Products I am totally into lately

A couple weeks ago – back before things went to hell in a handbasket and I no longer have one of my three jobs – I went on sort of a spending spree and picked up some items I have tried before but needed to reacquaint myself with. Recently, I have cut back on spending but found some great deals and new products that have rocked. So here they are!

 

Maui Island shoes: I have tried on at least four pairs of Sperrys, hoping I’d like the way they look on my feet. But I just never did, and at their outrageous prices, no matter how badly I wanted them, I simply could not afford them. SO, I went scouring ebay and found a pair of Maui Islands and took the risk. They look shockingly similar and I think I ended up paying 20 bucks for a used pair, still in good condition. They are comfortable and look snazzy.IMG_20130531_095205

SHEEC – no show socks – After getting the shoes, I found that I needed some kind of thing within the shoe to a.) protect against blisters on the back of my heel and b.) protect my pedicure. These, from Amazon, are amazing. They fit well, don’t slide off my heel, and make wearing the shoes incredible comfortable.

Red Fun – soap from LUSH -  I needed something else from them and took a chance on buying this kids’ soap. Don’t let the picture fool you: it comes in a cylindrical shape but it IS like clay and the kids mold it into shapes. Then it becomes a rich lathering soap that, while leaving a little bit of red in the bottom of the bathtub, smells great and makes my kids happy.

Silky Underwear from LUSH - I have gotten this product before in the summertime. See, women with larger boobs need some sort of drying compound. That’s just the way it is. Plus, pregnancy hormones are pure evil so I am well-equipped with this each morning, making me able to brave the North Florida heat. This stuff is totally worth the money; better than any normal powder.

Bath and Body Works – Moonlight Path soap – As Dave can tell you, this is a pretty good scent. (Though he clearly knows far more about it than I.) When home last, my mother and I stumbled upon a HUGE sale at B&B and on a whim, I decided to pick up the foaming handsoap version of this scent. The reason it was risky? Ash is very weird about smells. I was kind of worried he’d hate it, but I thought about how Dave liked it so I got a bottle anyway because it was half price. I surreptitiously removed our regular SoftSoap Aloe hand soap in the main bathroom and stuck in the Moonlight Path. The first thing I noticed was how awesome my bathroom smelled, since my boys are crazy hand washers and do it constantly. But what brought it all together was a conversation Ash struck up one night. “So, uh, that soap in the boys’ bathroom…” (Oh no, I thought. Here comes the criticism) “We need to make that the permanent soap in there. Like, forever,” Whew! Crisis averted.pBBW1-6913965enh-z8

Welche’s Fruit snacks -  Ok, this one may sound silly but I am addicted to these things! Got a huge box at Costco for the boys – small bags for lunches, etc – and found myself reaching for one. There is something so tasty about these little gummy fruits!IMG_0226

Talenti sea salt caramel Gelato - At four dollars a pint, it’s a bit pricey but if you like the combination of sea salt and caramel (very popular right now) and the texture of gelato, then this is well worth it. It’s so creamy!Talenti-gelato-sea-salt-caramel

Eat Smart veggie salad kit - When my doctor told me my hemoglobin was low and I needed more dark leafy greens, they recommended kale. While perusing the multitude of bagged salads at the store, I stumbled on this. I was a little afraid to try it because I had a major salad aversion early on in this pregnancy, but I went for it today, adding in a ripe avocado as well. The kale/broccoli mixture is fantastic and the poppyseed dressing not overwhelming. I ended up eating about half the bag, which made the perfect lunch. For bagged greens, this is pretty good. I think it cost me about $3.69, which ain’t bad for two meals! The only thing I didn’t really detect were the brussel sprouts. I assume they were chopped up/shredded like the broccoli but it was hard to really pick out.ProductLarge84

Future purchases

So, I make more money now, due to certain ventures I have cobbled together. This, coupled with the fact that Elliot’s aftercare costs is a fraction of his previous daycare cost, is going to allow me to a.) save money and b.) buy things for once! It’s a novel idea, I know. For years, I couldn’t justify personal purchases for fear of the guilt that would wrap itself around me. The extra money at the end of each paycheck was to be saved! For emergencies! (Which sometimes actually happened.) But anyway, here’s a list of stuff I intend to buy once September comes around:

Photojojo wide-angle cell phone lens!

Look at that! The inventions they come up with these days. And all just to make my Instagram photos look better. Totally worth it, btw.

