May – 2012 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

May 2012

A Home Printer That’ll Knock Your Socks Off

There are printers out there, and then there are printers. And the Epson Artisan 1430 is a printer. You can tell the difference immediately – it’s about 24″ inches wide, as opposed to the standard 15″. And forget that measly 8 1/2″x 11″ paper – this printer can handle up to 13″x 19″ (borderless printing, by the way)! The best part is that even with larger capacity printing you don’t lose any quality. In fact, this printer delivers bright, high-definition printouts that you almost can’t believe were printed from a home printer. It still fit just fine on our desk, too:

As designers, this printer opens up a whole new scope for Brian and me; we can now print full-size posters and a broader range of sizes for clients. As parents, we love that we can print photos of the boys without having to go somewhere (and I’m sure the grandparents will love this too, as they’ll be receiving some of the photos!).

And guess what, scrapbookers? This printer can handle 12″x 12″ pages, which means you can easily print out your digital scrapbook pages, or can print your own patterns for backgrounds in your scrapbooks – the possibilities are endless. The printer comes with a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements, too, giving you quality software to create designs and edit images.

It looks almost like it’s a regular-sized page, but the paper in this photo above is a 12″ x 12″ scrapbook page!

See how it compares to an 8 1/2″x 11″ page?

This printer handles large pages with ease, but it can also print traditional 4″x 6″ photos, eliminating the need for a separate photo printer and making it so simple to share photos with friends and family. But there’s even more beyond that – the printer comes with a tray that allows you to print directly on to CDs and DVDs (those meant for printing). The broad capabilities of this printer make it truly the one printer someone would need.

You know how most printers have four cartridges? Not this printer. No, it uses 6-color Claria Hi-Definition Ink, which provides amazing richness, depth and clarity. You get more color variation in your prints than you do with standard photos, giving you professional-grade results that you can be proud to display.

Oh, and after all of the things I’ve already mentioned, there’s still something else I forgot to share: this printer is wi-fi friendly. That means it’s incredibly easy to print wirelessly from your computer, smartphone or tablet without sacrificing speed or quality. I know I take a ton of photos with my phone; now it’s SO easy to print those out (which I had been really bad about doing before). The controls on the printer are incredibly easy and intuitive to use.

I’d definitely give this printer 5 stars, and it is a printer I’d recommend to friends and family (and in fact, I already have told a scrapbooking friend about how much she’d love it). The only “negative” I could see is the larger footprint, but the area it takes up is worth it for the large printouts you’re able to produce. The printer retails for $275-$300 depending on where you purchase it, and I believe the price is truly justified by all it provides. The print cartridges are reasonably priced as well – you can find them for around $20 each, or can get a bundle of all six on Amazon for $86.99.

The Epson Artisan 1430 is available on Epson.com, Amazon and several other online retailers.

Note: We received the Artisan 1430, ink cartridges and sample paper to facilitate our review. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions in this post are honest and are my own.

Rubbermaid 2-in-1 Recycler Winner

Thanks to everyone who entered… the winner is:

Congratulations!!

Best Dog Treats for Man’s Best Friend – Cesar Cookie Crunchies

If you’ve read my blog for a while you know that we have two (extreme opposite) dogs in our family: Josie, a 7-year-old miniature dachshund:

and Sally, our 10-month-old lab/golden retriever puppy:

Josie was our first baby, and she has been so great with the boys as they were born and have grown into active kids! Sally is still in the energetic puppy phase, but she is loving, loyal, and absolutely adores following the boys around to play. We can’t imagine our house or family without them!

They love being pet and lounging on the couch with us, but of course their favorite way to be loved on or rewarded is with treats! We were excited to get to try out Cesar Cookie Crunchies treats with them, especially after we saw their reaction at even just sniffing the bag – we could tell they were going to be a hit!

These are some of the best dog treats we’ve had – they’re great treats for small dogs like Josie, but Sally really enjoys them, too!

