Review and Favorite Features of the Sharp AQUOS Crystal Smartphone

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence Central for Sprint. I received a sample device to facilitate this review. #SprintMom

Review and Favorite Features of the Sharp AQUOS Crystal Smartphone #SprintMom #Smartphone

For the past few weeks, I’ve been getting to know the Sharp AQUOS Crystal Smartphone. I carry it around in my purse, use it at home, pull it out in the car (but only when my husband is driving), and today, I took it with me to the movie theater to see the latest Hobbit movie with my husband and kids. :)

I wanted to snap some pictures of my kids with the Sharp AQUOS smartphone to test out the picture quality yet again. And while I wouldn’t say the overall picture quality is awesome on this smartphone, I think it’s pretty good.

Sharp AQUOS Crystal Smartphone Review

There are a lot of things to love about the Sharp AQUOS. For starters, there’s the fact that you can make calls and exchange text messages over a Wi-Fi signal.

And I love that I can use this smartphone as a mobile hotspot and easily get online when I’m away from home. My kids like it, too, because it means that they can be on the internet during our long car rides to David’s appointments in Chicago.

Review and Favorite Features of the Sharp AQUOS Crystal Smartphone #SprintMom #Smartphone

Another feature that makes this smartphone stand out is that it comes ready with OfficeSuite 8, which allows you to create and/or edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files. This could be very hand for working away from home or even for drafting a quick blog post.

In addition to OfficeSuite, the Clip Now feature is great tool, because once you enable it, you can take screenshots of your screen with one quick swipe. Those screenshots are then saved on your Sharp AQUOS smartphone with an embedded URL for easy sharing!

Review and Favorite Features of the Sharp AQUOS Crystal Smartphone #SprintMom #Smartphone

Screen & Sound Quality

My kids watch videos on YouTube just about every day. In fact, we don’t have cable, and the television in our home is mainly used for watching our favorite movies. Instead of watching TV, when my kids have earned some “electronics time,” they get to pick a device and watch pre-approved kid’s videos online. :)

And now they can watch their online shows on the Sharp AQUOS Crystal smartphone’s amazing 5-inch edge-to-edge HD screen! Trust me, streaming video on this smartphone is something you’ll enjoy! It’s feels like you’re watching a small television. Impressive!

Review and Favorite Features of the Sharp AQUOS Crystal Smartphone #SprintMom #Smartphone

The final favorite feature I’ll mention is the fabulous sound quality you get from the Sharp AQUOS smartphone, and it’s because of the built-in Harman Kardon LiveStage with Clari-Fi technology.

I like using the AQUOS smartphone to play music throughout the day, but when I’m using the phone while at my desk and put in earbuds… wow! :)

Review and Favorite Features of the Sharp AQUOS Crystal Smartphone #SprintMom #Smartphone

As you can see, there’s much to like about the Sharp AQUOS Crystal smartphone. And if you’re looking for a budget-friendly smartphone for yourself or even to give as a gift, this smartphone is a great option.

What are some of your must-have features in a smartphone?

Recipe: Easy Christmas Cookies

#sponsored: I’m required to disclose a relationship between our site and Intel. This could include the Intel Corporation providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

This is a recipe for deliciously easy Christmas Cookies! Use sprinkles, melted chocolate (white and milk chocolate), colored sugar, M&Ms, and frosting to really have fun with this recipe! Seriously, good! #Christmas #holiday #cookies #ChristmasCookies #easy #recipe

Easy Christmas cookies — I’m all about them.

In fact, today, I’m sharing a super simple recipe for Christmas cookies and some ideas for decorating them, either on your own or with your kids. I think you’ll be able to tell from the pictures I share below just which ones I decorated and which ones my kids had fun with. :)

This Christmas…

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on where my family was at in life this time last year. I could write a whole blog post about that, but the short version is that this time last year, my 5-year-old son, David, had just received his life-saving bone marrow transplant, and we were living between his hospital room and the Ronald McDonald House near the hospital.

