December – 2014 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

December 2014

Innotab Games Make Learning Fun!

Note: We received copies of the games to facilitate our review. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and my own.

We’ve had our Innotab Max for a while now and it is still a big hit with the kids. Their favorite game is a magic beanstalk game – the boys like to play it together, which of course I love – but they were excited to try some new games, too. We got two games to try out:

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InnoTab® Learn to Write with Cody & Cora learning cartridge

(Ages 3-6 years; MSRP: $24.99)

  • Go on learning adventures with Cody the Smart Cub™ and Cora the Smart Cub™ in Learn to Write with Cody & Cora for InnoTab. Read the e-Book about an adventure Cody and Cora take while writing and spelling words.
  • Learn and develop handwriting skills in a progressive manner with 11 activities and games.
  • Includes a fun e-Book about an adventure with Cody and Cora

InnoTab® Go! Go! Smart Wheels® Busy Day in Alphabet Town learning cartridge

(Ages 2-5 years; MSRP: $24.99)

  • Explore Alphabet Town with Casey, Paul, Frank and Cyrus in the Go! Go! Smart Wheels Busy Day in Alphabet Town game for InnoTab. Read about their adventure in the e-Book or join the residents of Alphabet Town as they build roads, rescue kittens and more in fun learning games.
  • This InnoTab software title features nine creative activities and learning games that teach letters, numbers and more.

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What I love about all of the games we’ve tried on the InnoTab Max is that they’re really appealing to a broad range of ages. I feel good knowing that my 2, 5, & 7 year-olds are enjoying the games now, but I know that they’ll have staying power as the kids, especially our youngest, gets older. You can see in the photo below they were all glued to the game – too engrossed to grin for a picture!

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And of course, all the InnoTab games have the wonderful benefit of being educational along with being fun. They’re learning and reinforcing skills in reading, spelling, math, writing, and more – as a parent, I think it’s wonderful!

 

Five Ideas for Perfect Stocking Stuffers Your Kids will Actually Use!

Note: This is a partnered post with Shopular. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I have an announcement to make:

We are almost done with Christmas shopping.

I can hardly believe it myself, but it’s true. We started a little of our shopping way back in October, and now – with more than two weeks to spare – we just have a few little things left to purchase.

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Of course, if you’re like us you put stockings off until the last minute – and then it can be a real challenge trying to figure out what to include! In years past we would find random little toys, but we’ve learned to be a little more discerning with what we pick so that we don’t end up with a lot of clutter the kids don’t play with anyway.

Here are five things we like to purchase for stocking stuffers:

  • A fun toothbrush. Since our kids don’t read my blog I can safely tell you the boys will each be getting light saber toothbrushes that actually light up, and E will be getting a princess brush. If your kids are young enough to be using kids’ toothpaste still, you can find fun themed toothpaste, too.
  • Change!  The “gold” dollars are perfect to fit in the toe of the stocking, and in our house that’s what the tooth fairy leaves too so I guess it’s common “magical” currency.
  • Fresh pack of crayons and a small sketchbook – we have an overabundance of crayons in our house, but I can still remember from my childhood that there’s just nothing quite like a brand new box of crayons. Small sketchbooks are great for taking in the car or to church.
  • LEGOs. And it doesn’t have to be a tiny set, either. Just take the bags and the instructions out of the box to make it easier to fit in the stocking. Our kids love them and they get a ton of use year-round.
  • Dominos or a card game – Crazy 8’s, Go Fish, Phase 10 and many other games are fun for the whole family!

Whatever you decide to get for your kids’ stockings this year, be a smart Santa and check around for the best deals – Shopular is an easy way to check for sales and save some money while you finish up everything on your list.

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I keep up with Shopular on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, too, so I’m in the know about any shopping deals, especially around the holiday season! 

Little Mayz Hand-Made Dresses {Giveaway!}

Note: I received a dress from Little Mayz to review and they are providing the credit for giveaway. All opinions in this post are honest and are my own.

After having two boys, shopping for our daughter E has been an absolute blast. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my fair share of shopping for all three of our kids, but shopping for girls’ clothing is just much more fun – there’s so much more to choose from!

I love finding unique items for E to wear, so Etsy has become my go-to for browsing and “window shopping.” I’ve gotten SO many headbands for her from various Etsy shops!

It only makes sense, then, that I’d want to start getting some adorable outfits from Etsy, too. A great shop I’ve discovered is called Little Mayz, owned by Tabitha Carden. Says Tabitha:

“My name is Tabitha, owner of  Little Mayz (pronounced like mays). Little Mayz came about early in 2014, after I realized how amazingly fun it is to dress my daughter in the latest trends. Tenley Mayz, my 15 month old, is without a doubt the inspiration behind my creations. We reside in Nashville, TN. When I first began my clothing line, I was trying so hard to do as many different patterns as possible in hopes to please as many customers as possible. Now that we have been working a bit longer, I have found my niche and what works for us. If you like frills, fluff and ruffles, Little Mayz is the shop for you. We do simple pieces designed for everyday wear for your fashionista, and then we also specialize in over the top pieces meant for photo shoots, milestones and special events. No matter your taste, I am sure you will find something you love in our shop.” 

I love Tabitha’s eye for mixing prints, and really almost selected this Christmas dress – isn’t it SO cute?

