Shine On

Santa brought me a Misfit Shine, aka the prettiest wearable on the block. How does it stack up against my beloved FitBit?

I’d been coveting a Shine ever since I saw that it can be worn as a necklace. My main problem with most wearables is that they’re worn around the wrist, and I hate having things on my wrists. The FitBit, of course, can be clipped to waistbands or bra straps, but it still kind of always seemed to be in the way. Also, I was constantly worried that I’d forget to unclip it and put it through the wash – or (as was often the case) I’d carefully remove it and then forget to put it back on before my next outing.

misfit shine on a necklaceA necklace, though – that I can do. I originally had my eye on the Sport Necklace accessory, but it turns out the magnetic “clip” works just perfectly with a plain leather necklace threaded through it. It’s pretty cute, too, and it doesn’t scream FITNESS WEARABLE.

At night I do wear it on my wrist to track my sleep; the rubber sport band isn’t too uncomfortable and I mostly don’t notice it. By morning I’m usually wanting to take it off, though, which actually is a good thing because it means I don’t forget to put it on the necklace.

As far as tracking data goes, the Shine is a lot more limited than the FitBit. It shows your steps and an activity graph, but doesn’t track elevation or activity type; the most detailed view shows activity blocks rated by levels of exertion (pretty active, kinda active, etc – I’ve yet to get very active, so I’m not sure what the exact phrasing is for that one) with a graphic of a little exercising dude. Cute, but not super useful. There doesn’t seem to be a way to see daily or weekly totals.

The sleep tracker is also less detailed than the FitBit, with no readily available guide to the difference between “sleep” and “restful sleep.” Sleep time seems pretty accurate. I can clearly see periods of non-sleep that correspond to nighttime wakeups (yay, babies who don’t sleep through the night). Again, I wish there were more details, but I’m satisfied with what it shows.

The Shine does sync with the iPhone Health app, but it only syncs step data, not sleep. (I’m pretty sure the Misfit Beddit syncs sleep data with the Health app, though.) That’s the biggest thing on my wishlist for future updates, but I’m not holding my breath.

All in all I’ve been really happy with the Misfit. It hits a nice balance between fashion accessory and fitness tracker and does a good job of feeding my hunger for stats. And there are some seriously cute new accessories coming out soon, too!

Oh Hey, Influenster Perk: Reese’s Spread

So the latest Influenster perk? Reese’s spread. Chocolate and peanut butter in frosting spreadable form. It’s like they plucked the idea directly out of my head.

2015/01/img_9851.jpgThe spread is a lot like Nutella, but with a definite peanut butter kick. It’s a little bit saltier, too, which makes it a lot easier to “accidentally” eat way more than you planned to.

I had it on toast, and it was pretty good. Not as good as Nutella, but not bad.

2015-01-21 13.09.51Then I had it on a spoon. And it was HEAVEN.

There are tiny bits of peanut (like in the inside of a Reese’s peanut butter cup) blended in with the chocolate. Seriously, it’s like nomming a spoonful of melted candy, without having to go to all the trouble of melting it and stirring it together and having people look at you funny. I could eat this ALL DAY.

(I may or may not have finished the whole jar entirely by spoonful. IT IS JUST THAT GOOD.)

THANK YOU, Influenster, for giving me Reese’s goodness in exchange for a review. You can do that again ANY TIME.

Book Review: You Should Have Known

you should have knownCan you really miss all the signs, even if you’re looking for them?

Therapist Grace Reinhart Sachs makes her living telling people where they’ve gone wrong. She believes that there’s always a moment, usually early in the relationship, when you can see the truth about the other person – a truth you then “forget,” burying it in excuses and desires. In fact, Grace has written a book on the subject, called You Should Have Known.

Her own life seems to hold up under scrutiny: she has a loving marriage, a wonderful son. (She’s also materialistic and judgmental and clearly unaware of just how good she has it, but that’s a whole other thing.)

Then a woman Grace knows only vaguely is murdered, and her perfect husband has disappeared. As her life begins to unravel, Grace keeps asking herself: should she have known?

Unfortunately, it’s not a question the book really answers. (Mild spoilers to follow.)

Continue reading Book Review: You Should Have Known

Book Review: The Last Winter of Dani Lancing

the last winter of dani lancingI love a good ghost story.

On the surface, The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is a murder mystery, and a study of how different people react to grief. Twenty years ago, college student Dani Lancing was brutally murdered. The killer was never found. Her mother becomes consumed with the need for vengeance. Her father has conversations with Dani’s ghost. Her old beau, Tom Bevans, still pines for the girl he lost.

Naturally, they all have secrets, and each of them knows things about Dani that the others don’t. Can they come together somehow and solve a decades-old murder without losing each other in the process? Or is there a reason everyone has something to hide?