We spent Christmas in the hospital. In fact, when I woke up that morning, along with all the wonderful presents David’s nurses had snuck in for him as he slept, I noticed that my son was getting yet another blood transfusion. Thankfully, it would be his last.

But this year? Oh, this year is SO different! It’s different in the most wonderful and marvelous way, because we’re HOME! David has continued to get better, and his immune system is stronger and able to fight for him in ways it couldn’t before. However, knowing this doesn’t make me want to rush out and do a bunch of things we may have “missed” last year.

No, instead, we’re remembering to celebrate Christmas in simple ways, because believe it or not, while we expected Christmas to be simple last year… friends, family, and people we didn’t even know blessed our socks off with so many gifts! And let me tell you, those gifts helped to encourage David to take yet another dose of one of his many medications or go through yet another painful this or that. :(

To everyone who blessed us and prayed for us last Christmas, thank you! I wish I could thank each one of you personally.

Searching for Holiday Inspiration

One of the ways we’re celebrating a simple Christmas is by making holiday treats at home. Because when we do this, we also get the benefit of creating sweet memories together in the kitchen.

This is a recipe for deliciously easy Christmas Cookies! Use sprinkles, melted chocolate (white & milk chocolate), colored sugar, M&Ms, and frosting to really have fun with this recipe! Seriously, good! #Christmas #holiday #cookies #ChristmasCookies #easy #recipe

I own a couple of cookbooks that I can’t live without like using on a regular basis, but I also enjoy using my Asus Intel Tablet to look for recipe inspiration on Pinterest. In a previous post, I talked about how easy it is to use my tablet to stay organized, but it’s also handy and small enough to keep in the kitchen, either to search for new recipes or to follow a recipe you might be trying for the first time.

I said it in my last post, but I’ll say it again… I love the screen quality of the Asus Intel tablet. It’s amazing. It makes looking for new ideas on Pinterest even more enjoyable. :)

This is a recipe for deliciously easy Christmas Cookies! Use sprinkles, melted chocolate (white & milk chocolate), colored sugar, M&Ms, and frosting to really have fun with this recipe! Seriously, good! #Christmas #holiday #cookies #ChristmasCookies #easy #recipe

Easy Christmas Cookies

As for the treats, besides recently making chocolate pretzel bites for the first time, over the weekend, we also whipped up my favorite Christmas cookies ever.

This is a recipe for deliciously easy Christmas Cookies! Use sprinkles, melted chocolate (white & milk chocolate), colored sugar, M&Ms, and frosting to really have fun with this recipe! Seriously, good! #Christmas #holiday #cookies #ChristmasCookies #easy #recipe

Trust me. They’re delicious without any additions. But when you “frost” these cookies with melted white chocolate and sprinkle on a little red and green colored sugar, well, that’s when they become my favorite. :)

This is a recipe for deliciously easy Christmas Cookies! Use sprinkles, melted chocolate (white & milk chocolate), colored sugar, M&Ms, and frosting to really have fun with this recipe! Seriously, good! #Christmas #holiday #cookies #ChristmasCookies #easy #recipe

There’s no right or wrong way to decorate a Christmas cookie… at least not in my house. The possibilities are endless, especially when children are involved. ;)

However, here are just a few ideas for toppings when it comes to Christmas cookies:

This is a recipe for deliciously easy Christmas Cookies! Use sprinkles, melted chocolate (white & milk chocolate), colored sugar, M&Ms, and frosting to really have fun with this recipe! Seriously, good! #Christmas #holiday #cookies #ChristmasCookies #easy #recipe

And here’s the printable version of my favorite Christmas cookie recipe:

Easy Christmas Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened (use softened coconut oil for dairy-free cookies)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (white whole wheat flour works great as well)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • sprinkles, colored sugar, frosting, melted chocolate chips, red and green M&M's (optional for decorating)

