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Monthly Archives: February 2016

My Favorite Things, Part 2

Today’s post is going to get somewhat nerdy, so push the glasses into place and get prepared for some electronics.  *grin* I can’t help it; if I’m going to talk about my favorite things, there must be some tech toys!  I promise that all of mine are in the affordable range though, so they truly are favorite things, instead of things I daydream of.  😉

 

 I have several different fans to help cool my heavy duty gaming laptop and I really love my Opolar LC05 Laptop Cooler with Vacuum Fan.  It has several different silicone shrouds for best fit over the exhaust vent, a neat little set up for attaching the unit to the laptop, and boy does it work!  Even at just the second wind speed (out of 13) it will take my laptop from being a bit scalding to the palm to almost cool, in a mere minute! At $25.99 on Amazon Prime it’s a pretty cost effective cooling option, especially for people that need a second (technically third, if you count the on board, of course) source of cooling for gaming laptops.

Opolar

Hold onto your hat, because this next one will probably really surprise you…Tracey Mallett’s The Booty Barre Beginners & Beyond DVD is my next favorite thing.  Despite the belief that people with disabling chronic illnesses just want to lay around, most of us spend a lot of time (plus effort, energy, and money!) trying to find exercises and stretches that work with our limitations.  It’s super easy to get discouraged when five minutes on an exercise bike causes you to be in massive pain and unable to walk for the next 6 days, or ten minutes of learning tai chi causes your muscles to give out and you fall to the floor (let’s not discuss how many injuries one can get from such a small fall! *shaking head*), or a ton of other similar scenarios.  We really miss being able to do things, and (really, really, really) want to lose the weight our medications and limited activity has caused us to gain, but it’s difficult.  I found Tracey Mallett’s work out techniques completely by accident.  She was featured on Hallmark’s Home & Family Show and what was so impressive is that she talked about adjustments that can be made for people that aren’t able to do the regular moves.  She created workouts that she had previously incorporated the Ballet Barre for and made them doable for the home user, but then also gave options such as doing leg exercises from the floor on your hands-and-knees instead of trying to balance on one leg while exercising the other.  Those with limitations really need to utilize the ole timer method when starting this though, because it is so easy to get caught up in the routine and overdo it.  (It’s recommended that we set timers so that we stop our activity and rest, so that we don’t cause damage or extra pain, and we’re supposed to rest for an equal amount of time as the exercise, then.)  Ms. Mallett is encouraging, yet not all excessively excited like most exercise hosts.  Those chirpy folks make me want to strangle them and say very unladylike things to the television.  *laugh* The DVD mentioned is only $16.99 on Amazon, but she also currently has some free examples on YouTube.  It’s definitely worth a shot, especially if you are looking for exercises and stretches that allow accommodations.  And especially if you dream of a little less jiggle when you wiggle.  *wink*

booty barre

These two items are grouped together since they are both Amazon products.  Thankfully I bought both on sale, but they were both worth the investments for me.  First, I have a lot of fun with my Amazon Echo.  We wanted a Bluetooth speaker since I listen to a lot of music and books, plus I stream a lot of programs on my devices, and after a lot of research and discussion we decided that a multiuse workhorse like the Echo was the perfect choice for me.  Yeah, I wrote us first, but realistically, she’s my gadget.  *grin* I love the different skills that are always improving, it’s super handy to have a voice activated device that can give me measurement conversions and timers when my hands are busy or covered in product when I’m making soaps and lotions, and she is actually a really great Bluetooth speaker.  I can move her all over the house easily and it’s a breeze to sync her with nearly every device I own.  I don’t really care for having her wake name being set as “Alexa”, but they’re supposed to do an update  someday that allows people to change the name.  She incorrectly hears activation every few days from other words that have an “x” in them and I really hate that the television commercial for the product  can activate her (especially when they had all of the Baldwin commercials for the product leading up to the Super Bowl), so suddenly I’m startled by some disembodied voice right beside me saying that she doesn’t understand what I’m asking.  Meh.  She’s a bit expensive at the current price of $179.99, but most of the decent to good Bluetooth speakers are just as expensive if not way higher.  Moving on, I also got an Amazon Fire e-reader/tablet.  For being so light it has a great processor, a lot of storage (and can be expanded via microSD), and so many freebies compatible with it!  I was a loyal Nook user, with multiple versions of Nooks, until this little guy came into my life at Christmas, and I find that I seldom ever pick up my Nook anymore unless it’s to read a book I have on it all ready.  Everything new is being loaded onto the Fire and there are way more books available for free for Amazon than the Nook, at least in the genres I’m interested in.  The picture is so gorgeous that I love to play games on it when it’s too painful to have my laptop rest on my legs and boy howdy can it access the library’s e-books fast!  I actually did a comparison between it and my newest Nook, and I was all ready reading a book’s description on the Fire before my Nook was able to finish logging me in.  I am still very fond of my Nook, so please don’t take this little status change as a total desertion from the brand.  *smile* I’m just really impressed with this little tablet, especially if you can catch it when it’s on sale!  And I must mention, if you’re a Prime member you even get to select a book for a group of new titles that haven’t even hit the market yet.   It’s a great way to get introduced to new-t0-you authors and some great possible future bestsellers without the bigger cost of a new release or bestseller. 

