Things I Love Thursdays: My Kindle

  • Posted on May 24, 2012 at 8:03 am

I am a book person.  Like, a physical book person.  I’m one of those people who likes the feel of the pages, the act of turning them, and the way books smell. So I took a long time to warm up to the idea of a Kindle.

When I was nursing Benjamin, and lamenting about my lack of reading time, someone suggested I check out all the free Kindle titles available – since I could read them on my phone. It was amazingly convenient for nursing/pumping – I had a selection of books, at my fingertips, without dragging paper copies everywhere.  But the screen was too small, and I had to flip pages a lot, and the screen would tire my eyes out after a while, since I basically just stare at a computer screen all day anyway.

I was griping about all of this one day, when someone asked if I had actually looked at a Kindle, and the display on it. They said it was different, and interesting – and wouldn’t wear my eyes out.  Being that usability is what I do, I had to test these claims.  I found one at a store, and it was really different – it felt like looking at paper.  No back lighting, no weird refresh rates.  And I loved it.

But, Kindles are not cheap.  So I hemmed and hawed and put off buying one.  And then Chad bought me one for Christmas (a nicer one than I was going to buy for myself, at that).  You guys, I am totally sold on this thing.  I carry 700+ books around in my purse, all the time.  My cousin in Alabama lends me books via email.  I can buy books anywhere (okay, this one is dangerous).

Now, I’m not going to give up my print copies of books anytime soon.  The lending feature on Kindle is still kind of weird, and I’d like to be able to lend my books to anyone I want whenever I want.  And I still balk if the Kindle book costs more than the paperback.  But – The amount that I get to read has doubled or tripled since I got it.  With Amazon Prime’s Kindle Lending Library, I can read an extra book a month, free. So I’m basically never without a book.

And that’s what I love about my Kindle.

For more Things I Love Thursdays, head over to Be The Difference!

WFMW: Quick Breakfast Ideas

  • Posted on May 23, 2012 at 8:11 am

I am usually running out the door at about a hundred miles an hour in the morning. Between having trouble getting out of bed myself, and getting the kids ready – it’s a little crazy in the mornings, and it seems like we’re always short on time.  Breakfast is the last thing on my list (the kids eat at school), and I almost never have time to eat it at home, sitting down, like a normal person.

If I miss out on breakfast at home, I can buy it at work – a breakfast burrito and soda costs a little more than $2, which isn’t bad, but adds up if I’m doing it every day.  So I try to keep some grab-and-go (or at least super quick) breakfasts on hand.  Here’s what I try to have available:

  1. Instant breakfast – I use the powder kind, and add milk.  This ends up being pretty inexpensive, and pretty low calorie, but I am starving by the time lunch rolls around.
  2. Granola bars – any kind, really.  Depending on the variety, they are low calorie as well.
  3. English muffins – usually with cream cheese or peanut butter, to help them stick to my ribs.
  4. Muffins – I’ll make a batch and freeze them, popping a frozen one in the microwave for 20-30 seconds makes it nice and warm.
  5. Breakfast burritos – I make these ahead and freeze them as well – putting them in the fridge the night before helps a lot in reducing cold spots, but the microwave can generally take them from frozen to warm pretty quickly.
  6. Fruit – because yum. I like fruit.

Generally, if I plan ahead and have some variety, I can make breakfast work.  Having quick breakfast ideas for on the go -  works for me!

You can find more Works For Me Wednesday post over at We Are THAT Family.

Birchbox Review: May 2012

  • Posted on May 22, 2012 at 8:36 am

Birchbox is probably the most well-known of the beauty sample services – it was the first one I heard of, and the first one I looked into joining.  They put me on a waiting list (they are very popular), so I decided to try some others in the meantime so I would have something to compare… and here we are.  I’ve already reviewed some of the other services: New Beauty Test Tube (and contents), myglam bag) – so on to Birchbox.

Birchbox is a subscription service, like the others, and runs $10/month with free shipping.  You receive one box a month, with four or five full or sample size products.   They arrive toward the middle of the month.  You can then get points for reviewing them, which you can trade for credit at the Birchbox store – where you also get a discount on anything that is in the current month’s box.

