Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness Review

Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness Review

Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness is my new obsession! Check out my video review below and/or keep reading to hear why I’ve deemed it worthy a place on this blog (heh though note: this is a sponsored post, but that doesn’t change the fun I had with this game!!)


Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness – A Review

Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness is a computer game set in Iceland where a ship captain by the name of Magnus has suddenly disappeared…along with the treasure! Was he thrown overboard? Did he run away with the gold? Or is something more nefarious afoot?

Now I’ll admit that as a 31-year old mother of two, my video game skills aren’t what they used to be! That said, this game was an absolutely blast to play and I only died like three times!! (*hold for applause…*)

The storyline is really well written and every character you encounter has such a vibrant – and often hilarious – personality. My favorite by far was Dagny, the gal who hired Nancy Drew to help her find Magnus and their missing treasure. Dagny is sassy and solid, a well-built character that’s sure to keep you entertained.

The graphics of this game are also phenomenal. Maybe it’s the early Illinois winter that’s come our way, but I often felt like I was actually in Iceland!

Now I will recommend that you bring an extra cup of coffee with you as you sit down to play because the puzzles…phew! There were some tough ones!! Luckily HeR Interactive provides a strategy guide, because frankly I’d be lost without it.

Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness makes for a fun game to play alone or with a friend! If you have children who are a bit older (i.e. not my 3 & 5 yr olds) then invite them to help you out as you explore the wonderful town of Skipbrot and work to find Magnus.


Review of Nancy Drew Sea of Darkness PC game - an especially great video game for girls who love puzzles or mysteries to solve!


I think my favorite part of the game is of course the strong female protagonist combined with the first-person PoV…or maybe it’s that I could make a “fatal error” and wouldn’t have to start all over again!

This game would make for a wonderful holiday gift, as would Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water’s Edge – hey why not buy them both and enjoy them over the long holiday weekend? Just don’t forget those strategy guides!

Did you read Nancy Drew as a child?

Comment below, I’d love to know your favorite book!



Review Software, Receive Starbucks

Review Software, Receive Starbucks

What if you could review software you use at work every day and receive a $10 Starbucks gift card? A for REAL gift card, not “entered into a drawing” nonsense?

Well, you can! We were contacted by both Capterra and G2, two companies that let the real experts – namely you and I, who actually use products everyday – review various software programs. They use this information to give credible advice on what software to use, and in return, they’ll pay you in an electronic Starbucks gift card.

Make Money Reviewing Software

Capterra Review

January 2019 Update: My original review of Capterra here has been removed as I’ve heard from more and more of you that they tend to shut down your accounts for faulty reasons and give you no chance at an appeal. I reached out to them for clarification and not only did it take them TWO WEEKS to respond (?!!) but they sent a form response that addressed none of the questions I’d sent them.

I personally made $70 from Capterra and had no issues, in fact they offered me $100 to send ya’ll their way, but know this – I will ALWAYS choose honesty over money. 

Unfortunately due to their poor customer services skills and the fact that they randomly close legitimate accounts, I cannot and will not recommend them.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Why one blogger changed her honest review of @Capterra – #software #badbusiness #customerservicefail” quote=”Honesty is the best policy – choosing truth over payment.”]

G2 Review

G2 is more IT and HR oriented, so it’s conceivable that not everything you’ve got experience with will be something they need a review on, but it’s absolutely worth your time to check. Though you can only write 5 total reviews for G2, if they’re for under-reviewed software or something that is particularly important, they’ll pay you $10 for each one.

Like Capterra, G2 pays out in electronic gift cards to Amazon or Starbucks. It’s a nice way to get that coffee fix while you gear up for Black Friday shopping or sitting at home in your pajamas for Cyber Monday (which really depends on your personality, doesn’t it?)

The other benefit to G2 over Capterra is the turnaround on payout; G2 gets you your card in at most 48 hours. They process the reviews fairly but quickly and I love it!

Check out G2 and get to reviewing!

Out of curiosity, what’s your favorite software?

Comment below and let me know!

5 Brands That Make the Best “Unplugged” Toys for Toddlers

5 Brands That Make the Best “Unplugged” Toys for Toddlers

Struggling to limit your child’s screentime? We’ve all been there!

Chances are good you’ve heard the following at least once or twice…

“When I was growing up, we played outside from sunup to sundown.”

“I’m glad I grew up when kids still played instead of looking at a screen all day.”

“When I was a kid our neighborhood had 1 stick and some rocks and we had to share them and that was our fun!”

