top 5

My Top 5 Favorite Apps of 2016

by Jamie Sanford on December 22, 2016

I am surprised that I haven’t created one of these posts in the past! I’ve been an iPhone user for almost 6 years, and apps have pretty much taken over.

Here we go with my top 5 favorite apps of 2016.

1. A Color Story

A Color Story is the best photo editing app I have tried, and I have tried a LOT of photo editing apps. You can adjust curves! For anyone who uses Photoshop, you know how valuable this is in a phone app.

2. Instagram

I joined Instagram in the middle of 2011, and as of 11/30/16, I am 3 posts shy of 3,000 images posted. That’s a lot of estate sale photos. I do miss the old algorithm, because I don’t feel like I see as much as I want to anymore.

3. Hilton HHonors App

I don’t know why it took me as long as it did to start using the Hilton HHonors app. We took a lengthy road trip last Christmas and stayed in Hilton hotels all the way, racking up points along the way. The app is so easy to use that I don’t ever go on the regular website anymore to book Hilton hotels. I can’t think of a higher compliment than that.

4. Timehop

Why spend all of this time putting content on social networks if it can’t create a beautiful set of memories to look back on? Timehop is GENIUS and if you aren’t using it, you are missing out. Every morning, I check to see what I did 1 year ago, 2 years ago, etc. It is one of my  favorite apps ever.

5. Slack

Unlike most people who use Slack, this is being used in my personal life, not my professional life. I would love to start using it in my professional life, but for now, I have a lovely group of friends in a group, with multiple threads for us to talk about whatever comes to mind. I love that I can use this so easily from my phone.

Honorable mentions:

  • Whatsapp: for texting internationally, there is no better option.
  • Facebook: for all of your unneeded political opinions.
  • Wunderlist: for creating and sharing lists – the one used the most for me is Will and I’s shared grocery list.
  • Glympse: mildly creepy but you can share your GPS location with someone else. Will and I use this for when we are meeting somewhere and cannot provide updates by text due to driving etc.
  • Snapchat: good times with those filters.
  • Later: this has been great for posting Instagram content for Noritake.
  • Tumblr: for aggregating lots of content about specific things I am interested in, I haven’t found anything better.
  • Spotify: playlists, playlists, playlists.
  • Twitter: for commentary during live events I’m watching on TV, there is nothing better.

Tweet at me with your favorite apps of the year.


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Podcast Picks

by Jamie Sanford on March 10, 2016

I have been listening to podcasts for years, long before I had an iPhone with an app for it. I used an actual iPod for podcasts! One of the earliest shows I listened to was Daily Source Code, hosted by Adam Curry, a pioneer in the podcasting medium. I have also been a longtime fan of many of the Smodcast network podcasts.

Here are my current top 5 favorite podcasts, in no particular order.

1. Untitled: The Adam Savage Project.

I came across this podcast after being introduced to by Adam Savage’s Twitter. (That’s a lot of steps.) Adam, Norm, and Will talk about a variety of subjects, and it’s a good time.

2. Death, Sex, and Money.

This recommendation came to me from Ellen Fondiler during a Miracle Worker meetup, and I added it immediately, but didn’t start listening until way later. I then binged on something like 30 episodes in a week. This podcast will make you laugh and break your heart, sometimes in the same episode. The host, Anna Sale, is remarkable.

3. Hollywood Babble-On

This show has been around for years, and I have not missed an episode. Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman started out with a show meant to skewer Hollywood news and celebrities, and now it’s a varied formula of regular bits, Ralph’s impressions, and audience participation.

4. What’s The Tee?

RuPaul and Michelle Visage are BFFs, and this is one of those podcasts that I love because you are just an extra person at the table. It feels so much like hanging out with your friends. This show has also had some amazing guests.

5. Another Round

Heben and Tracy drink and podcast, which WORKS. Their content is a great combination of guests and random chatter about topics ranging from homicidal house plants to racism in the United States. They even had Valerie Jarrett, and they got to interview her at the White House!

Honorable mention – I listen to a lot of podcasts, picking 5 was too hard.

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5 Tips for Black Friday Shopping

by Jamie Sanford on November 22, 2015

It’s that time of year again, when everyone gets together to celebrate gluttony and the joining of Native Americans and the Pilgrims, and then use all of that carb energy for shopping at ridiculous hours.


I have only done the Black Friday thing once, getting up at 4am to go buy a television. It was a hot deal at the time and we still have the TV, so 7 or so years ago, it was worth it to freeze in the parking lot of that 6th Ave Electronics. However, since then, I have not had anything that I needed so badly that I wanted to get up that early, or stay up that late.

Online shopping is another story, I had some GREAT buys last year online, and I think it will only get better this year. I know that people will be doing both in-person and online shopping, so here are my Top 5 Tips for Black Friday Shopping.

1. Evaluate your needs, right now.

What do you really need? When we bought a TV on Black Friday, we were replacing a ye olde television that had seen better days. If you’ve been thinking about replacing something for a while, Black Friday is definitely a good opportunity to purchase that item at a reduced price.

2. Evaluate your gift list.

As mentioned in my post on starting your holiday shopping early, there’s no shame in the sale game. If you can get a great gift for someone and can save a little money in the process, then have at it. Review the list of gifts you still have to buy for the holidays, and see if you can match up your list with a Black Friday opportunity.

3. Do your research.

Black Friday is full of tricks and vague language. In addition, the sale items can at times be inferior. If you want a 1080p flat screen TV, the one on sale is probably 720. Look around online for the item you’re interested in, figure out the specs that are important to you, and note the prices of items that meet your requirements. This will give you a clear look at how good the sale prices really are.