Note: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Cesar and received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate. All opinions are honest and my own.

Mother’s Day

Sunday will be my fifth mother’s day, or sixth if you count the year I was pregnant with J, which my family so sweetly did. As cynical as some people can be about the commercial origin behind the day, I love it. Not because it’s a day to be honored, although it is nice – and I am a sucker for handmade cards and gifts. I will have a huge box of these one day in the future, by the way, because I will never get rid of any of them.

No, I love the day because it’s a time to reflect on the sweetness of being a mom. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of sour that goes along with it too, as all moms can attest. But, as much as all my other accomplishments and hats that I wear in life matter to me, being a mom is among the greatest.

This morning I was awoken around 4:00 by our 4 1/2 year old, J, climbing into our bed and telling me (a.k.a. whining) he didn’t have enough room. That might be because our 3 year old, C, had already taken up about half of the space (leaving the other half for Brian and I to try and share). Too tired to deal with transferring kids back to appropriate beds, I grabbed my pillow and plodded sleepily to the couch. Two minutes later I heard small footsteps and felt a little hand on my foot, as C joined me.

Around 6:30 the boys were up and raring to go for the day, as is typical for a Saturday morning (when will they understand the beauty of sleeping in on the weekends?). Moments of great play time were interspersed with fussing and fighting, and it was a frustrating morning – especially when I’d been looking forward to a relaxing day all week. After nap, though, C wandered in to the living room happy and cuddly, and J joined us on the couch soon after, leaning on his brother as they fully awoke. There were still moments of arguing over a toy both of them had to have, but it turned into the day I’d been hoping for – relaxed, happy, with all of us together under one roof.

Motherhood is filled with highs and lows, with frustrations and triumphs. It’s a challenge, for sure. One that holds me up to the example I want to be for my kids and helps shape me into who I am. At the end of the day, knowing that I’m helping to create a happy, safe, secure world for my kids makes all the work worth it, and any sweet moments that pop up along the way are the perfect reward.

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in my life – those I’m related to and those I’m not. You have all helped me become the mom I am today, and I’m so thankful for you!

Making a decision to have a child–it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
– Elizabeth Stone

Jillian Michaels Freshology Gold Plan

As many of you remember, I got the opportunity to try Freshology food for two months. When they approached me to try out a week of the Jillian Michaels Gold Plan, I would’ve loved to, but since I’m pregnant I had to pass. Instead, Brian got to give Freshology a try for a week! So, for the first time, here’s a guest post by my husband to tell you about his experience.

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First, let me remind you that out of our family, I am quite the quiet one, so this may not be written like the usual copy you might read on this site… but I’ll try to keep the high caliber my wife has set forth!

When Christi proposed this idea to me, I was really curious to try it out. After seeing her experience with Freshology previously, I was kind of jealous of all the different meals she was having instead of our usual menu routine. Also, I am not a person that considers what I SHOULD eat vs what I do eat, so this part of the experience for me was rather new.

Having the freedom to not worry about what I was eating during the day was nice, as was quality of food supplied. I particularly enjoyed a few of the meals (which I will highlight below), and the quantity of food in each was surprising; not once did I feel tempted to snack on extra things outside the set meal plan. There was also one other side effect caused by this plan that I really loved:

I no longer have cravings to snack throughout the day, and my soda habit is gone. If you know me, you know I LOVE candy, and snack on it constantly through the day. At work, at home, late at night (especially), and to wash it all down, I always pick soda. But, since this experience with Freshology, I have had virtually no candy (except for a few rare instances), and soda is no longer on the table for me. Since then, its been unsweet tea, water, coffee, and lemonade!

So, after all that, here are a few highlights from my experience with the Jillian Michaels Freshology Gold Plan:

This was my favorite breakfast out of the bunch. Breakfast usually isn’t a part of my day, but after eating it for a week, I have started eating something most days now. I really enjoyed the eggs and bacon (turkey) in this meal. Having protein in the morning really kept me full and helped curb the need for snacking.

