About Pia

Pia is a travel and technology enthusiast. When not working, she' s either at the movies, sightseeing with friends, or at home with her husband & son.

Scenic Road Trip Destinations You Can Take this Winter

scenic winter

The annual migration of winter vacationers to the world-class ski resorts in the California’s Sierra Nevada and the Colorado Rockies is bound to keep highways busy. Although winter is a good time for “cocooning,” the months between November and March represent one of the heaviest road trip times of the year. Some travelers are on the road to warmer climes while others are headed for winter playgrounds. For your convenience, we’ve listed 3 of the most popular scenic road trip destinations you and your family can take this winter.


mt rainierAshford, WA – Mt. Rainier National Park


Hidden amongst towering fir and cedar trees at the foothills of Mt. Rainier National Park, Ashford is a popular destination for those venturing deep into the Cascade Mountain Region of Central Washington. Mt. Rainier National Park is a popular place to enjoy winter activities. The mountain receives abundant snowfall and the scenery is spectacular. In winter, recreational opportunities are numerous. A winter visit to Mt. Rainier can include ranger-guided snowshoe walks, Paradise snowplay, camping, snowboarding, and skiing. Adjacent to Ashford you’ll find the small town of Elbe, where you can board the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad, which is by far one of most relaxed ways to take in the secluded backcountry of Mt. Rainier National Park.


wellsboro paNorth Central Pennsylvania – Wellsboro


Located along scenic Route 6 in North Central Pennsylvania, Wellsboro and the surrounding area offers a unique vacation beginning with a natural wonder over six-million-years-old. Also known as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, this breathtaking terrain is the result of melting prehistoric ice glaciers. Undoubtedly, a great road trip destination as every winter, traffic on Wellsboro’s Main Street is halted as the town thoroughfare is magically transformed into a remarkable Victorian market.  The Wellsboro Dickens of A Christmas showcases an impressive collection of theatre, music, history, shopping, and food.


oregon coastOregon Coast


Most travelers tend to overlook the Oregon Coast during winter, contemplating only the snow-capped Cascades and the high, dry deserts beyond. But did you know that the Oregon Coast’s cities and towns save some of their best festivals for winter when the weather is sometimes rough but the provisions and company remain superb. Winter festivals take place along the length of the Oregon Coast, offering up food, music, natural treasures and hospitality. Just take the Oregon Truffle Festival as an example. The festival includes the truffle talent of local chefs with special meals and wine pairings as well as tastings, cooking classes, and demonstrations. This festival itself is worth traveling for!


Nothing is more freeing than the open road! For generations, travelers have enjoyed the wind in their hair traveling from one destination to another seeking romance and adventure. Hop in that rental car, pick a destination, and you’re in for a memorable road trip.



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Best Holiday Gifts for the Techie You Love

Buying a Christmas gift for someone who loves technology is not as easy as it seems. Finding the right gift can be a challenge with so many compelling products vying for your attention. From versatile fitness trackers and sleek smartphones to the fastest tablets and loudest Bluetooth speakers, these are the hottest holiday tech gifts of the year.  Fortunately, we’ve picked our top 5 products to get you started.


1. Apple iPad Air 2

ipad air 2

The iPad Air 2 is tablet perfection – cramming a faster A8X processor, sharper camera, and richer anti-reflective screen into an even thinner design than the original iPad Air.  The iPad Air 2 delivers enhanced graphics and a faster performance and also sports a sharper 8-MP camera. Wi-Fi on iPad Air 2 is fast — more than twice as fast as the previous generation — so downloading movies and streaming videos take less time. The Wi-Fi + Cellular model is equipped with faster, more advanced LTE technology as well. What truly sets the iPad apart from its predecessor’s is its roster of unbeatable apps and the way this tablet interacts seamlessly with the other Apple products in your home. You can’t go wrong with gifting this device!


