIME_S1_PRIMARY_KA_VERT

This post was sponsored by the Role Mommy Writer’s Network but all thoughts are my own.

One thing you all may have learned about me is that I love tv. In the fall there are so many great new premieres and my DVR is set to record them all. One new show that I was excited to see was Timeless, which airs Monday nights at 10pm EST on NBC.


Timeless is a thrilling action-adventure series in which a mysterious criminal, Flynn (played by Goran Visnjic), steals a secret state-of-the-art time machine, intent on destroying America as we know it by changing the past. Our only hope is an unexpected team: Lucy (played by Abigail Spencer), a history professor; Wyatt (played by Matt Lanter), a soldier; and Rufus (played by Malcolm Barrett), a scientist, who must use the machine’s prototype to travel back in time to critical events. While they must make every effort not to affect the past themselves, they must also stay one step ahead of this dangerous fugitive. Throughout the show we will wonder if this handpicked team can uncover the mystery behind it all and end his destruction before it’s too late.

This morning I had the privilege of being on an interview call with Abigail Spencer who plays Lucy in the show. A group of us asked her questions about many things, including her thoughts when she first read the script, if she would go back in time if she could and how she got into character. Abigail said that when she first read the script she thought the concept of time travel was “crazy” but added that she thinks that is what makes her more authentic as the character. She also said she thought the female character as a “hero” was a great role model for girls. She also loves the costumes in the show and adds that her mom always used to make her clothes when she was younger which I thought was an interesting fact.

I was most interested in what she said during the interview about being a working mom and parenting since I always love hearing how other moms manage success and family. Abigail said that she shoots during the week and flys home every weekend and makes sure to include her son in the process. As a mom she just takes things one day at a time and it’s all about coordinating things, which she does with a great support network around her.

Two things she said really stood out to me on this topic of parenting. In response to a question I asked, she told me that she is showing her son that “mommy had a dream when she was a little girl and she went for it.” She also said that her dad (an important person in her life who sadly passed away when her son was 2) always told her, “find what you love and make a whole life of it” and that’s what she’s doing and what she’s showing her son is possible for him. What an inspiration she is as a mom! Whether her son chooses to follow in her footsteps as an actor or do something entirely different, he’ll know that he is open to pursue anything he loves and will be encouraged to go after his dreams. Isn’t that what all of us moms want for our children? To see them truly happy?

Abigail was a delight to interview and seemed so down to earth and kind. I look forward to watching her every week in Timeless on NBC!

 

A Look At Versailles

Ensemble_Landscape_Small

This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

Do you love shows that bring you back to a different time period? If so, you’ll love the series that is premiering tomorrow on Ovation called Versailles. This new show captures the romance, drama and betrayal surrounding King Louis XIV of France while featuring the beauty and opulence of France’s 17th century high society.

King Louis XIV of France commissions Versailles, the most beautiful palace in Europe, which serves as the King’s gilded prison – keeping his friends close and enemies closer. Watch the trailer below to enter in to a world of untold wealth, power, and passion.

The two hour premiere of Versailles starts on October 1st at 10pm ET/PT. I will be live tweeting during the premiere episodes and giving away TWO $25 American Express gift cards during that time period. For a chance to win, all you have to do is retweet or reply to anything I (@aliciamarie112) tweet between 9pm CST and 11pm CST on October 1st, 2016. Two users will be selected at random to win!

Check out the video below to get special access at one of the premiere events that happened this week in NYC! I wish I lived out there and was able to attend because it looks like a lot of fun!

Will you be tuning in to watch this show tomorrow?

 

25 Ways To Waste Time While You Wait

Screenshot_20160930-100328

This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

Whether it’s the school pickup line, the dentist’s office or the DMV, most of us spend hours each month waiting for things to happen. I thought I’d make a list of some things you could do while waiting.

  • Clean out your email inbox
  • Backup the photos on your phone
  • Make a workout playlist
  • Write a letter to a friend
  • Read the news
  • Plan your next vacation or roadtrip
  • Make a to do list
  • Pay bills
  • Clean out your purse or wallet
  • Call a loved one to say hello
  • Learn a new language using a language app
  • Say hello to someone around you and get to know a stranger
  • Schedule an appointment for the doctor or dentist
  • Review something you purchased online
  • Watch your favorite show using a streaming app
  • Find a new phone app that makes life easier
  • Make a bucket list
  • Donate to a favorite charity
  • Shop online for gifts or necessities
  • Send pictures to a loved one
  • Look up the scores of your favorite sports team
  • Find a new recipe to make for dinner
  • Observe people
  • Write your goals down
  • Play a fun game, like Panda Pop

Panda Pop is a fun mobile app that I’ve been enjoying the past couple months. The game requires the use of strategy to “save” the baby pandas. There are over 1,000 levels of play so you will never be bored with this game! I also love that you can compete against your friends. Download the game for iPhone or Android here and see what all the excitement is about :)

Curious George Is Now Streaming On Hulu

Screenshot 2016-04-05 at 10.07.33 AM

Thank you to Hulu for sponsoring this post and offering all my readers trials of the Hulu service.

