Reviews – Frugal Novice
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NewAir WCD-110SS Review

Note: We received a water cooler to facilitate this post. We were not compensated monetarily, and all opinions are honest and our own. 


With five people in our family, we go through a lot of water pretty quickly. Add our normal consumption to the fact that I’m also trying to drink at least 64 ounces of water each day, and we end up really drinking a lot. I’m actually trying to drink half my body weight in ounces each day.

I’ve wanted a water cooler for a while now because I know from friends’ experiences how convenient they are – and I love the idea of not using a ton of water bottles.

There are a lot of water coolers out there to pick from, but the NewAir WCD-110SS seemed like the perfect fit for us. I like that it’s got a narrow profile, and the stainless steel is sleek and modern looking. 


This isn’t just a water cooler, though. It’s a heater too. And when I say hot, I mean hot! I wasn’t sure when reading about the hot water feature if it would just be really warm, but I was very impressed when we tried it out to see that it works perfectly for making piping hot drinks – when I made hot chocolate, I could see steam rising from my mug.


The button on the right dispenses cold water and is very easy for our kids to use, too (in fact, they think it’s a lot of fun to get water from the water cooler). The one on the left for hot water has a safety mechanism built in to keep kids from accidentally getting hot water; you have to slide the arrow button up at the same time you push the hot water button. It’s easy for adults to use, but it’s great for peace of mind when you have little ones running around (especially since we have a two-year-old, who is quite curious about everything!).

There are switches on the back of the water cooler that allow you to turn off either the hot or cold water – a great energy-saving feature so you’re not having water heated during the summer, for instance.

In the winter, though, having hot water at the ready is really great! Perfect for hot tea or hot chocolate, and really great for entertaining. I’ve seen ideas for hot chocolate bars on Pinterest, and having this water cooler would make it really easy to allow everyone to enjoy their drinks all at the same time, conveniently.

We have a New Air beverage cooler, too, and after having it for almost a year now we can still say we’re very pleased with it; this experience gives us confidence in the quality of the water cooler, too. To see all that New Air offers, visit their website and keep up with them on Facebook, too.

We’re very happy with this water cooler. It’s quiet, efficient and we have great-tasting water available at any time. I know it’s something that will be useful to us for years to come.


Harley-Davidson Ups the Cool Factor for Holiday Gifts!

Note: I received a pair of men’s and women’s gloves to facilitate this post. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are my own. 

My Uncle Mike has always been someone important in my life (fun fact: our middle son’s middle name is partially in honor of Uncle Mike!); I have many memories of going up to visit my grandparents at the holidays and spending time with him and my Aunt Joan. Several years ago we were in the area they live and got to go visit them, but since they live several states away we don’t get to see them nearly as often as we’d like.

My aunt and uncle love to ride motorcycles, so I was incredibly thrilled to have the chance to send them an extra-special gift this year: beautifully-crafted, high-tech, leather gloves from Harley-Davidson.


I received the Men’s Valve Full-Finger Gloves, and the Women’s Mystic Dual Chamber Full-Finger Gloves. They’re both incredibly well-made and it’s evident from first glance that a lot of care was put into every detail. And oh, the smell of that leather!

Here are some features of the men’s gloves:

  • Cowhide leather and tricot lining
  • Rolled tip fingers for comfort
  • Ergonomic thumb
  • Pre-curved fingers
  • Gel-padded palm
  • Comfort seams
  • Neoprene cuff with adjustable closure
  • Embroidered graphics

WomensGlovesHarleyDavidson-Palm MensGlovesHarleyDavidsonWrist

And here are features of the women’s gloves:

  • Goatskin leather
  • Dual chamber design provides two ways to wear depending on which chamber you put your hand inside. The warmth chamber provides added warmth allover the hand or the grip chamber allows for increased feel of the grips
  • Gel-padded palm
  • Pre-curved fingers
  • Power-stretch knuckles with contrasting stitching
  • 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material piping
  • Elastic wrist with adjustable closure

MensGlovesHarleyDavidsonFingerThumb MensGlovesHarleyDavidsonKnuckles MensGlovesHarleyDavidsonFingers

Even though it’s not listed on the Harley-Davidson site, both pairs of these gloves allow you to use your smart phone, with special material sewn into the pointer finger and thumb. So nice and high-tech!

If you’re looking for something special to give a motorcycle-lover in your life, I’d highly recommend these gloves. They’re sure to be a hit!


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:


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.


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!




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!


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:

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)


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).



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.




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.

Skylanders Trap Team Game Review: A Whole New Level of Fun!

