My husband has a smart phone. The HTC 8x. It’s about time. #Troop8X #HTC8

htc 8x phone

My husband has a sweet new smart phone. It’s the brand new  Windows Phone HTC  8x.  Thankfully, it arrived just in time for our Disney trip earlier this month, which gave me a HUGE sense of relief- now, I knew if we got separated, I’d be able to get in touch with him (his work cell is for work and they are not allowed to use it for personal use).  Since this is a brand new phone, I knew I’d love the bells and whistles, and believe me, I’ve played with it, but I thought that having HIS point of view on it might be a refreshing change of pace.  So that’s going to be woven in this post and any future posts I do about this phone.  His one big thing he wants to share is something he says with any touch screen device- big fingers and touch screens are not instant friends.  I think I finally have him set so that he knows to turn things sideways and it’ll be less of an issue with the screen sideways, which makes the font/buttons/images larger.  He gets so frustrated with touch screens because of this but he’s worked past this issue with the HTC 8x already.

The phone, by the way, is super sleek.  VERY thin profile.  Very fashionable.  I love the “blurple” color and no, I do not think that is an official HTC color although it should be.  It’s totally a fun phone to grab out of your pocket.  Having it be so new, people were stopping my husband to comment on it frequently on our trip.  The phone itself is almost rubbery (again, non technical terms) which makes it really easy to hold and not drop, especially when you are multitasking or carrying items. It’s a great feature, especially since this phone is so new, it’s not really easy to find cases and accessories for it!

The HTC 8x is a Windows Phone, something we’ve reviewed a few times previously on this blog- a very, very user-friendly operating system. Jenni and I have both checked out Windows Phones and like us, my husband is loving the graphics and ease of finding the most commonly used features of the phone.

Having a smartphone means that I can almost have access to my husband 24/7.  Which is a double edged sword for ONE of us, although I won’t say who.  I can text him and more importantly, send him pictures he can see almost immediately if there’s something going on with the kids or the house and he’s not able to be here with us.  I can send a picture when some “thingy” on the washing machine looks funny, and he’s able to give me guidance (or laugh) without having to leave work to help. I have sent him photos of the kids’ activities when he wasn’t able to join us, and while it isn’t the same as being with them, at least he can share in it a little.

Being able to access the internet for weather, directions, sharing information, is such a convenience for so many of us with smartphones– I’d almost forgotten how much I rely on my phone until Mr. Bargains got his.  He’s still new to the “I’ll check it on my phone” thing.  But he’s catching on, and fast.  I’m pretty sure his favorite thing is being able to see when UCONN basketball will be playing their next game and what channel it will air on but maybe I’m wrong.

Speaking of game times, and personal interests, one of the COOLEST features of this phone is the many ways you can customize it.  Sure, there’s the standard wallpapers, and all, but you can really have some fun and give this phone YOUR personal touch in a lot of fun ways. Check this video to see how:

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, HTC.

Next time I post, I’m going to share with you the AWESOME camera on this phone.  It BLEW the photos on my iPhone 4 away! I was very (pleasantly) surprised.

Some content and/or other value provided by our partner, HTC.  A phone was provided with a promotional item to facilitate this review.  Opinions are our own.


my-Ditto saved our bathroom. It’ll save our files, too.

my-ditto 1tbWe have been remodeling our only full bathroom this summer.  I can’t tell you how many places we have images and installation files store- flash drives, emails, hard drives- it’s all in several places, because my husband and I found ideas or suggestions at different times, and keeping track of everything was a nightmare for us.  The photos I loved- I couldn’t find them. They’d be on his flash drive with him at work, or he’d want something and it was here at the house- but I wasn’t home.  No way to access our information easily.  Not at all.  We got lucky and were sent a my-Ditto NAS  1 TB Network Attached Storage Solution- 2 Bay, 1 Drive from Dane-Electric.  Problem(s) solved.  We each have a key, and we can share back and forth whenever, wherever.  Marvelous.

my-ditto nas 1tb

my-Ditto offers consumers a way to safely store, organize and share digital files, including documents, photos and videos.  Once your digital files is on the my-Ditto, you can access it just about anywhere using your key.  You can access your my-Ditto files from just about anywhere.  You simply plug in your USB key (provided with your device) and voila.  Access.

