The Conversations with Maria Menounos category containing all the interview episodes with celebrity guests.
Technology Problem& Solutions:
First things’ first: You should always know the best way to alleviate any emotional or physical health issues caused by Tech is to take a break. But if you can’t, here are some solutions:
Forgetting to Take Breaks While Working At The Computer-
- Solution: A free Chrome and Firefox browser plug-in, EVO prompts users to take frequent breaks. Running in the 20-20-20 mode, the plug-in will cause the computer screen to go black every 20 minutes, encouraging users to look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. In the 60-5 mode, it will recommend that users take a five-minute break after every 60 minutes of work. In addition, the service’s animated robot directs users through a series of eye-strengthening calisthenics. http://www.protectyourvision.org/
Digital Eye Strain:
- Solution: Gunnar- If you’ve ever seen professional video gamers, you might have noticed some wearing special glasses. They may be wearing Gunnar Optiks glasses, with amber-tinted lenses that filter out artificial light and improve image contrast. By producing slight magnification, the glasses — which range in cost from $79 to $189 — can also help reduce eyestrain. Their shape encourages formation of eye moisture, anti-glare coating helps reduce fatigue caused by reflected rays, and prescription Carl Zeiss lenses can be added to enhance overall effectiveness, the company says. https://gunnar.com/
Trouble Shutting Down after a tech-filled Day
· Solution: Relax Melodies: Sleep Sounds, White Noise & Fan: Description Take back control of your sleep with Relax Melodies, the most popular sleep app featured in People magazine and Mashable. Start sleeping now and enjoy full nights of sleep like you haven’t in a long time!
Select sounds and melodies that you like and combine and adjust the volume of each sound to create a mix. Add one of our meditations specially designed for sleep, lay back, listen, and enjoy falling asleep. Is that simple and it works. Use timers and alarms if needed. Create different and new mixes every time!
· Solution: Headspace for guided meditation- Headspace is a digital service that provides guided meditation sessions and mindfulness training. Its content can be accessed online, or via their mobile apps. In April 2016, Headspace claimed to have over 6 million people using the app.
o When you’re listening to a guided meditation, how do you turn off the other noises on your phone?
“The google Effect” or “Digital Amnesia” – The Google effect, also called digital amnesia, is the tendency to forget information that can be found readily online by using Internet search engines such as Google. According to the first study about the Google effect people are less likely to remember certain details they believe will be accessible online. However, the study also claims that people’s ability to learn information offline remains the same
- Solution: Elevate APP – it was selected by Apple as App of the Year! Elevate is a brain training program designed to improve focus, speaking abilities, processing speed, memory, math skills, and more. Each person is provided with a personalized training program that adjusts over time to maximize results. The more you train with Elevate, the more you’ll improve critical cognitive skills that are proven to boost productivity, earning power, and self-confidence. Users who train at least 3 times per week have reported dramatic gains and increased confidence.
Acne caused by cell phones.
- Solution: Scrubbing down before bed may not be enough to keep pesky acne at bay. Cell phones can be covered in bacteria, causing oils to collect when placed against the face. The result? Unwanted pimples on cheeks and chins! (And unfortunately, there’s no app to help.) Try talking on speakerphone or use a headset to keep phones away from the face. Also, clean your phone with an alcohol pad.
The World Health Organization says, “move it, or lose it,” and really means it. Being sedentary is a global problem that affects developed countries acutely. Physical inactivity kills more than 3 million people a year, making it the fourth leading risk factor for death, WHO says.
- Solution: Be sure to get up and walk every hour and Use the Health app to track your steps!
The Six Resolutions:
Gain Better Health/Fitness
*Smart Scales- scales that understand BMI, track weight loss and are connected to mobile devices
Find one here: http://www.withings.com/ca/en/products/smart-body-analyzer
Getting More Organized
Organize your computer- two programs:
*OmniDiskSweeper for Mac: https://www.omnigroup.com/more
PC- TreeSize:: http://www.jam-software.de/treesize_free/?language=EN
Finding Love/A Relationship
AJ’s Recommendation is match.com: It uses a weighted algorithm where you can weight different attributes or values. Therefore, you’re finding someone who you are more compatible with in a deep way.
