Sunday, August 14, 2016

Tech Obsession | Huawei Smart Watch Review


Thank you Amazon Prime Day! Thanks to this event, I was able to pick up a Huawei Watch Stainless Steel with Stainless Steel Mesh Band watch on July 12th.  Regular price is $399.99, I picked it up for $199.99 plus tax.  Of course I have Amazon Prime, so this beauty was in my hands 2 days later.  I’ve been eyeing this watch for a very long time. Debeating with myself if I wanted to go with the more expensive Huawei or a Moto360 Gen 2, and I’m so glad that I went with Huawei. I went back and forth on if I wanted mesh or leather; would it be to masculine, too heavy, etc. When it comes down to it, it's truly unisex and I just adore my watch.

Opening the box was a experience. The packaging feels high end and the watch feels well protected, Clearly Huawei wants to reinforce that you've purchased a luxury item. Right out of the box I turned the watch on and began the syncing process. It was a very easy and intuitive process. The watch's operating system is Android Wear, and I found that it works seamlessly with my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus. The great thing about this watch is that if you're of the Apple camp ...well you're not left out. This watch will work for you as well.

I'm posting this after 30 days of owning the watch because I wanted a significant amount of time with the watch to really put it to the test and see if I like it weeks after the purchase.  I do, I really do love it and let me tell you why in three points.
First the design. It’s a show stopper. I’ve been asked about my watch many times since I’ve been wearing it daily for the last month. Then when I turn my wrist and it lights up, the reaction from n both men and women is “Wow, that’s a smart watch?! It doesn’t look like it.” Followed by “What brand is it?” It’s truly stunning.  It is a little large, but if you’re accustom to wearing larger chunky watches like myself, then this won’t feel heavy, or too large.  If you have really tiny wrists or hands, this may be a bit much for you, but if you (as a woman), have average size hands, then this will look stunning on you. It looks equally good on men. My husband tried it on and he rocked it too. I abruptly made him remove it!

Second is how smooth the user interface is. It took about a few hours to get used to the swiping up for one thing, down for another and left or right depending on what you want to get done. The screens move fluidly and don’t seem to lag at all. There are some great features like theater mode (perfect when you don't want your bright watch face drawing attention while trying to watch a movie. The ability to set your notifications from sound to vibration, even the type of vibrations.  It's also very cool that I can accept a call on my watch and use the speaker to talk! I don't even have to pull my phone out of my purse to answer the phone or make a call. Plus the there are lots of free apps in the Google Play Store that let you be even more productive on the watch. Like checking your messages, replying using voice, and more!

Third, I like that the band is so easy to remove and change out with other aftermarket bands. I love jewelry and like to accessorize, so it's nice to have options.  You can get lots of looks at a pretty inexpensive price. Just search Amazon and you'll see the vast amount of watch bands at the click of your mouse!

My one and only issue with this watch is the charger...Seriously Huawei...this charger needs a revamp.  While it is magnetic, the pins never line up perfectly on the first attempt. Sometimes not on the second or third attempt either. But once you get the hang of it, it's not terrible, but it can be greatly improved. I'd prefer if I could place it on my wireless chargers instead of using pins to attached it.

Besides my issue with the charger, if I could add one thing as a “wish list” for the next version, that would be the ability to use the watch independently of the phone being synced, and possibly use LTE on the watch itself.

If you're in the market for a smart watch, get this one. You won't regret it.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

NAIAS 2016 | North American International Auto Show


The North American International Auto Show is held at Cobo Hall in Downtown Detroit. I remember attending the auto show every year when I was a kid with my parents and my two little sisters. Year after year we go. My Dad is an engineer and has worked in automotive since before I was even I glimmer of a thought in my parents world. Thanks to that, my sisters and I were (at the time) tortured with hours on top of hours of walking around looking inside and scrutinizing (what felt like) each vehicle. While we had a long day of walking, I remember it fondly. The yummy and bad for you food that we'd ingest all day in between sitting (aka playing) in cars we had no clue how to drive.