A Keurig!

Thinking about getting one of the desktop versions without the water reservoir. I cannot decide which one might work best for me but I am totally sold on this, even though Ash asks why I don’t buy a normal coffee make rand make entire pots at a time. Why? Because then I’d never sleep!

New kitchen valences. I never changed the ones that the house came with and though I don’t mind them, it’s time for a change. And this can be done fairly cheap and still make a huge difference in the room.

Some kind of snazzy winter coat

Since we’re traveling up through the country towards Chicago for Christmas, I had better get a coat. I have layers and some thicker jackets but nothing that will keep out the wind and cold. The averages for December in Chicago are 35 and 23, respectively. That’s January here so I should be OK but I want to look fashionable too!

 

I am sure that are other things I will buy and maybe it seems silly to show these to you but I am looking forward to it.

Vibram Five Finger KSO Review

A few people commented on these shoes last time I mentioned them so I figured – even though I am no expert  - I’d review them.

The first time I laid eyes on these shoes was roughly two or three years ago when at a friend’s graduation party. The husband of a colleague, Rebecca, had on a pair and it was the topic of conversation out on the deck at Jay’s party. Since then, both my husband and I have been intrigued by Vibrams. About a year ago, Ash found a great deal on the KSOs online, though they came from Tokyo and took about a month to arrive. He initially planned to run in them but found the strain on his calves too awkward to accomplish any good running. He mainly uses them for walks in the neighborhood and daily kickin’ it shoes, when he doesn’t feel like lacing up or slipping on his sandals. About a month ago, I found myself in the same situation: flip flops weren’t enough for walking with the dogs but I didn’t feel like putting on running shoes.

Ash’s Vibrams: 

Now, about six or seven months ago, I went into a local shoe shop and tried on various models of Vibrams, feeling like the smallness of my feet in them made me look silly and carrot-like, since I have, well, relatively large breasts and well-shaped legs so the tapering bothered my sense of style – or lack thereof. Either way, I wanted them so badly but was irked by the silly look. So I learned which size I needed and went home to ponder.

Two weeks ago, I scoured Slickdeals.net for any good discounts and stumbled upon Frugal Backpacker, who was selling 85 dollar retail Vibrams for 50 bucks! I snapped those puppies up and was super excited the day that box was delivered to my doorstep. When I first put them on – with a t-shirt and Bermuda shorts – I again felt the awkwardness of tiny foot look. But then I thought, this is how I look barefoot so just get over it. First putting these shoes on is a challenge, as I learned when Ash got his. You must walk your feet in and line them up with the toe pockets, slowly ease into place. The feeling of each toe being spread is actually quite delightful, especially if, like me, your feet feel a bit fatigued from running. I had just broken in new Brooks so my right foot was feeling a bit cramped and tight.

The following day, I walked from the DOT building to downtown, then back to DOT, which is about a mile or so, but up hills. Upon returning, I noticed a sizable blister on the back of my left foot where the shoe rubbed. Though my try-on session decided that 37 (Euro sizing on these) was “my size”, I realized for comfort, I’d need 38s. After a return to that place, where they no longer had any in my size, and a subsequent ebay purchase, I finally received my 38s.

After getting over my initial style issues, I really started to love these shoes. They look just fine with jeans so last weekend, I threw them on to do all of our errands and playground visit and let me tell you, THAT is where they come in handy. I’m the type of person who throws on flip flops for every trip out but on the mulchy playground, the KSOs (stands for Keep Stuff Out!) are the best solution.

I have not and probably will not run in them. But I spent an afternoon doing housework and they felt comfortable throughout those couple of hours. These breathe enough not to get too sticky inside, though if you have issues with that, Injinji makes toe socks that a lot of people wear with Vibrams. I could probably wear them, since I got the larger size, and might do it come winter.

All in all, this is a good shoe if you dig the look and want the feel of being barefoot without the dirt. The spreading of your toes is actually quite natural. A lot of folks who get into these are also into barefoot running and that whole subculture of communing with the earth and whatnot. I like the benefit they give me of decompressing my feet after long runs.

Do you like geek stuff?

Since I’ve been shopping around, I have found some really cool items that I’d love to see hanging around under my tree this year. Behold: the coolness.

Robin figurine.

Harry Potter Geekery

True Blood sign for your bar.

App magnets

Inanimate character stickers.