Getting your my-Ditto going is beyond simple.  You simply plug it into an outlet (I always recommend a surge protector) and then plug it into your router.  Turn it on.  Now it’s set to go.  It’s that simple.  You get 2 USB keys with purchase  with the unit I received- a master key and a universal my-Ditto key.  More keys are available for purchase for $11.98/2 pack.  Having all of your files saved and protected is marvelous- being able to access them wherever you are is amazing.

I keep thinking of more ways people can benefit from this- aside from convenience- people with medical issues can access records in just seconds, share test results with family, important family documents are able to be preserved and shared, parents of kids with allergies can access potentially life-saving information in just a few seconds to send along to schools and groups, kids who forget their printed assignments can still access them and not have late penalties…the list goes on.  We definitely used this to be able to share and access decor ideas and tips on what products to use when planning and doing the bathroom- but I think that we’ll be using the my-Ditto to share important documents about my father’s health and his care, especially as we’re facing the reality of him going to the memory care wing of his assisted living facility in the very near future.  With 5 of us weighing in on decisions, it’s nice to be able to share and update and having all of his information just a few moments away is going to be a great thing for each of us to have access too.

1TB Network Attached Storage Solution – 2-Bay, 1 Drive my-Ditto NAS Device ($269.99 retail)

  • Backup, Access and Share all of your Digital Files
  • Access files from anywhere in the world through the lightweight and easy-to-use my-Ditto enabled USB key or Mobile Apps
  • Set up my-Ditto in less than 5 mins with simple 3 step setup
  • Add an additional drive for Raid 1 Redundancy in the event of a drive failure
  • Automated Backup of your Windows/Mac/Linux PC’s
  • Secure AES 256-Bit encrypted login

I used to think our external hard drive was the bees knees.  Now I’m in love with my-Ditto and all that it offers!! Access on the go!! The holidays are coming, this would make a GREAT gift for someone!


I received a sample of this product to facilitate my review.  Opinions are my own.

Playskool’s Let’s Rock! Cookie Monster and Let’s Rock! Strummin’ Ernie Toys

Is your little one a fan of Sesame Street?  My daughter, Savannah, just loves this show, especially when Elmo, Zoey and Cookie Monster appear on the screen.  Since welcoming Savannah in 2010, I have been exposed to shows and toys that were a big part of my childhood and which I have fond memories off.  So, when she began watching Sesame Street and enjoying it as much as I did when I was little, I couldn’t help but smile.  And, when it comes to Sesame Street merchandise, I can’t get over what is available nowadays, compared to 20+ years ago.  All the new toys on the market are so technologically advanced, in their ability to interact with other toys, as well as all the features they offer.  I remember having a doll that you could crank her hand to make her hair grow and get shorter.  And, as a little girl, I thought this was amazing.

A few weeks ago, I was sent Playskool’s Let Rock! Singin’ Cookie Monster and Let’s Rock! Strummin’ Ernie dolls to review with Savannah.  As soon as I took them out of the box, she ran over and began asking for “Cookie” and “Ernie.”  I still can’t get over how she knows the characters by name and can point them out when she sees them in books, on television and when she sees them in stores.  Being the first grandchild, my parents spoiled her this past Christmas with everything Elmo.  They bought everything they could find Elmo, except for the Let’s Rock! Elmo toy, which was a hot holiday item and was sold out at the time.  Fast forward a few months later, and Let’s Rock Elmo toy is now part of her collection, as are the Let’s Rock Ernie and Cookie Monster dolls.  Did you know that if you put each of the characters next to the Let’s Rock! Elmo doll, they will rock out together (Note: You can only pair Elmo and Ernie or Elmo and Cookie Monster together to interact together —  It doesn’t work if you try to have all three rock out together).
The LET’S ROCK! Strummin’ Ernie doll stands 12 inches tall, comes with a guitar, and sings and rocks out to “Old McDonald.”  As for PLAYSKOOL’s LET’S ROCK! Singin’ Cookie Monster, he is also 12 inches in height, but comes with a microphone, in which he sings into.  When you push Cookie Monster’s hand, holding the microphone towards his mouth, he begins to sing.  The closer you put the microphone to his mouth, the louder he sings.
When paired with Elmo (check out our review of Let’s Rock! Elmo), the Let’s Rock! Cookie Monster doll sings, “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” and Elmo chimes in with “Clap your hands!”  The first time Savannah saw the two characters interacting together, she didn’t know what to think?  She gave me a puzzled look, like how can this be.  But, that didn’t stop her from jumping around and clapping her hands in excitement.  She loved having an instant rock band in the house, and even joined in with her musical instruments.  By adding these two Let’s Rock! dolls with her Let’s Rock! Elmo doll, it has brought a new level of fun and excitement to playtime.  When Elmo tells her to clap her hands, she does with a smile and laugh.  And, when Ernie sings about the animals on Old McDonald’s farm, she can’t help but laugh at their sounds.  I am loving watching her play with these toys from Playskool, and seeing her get into the song and dance.  I can’t think of any other toys that she has that get her moving and grooving like these dolls do.

