Reviews Network

How to Get Longer Eyelashes

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on December 15, 2017

Grow long lashes fast with these products! If want longer eyelashes, these natural methods truly work better than any expensive serums!

If you're looking for how to make your eyelashes longer, you have come to the right place! You want products that actually work and don't cost an arm and leg? I have personal experience with both, and this post shares other methods that didn't work so well for me.

Grow Long Lashes Naturally

Let's first talk about what I have done that wasn't “all-natural” but worked for a large price tag. Yes, it's Latisse and it works. But, there are issues with it too.

Latisse is only available from a doctor or high-end medspa. Latisse is also around $90-$100 depending on where you purchase. Latisse is a prescription drug therefore offers some side effects.

I was not affected by side effects during my first month-long application with Latisse. I stopped applying as directed and took a small break. When I got a new bottle and started applying again, the side effects hit me. They were nothing terrible but I did have bloodshot eyes and redness on the waterline of my upper lid.

I eventually stopped using Latisse because the redness wouldn't go away. It wasn't terrible but it was noticeable if I didn't wear eye makeup. I just didn't want to mess with it anymore. It also wasn't super convenient to get each new box since it was a drive out of my way to purchase it.

By the way, the pictured labeled “Method A” is my after using Latisse. It does make your lashes grow! But, keep reading since I'm sharing the best option that I currently use and is much cheaper (and healthier).

Grow long lashes DIY with these products! If want longer eyelashes, these methods truly work better than any expensive serums!

Castor Oil for Eyelashes

I have also made my own castor oil eyelash serum for eyelashes and didn't notice any changes whatsoever! I even bought the empty mascara tubes so it was super easy to apply. I also think having the oil near my eye caused me to have blurry eyes.

The same thing happens with eye creams or serums that contain too much oil (like Argan or coconut oil). It isn't anything dangerous but it causes issues. It was never applied in my eyes so I'm not sure why that happened.

Needless to say, the castor oil home remedy didn't work for me. I don't know anyone who has had this method work for them either.

Mascara and Serums for Long Lashes

Like so many people, over the years I have purchased and used many expensive mascara brands and other over-the-counter serums. My favorite high-end mascara brands are Diorshow and Tarte Lights Camera Lashes.

Both of these brands are fantastic but have their own issues. Diorshow dries out super fast. For $25, I expect to be able to fully use a tube without it drying out.

The Tarte formula is fantastic but I have broken two wands as I was pulling out to apply. I'm not some super strong She-woman but if you spend $15-$20 for a bottle of mascara, I expect the quality of the applicator to be more durable.

I have also tried the Younique 3D lashes. I didn't like the fibers you apply. It didn't look natural *on me* and, as crazy as this sounds, I didn't want to mess with the steps required (primer, mascara, fibers). I'm like Sweet Brown with my makeup application in general: “Ain't nobody got time for that!”

Grow long lashes naturally fast with these products! If want longer eyelashes, these methods truly work better than any expensive serums!

Lash Extensions

As much as I have wanted to get lash extensions, I just don't have time for all that maintenance either. Plus, it's expensive, around $150 for lash extensions by me. Then you need appointments for the fill-ins which are more time and more money. I do have friends who have lash extensions and they look AMAZING! But, they have also shared that quitting isn't as easy as one would think.

Oh, and I'm not gonna talk about false lashes since I've never used them. I've watched enough YouTubers who use them and I LOVE the look! But, I'm way intimidated by the application. Plus, I work from home so it's not like I need to have these magnificent false lashes on for no one to see.

How to Make Eyelashes Longer

OK, ok, you have made it this far so now you wanna know what has worked, right? The method and products that produced my long lashes in the “Method B” after photo are just a handful of products:

Yeap, that's it! You can get all three items, depending on the mascara brand, for around $40. You only need to re-purchase the collagen and mascara as needed. If I purchase this collagen brand, the container lasts me a good 6 weeks. So, this option is way cheaper and the collagen provides other health benefits which you can't really put a price tag on!

Also, make sure you get this *exact* eyelash curler. Tweezerman sells one that looks similar in Ulta and other beauty stores. However, I have only been able to find the Pro Curl model on Amazon (get it here).

Best Drugstore Mascaras Brands

Since we are talking methods, I have to share my favorite drugstore brands. I'm sure this will change as new brands come out with new stuff, but right now my favorite drugstore mascara brands that I'm using regularly are L'oreal Voluminous (blackest black) andCover Girl Clump Crusher (very black).

The Cover Girl Clump Crusher doesn't flake at all on me and is great for all-day wear! The water resistant formula is also fantastic. It will wash off your eyes easily with soap and water. I like the wand on this mascara – it's skinnier so it's easy to get to those tiny inner corner lashes.

I'll admit that the first few times I applied the L'oreal Voluminous mascara I didn't like it. I have small round eyes; and the wand and bristles are thick. So, as you can imagine, I got mascara all over my lid during the application.

However, I'm glad I came back to it because I am loving the length and volume I get with this mascara. The only downside is that it does flake after a longer day of wear so I never apply to my lower lash line. I rarely apply mascara to my lower lashes anyway but if it gets on them when I apply, I almost always flake near the evening time.

