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HP Instant Ink Revolutionizes the Home Printing Experience

Posted on Aug 19, 2014 by No Comments

As an avid paper crafter and a dedicated couponer, I go through quite a bit of printer ink in a typical month. So, I was immediately intrigued when I heard about HP’s new Instant Ink service.

Instead of rushing to Walmart or Staples to buy cartridges whenever you run out of ink, this service offers three different month printing plans, ranging in price from $2.99 to $9.99 per month.

Each page costs the same to print with the Instant Ink service, whether it’s a printed email or a full color photo. So, anyone who does a lot of photo printing for scrapbooking or other paper crafts should find this to be a significant money saver.

HP estimates you can save $672 per year with the $9.99 per month plan, compared to the cost of buying standard HP ink cartridges.

inkThe cartridges that come with the Instant Ink service are extra high capacity. Your printer will automatically request cartridges from the service when it runs low, so you don’t need to worry about remembering to order printer ink.

If you have kids who are regularly printing homework assignments, this is a great way to ensure you don’t have to make any late night runs to buy ink for printing book reports!

Once you sign up for Instant Ink, you can monitor your account online to track your usage and rollover pages. This makes it easy to tell if you’ve selected the right plan for your family’s printing needs.

The only catch is that the Instant Ink service isn’t compatible with every HP printer. So far, only the following HP printers will work:

  • HP Envy 4500 e-All-in-One printer series
  • HP Envy 5530 e-All-in-One printer series
  • HP Officejet 4630 e-All-in-One printer series
  • HP Officejet Pro 6830 e-All-in-One printer series
  • HP Officejet Pro 8610 e-All-in-One printer series
  • HP Officejet Pro 8620 e-All-in-One printer series
  • HP Officejet Pro 8630 e-All-in-One printer series

I wouldn’t recommend buying a new printer just to take advantage of HP’s Instant Ink service, but this is definitely a factor to consider if you’re going to be in the market for a new printer soon.

I have the HP Envy 5530 e-All-in-One printer series, which prints excellent photos and seems to be much quieter than other printers I’ve had in the past. It’s also a Cloud Ready Printer, which means it was very easy to set up so that my son and I could send documents to it from our Chromebooks.

Visit the HP Instant Ink website to learn more or to enroll. You can change or cancel your plan at any time, so there’s no risk to simply trying out the service for a few months to see if it works with your family’s needs.

Disclaimer: An HP Instant Ink trial was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of preparing this review.

Photo credit: HP Instant Ink

A Family in Transition Struggles to Adapt

Posted on Aug 18, 2014 by No Comments

What makes a family? How do we pick ourselves up and move forward when life takes an unexpected turn? The Art of Adapting is a compelling look at the trials and tribulations of a family in transition.

The Art of Adapting tells the story of Lana, Abby, Byron, and Matt. Lana is a newly single mom trying her best to take care of her son Byron and daughter Abby. As teens, Byron and Abby are both struggling to find their place in the world. Matt is Lana’s younger brother. He’s moved into their home after being hospitalized for a drug overdose.

Matt has Asperger’s Syndrome, which makes it hard for him to fit into his new environment. Nevertheless, Matt’s nonjudgmental attitude ends up providing a lifeline for Lana, Byron, and Abby.

He helps Lana see that’s it’s OK to take time to care for herself instead of focusing all her energy on worrying about what others need. He supports Byron’s desire to be an artist despite his father’s instance that Byron’s a natural athlete and provides Abby with encouragement when she’s struggling with an eating disorder.

I found all of the characters in The Art of Adapting to be well developed and likeable, which made for a compelling narrative despite the lack of scenes which could be classified as dramatic in the traditional sense.  I’m not normally a fan of books where the perspective keeps shifting constantly, but the alternating voices in The Art of Adapting give you a unique look at how everyone is connected in this non-traditional family.

The Art of Adapting is author Cassandra Dunn’s debut novel, but I’m already looking forward to reading her next book.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Amazon

Is it Time to Upgrade Your Toothbrush?

Posted on Aug 15, 2014 by No Comments

Did you know that you’re supposed to replace your toothbrush every three months? If you’re overdue for a new toothbrush, consider upgrading your oral care routine with one of the Reach Complete Care Triple Angle toothbrushes.

This new product line features patent-pending Triple Angle bristle technology that maximizes the vertical surface contact between the brush and your teeth to increase plaque removal.

The Complete Care Triple Angle Floss brush has 100% interdental tapered bristles for better reach between your teeth. The Complete Care Triple Angle Pro product has multi-level diamond bristles for a total mouth clean. Both are available with soft, medium, or firm bristles.

Although I didn’t notice much of a difference between the Floss and Pro brushes, I did notice a difference when comparing the Triple Angle (left, straight, and right) bristle technology to an ordinary toothbrush.

