Are you using these apps yet?

Do you recognize these two logos???

Evernoteloseit.com

Well, they just so happen to represent two  apps I downloaded this week and I’m really excited about them!

Evernote

The first is Evernote.  I have heard about them for a while but this weekend I was reading one of my favorite organizing blogs and I decided to take her advice and check out Evernote. Now I’m wondering, “Why didn’t I get this app sooner?”

I love technology and helpful apps but in a lot of ways, I still prefer writing things such as to do lists and shopping lists on paper!  One big problem with paper lists for me is that I have a darling little girl who likes to steal my notebooks to draw in and once she get’s her hands on them, I usually lose my lists and start again in a new notebook, only to have the process start over again, and again and… well you get the point.

I have only been using Evernote for two days but so far I have 4 notebooks:

  • Check it out:  Things I want to look up when I have more time.
  • To Do
  • Shopping list
  • Writing Ideas

I always have my phone with me so I always have my lists with me to either refer to or to add to.

I also downloaded Evernote to my desktop computer and have it set up to automatically sync.

Evernote really seems like it will truly be a useful productivity tool for me! There are no distractions on it such as on Pinterest or Instagram.  Don’t get me wrong! I love those apps but I love them a little too much and the goal here is for me to make better use of my time!!

Evernote has other tools and one I’m looking forward to trying is Evernote Food which I can use to download recipes or keep a list of restaurants or recipes I want to try.

Loseit.com

The other app I want to tell you about is called LOSEIT.com.  I found it when I was looking around on Pinterest for weight loss ideas.

Again I just started using LoseIt this morning but so far it seems pretty easy and straight forward and I am hopeful it is a tool that will really help me reach my fitness goals.

I signed up and answered a couple of questions about my weight and height and age and how much I wanted to lose and it gave me a goal date and told me how many calories I need to stay within. I also found a two week wellness challenge on it that starts today and I joined!  So far today I burned 700 calories at the gym and have logged about 400 calories for breakfast and pre-workout snack.

I’m not good at counting calories at all and have always resisted it but I have also read how helpful it is to keep track of what you eat.  I can already see how this will make me more conscientious about decisions I make!   Writing down what I’m eating is a  good reminder that it’s not true that what I eat on the weekends doesn’t count!! The program tells me I should reach my goal by March 10th!  That’s less than 5 months away!!! I’m very motivated and hopeful!

Again, since I always have my phone with me, keeping track of my food and excercise should be a lot more convenient!

So there you have it! Two free apps that I really believe will help me reach my productivity and fitness goals!

apps

Have you tried these apps? Do you have any tips or tricks about them you would like to share?  If you haven’t, it’s definitely worth checking out!

Quinoa! Where to get it cheap!

Quinoa!

You’ve most likely heard of it by now.  It’s been gaining popularity in the United States in the last couple of years for a lot of reasons.

Among the reasons, this grain-like seed is gluten-free, it’s full of protein, it’s extremely versatile, and most importantly, it’s delicious!

I find myself encouraging my friends who want to eat healthier to add quinoa to thier diet!  

One of my favorite quinoa recipes is BREAKFAST QUINOA!

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It’s so simple to make and takes just about 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan add:

1 c water

1 c almond milk

1 c rinsed plain quinoa (white, red, or tri-color)

Put all three ingredients in a small saucepan and cook until it starts boiling.  Reduce to a simmer and cover for about 10 minutes.  The water should be absorbed. (If not, simmer it a little longer.)

This makes about 2 portions.  You can add anything to it, cranberries, apples and cinnamon, but as you see in the picture above, my favorite way to eat breakfast quinoa is with a sliced up banana and pecans.

It’s so much better than oatmeal.  I think it’s perfectly sweet and tasty just like that, but you can add a dash of pure maple syrup if you really need it to be sweeter.

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So as I’ve been telling my friends about how awesome quinoa is and how they really need to try it, I keep hearing the same complaint!