I'm wearing the L'oreal Voluminous in the “Method B” picture. I wasn't even intending to take an after photo the day I took this, but I had another person ask me again that morning what I was doing! My point, this isn't even the best application with the mascara – it's only one coat.

How to Grow Eyelashes Fast

Looking for how to grow your eyelashes overnight? Um, that's not possible! But, collagen will actually make your eyelashes grow fast! By fast, I mean 3-4 weeks.

In my opinion, that is fast for a physical change to the appearance of lashes that actually works. I have taken collagen on and off for years for the many health benefits from using this stuff – seriously it's just good for you whether you want longer eyelashes or not! But, I NEVER noticed this change. Perhaps it was becuase I wasn't being consistent with consuming it everyday. That does make a difference.

For one month I consistently added collagen to my morning coffee strictly for the other many benefits that collagen provides. I was not even thinking about eyelash growth! After a month of strict consumption, I caught a glimpse of my lashes and realize they were LONG! The length, coupled with my favorite eyelash curler, really made my lashes pop.

I take 1 TBS every morning in my coffee. The suggested dose is 2 TBS, but I have found that 1 TBS gives me amazing results. I don't think doubling the dose would make my lashes even more voluptuous. I'm not greedy :)

I have also purchased these collagen supplement capsules to test. Sometimes it's hard for me to have a hot beverage that will dissolve the collagen so a capsule is more convenient. Also, I have my husband taking the capsules since he doesn't drink coffee or hot beverages. I'm following his hair growth closely too since collage does cause your hair to grow super fast. Even my hair dresser commented on my hair growth during all of this!

The $10 drugstore mascara can really look amazing when combined with the collagen! The eyelash curler really makes the lashes curl and stand out to show off all the new length and growth! Sure, you can keep buying $30 mascara but why would you if you know you can have permanent long lashes even without wearing mascara every single day?! I'll save my money thankyouverymuch!

I truly believe these products – this method – is the best way to get longer eyelashes! Try it yourself and please share pics of your before and after! I can't stop telling all my friends about this and would love to hear from you!

Grow long lashes naturally fast with these products! If want longer eyelashes, these methods truly work better than any expensive serums!

Disclosure: This post contains a link to an affiliate and support this site. See my Disclaimer Policy for additional information.

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Haier Air Conditioner and Heater

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on August 11, 2014

Haier CWH24A Window Air Conditioner and Heater

As I mentioned in my post about moving into a home without central air, I received a Haier Air Conditioner to review and share my personal experience. Like most reviews here on Savings Lifestyle, I will cover 4 main categories: cost, use (how-to), personal (my experience) and cheap (or ways to find a deal on the item).

Paul revieweing the Haier AC

Cost

The air conditioner we selected to use in our new (old) home is the CWH24A unit which provides air conditioning and heating. The unit runs around $650 and can be purchased at various brick & mortar stores as well as online at Amazon.

Use

As with most air conditioners, you plug it in and install into a window. However, since this unit delivers so many BTU's, it requires a 220 volt plugin (the kind of plugin your clothes dryer requires). This isn't something I realized until we received the big ole' box. Luckily, we have a good friend's dad who is an electrician so it wasn't an issue for him to install – even in our old house with decrepit wiring. I'm sure a newer home would be even less of an issue.

Paul Installing Haier AC

Installing the actual unit itself took my husband and oldest son less than an hour. The unit comes with braces to attach to your outside to ensure it's supported in the window. There are other options to place the unit in your window, including cutting a new hole in the wall but that wasn't an option for us. I'm guessing it wouldn't be for many people either. So the braces worked perfectly.

The unit has several features that also made it the one we chose. First off, it blows 23,400/23,800 BTU's per hour for cool, and 13,000/16,000 BTU's per hour for heat. This is a monster of a unit. You actually wouldn't need it running nonstop so the 24-hour timer comes in handy to conserve energy and not freeze yourself out (well, freeze out now for us using the AC, anyway).

The CWH24A also comes with a remote control which is fantastic! Everything is digital so you know exactly what temperature you are cooling or heating, unlike most units I've used in the past that have dials and you think to yourself “What exactly is a 9 anyway?”

And while we haven't gotten to this yet, the washable filter is a huge plus and will help save money down the road!

Paul and T Installing the Haier AC

Personal

We chose this model because the home we moved into is an older house and there is no ductwork for heating/air upstairs. That's kind of important. We're not sure when/if we will add that to the house. I want to get through this winter and see how things go. So far, the summer has been fine but it's also been cool at night on most nights.

The unit does a fantastic job in cooling all parts of the house downstairs. I'm sure if I kept more doors open, and perhaps added some fans, the air would flow more to upstairs as well. I can tell it's getting upstairs though because there are days it is somewhat cool and we haven't had any other units running.