Grassy lawn device charger

 

Not that I’ll get anything of these from family but if I get some $$ in my stocking, I may splurge. I would love the stickers so when lost freshmen stumble into my office and beg to use my stapler, they’ll be surprised. Heh heh heh.

Gear up for shopping!

Ok so I have no real business giving advice on shopping but hell, I do it and I have small kids so I am on the prowl for good stuff. I found a bunch of cool stocking stuffers for my three year old boy and here goes:

Batman crayons from Lil Doodlers on Etsy.

Matching game by Lemon Tree Studio on Etsy.

Buzz Lightyear notebook from Red Elm Designs on Etsy.

Shark chalkboard placemat from CustomKids on Etsy.

Watch from the Gap

Exploding frog soap from Howards Home on Etsy.

There are some ideas for now. If you have girls, these come in girl versions too and some are pretty gender neutral. Chime in if you have other stocking ideas!

*Click*

Take a look at these two photos:

See the difference? While my point and shoot Canon (first pic) takes pretty good outdoor pictures, it still lacks in low light situations and I am just not fond of the way the flash makes people look. Though, it’s served me well since Christmas 2006. Which brings me to the next photo, which was taken with my father-in-law’s Canon DSLR. He is semi-retired and once he moved out to the deserts of Arizona, he went headlong into a photography obsession. So this man knows his camera products. I envied his equipment, having always loved photography. In high school, I took Photo 1 and 2 and became quite good at developing. I still remember two entire semesters of smelling like finisher. I enjoyed the challenge of the dark dark room and unrolling my film and adding it to the developing canister. Though I never got the greatest grades on my subjects or composition, I was first in my class when it came to the quality of my developing.

Though I know I’ll never go back to manual developing, I still yearn for a quality SLR, but it seemed like a long way away, considering I promised it to myself when I got a higher paying job. And in this economy, no one knows when that may be.

Recently, my little point and shoot has been clicking when turned on, indicating that the lens is on its way out. I asked Ash for a new one for Christmas, seeing as how they’re somewhat inexpensive now at between two and three hundred dollars. Well, the other evening, as we were laying in bed (and for all I know, I may have been half asleep when he said this; it seems rather hazy) Ash informed that he talked to his dad and I’m getting my very own SLR. Specifically, this one. I am completely and totally blown away. The best part is that they’re going to buy it for me before the holidays so I can start taking great pictures now. Is this amazing news or what? Ok ok, so it sounds rather materialistic but I really cherish capturing my children as they grow; it’s really important to me and this is going to allow me to do it even better.

Review round-up: tried lately

I’ve been meaning to review some things I have used lately and while I”m at it, I’ll include movies, etc. So, without further ado…

LUSH Geo-phyzz bath bomb – My mom was down in Palm Beach visiting my grandmother (who is recovering from a hip injury) and she texted me to ask if I wanted anything from Lush. If you don’t have one of these and you like hippie bath products, then you’re missing out. I told her I wanted something sea-salty and she came back with this bath bomb. These are some of the fun products they offer because some have hidden things in the middle or funky flower petals that slowly break apart and float in your water. This one had a very pleasant smell and the salts fell to the bottom of the tub and stuck around a while. I was very pleased with this product. If you find yourself on their site and you do like this stuff and want to online order, I suggest  doing it now because they won’t ship some stuff once it gets warm.

My mom also picked up a sample of their Ambrosia Shaving Cream. I used this in the tub one night and was instantly turned onto it by smell alone. It’s a light citrusy smell, but also clean. The stuff doesn’t much foam up but it does create a thick layer to shave and it was really effective. Plus, it didn’t create any irritation, which I am prone to. If you have sensitive skin, this product is for you.

Publix had a buy one get one deal on this new-ish product called Vitatops so I bough them thinking they’d be good for Elliot’s breakfast. Sure enough, he liked them and it turns out, they’re pretty tasty. We’ve tried the Banana nut (just ok), Deep Chocolate (delish!), and the CranBran (Ell likes them anyway) flavors. They are stored frozen but thaw in half an hour on your countertop. But to be honest, 8-10 seconds in the microwave does them good.

St. Ives Oatmeal and Shea Butter Soothing lotion – Target has an amazing dollar rack for travel sized things and this is one I keep picking up for my purse/diaper bag/ the spot right by our keys on the counter. This lotion is awesome at actually healing dry skin and it smells really neutral. It’s a good clean smell that isn’t too feminine (meaning Ash could use it without whining). I’ve formed a habit of putting it on my hands and face right before I leave for work and I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my dryness factor. This lotion, for a buck, is a good deal. (Picture is normal size, not dollar trial size.)