The only negative thing that I can think about regarding these two Playskool Let’s Rock! dolls is that unlike the Let’s Rock! Elmo doll, they are smaller in size.  And, you have to continually push the microphone towards Cookie Monster’s mouth, and the strum the guitar of Ernie with his hand, in order for the music to continually play.  Savannah has a hard time getting the Ernie doll to sing and play the guitar as you really need to pull down on his hand, making sure he rubs against the plastic guitar. It took me a few demonstrations in order to show her how to make these two characters come to life.  But, once she got the hang of it, it got easier over time.  I am surprised at how well she has taken to these new Let’s Rock! dolls from Playskool, as she brings them wherever she goes.  I am guessing this is because she likes the smaller size, making them easier to carry around.  There were a few instances when she had the microphone right up to Cookie Monster’s mouth and he sang really loud, startling her.  But, I told her to keep the microphone at a distance to lower the volume of the singing, which made a big difference.

Did you get your little one a Let’s Rock Elmo doll this past holiday?  If you did and don’t have the Let’s Rock! Cookie Monster and the LET’S ROCK! Strummin’ Ernie dolls, why not surprise them this Easter with these two toys.  At only $19.99 each, if purchased from either Playskool’s online store, or, they would make for an affordable holiday gift.  Here are just a few photos of Savannah interacting with her two Sesame Street pals.

So, what are you waiting for?  Head on over to the Playskool website today and order these cute toys, to get in time for Easter.  In addition to ordering online, you can also buy them at Toys R Us and other major retailers.



Click here to order the Let’s Rock! Cookie Monster  or LET’S ROCK! Strummin’ Ernie toys directly from Playskool’s online store, for only $19.99 each.

Disclosure:  I was sent samples from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

Virgin Mobile for your cellular (and beyond!) needs #Giveaway

HTC Wildfire SIt’s been almost a year since I was first introduced to Virgin Mobile.  It was love at first sight, when my Samsung Intercept first arrived at my door, and I was (at long last) included in the world of smartphones.  Smartphones with affordable plans, and no contracts.  No commitment.  That’s what I love about Virgin Mobile.  They save me money.  Us, really.  We were paying just under$55.00 a month for my phone with our old provider- that was with zero data, and450 talk minutes (plus free nights and weekends)- I did pay $5 extra each month for texting.  But that had limits too.  With Virgin Mobile, I get 1250 talk minutes, plus unlimited messaging and data.  I have no contract.  I love it.

I have a new phone, although this time, Mr. Bargains tested it out…for the most part.  He’s still without a smartphone (work provides his cell but they don’t do data or anything).  Virgin Mobile sent us the HTC Wildfire S for review.  He used it for a month and now I’ve taken it over.

I find this phone to be  easy to use, very receptive touch screen, LOVE the flash (I haven’t ever had that on a phone before!  Nor have I had a 5 megapixel camera on a phone) and so many other cool apps available from Android marketplace.  My husband liked the phone well enough but has large  hands and gets very frustrated with touch screens (he hates my tablet for the same reason).  He liked the features, especially the ability to create different sounds for anything “incoming” like ringtones, texts, emails, calendar notifications, etc).  He just got frustrated because he felt like he couldn’t enter anything into the phone due to his hands being large.   [click to continue…]

Furreal Friends: Cookie My Playful Pup makes a great gift!!

Oh, how my six year old longs for a pet, of her very own, that she can keep in her room at all times. She is forever asking us for a pet dog, a pup, a fish of her own, a bird…the actual pet changes daily, but the request is the same. We have a dog, a cat and fish, and aren’t going to be adding any more creatures to our mix at the moment, but when my girl and I came across Cookie My Playful Pup from Furreal Friends in an advertising circular one day, we knew this was going to be a great compromise. Sure, it isn’t quite the same as a real, live pet, but Cookie also won’t have any “business” that may end up on the floor, or scratch furniture or floors with her nails. She doesn’t eat much (except probably batteries over time…haha) at all and sits nice and still when you pet her or want to put her hair into “pony” tails. Yes, we’ve tried it.  It isn’t pretty but my kid is semi-obsessed with putting pony tails with teeny tiny elastics into anything remotely resembling hair!!Its kind of like the perfect compromise for parents of young children who are begging for a pet of their own and are not able to have one for whatever reason!!
Another bonus? No allergies!!

