Today I am sharing some of my favorite things that I am loving. From technology to meal planning to sweet muscat wine – here are a few of my favorite things.
I made a video over on our YouTube channel featuring things that I am loving (you can watch below) – I thought I would share with your here on the blog as well. Let’s get into it!
Carrie Elle Meal Planner
Carrie is a friend of mine that I met thru blogging. Funny story, when we met, we found out we lived just a few miles apart, in the same neighborhood. While we are no longer neighbors, we do lunch often and I always love hearing what she is designing next.
So my gal Carrie not only blogs (see CarrieElle.com) – she has a line of planners called Carrie Elle Planners. Keep reading, she is giving away one to a lucky reader! Her planners range from life to teaching to what I am sharing with you – her Carrie Elle Meal Planner. This planner has been a game changer in meal planning for our family.
First, you should know I AM NOT A PLANNER. When Carrie kindly gifted me a planner earlier this year, I thought – are you sure we are friends? Don’t you know that I DO NOT PLAN MUCH IN LIFE? But alas, maybe she had an intervention in mind or something. Whatever it was, it worked. I now live by meal planning.
Meal Planner Features
WIth 4 kids, our life is a wee bit cray-cray. You can view the complete review of the Carrie Elle Meal Planner in the video below, or here are a few highlights of things that I love about it and why it’s one of my favorite things. These features are on her new designs.
12 monthly calendar pages (blank) for those of you who like to meal plan a month at a time
60 weekly meal planning pages, with a place to plan out meals for the week and a place to write your grocery list. The pages are perforated so you can rip off the grocery list to take with you to the store, and stick the menu for the week on the fridge (although some people like to keep the menu in their planner to refer to later)! There is also enough room for most people to write out breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each day.
10-holiday meal/dinner party planning pages, with space to plan the meals (and even supplies you need to buy) and a place to write your shopping list. The pages are perforated so you can rip off the grocery list to take with you to the store, and stick the menu for the dinner on the fridge.
10 lined pages at the back of the book for notes/recipes/helpful websites
Space to keep track of your favorite meal planning resources
Freezer Inventory sheets
Pantry Inventory sheets
Pantry Inventory sheets
Double-sided pocket folder (keep your recipes, grocery store flyers, and coupons here
KEEP READING! We Have a Meal Planner AND Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!
Kindle Fire 7
So here is the deal. I had a Kindle Fire 7, loved it. Some mean person stole it, with my credit cards when in Washington DC on a road trip. It was a crappy experience, but after not having the Kindle Fire 7 – after having a Kindle Fire 7 – it was missed enough for me to replace.
While my primary use of the Kindle Fire 7 is for reading, you do have the ability to install various apps from the app store. But again, my main use for this is reading. It’s a perfect size, and hello – it’s yellow!
As I mentioned in the video, I purchased the Special Offers Kindle FIre and have zero regrets. It was cheaper and the ads are non-intrusive. So if you are debating on going with the special offers kindle vs no ads, if the savings is worth it to you – the ads are not overly annoying or anything!
Kindle Fire Stats
Here are the stats on the Kindle Fire 7:
The next generation of our best-selling Fire tablet ever – now thinner, lighter, and with longer battery life and an improved display. More durable than the latest iPad.
Beautiful 7″ IPS display with higher contrast and sharper text, a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, and up to 8 hours of battery life. 8 or 16 GB of internal storage and a microSD slot for up to 256 GB of expandable storage.
Now with Alexa, for quick access to the information and entertainment you want. Ask questions, play music, check your calendar, get the news, weather, and more – just press the home button and ask.
Enjoy millions of movies, TV shows, songs, Kindle eBooks, apps and games – including Netflix, Facebook, HBO, Spotify, and more
Prime members get unlimited access to over a thousand books and magazines, millions of songs, and thousands of movies and TV episodes – at no additional cost
Watch downloaded videos anywhere with a Prime membership, Netflix plan, or Showtime subscription
Enhance your entertainment experience with features you only get from Amazon, including ASAP, X-Ray, On Deck, Blue Shade, and FreeTime Parental Controls
If you need a good family game that injects a little humor – EXPLODING KITTENS is it. This card game was created by the dude who started The Oatmeal (Matthew Inman) and 2 other dudes who worked for Xbox (Elan Lee and Shane Small).