Changing Your Career
Take a course on Udemy- It is a learning site with fantastic courses to help you change career—you can get courses for 90% off: https://www.udemy.com/courses/
Making Life More Efficient
Speaky Program- can copy any URL and when you open up speaky, the webpage will open up& speaky will read it to you http://speaky.software.informer.com/
Here’s a post!
Maria’s gift guide:
- Adidas Sandals with Soft bottoms – 35.96 on Amazon.com
- Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish. Single Polish, 11.50, kit 18.50. Available at Ulta.com
- Snuggie- Available for 14.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond
- Dermalogica – Lots of special deals/gift sets can be found now on the website, all under 70 dollars! dermalogica.com
- Breadmaker; Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine with 13-Hour Delay Timer $44.09, available on Amazon.com
- Ipad Pro w/ writing ability, 9.7 inch display- $599.00 12.9 inch display 799.00 available at Apple.com
- My Books- EveryGirls’ Guide Books- EveryGirl’s Guide To Life, EveryGirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness, EveryGirl’s Guide To Cooking- On Amazon.com- EveryGirl’s Guide TO Life is $16.56, EveryGirl’s Guide To Diet and Fitness is $14.70 and EveryGirl’s Guide TO Cooking is $13.09
- Nurse Jamie’s Beauty Bear Age Delay pillow, $69.00, available at NurseJamie.com
- Epione Sonic Touch (Dr Ourian skin polisher unit), 199.00, available at epioneskincare.com
- Sarah Chloe Jewelry. Elle Round Initial Bangle Bracelet available for $129.00 – can buy at NeimanMarcus.co
Gifts That Give:
- Wags& Walks- Sponsor a Dog: $500.00 gets them fixed,shots, cozy bed and healthy treats, or Sponsor a kennel at the adoption center for $250.00-that will save a dog’s life or just donate any amount on the site: Wagsandwalks.org/donate
- Kibera School: Sponsor a student: $100/month, $1,200/year or just donate on the website: shofco.org/project/ksg OR etsy.com/shop/shofco – you can buy hand-made jewelry, headbands and other products that directly support women in Kibera& Mathare Kenya who make them!
- Money: Master The Game by Tony Robins FREE at moneymasterthegame.com/order *Just pay shipping and handling*
- DSWT- Foster an elephant- $50.00 a year. You can do this at: sheldrickwildlifetrust.org
The Usual Suspects:
Of course, there are always the usual suspects for gifts.
- Bluetooth speakers
- High-End Headphones
- 4K Televisions
- Digital Cameras
- Portable photo printers
- Tablet computers (such as Apple iPad Pros and Apple Pencil)
- New Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar
- Microsoft Surface Book
- Drones of all sorts
- 3D Printers
- Media devices, like the Apple TV, Roku and Fire Stick
- We have Smart Clothes
- DNA home testing systems
I even like the new trend of Guitars that have frets that light up to show you where to finger the chords and lead.
For the General Population
Roli blocks are a new kind of synthesizer and beat machine, with versatility of modularity and software combined. It allows you to have your own music studio, with which you can build and manipulate music in many exciting ways. You can even download the software and try it first, before buying the blocks and start plugging them in together. The Roli Blocks Light pad can be purchased for $179, and other modules can also be obtained. You can actually grab one from the Apple store, or order online.
Echo Dot – by Amazon. It’s a Virtual Assistant that can also control most smart home devices. It doesn’t have a speaker, like the original, but you can connect it to a separate speaker directly. With Amazon you can pay for amazon music to stream directly designed and priced for the echo only, and it’s about $3.99 / mo, thus you have a full streaming music system. It’s a $50 for a home automation device, which is impressive. Turn off your lights, set alarms, find out where things are, etc.
The alternate product to the echo is the Google home, which is also a great gift, and comes in around $129. The Google A.I. is very intelligent and can handle follow up questions, which is ground breaking, thus you can have a type of conversation with the device. With the connection to the Google neural network, it can be pretty advanced.
Ring Video Doorbell.
It can be powered off the doorbell wiring or a battery, with 6 to 12 months of battery life and has noise cancelation. You can see and speak to people in realtime, and it also has night vision. When the bell is pressed you get a call to your phone, but it also has motion detection, incase the person doesn’t ring the bell, and you can set the sensitivity of the detection. There is also a subscription service, for seeing the historical footage and notification data. You can pay $3 / mo or $30/yr. Priced around $179. You can just pick one up at your local home depot when you’re ready.