“Why is it so expensive???? ” 

So I decided to do a little research!

At Walmart, a 12 oz box of quinoa ranges from $5.54 to $6.48:IMAG0001

I also found it at my favorite local grocery store (Heinens) for $6.99 for a 12 oz box.

I didn’t even bother to look at Giant Eagle… they always put a heavy up-charge on anything healthy!

Discount grocery stores like Aldi’s (or Marc’s if you live in the Cleveland area) don’t carry it, well, at least not recently at the stores near me.

I guess I was surprised to hear how expensive quinoa was at these stores because I always buy quinoa from Trader Joes!  

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Traders Joes has the BEST price on quinoa yet!

16 ounces of organic red, white or tri-color quinoa for only $3.99!

I also looked on Amazon and Ebay and I could not find anything that came even close!  In fact, on Ebay, most people are trying to sell Trader Joes quinoa for around $12 a pound!  That’s crazy! Don’t do it!!

So there you have it!  The winner is Trader Joes for the best price, and in my opinion, the tastiest quinoa of all the brands that I have tried.

I hope you have a Trader Joes close to you.  Mine is a 45 minute drive but it’s so worth it for things like this!

Want another awesome recipe???? TRUST ME! You do!

It’s Black bean, sweet potato and red quinoa soup from Oh She Glows!!

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Picture and recipe by Oh She Glows ohsheglows.com

It’s vegan and gluten free and it’s amazing! I’m serious!  I could literally eat this soup morning, noon and night for the rest of my life, it’s THAT good!  It’s extra delicious if you top it with homemade salsa and diced avocado!

I also have some other recipes that I want to try on my Pinterest page.

If you have time to google other questions about quinoa, such as where it comes from or why we are only just hearing about it more here in the states, it’s a very interesting read, well, at least for food nerds like me!

Here’s a good article from the Washing post on why quinoa isn’t yet taking over the world!  (hint: it has a lot to do with the same problem my friends have complained about!)

Do you have any other tips on saving money on quinoa or do you have any tried and true quinoa recipes?  Please share them in the comments below!

PS: I was not asked by anyone to promote quinoa or any brands of quinoa.  I just love it and wanted to share my findings and opinions with you! Hope it helps!

Drinking my coffee black!

Drinking coffee without cream or sugar… this may not seem like a big deal to you but let me tell you… It is a HUGE deal for me!

Coffee has never been something that I have looked to for staying awake.

Instead, there’s just something about a morning cup of coffee that is incredibly comforting.

The problem is that my preferred cuppa-joe, has about a quarter cup of flavored non-dairy creamer in it!  NO! I have never actually measured it.  I can tell when my husband exlaims, “WOW!!!”  that I am pouring an excessive amount of the liquid chemical calories into my mug!  Why? Because while I love the smell of my morning comfort call, I’m not usually so crazy about the taste alone.  I’ve been asked by friends if I drink a little coffee in my cream!

I’ve realized for quite some time that I really need to curb this morning ritual.  I’ve tried hot tea, but if I try to drink any kind of tea first thing in the morning, I literally get sick to my stomach.  (I must note, however that a friend told me to try real tea leaves sometime to see if it has the same effect.  She explained that tea bags use the … in her words “garbage leftovers”. I’ll try it one of these days, but I digress…)

I’ve tried to drink coffee black. I only can do this in nicer restaurants that have some kind of secret delicious coffee!  I have never been able to make coffee at home that I could drink without changing the flavor first.  I have tried many times to just quit coffee… the old “all or nothing” decision strikes again!

I was currently on another attempted “coffee strike” when I received an invitation from BzzAgent.  I was sent  an invitation to try Green Mountain Fair Trade Certified coffee.  Well, who am I to turn down a Bzz Campaign?  I quickly accepted and here is what I received: IMAG0006

BzzAgent sent me 6 free K-cups of Green Mountain Coffee’s Fair Trade Three Continent Blend.

