Find All The Best Cameras and Camcorders @BestBuy This #HintingSeason #CamerasatBestBuy

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.


PrintStill looking for that perfect gift for a photography lover or just need a new camera for yourself so you never miss a moment of holiday memories Best Buy is the ultimate destination to find just what you need. Check out these three cameras from Nikon, Sony and Samsung, which all come equipped with built-in Wi-Fi so you can share amazing photos with ease. Upgrade your camera in time to capture precious holiday memories.




DI multi Nikon D5300Nikon D5300 DSLR w/18-55mm VR Lens

A DSLR with built-in Wi-Fi so you can capture high quality photos and share them instantly

This Nikon D5300 DSLR camera comes with an AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II lens that enables you to capture sharp photos and video footage. Optical image stabilization helps prevent blurring to ensure image clarity

Also available in red or gray

Product Details

DI multi Nikon D5300back




DI Multi Sony a6000

Sony α6000 Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

A compact system camera with the World’s Fastest Autofocus

This Sony Alpha A6000 features a 24.3-megapixel, Exmor APS-C CMOS sensor that makes it easy to shoot scenes in stunning clarity. Built-in Wi-Fi lets you share stored content across devices.

Also available in White or silver

Product Details

DI multi Sony a6000back


DI multi Samsung Galaxy Camera 2

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2

A digital camera that allows you to shoot, share, and use Android Apps

This Samsung Galaxy 2 digital camera’s 16.3-megapixel, 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS sensor allows you to capture sharp images and high-definition video footage

The 4.8″ touch screen simplifies operation, and built-in Wi-Fi makes sharing stored files easy.

Product Details

DI multi Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 back

Visit the Best Buy Holiday Gift Center to see more great cameras, whether you’re giving as a gift or upgrading for yourself.



A New Look at Local @BestBuy Locations in Chicagoland

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

pacific kitchen vernon hills chicagoland best buy stores

Having worked with Best Buy for a couple years now, I have greatly expanded my view of the things I think of shopping there for.  From talking with friends I know I am not the only one who wouldn’t have (in the past) thought of shopping for kitchen appliances at Best Buy.  New TV? SURE!! New stove? Huh?  But yes they carry a full variety of all kitchen appliances large and small.  But until recently if you were looking for a large kitchen appliance you’d have shopped from a row of appliances all side by side, sort of warehouse looking.  Sometimes it’s HARD to really imagine what something like a stove or refrigerator will look like in your home in that setting.  I”m guessing this was very much the reason that for some of the newly redesigned shopping areas in many stores in the Chicagoland area.  You’ll find everything from new paint and lighting to update carpeting and bathrooms in  all 43 Chicagoland stores.  But stores such as Vernon Hills feature the new Chicago Pacific Kitchen & Home areas.  You’ve seen this sort of shopping experience in other place but now customers looking for a truly custom kitchen, shoppers can work with a Pacific Sales representative to design an entire space in Best Buy! The Vernon Hills store in particular now features one of six  stores, where customers can get premium brands like Wolf, Viking, Miele and Bosch. The home theater sections have been remodeled to highlight new TV technology like 4K and UHD displays. New Samsung and Sony Experiences in the Vernon Hills store now showcase this technology.

If you haven’t checked out Best Buy in person lately, now is a great time!  Find brands you love with the trusted expertise of Best Buy to help you create your dream kitchen or home theater!


Find the @NikonUSA D3300 @BestBuy This #HintingSeason

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.


Looking for the perfect gift for the photographer of the family?  Check out the Nikon D3300!


Save up to $200 on Select Nikon Lenses with Purchase of Nikon DSLR Camera, Plus Free Shipping





I have been using a DSLR for about 7 years now and learning how to do use the manual functions of a camera is best buy camera dslr christmas holiday gift shopping nikon wifi social sharing hintinseason giving mom blogger family tech (2)really how to get the best photos in every situation. BUT even I was impressed with how great the photos were with this camera in auto.  Click to the no flash setting and still good photos in low light with ISO 100-12,800!  If  you like playing with special effects, save yourself the extra time with editing programs and shoot with special effects such as HDR or selective color right in the camera!!

But my favorite part is the ability to share with the WU-1a right from your camera.  One of the biggest reasons I put the DSLR aside for my day to day use was the extra steps it took to share those moments.  With my old camera I took my photos, then had to go back to my computer to edit and upload them.  Now I can share our fun as it happens with my camera and the easy to use app on my phone.

