What is Amazon Echo? A Cool Electronic or Homewrecker?

Loves his new Amazon Echo

Loves his new Amazon Echo

My husband has a new girlfriend!  She lives inside the Amazon Echo and her name is Alexa.  Alexa is the “wake up word” for the Echo.  You can choose to use the word “Amazon” instead, but Whitey enjoys talking to Alexa as if she is sitting right there in the room with him.  My husband is legally blind, and for us, Alexa is a huge help!

What is Amazon Echo?  A very cool electronic device–a  cylinder shaped piece of electronic equipment that plugs into a wall socket and connects to your wireless network.

Note:  Our Amazon Echo resides on the hearth.  You do not have to hold it in your hands.  Whitey is just enjoying his photo shoot with the new love in his life — and he is quite a character!


Does the Amazon Echo Work? What does the Amazon Echo Do?

The Amazon Echo works beautifully.  It plays music, gives weather reports and news, and even helps you make a list so you don’t forget anything.

We learn new things about our Echo almost every day.   I added our location to our Echo settings on Amazon, so that when asked, “Alexa, what’s the weather?” , she responds with our local weather report.  If there is a football game or golf tournament going on that day, Whitey will ask her about that location, “Alexa, what’s the weather in Dallas, Texas today?”   And yes, she readily gives him that information too.
Read more about the Amazon Echo

Special hugs for Alexa

Special hugs for Alexa

Whitey loves all the music from the 1950s and 1960s.   Alexa can play music from Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, and I Heart Radio.   If she is playing a song he does not like, he simply says, “Alexa, skip.”   Or he can say “Alexa, volume up” or “Alexa volume down.”   One of his favorite things is to ask Alexa when a song is playing “Alexa, who’s singing that song?”  She immediately replies with the artist.

As you can tell, we mostly use the Amazon Echo for music, but there are so many other things.  News reports come from NPR at your request.   Spelling questions and definitions of words are readily available, too.

Amazon Echo – Best Seller in Home Audio and Theatre


Is Amazon Echo Worth the Money?

The Amazon Echo costs much less than most cool electronic devices and there is no monthly fee.  The Echo simply uses your wireless internet connection to connect to the cloud and supply answers to your requests.

I have often said that Whitey’s talking watch is his favorite aid, but now, he would likely tell you that the Echo is priceless to him.   The Amazon Echo price is very reasonable and affordable for most families. You can make a request for a special invitation to purchase the Echo now or it will be in stock on July 8, 2015 for $199. I can easily see the time coming when I will want an Echo in my own office. Is the Amazon Echo worth the money? Oh yes!  The Amazon Echo is a cool electronic indeed.

Is the Echo Difficult To Set Up?

The Echo was surprisingly easy to set up.   And updates occur automatically via the cloud.  You simply plug in the Echo, use the echo app on your cellphone or tablet or computer to connect to your wireless.

Note:  the hardest part of the setup for me was finding my password to my wireless.  I strongly suggest you do that first or you will be frustrated!  Find that password while you are waiting for your Echo to arrive.

Is the Echo difficult to set up?  No.

Are you ready to put an Echo in your house right now?

What is the Future of Amazon Echo?

The Amazon Echo adds services automatically and often.  We recently received notice that the Echo can now be paired with some lamps so that you can turn the lights off and on with the help of the Echo.  We have not investigated that further, but it’s nice to know there are always additional and new options for our favorite new toy.

You can also coordinate your Echo lists with your cellphone and tablets, I understand.  Again, we have not had the need for that particular option either, but I am sure that would be important to the younger folk.  The future looks bright for the Amazon Echo!

Amazon Echo Information
Amazon supplies full information about the Echo, including videos and technical information.  There are also books available if you want to read more about your Echo.  I have to admit I have not read any of these,  but I like to know they are available if I do want to learn more.
Check Amazon Echo Price

Unlock the Hidden Potential of Your EchoAmazon Echo; Amazon Echo User Guide

Posted in Senior Aids, Senior Citizen Living, Senior Citizen Products, Visually Impaired | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Grandparents to Twins via Long Distance

Nancy and the twins
It is such an amazing experience to see your children with their children. We love being grandparents. In fact, I have often said that I think that is exactly what I was meant to be in life.
Our first grandchild was born 15 years ago. Our daughter had a difficult pregnancy and our grandson was born with a medical problem so she really needed our support and help. Of course, we were more than happy to do whatever she needed us to do. When she went back to work, I took care of him and enjoyed every minute of it. Since they live in the same town that we do, we saw him just about every day and still do. He has been a joy, for sure!
Nancy and the grands
We were so thrilled when our son and daughter-in-law announced that they were expecting and we were twice as happy when they told us they were expecting twins – a boy and a girl. They don’t live near us so I immediately began to try to figure out how to be a good Long Distant Grandparent. The babies were over a month old by the time we got to see them the first time. Unfortunately, it will be several more months before we will get to see them again in person.
I find myself wondering what the babies are doing at this very moment, how did they sleep the night before, and what are their plans today. Due to the many advances in technology, I am able to get quick answers to my many daily questions.

