5 Exciting New Ways to Automate Your Home

If you are looking for exciting new ways to automate your home, you have come to the right place. The home automation industry is going through a rapid period of growth, and in the future, we can expect to see more powerful and disruptive devices.

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home automation
Image via Pexels by Sebastian Soerensen

However, many home automation ecosystems, hubs, devices, and tools can perform a variety of functions ranging from smart control of thermostats and lighting to improved security and smart cooking — all from the comfort of your smartphone. Explore several exciting new devices you can leverage to increase the level of automation in your home.

ecobee4

home automation
Image via flickr by stockcatalog

More than a smart thermostat, the ecobee4 with Amazon Alexa and embedded microphones with far-field voice recognition technology. Placing sensors in favorite rooms enables the ecobee4 to detect the temperature of the room and when it is occupied. It automatically adjusts the temperature, ensuring comfort in the rooms that matter. Users can also adjust temperature settings from the ecobee mobile app on their Android or iOS smart devices.

WooHoo from SmartBeings

Designed using the latest home automation technology, the WooHoo smart home device brings a new experience to the connected lifestyle. It is the world’s first AI-based interactive smart home hub and platform, combining functionalities such as Lutron Clear Connect radio, BLE, Z-Wave, ZigBee, an HD camera that rotates 360 degrees, Amazon Alexa, and a 4G LTE slot. The WooHoo can communicate with users in 18 different languages.

ElliQ Social Robot for Older Adults

Designed by Intuition Robotics, the ElliQ is a personal voice assistant and smart robot for older adults and serves as a companion that they can use for social interactions. It can help remind them of upcoming calendar appointments, display pictures and play multimedia content sent by family members, and send and receive messages.

Samsung Connect Home Pro

The Samsung Connect Home Pro is a smart Wi-Fi automation device with a mesh networking system and built-in SmartThings home automation hub. This technology has a range of 70 feet and covers 1,500 square feet of space. However, this footprint can be increased by connecting up to five mesh extensions — boosting its maximum coverage to 7,500 square feet.

Philips Hue White Starter Kit

The Philips Hue white starter kit comes with two bulbs and a hub for connecting with other smart home devices. Although you can’t change the colors of the bulbs, you can add up to 50 bulbs to a single hub and increase or reduce their brightness (by up to 800 lumens). Philips Hue white starter kit works with many smart home systems including the Nest, Google Home, IFTTT, Apple HomeKit, and Alexa. Users can use the Philips Hue Sync app to sync their smart bulbs with multimedia content playing on their Windows or Mac PC.

You can choose an entire smart home system or pick your favorite devices, assemble, and integrate them with a smart home hub. Automating your home offers endless opportunities to create a smart living space.

Planning for Knee Surgery

I have been having knee pain for so many years. The first incident was when I was 12 years old. Happened during a middle school swim meet. Ever since then, it’s been downhill. 10 years ago, I dislocated my kneecap. It was as horrific as it sounds. Over the years, since that point, I’ve had more issue than I can count. The most recent being a month ago. That incident was the most serious and now I am schedule for knee surgery in October.

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knee surgery

Why Knee Surgery?

A year ago, I went in and received a series of three gel injections in my knee. It really helped a lot. So much so, I went back again this summer to get three more gel injections. Since I have issues with my cartilage, the gel simulates the cartilage. The only problem…you have to keep repeating it. If it pushes surgery off, I was more than willing to do it.

However, a month or so ago, I stepped into the garage and I felt the lower half of my leg go one direction and the upper half go the other. It was horrible. I went down and was in intense pain. My knee swelled almost instantly. After meeting with my doctor and getting another MRI, it was recommended that I speak with the surgeon. So I did.

 

Ice Pack for Knee, Knee Support Brace with Gel Pad for Hot and Cold Therapy, Adjustable Ice Compression Knee Wrap for Sports Injuries RecoveryIce Pack for Knee, Knee Support Brace with Gel Pad for Hot and Cold Therapy, Adjustable Ice Compression Knee Wrap for Sports Injuries RecoveryIce Pack for Knee, Knee Support Brace with Gel Pad for Hot and Cold Therapy, Adjustable Ice Compression Knee Wrap for Sports Injuries RecoveryKnee Brace Knee Support SNEINO Knee Brace for Meniscus Tear Breathable Non-Slip Neoprene Knee Brace Adjustable Open Patella Knee Brace Support Knee Braces for Women Men Running Knee Support BraceKnee Brace Knee Support SNEINO Knee Brace for Meniscus Tear Breathable Non-Slip Neoprene Knee Brace Adjustable Open Patella Knee Brace Support Knee Braces for Women Men Running Knee Support BraceKnee Brace Knee Support SNEINO Knee Brace for Meniscus Tear Breathable Non-Slip Neoprene Knee Brace Adjustable Open Patella Knee Brace Support Knee Braces for Women Men Running Knee Support Brace

What Surgery will I Be Having?