Another reason many of us overlook our DSLR when we’re on the go is the size and weight.  You can’t really put one in your back pocket (though Nikon DOES have some great point and shoots that fit into literally any pocket).  But doesn’t quality time deserve quality images?  With the Nikon D3300’s light weight and comparatively compact design you can take it with you.  It’s seriously the lightest DSLR I’ve held.  Do be sure to get a good safe bag or cover for your new ‘baby’ though so you break your new love.  But it won’t break your neck or shoulder to carry it!! And if you’ve ever spent a day with a DSLR around your neck you know just how sore you can be!

I could keep going on and on, but you know what they say, the whole a pictures worth a thousand words?  So here it is.

This picture was taken with pretty much the light of a Christmas tree (behind him). Unedited

DSC_0714 But to fully appreciate it, you have to see what it really looked like to the eye…DSC_0715

I can NOT wait to try it out at the boys basketball games next month.  I don’t know why but they always have the WORST lighting in those gyms.

In the meantime, here’s some more pics of my photogenic furry baby.  DSC_0686 DSC_0684

I can’t get over the clarity given the little bit of light in our house thanks to endless grey days.

best buy camera dslr christmas holiday gift shopping nikon wifi social sharing hintinseason giving mom blogger family tech (1)


The Techy Stuff

AF-S DX NIKKOR 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6G VR II lens offers versatility

Capture rich, detailed photographs in a variety of situations.

24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor delivers vividly detailed images

Captures high-resolution images up to 6000 x 4000 pixels.

ISO 100–12.800 (expandable to 25,600)

Enjoy crisp, clean images over a broad spectrum of lighting conditions.

Capture fast-action shots at up to 5 fps (frames per second)

From joyous facial expressions to fast-paced sports action, burst mode ensures you get the shot even if it only lasts a fraction of a second.

3″ VGA LCD makes it easy to review stored photos and videos

Tilt capability allows you to achieve a clear view from multiple angles.

Capture spectacular movies in HD

Record crisp high-definition video footage of important moments.

95% horizontal viewfinder helps you set up shots

Easily view your scene within frame before you capture it.

Autofocus allows you to capture crystal-clear images

Bring subjects into clear view.

Optical image stabilization minimizes blurring and ghosting

Reduce the effects of camera shake and vibration in your shots.

Scene modes accommodate a variety of situations

Include auto, auto (flash off), portrait, landscape, child, sports, close up and night portrait.

Special effects let you get creative with the shot

Include D-lighting, red-eye correction, trim, monochrome, filter effects, color balance, resize, image overlay, NEF (RAW) processing, quick retouch, straighten, distortion control and fish-eye.

Cold- and shock-resistant design provides reliable protection

Safeguards the camera against damage.

Flash for proper illumination

A wide variety of flash modes let you add light to your shots when necessary. A hot shoe allows you to add an external flash (not included).

Multiformat memory slot for storing or transferring data

Supports SD, SDHC and SDXC formats. Memory cards not included.

 Where would YOU take the Nikon D3300 this holiday season?



Zoomer Dino #Toys4Boys2014 #HintingSeason

The reviewer has  received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

zoomer dino kids christmas gift ideas toys for boys hintingseasonThe big ask of the season in our house was for the Zoomer Dino.  You may remember Zoomer (the pup) from last year.  My then 5 year old was mildly curious about Zoomer when he saw him.  But oh man, when Zoomer Dino hit the commercial airwaves he was all about it.  I know a lot of people are questioning the price tag and whether it’s worth it.  I personally think it’s totally worth it if this is the type of toy your child is into.  I personally prefer to get the kids quality over quantity so I get slightly higher ticket items that I think my kids will really spend time with.

While it says not for children under 3, I do think it’s better suited for older than that because it does take some time and patience to ‘teach’ him to do things and get more out of it.  An impatient 4 year old will likely be bored quickly unless you’re willing to help them.  Overall though a BIG hit in our house, very cool.  And on the mom side, not ridiculously loud (it roars, its not QUIET but not wake the whole house when you accidentally wake him up kind of loud).  Down side, hard pointy toy that isn’t very snugly no matter how much your 6 year old loves him.  And VERY noisy when he falls out of bed when said 6 year old insists on sleeping with him anyway!!

zoomer dino kids christmas gift ideas toys for boys hintingseason 2

Makes realistic dinosaur movements and sounds for hours of prehistoric fun. Lets your child train his or her dinosaur to dance, chase, chomp and roar, or pull on his tail to make him angry. Control pod offers an additional option.