There’s no doubt that youngsters these days (I can feel myself aging as I type this) often have significantly more interaction with the light from a tablet than they do the light from the sun.

It’s a serious struggle as a parent to not just balance screen time with play time, but to make play time intuitive, fun, and creative. Luckily, there are companies out there still making analogue toys that prompt your children to partake in imaginative play while also encouraging exploration and learning.

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases which may be linked below.


kinderfeets balance bike

I’d seen these odd little wooden bikes with the chalkboard paint and no pedals and thought “how would that even work”?

You know what, though? My kid figured it out with essentially no prompting and was beyond excited to roll on down the road!

Kinderfeets makes bikes, trikes, and the like for kids from the age where they can start to totter around up to about 5 years old. Built from wood and metal, they’re sturdy, colorful, and best of all, they’re intuitive. They’re designed in a way that encourages a child to discover how to move them just by pushing with their feet. As they get older, the child can alternate pushing and putting their feet on the pedal-rests to coast. This creates a natural method for learning the balance needed to ride a bike as they get older.

We love them honestly because they’re really neat and they make a great transition tool to real “big kid” bikes without the pain that is training wheels.


Boy these things have come a long way since I was a kid, when they were essentially dowel rods and wooden wheels with holes in them. Now there’s a host of different pieces, connectors, patterns, and ideas. Our kids have a lot of different building-type toys, but they seem to be most interested in the Tinkertoys, I think mostly because the designs are so different than traditional interconnected blocks.

I’m not bashing Legos; they’re great (except when you step on them in the middle of the night and your screams wake up the neighborhood). The thing I find more appealing about Tinkertoys for a younger child is that the company gives you some designs to build, but they don’t lock you down into a single design initially. What I mean is that with Legos, you’re buying a Dragon Castle or a Millenium Falcon, and that’s awesome, but it takes away some of the imaginative fun that little kids crave.

Uncle Goose

Wooden blocks are great – they’re a chunky, fun way to learn some letters and also some gross motor skills. The problem with blocks, however, is that they kind of become relegated to the “baby toys” box not too long after your kids figure out how to play with nearly anything else.

But what if you could buy blocks that taught more than a few rudimentary letters and numbers? Uncle Goose specializes in wooden blocks that come in a wide variety of prints and subjects. Some of these include “Women who dared”, the periodic table of elements, and various ancient fossils. This opens up worlds of new play and longevity in a fairly simple product. They’re high-quality and just really, really cool, and the diversity of topics and versions is pretty extensive.

Melissa and Doug

Our kids have had Melissa and Doug toys since they were very young; our son got his first fishing pole puzzle when he was maybe 8 months old. I’ll never forget when he first learned to say “uh-oh” while playing with this toy, it was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

He couldn’t quite work the fishing pole to “catch” the fish with the magnetic tip, but he sure liked grabbing the thick, wooden, colorful pieces (and occasionally trying to eat them, but who can blame him…)

This well loved-on puzzle then went to our daughter, who added her own teeth marks and marker scribbles, and we’re still going to keep it. Melissa and Doug toys are predominately wooden and high-quality toys that are durable enough for the most discerning of toddler taste-buds. They also make storage tables, pretend-play centers (like this adorable lemonade stand), puppet theaters, and all manner of crafting supplies.

We love them because their products will stand up to the abuse that kids throw at them, but they stop short of constraining your children into a specific way of playing. We absolutely love them!

Boon Toys

There’s a ton of toys made for bath time; what makes Boon any different? Well, they offer toys and innovative accessories for meal time and bath time, but they’ve taken it to an adorable level. From starfish and manta ray drain covers to the “frog pod”, a water bucket that doubles as a container for your kids’ endless amount of bath time toys, there’s some really great stuff here.

I think my favorite part of Boon toys are that they’re made with bath in mind, built to avoid some of the gross watery mold problems average bath toys fall victim to.

Limiting Screentime

Unplugged toys are really great for challenging your kids to not be as passively entertained. When kids need to think, look, engage, and learn while they play – especially when they’re younger – they learn problem solving skills and imaginative thinking that will help them all throughout their life. While general wooden blocks can be great, it’s so important to find toys that your children will actually want to play with and that will stand up to test of time.

Now I’m curious – what was YOUR favorite toy as a child? Tell me about in the comments below!

GenF20 Plus for Moms

GenF20 Plus for Moms

As a busy business mom, I’m constantly on the go, working with clients, taking my kids all over, and everything else that’s expected of moms these days. I get to the gym when I can but most of my energy comes in the form of a delicious, brewed miracle bean drink called “coffee”.

