July – 2014 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

July 2014

The Baby Monitor that Can’t be Hacked

Note: We received the Levana Keera monitor to facilitate our review. We were not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are our own.

We’ve had a baby monitor in our house for years now, starting when our first son was born almost 7 years ago (wait – he’s almost 7? That can’t be right!). So you can imagine that when I heard news reports about monitors being intercepted, it definitely worried me. I even read one story about a man hacking a monitor and screaming at a 10-month-old. Scary! I want Brian and I to be able to check on the kids – not random strangers.


Thankfully, there’s a monitor on the market that can give parents the security of knowing images of their baby will not be intercepted by an unwelcome audience: Levana video monitors. They are all made with secure 750 ft ClearVu Digital Signal, developed exclusively by Levana, so no one can intercept your signal. The Keera monitor has a private, secure and interference-free digital signal that no one but you can access.


The fact that the monitor can’t be intercepted definitely sets it apart from others, but there are also many other features that I love about the Keera:

Smooth & Silent Pan/Tilt/Zoom Camera

Using the monitor from anywhere in your home, you can adjust the camera view horizontally 300° and tilt vertically 110°. When you find what you are looking for, zoom in to examine what you are seeing in even greater detail. Love this capability. We’re able to get a broad view of our kids’ rooms with the push of a button on the receiver.

Record Video & Snap Photos Instantly

Capture precious moments as they happen with your choice of recorded video or still photos on the included 2GB micro SD card. Does your baby sing to herself when she wakes up in the morning? You can record the moment without interruption.

Talk to Baby™ Two-way Communication

Calm your baby with the sound of your own voice with two-way Talk to Baby™ intercom. Our older boys like this feature too because they can ask us a question easily from their beds.

Invisible LED Night Vision

Invisible infrared LEDs provide a clear image of your child in the dark up to 12ft away. Your baby will sleep more soundly without the distracting red LED lights found on traditional baby video monitors. You can see your child really clearly even in a dark room.


3 Soothing Lullabies

Does your baby love the sound of lullabies before bed and cry out for more when the music stops? The Keera monitor has three lullabies that can be remotely activated and changed by your parent unit. This is a feature I never would’ve thought of, but it’s another great way to soothe your baby without going in and potentially waking them up even further.

Expandable up to 4 Cameras

The Keera monitor’s expandable system grows with your family; add up to three additional cameras to conveniently view up to four areas of your home on one monitor. Right now we have the two cameras, and it’s perfect – we can check on all of the kids easily and switch from camera to camera.

I truly love the Levana Keera monitor and wish it had been around back in 2007 when we started our family!

Skylanders Premium Toy Line Eon’s Elite to Come this Fall!



My boys, who are 5 & nearly 7, love Skylanders. I mean, love Skylanders. All I’ve been hearing about for the past several weeks is how they can’t wait for Skylanders Trap Team to come out, and now I know I’ll be hearing a lot about Eon’s Elite, too.

Yesterday at San Diego Comic-Con plans were announced to  bring “Eon’s Elite,” a new set of premium toys, to Skylanders fans worldwide this fall. The limited edition Eon’s Elite will introduce eight must-have collectible versions of fan-favorite Skylanders characters, beginning with Spyro and Chop Chop.

The heroes  in the “Eon’s Elite” roster hail from the original Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure and have been carefully selected by Master Eon for displaying undaunted courage and commitment to defending all of Skylands.  Eon’s Elite features a never-before-seen decoration with a distinct, metallic finish and a golden base that sets them apart from other Skylanders toys.  Each of these special edition toys will be offered in premium foil packaging and also features a display case with a 3D lenticular background. Additionally, when played in-game, Eon’s Elite will be up to three times as powerful over other characters, which represents the biggest in-game boosts ever incorporated into a Skylanders toy to date.

“Eon’s Elite represents the most iconic characters from the original Skylanders game that started it all,” said Josh Taub, senior vice president of product marketing at Activision Publishing. “These eight toys are not only premium quality but also honor the characters’ strength, courage and commitment. We’re excited to extend our fans’ collections with this new line.”