The box for May was inspired by Gossip Girl – a show I don’t watch or even know anything about.  Luckily, for me, that doesn’t really matter – the products are still useful and interesting. Here’s what May’s box looked like:

As a side note, I totally love the little gift box.  I’m stashing this one away (minus the Gossip Girl wrapper), because it’s very sturdy – enough to go through the mail, if I wanted, and pretty enough to be a gift box.

Everything was wrapped up inside, so it really was like opening a little present.  Super fun!

Once I unwrapped everything, here’s what was included:

A note card, a fragrance sample, a conditioner sample, nail polish, and an anti-aging moisturizer. Plus a card explaining what everything is, although no instructions on how to use the samples.  So, on the the reviews:


BVLGARI Omnia Crystalline Eau de Toilette Spray (sample)

So, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a huge fragrance person.  And this one smells okay to me – not really too strong, but a little too perfume-like, if that makes sense.  (I was trying to explain it to Chad last night, and I think I hit on the idea – I like to smell like nice things that you could possibly smell like by accident.  Like fruit or soft flowers or vanilla).  This fragrance is billed as being fruity, but I couldn’t smell the pear scent in it at all.

BUT.  the sample bottle was way cooler than the other typical glass vials they send – it was the same shape on size, but actually had a spray top on it.  Which is awesome, and worth mentioning I guess.

Verdict? Nice fragrance, but not really my thing.  And more than I usually spend (isn’t that the story of my life?) $64 for 1.33oz – but something I might be willing to pay if I loved the scent.


Kiehl’s Abyssine Cream + (sample)

This is a moisturizer designed to fight aging and free radicals and all that other good stuff that moisturizers do these days.  While I;m not really noticing aging per say on my skin, I do have problems with certain parts of my face being super dry and/or flaky sometimes, while other parts of my face are really oily. It’s hard to find a moisturizer that balances them.

This one managed to do just that, for the most part.  I liked the scent – it didn’t smell artificial or gross, just clean. And it sent on really smooth – I just needed a tiny bit to cover my whole face and neck. It left my face smooth and clear, and didn’t make me break out (a big problem with similar products).  However – it doesn’t have any SPF, so I’m hesitant to use it as a day moisturizer.  As a night moisturizer is works fine, and I only find the tiniest bit of greasiness right around my nose when I wake up.

Verdict?  A pretty good product.  There are some other similar products I’m trying now as well, though, so I’m keeping my options open. $48 for 1.69oz is a little pricey, but not too bad for how good it makes my skin feel.  I’m not ready to buy today, but it’s in the running at least.


Color Club® Summer Pastels Collection – Clambake Coral

First, coral is not a great color for me.  Other than that, this was a pretty decent polish, it sent on smooth and even – although it takes a while to dry.  It needs a clear topcoat, or it will chip – but a good topcoat seemed to keep it in place pretty well.

Verdict?  I liked the quality of the polish, and at $8/bottle, it’s not very expensive.  Some of the other colors look interesting, so I may pick up a bottle in another color for the summer.


Ojon damage reverse™ Restorative Conditioner (sample size)

Y’all, I am a sucker for salon-quality hair products.  Especially conditioner.  My hair is frizzy, and tend toward being dry – but too much product makes it limp and weird.  I love deep conditioners, but hate when they leave my hair feeling oily or weighted down.

So i was anxious to try this one.  It’s billed as being natural, and it smells kind of organic – not unpleasant, but a little on the green side.  It’s thick, but I managed to get it distributed through my hair, as well as fully rinsed out several minutes later (the rinsing was a little difficult).  And…  my hair feel softer, more manageable, and not too weighted down.  I like the way it feels, and the scent didn’t stick my my hair.

Verdict?  I wouldn’t use this every day, but it’s the type of thing I’d keep around to use once a week, or less often if my hair didn’t need it.  At $25 for 8oz, this is similarly priced to some salon brands – so not something I would buy all the time, but a nice treat now and then.


