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The Best Cars For A Road Trip

honda accord and my man

While I didn’t travel so far this year that I needed to board a plane, I still managed to get my wanderlust fix in by taking a bunch of road trips across Ontario.

There is really nothing I love more than a good road trip. My favourite people, my favourite music, some snacks and a good vehicle are all that is required for a memorable mini-vacation on a whim. Thanks to Honda, I was able to try a handful of different cars for weekend getaways throughout 2014, and I’d love to take you through the ones I found particularly great for road tripping.

HONDA ACCORD – BEST FOR WINE COUNTRY

As seen above with my man, the Accord is the perfect practical car. I had the chance to test it out in Niagara, and you can read more about that trip and how much I loved the car over on Dose.

ACURA MDX – BEST FOR MUSIC FESTIVAL CAMPING

acura mdx

While I didn’t use the Acura for a Bonnaroo trip, I couldn’t help but think that it would be absolutely perfect for that situation when I was testing it out. Back when my friends and I drove down to Tennessee for the festival, we were in a small economy rental – and with all our stuff packed in – it  was not particularly comfortable. Not to mention that the heat in Tennessee in June is unbearable, so sitting in the vehicle for shade/sleep (since the tent was unbearably hot) was something we all needed to take turns doing.

The Acura is an incredible vehicle for a variety of reasons, but its spaciousness would definitely come in handy in such a situation. You can take the seats down for extra room should you need to sleep in it. Plus, the dvd player setup in the back will keep your friends entertained over the very long drive, and the navigation system will make sure you don’t get lost trying to find the farm. And the surround sound audio and SiriusXM mean you’ll be able to sing your heart out the whole drive down.

HONDA CIVIC – BEST FOR A BEACH TRIP

honda civic sedan

I was able to test out the Civic on my way to go parasailing for the first time in Grand Bend. This short trip might be the highlight of my travels in 2014 because not only had I never parasailed before, but I had never been to the adorable beach town that is Grand Bend before. Parasailing is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Ziplining in Victoria is probably the only thing I can compare it to. But somehow parasailing was scarier, even though it only lasted about five minutes. I probably shouldn’t have googled parasailing accidents before I went – but knowing something has a risk is half the fun of doing it, right? It was truly one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever witnessed in my life. I wish Grand Bend was closer, as I would be there every weekend in the summer if I could.

The Civic might be my favourite car of them all. If I was going to buy a car today, I’d probably be going with a Honda Civic. It is beautifully made, gorgeous to look at, great on gas, and has all the incredible features I’ve come to expect from Honda – push start, rear camera, voice navigation, incredible audio, lane watch, and I don’t even have to fish through my purse to find the keys – it detects them and unlocks automatically when I approach.

I love this car.

HONDA FIT – BEST FOR ADVENTURES

I had a chance to try out the Fit while participating in my first drumming lesson. Yes, I finally fulfilled my childhood dream of learning to drum! Well, maybe not fulfilled, but I almost learned how to play Sweet Home Alabama well enough that I wasn’t completely ruining the song. See me awkwardly taking my first few hits in the video above!

The Fit is cool for a a few reasons – one being it’s price point is super reasonable for a new car. Another being that you can literally fit almost anything in it, despite it being a small car. As you saw, we were able to fit a bass drum in it – which I wasn’t even expecting would actually work. You can use it as a 4 seat when you want to grab your friends for an impromptu trip to Montreal, or as a 2 seater when you want to pack your life in the car and see where the road takes you.

ACCORD HYBRID – BEST FOR EVERYDAY USE

honda accord hybrid

The Accord Hybrid has everything I already loved about the Accord, but is also extremely efficient on gas – I spent a total of $30 over 4 days of heavy highway driving, compared to the $60 to $80+ I would usually spend on much less driving.

If everyone that drives would be able to switch to a Hybrid, the world would be a cleaner place, and people would suffer less rage from exorbitant gas prices. The only thing better than a Hybrid is the electric car – and I hear Honda is working on some models as we speak.

I can’t wait.

On another note, Honda is doing something truly important this holiday season. Help them donate $20,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation by donating. For every dollar you contribute – they contribute another dollar. It’s the time of year to give, and this is a great way to make your contribution go twice as far.

 Lisa

The Holiday Gift Guide For Tech Nerds

 

tech holiday gift guide

There’s no doubt I’m what you might call a late shopper. While I usually know what I want to give someone far ahead of time, I tend to wait until the last minute to actually do the shopping or creating involved. Admittedly I’m a fan of working under pressure, but doing that during the holidays is a special kind of nightmare.

Pressure is great on my own while working on something in my home, but as soon as I have to deal with legions of other people invading my personal space to get their hands on the exact item I’m looking at, I get a little crazy. Introverts should always shop from home.

With Christmas just over two weeks away, if you (like me) haven’t started shopping yet, I have a few suggestions on what to get that person in your life who is obsessed with the convenience modern technology gives to our everyday lives.

1. BLUETOOTH MUSIC RECEIVER

I love this item because it allows your badass turntable speaker setup to also be used to play music wirelessly from your phone or computer. When you just want to blast that new Beyonce track you don’t own on vinyl, this is an awesome option to have. It allows you to ditch the wireless speaker and go straight to your super awesome, super expensive speakers.