Exploding Kittens first launched on Kickstarter and was at one time the most-backed Kickstarter project ever. Here is how the game is described per the back of the box:
The game is a highly-strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette. Players draw cards until someone draws an Exploding Kitten, at which point they explode, they are dead, and they are out of the game. UNLESS that player has a Defuse card, which can defuse the kitten using things like laser pointers, belly rubs, and catnip sandwiches. All of the other cards in the deck are used to move, mitigate, or avoid the Exploding Kittens.
Exploding Kittens is perfect for ages 7+ and 2-10 players. We play with our 6-year-old, but we typically play in teams to make it a little fairer for him (and to help reduce meltdowns when he loses.)
We spent last weekend in the Texas Hill Country, wine tasting for my birthday. It was amazing and my favorite part – finding a new fave wine! I love my Texas Hills Vineyard Orange Moscato, but I think I may like this one a little more.
If you are a super sweet white wine lover – try the Woodrose Winery Sweet Muscat. It is delish and pairs well with cheese and crackers (duh.)
As mentioned in the video, I’ve been a Young Living distributor for the last 3 years. Love me some essential oils. We use the diffuser daily in both our office and in the bedrooms. You can learn more about Young Living Essential Oils here.
While my favorite manicure is NextGen, I just don’t have time to go to the nail salon and keep them up. I bought Sally Henson Miracle Gel nail polish and am impressed. While it doesn’t make me paint my nails any better – it stays on a lot longer than a normal manicure!
This is my favorite nail painting meme. I suck at painting nails.
Carrie Elle Meal Planner & $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway
Carrie is giving away a Carrie Elle Meal Planner to a Digital Mom Blog friend and we are throwing in a $25 Amazon gift card so that you can buy something that is hopefully one of YOUR favorite things! Enter below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on November 20, 2017.
Ataribox – sound familiar? Yes, the old school Atari is making a comeback. Our kids could soon be bugging us to buy them an Atari – but don’t worry, this isn’t the Atari of the 80’s!
Launching this Fall on Indiegogo, the Ataribox is positioning itself as a PC like gaming experience, but it will come pre-loaded several of the old school Atari games that we grew up playing.
Meet the Ataribox
Get ready for some old school Atari, well kind of. The Ataribox may feel like the Atari 2600 – but with a modern design. Get this, the team at Atari is making an Ataribox WOOD EDITION – which is made of real wood.
Ataribox will be powered by an AMD customized processor, with Radeon Graphics technology. It’ll run Linux, with a customized, easy-to-use user interface. That said, Ataribox is also a full PC experience for the TV. It will offer streaming, applications, social, browsing, music, and more. This device will let you play old school games that will come pre-loaded but is also set up to play new titles as well. The studio will soon be releasing more info on the new games soon.
Since most TV devices have closed systems and content stores – Linux will allow a more open system. You will be able to access and customise the OS, games you’ve bought from other content platforms and more.
How Much Is This Going To Cost Me
First and foremost, if you want to get in on this new Atari game action, you will want to pre-order on Indiegogo. No launch date has been set for the Indiegogo campaign, but we hear that it will be very soon. We’ll make sure to share the news on social media when we get the green light that the pre-order is live.
The expected price range is $249-$299 – depending on what edition and memory configurations you order.
When Does the Ataribox Ship?
The plan is to ship late Spring 2018, so yes – you will have to do some waiting.
You can join the waitlist now, but until the Ataribox launch, go ahead and order you that old school Atari shirt 🙂 Available at Amazon
We finally did it – we GOT RID OF CABLE TV! The cord is cut! The last year has really had us thinking, do we need cable? But alas, we were stuck in a contract and it wasn’t worth us breaking it. Our contract ended in early December, and after quickly realizing that if we wanted to continue with the bundle service we had, we would have to pay around $60 more a month for the EXACT service/equipment – we didn’t hesitate to cancel cable TV.
Yay! Cable-free and we have an extra $60 in our pocket each month. Take it we have been subscribing to Netflix, Hulu, Feeln and Amazon Prime (try free for 30 days) for the last few years – so I don’t count that as additional money that we are spending. So now that we’ve been without cable for a month, what do we think? For the most part, we love it. BUT that said, we have learned several things that we just didn’t think about or know before we cut the cord.
