Category Archives: Reviews

Crio Bru Review: Brewing Cocoa

Crio Bru

This last week I was so excited to receive some samples of Crio Bru to review. This is a cocoa beverage that is brewed in a coffee maker just like coffee grounds. This intrigued me to no end!

Here is the gist. They roast and grind the cocoa beans then you brew it in your coffee maker (be it drip or press).  The beverage is 10 calories, unsweetened and gluten free. You can even reuse the grounds! You just had half again of new to go with it.

Ok, so that is all the official stuff. Lets get  into my actual experience.

First off, there are brewing instruction on the back of the package that are similar to coffee. It calls for 2 tablespoons per cup. But I recommend brewing it however you brew your coffee! I like weak coffee and I found it a little strong and bitter for my taste. I then brewed it according to my wimpy coffee standards and it was perfect!

This should be sold for fragrance in addition to taste! My kids were so disappointed that the smell was not a sign of baking. And it is quite tasty too! Each variety really does have its own taste! The Cavalla was sweeter to me with hints of coconut. The Maya reminded me of those really high quality truffles with hints of spice with the sweetness of vanilla to balance it.

This is a really delicious way to meet your chocolate cravings and to relax. I highly recommend it. I am even contemplating switching out my coffee (now that is dedication;).

Have you tried Crio Bru? I am curious to what you all thought! Let me know in the comments! Anything you are curious about that I didn’t mention? Leave your questions in the comments and I will let you know!

*Update: You can get this online or at a few shops in the Midwest.

(Disclosure: I am a participating Influencer at The Entertainment New Media Network. I have received free product for review to facilitate this post. I was not compensated for this review and all expressed opinions are strictly my own.)



The Big Bad Wolf Goes on Vacation


It is summer and while school is on break for many it is the perfect time for reading for fun! The Big Bad Wolf Goes on Vacation by Delphine Perret is a book I recently received to review! It is a fun and light hearted follow up The Big Bad Wolf and Me. With minimalist style pencil illustrations and delightful story it is a perfect book for children about preK-2nd grade! It is all about Louis and his pet “wolf” Bernard.

Wolf spread 2 Bernard

Louis is finishing up school and is taking a road trip to the beach with his grandpa all the while accompanied by Bernard. It is witty and sweet, kind of like a very innocent Calvin and Hobbes;). So even as a parent I find it a fun read to do with my kids.

Before I go, here is a quick vacation tip from The Big Bad Wolf: Don’t eat the children (you’ll have no one to play with!).

You can pick it up from Barnes & Noble or Amazon!

(A thanks to Sterling Children’s Books for sending me a copy to review!!! While they sent me the book, the opinions are mine!)

Dora Let’s Play Backpack for iPad Giveaway

It is shocking but even when you have 4 kids you still can get 1 that is left out. At this point the one who can get left out the most is my baby, NerdPud. The older kids will all be in science classes or have homework. Since she is in Kindergarten all of her schooling is one on one and all fun. Which is great but it means I need to find ways to engage her while the older kids are busy! I also need to get this kid to read!!! She has been sort of doing it since she was 4 but she doesn’t have any interest in reading fluently.

Enter in Dora Let’s Play Backpack! It is a great new iPad accessory from Discovery Bay Games. It is in their Duo line of iPad games and accessories. You buy the backpack and then download the free app from iTunes. The backpack itself sits over the iPad and interactively with the app. There are 4 different types of adventures: ‘Let’s Listen,’ ‘Let’s Pack,’ ‘Let’s Match,’ and ‘Say It Two Ways’. Both players have tokens and place them on the spot that corresponds with their answer. The correct answer’s spot will open and the tokens will go into the backpack. The first person out of tokens wins!

I need to declare something up front. My kids are NOT allowed free access to my iPad. But they can earn access or when I am waiting for some kids, I use it as a bonding activity with them. That is where the Dora’s Let’s Play Backpack comes into the picture. Not only is it giving me a way to engage with her and have that valuable bonding time but it also serves as a great reward for reading. She doesn’t even notice that she is actually learning;). She loves it so much that she asks if she can read to me so she can play with Dora’s Backpack;).