Note: We received a copy of the Skylanders Trap Team game to review. We were not compensated monetarily and all opinions in this post are honest and our own.


What you see in the photo above is the faces of two very excited little boys.

I have been hearing about Trap Team for months, so I was really thrilled when I got the chance to review the game. I didn’t tell them it was coming, and just surprised them when it arrived. I heard “best mom ever!” many times that day after school, especially since they got to play it on a school night.

For those of you not familiar with Skylanders in general (I’m sure there are maybe 3 of you), it includes a portal that hooks up to the system and allows kids to bring characters into the game by placing figurines on the portal.

The Trap Team game takes the fun even further by introducing traps, which allow kids to “trap” bad guys and play with them later in the game as good guys.

Starter Pack we received  retails for $74.99 and includes:

• Traptanium Portal™ – Place the Skylanders on the NEW Traptanium Portal ™ and bring the Skylanders to life
• Trap Master Skylanders – Trap Master Skylanders are the ultimate trappers with powerful Traptanium™ weapons
• All New Skylanders – The Skylanders each have their own unique abilities and powers
• Traps – Defeat and capture villains in the Traps and then use the villains on the side of good
• Character Collector Poster – Build the ultimate Trap Team – Over 60 Skylanders to collect and 40+ villains to capture
• Sticker Sheets with Secret Codes – Enjoy stickers of your favorite Skylanders. Place the names and codes on the Character Collect Poster to track your collection. The secret codes can be used in the Skylanders Lost Islands ™and Skylanders Collection Vault ™Apps.
• Trading Cards – Learn more about each Skylander’s powers and abilities


The Trap Team figures are on the left, the portal is the large round center item, and the traps are the blue and green pieces on the right.


Here’s the game packaging – our five year old actually hugged the case!


The Trap Team poster – I can’t tell you how much time our kids spent talking about all of the characters on this!


Tray to house your traps. The boys, of course, decided we need to fill the tray entirely.




This portal glows when plugged in, and even has a speaker to hear the trapped characters talking!


As you can see in the photo above, the characters sit on the portal; if you notice the little hexagonal hole in the portal, that’s where you put your trap when you’re playing with that.



The boys had so much fun playing with this, and our two-year-old even enjoyed sitting and watching!

We’re really pleased with this game. The boys have hours of fun on it, and there’s a lot of room for expansion with the various characters and traps. The game is available on tons of platforms, so you should be able to find it for one you own – it’s available for the XBOX 360, XBOX ONE, PS3, PS4, WiiU, 2DS and 3DS, and the Kindle Fire, too. The starter pack, like I mentioned above, retails for around $70-$75 depending on which platform you purchase it for. That’s a little pricier than a standard Wii U game, but it comes with all the extras of the portal, characters, traps, and poster, so I feel like it’s a good value for your money.

I know our boys will each be getting a Skylanders character and trap in their stockings this year (character pricing starts at about $9.99, and traps are typically just $5.99), and if you’re looking for a great gift to put under the tree, you won’t go wrong with Skylanders Trap Team. If our kids’ reactions are any indication, you’ll be parent of the year when they open it up!

Free Shopular App Puts Deals At Your Fingertips!

Note: This is a compensated post. All opinions are honest and are entirely my own, unaffected by compensation.



Being a bargain lover, I’m always on the lookout for ways to save money while shopping. We regularly check store circulars, and I love a good coupon! Of course, half the time I forget to bring coupons with me, which is just one of the reasons I’m kind of in love with the Shopular app.

  • Shopular is a FREE top rated shopping app and has over 25,000 5-star reviews
  • Over 4 Million shoppers already use Shopular to save!
  • Shopular has over 40,000 of the top retail locations in the US in the app like Target, Walmart, Kohl’s and Macy’s
  • Shopular allows you to select your favorite stores so you never see unwanted deals
  • When you are close to one of your favorite stores or just arriving at the mall, Shopular shows you all of the deals happening that are relevant to you
  • Consider Shopular your personalized deal concierge, never letting you miss a deal!?

I always have my phone with me, so consolidating deals and circulars in one clean, consumer-friendly, easy-to-navigate app is incredibly appealing.

photo 1

When I open the app on my phone, I’m able to quickly scroll through deals for stores that I’ve pre-selected as ones I shop at. I don’t have to filter through tons of listings to find what I like; the app does that for me. AND I selected to receive push notifications from the app, which means if I’m near Kohl’s, for example, I’ll get a message from Shopular letting me know about any sales or deals going on at Kohl’s. LOVE.

photo 2

As I mentioned, though, I can also browse through weekly circulars. This is SO useful, because it’s much easier than navigating to each store’s site and trying to find the circular there; many stores don’t have mobile-friendly circulars and it can be a pain, but the Shopular app makes it easy.

photo 3

I also like the social aspect of the app – commenting is pretty active within the Shopular community, and it means I might find out about other bargains that shoppers have seen (i.e. a certain item on clearance at Target).