I really should have titled this post, “Planning for Knee Surgeries”. As in, I will be having two surgeries…possibly. Right now the plan is that on October 10th, I will be going in for a scope. The doctor will clean up the underside of my kneecap and take a biopsy of the cartilage. This procedure is called the MACI procedure. After surgery I will do rehab for three months while the biopsy is sent to a lab to have my cartilage regrow on a collagen pad. Neat, huh?!?

After doing rehab for three months, I will go back in and have surgery to have my new cartilage put where it needs to go in my knee. During that surgery, the surgeon will take donor tendons and reconstruct my tendons and stabilize my knee better. I also have a tilt to my kneecap that is causing me so much pain, so he will be taking care of that too.

Now I said that I would “possibly” be having two surgeries. Possibly because if once the surgeon is in there cleaning up my kneecap and he sees that I am not a candidate for the MACI procedure, he will finish cleaning up the underside of my kneecap and then use the donor tendons to reconstruct my tendons.

How I’m Planning for Knee Surgery

I’m not lying when I say I am beyond nervous for surgery. However, I know this is really my last option. I have exhausted every other non-surgical option. And, to be completely honest, I can’t take the pain and fear of instability anymore. As for planning, I really don’t know what to expect. So far I have begun deep cleaning my house. It’s like I’m in nesting mode, kind of like when you are about to go into labor! Today I steam cleaned my entire first floor! Besides cleaning, I am thinking about the kids schedules, making plans to get them where they need to be, as well as thinking about what clothing I need. If I was having surgery in the summer, it would be super easy to just wear shorts. The other thing I told my husband we needed to get is one of those raised toilet seatsknee surgery because I have no clue how I will go to the bathroom and keep my leg straight.

If you had knee surgery and have any tips for me, I would greatly appreciate them!


Disney Halloween Costumes for the Whole Family

One of my favorite things, yet something we don’t do, is to look at pictures of families that go all out for Halloween. Celebrities like Neil Patrick Harris and Heidi Klum are two people I make sure to check out on Instagram to see what they did! However, you don’t need to be a celebrity to go all out for Halloween. These Disney Halloween costumes are perfect for the whole family…even your furry friends!

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disney halloween costumes

Images used with permission

Disney Halloween Costumes

Dressing up as a family for Halloween can be so much fun for the kids! While we’ve never done a themed Halloween costume thing for our whole family, my kids still remember the time when their dad dressed up as a giant Whoopee Cushiondisney halloween costumes! These Disney Halloween costumes are absolutely adorable. How fun is it to take your kids to see the new Incredibles movie and then have all of you dress up as that family for Halloween?!? Your kids will eat that up!

disney Halloween costumes

Image used with permission

If just dressing up the kids are your thing, that’s OK! These Disney Halloween costumes for the little ones are super cute! When I think of Disney, I think of old school Disney from when I was younger. So that means, Belle, Little Mermaid, Tinkerbelle, and Cinderella.

disney halloween costumes

Images used with permission

No worries…there are Disney Halloween costumes for boys too!! I doubt there is a boy on this planet that doesn’t know about Star Wars. My son has been obsessed with Star Wars since he was very little. I swear he had like five light sabers! Don’t even get me started on Spiderman! He used to dress up in the Spiderman costume in preschool and marry all the girls! No joke!

disney halloween costumes
Images used with permission

To find these costumes and so many more, be sure to check out Shop Disney. The baby costumes are absolutely adorable! I can’t even begin to pick a favorite! And don’t forget about your furry friend! The Disney pet costumes are the cutest thing ever. I have a cat, but now I want a little dog so I can dress it up as an Ewok!


4 Reasons to Conduct a Business Energy Audit

In the wake of the economic limbo following 2008’s meltdown, consumer spending has teetered between penny-pinching and downright stingy. The entities perhaps hit the hardest, were the startups and the small business owners. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs and big business began erring on the side of caution: They audited everything.

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business energy auditImage via Pexels

In a desperate scramble to salvage their sinking ships, they plugged every hole. But many neglected an often-overlooked cash drain on any enterprise: a reluctance to conduct energy audits. Just as the IRS might perform a tax audit on your business accounts and finances, you should also audit your company’s energy usage. Startups, in particular, need to save money and slash expenses where ever they can. What follows are four reasons you should conduct a business energy audit.

Lower Energy Bills and Potential Government Grants

business energy audit

Image via flickr by 100isNow

In the same vein as home energy audits, a business energy audit can help you achieve greater energy efficiency. During an audit, an expert electrician will identify your biggest energy leaks and suggest energy conservation measures to rectify them. The incentives on your end include lower power bills and, possibly, government grants. Many countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, offer government grans and loans to businesses looking to optimize their infrastructures by implementing strategies like energy auditing. It’s a definite win-win for all involved.