While we no longer do this event as a family, as we've all grown up and times have changed, as of the last few years, my Dad and I have started what seems to have become a new tradition of sorts, me and my Dad walking the NAIAS on the last day of the show. Dad and daughter day is what I like to call it. As an adult also in the automotive industry, I really enjoy it. I had a great time sitting in all the luxury high end vehicles, dreaming of what I'll next have in my garage. 


Over the years my taste in cars has evolved. This year I was really swooning over the 2016 Lincoln MKX Black Label edition luxury crossover, it's spectacular. I also drooled just a bit over the 2017 Cadillac XT5 crossover intended to compete in the same market. Unfortunately, this vehicle was up on a stage, so I couldn't get in.

This year, the auto show seemed smaller than it usually is. I suspect that it's shrinking little by little each year. Which saddens me, but I'm glad that the attendance remains strong. Even on the last day, tons of people everywhere. We didn't see Land Rover/Range Rover vehicles anywhere, which was unfortunate because my Dad loves those! We looked for at least 30 minutes, consulted the map and still no go.
   
Me and Dad...don't we look alike?!

Did you attend the NAIAS? If so, what cars caught your attention?

I didn't bring my camera to take serious photos, but I did use Snap Chat a few times while I there. I decided to share some of those Snaps that I took throughout the day - if you weren't able to make it to Detroit, here's a small taste of what I experienced at the NAIAS this year.

Live Lavishly,
~Tamara

  

 
 

 



Sunday, November 22, 2015

5 Christmas Movies Worth Watching



With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it's officially the holiday season! You're probably already starting to see Christmas decoration everywhere you look, our fall TV shows go on hiatus, and ABC features their 25 Days of Christmas programing. Top that with all of the movies, TV specials and music all about Christmas every day for the next month and that's a lot of Holiday Cheer! Don't have time or not into watching that many hours Christmas? No worries, I've got a short list that will slim down your Christmas movie viewing hours.  

Every year I find myself watching these same several movies, it's become a tradition. I grab a glass of wine, pop some popcorn, cuddle up on the couch with a blanket and enjoy.  I've been known to watch a few of these during my cookie party prep when I'm baking dozens on top of dozen of cookies. Even when time is short running tons of errands leading up to Christmas, I always make enough time to watch my top five!


5.  Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) | It's fun, it's light, and it's a cute story. This is one of my favorites, but really, almost all of the 1960's and 70's stop-motion-animation specials are really great. If you have a bit of time, watch a few of them.

4. Home Alone (1990) | The first movie of course. Nothing is better than the original, it's what I'd like to call a modern classic. I never get enough of watching Kevin defending his house against the loser "Wet Bandits". It's really hilarious.
3. The Polar Express (2004) | I just love this animated movie all about a magical train ride to the North Pole featuring Tom Hanks. It's all the things that we love about an animated Christmas movie.
2. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) | I just adore the remake of this movie featuring Jim Carrey. I like all the vibrants colors and how whimsical it is.








1. A Christmas Carol (1984 & 2009)  | Christmas just isn't Christmas unless you watch at least one version of A Christmas Carol, and these are my favorites. Both the 1984 and Disney 2009 adaptations are a must watch.  If you watch nothing else, make time to watch this gem.

Before I go, I'll leave you with a few more honorable mentions (in no particular order):

A Christmas Story (1983)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Claymation Christmas Celebration (1987)
The Mistle-Tones (2012)


What about you? What's on your must watch list for the holidays?

Live Lavishly,
~Tamara







Sunday, November 15, 2015

Vloggity, Vlog, Vlog | 5 YouTube Vlog Channels Worth Watching

Are you into watching vlogs on YouTube? It's a guilty pleasure of mines that I've been indulging in lately. I can't even really verbalize what's so great about watching snippets of others lives, but I find it intriguing.   I mostly watch on my smart phone while I'm laying in bed trying to force myself to sleep.