The clam chowder was not a meal I thought I would like, since it was more like a vegetable soup, but the large portion of clams in it really added to its appeal. I don’t usually like veg soup, but this was a good option.

This was my favorite meal of the whole experience. The basil-crusted salmon was great, not dry at all, and the quinoa paired well with it. I ate every bite of this meal, easily, and would love to have it again.

This brownie dessert with the orange glaze was one I was surprised to like so much as well. The icing went great with it, and I don’t usually like chocolate with citrus. There was a dark chocolate flavor to it that kept it from being too rich or sweet.

These snack bars were AWESOME. This was what kept me from snacking each day, and usually I had one in the morning and the other right before getting off work. The plan came with a variety of different ones to eat, and my favorite were these peanut butter and chocolate combo bars. AWESOME.

So, there’s my experience with Freshology. I know for me, I have never liked the idea of doing something that’s high maintenance, so counting calories to get in shape has never appealed to me. I like that Freshology takes all the work out of it and makes it so easy to eat like I should be.

Note: We received Freshology gold meals for one week to facilitate this review. We were not compensated monetarily. All opinions in this post are honest and are entirely Brian’s.

Wordless Wednesday: Belly Pic

21 weeks, 3 days. I’ve got to get better about taking these pics, but it’s hard to get motivated when I hate having photos taken!

Pregnancy & Baby Extravaganza is Coming! {June 1-30}

You all may have noticed a new button in my sidebar and page link under my header – the Pregnancy & Baby Extravaganza! Since finding out about baby #3, I’ve been really aware of the products out there on the market. It’s amazing how much has changed in just three years! I’ve seen some newer products that are really exciting, and of course I still have some favorites from things we used with the boys.

I have been working on getting ready for this and am excited to announce that it will take place June 1-30. I will be sharing great pregnancy & baby products with you each and every day. I will only be including products that I am going to be using, have used, or would use with our children, so that you can find out about the best for your pregnancy & baby.

I started reaching out this week to companies, and I’ve got a great group so far that have signed up to be a part of the Extravaganza. I will be adding more as May progresses! I’ve included a list of current participants below, and you can check the event page to see as more are added.

You’ll not only get a lot of great information (and candid reviews), but I’ll also be hosting some giveaways that give you the opportunity to win some of the products for yourself! My hope is, most of all, that this will be a useful guide for new moms and moms-to-be for finding products to use. Everyone has different preferences, but firsthand accounts have always been so valuable for me in finding what truly works.

If you represent a company or product that you think would be great to include in this event, contact me to find out details and tell me a little about what product(s) you would like to showcase.

Participants in the Extravaganza so far are:

Chuggington: Wilson & The Ice Cream Fair – New DVD! {Giveaway}

I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed being a Chuggington conductor even after just a short while. Their products are great and it’s always really exciting for the boys when a package arrives, because they love Chuggington.  Our most recent package included a yet-to-be-released DVD called Wilson and the Ice Cream Fair, and it was an immediate hit.

In this collection, the brave young trainee Wilson makes a special delivery to the ice cream fair, helps Frostini create a new flavor for the mayor’s banquet, and tries to prevent a massive ice cream meltdown on the hottest day of the year. There’s fun in the ice cream factory, a brave rescue at the Safari Park and an adventure in the ice caves, too! – Alongside good friends, like Koko and Brewster, and helpful Chuggers like Old Puffer Pete and Mtambo, the trainees discover important lessons about responsibility, cooperation, paying attention, overcoming fear and so much more!

I love how Chuggington incorporates lessons into their stories subtly so kids pick up on the message without being hammered over the head. All they see is fun stories, trains, and in the instance of this DVD, ice cream! The disc consists of multiple stories, which add up to a little over an hour of air time. This is a great length and it’s nice to have the option to just watch a little segment if you’re short on time (or if the kids have a favorite they want to watch).

Wilson and the Ice Cream Fair will be released May 15, and you can go ahead and enter to win your own DVD right now!