Birchbox Notecards (1 sample card)

These are actually kind of cute, and very simple.  They don’t say Birchbox anyplace obvious, and would be cute for a thank-you note or something similar and handwritten. The hot pink envelopes make them kind of fun, too.

Verdict? I liked it, and will use the card they sent me (it says XOXO on the front, so probably not for a thank-you note, lol) – but I don’t do enough real correspondence to buy a package of them

Regarding the Birchbox service in general, I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I would be with the number of products I got – and half of them, while nice, were not really things I use a lot of or am really looking to buy.  But – I think I’ll give them one more month to try it out.  Getting points for reviewing things is a nice incentive, and given a different set of products, I might feel differently.

The Hunger Games – The Book

  • Posted on May 22, 2012 at 7:25 am

I said I was going to read the Hunger Games last week, since I had finally seen the movie.  And read it I did – pretty much all in one sitting, on Wednesday, home with Brianna while she was sick.

It. was. awesome.

I love how watching a movie before reading the book gives me a good overall top level view of the story – and make me appreciate all the details and back story and other things they have to cut out of a movie, almost like I’m rereading the book. I think this will be my preferred method of reading books that are movies now – and since I’m like, 5 years behind in my reading, that actually works out pretty well for me. (we’ll ignore the fact that I’m still for the most part 2 years behind on my movie watching).

So, I loved how book-Katniss was a little more in the game than movie-Katniss.  And ever so slightly more calculating – and at the same time more confused. She was just pretty much more everything in the book, really.  And I liked having more details about her and Gale, as that part of the movie was really fuzzy for me – and her history with Peeta, only told in the movie through one scene that we kept going back to.

I actually liked Peeta more in the book, too – he seemed stronger (as a person), and more good, all around.  And his feelings for Katniss seemed more real, and less planned.

And that is why I like books more than movies.  Because although a good movie can move you and make you feel for the characters, a good book can do so much more – by being in the character’s heads, you an actually be them, feel what they are feeling, and really immerse yourself in the story – making books so much more real to me than movies.  The fact that I now have actor faces for each character and don’t have to think of what they might look like? A bonus, for me.

In short, I think the book was awesome, and having gone from movie to book – I think the movie was actually a pretty good adaptation.  I’d like them to make the sequels, but I might feel differently about the movie adaptations of those because:

I borrowed Catching Fire, via Kindle, from my cousin.  And she’s sending me Mocking Jay today, because I read the second book all in one sitting as well.  Because movies? They take years to produce.  And I want to know what happens, now.

Menu Plan Monday: What’s new?

  • Posted on May 21, 2012 at 7:08 am

Menu Plan Monday at

New game, you guys – look at this week’s menu and see if you can tell how badly I failed at making dinner last week!  No, really, it wasn’t so much fail as – we just had a lot of leftovers to eat.  And two surprise meals with friends that didn’t fit in the plan (but were awesome). So we only ate like, one of the meals I planned (Chicken Alfredo.  finally!).  That fact, combined with the holiday weekend coming up, makes this week’s planning totally easy.

So this week:

Monday: Chicken nuggets & mac n cheese (Chad’s working late, and I don’t want to cook anything fancy without him to help with the kids)

Tuesday: Pork chops, rice, veggies

Wednesday: Dinner out.  Or Shepherd’s pie.

Thursday: Ham & Cheese casserole

Friday: Dinner out, or sandwiches (on the road)

Saturday: Out of town

Sunday: Out of town

For more Menu Plan Monday posts, head over to OrgJunkie!

MyGlam Bag: Review

  • Posted on May 20, 2012 at 9:25 am

So earlier this month I reviewed the New Beauty Test Tube, and mentioned i was trying several of these type services to see which one I liked best.  It turns out, all of the monthly subscription ones arrive at basically the same time in the month – pretty much all in the past week.  So I have several of thee posts coming up, where I’ll review first the service and then the products I was sent for May. In the meantime, I get to decide which service I’ll keep!