Eon’s Elite characters will be available in limited quantities at GameStop and EB Games stores in North America, Australia and New Zealand, and select retailers in Europe this fall while supplies last.

And in case you’re not familiar with Trap Team, here’s a little about the upcoming game that will be launching in October (seriously, my boys can. not. wait.):

Launching in October, Skylanders Trap Team brings a ground-breaking innovation to the Skylanders franchise by reversing the magic of its signature Toys-To-Life play pattern to let kids bring life-to-toys for the first time. With Skylanders Trap Team, Portal Masters seek out and defeat the most wanted villains in all of Skylands, pulling them out of the game and into living rooms by capturing them in magical Traps. Players can then send villains back into the game where they play as them to fight for good. The game will include the Traptanium Portal, a new ring of magical energy that enables kids to not only bring their Skylanders to life, but also magically capture villains using the new Traps. Once they’ve defeated the villains, kids will be able to place a Trap into the new portal to capture them. They will also be able to hear the villains inside the Traps, an innovation that truly brings life to toys.  Skylanders Trap Team will be available on Xbox 360 and  Xbox One  video game and entertainment systems from Microsoft, PlayStation  3 and PlayStation  4 computer entertainment systems, Nintendo’s Wii  system, Nintendo’s Wii U  system, and a completely unique adventure available on the Nintendo 3DS  hand-held system.

The Monster EZ1XL Makes Cleaning Floors a Breeze!

Note: I received a Monster EZ1XL to facilitate my review. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are my own. 

We moved into our current house last summer and it was a big change for us in many ways. One of the biggest changes was going from a primarily carpeted home to one that’s almost all tile and wood.

I love having all the hard surface floors – it’s SO perfect with having three children and two dogs! I realized pretty quickly after moving that I’d need to figure out an approach for cleaning – and thankfully, there’s the Monster EZ1XL.

Info from QVC, where you can purchase the Monster:

The Steam Jet XL floor steamer uses a pressurized steel boiler and dry heat technology to clean and sanitize all hard floor surfaces, including delicate wood. The bottom and front steam jets deliver powerful streams of steam, while Steam Boost technology ensures consistent steam levels as you clean. And the Steam Jet XL is lightweight and easy to move, making floor cleaning a breeze.

  • Includes Steam Jet XL floor steamer, two heavy-duty SuperPad microfiber floor pads, one heavy-duty SuperPad microfiber carpet pad, one carpet glide, one water fill cup, and instructions
  • Pressurized steel boler and dry heat technology
  • Bottom and front steam jets
  • Steam Boost technology ensures consistent steam levels
  • Cleans all hard floor surfaces
  • Lightweight, easy-to-maneuver design
  • Some assembly required
  • Measures 48″H x 15″L x 8″W
  • Pads: 80% polyester/20% polyamide
  • Pads: hand wash, tumble dry
  • ETL listed; 2-year Limited Manufacturer’s Warranty



The XL in the name is accurate, because the size of the cleaning pad is much larger than other steam cleaners I’ve used. This is great because it allows me to cover more surface area in a shorter time – I’m all about saving time!

I love that this allows you to clean and sanitize your hard surface floors with chemical-free steam. And as mentioned above, the Monster comes with pads that work for both hard surface floors AND for carpets, which I adore. It’s versatile!



Padre Island – Weekend Getaway

One of the great things about living in Texas is that we’re close enough to the coast to take a weekend trip to the beach. Texas has really beautiful beaches along the Gulf of Mexico – a few years ago we went down to Corpus Christi, and while we were there we spent time on Padre Island. (FYI, Padre Island and South Padre Island are two very different locations, several hours apart, so make sure you’re aware if you do plan a trip!)

The beaches there are perfect for young kids – the water is shallow and not too rough so it’s great for playing. When we went before J & C were just 2 & 1, but they still had a blast. We knew they’d have even more fun this year, when we joined some of Brian’s family for a trip to Padre Island. And of course it was E’s first trip to the beach, so we couldn’t wait to see what she thought.

We stayed in this gorgeous condo, which was incredibly close to the beach and made for a great home base, especially when there were quite a few of us there all at once.