2. PHILLIPS WIRELESS LIGHTING SYSTEM

Did I mention how much I love convenience? Controlling my television through my phone has been one of the simple pleasures of my life, and being able to do the same with my lighting would be a joy. If you too want to make your phone the most useful item you own, this is a nice item to have.

3. DYSON HOT COOL FAN

This makes the cut because, living in a very old apartment in Canada means I deal with two things year round – it’s either too hot, or too cold. It would be amazing to have one item that supplements the heat in the winter, and helps cool in the summer. I currently have a space heater and three fans that take up space in my small apartment – this could replace them all. Living in a big city means you’re not exactly rolling in extra storage space – for that reason, this is a great gift.

4. BATTERY CHARGER CASE

The one complaint I hear from literally all my friends is that their phone’s battery dies far too soon. Many of us use it so frequently that it burns out before we can get to the end of the night, sadly missing out on so many great instagram opportunities. This case from Mobile Fun has saved me from experiencing that feeling since I encased my phone in it way back in August. Bonus, as I have the Samsung Galaxy S5, which is super lightweight compared to my previous S3, and the case added the bulk I needed to stop accidentally dropping it all the time!

5. HP WIRELESS ALL IN ONE PRINTER

While printing almost seems outdated and wasteful in this world of the cloud, printing is always a nice option to have. Being a writer, I am constantly printing and signing contracts, and I always seem to forget to remove the printer cord from my laptop before walking away with it – therefore taking the printer with me on a journey to its smashed up death on the floor. It’s definitely time for a wireless printer, and this one that looks stylish + prints my photos with frame-worthy clarity is an extra bonus.

6. CHROMECAST

I was given one of these to try out back when Google launched their music streaming service back in May, and I’ve been in love with it ever since. Previously I had been attaching an HDMI cord to my laptop to project movie and tv show streams onto my TV, now I just control it all wirelessly through my phone – so much easier! The only downfall is that it doesn’t work on uhh, less than legal streams you might find on certain websites – but it’s perfect for Netflix, CraveTV, YouTube and even for music – it seamlessly connects to Rdio and Songza so I can blast a playlist through my TV.

7. MICROSOFT SURFACE PRO 3

While you all know how much I love my ASUS Transformer – and I definitely recommend it as a gift for your coffee shop loving friends this holiday season – if you’re looking to really impress someone this season, the Surface Pro 3 is an even more substantial offer. I watched my artist boyfriend create a drawing on it in no time with ease. That’s not something any old tablet can do. For the creative person in your life, the Surface Pro 3 is a winner. You can also check out Intel’s guide to the perfect tablet for anyone in your life.

8. GOPRO HERO4 SILVER

I had the chance to use a GoPro back when I was sent to Victoria BC for Rock The Shores. To say I’ve wanted one ever since would be an understatement. The ability to capture high quality video in a camera that small, and that waterproof and durable, is a major win. The travel and adventure lover on your list wants this, guaranteed.

9. GE SMART WINDOW AC

As mentioned above, temperature control in my very old building is non-existent. There is no built in AC in my apartment, so every time May comes around, my top floor 1 bedroom is a boiling overheated mess. The crappy $75 window AC I bought the first summer I moved in over 6 years ago has most definitely seen its last days, and this ‘smart’ AC looks magical with all its settings and controls! Of course, it’s a present that won’t get to be used until the warmer months come, but it’s something people living in Toronto tend to rely on once the sun comes back – so they will still be grateful for it.

This post was sponsored by Intel Canada. While the tablet was gifted to me for review, all opinions and product recommendations are my own! 

Lisa

A Look Inside My Workday With My Tablet

asus transformer review

I’ve already covered the many reasons why I love my new Intel tablet back in August, but it’s time for a quick update.

Above you can see what my day looks like at the office of a client I’m working on social media strategy with. You can also see my far too expensive salted caramel mocha habit, damn you Starbucks!

As I noted before, I used to have to drag around my giant heavy laptop on days like this, when I’m working in the office. Those days are now a distant memory, thankfully. My back is in glorious recovery from that pain.

My Asus tablet still runs like a charm, holds a charge all day, and it no longer disconnects from the keyboard if moved too much (like when I’m typing on my lap in bed). It has settled into itself quite beautifully.

When I’m home, lately I find myself using the tablet more than my work laptop because it is so small and convenient, and there’s nothing I can’t do with it. I have even gotten used to the smaller keyboard and can easily write my freelance articles in Microsoft Word without noticing too much of a difference.

My typical workday goes a little something like this:

  • Checking and answering the myriad of emails I somehow receive before I wake up.
  • Sharing a new blogpost and a couple articles I find interesting.
  • Writing an article or two for the websites I freelance for in the AM.
  • Heading to a clients office or an editorial meeting after lunch, with my tablet in my purse.
  • Working on it until the end of day with my coffee close by.
  • Buying some dinner on my way home (still working on that whole cooking thing some people manage to do with ease).
  • Heading home where I will answer more emails and try to write some more – but more likely will watch episodes of The Mindy Project or whatever has been recommended to me lately (what up, The League.)