Smart fitness watches: Fitbit, Apple Watch version 2.
The Apple Watch version 2 is a bit faster that the previous model and is now water proof, to a certain depth. These fitness products allow you to track your daily activities and you don’t need to be a fitness expert to use them. They keep historical data, you can set goals and they can give you pulse readings and other health benefits. It’s just a good idea to keep track of your health daily. They’ll track your steps taken daily, calories burned, etc. Fitness bands and watches aren’t new, so they can be a welcomed gift. Pricing range from $40 for certain models and goes up from there. You can pick up a Fitbit charge 2 from Wal-Mart for $139. The Apple Watches start at $269 and go up to $1299, but the higher prices do not increase the functionality only the style. The Apple Watch is of course linked to your iPhone, and you can run many apps directly connected to your phone, so the abilities of the apple watch go far beyond fitness. You can order fitbit models from Amazon and all Apple products are available via the Apple Stores, online or physical apple Stores.
Drone for the kids and you
The Kids, the FPV Hubsan X4 is simple, not too expensive and easy to fly. Lots of spare parts, charges quickly and has first person view cameras. You can get this little one for less than $100 at Walmart and online at Amazon.com.
This little drone is fun for kids and has two accessories that can be switched out. Either a cannon that shoots little pellets, or a grabber that can be used to pick up small items. It’s a ton of fun, and can be purchased for $99. You can get about 8 min of flight with the accessories attached. Charge time, 30 minutes.
For the TECH Geeks
Nintendo Classic Edition
Nintendo is one of the most popular gaming companies around and for some of us, it’s a big part of our childhood. Nintendo has brought back the classic Nintendo system, with the Nintendo controller and all. You can get the system for about $60 from Walmart, Amazon or many retailers online. The system comes with, 30 games and can play the classic cartridges. The included controller is not wireless though. You can order others online. Don’t be surprised if finding one now, you’ll pay quite capitalistic premium! I’ve seen over $250 for this one.
Sega Genesis Classic Edition
The Classic Sega Genesis System, is also an awesome throw back to the past. This system comes with 80 games and two wireless controllers. The system also takes the classic original cartridges, just in case you find some in your garage. The MSRP on this is just $45, but you will probably find it right now for about $90, due to high demand and low availability.
Virtual Reality Systems
Virtual reality is really not like the 3D video push that started a few years ago. Which came and pretty much fizzled. 3D movies had been around in some form for decades. Virtual Reality is an entirely different animal indeed. There are several types of VR out there now, from VR for your smart phone, to full VR systems that work with your computer or gaming system. So what do I suggest? I suggest you get involved, actually. Virtual Reality won’t just be used for gaming and entertainment. It’ll be used for marketing, and sales, and business, travel, you name it. From a gaming perspective, since I’ve used it, it’s really not what you might think. It’s not a hokey 360 degree camera view. It’s full immersion into a virtual world. So much so, that it will fool your brain, in a short period of time, to believing that you are really in another place. You can look under, inside, behind things open doors, build things, turn around, drive, fly, crawl, walk run, shoot, and just about anything else. It’s very impressive.
The systems can be expensive though. The system for the Xbox isn’t out yet, but it is set to be released in 2017. The Sony System is available, if you can get it and find all the pieces and without a bundle the VR system is only $399 if you already have a PlayStation or if you don’t you can come in below $1k for a bundle.
The Oculus Rift, which is the most popular VR for computer systems, which comes in about $850, but you’ll also need a nice beefy computer system and graphics card to make that work. You may also have to dance with software issues on the computer, but the pay off is phenomenal. The graphics resolution, comfortable feel and feedback and easy use of the controller is unmatched by any other system. The setup is small, and can work in a fairly small space.
Then the HTC Vive is priced at $799. However, If you want to just jump in and start gaming, and already have a PS4, then the Sony VR is your best option. It doesn’t have the highest resolution, but there are already a lot of games and they are truly immersive. You can obtain the Sony system from the Sony store, Best Buy, your local Gamestop or other retailers. You can obtain an HTC vive online, and the Oculus Rift can also be ordered online or purchased from Best Buy and other retailers.