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Pictures and Videos
– We love to receive pictures and videos either through text messages or email. It is always the highlight of our day. Once the pictures or videos arrive, I immediately find my husband so we can enjoy them together. We usually have to watch the videos over and over again and of course view the latest pictures and proudly share them with our friends.

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Face Time – At least once a week our son will call and as he is talking he will move the phone around to capture each child. We can see them and hear them and love it. I am so glad that we were able to make the visit to their home because now I know exactly where they are and I can imagine being right there with them.

Facebook – Occasionally, they post pictures on Facebook and tag me. I also post pictures of the precious babies (with permission, of course) and love reading all the great comments from friends about how cute they are and how much they have grown.
nancy twins

Blogging – Our smart daughter-in-law has created her first blog and I am really enjoying reading it and seeing pictures she post. It is called “thetwinexperience “ and she also created a Facebook Fan Page so she can keep us updated when she makes a new post. Click here to read her new blog: The Twin Experience
Our son and daughter-in-law make a great parenting team and we feel very blessed. We wish we could see the twins everyday but thankful that technology makes Long Distance Grandparenting a little easier.

Note: Thank you to my sister, Nancy Hellams, for writing this super post about her beautiful new grandchildren!

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Accepting the Challenge – 10 Things About Me

50th Anniversary family photoYesterday I enjoyed reading Susan Deppner’s 10 Things About Me on her blog, Life From the Inside Out. Susan challenged other bloggers to do the same, so here are 10 things about me and some scattered photos:

1. My husband and I recently celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. Our children hosted a party for us and it was pure joy — probably the happiest time of my life — surrounded by family and friends, laughter, tears, joy, music, dancing and good food. I am still grinning about that! See my halo and wings in this picture? My husband toasted me!
50th jaon and whitey

2. We are blessed with 2 children – a son and a daughter – both are happy, loving successful adults and oh, we are such proud parents. Of course, we positively dote on our two grandchildren. What a joy they all are! Our family is our top priority and we are thankful every single day for each one.
50th moment with jessica

3. My husband has been legally blind since 1988. His positive attitude and enthusiasm for life is a constant inspiration to all who know him.

4. I never planned to have a career. I just wanted to stay at home with our precious children. However, life presented challenges, and I worked — at more jobs than anybody ever should. I have held all sorts of secretarial jobs, leased apartments, sold real estate, directed 5 counties of March of Dimes, and even sold Mary Kay, jewelry and perfume in home parties for a while. After my husband lost his sight, we became co-workers from home, and have sold telephone long distance service, credit card machines, Better Business Bureau, business forms and printing and check recovery services.

we are family 10-25-14

5. My husband and I are writing our personal histories. He recorded his stories years ago, and we had those recordings transcribed. We are still in editing mode. It’s time to complete that important work in 2015! I am enjoying working with Lee Miller, author of The Journey: A Celebration of Life: A Guidebook for Writing Your Life Story. I assist Lee in leading a course at Shepherd’s Center about writing our personal histories. I learn much more than I can teach! (You can click on Lee’s book in the display below this post.)

6. I was the 2nd child of four. There are 3 of us remaining – and I am so thankful for both my sisters. All 3 of us write on line – Can you believe that? We had such fun at the anniversary party.50th anniv - sisters

I enjoy friends on line and friends in person! I have met some of my online friends and that is a special joy indeed.
Whitey and I were both deeply touched by the presence of so many of our life long friends at our celebration. How does anybody survive without friends?
50th me and margie

7. We enjoy music from the 50s and 60s and have fun dancing. For years we took line dance lessons and had fun learning over 200 different dances. We can’t remember them all now, but we have fun trying.dancing jaon and whitey 2014

8. We have only one dog these days, an old poodle. He is diabetic, deaf and blind. Our house is a doggie nursing home.
Update: Our poodle died in March 2015.

9. I always have at least one courtroom drama or mystery on my Kindle Paperwhite, and some form of spiritual study or self improvement.

