TECH

THE PERFECT MOTHERS’ DAY GIFT with CASE STATION

Thanks for everyone’s input on the last post regarding our family travels. Since then, we decided that the trip to Estes next month seemed more appealing to fly 1 hr as opposed to a 10 hr drive. Duh, right? So the flights are booked and the VRBO is reserved. We’re basically already there. 😉 The thought of minimal cleaning (oh, and quality time with my loves, of course) has me counting down the days. But now let’s talk about something else I’ve been pretty giddy about: my new phone case from Case Station.

I’m not a techie person, seldom wear a watch, and lose my phone daily. So getting me a tech-related gift for Mothers’ Day wouldn’t normally score the hubby many points. Until now. Recently, we each got a phone case from Case Station and I couldn’t be more satisfied with the design, quality and durability. In the world of a billion different phone cases, I wanted something personal and practical. “Personal” meaning I wanted the imagery to mean something to me. “Practical” meaning “when the girls I (who am I kidding?) drop it daily, it will hold up and prevent injury to my phone.” Here is why we think Case Station is a step above the rest in creating the perfect personalized phone case:

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WEEKLY RANDOMS

Trying something new here. Since I feel like my mind is always in ten different places at once– we’ll call it an “organized mess” if you will, I thought we’d start a series called “weekly randoms.” This is when I’ll share things not so much worthy of a whole post, but maybe odds and ends that we find and just everyday happenings. There are really no boundaries, so buckle your seat belts, people… it’s gonna be a wild ride!

Zillow Digs
If you are into interior design, this is a pretty cool app. I have always liked browsing the Zillow real estate app because it’s always fun to see what’s on the market (no, we don’t want to move anytime soon!), and now Zillow Digs came into my life and made my nights a whole lot less productive! It’s kind of like pinterest, but with just indoor and outdoor spaces. It is super descriptive as you can customize searches and calls out specific paint colors, prices on furniture and finishes… it’s basically awesome. So you should check it out.

ZillowDigs

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TRANSFORMATION COMPLETE

It’s been almost a month since we announced our domain change. After many late nights of designing our new look, we are super excited to be releasing it into the wild. We hope you are as happy with the fresh new look as we are. To kick things off, we wanted to highlight a few of the features we are most excited about.

WebLooks

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
I can’t say that Ashley was totally in love with the direction of the redesign in the early stages. The response I got when I showed her the “in process” format was less than confident. Luckily, she’s a girl who knows what she wants when it comes to design (and burritos…and I like her style). With a solid plan in place, I was able to get her back on board relatively quickly.  Continue reading TRANSFORMATION COMPLETE

OUR NEW DOMAIN

Yes, I am waaaaaay too excited about this, but I feel like my mind can finally rest a bit since we’ve found our true identity. (And yes, our family will now need coordinating super hero outfits like the Incredibles.) We typed a thousand (ok, maybe just 400) domain names into GoDaddy in search of the right fit for us. “The Sketch Pad” was among our faves, but it was taken– along with the other 399 domains tried. (FYI “Kids at Heart” is $28,000 if you’re interested in purchasing. Such a bargain. Psht!) It is definitely tricky to pinpoint our content and have it all defined by a domain. As my Dad put it, “How do you describe what you do when posts range from digging a yard trench to refurbishing a small desk?” I guess that’s true. Not super constructive. But true. (Love you, Dad!)

After all of the searching, we finally landed on “the MAD creative“. “But why that name?” Let us tell you so “you know why!“…

“MAD” is our family of three’s first initials: M for Mya, A for Ashley, and D for Derek. If we have another kiddo someday (no, I’m not prego!), the “MAD” will stand for the “Mom and Dad” creative, which we feel is a good fit for us. I am in my happy place when creating. I crave projects and everything related to the home. And even if it’s just creating memories, that’s what we’re all about. Hopefully the “MAD” won’t give-off a negative vibe because that is obviously not our intent.

Coder2

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DIY LAPTOP FAN REPAIR

We’ve all had that pop-up or blue screen on our computer at some point. You know, the one that tells you stop what you are doing and prepare for impending disaster. Somehow, even the most harmless notifications give off the vibe that your computer is about to go bye-bye. Luckily, just like fixing your phone problems, a little research and hands on work can keep your computer up and running and cash in your wallet.

Warning

I got this warning a couple of months ago while doing some work. As suggested, I promptly saved my work and shut down the computer to figure out what was going on. Obviously, a problem with the cooling system means trouble. If your computer overheats, the internal components can be damaged. This could lead to slow computing speeds, a shortened lifespan, or even data loss. All things you want to avoid.