If you don't know what a vlog is it's a "video log".  Vlogging is sharing with the world a small sliver, edited piece of a their life.  The vlogger could runs errands, chills around the house, go to a concert, go on vacation, prepare of a party, or whatever they feel like sharing. Some post vlogs everyday while other post when they feel like sharing.

There's all types of Vloggers. Comedy vloggers, beauty vloggers, lifestyle vloggers, etc. The list goes on and on. Vlogging is really subjective and there's no right or wrong way to do it. You'll know if you like their vlogging style when you watch and find yourself hitting the subscribe button.

I personally find Vloggers very brave people. To share a part of your life with the very judgemental, and very snarky public where trolling has become more the norm than the exception  - is indeed brave. As you can imagine, some people tend to get very daring and mouthy behind the faceless keyboard and Vloggers deal with hecklers aka Trolls every day.

Interested? Watch a few videos from the top 5 YouTube Vloggers I've been enjoying recently.

5. Mimi Ikonn | Mimi is a fashion and style YouTuber, I don't watch many of her style videos, but her travel vlogs are amazing! She and her husband Alex go to the most beautiful places. Whenever I want to be transported to somewhere interesting I look for one of their travel vlogs. Great editing combined with unique locations.

4. AprilJustinTV | April's main channel is all about beauty. On this channel she and Justin recently transitions from doing daily vlogs to a more casual pace in vlogging.  They now post a few times a week when they want to share, which is fine with me. Plus their toddler Liam is the cutest and he always puts a smile on my face. They are really naturally happy people, which is rare.

3. itsJudysLife | You probably already know Judy as one of the more well known beauty Vloggers. On her second channel Benji, Judy and the gang (a set of baby twins and a toddler) are always fun to watch. They are daily Vloggers who share a piece of their live with us every day. They are always doing fun things and taking great family vacations. I like that they always keep it real. With three young girls, it's always entertaining.

2. Pretty Neat Living (previously known as Organized Like Jen, The Busy Bee Buzz, and My Housewife Life) | Earlier this year Jen merged all three of her channels into one. While she's not one of the most popular Vloggers, Jen does very good vlogs going into the holidays. It's always a joy to watch she and her husband Don prepare for parties and cook delicious food. When not doing a series of vlogs she tends to post randomly when the mood strikes.

1. The Michalaks | Hannah and Steph with their toddler Grayson post a vlog every Sunday morning (in my time zone) and we get to see snippets of their week.  I seriously love their video editing style. Not only is their little family a joy to watch, I always enjoy the music and style of the vlogs. You can tell that they put a lot of work and heart into them.

Who would you put on this list? Please share with me what YouTube Vloggers you watch.

Live Lavishly!
~Tamara


Saturday, October 3, 2015

September Favorites (2015) | Food, Technology, Local Finds & More

Where have I been for the last month?!  Dealing with a promotion at work, that's where.  Same place of employment with tons of more work. I'm out of the house at 7am and I've been getting home around 7pm. By the time I cook dinner, watch a TV show with my husband, do a few things around the house, next thing you know it's 10 o'clock and the night is gone.  My time after work hasn't been my own lately.  Happily I'm making some changes so that I can share some fun posts that I have planned for October, so get excited!  Without further ado, find out what I've been loving during the month of September.