As I mentioned in my other post, my husband could seriously have our thermostat set at 68 degrees year-round. I'm so opposite of that (it's a wonder we've been married this long!). So, this unit has been more than satisfactory for his needs – we have kept it around 70 degrees and I honestly need to wear long sleeves if I'm downstairs too long. He thinks I'm crazy,  and I'm totally ok with that!

Cheap

Not sure you can get a deal on this anywhere, unless you try to find the unit to purchase from a store that offers points (like Sears, Kmart, Best Buy, etc). This is definitely a great unit, and I'm glad we were able to receive this to review. I'm looking forward to seeing how it runs during the winter to help us stay even warmer!

I received this air conditioner/heather as part of the Haier Ambassadors Program. It's free and easy to signup, and you may receive great products to review like this one!

#spon Disclaimer: I’m required to disclose a relationship between our site and Haier. This could include Haier providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

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94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on March 13, 2014

Smart Sensor Basketball

If you follow me on Instagram then you know that I'm a Sports Mom! We rarely have a weekend where we aren't sitting in the stands. Yes, it's crazy but I wouldn't have it any other way. I love watching my boys play!

While Caleb plays football, he and our older son are the most serious about basketball. They play on AAU teams year-round and they are both really good if I do say so myself :). We have yet to do personal coaching for them but they attend camps and clinics and those costs can add up quickly.

In late November, my husband was at the Apple store getting one of the boys' iPods fixed for the gazillionth time. He sent me a picture a a basketball the Apple store was selling. If it was in Apple, it meant it was a “smart” ball but I needed to do some investigating before we even considered purchasing one since it wasn't cheap.

Turns out the 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball launched nearly at the same time my husband saw the ball in the Apple store (November). To sum it up, the basketball has sensors inside so it can detect just about anything you do with the ball through the accompanying app which is FREE to download in the Apple app store or Google Play store.

Since Caleb's birthday was around the corner, we decided to purchase the ball as his gift and make it something that he and T could share (since the cost was more than we typically spend on one birthday gift).

Cost

ETA: Save $75 and receive a FREE accessory through December 1, 2014. Buy at 94Fifty.com Directly HERE.

The 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball is $249 on Amazon or Apple, as a special promotion for March Madness. I actually paid $295 which is the regular price. Before you balk at the price (as others have), let me share a few things.

As I said above, both of our boys play basketball seriously. They play on select teams throughout the year which means the fees per season alone is up to $500 PER child, which doesn't include shoes and other stuff they may need (knee pads, matching socks, bags, etc). Yes, it's expensive but it is a price we are willing to pay since it's a sport they love.

As I also mentioned, we have considered private coaching/training. While the price isn't prohibitive, it's not dirt cheap either (not to mention my time in driving them to/from a trainer). Individual sessions are $50 an hour for one child. You typically go to these sessions at a minimum of once a week. If you consider the cost for two kids for 12 weeks ($100/week), that is around $1,200. Yes, that's expensive too!

After looking into what the ball can do, we made the purchase. 94Fifty has said the ball is like a digital coach in the form of the app which means no need to hire a personal trainer. The ball alone was 1/3 of the price of a trainer and we could get similar feedback. You can keep the stats of up to 4 players so it's also something that both boys could use and share (Andon even plays around with it).

Drills Goals and Personal Best Display

Use

The ball's sensors uses the bluetooth technology in your device. It works with select products for Apple and Android. Our boys have an iPad Mini, which is what they use when they are doing drills. I will also let them use my iPhone 5 at times as well. You don't need wifi which is awesome since we don't have wireless plans for the iPads. So they can be at a gym and use the app on the Ipad Mini.

There are several skills and drills within the app that you use with the 94Fifty basketball. Within each drill, you have a goal to work towards. If you “pass” then you can level up to get a more challenging goal. If not, you have to continue the drill until you can get to the next level.

The app/ball also detects your shooting accuracy. The ball can display your exact arc, backspin, speed and power. There is a coach that encourages you throughout the drill so you know how to adjust and do better.

You can also compete and challenge one another. We haven't really used either of these features yet since it's winter and the boys haven't been outside to use either feature.

Smart Sensor Basketball Dribbling Drills

Personal

These drills are no joke! T is a Freshman and was challenged with several of the goals in the drills. He is now at the CollegeStar level and was seriously frustrated because he couldn't a few of the drills in the previous level. It forced him to focus and try harder if he wanted to get to another level. I definitely see this as a good thing to improve skills and behavior – our boys need to know they have to work hard for what they want!

Caleb is in 4th grade and has really good ball handling and shooting skills for his grade level. However, consistency with these drills will only make him an even better player. There was one drill that Caleb leveled up before T did (who is our Freshman). This created some fun competition between the two of them to see who would get better faster.

Andon (our 6-year old) has no desire whatsoever to play basketball. However, he had fun doing some of the ball handling drills for dribble counts by hand. He thinks it's fun to beat his personal best.

Basketball Skills and Levels

Cheap

As I mentioned, this isn't a cheap product by any means but my motto is about quality over quantity. I'm instantly saving $900 by using this versus getting the boys a trainer. Again, you can get the ball at the discounted price of $249 on Amazon right now.

