Friday, November 30, 2007

Photo Printing Made Easy

I have been an avid fan of the Kodak Easyshare line of products for a number of years now. I'm currently on my second Kodak digital camera and printer dock. I rarely venture out of my comfort zone when it comes to technology. This isn't necessarily a good thing. So I was eager to review the HP Photo Printer for the Parent Bloggers Network in order to test drive a new brand and new products.

Setup of the HP Photosmart A620 Series Compact Photo Printer couldn't be any easier! Seriously. Here's what you do:


After you insert your memory card (from your digital camera) into the printer, the simple and easy to understand touchscreen completely guides you along the way.

Since the printer package includes an introductory print cartridge and a few sheets of photo paper, I used them to play around with my Halloween pictures. I wanted to create a border around a picture of the boyz dressed in their Halloween finery. With the "Get Creative" feature, I was able to add a frame to my photo. There are several categories, including Seasonal and Kids. My final masterpiece was my picture of the boyz framed by spooky spiderwebs and a creepy spider dangling in one corner. Too cute!

Even before I printed out my pictures, I used the Edit Photo function on the touchscreen to remove the red-eye(s) (although it probably would have been appropriate to keep their eyes a glowing shade of red for a Halloween pic). I found the red-eye removal function on this product to be much more accurate than my Kodak program on the computer.

Please note that a USB cable is not included with this photo printer package. One must be purchased separately. You will want to buy a USB cable if you plan on printing photos from your computer, instead of only from a memory card.

After I received a USB cable, I installed the HP Photosmart software that was included. Doing this allowed me to import all my stored computer photos into the HP "Library".

From here, I was good to go to create my very own Photo Books! (which can be yours for 20% off with this coupon code!) Wow. The Photo Books (a/k/a Christmas gifts for the Grandmas) are soooo easy to create. Once my 3,000+ (!) photos were downloaded into my HP Library (yeah, this took some time), it was simply a matter of picking and choosing which photos I wanted in my 5x7 Photo Book for (the boyz') Grandma. Once I had the book formatted (with captions!) exactly the way I wanted it, all I had to do was:

PRINT. It was truly that painless.

So here's my verdict: I would highly recommend the HP Photosmart A626 Compact Photo Printer to those of you who prefer printing from a memory card rather than a computer. It's user-friendly, convenient, and best of all, easy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Attempting to Organize the Chaos

When Parent Bloggers Network asked for volunteers to test out the new Day Runner family matters line of color-coded organizational products, I was all, "Pick me! Pick me!" (rapidly waving my hand high in the air). Because, unless you (think you) are Supermom, in which case you're probably on something that I'd like to sample, who couldn't use a little more organization in their household?

With my big life change approaching in just under a week (gulp), the Trenches are in desperate need of some time management and family organization.

Enter the monthly/weekly appointment book. This will be my constant companion in 2008, as I navigate a full-time work schedule. As a matter of fact, I'm meeting with my babysitter (our "nanny" now, for tax purposes) this week so we can figure our our respective vacation times for the upcoming year. I'm glad I now have this appointment book to record all the dates, instead of a random scrap of paper (usually the back of a receipt) that I would normally use.

The color-coded activity folders have already been put to good use in my determination to save some of the boyz' schoolwork for posterity. Each time Eldest brings home a keeper from kindergarten, or Middle brings home a gem from preschool, it gets placed into their folder.

Along with the folders, the color coded storage cases are great for pertinent documents pertaining to each individual in our family (conveniently, it comes with 5!) Copies of our birth certificates, social security cards, the boyz' immunization records, etc. have been filed away for safekeeping. No more digging through random piles of paper in the desk drawer!

All the Day Runner items can be purchased at your local Office Depot!

Now if only the rest of the Trenches could be organized so easily...*sigh*

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rockin' Out With the Boyz

[Disclaimer: When I told Hubby that I was going to do this review for the Parent Bloggers Network, his immediate response was, "I'm sure it will be a gushing one since they (the boyz) ask to watch it 47 times a day and then we LISTEN TO IT everytime we're in the car!"]