5 Things To Know Before You Get Rid of Cable TV
1. Buy a Clock!
So, what we didn’t think about as we were packing up our old cable tv boxes was that we relied on the clock on the box way more than we realized. It’s bright and you can see the clock from across the room and in the dark. We liked it so much, we bought 1 for our bedroom and another for our family room.
Today’s antennas are nothing like the antennas of yesterdays! There is no tilting a huge antenna various ways to get channels. We bought 2 flat antennas (though if we want WFAA, channel 8 here in Dallas with an antenna, we do need to purchase a UHF antenna — not a big deal though!). We are able to pick up around 20 channels – and it’s all digital so the picture is just as good as you would have with a cable tv box.
Here are the 2 antennas we purchased. I had bought 1 on Amazon and then another was an impulse purchase at Best Buy. Both work great!
This is the Homeworx HW110AN Super Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna ($7.78). The reception is fine with this antenna. Remember that where you place the antenna will also determine your reception. We had this on our family room TV and everything was fine and dandy. I purchased the RCA HDTV antenna ($15.78) below and since it’s a cleaner design put it in the family room. When I moved the Homeworx antenna to our bedroom, I am not getting all of the channels — it’s due to the location of the television/antenna. The family room has 3 large windows that our TV is next to. We just have 1 bedroom window, and the TVs isn’t close to it.
I do like that it’s a nice slick design! I will say that if you are missing local channels – you may need to purchase a UHF antenna. This is something we haven’t done yet since there is only one main local channel that we don’t get.
Heads up DALLAS – FT. WORTH people – if you are trying to get WFAA ABC Channel 8 on your antenna but having problems, you may need to buy a UHF antenna. (Think rabbit ears.)
3. Network Television is JUST as Bad as Cable TV
So with cable tv, when we did watch TV – it was mostly HGTV, Food Network or Discovery Channel (or Sprout, Disney Channel or Nick JR.) While yes, occasionally there was something questionable – overall on those channels the shows were family friendly. Fast forward to network TV — oy vey.
From TMZ talking about a man with two male parts to Divorce Court where they are discussing threesomes… I have had to turn the TV channel way more than I ever expected. (I will say, I love PBS programming. During the morning and afternoon hours, they offer plenty of kids programming.)
4. Amazon Fire TV is Amazing
We have smart TVs, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, xBox 360 and an xBox One. Of all of these smart streaming devices, Amazon Fire TV (read our Amazon Fire TV review) outranks them all. Why? For some reason we get WAY less lag when streaming video from Amazon Fire TV. This is true with not only Amazon Prime, but Netflix as well. Second, TETRIS. Sorry, but I love Tetris and don’t tell the kids but I lay in bed and play this stupid game way too much when I really should be sleeping. Yes kids, no screens in the bedroom – except mom and dad’s (which we really should get rid of, because sleep…)
5. Dish Sling TV
While yes, we are loving not having to pay for cable – I will say after hearing the announcement of Sling TV – I am in! For $20 a month – Dish Network, the satellite provider is offering a service called Sling TV. What is Sling TV? For $20 a month yes, twenty dollars you get access to a lineup of cable tv networks that includes TNT, TBS, CNN, Food Network, HGTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, the Disney Channel, ESPN, and ESPN2. The service launches first quarter 2014.
I was able to demo Sling TV by Dish Network at CES 2015 this year. I have to say, the interface is slick. I was able to choose the channel I wanted to watch, it displayed the show. While the options were limited, it’s only $20 a month – you can’t expect everything cable provided you! Here is a demo of Sling TV:
There is also talk of being able to purchase add on content, say kids networks for an additional fee. The best part is there is NO contract and NO commitment. Sling TV doesn’t require dedicated equipment – it uses any of the following devices:
Mosquitoes need to just die. No like seriously. There is nothing worse than being eaten alive with mosquito bites.
We live on a few acres of land and a few weeks ago, the mosquitoes and I had a falling out. They won. 25+ bites all over my legs. It was NOT a pretty sight and the pain, itching – no, just NO!