Since both my husband and I aren’t nearly as diligent at flossing as we should be, I feel like this product helps make up for some of our shortcomings. (It’s not intended to take the place of flossing completely, however.)

The Reach Complete Care toothbrushes are available in one and two count packs. The suggested retail price is $3.99 for a single toothbrush and $5.99 for the two count value pack. Reach Complete Care toothbrushes can be found nationwide at retailers such as Walgreens, Kroger, Walmart, and Rite-Aid.

If you need a little help remembering the three month toothbrush replacement rule, you can sign up for a text message reminder program at www.reachtoothbrush.com/sms.

Disclaimer: Product samples were provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of preparing this review.

Photo credit: Reach Toothbrush

Green ABCs Makes It Easy to Be Eco-Friendly at School

Posted on Aug 14, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re searching for eco-friendly school supplies for your kids, Green ABCs offers convenient kits for different age groups that offer everything you need in one handy box.

All of the supplies that are included are made from recycled materials, renewable resources, and biodegradable ingredients. Kits can be shipped to your home or directly to your child’s school.

Unfortunately, Green ABCs does not allow you to purchase items individually. I wish they offered this option in addition to the kit purchases, since I know the required supply lists vary widely from school to school.

About half the items on the Middle School (3rd to 5th grade) kit aren’t things my son needs to bring to class, although I can see how we’d use everything if we were a homeschooling family. There is also no option to choose the color of the notebooks or folders and I know several schools in my area require specific colors to be used for each subject the child takes.

Of the three kits that are offered, the High School (6th to 12th grade) kit is actually the one that looks the most universally appropriate. However, none of the kits include the weird items that some schools require — hand sanitizer, tissues, Ziploc bags, or paper plates. So, you may still end up doing some shopping to fill in the gaps.

If you’re a PTA mom, keep in mind that Green ABCs does offer fundraising opportunities where you can create customized supply kits for your school. Depending upon how eco-friendly the parents in your area are, I can see this being a great money-making opportunity. I wouldn’t buy a generic kit for my son, but one that was customized to fit his specific supply list would be a great time saver for me.

What do you think of Green ABCs? Do you like the idea of an all-in-one school supply kit or would you prefer to pick out items individually?

Photo credit: Green ABCs

Use Swap.com to Save on Back to School Shopping

Posted on Aug 13, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re on a tight budget, Swap.com can be used to purchase shoes, school uniforms, backpacks, lunch boxes, and whatever other necessities your child needs for back to school.

Swap.com has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and on ABC.com.

Swap.com offers a full-service shopping experience that’s much like any other online shopping website. People who want to get rid of items send them to Swap.com and the company does the rest. Items are in stock in Swap.com’s Chicago office and will ship in one business day. Shipping is free for your first order.

If you’re not satisfied with your purchase for some reason, Swap.com also offers hassle free returns.

Browsing through Swap.com, I noticed that their prices seemed very reasonable – especially on school uniforms. The size selection for clothing is a little hit and miss, however.  There are also twice as many items listed for girls as there are for boys. I didn’t see a lot that would work for my tall, thin nine-year-old, but I saw lots of cute Gymboree items for his younger female cousins.

If you want to earn a little extra cash for the items your child has outgrown or no longer needs, you can send your stuff to Swap.com to be sold online.

You can also choose to use the items you send to Swap.com as a “currency” for your future purchases. This is a great idea if you don’t have siblings who need hand-me-downs or you simply don’t have the storage space to be keeping extra items until another child needs them. Visit Swap.com’s Seller section to learn more.

Photo credit: Swap.com

A Natural Alternative to Petroleum Jelly

Posted on Aug 13, 2014 by No Comments

Petroleum jelly, the main ingredient in Vaseline and other similar products, is actually a byproduct of oil refining that was first found coating the bottom of oil rigs in the mid-1800s. For those concerned about sustainability, this means that petroleum jelly is as non-eco friendly as it gets.

As far as potentially harmful chemicals go, some of the components removed from oil during the process of refining petroleum jelly are carcinogenic. Vaseline is triple-refined and purified to remove these components, but other brands may not be as pure.

If you love the beauty benefits of petroleum jelly, but want a more natural alternative, Waxelene is a great option to consider. This eco-friendly sustainable petroleum jelly substitute is made from a blend of organic soy oil, beeswax, non-GMO vitamin E oil, and organic rosemary oil.  It contains no parabens and is not tested on animals.

Waxelene_Lip_Balm_Tube_0Waxelene has the same rich texture that petroleum jelly is known for and can be used in just the same way. For example:

  • Use a dab in your hair to prevent flyaways or to moisturize split ends.
  • Use it to control unruly eyebrows.
  • Soften sharp cuticles.
  • Use to remove mascara and dark eye makeup.
  • Use when exercising to protect yourself from chafing, friction, and/or windburn.
  • Apply to baby’s scalp to treat cradle cap.
  • Use to reduce diaper or skin irritation on baby’s sensitive skin.