We spent hours at the beach each day and had a great time building sand castles, riding boogie boards, flying kites, and even lounging and reading some Harry Potter together as a family. It was fun and absolutely relaxing, just what we needed.



E was scared of the water, but she warmed up to playing in the sand!




Brian and the boys worked on a sand castle creation together, complete with a Zelda triforce.








Our condo also had a pool overlooking the bay, which was gorgeous! We spent most of our time at the beach, but we went down to the pool our last morning on the island to fit in a little last-minute swimming.


If you’re looking for a perfect family getaway, whether you’re in Texas or not, Padre Island is a great choice. We loved it so much that we’re planning to go back again later this summer.

JORD Wooden Watch Review & {Giveaway}


Note: Brian received a JORD watch to facilitate our review, and JORD is providing a watch for giveaway. We were not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are our own.

I love the look of natural wood; whether it’s wood floors, a butcher block counter, or a gorgeous wooden frame I’m always drawn to the organic look it provides. So, of course, I immediately loved the look of JORD wooden watches. I decided to be a nice wife and let Brian review one of the watches, and he picked the Delmar green watch, which we both really liked a lot. JORD_Watch

So gorgeous, right? This watch has high-quality craftsmanship, for sure, with plenty of attention to every single detail: JORD_WatchCollage

It fit great on Brian’s wrist – it’s a substantial size and looks great on his wrist: JORD_Watch_Wrist JORD_Watch_Brian

The contrast of the green face against the wood really pops and has an elegant, sleek look to it, and Brian and I both love the square shape of the face. JORD watches are made of 100% natural wood with stainless steel clasps, with no toxic chemicals to treat or protect them. They have watches made from a variety of woods, including:  bamboo, maple, sandlewood, blackwood, cherry, and teak. Because they’re made of wood, they’re much lighter than a metal watch, which is especially great in the summer when the last thing you want is something heavy on your arm. Visit the JORD Wood Watches Website Connect with JORD Wood Watches on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Google+


One lucky reader will win a JORD wood watch in Delmar green, just like the one I reviewed!  This contest is open worldwide to those aged 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) July 31. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

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Take a Moment for Mesothelioma

Note: this is not a compensated post – I’m sharing it because I think it’s important information.

I’m a big fan of DIY projects; in fact, we made quite a few updates to our old 1970’s home. If you’re working on older homes, however, it’s incredibly important to be aware of potential hazards, like lead paint or asbestos.

When Cameron St. James emailed me asking if I’d help with Mesothelioma awareness on my blog, I was moved by his wife Heather’s story of survival and wanted to do my part to spread the word. Here are a few facts you ought to know, and a guest post from Cameron below.


Heather Von St. James, a 9-year survivor of mesothelioma has made it her mission to spread awareness of the disease. When she was 9 years old, Heather experienced second-hand exposure to asbestos fibers on her dad’s work jacket. Once she was diagnosed, she was given 15 months to live. After beating the odds, herself and her husband Cameron hope to spread awareness of the disease.

Every year, about 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Symptoms generally don’t appear until 30-60 years after expose to asbestos, most people diagnosed with mesothelioma are given only 10 months to live.

Asbestos is found in common building materials that are used as insulation and adhesives. Asbestos was once used in the construction of many schools, homes, commercial buildings and naval ships especially during the industrial revolution. If these building materials are damaged or broken down, the deadly fibers become airborne and it is possible to inhale them.

Once the asbestos fibers are inhaled, they become lodged in the lung or heart tissue and cause inflammation and cancerous cell growth. About 40 percent of mesothelioma patients survive their first year after diagnosis, and only 10 percent of people living with mesothelioma survive 5 years after diagnosis.

The most susceptible groups of people to first-hand asbestos exposure are those who work in construction, around shipyards or aboard navy vessels. Second-hand exposure is also possible if clothing or items that have asbestos fibers on them are brought home and touched or washed by a family member. No amount of asbestos exposure is safe, but it is still not banned in the US and exists in the buildings that we live in every day.