Food & Drink

  • Bali's Best Candy - A few years ago at the RT Convention in Chicago, an author gave out the Bali's Sweet Tea candy with her Southern themed book. Flash forward to last month, I remembered that candy and wanted more of it! So looked up the brand on Amazon and found that Bali's offers coffee flavored ones also! Since I love coffee and tea, of course I had to try it.  I ordered this variety pack so that I could try all 6 flavors and they are all yummy, but I LOVE the Latte ones. I brought them to work to keep at my desk for sharing, but after tasting the Latte flavor, I picked all of those out of the mix to keep for myself.  Just delicious. You've got to try them.
  • Smart Ones Breakfast Wrap - I picked the up Sausage, Egg, and Cheese wraps at Costco because I was getting tired of my usual breakfast routine.  I don't like to eat a lot of processed foods for breakfast so I don't eat these everyday, but I allow myself have a breakfast treat a few times a week. Personally, I think twice a week is acceptable. These travel well and heat up in under 2 minutes. I eat them at my desk in the morning with a little bit of salsa on top. One serving has two small wraps packaged together in a wrapper. They seriously do not taste like diet food at all and they are filling. I'll eat this with some coffee at 8am and I'm good until noon.
  • Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice Coffee K-Cup for Keurig Vue - I've been enjoying this coffee almost every morning. Brew this on strong, then add a measured tablespoon of Pumpkin Spice creamer (either of the popular brands will do), 1 splenda packet, topped with a small amount of whipped cream with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg and it's a perfect fall morning in a cup! Try it out.
Michigan Local Finds | The Maple Theatre/Great Lakes Coffee -  Both of these businesses are in one building and are attached. I've been there for coffee twice and there for a movie once in the past month and a half. I totally think this is one of those local places that's a hidden gem. You don't hear a lot about it and it isn't one of those places you'd think to go to. It's quaint, small and very unique.  The Maple is described as a "Upscale cinema for indie & vintage films offers a cafe & stylish bar that hosts live pre-show music.", which is totally accurate.

The theater is nice and updated. The seats are very comfortable and roomy. The popcorn is amazing! You have a choice between regular and olive oil popped popcorn. Then you have an option of regular or real butter,.,oh boy. We tried olive oil popped popcorn with real butter. Those two items came with a $2 upcharge, but it was worth it! We topped it with Kosher salt. What other theater would you find real butter and Kosher salt?! Right, it's totally a luxury.

The coffee at Great Lakes Coffee is amazing! Thier Chili Mexican latte was more than just memorable. It was near perfection.  Three of us from my book club met up there one day and we all had this latte and we all gushed over it.

The bar is very chic and it's partitioned off a bit from the cafe area by a glass fireplace. It's very warm feeling and appealing. I haven't had a drink there yet, but it's good to know it's option if I want to grab a drink or bite to eat before or after a movie.

Tech Gadgets | I picked up a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and I'm impressed. This is one beautiful phone. Not only was I impressed with the look, feel and performance of the phone, I was also impressed with all the app freebies Samsung provided to their users. Along with this marvelous phone I got the Samsung wireless charger. 

The only downside that I've found so far is that Samsung Pay doesn't work with Capital One credit cards. That's unfortunate because I really want to use this app. 

Apps (Android OS) | The app I've been loving this month is Snapchat. I caved and finally set up a Snapchat account.  If you'd like to follow my account and see what I'm up to on any given day, my username is shelfaddiction1. I'm not even going to lie - it took me several days to figure out exactly what to do and what types of things to post. I ended up asking my niece (who is in the 9th grade by the way) what people use it for. I think that my age is starting showing. Regardless, I'm finding that I like it. I think that it's a easier version of vlogging. I've always been interested in vlogging and wanted to try it, but I have no desire to edit hours worth of video to post a vlog on YouTube. Daily vloggers get serious props from me in that regard.  While I feel that things on the internet never really 100% go away, it's appealing to me that a Snap is there for 24 hours, then it's gone (supposedly).  In the end, I'm using Snapchat fairly regularly and I'm enjoying it.

That's all I've got for this month.  What about you, what favorites are were you loving last month?

Live Lavishly,
~Tamara

Saturday, September 5, 2015

August Favorites (2015) | Lifestyle, Food, Local Finds & More

It's that time again. I'm sharing things that I've been loving during the past month.  You won't see every category, every time I post this feature- but you'll surely find all of the things that I loved enough to recommend.

