Technology/Games – Frugal Novice
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AfterShokz Bluez2S Headphone Giveaway {ARV $99.95}


If you’ve ever been out running or biking on a busy highway, you know how important it is to be aware of sounds – like approaching vehicles – around you. And if you’ve ever gone to the gym with a workout buddy, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of wanting to listen to music to motivate your workout while still being able to chat with your friend.

AfterShokz headphones are an innovative bone conduction headphone that don’t go in – or even ON – your ears. These Bluetooth headphones have bone conduction transducers that rest comfortably in front of the ears, transmitting sound through the cheekbones to the inner ears via mini vibrations, bypassing the eardrums completely. This means your ears are actually open so you can hear other sounds around you at the same time. You can listen to music, other audio, or make & take phone calls all while retaining ambient sound awareness.

FN-AfterShokz_Bluez 2_green_front copy

The Bluez 2S headphones from AfterShokz have some enhanced features, including:

  • Premium open ear audio experience
    PremiumPitch+™ is proprietary audio technology that assures the finest in bone conduction audio. PremiumPitch+™ delivers a balance of crisp detail and discernible bass, with two EQ presets to enhance music further.
    The secret to clearer phone calls is the precisely placed dual noise canceling microphones that exclude surrounding noise, effectively enhancing speech.
    Finally, battling the single most frustrating drawback of bone conduction—natural sound leakage—is LeakSlayer™, an innovation that works to release sound generated by the transducers in order to cancel sound generated by the housing. Even at high volume, music and conversations are confined to the wearer.
  • Increased sweat resistance — IP55 certified
    Bluez 2S are IP55 rated to ensure they’ll power through daily sweat sessions and wicked weather. An extra layer of protective housing was added to make sure sweat and moisture won’t damage electronics inside.
  • Improved controls
    Controlling music and call features right from the headset has been a fan favorite, as it allows devices to remain safely tucked away during activity. A raised power button and larger volume button delivers a friendlier user experience.

The Bluez 2S headphones from AfterShokz are available for pre-order and will begin shipping to retail partners and consumers October 15, but you can have a chance to try them out before anyone else! Just enter my giveaway below and you’ll have the chance to win one Bluez 2S unit valued at $99.95 – and you can even choose the color, picking from black, red, green metallic and neon green.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Save Money on Gas with These Apps


I love saving money. I think the name of this blog along probably belies that fact! Whether it’s using coupons when grocery shopping, finding clearance deals for clothes, or looking for the best price on gasoline for our car, I’m all about ways to save.

As we all know, there are apps for virtually everything now, and so it only makes sense that there are apps out there for helping you save money on gas. Have you been missing out? Now you’ll know all about several great apps to try. Here’s one:

  • Cheap Gas shows you just that – cheap gas. This app is pretty straightforward, giving you a list of stations in price order (lowest price first). You can view the map to figure out how to get to your desired gas station from your current location.

For more apps to try, visit my guest post over on the Holt Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram dealership blog.

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam 3DS Game Review


My husband is the ultimate Nintendo fan, with a collection including hundreds of games dating back to his childhood and the NES era.  Since he has had experience playing Mario games for decades, he eagerly agreed to review the advance copy we received of Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, which releases today. Thanks for guest posting, Brian!



Hi everyone! As Christi mentioned, I’ve been playing Mario games most of my life, and always get excited for the latest game release. When I think of Mario games, I divide them into several categories; some are platformers, like the classic Super Mario Bros. – your character’s main goal is to get to the end of each level. Some are party games, like the aptly named Mario Party, which include party games and challenges that are fun to play with your family and friends (this is a favorite of our family on game nights!). And some are RPG (role playing games)-based, which means there’s an emphasis on character development and more tactic-based battles.


Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam falls into the latter category, and to me it’s a great fusion of the Paper Mario games and Mario & Luigi game series. Like most Mario games it starts out with Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach, and you play as Mario to rescue her.

This time, though, you’re dealing with double the trouble, thanks to Luigi unleashing Paper Mario characters into the 3D world.


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Fun (Free!) Nintendo Family Activities for the Holidays


We are so glad the holidays are upon us in our house. We’re enjoying time at home together, baking cookies, and playing games. My two boys, ages 6 & 8, are getting in some Wii U time, too, so they’re happy campers!

I wanted some fun things to do as a family while we’re home, and found some great activities on Nintendo’s site that I thought I’d share with you in case your kiddos would enjoy these as much as mine have!