The ghost story aspect is fun, and not terribly overdone, though by the end you may find that it has a bit of a saccharine aftertaste. The mystery is a good one, and the ending didn’t feel like a deus ex machina, which can be difficult with a book like this. I’m interested enough to read more from this author.

Tee-struction

I’ve been on a big Pinterest kick lately. I’ve also been sick to death of my wardrobe. You know what that means: EXPERIMENTS IN REPURPOSING.

First, I chopped up an old shirt of Matt’s, because why not? It turned out pretty cute.

Sliced tee
It’s a play on words, because I DAT(E) A NERD. (Also I am a nerd.)

Then I had all these tee-shirt bits, so I made them into a headband for the baby using this tutorial. Easy peasy!

Headband

(I should have used wider strips! It would have been a lot cuter.)

I also made one for me out of a shirt that had holes in it. (Side note: why do all my shirts get holes in them? It’s super annoying.) I like mine a lot, although I got lazy and just tied the ends together rather than finishing them out as per the tutorial. It’s fine – who do I have to impress? – but probably would have been cuter if I’d done it right.

Headband

Next up: busting out the sewing machine to make some dresses for the little. Let’s see if I can remember how to thread a bobbin…

The Dreaded Growing-Out

You’d think, considering how often I chop off all my hair, that I’d be an expert at the whole growing-out thing by now. You’d think that I’d have more tools in my hairstyling arsenal than hats and despair.

Trust me, this is as good as it was going to get.
Trust me, this is as good as it was going to get.

I loved, loved, loved the extensions I got for Mother’s Day, but they’re long gone now and I’m left with…well, this:

In the absence of an on-call hairstylist, I did what any girl in my situation would do: trolled Pinterest for ideas about how to grow out a pixie cut without wanting to jam scissors into my eye.

Pinterest had many good ideas, most of which seemed to presuppose that the natural disposition of one’s hair was somewhat more tractable than mine. I did notice a couple of themes in all the growing-out posts: curling irons are our friends, and the hair over one’s ears is not.

Ignore the dire face.
Ignore the dire face. It’s just my face.

So I curled. Yes, I curled. Then I got bored of curling and busted out the scissors instead. I trimmed my sideburns and the horrible tufts over my ears, and thinned out my bangs a little. And the result is…pretty good, I think!

I’m much happier with it and may actually go outside without a hat sometime in the nearish future. Possibly. Especially now that Rory unraveled my favorite hat.

Here is an animated gif to memorialize the transition. You’re welcome.

If this GIF does not play it's because of science or something.
If this GIF does not play it’s because of science or something. Also the cleavage is not deliberate; I’m a nursing mama and boy does it show. ::clutches pearls::

Relocation: Complete

2014-06-08 21.31.41Ah, moving. That magical time when you look at all your belongings and say “How did I end up with so much crap?”

We got rid of so much stuff this time. Houses worth of stuff. More stuff than I thought we owned. And yet! We still have so much of it left! All in boxes! Including, apparently, my iPad charger, so clearly the situation is dire.

The actual relocation process was a comedy of errors: the moving truck that broke down, the elevator that of course stopped working right when loading the heavy stuff, the cat who freaked out in the carrier and peed all over everything. (Bright side: I finally got the new stroller I wanted! Well, used. On craigslist. But it’s super swank and doesn’t smell at all like cat pee.)

Yesterday I finally got out to the old place and did all the last-pass cleaning. I hate scrubbing down an empty house I used to love. It makes me feel so sad. I really thought that was going to be the place we stayed all through Ellison’s elementary school years – he’d be riding his bike around the neighborhood while Rory learned to walk and scooted after him on her tricycle. Now I’m having to shift gears back to being a city mom, all playdates and parks. I loved being a city mom when Ellison was little, and I’m sure I’ll love it again. It’s just different. Different, and not what I expected.

But now we’re officially moved. Done. And I can sit in our living room and watch the city lights at night through our floor to ceiling windows, and it seems like maybe this isn’t so bad.

Now if I could just find the box where I packed the baby…

Just Write: Day 1

Baby: sleeping. Timer: set.

Brain…well…brain is sort of all over the place, but that’s par for the course these days. I’m pretty sure I forgot how hard it is to have a baby and to sleep in fits and starts and crave sugar like a mad woman (this from someone who normally craves sugar like a mad woman, which seems sort of quaint in retrospect). But who needs a fully functional brain, am I right? Rational thought is highly overrated.

