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Why You Need a Smart Home - #LetsGetLiving

Why You Need a Smart Home - #LetsGetLiving

Looking to make your home a little bit smarter? Think Hive Smart Home Ecosystem!

Two summers ago we were visiting with my brother, who is a master when it comes to all things electronics, in sunny Orlando at his condo. If you know Orlando in the summer, you know that it can get really heated. However, on our way back to his condo, he took out his phone and stated "I need to see what the temperature is at the house". OK? I didn't have anything that cool in my house. I had to manually set the temperature and I had to do it at home, not when I was out and about. It was then I knew I wanted my home to be as smart as that, but with a bit more features. When you are on the go as much as I am at times, you want the things that matter to you to be safe and comfortable. So when I was asked to give Hive a try in my home, I was ecstatic. Now you may be thinking; "why do I need a smart home?", well I'm going to tell you three reasons why!

Save Money on Energy Bills
Control your thermostat from anywhere with a touch of your smartphone. You can turn off your thermostat when you're not at home. Not sure if you've forgotten to do so, a simple look at your smartphone app can show you. You can also set your thermostat to the level of comfortability that you need when you return. It's nice to get home to a cool house in the summer, and a warm house in the winter.

Control the Lights When You're Not Home
What better way for thieves to know you're not a home than your home being in complete darkness. You can switch your lights on and off, or set lighting schedules for your home when you're not there remotely with the Hive Active Light bulbs.

Stay Connected to Those Who Mean the Most
I can't begin to tell you how many time I've asked my kids to let me know whenever they get home if I'm not there. With Hive, I know when someone enters or leaves the house. With the Hive window or door sensors, you will get an alert when your door or windows are opened.

So how does Hive work? 

Hive consists of smart products that are designed to make your life easier and for you to get the most out of life. Thus giving you more time to do the things you love doing the most. Each product is beautifully designed and easy to use and set up is simple. With Hive Actions, you can set them up to work together, giving you a truly connected home experience.

It won't be complete, however without the Hive Hub, which is like the brain of the operation and controls everything. With the Hub you can control your Hive products remotely with the Hive app no matter where you are. The hub is included in all of the Hive Plans.

Hive Features

When looking into smart home options, one thing that I wanted was something that was affordable and wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg. Hive plans start at just $9.99 and the service includes access to the Hive mobile app, on-demand customer service and ongoing warranty, however the ability to control my home from anywhere, is priceless.

Easy to Use
I just love how easy everything is to set up and use. I'm not really a techie person so that played a big role in determining whether I would love using Hive. Installation was pretty simple, even for me with no experience and if you're in a rental, this would be perfect.

The quality of each product is top of the line and I have to say that I was greatly impressed.

Hive has not only made my everyday life a little easier, but they have taken the worry out of me leaving home when I travel. I'm able to save money on my energy bills and keep in touch with the people that matter to me most... my family. So live a little better and focus on the important things in life with Hive.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Hive. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Annmarie John
How to Save Money While Traveling

How to Save Money While Traveling

Today we want to share some tips on how you can save money while traveling.

There's nothing that I love more than traveling. I grew up in a family that enjoyed traveling, and my mother took me on vacations every summer. I saw the different cultures of each country and came back after every visit with a sense of awe. It's why I live by this quote:
Travel is the only thing that you can buy that makes you richer. 
While traveling can be expensive, getting to your final destination is so worth it. As a family, we do a major destination once a year. However, as a mother of a pre-schooler, I want to visit as many places while she is still young. I also try to go on an international trip once a year. Travel doesn't necessarily have to cost you lots of money, and I have shared a few tips before such as how to travel when you're broke, how to travel on a budget and even how to start saving for your next trip. There are so many ways to save and today's post will share a few more.


When it comes to travel, transportation is always going to be your most expensive cost, especially if you're traveling overseas. While you can drive to your destination if you're in the US thus saving you some money, sometimes it can be cheaper to fly. There are many ways to monitor the price of your airline ticket. is one way, where you track the price of the flight you want. While it's best to purchase your ticket early, you can also save by flying into less popular airports. Layover flights can also be cheaper than a direct one if you're not in a hurry.

Use Deal Sites

Sites such as Groupon can get you discounts on some very popular destinations. I have used them myself for quick getaways. Another awesome site is LivingSocial which is similar to Groupon. With LivingSocial, you will also find discounts on staycation packages, food and drink, and even events and activities.


While staying with friends and family is by far one of the cheapest ways to save money while traveling, it's not always feasible. You may not have any friends or family where you want to visit. Finding a smaller hotel or staying at an AirBnB will be cheaper than staying at a five-star hotel. Staying outside the city will also be more economical than staying inside the city. With this option, it may take you a bit longer to get into the city, just enjoy the sights and soak up the savings.