Speaking of learning to cook, I’ve been pulling up simple recipes from sites like Fresh Canteen on my tablet while I attempt to finally learn this skill.

I can leave the tablet on the counter or kitchen table with the ingredients and instructions on the screen in full view for easy access while I fumble around the kitchen trying not to mess anything up. It is incredibly convenient and saves me printing the recipe out. But more on my cooking adventures later.

That is essentially what my average day looks like trying to balance writing, blogging and social media clients while running around the city. Thank god for tiny, useful tablet computers.

I’m required to disclose the relationship between my site and Intel Canada. While this item was gifted to me for review, all opinions are my own.

Lisa

Life With My Intel Asus Tablet

intel asus tablet unboxed

Back in July I was approached by Intel to be an Intel Insider. What that means is, they give me a pretty great Asus tablet that runs via Intel, and I keep the world updated with my thoughts on it.

Just before I was approached, I had been dragging my 17 inch laptop around to various editorial meetings around the city (joys of freelance life), and was getting incredibly frustrated with how bulky and heavy it was. As much as I prefer the 17 inch screen for my Netflix habit, I needed something small that wouldn’t require a backpack just to take anywhere. So when I got the email asking if I wanted to take part, it was kismet.

The best part about the tablet is that it isn’t really a tablet. I had a tablet a while back and got rid of it because I have a Samsung Galaxy 5 that has a screen big enough for my couch surfing needs. When I’m using a decent sized screen, I like to have the ability to type. So a tablet that functions as a computer is a must for me.

I had recently been a part of a program promoting Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 during their pop up shop at NXNE (but sadly Microsoft did not give me one to try out), so I knew this kind of tablet would work for me. But the Surface is more than double the price of this one, and it works just the same. Save your cash, people!

The thing I love most about it is that it fits in my purse. It’s as light as a book. No more shoulder and back pain when going to meetings!

When it comes to getting work done – the beautiful thing is that it syncs right up with my 17 inch laptop – so it looks and functions just the same. This is one benefit to the dreaded Windows 8.

It comes with Microsoft Office so I can do all my writing on it with relative ease. When I’m home I still prefer to use my big laptop because typing does get a little harder on the small keyboard, but if you’re just using it to send tweets and do research, it definitely won’t slow you down.

The option of using it with or without the keyboard is also helpful for those times when you do just want to get on Instagram and scroll through image after image on a larger screen.

For travel purposes it is also a blessing. Going back home to visit my parents used to be a pain in the ass because I’d dread dragging my laptop back and forth on the damn Megabus. Now it’s no biggie. It takes up almost no space in a suitcase and I can always put it in my purse if I wanna use it on the trip.

The battery lasts all day. You can plug it into a printer. You can upload photos. You can get on Skype. Basically it’s a fully functioning laptop that can also be used as a tablet.

The only downside I’ve found is that, at just 32 GB of storage (most of which is taken up by everything it comes with installed) it runs out of memory real fast. But, because it has expandable memory with a microSD slot, that’s an easy one to fix.

Overall, I’m relieved to have it in my life, and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to get a tablet.

I’m required to disclose the relationship between my site and Intel Canada. While this item was gifted to me for review, all opinions are my own. 

Lisa

Want to Access American Netflix, Spotify and More? Use Tunnelbear

tunnelbear

 

Many of you reading this are, like me, Canadian. And if you’re like me, you’ve often encountered things you want to watch or access that are blocked, simply because you are located in Canada. What a bunch of jerks!

Anyhow, I’ve recently been using this great program called TunnelBear (cute advertising ftw) to get around the ohh so annoying blocks that living in the great white north provides.

I know a few tech nerds who jump through hoops doing all kinds of complicated nerd tricks in order to access American Netflix. I once watched one of them do it and it nearly made my head explode. And that is why I love Tunnelbear. No more of that. Just download the program, turn it on, set it to USA and you are officially seen as an American – the internet walls come down! No more crappy Canadian Netflix!

As many of you are music fans, you’re probably as annoyed as I am that Spotify still isn’t available in Canada. It’s a shameful fact, but Tunnelbear can quickly and easily help you get around it.

The most annoying thing for me has always been with Hulu – so many great shows and clips are made available on Hulu – and if you read American websites, they post these videos ALL the time. It drives me insane. But now that I have Tunnelbear always turned on, I see the proper video every time without doing anything. It’s awesome.

The cool thing about this program is that it was created by Canadians! These people know what it’s like to be stuck here, so close, yet so far away from all that American content. That’s why they invented it back in 2011.

Currently, over 2.3 million people use it in 154 countries, so clearly they have tapped into a need people were desperately seeking.

Another great perk is that it increases your privacy big time, by acting as a middleman and encrypting your connection. Let me tell you, keeping your identity private in these creepy, hacker friendly, stalker-y internet times is very, VERY important.

The nice thing is that you automatically get 500MB of free tunneling each month, and if you want to increase that by an extra GB all you have to do is tweet at @TheTunnelBear and you’ll be bumped up.

What are you waiting for? Go tunnel your way into Spotify, now that you finally can!

 Lisa