2. Samsung Galaxy Note 4

galaxy note 4 The Galaxy Note 4 is a superior phablet with an ultra-sharp display, faster camera, improved multitasking, and a pen you’ll actually want to use. The Galaxy Note 4 introduces a new sleek and stylish Galaxy design language. Offering a superior grip, enhanced durability, and a premium metal frame and fluid curvature with Galaxy’s inherited 2.5D glass screen and soft-textured back cover – this device is gorgeous! The Note 4′s stylus is nearly identical the Note 3′s. However, the new stylus has a more natural feel – like a ballpoint pen pressing on paper. The new pen measures 2,000 levels of pressure, which is twice as many as its predecessor, this allows for more accurate strokes that reflect how hard you are pushing the tip down.


3. Garmin Vivosmart

garmin vivosmart The Garmin Vivosmart wristband is an activity tracker with smartphone notifications in a comfortable, minimalist design. This gadget features a sleek, invisible display that comes to life when you get a notification or when you give the band a tap. The OLED display shines through the band to reveal your steps, distance traveled, calories burned, time of day, and more. The Vivosmart accurately tracks steps, distance, and overall movement each day. Each time you receive a text, email, or call on your compatible Bluetooth device, Vivosmart gently vibrates and automatically displays the information. Simply touch and swipe the screen to read more. For your techie loved one who is serious about moving more, the Garmin Vivosmart is a solid device for its market price. The Vivosmart is certainly an intelligent activity tracker that is made even more intelligent with its smartphone integration.


4. Freedom Spot Photon 4G Mobile Hotspot

freedom spot photon 4g A mobile hotspot is a great gift for someone who is always on the go, but always needs to stay connected. This hotspot boasts about six hours of battery life, and can support a connection for up to eight devices at once. The Freedom Spot Photon from FreedomPop is a 4G hotspot that gets you online for free. That’s right, for free and there’s no catch! A free plan from FreedomPop is good for 500MB of data per month. The Photon itself is free. You need to pay an $89 security deposit, which is fully refundable when you return the device.


5. GoPro HERO3+: Black Edition

gopro hero3+ The GoPro HERO3+ offers a lighter housing, improved image sharpness, better battery life, and faster built-in Wi-Fi than older GoPro models. Our favorite wearable HD video camera will capture every extreme mountain biking , bungee jump, white water rafting , bob sleigh run, pretty much every extreme activity you are into – all captured in video resolutions up to 4K. The exposure and colors look superb and it can connect via Wi-Fi to smart devices. The GoPro App for iPhone, Android, and Windows 8 phones allows live previews of what your shooting – giving you the chance to pause, rewind, re-shoot, and adjust camera settings. There is also a remote control available that is sold separately.


These devices are great suggestions for your friends and family who absolutely has to have the latest in tech. Surprise your loved ones with these spectacular innovative gadgets. Remember, there are protection plans to make these gifts and memories last forever!



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Safe Christmas Shopping: Preventing Holiday Identity Theft


santa id theftIt’s that time of the year and holiday cheer is all around us and winter is in the air. While we all spend the season with family and friends the, thought of financial and personal safety have taken a backseat on what’s important. We seem to have a sort of blindness to things that can be bad and detrimental to us all.


Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America and around the world and if you think you’re safe from these crimes think again. Even large companies with intricate security networks are vulnerable, remember Target? Your identity has several vulnerability points that can be penetrated, medical records, DMV records, credit and social security as well.


With the rising threat of criminal activity on the rise here are 3 tips on how you can avoid identity theft while on holiday:


1. Practice Safe Online Shttps securehopping

Remember to never give out your personal information to an unsolicited email, only shop at trusted and known online stores that you trust. It can be tempting to shop at a new online store to get the holiday bargains. However, if you are not familiar with an online store and you cannot find reliable sources that have done business with this online retailer, then you are better off looking elsewhere. Make sure that the checkout area is secure by locating the closed and locked padlock on your web browser’s window frame. This will help to ensure that your identity is safe from identity thieves due to the encrypted security of the page.


Do not shop on a public computer or public wireless network. You cannot verify the security of a public computer or Wi-Fi network. Some may be infected with spyware that records each keystroke entered. So, even if you are using your own laptop on an unsecured public network, you could be giving ID thieves your credit card information.