The one and only problem I have had (everything can’t be hearts and flowers people) is using it outside. The first time I was using it she and I were outside under shade. We couldn’t get the backpack to interact with the app. But as soon as we went inside it worked perfectly!

You can pick up a Dora Let’s Play Backpack from Amazon for $39.99 or win one here for free!!!! Discovery Bay Games has graciously offered to give 1 away to one of my readers (In the US only, sorry)!

Mandatory Entry:

Leave a comment on this post answering this question from the NerdPud(yes, it really is what she wanted to know;): “How old were you when you learned how to read?”

Extra Entries (leave a comment for each thing you do):

-Subscribe to my rss feed
-Follow me on twitter and tweet about this giveaway!
-Subscribe to my site by email
-Post about this giveaway

This giveaway will close October 1, 2012!

(Disclosure: I was given a Dora Let’s Play Backpack to review by Discovery Bay Games)


Who?Comics App

Thank you to who?Comics for sponsoring this post and encouraging my child to read biographies in comic book form! Please click here to learn more about the app. And follow who? Comics on Twitter for updates

As you all know, I am a big fan of reading and an even bigger fan of learning! So you can just imagine how excited I was to  receive the opportunity to use the who?Comics app on my iPad with my kids!

Who?Comics is a free app and it comes with 2 books. There are 27 other books available for purchase. Some are sold individually but there are also packs available.  Which of course, are a better deal;). So I got the Scientists pack (surprise, surprise;).  Right off we checked out Marie Curie and Thomas Edison!

Here is a little detail you should know going in. These comics are not the super quick, over view type comics. There are 150 pages of details about the subject’s personal life. Which means it isn’t a quick read! I was very familiar with Marie Curie and I learned so much! NerdPie and I even cried at 2 different spots.

So what is my overall feel? Well, I love the idea of having these on the iPad for easy access! The art is clear and the story line moves at a good clip. This isn’t going to be a situation where you can read the whole thing in the doctor’s waiting room and that can be a good thing. This app was developed over seas and so there are a few translation issues. Due to that and the fact that these really deal with real life situations, I would make sure you child is near you when they read them. I had to explain about certain illnesses and certain historical events that were mentioned in the books we read. There was an assumption that the kids understood everything but mine had quite gotten there yet. (For example, why and how Poland was being occupied By Russia and how they weren’t supposed to speak Polish.)

My kids thoroughly enjoyed these comics! My kids are even asking for books from the library so they can learn even more! Both about the people in the stories and the science they discovered!

Thank you again to who? Comics for sponsoring my post. Please click here to learn more about the app. Visit who? Comics for updates. I was selected for this opportunity by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own. #CleverWhoComics #spon

Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 – Diary week 4

Thank you to Ubisoft for providing me with a copy of Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012 and sponsoring this fitness diary series. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own.

I met my objective, 360 minutes of activity in four weeks!  I had a slow start since during the first week I wasn’t up for doing the medium activity exercises that qualified to be counted toward my objective.


One of the activity sets is a set created in a partnership with Humana, Inc.
It has three workout programs: Strengthen Your Heart, focused on high blood pressure; Active Kids, targeted at preventing childhood obesity; and Aging With Grace, designed to help elder mobility and agility. These were a little tougher for me than I thought they would be.  However, I did notice one of the benefits of using the Your Shape program.  Several times I had decided to give up or slow down but when the next exercise in the routine came on the screen, I’d try it and get back into the swing of it.

My weight is still edging up, which means I’m still building muscle (I hope). I definitely have more energy and more stamina. I’m able to many of the 15+ minute routines without too much trouble.  I’m still not doing too much jumping around, but I can tell there’s been a big improvement when doing exercises where I need to kick or bring up my knees.

I’ll be posting one more diary update next week.  Here’s week 1 and last week. After that, we’ll be giving away a free copy of YFSE to a random commenter chosen from the comments on one of the five diary posts, including this one.

PS I still haven’t missed a day since I started the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Every day, rain or shine!

Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 – Diary week 3

Thank you to Ubisoft for providing me with a copy of Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012 and sponsoring this fitness diary series. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own.

Well, I weighed myself this week.  I’m kind of glad that I didn’t do that at the start of my exercising because I would have put the focus on my weight instead of my overall fitness, which is definitely improving.  I got out a couple of my old shirts, which seem to fit better than they did when I put them away.  But at this point, I don’t have a lot of outward improvement.  What I do have is increased flexibility, more energy (which I’ve mostly been wasting by staying up too late) and more stamina for the workouts.  I’ll track my weight again in a few weeks, but I plan on building more muscle before I lose much fat.

Last Saturday, the team I’ve been coaching went to our first Lego robotics competition. It was a long day of standing and walking around, but I seemed to do better than I normally do in this type of situation.  What I was dreading was how I would feel Sunday and Monday, which is when I usually pay for an unusual day of activity.  But when I woke up, I was feeling mostly fine, which is my new normal. (I’m a little achy every day.  Not much, but I can feel my muscles all the time now.  I think this will wear off in time, but even now it’s not that bad.)

I’ve been trying out more of the activities this week.  My wife got me to try a Bollywood workout when we first got the program.  I’ve been doing it most mornings.  It’s low impact and not too fast, and I find it easier than even the Zen activities.  (At my size, slowly posing and stretching requires a lot of energy.)  Under an activity category, like Bollywood, there are multiple selections, each listing a level of difficulty (Easy, Medium, or Hard) and the number of minutes you’ll be working out.  After going through the two short and easy “training” sessions over a few days, I started doing a Medium, 15-minute routine that I’ve been doing most mornings this week.  Each routine is broken up into several different moves or exercises, and you do several sets of each exercise throughout the routine.  Each exercise has multiple parts and the program tells you for each part if you’ve done it correctly by marking it with a green dot (and a small chime).  At the end of each set, it tells you what percent you did correctly and then there is an overall percentage at the end of the routine.  This morning I got 90% correct, which I guess means I’m a grade A exerciser.

Several of the others seem to follow the same pattern.  I’ve done Hip Hop a couple times, but don’t have the hang of it yet, and Cardio Boxing, which is fun but definitely leaves me winded.

Bootcamp: Running, push-ups, and attacking

The Bootcamp activity is a little crazy.  It includes these attack moves like the Sumo Squat Attack and the Double Knee Kick Attack.  It also has running and push-ups.  Now I haven’t done a push-up in my adult life (and not many as a kid) so I’m looking forward to be able to complete this one, but I’m not there yet.

I’m still working out every day and don’t have any plans to stop.  I’ve really been suprised how entrenched this has become as part of my daily routine.

I’ll be posting diary updates every week for two more weeks.  Here’s week 1 and week 2. After that, we’ll be giving away a free copy of YFSE to a random commenter chosen from the comments on one of the five diary posts, including this one.

Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 – Diary week 2

Thank you to Ubisoft for providing me with a copy of Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012 and sponsoring this fitness diary series. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own.

Week two and I haven’t missed a day yet!

  • This week, I’m definitely noticing that the workouts are getting easier and that I have more stamina.
  • I’m used to muscle aches being due to a one-time event, like helping someone move.  After a couple days, they would go away and I’m back to “normal”.  Now the aches I’m feeling mean I’m stretching myself and I’ll be better than “normal” when they go away.
  • I’m pro-rut. That is, I like to do get in a habit (some good, some bad).  I so surprised that I’m now in the habit of exercising every morning.  I’m actually wondering what it will feel like the first day that I don’t get up and work out.
  • I’m feeling it in my ankles.  It’s a little weird, but I guess my ankles need strengthening also.
  • There are targeted exercise routines for different parts of the body, so you can focus on your arms or your abs, etc.  Since I’m on the “shape up” program, I’ve been trying out a little of all of them (except the one listed as “sports preparation”, that one seems a little too intense for me.)
  • The loading times between exercises is easier to handle now that I’m not just doing the two-minute starter ones.  I don’t mind a little break.
Bootcamp: That's not me on the right