The first step was to confirm what the error was telling me– a problem with the cooling system. Though this warning can be caused by a few things, it most likely means the fan is not running properly. Turning the computer back on briefly to verify, the fan was definitely not turning on. Removing, cleaning, and re-installing the fan can often solve the problem. If not, replacing with a new one will do the trick.

Fan

Taking your computer to a repair center will likely set you back $100 or more. If you are up for doing the job yourself, you should be able to replace your fan for under $20. Though simple, it’s a bit of a process to access the fan. Because of this and the fact that each computer is a little different, I’ll spare you the step-by-step. (But Laptop Inventory has a good video tutorial that I used for our Toshiba Satellite L775. You can find your model and a number of other DIY repair videos on this site as well.) I removed the fan (which wasn’t visibly dirty), cleaned it (compressed air and/or a clean paintbrush work well), and re-installed to see if that solved the error message. After getting the computer put back together and turned on, the fan was turning on and there was no more error messages.

Board

Success! Free repairs are the best. Even if cleaning doesn’t work out, $15 to $20 for a new fan doesn’t sound so bad. Plus, Ashley and I think the motherboard is pretty sweet to see (yeah, we’re nerds). Looks like a little electronic city.

GIFT GUIDE: FATHERS’ DAY

We hope you (or if you’re a dude– your “baby mama”) had a beautiful Mothers’ Day. And now Fathers’ Day is right around the corner: June 15th. Here are some gift ideas that the men in our family have tried, tested, and approved!

GiftPics

1. Cocoon GRID-IT organization system. Comes in a variety of sizes. My Dad is THE gadget guy, so he has a lot of cords and techie thingamajigs. I got this for him a couple years ago and he thought it was pretty sweet. He has it attached it to his car console. $12

2. The Buffer Bit car/ shoe shining kit. (As seen on Shark Tank!) Attaches to any cordless drill and doesn’t require any polish. Contains (3) wool buffing pads. I ordered it for my brother and he gave us the following review: “My chrome was already pretty clean, but it seems to work pretty well.” $20

3. Etsy shop Bitsandbadges. This Etsy designer has it figured out. From sports ball cufflinks to lego cufflinks and tie-slides, we are definitely fans! $7+

4. Shutterfly mug. Last year, Derek got this for Father’s Day. He claims it is one of his favorite gifts and uses it everyday at work. $10

5. Tervis Brew Tumbler. My Gramps drinks his water out of this daily. A good, sturdy, keep-it-cool (or hot) drinking vessel. $20

6. Craftsman 12.0V Drill/ Driver. My Dad got this for Derek and we use it all the time. Lightweight, comes with charger, battery, and compact carrying case. It is our go-to drill. $50

7. Craftsman Multi-Bit Screwdriver. Also a gift from my Dad. Autoloading bits makes every project so much easier and faster! $20

8. Bungee Cords. Can’t go wrong with bungee cords. (Prices vary, but you can get a 24-pack of assorted lengths for $9 at Home Depot.)

Hope this makes shopping for the men a little easier. What are some of your favorite guy gifts?

HUGE thanks to these two for a blessed Mothers’ Day weekend… and life.

#oneluckymama

DandM

REVIEW: iReTron – SELL YOUR USED ELECTRONICS

Since we’ve begun to master the at home date night, we’ve made it a habit to energize our creative side and make Shark Tank a staple of our Friday nights. We are inspired by the new ideas people come up with and the dedication they have to try to make their dreams a reality. Plus, it is a great opportunity to look for fun and exciting new products to try out.

One company in particular caught our eye in season five – iReTron. Their mission is to reduce the environmental impact from improperly discarding old, worn out electronics – e-waste – by reusing and recycling these devices. To help achieve this goal, they pay competitive prices to buy your old electronics from you and ensure that they are used to their fullest extent and handled responsibly when it comes time to dispose of them. To top it all off, the founder and CEO is still a senior in high school.
iReTron The timing of this episode was very convenient. We had just repaired a phone to upgrade Ashley to a newer model, so we were sitting with a spare iPhone that we no longer had a use for. Right away, we checked out iReTron along with a number of its competitors such as Gazelle, uSell, and Amazon. To our delight, iReTron’s offer was as good as or better than all of the other options we looked at.

The process of selling to iReTron was extremely easy and convenient. The first step was getting the offer. From the home page you can search for a wide range of devices and manufacturers to find what you are selling. Once you find your specific device, you simply select the condition it is in and any accessories that you would like to supply with it and you have your offer. If you like what you see, you can proceed to checkout and finish the transaction.

iReTron Screen

After finalizing and accepting the offer you will get an e-mail with a shipping label to mail your device free of charge. All you have to do is box it up, drop it by the post office, and wait for your payday. You can login to your account to check the status of your sale throughout the process, but after receiving and reviewing the condition of your device, they will send an e-mail to confirm the order has been completed. We got our check in the mail within a week after that (or you can be paid via PayPal).