Overall, I know it helps to go out and practice. I've had a few people tell me that's how they got better. I respect that. I really do. But, when you have a product or tool to help you understand exactly how to get better by shooting at the exact arc, or reworking your ball handling so you can cross over a defender, that means a lot.

Will this ball replace hard work? Nope. It doesn't claim to either. However, the ball may motivate your kids to work harder because of the challenges in the app. And for that alone, it's worth it for us.

Disclosure:  After purchasing the ball, I had a few questions and talked with the CEO of the company. Long story short, I've started to work with 94Fifty on a few projects. I'm only sharing this because the ridiculous FTC laws. However, I purchased this MYSELF and this review is all purely based on our boys' PERSONAL experience. 

This post contains a link to an affiliate and support this site. See my Disclaimer Policy for additional information.

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SmileBrilliant Teeth Whitener Review

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on December 08, 2013

Smile Brilliant Kit

I've tried just about every teeth whitening product you can think of. The drugstore strips, custom tray molds from the drugstore, custom tray molds from my dentist and even zoom laser whitening. The only one that I consider doing long-term are the custom trays. I received these custom trays and whitening gel from SmileBrilliant to facilitate this review. I'm excited to share the process with you!

Cost

I lost one of my custom trays a year ago and haven't been able to whiten my teeth as well. The custom tray molds you buy in the drugstore do not work anywhere close to custom fitted trays. The tray molds at the dentist cost me around $250 (I'm sure that varies but that is the price at my previous dentist's office). I loved that the SmileBrilliant teeth whitening trays are far less – only $90 which includes one whitening gel syringe!

Obviously to actually whiten your teeth, you will need the whitening gel, and those prices vary starting at $35 depending on the quantity you choose to order.

Use

I will admit. When I received my tray mold kit, I was intimidated. All the kid contains is putty, mold frames and directions. That doesn't sound intimidating but I thought there would be boiling water (I'm thinking football mouthpieces and the drugstore whitener molds). Thank goodness it was NOT like this whatsoever! It was so simple and literally took me 5 minutes.

This process was also MUCH nicer than what is done at a dentist's office. And the fact that you can do it from the comfort of your home is that much better.

It took about 5 days to receive my trays. I love my trays too. My previous trays were hard plastic. They are NOT comfortable at all when you have them in your mouth during whitening. The SmileBrilliant trays are soft plastic, even softer than a mouthpiece. They fit perfectly in your mouth with no sharp edges hitting your gums. I love that the most about these trays!

To start the whitening treatment, simply add the whitening gel into the tray and pop them into your mouth. It's so simple and not much to it! Many people will see results after 3 treatments.

Personal

I will update this post when I've had more time to use the whitening gel. Since I previously used whiteners, there isn't a noticeable difference in one week for me. I plan to do a session at least once a month.

I do experience some tooth sensitivity with whiteners and I'm glad I also received the desensitizing gel along with my whitening gel. Applying that before is a huge help. That is something the dentist never suggested to me either. They typically only offered to lower the % of whitener product I used, which didn't always help whiten as much.

Value

The regular price is so affordable in my opinion. When I compared paying $250 at the dentist versus $80 doing it in my own home (no gas and waiting at a dentist's office), it's so worth it! Plus, it takes under a week to receive your custom trays (again, my dentist's office took a lot longer).

SmileBrilliant really did make the entire process simple. I can totally stand behind them for the process and product they provide, especially since I have so much prior experience with teeth whitening products.

What feature do you value the most with a
teeth whitening product like SmileBrilliant?

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Best Products to Cover Grey Hair Between Colorings

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on August 27, 2013

How to Cover Grey Hair at Home

Before applying the product to my roots.

I have grey hair. There, I admitted it. Actually, I started to get grey in my early 20's. I'm convinced it was because I poked fun at a friend. And, then it happened to me less than a year later. So, I'm always on the lookout for ways to cover my grey hair.

When my father passed away, I'm convinced that the stress of life took a toll and caused me to grey even more. I've done the research to see if you can reverse grey and it's just not possible. I've heard an increase in some vitamins will help, but that hasn't helped me.

So I am a slave to color. I'm not going to go grey. No way! I've tried to experiment and do more blonde so I can go longer between colorings but that just didn't work for me. I don't like being that blonde for one, and I like dimensions that color can offer to my hair.

Did I mention I'm a hair snob?

I have to get my hair colored every 4-6 weeks. I try to work it around a trip or event. Yes, I'm vain that way. But, more than that, it is actually frugal since it may be 8 weeks at times before I get into get a touchup. Plus, I simply don't have the time to get in for an appointment. Time = money too.

I've seen Grey Free advertised before as a product to cover grey roots between colorings. To explain it simply, it's hair mascara to cover grey hair. You apply to your roots in between colorings. It washes away when wet so it's literally like a makeup for your hair.

I knew my salon sold Grey Free, and it was more expensive there than purchasing online. But, I wanted to have my hair stylist match the color to my hair so I purchased at the salon. I'm glad I did and it was worth paying a little extra just for this. You could however purchase 2 packages online for what I paid though so getting a few colors to test yourself isn't a bad idea.