10. At this point in my life, I find myself living in Thanksgiving – life is such a journey. We have enjoyed happy times and suffered through difficult times, but overall, the happy times have outweighed the difficult days, and there is much to celebrate. For 2015, I will again embark on a Simple Abundance adventure.

Joan Adams

These are a few of my favorite things:

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Posted in Book Reviews, Dance, Memories, Senior Citizen Living | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Have a Merry Christmas All By Yourself

Christmas is Almost Here! But it is not too late to add some sparkle to your holiday!
Are you going to be alone this Christmas? If so, it is time to plan something for yourself and others, too, if you wish. Think of those around you, those in your apartment building or your neighborhood who may find themselves without plans for Christmas Day. Would a quickly organized potluck late lunch be fun and possible? How about dessert time later in the afternoon, and everyone can bring a treat for the table. Weather a problem, then what?

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One Christmas alone, I enjoyed reading a book that I had just never taken the time to read before. I picked up the phone, and called old friends, family members, and neighbors to wish them a wonderful day. Then, while talking with another senior alone, we decided to have a Spring Fling when the weather would be better. We let our imaginations go wild, and jotted down all kinds of ways to Celebrate Spring. About ten of us met when weather permitted and enjoyed a “dutch lunch” at a nearby restaurant with the topic of the day – Christmas in our Childhood.
In fact, that topic could well be a special project for any of us alone on Christmas Day. At your computer, typewriter, or with pen and paper, tell the story of your Christmas times of the past. Your children and grandchildren will treasure the stories and you will be amazed yourself at the details that will surface as you write.

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We have a choice – to make holidays alone wonderful or depressing. Our choice can make a difference to others who may be in the same place, too. Let’s enjoy the music, special television shows, and the wonderful ways to quickly communicate this year whether or not we are by ourselves.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Super Spring! Enjoy it all! Every minute of each day.

Betty Tate DeLorme

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Seven Ways to Stay Warm When It’s Cold Outside

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It’s November, and we here in the sunny South have been so fortunate to have such a pleasant Fall. Oh, there have been a few days of colder weather, even snow in some areas, but for the most part, it has been wonderful. The weather predictions for the weeks ahead do not sound so good, however. At least not for me. When the temperature goes below 50, I am cold!
Year ’round, I like keeping the thermostat set on 73. My furry dog, Zeus, had rather it be 63! Ummm, he can not reach the dial, but I can. I keep it where I am comfy! Even at 73 degrees, I sometimes get chilly, so an extra layer or two helps. My home is old (as am I), and I am sure that are drafty spots that I am not aware of. I am careful, too, that the house is not overly hot and stuffy when visitors are here.
Here are seven of my favorite ways to stay warm!
First, I love snuggly throws or blankets! Last Christmas, one of my sisters gave me a blanket that is fabulous! The attractive, plush fabric and size enable me to use it as a wonderful throw if I am curled up in my favorite chair reading. I have taken it on my screened porch when I go out on a cool afternoon for some nature watching and fresh air. There, I spread it on the sofa, then sit on it, wrapping it all around me to keep off the chill!

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Second, I wear an extra layer of clothes. Underclothes, to be specific! There are some wonderful thin, but warm undershirt type garments that hold body heat in! I buy only V neck, long sleeve ones, for they work under almost any clothes I wear! And let’s face it! Panty hose are warm, too, so in cold weather, a must for me.
Third, there is nothing like a pretty, comfortable sweater or casual jacket to add a bit of warmth. I try to keep one in the laundry room. There it is handy if I need to make a quick trip outside to take out trash or cut a few greens for the house.

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Fourth, I am learning to appreciate hats and gloves! Sometimes bright scarves as well add to the warmth and attractiveness of an outfit. Hats are such fun. I now have a variety from tams,to small brimmed ones in several colors. Gloves come in many price ranges, fabrics, and colors! I keep an extra pair in my car, just in case I need them!

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Fifth, I do love my little electric counter-top heater! In fact, as I type, I have mine on in the bathroom to take the chill off that room before I shower.
Sixth, I wear socks every chance I get! I even sleep in a pair of socks! Alert! Alert! Do be careful if you don’t have on slippers or shoes, but are walking around in only socks! They are dangerous and slippery, especially on hardwood floors. We don’t need a fall! Oh, and don’t forget flannel pajamas for cozy sleeping! Wonderful!
Seventh, if you are not allergic to wool, add some woolen items to your wish list! When the weather gets bitter, out come my warmest wool slacks and sweaters.
I hope some of my favorite ways to stay warm will be helpful for you. And oh, yes, this is the perfect time to drop some big hints for the holiday season ahead!