This particular beauty box is from myglam.  These subscription costs $10/month (which is pretty standard, and about as inexpensive as they come), and boxes are delivered towards the middle of the month.

First off, I totally need to know where to get these pink bubble mailers.  Because they are awesome.  Now that I got that out of the way… The make-up bag the samples came in is cute, but I can see where I might run out of uses for them if I got a new one every month.

I received a full size sample of rhinestone nail decals, two small make-up brushes, a full size lipstick, and a sample size fragrance. Which doesn’t seem like a lot when I compare it to the Test Tube, but this one is every month not every quarter.

So, on to the products:

Miss Beauty Nail Bling (full size)

You guys, rhinestone nails are just not my thing.  And my nails aren’t long enough for these particular designs, either.  I suppose that’s one of the things about these type bags, is that sometimes, you get products that just aren’t really things you use.  I gave them to a friend, though, and she said they were easy enough to apply and stayed on fairly well.

I can’t find them for sale anywhere, though (even from the myglam website!), so if you want to buy them, I have no idea what to even tell you.  Not the greatest marketing.

Verdict? Not for me, but not a bad product.


Philosophy Love Sweet Love Spray Fragrance (sample)

This is described as a fruity, flirty fragrance – which I’ll agree with, it had a strong hint of pears, maybe? when I first smelled it.  I liked it, although I’m not really a perfume person in general. However, on my skin it didn’t smell as good – still not bad, but more perfume-like and less fruity.

Verdict?  I could see buying this as a gift, though, if I knew someone who liked it – $42 for 2oz.


Studio Gear Complete Color Lipstick (full size) – Audition

This lipstick was high-quality, and I liked the way it felt on my lips – it was smooth and had some moisture, but wasn’t sticky.  It also didn’t taste very artificial, like some brands I’ve tried.  The color was fairly neutral, but a little warmer than I usually wear – not bad on me, just not the best.  I’m sure they have a color in their line that would suit me better, though.  At $15, this lipstick is less expensive than department store brands, which is nice.

Verdict? If I can find it some place where I can see the colors in person, I might look into getting this brand in another color.

myglam Concealer Brush & Defining Eyeliner Brush

These are actually pretty nice brushes, and I’m a sucker for makeup brushes.  But you can’t buy them, so I’m not sure what benefit my review has for the general public.

I’m wondering if you stay subscribed for some time, do you get the whole set?  Do they repeat?  I’m not sure. At any rate, they are fun to play with.


In general, I don’t think this was my favorite beauty bag, but it may have been because some of the samples weren’t really things I use.  I’ll review the others, and let you know which one I decide to stick with!

C.S. Lewis Song – Brooke Fraser

  • Posted on May 19, 2012 at 8:54 am

Love this song.  “Am I lost or just less found”

If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary,
then of course I’ll feel nude when to where I’m destined I’m compared

Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan as I wait for hope to come for me

Am I lost or just less found? On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
is this a soul that stirs in me, is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?
Cos my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
And avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become


For we, we are not long here
Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it
And I, I was made to live, I was made to love, I was made to know you
Hope is coming for me
Hope, He’s coming


Five Minute Friday: Perspective

  • Posted on May 18, 2012 at 8:53 am

On Fridays, Gypsy Mama holds a blog carnival where we all stop and write for five minutes – no editing, no over-thinking, just write. Care to join us?

This week’s topic is: Perspective.

I had given up.  I told Chad earlier in the week, or the end of last week – the days run together when we’re busy and the hosue is a mess and everyone is sick – I had told Chad that I was done looking for a Life Group.  We had tried so many times since coming to our current church.

It’s like we’re not meant to be part of one, I told him.  See, Life Groups all meet on Sunday night.  But I teach Awana Sunday night – something I’m not really lookign ot give up.  Every time I mentioned it to someone at Church, while looking for Life Groups, I would get a response like “oh, that’s too bad.”

I felt like they were saying, “If you really wanted to connect with us, you would give up your other ministry”.  We thought about joining in the summer, when I have no other Sunday commitments – but Sundays are already hectic, what with Church and getting ready for the week and being home with the kids… and the thought of going for two months, only to be relegated back to the shadows during the school year grated on me.