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In the end, though, I loved the color of this mustard fall tunic dress, and once I saw the back I just couldn’t go with another dress.

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I love the flutter sleeves! But just check out the back:

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Be sure and keep up with Little Mayz on Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter!

And you’ll definitely want to enter my giveaway for a $50 gift card to Little Mayz… the only question is, which dress would you buy first?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Outrider Game Review

Brian and I love games – board games and card games alike – so we can really appreciate Outridera new game currently raising money (and totally surpassing its goal) on Kickstarter.

Of course, we also have an added appreciation for the game because we know its creator, Gregg Lewis-Qualls. We know how much research and work went into giving the game its level of quality (spoiler alert: a LOT!).

If you have older kids that love playing with cars and battling, Outrider is a perfect game for them. Here’s a shot of what all you get:
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Here’s what’s included (this may expand based on how much the project exceeds its goal by:

  • A Set of 24 Vehicles & matching dashboards (12 double-sided cards, each) +Exclusives!
  • 1 Deck of 15 Maneuver Cards
  • 1 Range Ruler
  • 1 Large Format Rules Reference Sheet + 2 Reference Cards
  • Resource Tokens for 8 players
  • 1 Initiative Tracker + Enough Vanity plate tokens & Gear Shifter Cards for 8 Players
  • 12 Terrain Tiles (for constructing scenarios & your own warzones) with four included scenarios cards
  • 1 Rulebook
  • 1 set of 4 Camo Green dice (D6, D8, D10, D12)

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Teachable in minutes, Outrider sets up fast and plays fast, while retaining a high level of customizable detail. Using a unique blend of dice, card, point allocation and press-your-luck mechanics, Outrider has creates a fun, engaging balance of tactics and risk. Outrider has attracted gamers from all walks of life. Hardcore wargamers, casual (gateway) gamers and kids of all ages are caught by its approachable mechanics and visual ‘curb appeal.’

Designed with scalability in mind, Outrider supports 2-8 players, right out of the box. Game types can range from quick free-for-alls, using just the base deck at the coffee shop or they can be scenario-based, team games played with terrain and miniatures (in the form of 64th scale diecast cars).

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You can bring in your own obstacles and vehicles (give all those Hot Wheels new life!) and play virtually anywhere, customizing the game to your liking.

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Here’s an video explaining the setup:

If you’re looking for a really fun and different gift idea, consider backing this Kickstarter for someone! Brian’s dad gave him a Kickstarter gift one year and it was really fun following the project progress and then receiving the item.

Get Your Vehicle Winter-Ready with These Great Tips

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There’s no denying it: fall is in full swing and winter is knocking on the door. Some parts of Texas have already seen snow, and with the mild summer we had it’s a good idea to be prepared in case we have a cold, snowy winter – even in Texas. Even if you park in a garage, your car will eventually be affected by the elements when you’re out and about. I’ve got five essential tips for preparing your vehicle to brave the winter cold – here’s the first:

1. Use a synthetic sealant or a wax to help protect your car’s finish. If you’re driving in an area that salts to de-ice the roads then your car is being exposed to even more potential damage, so using a sealant right before winter hits is a great way to provide a barrier against the elements for the winter months. It’ll give your car a nice shine, too.

For the rest of my tips, please visit my guest post on the Bossier Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership blog.

Winterize Your Wardrobe Without Breaking the Bank

Note: This is a partnered post with Shopular. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Since I live in Texas, the majority of my clothes are warm-weather focused. Capris, short sleeves, and sandals fill my closet. Even in Texas, though, shorts just aren’t going to cut it year-round. In late November and early December it starts to get noticeably colder and I start thinking more about how to prepare my wardrobe for the winter months.

My favorite approach to updating my clothes for winter is layering. I must confess, I’m a total cardigan addict (I think I probably have 30 in my closet right now) and it’s largely because they’re so versatile. A shell that you wear on its own in the summer looks great paired under a cardigan for colder months.

Another option for layering is adding in a scarf; I am late to the scarf game but now I’m totally getting hooked! They’re a great way to provide warmth and bring a pop of color to your wardrobe, too.

When it comes to shoes, I’m a flats kind of girl, and in the past I’ve always worn ballet-style flats, even in the winter. This means that my feet often end up freezing even if the rest of me is warm! Now, though, I’m loving boots for winter! In fact, it’s really cold here today and I’m so glad I have on my black boots. They come up to right under my knee and they are definitely helping keep my legs and feet warm! You can go casual or dressy with boots, so they’re perfect whether you’re at home or at work.

No matter what route I go in adding some warmth to my wardrobe I always make sure to hunt down the best deals before shopping. I know I’m not going to wear these clothes year-round, so I don’t want to spend a ton of money on winter pieces. I like to make a plan before I go out: I write down all the pieces I’d like to look for – a solid cardigan, printed pants, etc. – so that I don’t end up buying duplicates or something I don’t really need.

I also find all the sales going on before I head out so that I know which stores are worth going to – Shopular makes this incredibly easy, so I just pull up the app before I head out and scroll through to see what stores are offering discounts on things I’m specifically looking for. I keep up with Shopular on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, too, so I’m in the know about any shopping deals.

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It’s easy to update your wardrobe for winter, and you can do it without emptying your wallet if you find deals on Shopular. Have fun shopping, and stay warm!