I’m doing this writing challenge (Writing 101: Building A Blogging Habit) and the first day is supposed to be a brain dump, essentially. Twenty minutes of free writing. Did I mention I set the timer? Otherwise I’d be tabbing over to Facebook and getting distracted by posts from baby gear manufacturers and forgetting what I was supposed to be focusing on. I keep entering these contests to win things like play yards and high-end strollers and whatnot. It’s like some weird sort of addiction. I don’t win, but I could win, and entering is relatively easy – all it takes is signing up for a newsletter or adding a brand to my Like list. Attention has become currency. It’s bizarre, but it’s interesting, too, the way paying attention to something has worth.

And there’s something to be said for that – I’ve definitely found myself buying certain brands because I follow them on social media and like the way they come across. Probably some are brands I only followed to enter a contest. (On the other hand, I’ve unfollowed many, many other contest-entry Likes because they turned out to be annoying/religious/spammy/off-topic/whatever, so it’s by no means across the board.)

Losing the thread here. Refocusing. What was I talking about again? Free writing, guys: not as easy as it looks. (I did NaNoWriMo one year as a free writing exercise, and oh man, was that manuscript terrible. I can’t even bear to look at it. SO BAD.) (I’m pretty sure that was one of the years I won, though.)

I keep stopping, resting my fingers against the keys, feeling the grooves on the f and the j like they will tell me what to type next. Part of me wants to keep going. Just keep writing, crack open my head and dump the contents onto a page.

Most of me wants to go to sleep. The baby’s sleeping. (Sort of.) It looks like a lot of fun.

And that’s it. Twenty minutes. I could have written more if I hadn’t paused to gather my thoughts or whatever, but this isn’t too bad. 450 words, give or take. I’ll take it.

Book Review: The Bones of Paris

The Bones of ParisLaurie R. King brings it. I forget, when I’m not reading her, how completely immersive and engrossing her stories are. Here is part of the genius of The Bones of Paris: it’s the second book in a series, but I was able to dive right in without having read the first one and make it entirely to the end not only unspoiled but eager to read the book (Touchstone) that came before. Here is more of the genius of The Bones of Paris: it’s a mystery set in 1920s Paris that manages to be both fresh and deeply suspenseful without relying on any of the cliches about 1920s Paris, which – given our collective obsession with flappers and Gatsby – is pretty impressive.

Harris Stuyvesent (…love the name) is the perfect cranky, jaded PI, following a missing persons case that turns into a disturbing look into the violent, depraved underworld of Parisian avant-garde subculture. There are references to actual people like Hemingway and Man Ray that don’t seem forced or false despite the fact that they’re essentially RPF, and when King brings finally brings in Bennett Grey (a major player in Touchstone, as I understand it) I felt like I knew the character despite not having read the first book.

Read it. You won’t be sorry.

What’s In My Diaper Bag

Obligatory diaper bag contents post in three…two…one…

I still haven’t found The Perfect Diaper Bag (I am beginning to suspect such a thing is a myth, like the tooth fairy or babies who sleep through the night) but the one I have (the Skip Hop Lady Bento*) is pretty good. Here’s what’s in mine:

Inside my diaper bag: one of two

Not pictured: Wet bag (from Ju-Ju-Be), burp cloth, snacks for the big kid (and me), and the Leachco high chair strap that she’s probably getting too big to need.

2014-03-25 13.45.55The cool thing about the Lady Bento is that it has a separate section for food. It comes with this neat removable Mealtime Kit, with three little containers that snap apart, an insulated case, and a freezer pack (which we’re not currently using). Right now I’ve got one of the little containers full of puffs, a Grapple, and a pouch of Rory’s favorite food (Amazemint from Oh Baby). We’ve usually got a Bumkins bib in there too, along with the Kipiis bib clip that can turn a napkin or burp cloth into a bib in a pinch (but appears to be out of production – we got ours at New Seasons when we couldn’t find one online).

Oh and you can see the Tokidoki PaciPod too, which has a pacifier and pacifier strap in it, and is clipped to the zipper for the outside pocket where I keep my wallet and phone.

I like all the pockets on this diaper bag and I love the little bento box in the bottom compartment, but honestly I think I need something…gulp…bigger. Half the time I need to bring a carrier along when we’re out with the stroller (for the inevitable screaming fits that accompany stroller-based trips) and that takes up a lot of room. Then there’s my stuff (laptop, iPad, whatever). Plus with summer coming I’ll need to bring stuff like sunblock and swimwear and towels and aaaaaaah I can’t even think about it without my back twinging in distress. Meep!

*I had the Skip Hop Studio, which I LOVED, except that the top zipper wouldn’t, you know, zip. That’s a pretty big problem for a zipper to have, and Skip Hop agreed, so they let me trade it for a slightly different bag that I love slightly less (but that actually has a functioning zipper).