Overall, iReTron gave us the highest offer, had good communication throughout the process, and had a check in our hands in a short time frame. We would highly recommend checking it out if you’ve got some spare electronics hanging around. You’ll feel good about doing your part to reduce e-waste and enjoy a little extra cash in your pocket!

diyPHONE: $7 BATTERY REPLACEMENT

Having to take your iPhone in for repair can cost a pretty penny. Luckily, if you don’t mind a quick and easy project you can save yourself some serious coin. Ashley’s phone was recently giving us fits, suddenly turning off as if it was dead when it still had 20-40% battery left. Even though she goes most of the day not knowing where her phone is, the idea of an unreliable phone not working when she actually does need it wasn’t something we wanted to mess with! So, it was time to replace the battery.

I planned to replace it myself, but was curious what it would cost to take it to the pros. According to the Apple website, a new battery will set you back $79. Yikes! A quick search online led me to a great DIY repair guide at iFixit – an awesome site with guides and kits for fixing anything from cars to toasters. With a little more searching I found my repair kit on eBay. A new battery and all the tools needed to do the job (plus a few extras), just $6.89 shipped! I was able to swap out the battery in about 15 minutes for less than 10% of the cost of taking it to the store! So, if your phone is in need of a new battery or you’re just curious what the inside of an iPhone looks like, check out the process below:

PhoneBattery1

HOW TO REPLACE THE BATTERY IN iPHONE 4S

STEP ONE: REMOVE BACK PANEL After turning off the power to your device, use the 5-point pentalobe screwdriver to remove the two screws on the bottom edge of the phone next to the charging port. Slide the back panel toward the top of the phone (about 2mm) and carefully lift and remove the panel from the phone

PhoneBattery2

STEP TWO: DISCONNECT THE BATTERY Remove the two screws from the battery connector using the Phillips screwdriver. Be sure to note the position of each for reassembly – the lower screw (blue circle) is slightly longer than the upper (yellow circle). The small, black grounding clip (left image, yellow arrow) is attached with the upper screw and sits under the connector. This piece is small, so be sure not to lose it when removing the connector. Using the plastic opening tool, gently pull the connector (silver plate) off of the contact, being careful to only pull the connector so you do not damage the contact beneath (right image, yellow arrow).

PhoneBattery3

STEP THREE: REMOVE THE BATTERY Use the plastic opening tool to pry the battery up, placing the tool between the right side of the battery and outer frame of the phone (arrows). There is a lot of adhesive holding the battery in place, so you will need to gently pry from several points to detach the battery and lift it out of the case.

PhoneBattery4b

STEP FOUR: INSTALL NEW BATTERY AND REASSEMBLE Set the new battery into the case and press firmly in place. Reassemble the phone following the instructions in reverse order, making sure all components are in the correct place and properly aligned.

Now, go enjoy that extra $70 you’ve got in your pocket! If you have any cool DIY tech tips we’d love to hear about them.

HEARTY HELLO

2014card

This card is what happens when you don’t get your New Years’ cards sent before Valentines’ Day. I’m happy with how it turned out and we’ve learned how to not spend a ton of money on cards/ invites: We used to order pre-designed cards through Shutterfly (and although I order other gifts/ keepsakes from Shutterfly, their cards were just too expensive for us.) We now use PowerPoint to create our cards and print them at Costco’s photo center. Cool fact: you do not have to be a Costco member to utilize their photo center– it just requires that your order be shipped to you. If you are a member, you also have the option of picking up your order at one of their locations (which Derek usually does while grabbing one of their $1.50 hot dog/ soda deals on his lunch break!)

Before making our 2014 card, I didn’t know how to stretch text vertically in PowerPoint, but Derek taught me a trick:

2014cardHT

[ 1. Select the text box you would like to stretch, 2. Format, 3. Text Effects, 4. Transform, 5. Select top left box under “warp”. These actions stretch your text to fit your text box. You can then play around with size and overall appearance. I did this with every individual text box on our card to add some interest. ]

I also varied fonts and colors. I didn’t want the card to look too “girly” with all the pink, but Derek approved; so we placed our order online through Costco. (Costco cost for 100 cards was $42.42; Shutterfly cost would’ve been $96.16 — yikes!)

And just because it’s fun to reflect on Derek’s facial hair our growing family, here are the last 4 years of holiday cards:

cardcompare

We hope we help you save some money in the future! How do you guys make holiday cards/ party invites/ etc?!