Apparently my fussing made it’s way to Dynatrap. They emailed and offered to send a Dynatrap XL for us to review and see if we can decrease the mosquito population in our backyard. While I am focusing on mosquitoes most in this post (because they are the most evil and annoying) – this trap is an insect trap and will catch an array of other flying insects.
Dynatrap XL Review – Chemical Free Mosquito Killer!
Let me just say, I HATE chemicals. Yes, sometimes they are necessary – but if I can I avoid chemicals at all costs. This is one thing that totally made me excited about the Dynatrap mosquito trap. Dynatrap is a chemical free mosquito killer (okay chemical free mosquito trap but I like killer because it KILLS THEM.) No pesticides, no chemicals, odor free and SILENT. You don’t have to hear the mosquitos die!
Dynatrap sent us the Dynatrap XL. They offer a variety of mosquito traps – depending on the size lot you are trying to cover. Our home sits on 2 acres, but our living area is around 3/4 acre. (You can read here about us moving to the country.) The Dynatrap insect trap protects up to 1 acre of land. It’s all-weather construction, so even when we get a random Texas thunderstorm it’s fine. It is pesticide free and odor free. You don’t have to hear a zapping or buzzing sound like the old mosquito killers. Also, there is no expensive attractant or propane require to run it, you just need an electric plug and possibly a good extension cord.
How Does Dynatrap Work?
Dynatrap attract, trap and kill flying insects including mosquitoes, biting flies, Asian beetles, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, moths, stink bugs and more! Here is how Dynatrap works.
This insect trap is engineered for 3-way protection. This technology kills the mosquitoes!
EMITS UV LIGHT
First, a UV fluorescent bulb generates a warm light, attracting insects.
ATTRACTS WITH CO2
Then a second lure, an exclusive Ti02 titanium dioxide-coated surface, produces CO2 (the same gas we emit when we exhale) that’s irresistible to mosquitoes.
VACUUMS INTO CAGE
Third, a powerful, yet whisper-quiet vacuum fan sucks insects into the retaining cage where they dehydrate and die.
How to Use Dynatrap
Dynatrap is super easy to use.
First, you hang your Dynatrap 3 to 6 feet off of the ground and 20 to 30 feet away from your outdoor living space.
We have our’s hung on a small pool storage house in our backyard.
RUN 24/7 DURING MOSQUITO SEASON
DynaTraps start working immediately to disrupt the mosquito life-cycle with maximum impact in 6-8 weeks. We have had our Dynatrap running for 2 weeks and have had a SIGNIFICANT downturn in mosquitoes. I haven’t had a mosquito bite in the last week. I’m typically in the yard 4-5 nights a week, working or playing with the kids. I’m totally impressed with the lack of flying bugs.
EASY TO MAINTAIN
Simply empty DynaTrap every 1-2 weeks and replace bulbs every 4 months or 3,000 hours. The dead bugs fall into the bottom of the Dynatrap and need disposal. I let my husband do this part.
What We Think!
I have to admit, when I read some reviews I saw that the Dynatrap was catching a lot of moths but no mosquitoes. I want the MOSQUITOES DEAD, so was worried that this would be a total dud.
After 2 weeks, I can honestly saw I am totally impressed in the reduction of the mosquito population in our backyard. I want one of these for our back pasture to totally eliminate all flying insects from our property – but for now, the Dynatrap XL is doing it’s job in our back yard and for that I am pleased. Yes, this does catch a LOT of moths but give it time to do it’s job. We are hosting a party next weekend so am hoping for even less flying insects in our yard by then!
What I wish it did was kill spiders and snakes, a girl can dream.
Here are a few things I’ve learned in regards to mosquitoes.
Males Don’t Bite!
Did you know that male mosquitoes don’t bite? Crazy huh – it’s the females that are evil.
What Attracts Mosquitoes
WATER. Make sure to eliminate ALL water sources.
How Long Do Mosquitoes Live?
Mosquitoes life cycle is around 3 months. That’s if you don’t kill them or if Dynatrap doesn’t trap them! Did you know that a female mosquito can have up to 3,000 offspring in the 3 months she is alive? 3,000!
Home Remedies for Mosquito Bites
Looking for home remedies for mosquito bites? Here are a few suggestions:
I’m an essential oils junkie so love to use lavender and purification from Young Living on my bites.