You can download the (FREE) app from the Apple store, and be sure and keep up with Shopular on their social media channels, too:

Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Pinterest  |  Tumblr
And don’t miss out on this fun contest for Halloween! I love DIY costumes and can’t wait to see the entries!

Living Proof That You Can Have a Perfect Hair Day

Note: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Proof. I received product samples to facilitate my review and to thank me for my participation.


Jennifer Aniston is one of those people whose hair just always seems perfect. I can’t imagine her ever having a bad hair day, can you? Of course, I’ve always thought it’s because she has a team of stylists. I didn’t know she also had an arsenal of hair care products that I can get my hands on, too! She’s co-owner of a hair care company called Living Proof.


When my Living Proof Perfect hair Day (PhD) products arrived, I couldn’t wait to give them a try! I’ve never had the best luck with my hair. My roots get oily really quickly, which means I end up washing my hair every day, but then my hair can end up dry and frizzy, which is a problem on the opposite end of the spectrum. Frustrating!

The new PhD (Perfect hair Day) line includes a shampoo, conditioner, and 5-in-1 Styling Treatment. I like that it all works together, because if you’re using products from different lines you never know how they’ll work together (or against each other). The PhD products work seamlessly to treat and style hair. They deliver smoothness, volume, conditioning, strength, and polish all in one product set.

As someone who, like I mentioned above, has to wash my hair daily, I’m also excited to learn that the PhD shampoo shampoo and conditioner keep hair cleaner longer, which means it’ll reduce the need to wash my hair as often. I also love that they’re sulfate-free, oil-free, and silicone-free. I feel really good about using these products on my hair!

I’m really liking the 5-in-1 Styling Treatment, too. It’s easy to put it on my hair right after I get out of the shower, and with my blowdryer and a round brush I’m able to achieve a nice, sleek style. The styling treatment also has heat protection, UV protection, and static control – and it’s oil-free and silicone-free, too!

Take a look and see how Living Proof Styling Treatment can work for you, thanks to Jennifer Aniston’s stylist:

I’ve noticed that my hair feels thicker and does stay clean longer between washings, and I’ve only been using the Perfect hair Day line for a week!  I’m really looking forward to seeing how it goes over the next few weeks, and onward.

Do you want to see a change in your hair? I hope you’ll take the Living Proof hair challenge with me by trying out the great products – and you can sign up to win a set of PhD products on their site, too! Just click here to enter.

Keep up with Living Proof on social media, too! You can find them on:

Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Fall is Fabulous with Starbucks® Fall Blend

Note: The following post is sponsored by Starbucks, but all opinions are honest and are my own.

I adore the fall. Summer here in Texas is SO hot, so when fall arrives I am ready. Ready for jackets and flannel sheets and hot cocoa and coffee. Ready for cool days and warm treats. Ready for sitting out on our covered back porch and watching the kids run around playing in the cool air, and for sitting on the couch with the windows open.

We had our first glimpse of fall this past weekend while family was in town for our daughter’s birthday. Temps were in the 60’s and it felt fabulous. After the party finished, we sat out on the back porch and relaxed while the kids played a little more. Brian and his mom decided to enjoy some limited-edition Starbucks Fall Blend, which was perfect! This blend has Sumatran beans to provide the warmth of fresh spice notes, coffees from Kenya to add citrusy brightness as well as beans from Peru that offer balance and a subtle nuttiness – it’s the perfect segue into the brisk days of fall. I can just imagine it with cinnamon coffee cake or a slice of pumpkin pie! 




I love Christmas and that whole time of year, but I think fall is almost better – there are all sorts of traditions we love like hay rides and pumpkin patches and trick-or-treating with the kids, and we make so many great memories.

This year the boys are both in school, and we all know back-t0-school time can be busy for families. As we adjust to our new routine, our weekend time with the kids is precious; I can’t wait to have many more Saturdays snuggled up with the kids, and I’m glad we’ve got Starbucks Fall Blend to help us enjoy these moments!

Tiggly Shapes & Apps – Educational Fun for Your Littlest Ones

Note: I received a set of Tiggly shapes and a gift card to facilitate my review. All opinions in this post are honest and entirely those of myself and my family. 