Public transportation is always going to be cheaper than renting a car. While you may be thinking about the weekly rate, don't forget the price of gas and if you may have to pay tolls. Most major cities have a public transportation system. Check out their app and/or maps if available, and see how easy it will be to get to the places you want to visit using public transport. If necessary, you can also use Uber.


Whenever I travel, I always make it my business to bring a few perishables with me. I also try and find the nearest supermarket so I can stock up on essential supplies. Eating out every night can be very expensive. Walk with snacks whenever you go out, so you don't have to stop at a restaurant to eat. If you do decide to go to a restaurant, ask for recommendations and check out the reviews.


So you've saved for your trip, but make sure you also have a budget for spending money. You might be tempted to pull out that credit card, but remember interest will be added.  Which in the long run can work out to be more expensive. So your $100 shopping spree just turned into a $110 splurge. Instead, use your debit card. It's also a lot safer than cash.


If you're planning on going sightseeing and taking in the attractions, it can all add up. However, there are always free attractions in every city. Check the city's visitors bureau website for more information. Sites such as City Pass or Smart Destinations can also save you hundreds of dollars. Pick up a CityPass or GoCard for your intended destination and enjoy some sightseeing, take some pictures and cherish those memories.

How do you save money while traveling? 

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Annmarie John
10 Ways to Celebrate July 4th

10 Ways to Celebrate July 4th

July 4th is fast approaching, how will you be celebrating? We share 10 ways you can celebrate the 4th of July.

July 4th, the 4th of July or Independence Day, no matter how you say it, it's a day of celebration. It's the day the United States of America declared their independence in 1776. Every year we celebrate this historic event, and there are always so many things that you can do on this day. Here are just 10 of them.

1. Go see the fireworks: What is a 4th of July celebration without a bit of fireworks? It just seems like they go hand in hand. John Adams envisioned fireworks as part of our celebration as a way to lift our spirits, and the very first fireworks were done on July 4, 1977.

2. Go to a parade: Enjoy the parade held by your city. After all it's free! Watch the marching bands and floats go by and wave your flags.

3. Light your own fireworks: If you can't make it to see the fireworks, you can bring the fireworks to you. However be aware of your state's regulations and keep a fire extinguisher close by.

4. Go to a concert or a baseball game: Many cities have a free 4th of July concert in the parks which is a great way to join in the celebration. The traditional 4th of July baseball game is also another great way to celebrate. Take your family to both or either one and enjoy the day. You can even host your own baseball game.

5. Have a BBQ/Cookout: A backyard BBQ is just what's done on the 4th of July. Invite a few friends and have the traditional 4th of July foods, such as the burgers and hot dogs. Spend some time with friends and not only celebrate but enjoy your time together.

6. Visit a National State Park: Is there a National Park that you've been yearning to visit? Why not do it on July 4th. After all it's a national holiday and the kids are home from school. And what better to celebrate than visiting a National State Park? While each state does not have a national state park, each state does have a state park, the choice is yours. 

7. 4th of July Decorations: You can decorate your home with the traditional red, white and blue. Fly the American Flag outdoors, and get some patriotic colors for the indoors as well.

8. Make some patriotic arts and craft: If you have kids, this a another great way to celebrate. Have them make cards, or even a flag. There is so much you can do. If you need inspiration, just check out Pinterest.

9. Dress in Patriotic Clothing: What better way to show your national pride than to dress up in the nation's colors. The traditional red, white and blue is a great way to show your love and to celebrate. Clothing stores usually have special 4th of July tees, but you can also make your own if you prefer.

10. Get on a military base: If you live close to a military base, celebrate with those who are fighting for our country and even those who have served. Each military base usually holds their own celebration complete with activities for the entire family, food and ending with fireworks. Check  your local base for more information.

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Annmarie John
Introducing Yoga to Kids - #GapFitMarvel

Introducing Yoga to Kids - #GapFitMarvel

Madison and I had a lot of fun practicing yoga moves with the help of the new GapKids Marvel - GapFit Marvel collection, after all, you need the perfect workout gear when working out.

Yoga has numerous benefits for both children and adults. If you practice yoga and would like to introduce the practice to your child(ren), or you yourself would like to get into it as well as involving the little ones, here are a few tips on how to start.

Keep it simple and quick

Children often don’t want to pay attention for long periods at a time, and that is very normal. When introducing yoga, keep it simple as far as poses go, and only do a pose for a minute before moving on with younger children (6 or younger).

You want to keep your yoga session around 15 minutes unless your child is over the age of 7, or thoroughly enjoys the practice. If they do enjoy it, be sure to mix in many minimally strenuous poses so that their body can keep up without being injured or strained.