So when the opportunity arose to try a supplement that supposedly reduces symptoms of aging and fatigue – and it wasn’t coffee – I was skeptical, but intrigued. GenF20 Plus is supposed to spur the body to create HGH through a mix of herbs, neurotransmitters, and amino acids.

Again, I was skeptical, but I thought it might be worth giving it a shot; my husband has been taking the male version of this product (TestRX) and seems to like it. The increase in HGH is supposed to give you a boost in energy, focus, help with weight loss, and increase your libido. If you follow me on the Thrifty Guardian Facebook page, you may have noticed my husband and I were featured in The Wall Street Journal about how Netflix impacts our love life, so that last benefit made me chuckle…but is also relevant to most married couples and parents.

All of that sounded good so I took the plunge and started my GenF20 Plus experiment.

GenF20 Review

GenF20 Plus Review

What is HGH?

HGH stands for human growth hormone, and from the moment you’re born it drives everything in your body from organ development to height. As we age, there’s less and less of it to go around, and this creates tell-tale signs of aging like wrinkles, fatigue, and that sort of general laggy feeling. Weight lifting increases HGH, as does fasting, but this supplement claims to boost them in addition to all that other stuff.

Supplementing with GenF20 Plus supposedly:

  • Increases muscle mass, which will boost your metabolism
  • Helps burn fat
  • Reduces the signs of aging
  • Improves mood
  • Improves sleep
  • Boosts libido
  • Provides more energy

There are more supposed benefits but I was certainly interested in sleeping better, burning fat, and having more energy. I decided to try the supplement for 2 weeks and see how I felt.

How does GenF20 stimulate HGH production?

As I said before, it’s cocktail of various things, but essentially there are ingredients that boost metabolism, ones that are directly linked to HGH production, and ones that reduce stress and inflammation. Together these work to fight against some main causes of early aging (obesity, stress, and inflammation).

L-arginine, L-lysine, L-ornithine, and L-glutamine are all amino acids and they work in tandem to boost HGH levels, along with GTF chromium and deer velvet antler. They also throw in GABA, which is a neurotransmitter that helps calm you down and helps with clarity of thought along with colostrum. Finally astralgus root and l-tyrosine help relieve stress, reduce fatigue, and boost your metabolism for better energy and fat burning.

Apparently in addition to the benefits the supplement is directly intended for – increasing HGH basically – the ingredients are also useful for younger looking skin, lowering cholesterol, and improving hair and nails. As a mom I can definitely get behind literally all of that.

How Much to Take

So the pills are normal supplement pills, and the ideal dosage is 4 capsules a day, roughly 2 in the late morning and 2 in the afternoon (about an hour before dinner). That adds up to a whopping 120 pills a month which is kind of intense. There is also an oral spray bottle that you spray under your tongue and then don’t eat or drink for 30 minutes following.

Does GenF20 work?

I’ve been taking it for 3 weeks now, and I do feel like it’s giving me energy. The first few days when I took it I felt especially focused and energized. Now it seems more like a steady ability to stay focused on a project or task, and less mental fatigue. It’s especially nice after I take it in the afternoon as I find I’m less eager to zone out in the evening, so I’m getting more done.

I have seen some weight loss but I think that would be even better if I were dieting or exercising in a focused way. One thing at a time, eh?

My nails are growing better, and I can’t really tell if my hair is different. Heh if you’re new to who I am, my hair is incredibly long and luxurious. (*brag alert!*)

Overall, it does seem to provide better focus and energy, and the rest of the benefits, though potentially coincidental, do seem to be there.

The Cost

Ah now here’s where I battle frugality vs productivity…

A 1-month supply of GenF20 is $82.99, which I feel is pretty steep given that’s about how much I spend on a week’s worth of groceries for my family of four. While it is possible that taking it for months on end with a super tight workout and dietary plan would reap better results, it’s certainly something I’d have to think about before permanently adding it into our budget.

Now I always go the blunt honesty route when reviewing products and GenF20 is no different. If you’re looking for a mental/physical boost, GenF20 (or TestRX for men) is the seemingly easier way to go, but intermittent fasting can provide nearly the same benefits and it’s free….soooo you can see my dilemma.

Does GenF20 work? For me, it certainly seems to deliver at least some of the results it claims to provide, and it’s probable that those results would compound if I took it longer.

At its $82.99/month price tag, however, it’s hard to justify and if the results didn’t continue to get more impressive, it would be an unfortunate waste of a lot of money.

In the end, this is something that I would really recommend you check out for yourself and (as always) talk to your doctor before starting any new regimen.