When I first started it had me select an objective, and I said I wanted to “shape up and slim down”.  It then set a goal for 360 minutes of exercise (30 minutes a day, 3 days a week, for 4 weeks).  But at the end of last week, I was only at 6% done.  I figured out my problem.  As part of its plan for me, it wants me to choose from a set of specific activities.  Unfortunately for me, that set doesn’t include a lot of the very basic easy ones.  Now that I’m ready to move from light to medium exercise, I’m doing more from the “shape up” set and am now up to 22% done meeting my objective.  I’m planning on hitting 100% before the end of the year.  It’s also showing me as burning almost 600 calories so far, but most of those were this week as well.

I’ll be posting diary updates every week for the next three weeks.  Here’s week 1. After that, we’ll be giving away a free copy of YFSE to a random commenter chosen from the comments on one of the five diary posts, including this one.

Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 – Diary week 1

Thank you to Ubisoft for providing me with a copy of Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012 and sponsoring this fitness diary series. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own.

I’m not into fitness.  I lead a fairly sedentary life and I like it that way.  I like the weather to be 72 degrees and fluorescent.  So it’s not shocking that I’m out of shape. I’m also software developer and my hobbies are programming, playing computer and board games, and watching TV.   That’s why I jumped at the chance to review Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012, or YSFE for short.  My wife just picked up an Xbox 360 on a Black Friday sale and this way I get to work out and play video games at the same time!

I just saw a post on Lifehacker on giving your New Year’s resolution a 30-day trial, and I’m already doing that!  YSFE recommends 3 workouts a week, but I’ve been doing it every morning this week.  I left the house this morning at 5:30, but I still got up a little earlier that I would have so that I could work out. My biggest surprise was that I had more energy than I did before.  I had been planning on going to bed earlier to offset the early mornings, but I didn’t and I still had more energy all day.

Some notes from Week 1:

  • There’s a several minute intro video that you have to watch once per person.  I first watched it when my wife was signed in, then had to watch it again before my first workout.
  • The Kinect interface works very well. We have a Wii Fit Plus, which works well for specific activities, but the Kinect really tracks all of your movements pretty accurately for working out and for navigating through the menus.
  • Some of the warm-ups are really fun.  My favorite is the Wall Breaker which is basically a punching and kicking game.
  • Waiting for each workout to load seems to take a long time, and it either shows you how to do the workout (for the simple warm-up ones) or it shows a health fact or tip.  But there’s only a few tips and they repeat over and over.
  • The workouts are targeted at specific areas, like cardio or glutes, and do a good job demonstrating the exercises as well as monitoring you and telling you when you’re not doing them right.  This is very helpful since I tend to cheat (that is score the points with the least amount of effort).
  • Also, I’m so out of shape that I often run out of steam during the longer routines. (I’m expecting this to change over the next few weeks.)  Some of the workouts expect dumbells, but I wasn’t prepared.
  • There’s a wide variety of activities from running through Manhattan to performing a Bollywood dance number.  It may take me a month to try them all.
The Sumo Squat: My next challenge

My goal when I started YSFE was to slim down so that I could fit more comfortably in some of my older clothes (I think they shrink over time).  I can’t tell if that’s happening but I can certainly say that my energy level is way up and I think I’m going to try to stick to my every day schedule.  If I can make it to New Year’s Eve, I might actually have enough energy to stay up until midnight this year!

I’ll be posting diary updates every week for the next four weeks.  After that, we’ll be giving away a free copy of YFSE to a random commenter chosen from the comments on one of the five diary posts, including this one.

Make Phone Calls on Your iPad


I just got my brand new iPad 2 and am loving checking out all the cool apps that are making my life better! My most recent free find is Talk a Tone.

This is a great utility for utilizing you free Google voice! It is super easy to use where you just input your Google voice info. Then you can both make and receive calls! Your a given different compression choices and the sound is pretty good. Depending on your connection there may be just a little lag buy I haven’t found it to be a problem at all.

So go, talk and enjoy! All for free!