Curious George is now streaming commercial-free on Hulu! For nearly 65 years, generations of young children have been charmed by the literary adventures of Curious George and now he is ready for his next adventure! Based on the best-selling Curious George books by Margret and H.A. Rey, the series expands George’s world to include a host of colorful new characters and original locales, while maintaining the charm of the beloved books. The series aims to inspire kids to explore science, math, and engineering in the world around them.

In celebration of George’s move to Hulu they are offering all of my readers a 30-day free trial of Hulu. Click the image below to claim your free trial before 5/4.

Making Reading Fun With Disney Story Central

disney8

Thank you Disney Story Central for sponsoring this post. Sign up for Disney Story Central‘s new subscription service today to access the largest collection of digital stories, featuring a wide array of beloved Disney stories and characters that kids and families know and love!

Getting my kids to read is tricky business because my boys would rather watch TV or play on electronics. Serious reading is more like a chore to them but luckily I discovered an app to help make reading exciting. Disney created a great app for tablets and phones called Disney Story Central.

 

Disney Story Central is the largest collection of Disney digital stories, featuring a wide array of Disney stories and characters that kids and families know and love. The cross-platform experience is available via iPhone and iPad app, tablet-optimized website and Video on Demand. All the titles can be read by the children or the app can read to the child. My boys are excited because summer vacation is underway and they are working on their summer reading lists. Disney Story Central is designed to encourage kids to develop a lifetime love of reading. Disney Story Central gives families the freedom to choose the reading experience that suits them best, whether through an annual subscription service or a-la-carte options, using Disney Book Tokens.

The best part is all the characters the kids already know and love and customizable bookshelves for each member of the family with personalized reading recommendations. A “Browse By Character” carousel lets families easily find books starring their favorite character. spanning all Disney Franchises, including Disney Princess, Disney Classics, Frozen, Doc McStuffins, Cars, and more. My youngest one is the biggest Toy Story fan so he is ecstatic for all the Toy Story selections.

Personalized book recommendations and character-driven navigation make it easy to find new books and to keep the kids reading there are Stars, Ranks, and Trophies that reward kids for reading and encourage them to keep it up. My boys get competitive so this will be a great feature for them.

The Disney Book Token system helps parents empower their kids to pick out the books they WANT to read, allowing them to build their own collection of stories, featuring the characters they love. Tokens work like currency, in which one token is worth one book and are used to download books and that will get my boys to do chores for the tokens. For our family getting a subscription seems to be the better option as the kids get download crazy. The subscription service gives kids unlimited access to Disney Story Central’s expansive library of books for $7.99 a month.

I want to encourage readers to download and access the free Disney Story Central app at Disney Story Central or on iTunes. It will make any child happy and pump up their reading desire. Summers fly by but the reading my boys will do will make them better for a lifetime.

You can even participate in Disney Story Central’s ‘Mid-Summer Light Reads’ Campaign – promoting weekly Disney reading themes — for a chance to unlock free books and enter the sweepstakes! Launching on June 11, the campaign will run through August 13.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Dave & Busters Summer of Games

dave and busters11

I love spending time outside during the summer but sometimes it’s just too hot to do anything but stay inside in the air conditioning. On days like this, I am thankful for places like Dave & Buster’s. They invited my family for a complementary summer preview and we enjoyed spending the afternoon there.

We headed to one of the Dave & Buster’s locations in the Chicago area one afternoon for lunch and to play some games. Normally places that offer games for kids have kid-friendly foods but not many offerings for adults. Dave & Buster’s has a whole menu full of food that adults like and a great kid’s menu.

We got the boys a hamburger with fries, Sinisa had steak, chicken, and shrimp kabobs, and I had grown up mac and cheese. The servings were so large that I brought home enough leftovers from my meal that I had lunch the next day. I also had a delicious watermelon flavored drink with strawberry ice cubes. Yum!

 

Summer is just getting started, and already Dave & Buster’s is heating things up on the entertainment scene! As part of the “Summer of Games” promotion, Dave & Buster’s will give guests free play on five of the newest games when they purchase or re-charge a PowerCard, from now through August 25th. There were almost a couple hundred different games to play and there were a variety for all ages. I liked the card system at Dave & Buster’s. Points are loaded on cards and then all you have to do is swipe them at the game you want to play.

The kids loved playing the games!

Another great feature of Dave & Buster’s is their ticket and prize system. Each ticket is worth two typical tickets which makes walking around with tickets much easier. They also have amazing prizes. The manager at the store told me that a prize at one location is a motorcycle! Who wouldn’t love to play games to take one of those home?

and for the video game lovers….