Great Sound from @Polkaudio and @DefinitiveTech at @BestBuy This #HintingSeason

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.


PrintThanks to these new fabulous speakers, our house is FULL of great sounding wireless music!  We ALL love music but we don’t always love the same music, at the same time.  But now with these awesome speakers we can either fill the house with the sounds of the holidays OR everyone can listen to what suits their mood.  Either way it’s all controlled from the app(s) on my smart phone.

While all three of these are great quality sound, they are all slightly different and will fit different needs.

polk omni s2 wireless speaker unparalleled soundFirst the Polk Omni S2  is great small but powerful wireless speaker.  Connected via wi-fi (not bluetooth) but is plugged in for power.  This is really perfect for any room as it doesn’t take up much space but really gives a quality sounds.  We chose to use it in a bedroom.  The tween years are upon me now and my music choices don’t always make my oldest happy but I also don’t always want to be over run by his choices.  I LOVE that I can turn down the tunes if they start to get to loud from MY phone (using the app) without having to shout over him to do it.

The Omni S2 is an ultra-compact speaker that lets you put Polk’s widely respected signature sound in any room of your home. The Omni S2 comes with both black and white swappable grilles for supreme flexibility. It can sit horizontally or stand up to fit in small spaces like bathroom countertops. The speaker uses two 2” (50mm) full-range drivers powered by a two-channel amplifier, while the two passive radiators create fuller bass response.





polk omni s2 rechargeable wireless speaker unparalleled soundNext is the  Omni S2 Rechargeable which is very much like the S2 but it’s rechargeable battery makes it PORTABLE.  It’s the same size as the S2 but has an antenna to be able to get the wifi connection up to 100″ from your modem.  This will be awesome for our summer time outdoor parties or just hanging out in the yard with the kids.  With up to 10 hours of battery life we can listen all day!!

The Omni S2 Rechargeable offers a portable solution for taking Polk’s widely respected signature sound wirelessly to places without power, like on the patio or by the pool. The S2 Rechargeable is made of rugged ABS and has a lithium-ion battery, enabling it to play up to 100 feet from your wireless router, even outdoors. The battery will drive the speaker for
up to 10 hours on a full charge at moderate listening levels. The S2R is weather resistant and ruggedized for casual outdoor use. Infrequent and or accidental rain and sun exposure should not harm the S2R.




difinitive technology w7 wireless speaker

And last but definitely not least the Definitive Technology W7 partially my fave because it’s the one I use personally most.  But it really is an amazing sound for a compact speaker.  I chose to put this one in my kitchen as I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen lately. The speaker takes up less than seven square inches of counter space and I thankfully have a perfect spot with an outlet for it.  It doesn’t draw much attention to itself sitting there, until you turn it on.  Then you have room filling sound that even the biggest sound snob will approve of.  So whether it’s just me singing along by myself while I cook or craft or whether it’s creating a party mood for a crowd, it sounds great!


Audiophile-grade wireless speaker The W7 is Definitive Technology’s ultra-compact, audiophile-grade wireless speaker, perfect for those who won’t compromise on performance, even in smaller living spaces. The W7’s “Tri-Polar” configuration radiates sound off of surrounding walls and gives it the unique cube-shape design. As a result, the soundstage is broad and natural timbre can be heard throughout a room.


Use any of these to listen to your favorite music from your device, Internet Radio or other streaming sources such as my favorite Pandora (also available QQMusic, KKBOX, Deezer, SiriusXM, Songza).  Still not sure which wireless speaker is best for YOU?  Visit or your local store for more info from the

Handsome Heartbreakers

Just because I haven’t posted an pic of these boys just being handsome in a while, I thought I’d share. They got fresh haircuts recently and I couldn’t resist capturing how grown up they were looking.
IMG_20141122_122535 IMG_20141122_122633 IMG_20141122_123913

Christmas Crafts

I’ve been busy creating lately and right now I’m on a Christmas craft kick.  Here’s a few of my recent creations.