One lucky reader will win their own DVD! This giveaway is open to all U.S. & Canadian residents ages 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Monday, May 21. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

Mandatory Entry: Comment on this post telling me your favorite Chuggington train and your favorite flavor of ice cream!

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 2 entries, for example, comment 2 times.

Note: I’m a Chuggington Conductor! I received the DVD to facilitate my review, but was not compensated monetarily for my post. All opinions are honest and are those of myself and my family. The prize for the giveaway is also being provided.

Tommee Tippee Sippy Cups {Giveaway!}

Even though our boys are 3 & 4 1/2, sippy cups are still a daily part of life. While at the dinner table they use “big kid” cups, but we love using sippy cups for milk in the mornings so they can hang out with it in the living room, or with dark-colored juices so we don’t have to worry about a spill.

We got a chance recently to review Tommee Tippee Explora cups, and I jumped at the chance. For one thing, I knew the boys would love to get new cups (it’s the little things in life, right?) and for another I’m always on the lookout for truly spill-proof cups. All of the cups we’ve tried so far have allowed at least a little leaking to take place, which every parent knows is not a good thing when in the hands of bound-to-spill-if-at-all-possible preschoolers.

These cups are great. They’re insulated, and the boys loved how there’s a pattern on the inner portion of the cup behind the main graphic.

The lids for these cups are great, too. They’ll work for those as young as 24 months, but the way the spout is makes it feel more like a coffee mug – definitely not a “little kid” feel to it. This is SO important for us because the boys will reject anything that seems babyish.

Beyond that, though, the valve underneath the lid does a great job of allowing liquid through when kids are drinking without letting it through otherwise.

And of course, I love that these cups are Phthalate-free, BPA Free, PVC-Free and are also dishwasher safe. They fit just what we need and we’ve been really impressed with the quality of the cups. The only bad thing? The boys only want to use these cups, so for now we’ve been doing a lot of washing – guess we need to make a trip to Target and pick up a few more!

As I mentioned, the Tommee Tippee Explora sippy cups can be found at Target and on their website, but guess what – you can enter to win your own package of cups right now!

One lucky reader will win their own package of Tommee Tippee Explora cups! This giveaway is open to all U.S. & Canadian residents ages 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Saturday, May 19. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

Mandatory Entry: Head to the Tommee Tippee Explora Sippy Cups page on Target.com to find your favorite cup, and comment on this post with a link to that favorite!

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 2 entries, for example, comment 2 times.

Note: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Tommee Tippee Sippy Cups. I received a Tommee Tippee Explora Sippy Cup product as well as a promotional item as a thanks for my participation. All opinions are honest and those of myself and my family.

2 Box Cheerios {Giveaway}

We always have cereal on hand as our go-to quick breakfast for busy weekday mornings. And of course, as a bargain hunter it’s very appealing to get cereal in bulk and save money. The one problem I’ve always had with this is how to store the cereal. It typically comes in large box with two bags inside, and it doesn’t fit with the rest of our cereal boxes. Well, I just got to try out the new 2 box Cheerios, which contain two individual boxes, making them easier to store and easier to pour! I am really happy with the new package design, because I can still get more cereal for less money without being stuck with an oddly-sized box.

Not to mention…

  • By reducing the amount of air in each individual bag, these enhanced containers fit 10% more cereal than before and use less packaging
  • While each box contains more cereal, packaging material has been reduced by over 200,000 lbs, saving 1,000 trees and taking 130 Cheerios trucks of the road, decreasing CO2 emissions

One lucky reader will win their own Cheerios prize pack with (2) new 2 box Cheerios packaging (four boxes)! This giveaway is open to all U.S. residents ages 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Thursday, May 17. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

Mandatory Entry: Comment on this post answering this question: How will new 2 box Cheerios packaging benefit you and your family?

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 2 entries, for example, comment 2 times.

Note: Cheerios® cereal, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and my own.