The boys ended up each getting enough tickets for a stuffed animal and a water gun filled with candy. They were happy to take home their special prizes.

Have you ever been to Dave & Buster’s? What are your favorite games to play there?

(Disclosure: As stated above, Dave & Buster’s invited us for a free media preview. All thoughts are my own.)

The Amazing Spider-Man Themed Party

spiderman27

With The Amazing Spider-Man movie’s upcoming release on November 9th the stores have been full of Spider-man mania and infected our house! The kids and I wanted to throw a Spider-Man party for our extended family so we headed to Walmart to get our food and decorations.

We got Spider-Man tableware, party favors, and themed activities to do during the party. It was then time to head to the grocery side and stock up on food.

I was excited to find The Amazing Spider-Man pizza boxes that Walmart had out for the movie release. Closer to the movie launch, Walmart will be releasing Amazing Spider-Man themed Augmented Reality triggers that will be included on the pizza box & display pallet, triggering special Amazing Spider-Man experiences on shoppers’ iPhone, iPad or Android in-store.We also got boxes of cheese-it’s and fruit snacks that had Spider-Man packaging. And what party would be complete without some kind of dessert? We got a package of cupcakes that had Spider-Man rings on top of them.

I decided to host the party at my mom’s house since it’s larger than mine. My brother’s family came over for the party and the kids are always excited to see their cousins. Each of them wore a Spider-Man shirt for the occasion. While the pizzas cooked and I set the table the kids watched Spider-Man cartoons.

I kept the table-settings easy. I used disposable Spider-Man plates and plain napkins. I was going to get disposable cups too but Walmart had kid’s reusable cups for less than a dollar each so I chose to get them and then each child could have one to take home. I loved the masks because they were an inexpensive way for the kids to pretend to be Spider-Man. They were a hit with the adults, too! My brother put one on and was a good sport and let me take his picture!

After we ate pizza the children enjoyed doing a variety of activities. They colored Spider-Man pages, made sticker books, and played with Spider-Man character figures.

Before leaving everyone enjoyed the Spider-Man cupcakes.

At the end of the party each child took home a goodie bag with Spider-Man figures, fruit snacks, stickers, sticker books, rings, masks, and cups.

Are you a Spider-Man fan? Did you know that you can view the movie before it comes out on the 9th?! Since we bought the pre-purchase case we were able to watch the movie on October 30th and will get the hard copy mailed to us when it’s released. If you get The Amazing Spider-Man Pre-Purchase from Walmart you can watch the movie on VUDU now along with being able to access special features. You can get all of the details by reading my post from last month. This is a must buy for any Spider-Man fan!

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment #CBias #SocialFabric #SpiderManWMT )

Internet Security Stats & How To Protect Yourself Online

dj october

Trend Micro shared the above stats with me as part of my participation in the year long Digital Joneses family study. I have learned so much about internet safety in the past months but every time they share statistics with me I am shocked by one or two of them. This month was no exception.

I couldn’t believe that 6% of people friend everyone that asks to be their friend on Facebook, even if they don’t know them! When I think about everything people post on their personal Facebook pages including where they are, phone numbers, addresses, and pictures the amount of private information that our “friends” have access to could be dangerous. The person you “friend” could be waiting for you to announce a vacation so they can find out when the perfect time to rob your home is. Another issue I have with Facebook are the pages that say you have to “friend” them to view the information on their page. You don’t know who is behind the page and I don’t think there is any reason you’d have to give them access to your personal information to join the page.

So what can you do to protect yourself online when it comes to the statistics above? Trend Micro suggests the following:

1) Manage your online accounts with secure passwords. They suggest using a phrase of random words that you can remember, instead of paraphrases or single words. Having passwords of at least ten to twelve characters is a good start and they recommend more characters for passwords that protect sensitive sites (like banks). You should also avoid using the same passwords for multiple sites, especially if it’s a password that has been cracked by hackers before.

2) Know and use the privacy settings of your social networking accounts and mobile apps. The security settings are consistently changing and new ones are being added on a regular basis so it’s important to pay attention to information that social networks share with their members and update your privacy settings accordingly.

3) Regularly back up your data. Computers contain documents and pictures that hold valuable content and memories. Backing up your data ensures that none of that is lost.

4) Install a security software in all your devices.Trend Micro goes to great lengths to identify online threats and make it easy for you to protect yourself and your family from them with Trend Micro™ Titanium™ Security. Titanium is easy-to-use, yet comprehensive protection for what you do online every day – emailing, socializing, surfing the web — and it won’t pester you with alerts and pop-ups.

(Disclosure: I have received technology and software from Trend Micro over the past months as a participant in the Digital Joneses campaign. I use Trend Micro software to protect my computer and my mobile devices.)