Before she did my color, she applied a few shades to my roots to see what would match the closest to my color. We were able to find a really close match so I purchased the Medium Brown. She then wiped it away before she colored my hair to ensure the hair color would stick (it shouldn't be an issue but she was being safe). Again, totally worth it for me since I didn't have to do my own testing.

When I finally use this at home, I seriously have to say I'm shocked. So much so that I'm even writing this review when I purchased this on my own. This is PERFECT to use for touchups to cover your grey roots. You don't have to try to do some crazy split in your hair, which doesn't really mask the grey as well as I'd like. Plus, the proof is in the pictures, don't you think?!

One tip for application. Be sure to apply pressure to the wand as you press onto the area you want to cover. I've found the extra pressure keeps the fine hairs from sticking to the wand and then frizzing it out.

Best Way to Cover Gray Hair

After applying the product to my roots. I can now see that I missed a spot on my crown.

This will dry hard, like hairspray. So, when it's dry you can “foof” up your roots a bit lightly with your fingertips or with a brush. It will come off onto your hands, but it doesn't stain. Again, it's makeup for your hair so you can just wash your hands. But, it stays on your hair and that's what it is important. You just may not want your loved one to rub their hands through your hair :)

Again, this is a great way to cover grey hair between colorings. I would highly recommend it and estimate I'll end up saving at least $200 a year by being able to wait in between salon visits by using it. For less than $10 a tube, you cannot beat that!

I want to add an update from when I first wrote this post. I have since found and used a few other brands that I actually prefer over the Grey Free mascara wand application. The L'Oreal Root Cover Up Spray and Everpro Grey Away Root Concealer Spray are two that I have used and always re-purchase. The results are the same as pictured above. Both products are super affordable and you can grab them at any drugstore or grocery store now (but I always end up buying on Amazon to save myself the trip).

I use the dark brown for both brands since my hair is darker. I feel like using a darker spray is the best way to cover grey roots on dark hair. It covers up the grey better than a lighter shade (light brown) that may more closely match my hair color (at the time, it's always changing – HA).

The only downside to any of these sprays or applications, as I mentioned above, is that they will rub off on your hand if you are scratching your head frequently. Not at first touch, but if you have an itch that needs a good scratching, the product will come off onto your hand. Again, it's basically makeup for your hair. I'm fine with it since this is a temporary solution to allow me to go at least another 2 weeks between colorings.

Tried and true best root touch up for grey hair products all under $10. These products win as the best way to cover roots on dark hair but work for blondes too. If you have grey, it can be covered!

Disclosure: This post contains a link to an affiliate and support this site. See my Disclaimer Policy for additional information.

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Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on July 18, 2013

ESPN WWOS Badges

Are you a sports mom? Well, if you follow me on Instagram, you know I am! I'm always posting pics of the boys at their sporting activities.

We play basketball year round and I'm sort of looking forward to getting a break next month! But, then football will take over and start to consume our lives every weekend until November, just when basketball takes back over. It's a never end cycle of sports! I to watch my kids play!

Needless to say when I was invited to the take part in the Disney Sports Festival this year at Walt Disney World's ESPN World Wide of Sports complex, I was truly excited. This is the first summer for the festival, and I learned so much being there for 2 days.

ESPN WWOS Bloggers with Mickey

Why Disney Sports?

Our family has been to Disney several times. Whether it's cruising or staying at Cinderella's castle, we do love Mickey Mouse! We have never visited the ESPN World Wide of Sports complex and our “behind the scenes” tour made me wish we had visited on our own in the past!

Our first day in the complex, we were welcomed by Karissa and Kevin, who announce the game-day competitions. It was a fun surprise to hear them sound all official and announce us as the “starting lineup.” They made us feel like stars, which is their intent. While WWOS is not a park, they aim to deliver the “WOW” experience to all guests.

WWOS has professional announcer to make team announcements. So, every player feels like they have made the “big time.” Can you imagine how your child will feel after the opening ceremonies and procession where their name is announced? Yeah, that's the magic Disney brings to their sports complex.

ESPN WWOS Soccer Field

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

The complex is AMAZING! Over 255 acres filled with sports. Talk about being home! Each field or court is up to professional standards.

ESPN WWOS Baseball Field

In fact, the Atlanta Braves have their season training at the WWOS complex. If it's good enough for the pros to play on, it's good enough for any amateur or aspiring pro.

Disney WWOS Sports Festival Welcome Center

This is the first year for the Disney Sports Festival and WWOS has received positive feedback. Visitors can stop by the Festival Center Tent to attend informational sessions as well as find a place to get away from the heat. There were mist tents setup, jumbo slides, corn hole and other fun games. There was even a portable charging station available so you could recharge if you're running low.

Side note, our boys wanted to know if I went down the slide. As I told them no, they replied with “Man mom, we would have a hundred times!” 