Our boys, who are 5 & 7, love to play games on our iPad. And of course Brian and I like to get our fair share of game-playing in, too. But baby E, who’s almost 2, has been left out of all the iPad fun – until now, thanks to Tiggly shapes & apps.

Tiggly creates hands-on educational tools that work together with free Tiggly apps on the iPad to create an exciting learning experience that combines physical play and digital fun.

When we first pulled out the Shapes and our iPad, E just sat and held the shapes while she watched the animation of the app, but then she quickly realized she could interact with the app using the shapes and she had a blast playing.





Then our boys came in to see what she was doing, and they started playing along with her. It’s nice to have something all three kids can enjoy together.


About Tiggly Shapes:

  • Tiggly Shapes incudes a set of four easy-to-grip colorful shapes that are inspired by the classic wooden block. They’re easy for little hands to grip – E loved holding them, and she liked the bright colors, too.
  • Little ones place Tiggly Shapes on the iPad to make Tiggly apps come alive. Each Shape is specially designed to be safe for kids and iPad screens.
  • Tiggly Shapes helps little ones learn about shapes and fundamental geometry concepts, improve their language skills, and develop their motor skills, spatial thinking, and creativity – all while having fun!
  • Each set of Tiggly Shapes also includes a felt carrying pouch for easy storage and fun on the go.
  • Tiggly Shapes is great for toddlers age 18 months to 4 years old (I can attest to the fact that our 5 & 7 year old thought the apps were fun, too!).
  • Tiggly Shapes is compatible with all generations of the iPad and iPad mini.
  • Tiggly Shapes has a retail value of $29.95 and can be purchased online at
  • Tiggly Shapes includes three free TIggly apps designed by education experts and approved by parents. With their bright colors and fun games, little ones will have hours of fun while learning with Tiggly apps.


About Tiggly Apps:

  • Tiggly Stamp: Kids explore the seasons while creating their own scenes and stories. Parents and children can use the camera and voice recorder to save the fun tales they dream up.
  • Tiggly Safari: Children use Tiggly Shapes to create friendly animals from the jungle, farm, and sea.
  • Tiggly Draw: Time to use your imagination! Kids use their iPad as their canvas and Tiggly Shapes as their tools to craft their own works of art.

Stay connected:

  • Be sure to visit for the latest on Tiggly and to find tips and advice for parents on the Tiggly blog.
  • Friend Tiggly on Facebook at and follow Tiggly on Twitter @TigglyKids
  • Don’t forget, you can buy Tiggly online at!

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!



Mocc Ons Combine Slippers and Socks… and Cuteness!

Note: We received a pair of Mocc Ons and a pair of Plod Ons. We were not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are our own.


If you’re the parent of an infant or toddler you know how difficult (impossible, really) it can be to keep socks on those little feet! They fall off, they’re pulled off… they just don’t stay on. An issue we’ve discovered with socks, too, is that they cause baby E to slip on our hardwood floors.

Mocc Ons are a great solution to this issue –  they’re moccasin style slipper socks, designed to fit babies from six months up to three years. They’re made of cotton stitched to a leather sole.


E really liked her “shoes” as she called them. They were really easy to slip on, and she immediately took off to play!


I even had her try them out on our hardwood floors and they did a great job of keeping her from slipping around. In Texas it’s a little warm for her to wear these right now but I know we’ll get a LOT of use out of them come fall and winter!

Mocc Ons are available on Amazon and other retailers in a variety of styles perfect for girls or boys. You can also keep up with the company on Facebook.

EZ Leaps Makes Shoe Tying “EZ” for Kids!

Note: We received EZ Leaps to try. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are my own.

Our two sons are at about the age now where they really need to be learning to tie their shoes. As every parent knows, though, this can be a really daunting skill to learn, with children easily getting frustrated (and parents, too!).

EZ Leaps aims to make the process much easier – even fun – for kids.

EZ Leaps Shoe Tying


Eileen Sloan is the mind behind EZ Leaps. She is a wife, mother of two adult daughters  and a former elementary school teacher who witnessed first-hand the struggles children face when learning new skills.  As a mother and teacher, Eileen would often seek out products to help her be a more effective educator.

EZ Leaps are special cards that allow your child to slip the laces through and hold them in place so it makes learning to tie laces much easier. The cards are colorful and have fun designs on them, so you can pick a design that best fits your child’s personality!

Here’s a little more about how EZ Leaps work:

To buy an EZ Leaps shoe tying tool, visit their site’s store here. Before you know it, your child will be tying their own shoes!