Chill aloe vera gel in the refrigerator (10-15 minutes should do) – than run on the affected area.
Toothpaste can reduce mosquito bug bite itching! Just put a dab on the mosquito bite for relief!
Genetically Modified Mosquitoes
Because I nerd out on science, thought I would share with you a little about genetically modified mosquitoes. Did you know that Google has a bio-lab that is trying to shrink the population of mosquitoes that carry life-threatening diseases by releasing 20 million bacteria-filled mosquitoes. Learn more about Debug Fresno in the video below:
There you have it folks. Our Dynatrap XL review. Hoping that this provides you with a solution to your backyard mosquito problems!
The Sphero Ultimate Lightning McQueen Car arrived on our doorstep last week and OMG you have to see this thing.
So parents, I don’t know about you – but we are in mid-Summer FUNK. The kids are fighting non-stop. I could totally use a full-time nanny, but alas the budget just isn’t quite there so alas, they are home with us. Sure, we try to keep the kids busy – but with 4 kids going in 4 different directions it’s hard. On top of all of that, we live in Texas where it’s 100 degree outside.
Last week our doorbell rang. Nothing unusual about that, but what was unusual was getting an unexpected package – and it couldn’t have arrived at a better time! I saw the imprint on the box and knew this would be something for the kids to open.
Low and behold, Sphero had surprised us with their new Ultimate Lightning McQueen car. You know, LIGHTNING MCQUEEN from CARS – THAT LIGHTNING MCQUEEN but as a remote control car like you’ve never seen.
Sphero Ultimate Lightning McQueen Toy Review
I had seen a few mentions of the Sphero Lightning McQueen but had not played with it. Let me just say this thing is AMAZING. The first few days, let’s just say I may have played with it more than the kids – only because I kept telling them MY NAME WAS ON THE BOX NOT THEIR’S. I know, bad mom – but they watched in wonder and waited impatiently for their turn to play.
Let me just say this. Pixar’s Cars franchise has been a long time favorite in our house. Cars 1, Cars 2 and Cars 3 are all favorites of our 4 kids. Lightning McQueen is one of those unforgettable characters so it’s so cool to have this toy that so much resembles him. Sphero worked with the team at Pixar to make sure that this toy was on-point with the on-screen character that we all know and love. They nailed it. From the car’s body to the Lightning McQueen’s voice to what he says – it is spot on.
Ultimate Lightning McQueen Features
I don’t know where to start with the features on the Ultimate Lightning McQueen – so I’ll just start listing them.
This isn’t your average remote control car. This car is like nothing I’ve ever seen (did I mention that?) For real though. Sphero has put crazy detail into making the Ultimate Lightning McQueen car into a one-of-a-kind device. It features crazy things like you can drift while driving, emoting through suspension and expressive eyes. This product is packed with crazy innovations in robotic technology. If you have a Pixar Car’s fan, then this is a toy you will want to know about.
The first thing I noticed with Lightning was the way her feels. The material used to make this device is soft and rubbery. This isn’t the hard old school plastic of normal remote cars.
Lightning’s windshield is actually an LCD screen featuring animated eyes. They move, they even sleep and are totally expressive.
Touch the Ultimate Lightning McQueen toy car on it’s hood, trunk, sides, or top and he will move. This may have totally freaked me out the first time I grabbed him.
Bluetooth Control via App
Sphero’s Ultimate Lightning McQueen is Bluetooth controlled via the Ultimate Lightning McQueen™ by Sphero app (download here). I’ll get more into the app later.
How Fast and How Far Can McQueen Go?
Ultimate Lightning McQueen can go up to 100 feet and up to 6 miles per hour!
How Long does the Battery Last?
The battery lasts up to 40 minutes.
How Long does it Take to Charge the Battery?
It took us around 1 hour to charge the battery.
Speaking of charging the device – talk about clever. The charge port connects to the gas tank. Priceless.
Lighting comes with a limited 1-year manufacturer warranty.
Ultimate Lightning McQueen™ by Sphero App
The Sphero app behind the car is your remote to this car. The app is free and is available via iTunes or Google Play.