We just won’t try this year, I said.  Why bother?  And finally – I felt peace about it.  Not bitterness that I wasn’t allowed in the group, not stress about whether I was being punished for my choices, just peace.  That’s it, I thought, we just weren’t meant to be there.

Then out of the blue, I got a message from a girl in my bible study, asking if she could steal my away from whatever life group we were in, because she thought our kids would play well together and wanted more young families in hers.  Here we go again, I thought – I’m not meant to be in a life group.  But I messaged back, and said I couldn’t meet on Sunday nights, but that we could maybe come through the summer if she wanted.

So it turns out, they don’t meet on Sunday nights at all.  Random nights of the week right now.  But probably never Sundays.

Suddenly, “God doesn’t want us in a Life Group right now” turns into “Maybe He just wanted us to wait on this one”… and we’re going to join them for hot dogs and fellowship tonight.

My perspective, is not always (in fact often not) God’s perspective.  But it’s nice when the perspective changes, and I can see a little of His direction.

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7 Quick Takes

  • Posted on May 18, 2012 at 7:55 am

— 1 —

You guys.  My life is crazy right now.  I mean, it’s crazy all the time, but it seems extra crazy right now – like the merry-go-round is spinning way too fast – and I can’t quite put my finger on why.

Brianna was sick this week.  A stomach bug, that cancelled her ear tube removal for the third time (first time was hand, foot, and mouth.  Second was scarlet fever).  But! She may not need it done after all, now that’s we;ve put it off so long, so we’ll know more about that later next week-ish.

I think I’m getting sick. Or maybe it’s from sleeping on the couch for two nights so I could hold a bucket out for Brianna to puke in.  Or maybe it’s just stress because, work, life, parenting, hello.

My house is in disarray, which stresses me out.  But all the puke laundry was done yesterday, and an extra load to boot, so I’m not that terribly far behind. I just *feel* behind. If I keep reminding myself I’m not, maybe it will stick.

Meanwhile, here’s some interesting diversions:

— 2 —

No really, my mother’s day was great.  I took a 6 hour nap(!) on Saturday, and an extra 2 hour nap on Sunday.  That’s like, as much sleep as I get in two days, people. Which is why I needed those naps, ha ha.

We went out for dinner Saturday, and Chad ordered take-out on Sunday, so I was super spoiled.  And the kids made me a paving stone with their hand prints, and Brianna’s design sense, and it looks awesome.  And Brianna signed her name, with all the letters in order, in my card, right above Benjamin’s crayon scribbles.

I love my kids.  Even when I’m stressed out.

— 3 —

I spend a lot of time worrying I’m not the right kind of mom. I mean, there’s a ton of stuff I don’t do.  All the time.  I haven’t had Brianna start Bible memory verses, even though she can quote Mother Goose like no tomorrow.  I had completely neglected to work with Benjamin on colors, which Chad helped fix this weekend.  I feel like I should be teaching more, working more with them on skills and emotions and chores and… and… and…

And I’m so often overwhelmed by it. So often. And especially this week, as my feelings of not being good enough tend to increase as my other stress does.  So this post came at just the right time for me.

My constant struggle is to be in the moment.  I just need to keep on – being in the moment.

— 4 —

So I was chatting with a friend this week, and mentioned reading the Bible on my phone.  No joke, the YouVersion app is what keeps me on a reading plan.  And I think that’s kind of awesome.

But my phone is fast becoming an integral part of my life.  I use it to schedule, connect, track, and maintain almost every aspect of what I do.  And that is kind of scary, and kind of awesome, all at the same time. Just a thought.

— 5 —

I buckled down on the diet today.  Seriously.  I went to the doctor last week, and while she had mixed news on what could be done on improving my health concerns in general (nothing serious), the most depressing part of the visit was stepping on the scale.  Looking into the possible things I’m having problems with – none of them are due to weight, but weight plays a factor in making them worse or more difficult to treat.