ESPN WWOS Basketball Courts

Events and Competition

Being a basketball mom, I was particularly impressed with the basketball courts. There were AAU national championship basketball tournaments going on while we visited. Since two of our boys play AAU basketball, I had a personal interest in the games and level of competition – it's serious business. In fact, there is a special seating section for NCAA coaches to watch games.

ESPN WWOS NCAA Coaches Seating

This college recruitment isn't just for basketball but for many sports. In fact, they have hold many showcase events for D1, D2 and D3 coaches where scholarships are awarded on site.

I'll be honest, our boys' play on teams that will not qualify for any AAU national game. In order to play at WWOS, they have to qualify for many tournaments. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that many tournaments are open to all without any qualifying placement or invitation.

ESPN WWOS Track Field

The WWOS complex also offers many different high school sprint training clinics. In fact, there was a clinic going on at the track field during our visit. Can you imagine going to Disney for a team camp? Sign me up!

The runDisney events are wildly popular  and the expo setup is at the WWOS. So, many runners who attended the event were quite familiar with some of the complex. I have heard from many friends who are runners that they love the runDisney runs! Maybe one day I'll make it there :)

You can find a listing of all of the WWOS events HERE.

ESPN WWOS OfficeMax Business Center

Are you a Team Mom?

I learned so much about how the WWOS complex can help make your life easier! YES, easier! Even though I've never been a team mom, I have been at day-long tournaments and had hungry boys to feed. I was enlightened to learn that you can order breakfast and lunches for your team and have them delivered directly to your court or field! No more rushing around during a short break to pickup food for your athletes.

Need to relax a bit? The Office Max Business Center has complimentary charging stations, printing and hand fans to cool off on the fields. I also loved that you could make your own personalized signs for your athletes as well. Again, who wants to pack this type of stuff, or go to the local store to get the supplies when you're preparing for games? You have everything you need in the business center.

ESPN WWOS Discount Tickets

There is a Welcome Center on site that can help you arrange schedules to visit the parks, attractions or dining. This is a great benefit since you may not know when you're officially done for the day. If you know you have a half day to spend in a park, there are even sample itineraries to help guide you and know what you can enjoy during the short period of time.

If you are participating in a WWOS event, you can purchase discount passes after 2 pm. These passes are ONLY sold at the WWOS complex in the Welcome Center or labeled carts around the complex.

ESPN WWOS Game Day Photos

Need Video or Photos? 

Are you the team Mom and the team photographer? Well, Disney has this covered as well. This is a feature that is pretty typical for tournaments and such so I wasn't surprised to see this being offered by Disney. You can make reservations to have a photographer for your child, or your entire team.

You may also purchase copyrights to use the photos in whatever way you wish. Hey, even moms can make the cover of ESPN magazine :)

ESPN WWOS Production Center

We also visited the ESPN WWOS production center. They have 56 high-definition cameras going all the time, taping each game. They take the footage and show highlights from that day's events even interviewing players. Can you imagine if your child made the daily highlight? Seriously, more magic!

All of the day's events are shown in-room (channel #25), on YouTube, at ESPNWWOS.com, ESPN3 and the Watch ESPN app. The same videos are also shown on the GINORMO video screens on property. It's pretty cool to see the play by play going as you walk by.

Also, another little known fact, since WWOS is partnered with ESPN, the Bristol, CT production team can come into the production center and take over when they want to cover any professional games or events (and they have). The tools are top notch and professional quality – all for your child to experience. The WWOS production team refers to themselves as “ESPN South” since they produce ESPN quality productions.

Offset Cost with Fundraising

Playing sports isn't cheap. Since a lot of our personal experience is with AAU ball, I can say we've spent $500 for one child to play the season and they only receive a uniform. We still have additional expeneses like shoes, accessories (yes, boys accessorize), admission fees, gas cost to travel and get there. It's expensive, right? Well, many teams have taken to fundraising to help offset the expenses. This is an area that Disney is fully aware of and provides resources to assist.

Fundraising is a great option to consider for tournaments or camps. I love that the ideas aren't the same old cookie dough and gift wrap that we're all likely familiar with. You can even sell raffle tickets for a Disney park stay, and even sell ESPN magazine subscriptions. A lot of this can be done virtually too so you can socialize your fundraising efforts.

Find more WWOS Fundraising Ideas HERE.

Saving at WWOS

During our time, we also met a Disney Moms Panelist who has personal experience with WWOS, Audra. She shared a lot with us that can help make any team mom's trip a pleasant one. She has several great tips:

  • Plan in advance.
  • Stay on site.
  • Stay together.
  • Plan activities each day.

As we were walking out for the day, I asked Audra to share a tip that she felt could help families save. After all, that is what Savings Lifestyle is all about – save on what you need so you can spend on what you want. In fact, I've written about ways to save on a Disney vacation in the past and they would be applicable for any WWOS trip too!

Audra explained how she did the math for one of their previous tournaments. In the end, she suggested WWOS over the others because you get so much more for your money: discounted tickets when you book as a group, free parking at WWOS and any of the parks (very RARE for many resorts), the experience of the parks when the game is over. Even if you don't win, you win because you get to have fun either way!