The description on the box is this: “Three different continents come together in this harmonious, Extra Bold blend.  Sumatran beans lay down the bass notes with lush, hearty body; South American occupies the mid-range with sweet smoothness and balanced fruity notes; the delicate floral finish is unmistakably Ethiopian.”

I decided to try it yesterday. The only reason I was on a coffee-strike anyway was because I’m really trying to ban sugar and chemicals from my diet.  Besides…  it was a perfect day to have coffee! It was a little chilly outside and I had been up since 2:30 am, gone to the gym for an intense workout at 5 am, and had a long day ahead of me.   If I was really going to taste this coffee, I had to try it black!

I was so happily surprised! The flavor was so good!  The description on the box was very accurate!  I couldn’t put it better.  There was no bitterness at all, which I think is the reason I typically cannot drink coffee without adding anything to it.  I happily finished the mug and I had another enjoyable cup today!

To me, this is the answer to all my coffee problems! I will definitely purchase this coffee again and I also highly recommend that you try it yourself!  Please let me know in the comments if you would like a code to receive $2 off your online purchase.  As you see in the picture, BzzAgent also sent me several coupon codes to receive a Keurig coffee maker for 50% off.  Let me know if you would like that code as well!

This does not only solve my coffee “problems”.  Buying Fair Trade coffee helps others as well!  Buying Fair Trade coffee helps ensure that coffee farmers receive a fair price for their beans which means a better cup of coffee for me, and a better life for the coffee farmers!

Find out how and even more about Green Mountain Fair Trade Coffee, by visiting ChooseFairTrade.com .

To learn more about BzzAgent, visit BzzAgent.com.

*Please note that BzzAgent did send me free samples of the Green Mountain Fair Trade Three Continent Blend.  BzzAgent requires me to only give my honest opinion on products they send to sample.  All opinions in this post are 100% sincerely my own!

Issues with Sprint and the Galaxy SII Epic 4G

I really hate to resort to a blog post to complain about a company’s business practices, but I feel like I have honestly tried everything I can to privately resolve this issue between myself and the companies involved.

I am now writing a blog post about this in hopes that it accomplishes a couple things:

1) I hope that someone googling “problems with Sprint Galaxy II” will find this and know they are not alone and benefit somewhat from the hours I have spent dealing with Sprint’s customer service, and

2) That Sprint will reconsider it’s current business practices and really start providing the good service I felt I received from them several years ago back when I signed my first contract with them.

Here is my story.  It is very long even though it does not contain the hours and hours of conversations between Sprint and I, but I have included all the important details in hopes that it covers everything you might have experienced as well:

I signed a 2 year contract with Sprint in April of 2012 and paid $100 for a Samsung Galaxy SII Epic 4G Touch.  I had researched the phones in my price range and chose the Galaxy II because of it’s processor speed, large screen, sound quality, etc.

I was very satisfied with my phone for almost a year!  It was very durable and it worked very well.  The only issue I had was that after a few months, I started getting a battery message about high voltage and my phone would get extremely hot and the battery would drain quickly.  When I called Sprint, they said they had never heard of this.

I decided to google it and I found others had the same issue and the problem was thought to be that the charging port got dust in it and it needed to be cleaned out.

This issue happened sporadically and while it was extremely annoying when it happened, I dealt with it.

Sometime in that first year, I noticed a very slight crack in the screen.  I am not sure how it happened.  I was sad that I had a crack in my screen but assumed responsibility, even though I kept my phone in a protective case.  The phone still worked very well despite the crack and even the touch screen worked very accurately.

Then in April of 2013, a year after I had purchased my Samsung Galaxy II and many months after I noticed the screen crack, I started having issues with the battery life and the power button.  The menu that comes up when you hold the power button in (the device options including: Power off, data network mode, airplane mode and restart) starting popping on and off without me even hitting the power button, and the phone would sporadically turn itself off, even with a fully charged battery.