Food & Drink
  • Superior Nut & Candy Dark Chocolate Almonds - I found a huge 48 oz container at Costco and it's totally dangerous! Between my husband and myself, we've been devouring these. These are the perfect ending when you want a little something sweet (not but not sugary) after dinner. Grab a palmful of these and the sweet craving is satisfied. Plus dark chocolate is good for you! 
  • Fenn Valley Capriccio - This red blend wine was gifted to me by a friend. This is her favorite Michigan wine and I can see why. It's delicious. I suspect it'll be hard to find in the stores, but luckily I can order online.

Planner, Pens & Stationary
  • Twsbi Mini  - I picked up this pen after drooling over it for months. I'm glad that I did because I've been using it everyday. I seriously love it. I don't know why I waited so long to pick one up. I purchased the fine nib version, and it's the perfect thickness.
  • Parker Super Quink Permanent Ink  - I also needed ink for my shiny new pen. I picked it up in black ink and it looks really nice.

TV
  • Ballers (HBO) - This is a new series that came out this summer It's a 10 episode season that I powered through it in two weekends. I really liked it, football and drama. On a side note - The Rock singing Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off" - is just priceless (episode 8). Even if you're not a football fan, you'll enjoy this show.
  • Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family) - Yep, I'm still watching this. I watched season one in July and I watched season two in August. Every weekend, I watch several hours of PLL. For a young adult show, it's pretty entertaining. You'll enjoy it more if you don't think too hard about it and have a good time with all the antics of the Liars as they try to hunt down "A".

    Apps (Android OS)
  • Periscope - I've been obsessed with watching scopes in the last few weeks. I came across a YouTuber talking about it and had to check it out for myself. Periscope was purchased by Twitter back in January for an estimated $100 Million. The community is still in it's early stages, but I see huge potential here. It could be the next biggest social media platform. What is it? It's live streaming all over the world! Instead of watching a video, you're watching the host live. You can tune into someone on their walk home in Paris, or having tea in London, or talking about the best ways to improve your brand in Atlanta all while interacting with comments. The world is your oyster with Periscope. I haven't done my own broadcast yet, but I plan too. What topics would you like to see me talk about on a live scope?
Michigan Local Finds | Restaurant
  • Take Sushi - A colleague told me about this amazing sushi restaurant in Rochester Hills, MI. Of course, I had to check it out. I went with my cousin a few weeks ago and we LOVED it. It's going to be my new sushi place for a while. It's a small and almost hidden spot, but it's really cute and quaint on the inside with an authentic feel. They provide a hot towel for each person when you sit down and hot tea is included. Below are a few shots of our lunch there that I posted on Instagram (instagram.com/shelfaddiction). We shared ramen and a few sushi rolls and everything was delicious. 

So that's it for my August favorites. Do you have any favorites that you've been enjoying over the last month? If so, please share. I enjoy discovering new things.

Live Lavishly,
~Tamara

Sunday, August 30, 2015

6 Reasons Why I'm Breaking Up With Sprint

As the title of this post says, I'm breaking up with my long term mobile carrier, Sprint. Let me tell you why.  I've had several issues with Sprint in the past with both their level of cell phone service and customer service. My most recent experience was the last straw.