Alice in Wonderland – Tim Burton, director

To be honest, I wasn’t pumped to see this but figured I would at some point. Our date day happened to fall between big movie openings so we went ahead and moseyed into this one, in the IMAX 3D theater, no less. They gave us different glasses than we had at Avatar but as we found out from this guy whose apparent sole job is to represent IMAX at the AMC theater, since Avatar was shot in 3D and Alice was filmed in 2D and then made into 3D, the polarization in the glasses is different.

So, the movie itself. Honestly? Not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Especially based on some bad reviews I saw. Someone on a tumblr site I follow even wrote: “Sleeping> Alice in Wonderland.” I disagree, kind sir.

The characters were all truly fascinating and well-done; not cheesy. The Tweedles, highly under-used in other variations of the store, were probably one of my favorites. Each character had a unique and entertaining personality, including Alice, who was very well acted. I know a lot of people said they hated Depp as Hatter but he didn’t annoy me much. I forgot it even was Johnny Depp and just went with it. A main complaint was that he only slipped into the Irish accent a handful of times but I rationalize this as: he has episodes of normality – when he speaks with his real accent – and then moments when the madness hits and he speaks in a funky sort of lispy voice. I don’t know. Maybe I am a sucker but I bought it.

Crispin Glover was super creepy as the Red Queen’s right hand man, but then again, when is he NOT creepy? McFly was probably his only role where he was just dorky and not uber-creepy. I also really liked the card army of the Queen. They were exceptionally well-CG’d.

Some people were pissed that it wasn’t a straight remake of the Alice story but I appreciated the liberties they took with it. It was a fresh look at a timeless tale and it never failed to entertain me. I’m not saying it’s the best movie ever, but it was pretty damn good for my ten bucks. I recommend it if you like to watch movies that take you out of your everyday life and let you trip out for two hours.

Notice:

I REALLY want the Samsung Impression.
samsung-impression-phone-1024x577

I am eligible for an upgrade from ATT on Thursday and I am hoping with all my might that this one will be a reasonable price. They’re doing all kinds of deals for non-upgrade customers with messaging plans but when you’re eligible for the upgrade, you always get some kind of deal. The thing is this: I don’t want to get a data plan. I just want a newer phone to make calls and text as usual. The way I’m going to get around having to pay to use the net on a portable device is this:

I could use a new ipod anyway and this’ll access the net wherever there’s wifi. This is also reasonably priced ($188), making it a great Christmas present. Now, who’ll get this for me? ;)

New Good Things – 7/24 edition

Aww-right, I got something to say! Man, Def Leppard knows how to make an intro, huh? Anywho, it’s that time again for some reviews. I have recently had the opportunity to actually purchase some stuff lately and hence, a good product review post. Woot! Get this party started.

Wailua Wheat Ale – Kona Brewing Company – $1.99/bottle, Total Wine

I picked up this beer on a whim because Total Wine, in Palm Beach Gardens, has a vast selection of single bottles. I thought this beer looked very refreshing for a Summer drink due to its infusion of passion fruit. My mother made an “eww” face at that ingredient but to be honest, it made the beer very light but not too fruity. It went down easy and left a very peachy sort of aftertaste. I highly recommend this beer to, say, the casual beer drinker looking for something cool on a hot day.

4 out of 5.

Igloo Lunch Box – $10.99, Target

For a very long time, I had been using a small square softsided lunch bag from Burdines. yes, the Burdines that, as far as I can tell, is obsolete. This particular lunch bag has probably been in my family since at least 1990, if not before. So, apparently, it was time for a new lunch accoutrement. Behold:

igloo

They had fancier ones, ones with flowery designs with all kinds of cool colors but they weren’t shaped right. This one can expand slightly if my Tupperware is a bit bigger. Plus there’s room for more than one thing in there, which is an upgrade from my previous bag. The meshy sidecarriage for a water bottle is also sweet, though I admittedly use my Sigg bottle, which is way too big. So yes, this was a good purchase on my part; a good use of my money. 5 out of 5.