12×12 canvasIMG_20141201_223540


 IMG_20141123_003141 glitter nativity candle holders




And with a last name like Noel, you can’t help but use it, right?


Festive and Furry

Our furry family members seem to be enjoying the Christmas cheer too!
IMG_20141122_190921  20141130_194751IMG_20141129_175838

The Wizard of Oz at Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences

Thank you so much to the Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences for inviting my family and I back for the newest production, The Wizard of Oz.IMG_20141122_094641When we sat in our seats (of which there are NO bad seats at Marriott Theatre) the boys began to wonder how in the world will they make a yellow brick road?  Since out last show (School House Rock) had minimal scenery I was admittedly curious too.  But we were not disappointed.  Beautiful costuming, great fun choreography, fabulous singing and some stage magic made for an amazing production.  Wizard of OZ_Alex Goodrich, Jeff Max, Dara Cameron, George Keating

When I told the boys we would be seeing the Wizard of Oz, the smallest of our crew grew nervous.  He was afraid that it would be too scary.  After thinking about how afraid of the talking trees and flying monkeys I was slightly nervous too. But since this production was specifically geared towards kids I looked up photos of the cast and shared them with him and then put my trust in the cast and crew to deliver a memorable but not too frightening performance of what was one of my absolute favorite movies as a child, despite those scary monkey!  And they did exactly that.  Of course there were witches and monkeys but I thought they were just the right amount of wicked to get the point across without being terrifying.

Wizard of OZ_Susan Moniz as Wicked Witch

I also worried slightly that the Wizard of Oz might not be ‘manly’ enough for my eye rolling tweens.  But I should know better. Raised to appreciate a quality show they too loved it (but maybe don’t tell their friends, k?).  And I was even able to convince them all to watch the movie that same night with me!  I had truly forgotten how much I love the story and the music from the Wizard of Oz.  I was clearly enchanted with the whole thing as I was shocked to discover during the Q&A afterwards that one of the actresses played two different rolls.  (If you go let me know if you noticed before they told you, be honest!!)

While our family is always up for a show just about anywhere, Marriott Theater is a definite favorite and these Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences are an amazing way to introduce your kids to the theater or keep their love going!


THE WIZARD OF OZ plays most Tuesdays through Sundays at 10 AM and 12:30 PM. Visit or call 847.634.0200 for exact schedule, as show times and dates vary. Single ticket prices are $15 per person. Groups of 20 or more receive a discount by calling 847.634.5909. Free parking is available at all shows.  To reserve tickets, call the Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847.634.0200 or visit

Wizard of OZ_Dara Cameron as Dorothy 2

Cleaning Up Messes and Making New Ones

Sometimes in life we make decisions for ourselves that lead us to a place of unhappiness.  It typically happens slowly.  We start by justifying small things that aren’t what we’d want and somehow the more we accept the these things the more we convince ourselves that either, this is just the way life is and everyone feels like this, that basically this is adulthood, so suck it up buttercup. OR we begin to believe that we are unworthy of anything better.

It may take hitting our personal rock bottom to realize that all of this isn’t true.  Adulthood, and definitely parenthood, comes with responsibility certainly but that does NOT mean that it must be soaked in unhappiness as well. Thankfully my rock bottom wasn’t any worse than it was.  At the time it felt like the scariest thing ever but I now realize that for whatever reason it was what was necessary for me to finally be able to make the right decision for my life but at the time I had to see it as needing to be done for my kids.  Even when I didn’t feel worthy of better for myself, I always knew they deserved it.  So I did what moms do and I pulled myself up, leaned on some friends and started making a new life, a better life for my kids.

Funny thing happened though…recently I stopped and looked around at a literal mess I’d made, one of paint and glitter and all and realized that in changing life for my kids, I’d cleaned up the mess I’ve made of my own life.  I’d made choices that were healthier for them and also better for me.  And in the process I’d rediscovered myself and found the joy I’d lost oh so long ago.  As I spent hours creating crafts I realized that I hadn’t done this is years.  No I hadn’t found more hours in the day or cut back on any of our activities, I’d just simply found ME.  By allowing myself to feel worthy, I found joy and contentment again and have a renewed passion for all the things I once loved so much.  And besides, we didn’t really need to use the dining room table anyway, did we?

Here’s one the the things I’ve made recently.  It represents the fresh start we’ve made this year.  It’s not perfect, but it’s beautiful!