2. Safeguard Your Credit Card & Debit atm skimmerCard Information

This holiday season, whenever you can, shop with cash to reduce the chances of identity theft. If you need to shop with a credit/debit card, only use ATMs you trust. Many identity thieves install card skimmers on ATMs in high-traffic areas to swipe your debit card information. Skimmers are virtually undetectable to the naked eye, so you won’t know you’re a victim of identity theft until you see the fraudulent charges on your statement-and by then it may be too late to recover the charges.


Remember that debit cards need daily monitoring. Ideally, you want to use ATMs in bank lobbies or other secure locations with video surveillance. Also, any time you use your ATM card (either to withdrawal cash or to make a purchase) shield your PIN number and card number from others.


3. Be Aware of Pick Pockets

Pick pockets are out in full force during the holiday shopping season. Gentlemen, put your wallet in your front pocket and ladies, carry a small purse close to your body (or avoid bringing one altogether). Keep an eye on your personal belongings at all times. A stealthy thief only needs a second to brush up against you and disappear into the crowd with your credit cards and IDs. Do not let your guard down: Identity thieves come in all shapes and sizes. Just because someone doesn’t fit your idea of what an ID thief may look like, don’t assume your information is safe.

pick pocket

Don’t become another identity theft victim this holiday shopping season. Be alert and be smart. Take a few extra precautions, shop safely, and enjoy the holiday season!



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Turkey Time: 3 Ways To Cook Your Tasty Bird

turkey sealed 2

The best way to cook your turkey for Thanksgiving is still a hot topic nowadays. Whether a professional or amateur home cook, everyone has a different opinion about the best way to cook their turkeys. The way to cook a turkey, like many culinary issues, is a matter of your own taste, and there isn’t one best to do it.


Seal The Deal

One way to cook your bird is to start by sealing the skin. So get the temperature to 200°C (not °F) and let it cook for about 20 to 30 minutes. Slow cook from then on for as long as needed at 150-160°C wrapped in foil, this helps to keep moisture in. This may take over 6 hours (large enough bird to feed 12) to cook. During the last 30 minutes, remove the foil to let the turkey brown.

foil turkey

Stuff the chest cavity with vegetables, herbs, and fruit does keep it moist, but check to make sure they cook as well. You can also lift up the skin and add spices or herbs to add flavor to the breast. The secret to juicy chicken breast is simple – brine them before grilling or baking! It’s very easy and economical, and requires no special cookware. This is the secret that chefs never tell you about.


Grill For The Thrill

Have you ever tried grilling a whole turkey? Grilling is in fact becoming one of the most popular methods of cooking turkey and it is also one of the healthiest cooking methods as well. The grilling process allows fat to drip away from the turkey as it cooks, keeping the meat full of flavor, and more importantly nutritious.

grilled turkey

If the turkey has been frozen or chilled, bring it to room temperature before cooking. Keep it in the plastic wrapping until you are ready to cook it. Place it in a pan while it is getting to room temperature so if it leaks, you’ll be fine. If you get a frozen turkey, you will need to defrost it in the refrigerator for several days first. Note that you will need approximately 5 hours of defrosting for every pound.


Traditional Is Unconditional

And lastly, there’s the traditional method. You’ll need to thaw out the bird, of course. After it’s been thawed, roll up your sleeves and remove the neck and giblets. Rinse out the turkey then dry it inside and out with a paper towel. Once dry, rub the inside of the turkey with a little salt. You can stuff and truss the bird, making sure to leave some room for expansion of the dressing. Now rub with a very light coat of butter under the skin. Place it on a rack, breast side down, in a roaster pan.

traditional turkey

A general oven temperature of 180 degrees is fine, although it’s best to give it half an hour at 220 first, to get it heated through. An organic turkey may take less time than this (2 and a half to 3 hours is recommended for a 12lb bird) and it will also cook slightly faster if there is no stuffing in the cavity. Most importantly, make sure you baste the bird every thirty minutes to keep it moist and flavorful!


There are so many ways to cook a turkey it would be hard to really list them all. But one thing is for sure, there is nothing more tasty or satisfying than a properly cooked turkey. Have you own method of cooking the bird? Let us know below!