How Matcha Tea Makes for a Better Day (and Night!)

How Matcha Tea Makes for a Better Day (and Night!)

When it comes to our kids, we know that a bedtime routine is a must. While it may seem tedious at first, having a night time schedule really gives them the space to wind down, get ready, and (hopefully) get to sleep quickly.

So here’s my question…


Now before I go too deep into this blog post, I do want to mention that this post is being sponsored by Tenzo Tea. Their compensation in no way impacts my opinion of their company (like seriously, don’t be surprised if you see glamour shots show up on my Instagram of me and the water bottle they sent me. I’m truly in love…)

Okay, now if you’re not too weirded out by my profession of love for a water bottle, let’s get back to it…

Night Time Routines for Parents

It can be hard to slow down at the end of a long day, yeah? And I don’t mean a fiery crash-n-burn come 9pm when the kids have finally all gone to bed. I mean, it’s dinner time, it’s family time, and instead of enjoying the moment you’re thinking about the lunches you have to make, the food that still needs to be put away, the laundry that’s been sitting in the dryer for four days…sound familiar?

So when it comes to finding that space to just take a breath, I truly believe it starts with making smarter choices during the day.

Enter —

Matcha Tea

When Tenzo Tea approached me about working together, I had heard of the company before, mostly through internet buzz and word-of-mouth, but I don’t often do reviews like this on my site without first knowing I love ’em enough to share with you, my wonderful readers.

So Tenzo sent me one of their matcha kits and omgoodness, ya’ll, I was THRILLED.

tenzo tea

The kit had a pouch of 30 grams of premium organic green tea powder, a bamboo whisk, a porcelain holder for said whisk, and a bamboo scoop. Also included was THE BEST water bottle I’ve ever had! Heh have I mentioned that yet?

Ok, well to be honest, it’s actually a shaker bottle with a little spherical wire whisk inside to make matcha on the go, but it’s really, really wonderful in general.

As for the matcha, I was floored at the taste difference between the Tenzo powder and the brand I had been drinking for the last few months. The color is so vibrant and the smell immediately brings about thoughts of spring – I can’t help but go to my happy place while I make it…even if said happy place is only a 30-second visit before my 3 year old starts trying to color on the walls.

The taste is what really got me, though – it’s light and grassy, as I would expect, but you can taste the life in it. I’ve been drinking it daily since I received the box and it’s slowly edging out my morning coffee for role of “caffeine delivery system of choice” in my life. No more peak and then crash! Or worse, peak-peak-peak-CRASH at 9pm but too wound to actually sleep. Ick.

I also really enjoyed using the bamboo whisk and scoop. I know it might seem silly but it adds to the entirety of the ritual, elevating it to really immerse me in the moments of creation and enjoyment of my matcha, and while I can experience that with a regular whisk, it’s somehow both more authentic and pleasurable to do it with the little bamboo fella they sent.

What does matcha have to do with a night time routine?

Going back to the original point of this post (finding peace at night!) I’ve truly found that by swapping out my usual coffee intake for matcha, it’s so much easy to remain steady and more focused during the day, so again come evening, I’m not swamped and thinking of the 1,000 things still on my to-do list. And as I mention above, with matcha there’s no peak and then crash. It’s all natural and a great way to find that energy you need to run an efficient household without losing your mind.

Along those lines, by eliminating that chaos at night – or at least cutting back on it – you can then enjoy another cup of tea (perhaps a sweet hot cup of Tulsi tea, my personal favorite!) and actually take that breath you so desperately need.

I know, I know, almost sounds like a fantasy, right? To have the energy to relax at night? Whaaa?

But if you find ways to focus more during the day and ban multitasking, you’ll certainly find yourself accomplishing more and you’ll have that moment at night to just let it all go.

My night time routine typically involves some work – though luckily I love my job – but then I usually grab a cup of tea, pick up my gratitude journal, and simply give myself ten minutes to just reflect and give thanks for another day…even if it was a rough one.

While I will always advocate for the consumption of matcha in general, just because personally it tastes great and makes me feel amazing throughout the day, I would specifically give my seal of approval to Tenzo. The value for the price is pretty terrific, particularly considering the quality of the matcha powder; the accessories just add to the fun.

I do plan on getting more, in the end. In addition, I think that some people in my life will be getting these bundles as gifts. I really enjoyed everything about the box they sent, and I have been talking about this shaker bottle to my husband for days!

tenzo tea water bottle

Isn’t it beautiful?

Do you have a night time routine for your kids?

What about for yourself – how do you usually spend your evenings?

I’d love to know in the comments below!