4. Sign up for emails and connect on social channels with your favorite retailers.

If you aren’t already receiving emails from sites you shop at often, or if you don’t get emails from brands you are already a fan of, now is the time to sign up for emails. You can always unsubscribe from these emails later, and it’s worth it to get the alerts to all of the holiday special offers. I recommend Amazon, Ulta, and The Body Shop in particular, they are some of my favorites. Ulta has exclusive LORAC palettes for Black Friday, and The Body Shop always has some hot deals as well.

Also, connect on Facebook or Instagram with your favorite brick-and-mortar retailers. Exclusive offers are often available through one channel only, and while it might bog down your newsfeed for a few weeks, you can always un-like after the holidays, and get a few hot deals for your trouble.

5. Have fun!

This was also the last tip in my early holiday shopping tips list, but it really is the most important. Stressing out like mad to save $50 on a Blu-Ray player is not worth it. If you know that going out at 4am to shop will make you cranky, stay home and wait for Cyber Monday specials to flow into your inbox or Twitter feed on Monday morning. If you love the rush of standing outside big box stores for a hot deal on a Crock Pot, then you should definitely do that. Enjoy the process!

Let me know your tips for Black Friday shopping in the comments!

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Top 5 Tips for Early Holiday Shopping

by Jamie Sanford on September 15, 2015

In case you didn’t know, you should already be thinking about shopping for holiday gifts.

A while back, I realized that I was absolutely killing myself with stress around the holidays, trying to find gifts at the last minute, and resorting to gift cards way too often. I started shopping early and I haven’t looked back since. To help you get started, use this list of what to do before you start!

1. Make a budget!

I wrote about my holiday gift tracker spreadsheet in 2011, and I have not changed it since. It’s so easy to use (available to download in the post), and really keeps me on track, especially when buying multiple gifts for a single person.

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2. Start noticing little things about your friends and family.

Your friends and family probably drop hints about their likes and interests all the time. Make notes in your phone or datebook when you pick up on this, it will make for a starting point to finding the perfect gift.

Warning though – something only mentioned once might not be the best thing. Try and identify things mentioned multiple times. I have been on the receiving end of a very confused look for what I thought was so great because he had no idea that he had expressed a passing interest in this one thing this one time.

3. Maximize opportunities for savings/more gift buying!

If you haven’t already, join flash sale sites and start trolling for gifts. This is helpful for your budget and also is a good way to be exposed to lots of options without leaving the house. You will have to work hard to not start shopping for yourself though, believe me. Look to the right column on this page for links to invitations to all of my preferred flash sale websites. Black Friday may also be another opportunity for something special – last year, I purchased amazing Lorac palettes online from Ulta, for $11 each! I will have a Black Friday shopping guide up on the site closer to the date.

4. Don’t forget about host/hostess gifts!

You will inevitably have a few events to attend where a gift for your host or hostess will be appropriate. Shopping early for non-perishables is an easy way to avoid the stress of having to stop and find something on the way to the event (and don’t try and tell me you haven’t done that before). Now is the time to shop for giftworthy bottles of wine or champagne, which you can generally get a discount on when buying in bulk. You can also check out a lovely selection of gift baskets on Amazon, which provide a lot of options for contents and price. Buy a few of these with some gift bows (like these ones that have fiber optics!), and stick one on before you leave.

5. Enjoy the process. Have fun!

Unfortunately, I see more often than not that people see their holiday shopping as a chore, and not as the joyous experience it is meant to be. The holiday season is meant to be fun, and a time to get together with your friends and family, and drink egg nog and have a wonderful time. Gifts are traditional, and they should also provide a joyful experience for all involved. I promise you, starting your shopping now will definitely make the process more enjoyable. No one ever likes being rushed, and you KNOW you will be holiday shopping each year, so take the time to think about it early, save yourself the drama, and all will be delighted.

If you have early holiday shopping tips, please leave them in the comments!

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Top Posts of 2013

by Jamie Sanford on February 3, 2014

I forgot to do a recap of top posts on at the beginning of the month, but I did check out my Google Analytics and decided to share.

Here are the most viewed posts of 2013.

1. Product Review: Aura Paint by Benjamin Moore.

This was written in January 2010 and is still by far my most popular post. It was indexed by Google and people are looking for reviews of this paint, and they keep coming back. I wrote it on a whim, which makes perfect sense.

2. Video Shopping: Adam Savage – Everyday Carry

I created 2 video shopping posts and they both featured Adam Savage. I hope to make more of these in 2014.

3. Broadway Lighted Vanity Makeup Desk from Vanity Girl Hollywood

This was posted in October 2012, I had seen the Vanity Girl Hollywood products on YouTube and discussed which ones I would like for my future dream home. Again, another post that was picked up by Google and has continued to send people my way. It’s not a review, so I am sort of worried that it is completely unhelpful for someone looking for one.

4. Gifts for Ancestry Research Buffs

Another old post, this one from 2011. I wrote this as part of a gift challenge for The Daily Wishlist.

5. Product Picks #1: Organix Moroccan Argan Oil Intense Moisturizing Treatment

Another post from another year, this was written in March 2012. I am still a huge fan of this product, so hopefully other people go out and try it after reading my thoughts.


This does not give me a particularly clear view of what to do with content in 2014 to increase readership. I’m still the most pleased with the evolution of my content to the Brand Experience Project, which feels like the most important and authentic content on the site. I have written about many things over the life of the blog, and I’m pleased that all of the writing has led to this one topic that I enjoy and am passionate about.

Let the blogging continue!

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