Check out these awesome free printable ornaments – I’m just showing you two, but there are more! Each of these is available for free download from the Nintendo activities page:



This Splatoon ornament is sooooo perfect for us this year because it’s a game that was high up on our kids’ wish list (and, since my kids don’t read my blog, I can tell you that my 8-year-old will be getting it along with some Splatoon amiibos. Yes, he will think we’re the best parents ever)!


Mario ornaments just make sense to go on our tree. We actually have some that we purchased, but the kids thought it was awesome to make one to include. Our kids love Mario Kart and Super Mario Maker,  our family plays Mario Party together on a very regular basis, and our whole family loves pretty much every Mario game (Super Mario World was my first video game to own, and will always hold a special place in my heart)!

There are a lot more fun activities on the Nintendo site, like quizzes, videos, and even DIY wreath instructions – perfect (free!) fun for your family this holiday season.

Guitar Hero Live Review


This guest review is written by my husband, Brian. He’s the gaming expert in the family.

The latest from Activision in the music game genre is Guitar Hero Live, a fresh new take on the guitar rhythm concept. Gone is the 5 multicolored button plastic guitar, and their latest hardware feels much more like you are playing a real guitar, rather than a toy.

Even at first glance on the box art, you can see this new perspective on the gameplay is evident, showing real people rather than animated graphics.


The back of the box is the first to tell the player of the two game modes, Guitar Hero Live and Guitar Hero TV. The first is familiar to veterans of the game series, playing through individual songs in a large show format. The second is a new take on the series, allowing the player to play along to other songs in the rock and roll universe, playing along with music videos of your favorite artists!




The song list of the tracks available in the base game is quite extensive, and bridges across multiple genres of music, from standard rock artists like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, to unique tracks from artists such as Skrillex, Katy Perry and Rihanna.


Opening the box reveals the new hardware and software for the title, including the guitar, a dongle to plug in via USB to connect with your system (Xbox One represented here), guitar strap, the game, batteries, and instructions to get started.

I wanted to point out how nice the details are in the package, including the logo on the dongle, and actual good quality batteries instead of cheap off-brand ones that would fail after a few hours.

As you can see, the guitar comes in two pieces, to better fit in the box and for travel, but is easily pieced together and ready to rock in a snap.


After assembling the guitar, you will instantly notice the buttons are different from any other music game available before! Now instead of 5 single buttons in a row, there are two sets of 3 buttons stacked up on top of each other.




Once you fire up the game and start playing, you will see the notes highway is different as well, with 3 “strings” to follow, each with either a white, black, or combo button on each during the song. The black notes signify the top row, the white the bottom row, and both means exactly that, hold both buttons on that fret. Later in difficulty, you will have notes that signify different colors for each fret, so you really start to feel as though you are holding actual guitar cords.

Here are some screenshots showing the Live gameplay mode. This new mode uses live video rather than animated characters for background visuals, really making you feel as though you are ON STAGE while rocking!

GHLive_Positive GHLive_Stage1 GHLive_Stage2

The other mode to play in is a new edition to the series, getting to play along with music videos from your favorite artists!!! Not only that, you get to compete with other rock stars online and earn credits to spend in the store for swag and customizable features in your game.


GHTV_Video1 GHTV_Video2 ghtv-coop ghtv-ondeman

All in all, Guitar Hero Live is a breath of fresh air to the music/rhythm genre, and one that I welcome! From the live video backgrounds, to the new button layout, and the varied selection of music to play in TV mode, Activision has brought its A game after being on pause since the last Guitar Hero game. And with the new button config, never before have you felt more like playing an actual guitar!

50% off Plans at Sprint – Plus a Giveaway for TWO Smartphones!


I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Sprint. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

I’ve really loved being a #SprintMom ambassador this year; I’ve learned a lot about the great devices and services they offer, and have gained even more appreciation for the company. Their latest news, though, has me really impressed!

In celebration of the launch of its new LTE Plus network, Sprint is introducing the biggest wireless offer in U.S. history – 50 percent off the price of most Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile rate plans. This is a great opportunity to try the Sprint network that’s performing better than ever. I love finding good deals, and 50% off a cell phone plan is seriously amazing. This offer is available through January 7, 2016 so don’t miss out! This would be a great gift for a pre-teen or teenager who you’re wanting to get a phone for anyway!

If you decide to take advantage of this and become a new Sprint customer, you can get your new device through Sprint Lease, iPhone Forever, installment billing, or by paying full retail price. You’ll get the 50% off rate until January 2018.

To continue the celebrating, I’m thrilled to be hosting a giveaway for not one, but TWO smart phones from Sprint – that means two of you will each win a great new Sprint phone!