Instructions

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl and using a mixer on low speed, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Then beat in the vanilla extract. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Slowly beat the floured mixture into creamed mixture until the ingredients are all incorporated.
  5. Using a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon (so that the cookies are the same size) and an additional spoon (to help scoop the dough out of the measuring spoon), measure out the cookies and drop them onto an ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
  6. Roll each cookie into a ball, and then using the back of a spoon or your palm, gently press down on each cookie to slightly flatten it.
  7. Bake cookies for 10 minutes. Then remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
  8. Optional: Decorate cookies using frosting, melted chocolate, sprinkles, M&M's, and colored sugar. This recipe makes approximately 38 cookies.
http://thesensiblemom.com/2014/12/recipe-easy-christmas-cookies/

This is a recipe for deliciously easy Christmas Cookies! Use sprinkles, melted chocolate (white & milk chocolate), colored sugar, M&Ms, and frosting to really have fun with this recipe! Seriously, good! #Christmas #holiday #cookies #ChristmasCookies #easy #recipe

This Christmas season is one I’m holding near to my heart. It’s a reminder of God’s grace and how far David has come over the past year. I think keeping this entire month simple has been a meaningful reminder of how absolutely blessed we are. :)

Do you make Christmas cookies with your kids? What are some of your favorite holiday treats?

Our Fun Disney Kids Preschool Playdate

Thanks to Walt Disney World Resort and MomSelect for the fantastic party kit I received to create a truly memorable Disney Kids Preschool Playdate. #DisneyKids #DisneySide

Plan a fun Disney Kids Preschool Playdate! #DisneySide #DisneyKids

There are two things that I love — getting together with family and talking about Disney World!

So we were incredibly excited to host a little preschool playdate and invite my sister over with her two preschool-aged children. :)

Even though Sarah (my sister) and I live close by, we both work from home, have kids that keep us busy, and simply don’t have time to get together as often as we’d like to.

Disney Kids Preschool Playdate

For the playdate, Disney sent us a kit that turned a simple playdate into an amazing day to remember. It was filled with Jake and the Never Land Pirates themed items that made our time together fun and extra-special.

Plan a fun Disney Kids Preschool Playdate! #DisneySide #DisneyKids

Toys, Snacks, Lunch, and Games

The playdate started with the kids making sure they each had a few small pirate toys to play with. For easy locating, we made sure to put each child’s toys on their plate at the table.

Plan a fun Disney Kids Preschool Playdate! #DisneySide #DisneyKids

This was followed by delicious, kid-friendly snacks. My kids were elated to have fruit snacks, because they’re a rare treat in our home. They loved the chocolate chip protein bars, too.

Plan a fun Disney Kids Preschool Playdate! #DisneySide #DisneyKids

The Crunchmaster crackers were gone in sixty seconds. Well, not literally, but they didn’t last long! Seriously, good! :)

Plan a fun Disney Kids Preschool Playdate! #DisneySide #DisneyKids

The kids enjoyed a super simple lunch of popcorn chicken and fries, and at some point, I remember giving them all their very own Disney luggage tags. ;)

The luggage tags were a hit and went along well with the Disney World video we had going during the playdate.

Plan a fun Disney Kids Preschool Playdate! #DisneySide #DisneyKids

We did a variety of things for fun and games. But I think the favorite activities had to be playing Disney bingo, building a Mega Bloks truck, and creating with Kinetic Sand!

By the way, out of all the different “sands” we’ve tried over the years, Kinetic Sand is my favorite. It’s EASY to clean up and doesn’t make a huge mess like the other ones we’ve used in the past.

Plan a fun Disney Kids Preschool Playdate! #DisneySide #DisneyKids

While the kids played, it was great to be able to catch up with my sister and talk about my family’s Disney trips.