I took the phone to a Sprint service center.  Sprint said that my battery needed replaced and because I have insurance they replaced it.  They would not look at it at all though because of the crack in the screen.

I was sure that my power button issues and battery life issues were not a result of any physical damage done to the phone, but Sprint was very strict about their policy of not being allowed to look at a phone with physical damage.  I would need to make a claim with Assurion and pay a $100 deductible.  I was very upset because I knew the issues were not related to the cracked screen and also, the deductible had been increased from $50 to $100 since my last contract!

(I was later told by a Sprint Customer Service rep that the reason they cannot look at a phone with physical damage is because Sprint has a contract with Assurion that says any crack over an inch long must be reported to Assurion and the $100 deductible must be paid.)

I took the new battery but that new battery quickly drained as well.  When I took the phone back into the store a week later, they looked at the battery and said it was a bad battery and they gave me yet another new battery.  Guess what? Yes, that too drained and I was still having the phantom power button issues, phone turning itself off, and overheating.

I finally gave in after much conversation with Sprint via phone and online chat, and made a claim with Assurion and paid my $100 deductible.

I received my new Galaxy II the next day.

The new phone had the same issues.  My new replacement Galaxy II was overheating and the battery was draining quickly.  I also noticed that I did not have any service at my house.

I called Sprint.  Sprint explained that they were doing work on the towers to improve service and that is the reason I was experiencing no bars!  They said that since I just received the phone 2 weeks ago, I was still within the 30 day warranty period with Assurion and that I needed to call them and have the phone replaced.

(Please note: after hours spent on the phone and on the online chat with Sprint Customer Representatives, I continued to be very patient and kind.  I was even told by many reps that they greatly appreciated how I was handling the frustrating situation and they all said they would have lost it by that point.  I believe in treating the call center reps kindly as they are only following protocol and I believe in most cases they are trying to help to the best of their ability.  With that being said, I had a mostly positive experience with Sprint Customer Service reps both on the phone and online.  The way they tried to help was very satisfactory.  My complaint is the policy that Sprint itself has with dealing with problems as I will go on to relate.)

I called Assurion.  I got a very rude representative.  I explained that Sprint had already approved a warranty exchange.   He was very condescending in the way he spoke to me, even though he had all the notes in front of him of what I had already stated and explained to Sprint and was demanding that I call from another phone so that he can run tests on it.  I could not call from another phone since I do not have another phone, and Sprint already said, the phone is an issue and approved the replacement.  He refused to help me.  I finally asked him to speak to his manager.  The manager agreed to skip the diagnostic test as a “courtesy” and agreed to send me a new phone, a new battery and a new charger.

I received the replacement (my third Samsung Galaxy II in less than a month.)  I put the phone in a protective case and placed a new screen protector on it immediately after I took it out of the box and before I used it.  I started to use the phone and the menu bar kept popping on and off.  It was annoying but I ignored it at first.  It was sporadic and didn’t happen all the time.  I wondered if maybe the screen protector was doing it, even though the screen protector was specified for Sprint Samsung Galaxy II phones only.  After a few days, the menu popping up (as if I was tapping the menu button repeatedly, even though I wasn’t) was getting really annoying.  I decided to reset the phone.  That didn’t resolve the issue. I finally removed the screen protector, assuming that had to be the problem.  The menu bar still kept popping up.  My schedule was extremely busy that week and honestly, the last thing I wanted to do was to spend more time on the phone with Sprint and Assurion again!

I finally called Sprint.  I had two main issues with this third phone.  I was still not getting any data, even in a downtown area.  I was not getting any service bars at home and even away from home, I was dropping calls, and finally the menu glitch which severely interfered with any touchscreen actions.  After I spent several hours on the phone with Sprint techs it was finally explained to me that there is a known issue with Sprint and Samsung Galaxy II phones since the latest Samsung update.  After looking at my record, the tech told me that all the issues I had going back to the first phone were all known and documented issues.  He advised me not to replace my current phone with another Galaxy II.