Plan your yoga time

It’s best to do yoga after eating a light snack or right away in the morning. A full stomach can prevent your body from getting into the proper form and will hold you back from getting the full benefits of yoga. It’s also not good to let your child eat too much before yoga as they will quite possibly feel tired and not want to participate as they normally would.

Encourage them to use the proper form and breath, don’t force it

While doing yoga with your child, you will want to encourage the proper form, and help them, however you do not want to force them into it. Let their body naturally adjust as you continue to practice yoga and they will eventually be able to get into the proper form. (Practice makes perfect!) You also want to encourage them to breath properly during yoga, this will help them relax and will boost the effects of the practice.

Use positive reinforcement often

Before, during and after doing yoga you should be using positive reinforcement with your young ones. They need to feel like they are doing a good job and should never feel discouraged. If they are having trouble with a pose, be sure to let them know that it’s okay and that they will get better each time they do it.

Introduce it with a game of Simon Says or tell a story that includes yoga poses

Actually getting your child to participate is the first and can be the most challenging task. You will initially want to introduce it in a fun way such as a game of Simon Says, or telling a story that goes along with the poses and having them do the poses with you. Some children may jump right in and love it, others not so much. Be sure to let your child act naturally, don’t force yoga on them, if they want to do a certain pose rather than the one that you want them to do, that’s okay. There will come a time when they will participate and do exactly as you do. Age plays a big factor in this; if you have young children don’t get frustrated with them when they just want to run away and play, continue to introduce it each day and eventually they will want to join in.

The new GapKids Marvel collection features an assortment for boys and girls celebrating Marvel characters and their heroic adventures including Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Spider-Man. Together, Gap invite kids to be the Super Hero of their own stories and unleash their own Super Powers because, they already are, FIT TO BE SUPER. The collection includes graphic tees, shorts and swim along with leggings and tanks.

Shop the GapKids Marvel Collection!

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Annmarie John
DIY Salt and Pepper Corona Shakers - #CoronaSummer

DIY Salt and Pepper Corona Shakers - #CoronaSummer

Fire up those grills, put the Coronas on ice and keep these Corona salt and pepper shakers close by. It's BBQ season! However, as with all alcoholic drinks, please drink responsibly.

Living in New York City, the beer of choice has always been Corona. Every summer one of our family members or friends would throw an epic backyard party, complete with jerk chicken, bbq chicken, ribs, the full works. Everyone attends and also bring a dish. I mean, come on, you can't go to a party empty handed. However, when asked what drink to bring, the universal cry has always been, "bring a 6-pack of Corona". Even now, living in Colorado, things haven't really changed in my household. The beer of choice whenever we throw a backyard BBQ is still Corona. With our 4th of July BBQ coming up, I decided that I was not going to use my elegant salt and pepper shakers, I wanted something that would fit in the theme of a BBQ and came up the Corona Salt and Pepper Shakers. Not only will it fit in with the rest of the beer, but if they end up breaking, me nor my guest would feel too bad about it. They also hold quite a lot more than an ordinary salt and pepper shaker making them exactly what you need at a BBQ.

Writing this post has been bittersweet. While I love New York City and it's still considered home, I haven't been back in the summer in quite some time. I miss my family and my friends. Sitting on a Brooklyn brownstone stoop and taking in the sights. Watching the cars drive by, and the people in their latest fashion. Being able to run to the corner store when I run out of something that I need in the house. Just being a general New Yorker! Those were the good old days and the ones that I miss dearly, but the memories remain in my heart. I have to say, however that this is by far one of the easiest "craft", if you can call it a craft that I have ever done on this site. And if you have a Corona drinker in your family, this will make an exceptional gift as well.

Salt and Pepper Corona Shakers


Empty Corona Bottles
Corona Salt and Pepper Caps


Step 1: In an empty Corona bottle, pour salt into one and pepper into another.

Step 2: Snap your caps onto the top of your bottle and voila, you're done!

All it takes is two simple steps and I couldn't understand why I didn't think of doing these salt and pepper shakers in the past. Now, whenever we pull out the grill and get ready for our BBQ, we'll not only have our ice cold Coronas on hand, but we'll have our Corona salt and pepper shaker to complete our BBQ. And as with all Coronas, don't forget the lime. It's a New York thing!

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Annmarie John
[name=AnnMarie John] [img=] [description=AnnMarie John is a lifestyle blogger, mom of 4, retired army veteran and a huge Disney lover. Formerly from the beautiful island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean and now living in colorful Colorado, she loves sharing her opinions on everything, crafting and food.] (facebook= (instagram= (twitter= (pinterest= (

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