If you're into cell phones, then you know that the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus was released last weekend. I signed into my Sprint account and requested a notification of my status for upgrade. I received a text message saying that as of August 1st I was eligible for upgrade. That was great news, so my husband and I went to Best Buy to purchase the phone and update my contract. I get to the store, pick the phone, start the process and while they're looking at my account they say I don't see where you're available for a contract upgrade. Things by roll downhill from there. We end up leaving the store and I called Sprint's customer service. I reach their customer service and they tell me which options are available. When I described the text message and pointed out that there was no mention of limitations on a upgrade, they acted totally oblivious.  The first customer service rep attempted to bypass the system and give me a contract update. That's was good, and would have solved my problem, but the guy couldn't do it so he sent me to a supervisor. The supervisor was very much unapologetic about the rules she would not attempt to bend in anyway shape or form to satisfied me as a customer. In the end I ended up telling the supervisor that I wanted to know how much it is to buy out my contract and I'll take my business elsewhere.  What did she say to that? Nothing. Dead silence. Well thank you very much for all of your non-help and for showing me the door after 15 plus years of loyalty.  To add insult to injury, after waiting on hold for 20 minutes the manager returned to the phone to tell me that to pay out of the little less than 3 months remaining on my contract costs $100! $100?! That is madness.

You would think that three months of a contract wouldn't be worth losing a customer of so many years. Looking at it from the money standpoint, Sprint has made TONS of money off of me. In my particular case, it would have been worth it to waive the last three months for me to sign up for two more years and buy a phone.  Thier management isn't very smart.  Right now there are several really cool Samsung deals going on with the purchase of a new phone at Best Buy so obviously I'm wanted in on the freebies. Who wouldn't?

This is not my first bad experience with Sprint customer service. In the past I tried to change my plan and have been given bad information as to what the plan includes, so this is another example of them not knowing they're own plans and/or policies.  When it's all said and done, I'll be taking my money elsewhere. Let me give you six brief reasons why.

1. Sprint sends deceptive emails and text messages about the ability to upgrade your phone. When really it's just an offer to lease or FlexPay only. No contract renewal option. Leasing and FlexPay is a way more expensive way to go. Why not be honest in the message and say clearly state "Currently eligible for a FlexPay or lease upgrade. You're eligible for a contract renewal on X date".  Simple, to the point, and most of all...not deceptive.

2. Sprint's customer service is the worst. If you talked to 3 different agents you'll hear three different stories or three different sets of information. They do not know what they're talking about and they are all confused.

3. Sprint customer service managers are the worst as well. They don't really have the ability to help the customer, and in my case one manager was willing to see a customer of 15+ years leave over three months remaining on a contract. It's sad.

4. Sprint does not care about customer loyalty. No matter how long you've been with Sprint they will not help you and your situation. Being a long time customer, and good standing ie. never paying late, always buying a new phone every two years, spending a lot of money with Sprint and the fact that they would not let me renew a contract three months early without paying a hundred dollars is insane.

5. The Sprint international data service is a joke. When I went to Canada and Italy this summer I had the worst time with a connection.  Not only wouldn't my phone work half the time, the data was virtually nonexistent.

6. I want the ability to talk on the phone and search the internet at the same time. Sprint is behind in the technology!

Who will I now give my hard earned money to? I'm seriously looking into T-Mobile. They prices are competitive to Sprint and they get extra points because several people have recommended them to me. Before I make final decision, I want to hear what you all have to say.  I understand that no wireless carrier is 100%, but if you have one that you like - please share what company it is and why you like them.

Updated on 9-3-2015: On Sunday, August 30th I shared this blog post on Twitter with the CEO of both Sprint (@marceloclaure) and T-Mobile (@JohnLegere) and within minutes of that Tweet being posted, Sprint reached out to me and said they wanted to make it right. When the manager called me she said “We don't want you to break up with us.”. Yes, she said that.  I replied, “Okay – what can you do?”. I got a phone call from one of their Analyst only a few moments after I hung up from that call.  When it was all said and done, they did make it right. I was able to get the phone I wanted, credits for the Samsung incentive and freebie that I missed out on, and a two year contract renewed a few months early without penalty. I guess they do care about customer loyalty…or rather social media. Regardless, I got what I wanted and Sprint stepped up and made it right. My phone arrived yesterday and I activated it immediately.  I now have my beautiful phone and I’m a satisfied customer again.  So needless to say…I’m with Sprint for two more years. What do you think of that?

Live Lavishly,
~Tamara