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Talk Around the World with Sprint’s Global Roaming


I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Sprint. I received product to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

The holiday season is upon us, and that means people are traveling now more than any other time of year. Some people are just headed across town; some are going across the country; and some are going around the world.

No matter where you’re traveling this year, chances are you’ll get free unlimited data and text thanks to Sprint’s Global Roaming.  That means you can keep in touch with loved ones without worrying you’ll be too broke to buy Christmas presents! How great is that?


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Sprint LG G4 is a Mom’s Dream SmartPhone: Here’s Why


I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Sprint. I received a Sprint device to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.


I take tons – I mean TONS – of pictures. The advent of the smartphone was a happy day for me, because I love having a camera with me wherever I go. And with the Sprint LG G4, I can have a really amazing camera with me to capture high-quality shots I want. The LG G4 is the first smartphone from Sprint with a total of 24 megapixels of crisp photo clarity – a 16MP rear-facing camera and an 8MP front-facing selfie camera. I can remember a time not long ago when dedicated digital cameras couldn’t provide that quality!

Here are a couple of pics I snapped with my LG G4 – and a couple Brian shot, too, when I gave him the chance to play with it:

Obligatory selfie. The front-facing camera on the G4 takes great pics!

Obligatory selfie. The front-facing camera on the G4 takes great pics!


Lots of wedding magazines. I’m a magazine designer at my day job & have a wedding magazine coming up, so I get to look through wedding magazines for research. Rough part of the job. :)

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VTech Innotab Max Review {and Giveaway!}


Note: We received the Innotab Max to review, and VTech is providing one for the giveaway winner too. All opinions are honest and are those of myself and my family.


Our family loves technology, and our kids are always wanting to play on our phones and tablets. We love the idea of them having a tablet dedicated to their use, so I was really excited to receive the VTech InnoTab MAX to review. Here are a few facts:

  • VTech’s 4th generation kids’ learning tablet features its fastest processor yet with up to six times the processing power of previous generation and a 7” high-resolution multi-touch screen display
  • InnoTab MAX features an enhanced 2nd generation version of Premium VTech Kid Connect™, at no additional charge, allowing children and parents to exchange voice and text messages, photos, drawings and fun stickers in real time between the tablet and a smartphone
  • InnoTab MAX offers the best of both learning worlds with access to more than 650 educator-endorsed, age and stage appropriate learning titles as well as carefully cultivated educational Android apps that can be purchased and downloaded through VTech’s Learning Lodge® app store
  • The tablet comes with 15 onboard apps including Premium VTech® Kid Connect, My Magic Beanstalk, Movie Maker, Art Studio, Wonder Cam Max, E-Reader with Story Dictionary and more
  •  InnoTab MAX also comes with one free Toca Boca app and two additional free apps that can be downloaded from the Learning Lodge
  • Other InnoTab MAX features include a built-in rechargeable Lithium battery and kid-safe Wi-Fi so kids can explore appropriate online games, videos and websites that have been pre-selected by VTech
  • Parental controls allow parents to manage their child’s apps, web access and tablet time, as well as view a progress log

As you can see, this is a highly functional tablet with kid-friendly (and parent-friendly) features!


We love that the InnoTab Max comes with a removable cover and that it has a handle built right in! This makes it easy for transporting and helps protect the screen. There’s a stylus included, too, that you can tether to the tablet – no worrying about it getting lost! The cover also serves as a stand, making it easy for kids to prop it up and play.



The InnoTab MAX has a home screen with icons just like my kids are used to from our tablets, and they were easily and intuitively able to navigate their way around, finding the camera, art app, and fun (& educational) games that Brian and I downloaded.



They love the camera feature, and since the lens can rotate around 180 degrees it’s easy for them to take photos of their favorite toys, then flip the lens around for a selfie.


As a parent, I love that we can control what they do and how much time they spend on the tablet; I love that the games have an educational aspect to them, and I love the e-book selection to help foster a love of reading. This is a durable, versatile tablet that I know we’ll be really glad to have; I actually think it won’t be long before our two-year-old, E, lays her claim on the InnoTab MAX!

You can find it on Amazon and at many other retailers; its MSRP is $109.99 – really affordable for a tablet!

Oh, and did I mention that you now have the chance to win one of your very own, just in time for Christmas – this will make someone very happy to find it under the tree!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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!

Ahoy Portal Mateys!



“Talk Like a Pirate Day” is even more fun when you bring Skylanders into it! Arrrghhhh, Cap’n!