So yeah, listen up, because this is a good one...and hey, just in time for the holidays! (Keep reading for a coupon code!)

When Eldest was 2 years old, the annoyingly doofy and creepy Barney captured his attention.

For Middle, it was any Baby Einstein DVD.

But Baby, who is 2 now, has never been one to sit. Ever. He's way too busy being a tiny hell-on-wheels tornado.

Until now. Thank you thank you, Rob and Lisi Wolf, creators of That Baby DVD! This Mommy now is able to have some sanity in the form of 11 catchy (read non-annoying) tunes and eye-catching videos.
Can you say mesmerized? The particular video shown in this pic is my boyz' favorite: "Brass in Pocket". It's a montage of kids lip-synching and dancing to the classic Pretenders song.

Here's what the boyz in the Trenches had to say:
Eldest: "My favorite is Brass in Pockets."

Baby: "Po bee Boy". (Pony Boy, written by Bruce Springsteen)

Middle: "I like dat song wif all da kids (Brass in Pocket) and dat flower one (Garden Song-Inch By Inch--also recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary, John Denver, and Arlo Guthrie. Click here to see for yourself!)

If 3o+ minutes of peace and quiet isn't enough to sway you, there is also a That Baby CD which contains all the songs from That Baby DVD, plus 3 bonus tracks. This CD has gotten plenty of air time in our car. I can't even begin to describe how much more enjoyable it is to listen to rather than some squeaky high-pitched Backyardigans garbage.

Receive 20% off at checkout by using the coupon code "PBN for 20% off!" There is a no questions asked money-back guarantee and a lifetime replacement for both the DVD and CD. Can't beat that.

So right before the holidays, do yourself a favor and stop the hell that is Cars/Backyardigans/SpongeBob music (yes, I'm ashamed that we actually own all those CDs) and place an order. Just think how cool and hip you'll feel when you hear your little ones singing the 10,000 Maniacs song "These Are Days"!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Beauty Confidential

I am a product whore.

Who is forced to keep her legs closed (ahem) due to finances.

That is, I have Chanel taste on a Target Wal-Mart budget.

So of course I jumped at the chance when the Parent Bloggers Network asked me to review a copy of Beauty Confidential: "The No Preaching, No Lies, Advice-You'll-Actually-Use Guide to Looking Your Best."

So as one of those gals who gets completely overwhelmed in Sephora, or heck, even in the Target Wal-Mart beauty aisles, this book has been a godsend. My copy is now dog-eared, underlined and has pages folded down. Yep, I'm a dork. But now, thanks to "Jolie in NYC" (the author Nadine Haobsh's blog pseudonym), I'm a dorky fashionista (in my head, anyway.)

Here's a quick recap of some of the knowledge I've gained:

Chapter 2: Hairstyling. More specifically, learning how to air-dry my hair properly. ("Yes! There are things you can do to make a visible difference.") You see, I have that in-between hair. Not totally curly, not totally straight. Just totally annoying. Some days I just blowdry it straight. Other days I blowdry it straight, then use a straightener. Other Most days I throw it in a ponytail and fuhgeddaboudit.

So I followed Nadine's 6-step approach and holy-cow....a miracle! My Roseanne Roseanneadanna 'do actually looked curly, not frizzy, and dare I say? Luscious. I swear, I've gotten more compliments on my ringlets than I ever imagined. It's a whole new (easy) look for me! Her secret? Ya gotta read the book!

Not only that, I have also, upon the author's recommendations, purchased new moisterizer, mascara and concealer. Without going broke!

And the best part of this book? There are cheat-sheets! The end of each of the chapters lists a product price guide and where the items can be purchased.

Beauty Confidential is an awesome guidebook for all you fellow product whores out there. This slut wouldn't steer you wrong.