“A good story can take you on a fantastic journey.” Walt Disney

That is a fantastic way to look at it. The ESPN World Wide of Sports complex is a Disney property. After spending the time there, *that* is the difference. You can participate in other tournaments but do they offer professional facilities and accommodations to make your experience better? Ask that question, do the math and enjoy the magic that Disney offers through this amazing sports complex!

Disclosure: Disney provided airfare and hotel accommodations for this trip. I'm a sports mom first and blogger second. All views are my own. See my Disclaimer Policy for additional information on what the FTC wants me to disclose.

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Bobara East End Tote

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on August 07, 2011

I received the above Bobara East End Tote to review. I am a fan of Bobara products, as I also own and use (and love) the Lady Lindy in Barcelona Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Bag (TSA friendly). So, I was excited to try out a new item in their product line.

Here are my uncensored thoughts on the Bobara East End Tote.

Cost

The East End Tote is priced at $80 and can be purchased on Bobara's site directly.

Use

It's a bag that carries around your laptop, so that's what you do with it. The East End Tote description states it fits the 13″ Macbook Pro and 11″ Macbook Air. While it does only mention Apple products in the description on the site, it will hold other sizes of computers. I have a 13″ MacBook Pro myself and it fits perfectly!

Personal

Recently whenever I have had meetings near home, I haven't wanted to take my Lady Lindy. It's a bigger bag and truly isn't necessary for quick meetings. I have been taking my large handbag and then putting my MacBook in the Built sleeve and just carrying it separately. I just throw my calendar in the sleeve as well (probably shouldn't). I never even take my battery since I know it's going to be a meeting that will be less than the life of my charge (2 hours-ish).

This has been getting old. I wanted to find something where I could carry my large (and bulky) wallet, my MacBook, possibly my charger and my calendar for these quick meetings. While my Built sleeve was professional enough, I still had to hold it with my hands (as opposed to throwing it over my shoulder). When I grab a drink and get receipts, my hands are full so it's just awkward.

As I've been using this bag, it has certainly met the need I have. The first thing that drew me to the bag was the style. It looks so sophisticated and sleek. It has a canvas exterior with leather lining for the accent color.

The East End Tote comes in two colors: Beige Canvas with Black Leader and Black Canvas with Tan Leather (pictured above, which is what I received).

Whenever I carried my Lady Lindy, I would continue to take my Built sleeve in case I wanted to grab my computer only and have a private chat with someone. Since the East End Tote has a removable interior sleeve, I can completely eliminate the need for carrying an additional product like the Built sleeve now. This product is what I have been looking for!

There are pockets galore. I love this about my Lady Lindy too! The designer GETS that we need pockets for writing utencils, gum, battery chargers, USB drives, sunglasses and whatever else. There is a zipper pocket on the inside as well. It's easier to find things when you know they are in a pocket rather than the bottomless pit that my bags always end up becoming (I'm working on it).

Cheap

This is an exclusive designer and the bags are only sold on Bobara.com. Compared to other products that I have considered purchasing, the $80 price point is extremely reasonable.  You are paying for functionality AND style.

My Bobara Lady Lindy is going on 3 years now! This is a worthwhile investment if you are in need of a bag like this (I would still recommend the Lady Lindy if you need a good laptop bag too). I seriously BEAT UP my bags. I've even had my strap repaired because I am partial to carrying it on one side and it wears down. The craftsmanship in these bags are second to none.

Review or not, I wholeheartedly endorse Bobara products!

Do you have any questions about the Bobara East End Tote?

Disclaimer: I received the Bobara East End Tote to provide my honest opinions. This post has not been previewed or edited by the company. See the site Disclaimer Policy for additional information.

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Ooma Telo Free Home Phone Service

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on July 21, 2011

We received the Ooma Telo Free Home Phone Service to review last month. After using it for more than a month, I can honestly say this phone works just like the regular phone service provider.

Cost

The Ooma Telo VOIP Home Phone Service retails for $149.99 and can be purchased through Amazon.com and Best Buy. Ooma Handsets can also be purchased so you have the feel of using an actual phone.

Use

You hook up the Ooma Telo (box) and call using a Ooma handset. This essentially replaces your regular telephone carrier. With the initial cost invesment for the phone service equipment, you literally have no monthly charges unless you choose to upgrade to the Pro service.

Personal

There are really two perspectives to share with you on our personal review.  One being the setup and installation and the other being our actual use of Ooma.

The Ooma Telo comes with instructions to install to your home. You  need an internet connection for this device to work at all. We got the Telo and handset plugged into our internet connection but then got confused. The phone was requesting a pin, however, there were nothing on the instructions stating where to find the pin.

You are asked to create a personal account with Ooma during installation and we soon realized the pin was in our account online. This is a step in the instructions that needs more clarification since we spend a few hours wondering where the heck that pin # was!

With regards to the phone itself, it's literally just like your regular telephone. Sometimes these VOIP phone services have a delay or are fuzzy during calls. This is NOT the case with Ooma. I also l like that you have a handset that you can use. I'm unsure of how other VOIP phone services operate, but I've used skype in the past and I've only used that with my computer. The fact that the Ooma handset is literally like a regular phone and is portable is a plus!