Betty Tate DeLorme

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Congo Squares – Favorite Family Recipe

I can almost smell the congo sqares in the oven. In 1954, the Tate family lived in Pendleton, SC. We loved to gather round and “lick the bowl” while they baked! Mama always made congo squares for church picnics, long trips in the car to visit relatives, and of course at Thanksgiving and Christmastime.
Note: “Lick the bowl” involved using a long wooden spoon to scrape the bowl of unused dough and eating it — yes, uncooked!

Congo Squares – 1974
By 1974, I had a little family of my own. We lived in Wagener, SC. I always made Mama’s Congo Squares for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. And yes, they were still good — and my children loved to “lick the bowl”! My children learned, as we had, that they could more easiy have the long sticks of end pieces after cutting — and save the pretty pieces for company!
PS my adult son still prefers the “sticks” from the edges of the pan!

Congo Squares – 2004
In 2004 we attended the Tate Family Reunion in Helen, Georgia. My granddaughter attended with us for the very first time. What fun! And yes, again I made congo squares! And they were almost as good as they were when mama made them back in 1954!

This recipe is taken from The Tate Table, a family cookbook created by my sister, Betty Tate DeLorme, and presented to the family in 1983. The first page reads:

When we think of home…
We cannot help but think
of the kitchen table..
Over the years, all the
laughter and fun…
And always…
Bountiful food.

Congo Squares Recipe
2 3/4 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening or margarine
2 1/4 cups brown sugar (1 Lb box)
3 eggs
1 cup nut meats (pecans in small pieces)
1 package semi-sweet chocolate morsels (small bag)

Mix and sift flour, baking powder and salt. Melt shortening and add brown sugar. Stir until well mixed. Allow to cool slightly. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry ingredients, then nuts, and chocolate bits. Pour into greased pan about 10 1/2 x 15 1/2 x 3/4. Bake at 350 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes.
Yield – 48 squares. When almost cool, cut into squares approximately 2 x 2.
(Joan says not to forget to “pat ’em down” about halfway through the baking process.)

2014 – My personal notes about congos!
Read and heed!
-You have to be in a hurry to make these work. In a hurry, busy, but happy! I am serious! The dough knows!
-The dough is very heavy. Mama taught me to wet my hands and pat the dough into the pan.
-When they are about half done, open the oven door, grab the rack and lift it about a half inch, and let it drop. This will cause the congos to fall, and make them ever so chewy and good.
-Our granddaughter is allergic to pecans, so we simply omit those — and the congos are still super good!
-I use self rising flour now and omit the baking powder and salt. If I cannot find that small bag of chocolate chips, I use about a cup of chocolate chips. It works out just fine.

I remember it all with this little chant Mama taught me.
“Melt butter, add sugar, beat well, let cool. Add eggs one at a time.” I still – to this day – say that as I bake congos! I am sure there was more of it, but that is the part I remember!

In my notes, mama has written — “tee hee – take it easy on intake – very fattening!”

ADDENDUM: I think in our modern age, all flour is pre-sifted, so you do not have to worry about that anymore.

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Blue Jeans for Grandma

One of my dearest friends had worn pajama jeans for years. I had to admit I was tempted. They looked stylish on her. And I hated to wear jeans.

One day, I got brave and just ordered a pair for me from Amazon. When they arrived, I tried them on for size, and I refused to take them off. They were so comfortable! To tell the truth, I wore those jeans for 3 days! Before I ordered another pair, I wanted to be sure they would wash without fading or falling apart – they were inexpensive jeans. I washed them and hung them up to dry. Perfect. Ready to wear again. No wrinkles. No loss of shape. I immediately ordered a second pair.

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Why do I love these jeans?

1. Comfort! As a senior citizen, regular jeans are just uncomfortable for me. They are too stiff and they hurt my delicate aging skin. These jeans feel great! As far as I am concerned, these are the best jeans for grandma to wear.

2. They look good! My friends tell me I look like I have lost weight (my favorite compliment to receive!) Originally I had thought I would just wear them around the house, but now I wear them everywhere. Nobody can tell that they are not “real” jeans.

3. They have a drawstring – like sweat pants! Who knew such a thing was possible?

4. They launder easily – tho I still have not put them in the dryer – and probably won’t.

5. They are inexpensive. I will likely buy one more pair so I am sure to always have a clean pair waiting for me.

Whether you call them pajama jeans or soft jeans, I am sold! The ones I bought are not one of the main brands, but I love the fit and style — and I enjoy them every day.

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