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3 Tech Deals To Look For This Black Friday

Every year Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year that every bargain shopper eagerly anticipates. This year Black Friday falls on the second-latest possible date, November 28th. This will give retailers a shorter than average period between Black Friday and Christmas, the most important stretch of the year for them, which should mean more deals after Black Friday as well.


We’ve come up with 3 tech deals you should look for this upcoming Black Friday 2014.


1. Larger-Sized TV Deals – Go Big or Go Home!

TV’s are usually one of the biggest seller’s at most top retailers each Black Friday, and for good reason. Each year, as the sizes that are up for sale tend to grow, discounts do too. So it is realistic to assume that the same should be expected this year.


New this year, we can expect to see several models of Ultra HD models, as well as a curved screen model or two, to appear in Black Friday ads.  You can also expect deals in Black Friday ads for under $250 on a lower-quality model.

At Best Buy, these TV door buster deals will be available in limited quantity.

  • A 55-inch Samsung UHD TV, model UN55HU6830FXZA, a 120Hz smart TV that will be available for $899.99
  • The 55-inch LG 55LB5900, priced at $479.99, a 1080p 120Hz set that doesn’t have many other features
  • A 50-inch Vizio M502I-B1, a 240Hz smart TV set in the company’s step-up M series, for $499.99

Ultra HD 4K

  • Samsung UN55HU7250FXZA, a curved UHD TV, for $1,299.99
  • LG 55UB8200 for $1,300
  • Sony XBR55X850B, in its entry-level 4K series, for $1,499.99
  • Vizio P552UI-B2, a P-series model, priced at $1,299.99

Large 1080p

  • Samsung’s 60-inch 120Hz 1080p LED/LCD smart TV, model UN60H6203AFXZ for $799
  • LG’s 65-inch 1080p LED/LCD (65LB5200) for $799
  • Sharp’s 60-inch Aquos 1080p LED/LCD smart TV (model LC-60LE644) for $699
  • a 60-inch Sony 120Hz smart LED/LCD TV, model KDL-60R510A for $799
  • Sharp’s 70-inch LC-70TQ15U, a 240Hz 1080p smart LED/LCD TV for $1,799


2. Apple Products Galore – iPhones, iPads, & More!

Apple products are among the first items that shoppers look for deals on during the Black Friday event.

Walmart will be selling the new Apple iPhone 6 at a $20 discount and giving buyers a $75 gift card on top of that. Target is offering a similar deal except the $75 gift card will be only $30.  Don’t be cheap Target!


Staples will be offering the Apple iPad Mini 2 for $239.  Target will offer a $140 store gift card with the purchase of a 16GB iPad Air 2 (which lists for $499), a $100 card with a 16GB iPad Mini 3 or iPad Air ($399 each), and an $80 card with a 16GB non-Retina iPad Mini ($249).


For Apple Macbooks at Best Buy, shoppers will be able to save $150 off of the larger 13.3-inch MacBook Air and $120 off of the smaller 11.6-inch MacBook Air. With respect to the MacBook Pro, the 13.3-inch model with Retina display will come with $150 worth of savings while the non-Retina model will come with $200 worth of dicsounts.
The final price tag will appear like this:

  • MacBook Air 13.3-inch – $1049.99
  • MacBook Air 11.6-inch – $779.99
  • MacBook Pro Retina Display – $1349.99
  • MacBook Pro non-Retina – $899.99


3. Laptops – Yes these still exist!

One of the most popular Black Friday ad items traditionally has been the ultra-cheap laptop. Models with upgraded components should also be very good deals this year. Back-to-school sales were down and that factor, combined with lower prices for the individual components should lead to great bargains this year.

Best Buy is dishing out the Acer Chromebook 11.6-inch for $149.99 (regular price $199.99). Staples is selling a super cheap Asus laptop for $99.99, giving shoppers a $150 discount.


Looking for a laptop/tablet combo? Wal-mart is offering a Toshiba 2in1 Touchscreen laptop for $299. That’s a sweet deal for a laptop/tablet combo that usually goes for $500.


Remember, to get a jump on great Black Friday deals, start planning now, research your purchases and above all else spread good cheer. If previous years’ Black Fridays are any indication, pretty much everything will be on sale. If you haven’t already started budgeting for this usually big expense, now would be a good time to start!



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