Cookie interacts with your child (or you. Its very likely that you yourself will enjoy playing with Cookie), and that makes her even more appealing at least to the 6 year olds I know…especially my daughter!  I find the entire Furreal Friends line to be so much fun, and so engaging for little ones- last year, we got to meet Lulu, over the summer by oldest brought a Bunny into the house, and now we have Cookie. The lifelike resemblance of the animals’ movements and sounds is simply awesome.  I can’t even imagine how much I’d have screamed in delight had someone gotten me Cookie for Christmas!!  [click to continue…]

VTech Innotab Game Deals

If you have an Innotab, (check out Jenni’s review of the Innotab) then check out these great deals on Innotab cartridge softwares! These are great stocking stuffers for kids.

Right now, Amazon has the Vtech – InnoTab Software – Cars 2 for just $14.99. A 40% Off its list price of $24.99, Vtech is selling this for also $24.99 so better grab this deal at Amazon to save some extra dollar$.

If you want to know more about Innotab, click here and read our review.

Other Innotab cardtridges are also on sale for 20% off at Amazon:

To receive savings on shipping fees, take advantage of Free Super Saver Shipping for orders over $25 or be an Amazon Mom or an and get FREE Two-Day Shipping.



Windows Phone Samsung Focus™ Flash #Giveaway

I am an admitted smartphone junkie.  I love having a phone that lets me stay connected whenever I want.  Being a social media person, I check email frequently thoroughout the day, and often need to “check in” in different places for different reasons.  A phone I have recently had the chance to try out is the Samsung Focus™ Flash, which is a Windows based phone preloaded with lots of fun and features.   I like the look of this phone, and honestly of all the smartphones I’ve tried to date, this is one of my favorites, and most user friendly out-of-the-box.   I like gadgets but I like someone to just have it 100% ready to go for me.  Once my service was activated, setting up all of my accounts and sync options was super simple.  The screen is a nice size, and the phone fits easily into my hand- things that make me happy.  I like the colors and the screen isn’t super glare-y.  (Yes, that’s right…that IS a technical term.  In my world anyway!)

With a Windows Phone, navigating the holidays has never been easier. The only phone with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn built in, Windows Phones are a perfect fit for the holidays, making it easy to connect and share with the people who matter, whether you’re organizing holiday travel, picking out gifts or just saying happy holidays – no app required. Plus, with features like Local Scout, you can find your favorite shopping hot spots nearby – wherever you are.


I really like the affordability of this phone.  $49.99 right now at AT& plus a free $25 prepaid APP card with purchase.  That’s a pretty affordable phone, and who doesn’t love freebies with purchase?  [click to continue…]

Kinect Sensor with 3 games for $99!

kinect sensor bundleWe’re a Playstation  Wii household, but if we had an Xbox 360 and actually used it (ours is in the box), I would be jumping for this deal! Amazon currently has the Kinect Sensor bundle which comes with the Kinect Sensor, the game “Kinect Adventures!”, and token codes for downloadable versions of “Gunstringer” and “Fruit Ninja Kinect” all for only $99.99! This is an amazing deal that won’t last long. Don’t forget, shipping is free (and sometimes tax-free too!). The price on this deal has been fluctuating so if the price goes back up, just check it a little later to see if it goes back down to $99.99 (it has been bouncing back and forth). Thanks Freebie Spot!

Striiv: Personal Fitness Technology that lets you give back

I’ve been lucky enough to have a Striiv to play with- and keep track of my physical activity lately.  What is a Striiv?  A personal fitness technology device.  It’s kind of like a pedometer but includes walking based games to motivate (which I am never finding for myself), and donations to charity with every step taken.  Yes, your daily walks not only do YOU some good, but also do good for others.


The Striiv is tiny.  Smaller than a credit card (thicker, though) and can slip right onto your keychain.  There’s a lot of cool incorporated into the tiny size, and if you have a techy person on your holiday list, or an exercise buff, this is most definitely an item you want to consider putting under the tree for them!!  You – or they- or you can all- get fit AND give back!! That’s a win for everyone! [click to continue…]