Waxelene comes in a lip tube, 2 ounce jar, or 9 ounce jar. Visit the Waxelene website for details.

Disclaimer: Product samples were provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of preparing this review.

Photo credit: Waxelene

Introduce Your Little Crafter to the Joys of Washi Tape

Posted on Aug 12, 2014 by No Comments

Totally Washi! More than 45 Super Cute Washi Tape Crafts for Kids by Ashley Ann Laz is chock-full of crafty inspiration for creative kids. Laz’s project suggestions are perfect for children ages 8 and up to make on their own or with a friend.

In case you don’t already know, washi tape is a type of decorative masking tape used for various forms of paper crafting. It originated in Japan, but is now fairly easy to find in the United States. You can find rolls for just $1 at Joann Crafts and Dollar Tree Stores. The Scotch Expressions line at Walmart and Target is a little more expensive, but there are some gorgeous patterns available there.

Totally Washi! is divided into four sections:

  • For You and Your Friends (gift ideas, including jewelry)
  • For Your Room
  • For the Holidays
  • For School

Totally Washi! is nicely laid out, the instructions are easy for a young crafter to follow, and the author always points out when adult supervision is needed. For example, the temporary wallpaper project clearly states that the child should have a parent help them place the tape instead of attempting to climb the ladder on their own.

You might not think there are that many things you can do with pretty tape, but there’s an impressive range of ideas in Totally Washi!

Honestly, there were several projects in this book that I wanted to make as an adult. The jewelry organizer and washi tape wall calendar are cute, practical, and inexpensive. The washi tape stud earrings would be fabulous handmade gifts for friends and family. I even saw several projects that could be made with patterned duct tape, if desired.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Amazon

Hipzbags Are a Hands-Free Way to Carry Your Essentials

Posted on Aug 11, 2014 by 1 Comment

Are you constantly losing your cell phone and/or your keys at the bottom of your purse? If so, a Hipzbag might be just what you need.

Designed by Kathy Dahl Crifasi as a modern version of the fanny pack, Hipzbags let you keep your phone and other necessities close by while leaving your hands free. You can use your Hipzbag to stash cash, credit cards, keys, lipstick, and whatever else you need to get through the day.

salesHipzbags can be worn three different ways: as a belt, through the belt loops on your pants, or as a crossbody purse. The Hipzbag is perfect for times when you don’t want to lug around a heavy purse or it can be used as a supplement to a larger purse so you can keep track of your most important items.

Hipzbags are available in a wide range of colors designed to match almost any outfit. There are five different styles and two different sizes to choose from.

If you’re still carrying around a diaper bag, a Hipzbag would be a handy place to stash your own items so you’re not constantly looking for your stuff in a sea of diapers, sippy cups, and spare onesies.

I can also see Hipzbag being handy for when you’re traveling, working out, or going to a concert or other special event where a big bag would be impractical. These would even make cute gifts for the teen girls in your life who aren’t carrying around enough stuff on a day-to-day basis to justify the use of a larger purse.

You can purchase Hipzbags directly from their website, but the company is also in the process of introducing a new direct sales opportunity for women in search of a fun and flexible way to earn a little extra money.

HipzParties consultants can earn 20% on every sale they make. Parties are done completely online and there is no cost to get started. To learn more, you can email Lexy@Hipzbag.com.

Photo credit: Hipzbag

PanOxyl Makes It Easy for Preteens and Teens to Treat Acne

Posted on Aug 7, 2014 by No Comments

PanOxyl, a top acne treatment brand that was formerly available only by prescription, is now available over-the-counter. The line consists of the brand’s maximum-strength product, PanOxyl 10% Acne Foaming Wash, the milder and pH balanced PanOxyl 4% Acne Creamy Wash, and the shower-friendly PanOxyl 10% Acne Cleansing Bar.

Recently, I received a sample of the PanOxyl 10% Acne Foaming Wash. I gave it to my son to use, since he’s starting to have the first signs of mild acne. Since it can be used in place of an ordinary face wash, PanOxyl 10% Acne Foaming Wash is a more convenient alternative to benzoyl peroxide treatment creams. It’s also really effective at dealing with chest and body acne.

Since they contain benzoyl peroxide, all of the PanOxyl products have the potential to bleach your towels, carpet, and clothing. If you’re buying them for someone who is even half as messy as my son can be, I’d suggest investing in white towels for the bathroom as a precautionary measure!

You should also make sure that your preteen or teen knows to use the proper amount of sunscreen if they’re going to be outside after using a PanOxyl product. Benzoyl peroxide can make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays and the only thing worse than acne is a bad sunburn!

PanOxyl products can be found nationwide at Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid stores You can also purchase them online at Amazon or drugstore.com.

Disclaimer: Product samples were provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of preparing this review.

Photo credit: PanOxyl