Here is what you will be able to do in the app:
FREE DRIVE With Free Drive you can use the joystick to drift, do donuts and drive Lightning with the driving pad.
Drive by guiding Lightning with the joystick. Long, sweeping motions work best. When Lightning turns around, he will make U-turns. To make Lightning drift while driving, change directions quickly. There are some other awesome ways to have fun driving with Lightning…
Reverse: To drive Lightning in reverse, hold the top button, showing Lightning with an arrow going backward, while using the joystick to drive in the direction you want to go.
Doughnuts: To have Lightning do doughnuts, hold the middle button, showing Lightning sliding, while pushing the joystick to the edge of the puck.
Boost: Give Lightning a boost by holding the bottom button with the arrow while driving with the joystick.
PIT STOP PANIC
Train hard and join the pit crew. Lightning coaches you as you race the clock changing tires, fueling up, and getting racers back on the track.
Direct Lightning McQueen as he prepares to be on camera. Create scripts with your favorite phrases and actions for him to perform.
This feature is TOO COOL. You can watch Disney Pixar’s Cars with Lightning and watch him react to the movie. Select this option with Lightning plugged in to charge, start the movie, and hear all he has to say.
Ultimate Lightning McQueen Storage Case
Looking for a way to store your new car? Check out this custom case!
Not Your Average Remote Control Car
As mentioned, this device is not your typical remote control. Yes, you will pay more for this but Sphero products DO NOT disappoint!
Learn more about Ultimate Lightning McQueen at Sphero
Amazon Echo Look is the newest Echo in Amazon’s line of Echo devices and is our gadget of the week.
Amazon Echo Look Review
If you are into fashion, selfies or just want a digital full-length mirror, meet the Amazon Echo Look. It has all the features of a traditional Amazon Echo with the added benefit of a camera. Let’s give the Amazon Echo Look review and give a lookie to see what this gadget is, how to use it and who will be using it.
See Yourself From Every Angle
Using just your voice, you can easily take full-length photos, short videos with the Echo Look’s hands-free camera.
You can take full-length photos or short videos so you can see a 360-degree view of your outfit. Using the app, you can create a personal lookbook, browse your outfits, and use computer vision-based background blur to make your outfits pop.
Echo Look Camera
The Echo Look’s camera includes a built-in LED lighting, depth-sensing camera, and computer vision-based background blur. You will be able to see yourself from every angle with the companion app.
The Amazon Echo look can be hung on a wall, or can sit on your shelf.
One of the features Amazon Echo Look features that I am hearing a lot about is the Style Check. While this gadget hasn’t launched to the public, just yet – the full deets of what Style Check will do are unknown. The idea is that it’s a new service that combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists.
Echo Look helps you discover new brands and styles inspired by your lookbook.
Style Check keeps your look on point using advanced machine learning algorithms and advice from fashion specialists. Submit two photos for a second opinion on which outfit looks best on you based on fit, color, styling, and current trends. Over time, these decisions get smarter through your feedback and input from our team of experienced fashion specialists.
With rumors of Amazon wanting to get more involved in the clothing industry, this device that merges technology and fashion is a sure fit.
In addition to the camera, Style Check – the Echo Look features all of your favorite Echo features:
Ask Alexa to read the news and audiobooks, set alarms, get traffic and weather updates, control smart home devices, play music, and more
Always getting smarter and adding new features, plus thousands of skills like Starbucks, Fitbit, NPR, and more
Who Will Buy the Echo Look?
Fashion Bloggers and Influencers
The first thing that came to mind when seeing the Amazon Echo Look is #OOTD (outfit of the day.) For anyone who follows anyone in fashion on Instagram, you most likely are familiar with the daily selfies featuring outfits from beauty and fashion influencers. I can see the Echo Look being a great tool for fashion bloggers and influencers.
Teenagers, Selfie Lovers and the Fashion Conscience
My daughter has already asked if I heard about this. I can see teens, selfie lovers and fashion conscience loving this device. It would be super fun to do daily photos of babies with this device as well.
While the focus maybe on fashion, I can see others grasping onto the Echo Look as well. I am surprised Amazon hasn’t used this as a security camera. With the numerous DIY security systems on the market – I can see the Echo Look being open to a larger audience if Amazon had gone this way.