I wanted to know my options with Sprint.  They were:

1) Exchange my current Galaxy II for another Galaxy II and see what happens (but again he strongly advised me not to because this would not resolve the issues I was having.)

2) Exchange my Galaxy II with an HTC Evo or an HTC Evo Shift

3) Participate in the new Sprint One Up plan where I can upgrade my phone with no money down but I would still be paying for the new phone monthly.

4) Do an early upgrade and renew my 2 year contract.

My complaint is that none of these options seem either reasonable or fair.

Why?

1) For starters, I purchased my Samsung II with a 2 year contract.  Had my phone continued to work the way it did before the update, I would have been very happy with the Samsung Galaxy II for the length of my contract.

(2) Had Sprint told me, before I replaced my first phone with Assurion for $100, that there were known issues with the Galaxy II and agreed that it was not because of the crack, I would NOT have paid $100 to get another Galaxy II!

(3) Before I purchased the Samsung Galaxy II, I had done research on phones, including the HTC Evo, and decided that the Samsung Galaxy II was a better phone, and therefore, I spent the extra money to have the Samsung Galaxy II… NOT THE EVO… the EVO is NOT a comparable exchange!  I feel that if there are phone problems within my contract period that are out of my control and not my fault, good business practice would be to replace the phone with a truly equal device, not a phone of lesser quality (eg… smaller screen, slower processor, camera quality, etc)! If they cannot replace the phone with a truly equal phone, they should replace it with a slightly better phone!

(4) One up program? What? Why should I have to pay to get another phone within my contract when my phone issues are not my fault and not fixable??

(5) And finally early upgrade with a contract renewal? That’s laughable!  I am stuck with this contract until April of 2014 unless I want to pay a hefty fee.  Sprint must be crazy if they think that after all of the time I have spent trying to get a fair resolution, not to mention the fact that they are behind in data technology and I can’t get service at home anymore, that I would even consider renewing my contract with them!!!!

I spent much time on the phone yesterday with Sprint customer service. I was transferred several times and finally to a very wonderful representative who seemed as desperate as me to get a fair resolution.  She asked me what I wanted.  I said if they truly could not get me into anything other than an HTC Evo, that I would accept the HTC Evo but that I also wanted my Assurian $100 deductible refunded.  She agreed that this was a fair request but still thought I should get a better phone, not one of lesser value, so she put in the request to management for the refund along with a Galaxy III.  I waited all day for a response.  She was so wonderful that she called me a couple times during the day to reassure me they had not forgotten me but to update me on what was going on.

Finally, late last evening, I got a call saying that they were willing to give me a $50 refund and the HTC Evo.

I was so tired I said,  “I am not really happy with that, but if it’s all you can do, I’ll take what I can.”

Today, I decided to tweet about it.  I have been on Twitter with Samsung and Sprint for the last couple of hours and realized that it was really a waste of time. Neither one was very helpful.  Samsung denies that there are any known issues even thought I sent them this link from Sprints Customer forum: http://community.sprint.com/baw/message/572289

My next step is to post this article in hopes that it causes Sprint to take some action and also to send this as a formal complaint to Sprint.

Sprint, I have read your replies to the numerous customer complaints on Twitter @sprintcare.  You are behind in the market when it comes to service and data.  While you have exceptional customer service representatives, it doesn’t really matter if your policies regarding how you handle phone issues are unfair.  You are going to lose a lot more customers and you only have yourself to blame.  It’s ashame.  I used to sing your praises to all my friends. It seems that though you once had a bad reputation, you made positive changes, but sadly, you have sunk back into your old ways.  I will not be renewing my contract and I will be telling anyone who listens about my awful experience with you so they don’t have to experience what I did and waste countless hours trying to get a resolution that will never happen.

Have you had similiar issues with Sprint and the Samsung Galaxy II?  It doesn’t seem fair that customers who are stuck in a contract should have to settle for unacceptable options.  Make your voice heard in the comments below!