I also LOVE how you can login to your account online and literally see all missed calls, all outgoing calls and get your voice mail. You can also choose to have voice mail emailed to you. What a timesaver! I am so bad and NEVER check voice mail but if I had it emailed to me I would be more prompt with returning calls (sorry to anyone who has called and left a voice mail to never hear from me – I don't check it :).

Cheap

While the headset isn't cheap, you can purchase through Best Buy, Amazon or direct at Ooma.com.

You also have to consider the initial investment as a way to eliminate your monthly phone service. Over time, the Ooma will pay for itself and be a wise investment.

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We plan on switching from our current phone provider and solely using Ooma. Granted, I received this product for review so I don't have that out of pocket. But I was actually looking at it before I was offered the review product. I am trying to find ways to cut long-term costs out of our budget and this will do it for our family.

Do you use Ooma? Any feedback to share?
Not sure about Ooma? What other questions do you have that I can answer?

Disclaimer: I received this product directly from the company. My post was not reviewed or altered by the company in any way as these are my honest opinions. This post contains a link to an affiliate. See my Disclaimer Policy for additional information.

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Amy Michelle Cosmo Bag

by Savings Lifestyle: Becky on May 04, 2011

I have been searching and searching for a bag for my laptop. The really cute bags I could  find would only hold laptops with a 16 inch or smaller screen.  For laptops like mine with a 17 inch screen, I could only find boring, plain, black or gray suitcase or briefcase looking bags.  My search has ended though and thanks to Amy Michelle I now have a great new bag!

Cost

This bag, the Cosmo, is priced at $99.95.  Considering that even the too small bags I looked at were $79 and higher, this bag is a pretty good value for my need.  I have to share that while Amy Michelle markets their bags as an all in one, one of those uses is a diaper bag.  I know that the diaper bags I used cost far less than this but it has been 6 1/2 years since I last bought one.  That said, I'm sure that there are far more expensive diaper bags out there too.

Use

The Amy Michelle Cosmo bag is very versatile.  My laptop fits comfortably inside with plenty of room for other things too.  I was surprised that it can even hold my coupon binder.

There are many inside pockets in this bag.  I especially like the easy to find key ring.  I can see myself skipping a purse and just carrying this bag when taking my laptop on the go.  I like that I won't have to go digging in the bottom of it for my keys.

I'm pretty picky about how a bag feels when I carry it.  The double straps stay comfortably on my shoulder.  The buckle closure outside pocket can be easily accessed while the bag is on my shoulder.

Personal

Thank goodness my purpose for this bag is to carry my laptop, not diapers and such. (3 boys is enough for me!) Regardless of what is in the bag though, I love, love, love that it doesn't look like a diaper bag.  It has so much more style than the animal print or denim striped diaper bags I carried years ago.

When I first saw it online I asked my hubby and boys what they thought of it (secretly afraid that they say “Why do you need a diaper bag?”)  Each asked if I'd found a new purse. Thanks guys!  That's exactly what I wanted to hear!

Cheap

The best way to save on this or any Amy Michelle bag is to use Amazon Gift Cards earned through Swag Bucks searches.  Amy Michelle bags can be found online at their website, on Amazon or at these stores nationwide.  I wonder if a store near you ever has coupons or runs sales on Amy Michelle bags?

Facebook or Twitter are both great ways to stay in touch with new Amy Michelle products, events and possibly deals too.

Disclaimer: I received the Cosmo Bag from Amy Michelle to provide my honest opinions. This post has not been previewed or edited by the company. See the site Disclaimer Policy for additional information.

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Glasses from 39DollarGlasses.com

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on May 01, 2011

I received a pair of prescription sunglasses from 39DollarGlasses.com earlier this week. I am always looking for ways to change up my look and this new pair of glasses definitely does that! My absolute favorite glasses they had were the South Beach Burgundy.

Cost

This specific model is priced at $48.95 on 39DollarGlasses.com. However, they have glasses starting at $39.00. This is a great value on glasses.

Use

These glasses are both functional and practical. I love that I can wear my regular glasses out driving and not have to worry about fighting with strapping an attachment onto my glasses to shade the sun out of my eyes. Since the new sunglasses came with a case, I just keep them in my van and switch out at a stop light as needed.

The site is also very easy to navigate and has a Smart Fit option that allows you to “try on” the glasses based on your face shape.

Personal

I can tell you that I am not very gentle at times with my glasses. I tend to not always place them back in their case and have had quite a few pairs broken. So far these are standing up very well to my use (or abuse!) of them.

Cheap

39DollarGlasses.com pretty much says it all! All you need is your prescription from your doctor in your hand and you can log on and easily place an order for your glasses. Right now, you can also get 10% off by using the code 6HT443.

Do you wear glasses? What is your price point for buying?

Disclaimer: I received glasses from 39DollarGlasses.com to provide my honest opinions. This post has not been previewed or edited by the company. See the site Disclaimer Policy for additional information.

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