Sarah has never been to Disney World (my first visit there was when I was 29-years-old), but she wants to take her little ones sometime soon. I shared some of my best tips with her and talked about what an awesome vacation spot Disney is for families.

Plan a fun Disney Kids Preschool Playdate! #DisneySide #DisneyKidsThe preschool playdate turned out to be like five hours long better than I’d expected.

Judging from all the smiles, I think everyone involved had a fabulous time. :)

Who would you invite to a Disney Preschool Playdate? What’s your favorite Disney memory?

Thanks again to Disney and MomSelect for the fantastic party kit I received for our #DisneyKids playdate.

How I’m Using the InStyler Max 2-Way Rotating Iron to Straighten My Hair (Before and After Pictures)

Thanks to Vocalpoint for the InStyler tools and for partnering with me on this review.

How I’m Using the InStyler Max 2-Way Rotating Iron to Straighten My Hair (Before and After Pictures)  #RSVPinStyler

When it comes to my hair, I keep it simple.

If you’ve watched any of my YouTube videos, you know this is true. ;)

It’s not that I don’t want to spent a lot of time fixing my hair every day – it’s just that as a mom of five, kids start banging on the door I don’t have the time to spare. But I don’t use that as an excuse to walk around looking frumpy day-in and day-out. (And I KNOW my husband appreciates this!) Nope. After I wake up, I get ball rolling, put on some makeup, and fix my hair.

InStyler Hair Tools

Most recently, I’ve started using the InStyler MAX 2-Way Rotating Iron to straighten my hair. Someday, I’ll learn how to curl my hair like a pro. For now, I love the ease of straightening my hair and having a put together look in a short amount of time.

InStyler actually offers three different hair tools: the TULIP Auto Curler, the Ionic Styler Pro, and (my favorite) the MAX 2-Way Rotating Iron.

Get beautifully styled hair with these Instyler hair tools #RSVPinStyler

Back to the MAX 2-Way Rotating Iron, you can see that it has a built-in brush, and the barrel easily rotates in two directions depending on which side of your hair you happen to be working on. You can even curl your hair with the MAX, but I’m sticking to its straightening features for now. Of them, I like that the InStyler MAX straightens my hair while giving it body and volume.

It doesn’t leave my hair super flat like some flat irons do.

Get beautifully styled hair with these Instyler hair tools #RSVPinStyler

Extra Features on the InStyler MAX

While you can certainly use the MAX 2-Way Rotating Iron out-of-the-box, it comes with two additional pieces that I definitely recommend using. First, there’s the removable cool tip, which allows you more control as you use the InStyler MAX.

Then there’s the thermal guard. It protects your scalp and fingers from the hot barrel. At one point, I decided to use the MAX without the thermal guard. Bad idea! Lesson learned, and I won’t be doing that again! ;)

Get beautifully styled hair with these Instyler hair tools #RSVPinStyler

The Part Where I Step Out of My Comfort Zone

So… I don’t normally post pictures of myself like this here on the blog, but I want to show what the InStyler MAX can do. However, I wish I would’ve taken these BEFORE Thanksgiving and the five extra pounds that have decided to stick around. That’s what I get for procrastinating!

Even so, I think they turned out okay. ;)

Here’s what my hair looked like BEFORE I used the InStyler MAX 2-Way Rotating Iron:

What my hair looked like BEFORE using the MAX 2-Way Rotating Iron #RSVPinStyler

And here’s what it looked like AFTER:

What my hair looked like AFTER using the MAX 2-Way Rotating Iron #RSVPinStyler

I liked the ‘after’ so much so that I decided to switch out the profile picture on all of my social media accounts to that image.

And now I’ve crossed one more thing off my to-do list. :)

Which one of the InStyler hair tools would you be most likely to try? Or, straight or curly, which do you prefer for your everyday look?

P.S. You can visit the InStyler website and enter the code SAVE30 for a 30% discount on the line of InStyler tools. This code is good for the purchase of two tools through 1/31/15.