Benefits Beyond the Electrical

A typical energy audit starts with an analysis of an establishment’s HVAC system. During the audit, you can request that the technician test your electronics and appliances to determine their average electrical consumption. But the bulk of the audit will focus on factors such as poor insulation causing air leaks. The auditor will also consider  your heating and cooling equipment (thermostats, air conditioning, hot water systems, etc.) because if not functioning at optimum levels, they use much more energy than required.

Trusted Results Using Computer Modeling and Data Analysis

According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), an energy audit should consist of three levels. An ASHRAE Level 1 inspection, commonly referred to as a walk-through audit, serves solely to establish energy consumption trends and identify how you might improve them. At Level 2, the auditor performs diagnostic testing to evaluate your HVAC and ventilation system’s efficacy, your property’s insulation levels, and possible code violations, among other things. With an ASHRAE Level 3 audit, you’re presented with options for renewable (more sustainable) power systems. These might include geothermal HVACs, solar photovoltaic systems, and wind generators.

Reduced Business Costs

Conducting a business energy audit might not be on the average capitalist’s to-do list, but ever budding entrepreneur knows the value of wise investments: Don’t spend; invest. And with most energy audits concluding in reports that list potential returns on investment and life cycle savings, you can make informed decisions that can save you money in the long run.

These savings plus the possibility of qualifying for government grants and rebates make for an opportunity too good to pass up.

Weight Watchers Ranch Dip – 0 Points

One of the things I don’t like with my new journey with Weight Watchers is that regular ranch dip is like 5 points. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend 5 whole points on 2 TBSP of ranch. As I was walking through Target, trying not to spend a billion dollars, and I remembered that my husband told me non-fat greek yogurt is 0 points. And then I got an idea on how to make my own Weight Watchers ranch dip!

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weight watchers ranch dip
If you aren’t familiar with the Weight Watchers Freestyle plan, things like veggies are zero points. This is awesome for me. I love veggies, but more than that, I love ranch dip. You can dip anything in ranch. Just ask my kids. Making a zero point Weight Watchers ranch dip is a total snack game changer!

Libbey 8-piece Small Glass Bowl Set with LidsLibbey 8-piece Small Glass Bowl Set with LidsLibbey 8-piece Small Glass Bowl Set with Lids

Weight Watchers Ranch Dip Recipe

Weight Watchers Ranch Dip - 0 pts

Quick and easy (and delicious) ranch dip that is Weight Watchers friendly. 

Course Snack
Keyword 0 points, gluten free, smartpoints, weight watchers
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Servings 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tsp Dry Ranch Mix heaping tsp

Instructions

  1. Place 1/4 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt in a small bowl.

  2. Measure 1 heaping tsp of dry ranch mix and stir into the greek yogurt.

The best thing about the Hidden Valley Ranch packets is that they come in a bunch of different flavors. Next time I will buy the fiesta ranch or the spicy ranch! I bet it will be good! We will be having my daughters family birthday party soon. I will definitely be making this Weight Watchers ranch dip for the party! The more 0 point foods around, the better!

Hidden Valley the Original Ranch Spicy Ranch Dressing and Seasoning Mix 1 Oz (Pack of 6)Hidden Valley the Original Ranch Spicy Ranch Dressing and Seasoning Mix 1 Oz (Pack of 6)Hidden Valley the Original Ranch Spicy Ranch Dressing and Seasoning Mix 1 Oz (Pack of 6)Hidden Valley Dips Mix Creamy Dill .9 oz Packets (Pack of 6)Hidden Valley Dips Mix Creamy Dill .9 oz Packets (Pack of 6)Hidden Valley Dips Mix Creamy Dill .9 oz Packets (Pack of 6)Hidden Valley Dips Mix, Fiesta Ranch 1.1 Oz Packets (Pack of 6)Hidden Valley Dips Mix, Fiesta Ranch 1.1 Oz Packets (Pack of 6)Hidden Valley Dips Mix, Fiesta Ranch 1.1 Oz Packets (Pack of 6)Hidden Valley Ranch Dips Spinach and Artichoke .8 oz (Pack of 6)Hidden Valley Ranch Dips Spinach and Artichoke .8 oz (Pack of 6)Hidden Valley Ranch Dips Spinach and Artichoke .8 oz (Pack of 6)

Week one was a huge success. I think that week two and going forward will be just as successful with great 0 point snacks like this Weight Watchers ranch dip! What are your favorite 0 point snacks?

Interested in Joining Weight Watchers Online?

If you are interested in joining Weight Watchers online (or with meetings too…totally up to you), then you MUST use my “refer a friend” link! By signing up with my link, you will get a free month and I will too!