So.  Eating healthy(er), again.  Which means I have to curb the emotional eating, because yikes I have a lot of emotions, and they all seem to crave carbs. Wish me luck!  Also hope to step up the exercise again, when my xBox hard drive returns from the nether (where it’s being replaced).  And, we might get a Rec Center membership, if Chad and I can ever find the time to go.

— 6 —

This is old, but it still makes me lol: 100 Essential Skills For Geeks. I have an embarrassingly awesome number of these skills, which totally makes me a geek chick, which we already knew.

— 7 —

I totally read The Hunger Games in one sitting.  Due to my awesome cousin, I’ll be reading the second book this week, and probably the third shortly after.  I haven’t decided if I’ll review them all at once, or one at a time, but a review is definitely forthcoming.  I love reading, and I love that my Kindle (and my phone, lets be honest) help me work it into my everyday life – when I really don’t have time to read at all.

As a funny note, my requirements for a purse no longer include fitting a TI-89 (like in college), but now include fitting my Kindle (which is thinner, but wider).  My current purse (a 5 year gift from my company, and the only name brand purse I’ve ever owned) works wonderfully for this. If I ever get a MacBook Air, though, I will totally need to upgrade my purse.

That, if nothing else, should cinch my geek girl cred. My purse size and shape is almost entirely dictated by the technology I feel I need to carry.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Things I Love Thursdays: Android Apps

  • Posted on May 17, 2012 at 1:02 pm

So I published something similar to this a year or so ago, but it was removed as part of my blog purging.  So, I’ve revised it, and I’m posing it again.

I love my phone. Love, love, love.  And in my quest to stay on top of everything in my life – it is one of my greatest tools. I use it for everything (except meal planning.  Tried that, but prefer the new post-it system).  Here are some of the apps I use to keep track of all the crazy.

Google Calendar (built into Android OS). I have it set to synch with my work calendar, and Chad’s work calendar.  Mine works really well – Chad’s schedule is a little too fluid to depend on being completely correct – but it gives me a rough idea of what’s going on.

Astrid Tasks (free).  I keep my to do list here – all of it, including recurring tasks that I’m trying to make habits (like the laundry, dishes, meal planning, etc).  You can enter tasks without a due date, schedule a due date (and time, if you want), and set up recurrence if you want.  It includes reminders, which drive Chad nuts because my phone is buzzing ALL THE TIME. But – I can tell at a glance what I need to do right now, and what I’m behind or ahead on.  There are a ton of features I don’t use, like tagging tasks to put them in separate lists, etc.  I’ve heard this works really great with GTD – haven’t incorporated it yet, but I’m working on it.

My Pantry 2 ($0.99).  To be honest, I’m still working on getting this list up to date, and keeping it that way.  But!  I love the idea of it! There is a free version of this app, but I bought the full version so I could use the cool UPC scanner functionality.  Basically, this app holds my pantry (and fridge, and freezer) inventory.  So when I’m at the store, and decide I need something that isn’t on my list – I can double check and see if we already have 4 of them sitting in the pantry.  UPC scanning makes it pretty quick to add things to the list, and I love knowing what I have – it makes meal planning easier as well, as I can plan around what we have and save some money at the store.  It also has features to make a grocery list, but I don’t use it because I use…

Grocery IQ (free). You can add things to your list by scanning the UPC (I’m totally a sucker for scanning UPCs, y’all.  It makes me feel all techy and stuff).  You can set up multiple lists for multiple stores, and you can organize each list by how your store is laid out. You can also put in a price, so you can use the app as your price book for often purchased items. So many great features. As you check items off your list on the store, it hides them so you don’t have to hunt through all the checked off items and risk missing the one more thing you need (I do this all the time with paper lists).   Oh, and the best part? My list is shared to Chad’s phone as well, so he can add or update thing – and, if needed, I can quickly email or text message a copy of list to Chad, if he’s stopping on the way home from work and I don’t want to have to depend on him to check the app.

So there you go – four apps I love!  If only there was an app that would actually do my housework…

For more Things I Love Thursdays, head over to Be The Difference!