The best way to keep your family safe from asbestos and mesothelioma is to have asbestos inspection and abatement carried out by trained professionals.

Keep Momming

Note: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Shire. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

As an actress, a public health advocate and former journalist, Holly Robinson Peete has seen it all. And as a mother of four, she’s encountered just about every parenting challenge you can imagine. One of her biggest challenges as mom is building and maintaining a close relationship with her teenage daughter, Ryan.

The mother-daughter relationship is a unique one, and that dynamic can be even trickier during the tween years. Yet sometimes, people dismiss certain behaviors as “typical tween girl behavior” when those behaviors can be symptoms of something more serious. Research suggests that girls are more likely than boys to report having mostly inattentive Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms. Since inattentive symptoms can be less noticeable than hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, it is important that moms know what to look for.

I’m proud to be joining forces with Shire, CHADD and Holly Robinson Peete to announce the launch of keep momming, a new public service initiative geared towards the moms of tween girls to raise awareness of ADHD.

The campaign is anchored within a new digital hub, KeepMomming.com, where you’ll find tips, tools and other go-to resources for moms, including a checklist to help recognize the symptoms of ADHD – inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity – and then encourages moms to talk to their daughter’s doctor. The keep momming initiative can help moms learn about ADHD and provide ideas on how to spark a conversation and stay connected with their tween. 

Don’t miss Holly’s message about the keep momming initiativehttp://goo.gl/Uayao5, and be sure to check out the website at KeepMomming.com.

Denny’s Diners and Atari Team Up for Delicious Fun

Note: I am participating in a compensated campaign as a Denny’s Ambassador. All opinions in my posts are entirely honest and are mine and my family’s.


There’s nothing quite like a classic, is there? My husband is a big gamer and he had to have the Atari 2600 system in his collection, along with some of the classic games like Centipede and Asteroids.


Of course, Denny’s is another classic that’s been around even longer than the Atari, so it just makes sense for the two to team up to bring us something deliciously fun: classic Atari games remastered with a tasty twist.

  • Hashteroids – You’re aboard the SS Denny’s Condiment Transport ship and the mission is clear: deliver 40 tons of condiments to the 4th planet in sector 7d.
  • Centipup – Once upon a time, a young boy named Danny came across a bottle of syrup and with just a slight squeeze the bottle’s sticky contents had the power to turn anyone or anything into a fried egg.
  • Take-out – A wall made entirely of delicious Denny’s breakfast items appears blocking all the take-out orders from their rightful owners. The only way to feed customers is to break down that wall!


If you’re wondering how to get your hands on these fun games, I’ve got great news for you – they’re free through the Denny’s app! The remixed Atari games are just one of several new features available on Denny’s recently refreshed “Build Your Own” mobile app, which allows users to build and personalize their app exactly how they like, from their homepage layout to a variety of themes. I have an iPhone, but the app is available on Android devices, too.



Love this fun video promoting the games – doesn’t it just take you back to when you played the originals?

Along with the remixed Atari games, Denny’s has also remixed some of their “greatest hits” menu items:


Like the Red White and Blue Slam:


And the Baja Moons Over My Hammy:



We had to go check this out for ourselves, so we met up with some friends at our local Denny’s on Tuesday – which also happens to be when our location offers FREE kids’ meals, making it really affordable for our family of five.


Jackson noticed the sign for the games and was excited to find out I had already downloaded the Denny’s app on my phone for the kids (and me and Brian!) to play.


Colin noticed that there was a new animal featured on the kids’ menu and wanted me to take a picture of him with it.


Everyone in our family eats well at Denny’s, even the littlest of our crew!



Fun was had by all!

Don’t forget to download the Denny’s app to get access to the remixed Atari games! Just use your phone’s QR scanner to scan the code below:



And be sure and stop in for some of the deliciously remixed “Greatest Hits” on the Denny’s menu, too!

Summer Savings with Healthy Essentials!

Note: This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.



We’re going to be heading to the beach soon, and I’ve already started thinking about what all we need to pack. Sunscreen tops the list, especially for my pale-skinned family, but with three active kids I’ll definitely want to have a first aid kit along just in case.