Drone for you, but maybe not the kids:
The DJI Mavic Pro:
Flight time on this one is about 25 minutes, which is pretty standard these days, however it is foldable and portable, and comes with a ton of new sensors. It can avoid obstacles and fly over 40MPH. It’s the newer one from DJI and it’s really considered one of the best it has produced. You can pick one up from Walmart, Fry’s Electronics, other retailers or online, starting around $1K.
Fixed wing flying:
The parrot Disco is a fixed wing (regular airplane type) drone, and has a FPV camera option and for some is a new type of flying, since everyone is used to multi-rotors these days, forgetting that fixed wings came first. This one is expensive though, but might be worth it for some, and it flies at speed over 50mph. Regular price is $1299, but you can get a nice deal these days. Providing over $300 in savings.
3D Printing to the next level;
The Formlabs Form 2
If you have a geek family member or friend, chances are they already have some form of 3D printing, and if not, they should maybe return their geek card. In either case though, this Formlabs Form 2 printer is one of the best things going for high resolution 3D printing right now, made easily available to the public.
With a price range between $3499 and $6898, it is quite the investment. Keep in mind though, that it’s print or build area is fairly small. This printer is great for small highly detailed runs. The printer is an SLA printer, which you can think of like science fiction. The printers works by heating up a resin to give the print amazing detail and structure, but not necessarily strength. These units can be ordered online from Formlabs or from Amazon.
Jessica Chia, Senior Beauty Editor
Intro: Jessica Chia is senior beauty editor at Allure where she plans the magazine’s beauty news section and gift guide coverage. She is also a certified aromatherapist.
Useful items with a special twist.
Sephora Favorites Lashstash to Go ($28, Sephora.com)
Marc Jacobs About Lash Night Eye Set ($36, marcjacobs.com)
Sonia Kashuk Cosmetic Bag Weekender Purple Floral ($29.99, target.com)
Drybar Slumber Party Silk Pillowcase ($45, Nordstrom.com)
Personalization adds a thoughtful touch.
YSL personalization service (free with purchase, lip products from $36) -can engrave lipsticks
My Burberry Festive 2016 Limited Edition Eau de Parfum (free w.p., $125 for 90 ml)
Byredo Unnamed perfume ($230, byredo.com)
The Harmonist perfumes ($285, theharmonist.com)
Pricey, but so worth it.
Estee Lauder Limited Edition Powder Compacts (from $125, esteelauder.com)
Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer ($399, dyson.com)
Charlotte Tilbury Giant Magic Cream ($255, charlottetilbury.com)
Nannette de Gaspe Library of Skin Seduction mask set ($425, nannettedegaspe.com)
FOR THE GUYS
No razors here.
Herschel Supply Co. Chapter Travel Kit ($30, Nordstrom.com)
Kiehl’s Age Defender Collection ($88, kiehls.com)
The Collection by Phuong Dang Leather Up Extrait de Parfum ($300, barneys.com)
Ginger Wasabi Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes.
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1-2 tablespoons wasabi powder (to taste) – about 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp
1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons soy creamer or heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground ginger, or to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract until incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, and wasabi. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in coconut milk mixture. Stir until just smooth (do not overmix). Take a quick taste of the batter, and add more wasabi if you feel it is needed.
Pour into liners, filling each with 3 tablespoons of batter (cups should be no more than 2/3 full). Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
For frosting, cream butter until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Mix in vanilla, ginger, and cream. Continue adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition (depending on the temperature of your butter, you may need more or less sugar/cream to achieve the proper consistency). Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and enjoy!
Orange Cream Cupcakes with Tang Frosting
Makes about 24 cupcakes
1 cup orange juice
1 tsp. orange extract
2 tsp. orange zest (chopped to a paste)
3 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter (softened)
3 eggs (separated)
1/8 tsp. cream of tarter
- preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prep muffin tins with cupcake liners
- Combine orange juice, extract and zest. Set aside.
- In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Beat unsalted butter, and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add egg yolks one at a time, until fully incorporated. Scrape down bowl.
- Add in flour mixture alternating with orange juice mixture, just until fully incorporated.
- In separate bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tarter until stiff peaks form, but before the whites turn dry…they should be shiny still, but when you lift the whisk, the peak should just bend.