“Family” Charm Necklace – $14.99, Target

Oh Target, how do I love thee; let me count the ways.  I was in need of a new relatively cheap necklace for all these  shirts I seem to be getting that have a lower neckline. I’m not one to spend a lot of money on jewelery so this was the perfect thing. At first, I was drawn to it for the design, which reminded me of the Celtic tree which I have long desired in tattoo form on my body somewhere. But the whole family idea also drew me in, as cheesy as that may sound. However, it’s adorable and compliments my weddings rings well, since it’s the white “gold”. For cuteness, this necklace gets a 5 out of 5 from this non-accessorizing girl.

Infinite Crisis – Geoff Johns, etc – $14.99, Borders

Finally managed to trudge my way through this trade. I knew I wanted to read it because I think all good DC fans should read the “Crisis” trades: Identity, Final, …on Infinite Earths. I also knew it was going to be baffling because you see, there are multiple earths wherein the characters we know and love have all lived out a different reality/fate. Orchestrating all of this is the Luthor of Earth 3? Maybe it was 2. Either way, his goal is to mesh all the earths together until the perfect one has been created and they (alternate Kal-El, Lois, etc…) can live happily. Lots of HUGE things happen in this book and I found it to not only be confusing but also, fantastic and emotional. If you like comics and haven’t read this, get with it! 4.5 out of 5, for confusion only.

That’s all I’ve got for you this week, kiddies. I think everyone’s on vacation or given up on commenting but I do hope you all have a great weekend. I plan on cleaning and relaxing, alternately. Peace out, m8ys.

New Good Things – 6/19 edition

I just LOL’d at myself because the 4/4 edition of this – from 2008 – is the post that has received the most all-time hits on this here blog. Why? Because I reviewed my then new phone, the Samsung A737. I’m glad to say that the phone is still holding up. Though, if I had to pick a negative, it would be that the battery gets really hot so if you’re talking on it for a while, watch your hand. But I thought it might be nice to revive this trend with some of my newest purchases.

Arrid Clinical Strength deodorant – $5.99, grocery store

I just got this a couple days ago; not because I sweat profusely but because it’s summer here in “Tallahades” and you can’t help but sweat even when you walk from the car to your office, etc. Previously, I was using Secret soft solid – the best kind – and it was working relatively well. I have to say, this deodorant is not keeping me as dry as I would like but I can still smell the “clean mist” scent and I am not as uncomfortable as usual. I’d give this a 3.5 out of 5.

PNY 4 Gb Flash Drive – $17.99, Best Buy

After my thumb drive died a few months back, as you may recall, I had to run out and quickly replace, because I rely heavily on this portable storage for all things I do in my office. My Sandisk lasted 6 months before it crapped out. This one has been going strong for 2 and so far, I like it. It had no pre-loaded crap on it, which I also appreciated. Thanks, PNY. Since it could still die any moment, I give it a 4 of 5.

Batman: Streets of Gotham – issue #1 – Paul Dini, Dustin Nguyen – $3.99

In this new Batman:Reborn thing that DC is doing, they’ve gotten Dini – one of the all-time best writers (in my opinion) – to pen two of the new titles: this and Gotham City Sirens. I’m actually passing on that one for now but this week I picked up SoG and was not disappointed. At first, I was slightly opposed to the art style – a little too cartoony – but it proved to be a fairly good read. They introduce a new villain to occupy Batman’s time and then they bring in Tommy Elliot. “Hush”, as he’s also known, is a big-time Batman adversary and since he now looks like Bruce (creepy in the aftermath of Bruce’s so-called death) it’s a very interesting twist that we see him playing chess with, of all people, Damian. I’m looking forward to where this goes and the evolution of things. The last page made me want moar! 4.5 out of 5.d and d

Queensland chicken salad – Outback restaurants, $10.99

Normally, we’re creatures of habit, Ash and I. We get the Outback special (sirloin, 9 ounce) every. single. time. But last Friday, I was not feeling red meat and opted for this salad instead. It contains: lettuce, bacon, boiled egg, blue cheese crumbles, almond pieces and their chicken, which is cold on top but seasoned and SO yummy. This is the kind of salad that makes you think about it later, lovingly, fondly, lustfully. I couldn’t stop. So when Ash suggested Outback take-out again last night, I was In Like Flynn (Now, I know you think it’s Flint but the original catchphrase was Flynn, like Errol). Again, this salad did not disappoint. I didn’t eat it all at 8 when we had dinner but around 10:30, I revisited it and let me tell you: just as good. 5 out of 5 and two enthusiastic thumbs up.

That’s all for now. Have you recently purchased something you want to gush or rant about? Lemme know!