Thankfully I can find all my summer must-haves at a discount, which is especially great considering all the other expenses that go along with summer travel!  Now we’re all set for our trip.

Check out the great savings you can find – these are just a few of the great coupons you can score on HealthyEssentials.com this summer for more than $45 in savings:

  • Save $1.00 on any (1) NEUTROGENA® Sun product (excludes trial size)
  • Save $2.00 on any (3) NEOSPORIN®, NEOSPORIN® ESSENTIALS, BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive bandages, BENADRYL® Topical or JOHNSON and JOHNSON RED CROSS® Brand products (excludes all trial and travel sizes, First Aid Kits, 10 ct Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandages, and On-the-Go First Aid Kits). Must buy (2) different brand products to qualify for this offer along with a third product
  • Save $1.00 on any (1) SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener Product
  • Save $1.00 on any (1) LISTERINE® SMART RINSE Anti-cavity Mouthwash, 500 ml
  • Save $1.00 on any LUBRIDERM® product
  • Save $1.00 on any (1) CLEAN & CLEAR® product (excludes trial and travel sizes)
  • Save $1.00 on any (1) REACH® Total Care Floss, or REACH® Gentle Gum Care Floss, or REACH® Dentotape® or REACH® Access® Flosser
  • Save $3.00 on any (1) REMBRANDT® Whitening Kit or Strip or any (2) REMBRANDT® Whitening Paste or Rinse
  • Save $1.00 on any (1) VISINE® product, 5 oz. or larger

Vacation plans are set, but are you ready for summer? Make sure you’re prepared with all the essentials you’ll need, so you and your family can enjoy the great outdoors and a great vacation. Be proactive about protecting your skin! Take advantage of the savings at HealthEssentials.com and stock up today!

Everything is Awesome in the SKIT! Animated Video App

The Lego Movie (2014) BluRay Cover 11mm

Note: SKIT is providing the giveaway prize, which I will also receive. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and my own.

I adore toys and games that encourage creativity, so when I heard about SKIT! I knew we had to give it a try.

SKIT! is an app created by Storytime Studios. Their mission? “With SKIT! anyone can be creative…together!”

SKIT! is a mobile app for creating and sharing animated video messages with the community. You can create fun animated videos for free using your vibrant photos and decorating it with stickers, crazy outfits, filters and more. You get to animate your stories and memes, and you can share them with the online community.

I was already impressed by the concept of SKIT! and then I found out that they have just released Emmet, Batman, Wildstyle, Unikitty, and dozens of The LEGO Movie characters  as part of the app. You can also use CloudCookoo Land, Wild West, Bob’s Kabob Truck  and 20 plus other backgrounds: SKIT! is partnering with Warner Brothers to put LEGO Movie assets into the hands of fans to allow for story-telling, play and creative expression.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

Check out one of the videos I found in the online SKIT! community – it totally cracked me up.

SKIT! allows you to remix stories and create something completely new and amusing with just few clicks. You can get this free animated story telling app from App Store on iTunes, or fromGoogle Play Store. It is also available at Amazon app store.

Here’s how to use the app:

  • Download SKIT! on your tablet or Smartphone device through the iTunes App StoreGoogle Play, or Amazon
  • Get creative and select backgrounds, characters and props for story telling
  • Import your own photos (or ones from the internet) by tapping the + on the screen and then select from your photo library
  • Personalize and change photos using icons from the left toolbar to crop, add text, draw & incorporate props
  • Continue to add as many characters, photos, props, etc. as you wish
  • Make it rain or snow, create a dream sequence with our camera filters, or even play (safely) with fire!
  • Now it’s time to use your voice. Tap the record button. When you hear the word Go, use your fingers to move the characters around on the screen as you narrate the story to bring your characters to life
  • Press play to preview your SKIT!
  • Press share and send your skit privately to friends or share it with the entire SKIT! Community.


To celebrate their fun LEGO elements, SKIT! is letting me host a giveaway for the LEGO movie on Blu-Ray/DVD! One of you will ! This giveaway is open to all US residents age 18+ and will end at 11:59pm Central on July 17.

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