- Gently fold the whites into the cake batter.
- Fill cups 1/2 full.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until they rise just above the edge and look golden brown on the top. When you touch one in the center of it, it should spring back nicely.
1/2 Cup Tang Powdered drink mix
1 1/2 Cups heavy cream
1 lb. unsalted butter (softened)
1/2 lb. salted butter (softened)
1/2 pkg. french vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup (or more to suit your tastes) powdered sugar
- In easy to pour container, combine the Tang and heavy cream, set aside.
- Beat the butter until soft.
- Add the pudding mix and beat until light and fluffy.
- Slowly add in Tang mixture, little bit at a time to avoid splash ups. Get it all in there though.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar. Beat the hell out of the buttercream until it is light and fluffy and silky smooth.
The cupcakes are filled with the buttercream as well. All you do is make a hole in the top of the cupcake. Pipe the frosting in. Put the cake hole back on top.
DECORATION: Planet made from malt ball with gummy ring OR cake pop planet sticking out with stick
Milky Way Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream
3 Milky Way bars (2.05 oz. bars) (Buy an extra bar if you want for decoration.)
1 3/4 cup milk, plus 2 tbsp.
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup milk
4 oz. butter (1 stick), room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp. vanilla
*This buttercream recipe is enough for about 36 cupcakes.
- For the cake: In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the candy bars with 2 tablespoons milk. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350
- In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla on high until well blended.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat for 30 seconds on high, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
- Add the Milky Way mixture and mix for 30 seconds on high.
- Add 1/2 of the four mixture and 1/2 the remaining milk to the butter mixture and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture and milk. Mix thoroughly until incorporated. Pour the batter into prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 28 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert the cupcakes onto a rack and cool completely before frosting.
- For the buttercream: In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the caramels, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in milk until smooth. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
- In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla for 3 minutes on high.
- Add the cooled caramel and mix on high for 2 minutes. Frost your cupcakes
DECORATION: Chocolate disk with milky way swirl
NOT YOUR FATHER’S ROOT BEER FLOAT CUPCAKES
½ cup butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 cup Not Your Father’s Root Beer
- Preheat oven to 350F. Cream together butter and sugars. Add in two eggs, one at a time, and then mix in flour.
- Once well combined, add the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves and continue to beat on low speed. Pour in the Not Your Father’s Root Beer.
- Scoop batter into lined cupcake tin (makes 12 cupcakes) and cook in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
Marshmallow Vodka Buttercream Frosting
This frosting was the perfect topping for these cupcakes, reminiscent of both vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup marshmallow Fluff
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons marshmallow vodka
DECORATION: Chunks of astronaut ice cream piled/threaded up stick to give appearance of floating
Alternate: use vanilla/chocolate/strawberry merengue – has similar texture
MAN ON THE MOON PIE CUPCAKES (Didn’t use- but still delish!)
Serves: 12 cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs (about 1 1/2 packages)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
For the topping
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons cup vegetable or coconut oil
- Candy-coated sunflower seeds (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, sift together graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, cream together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, then vanilla.
- Alternate mixing the dry ingredients and milk into the large bowl, starting and ending with the dry.
- Divide batter among papers and bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. These cupcakes will have flat tops.
- Remove from pan and let cool completely.
- To make the topping, set a stainless bowl (preferably your stand mixer bowl) over a pot of simmering water.
- Add the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar, and whisk continuously until the sugar is dissolved and the whites are warm.
- Remove bowl from pot and immediately begin whipping at low speed, then gradually increasing to high. Beat for about 6 minutes, until glossy and quite thick.
- Spoon into a piping bag, cut off end, and pipe onto cupcakes. Place cupcakes in the refrigerator.
- To make the chocolate dip, combine chocolate chips and vegetable/coconut oil in a tall microwave safe measuring cup. Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
- When chocolate is cooled, VERY QUICKLY dip cupcakes upside-down into chocolate and replace onto rack. Repeat with remaining cupcakes. Alternately, you can drizzle chocolate on top with a spoon, though excess will run off the sides.
- Chill cupcakes for about 5 minutes, until topping is starting to set but still tacky. Decorate with candy-coated sunflower seeds, if desired. Chill until just before ready to serve.
DECORATION: Man on the moon face – fondant cut