 

Tying in with the Fire and Nook I’d like to mention a service that I really love called BookBub.  It’s a free service that you can sign up for where you mark what types of books you enjoy and which reading platforms you have, and every day you get an email with a list of books ranging from free to $1.99 in the categories you specified (I believe you can even change it to once weekly, but I’m not positive and I’m not going to hit change to see, since I love my daily setting *grin*).  My TBR list is so long I can get bored scrolling and I have found some new incredible favorite authors, since many authors offer their first book in a series for free.  They even added another service recently that will send you notifications when favorite authors have new releases or sales.  I may have one email every two weeks where it’s all misses, but there’s an average of about three books a day from my list that I’m interested in.  If you love to read, this saves you time from trolling websites or the digital bookstore to see what free books are currently available, so you have more time to actually read.  It’s such an awesome service and by the way, if you love to hoard cookbooks like me, they can even be added to the service’s list!  *happy dance!

 

This part is going to be about a couple of television shows.  I have a lot of options for watching videos (extended satellite, Amazon Video streaming, Netflix, YouTube, and Roku channels), so I don’t buy DVDs very often, but I bought these in box sets.  There are a couple of sets of older television shows that I’d like to recommend for you to look into, if you haven’t had the chance to experience them yet.  The Vicar of Dibley is an English comedy that we thoroughly love and actually watch certain episodes several times a year.  Sadly many of the episodes have been pulled from Netflix and it’s getting harder and harder to find some of the episodes (and it’s not available on Acorn TV’s streaming service either), so the box set had to be in my life.  Another show that is slowly slipping away is Eureka.  Granted, I think the last two seasons aren’t nearly as awesome as the earlier ones, but it’s still one of my favorite shows, and I got several season box sets for Christmas since I’m so obsessed with the series.  (Yep, I had an incredible, tech filled Christmas this past year!! *grin*) Larry is more of a good ol’ country boy instead of a nerd, yet I got him into the series, so that should give an extra vote for the series!  I also got him into Scorpion and The Big Bang Theory.  We finally stopped collecting box sets on TBBT, but we have the first few and still crack up at those early episodes.  Scorpion is definitely a darker themed drama, but there is enough action and MacGyver-like moments to keep him interested, and enough intellectual and personality highlights to make me love the show enough to watch episodes repeatedly, despite having so many other new videos available to me.  Despite everything that’s available, these two are my favorites.  I even have the Eureka ringtone.  I’m that girl.  *laugh*

 

The last item I want to mention is an online 3D virtual world called Second Life (SL).  In the simplest of descriptions, it’s like online chat and the Sims game joined together.  It’s an interactive world that is created by the users, so most interests are represented and you can always find something interesting to do or explore if you are willing to try.  You can shop to improve your avatar or SL home, you can hunt for free gifts from designers, you can go listen to music and hang out at a club, or you can hang out at your home with a few friends and play board games together.  There are so many fascinating places that users have created!  I’ve parachuted off of the Eiffel Tower, gone to a formal dance on a replica of the Titanic, participated in support group meetings for my illness, floated on a star in space, explored beautiful recreations of castles in Scotland, and even explored the incredibly creepy halls of a haunted insane asylum.  The possibilities and the creativity are endless.  I have gone to a variety of conventions, several memorials, and even went to a few RP sims (where I learned that I am just not that good at creating a fake persona for myself *laugh*).  On the usual night I’ll visit a few of my favorite shopping spots to watch for good deals or freebies, then join my roommates/friends at our house to play some games together while chatting.  I even have some virtual cats to play with, some crafting furniture to represent my real life (RL) interests, and I even have a library!  *grin* I love to decorate our little home (okay, I went a little nuts and splurged on a mansion I found, but it is SO amazing that I couldn’t resist, and it has the perfect living room with overlooking sitting room for displaying a Christmas tree with lights and presents that I did!  *shakes head and realizes I’m seriously fangirling my SL home* Anyway…) It’s a fun and interesting online world, but it’s also a great resource for disabled people or even people that need some socialization but aren’t able to in regular life.  There are support groups for most any ailment, there are sims that provide information about resources available, and there are even volunteers at some places that are happy to just emotionally supportive for you if you’re struggling.  I’ve met so many people in my years on SL who also have invisible diseases and it brings me to tears sometimes to see, and experience, the incredible support we all give one another, and this awesome resource that allows the homebound to just be normal for a bit.  I like to think that my avatar is the representation of the inner me.  She’s a lot skinnier, with a much better wardrobe and better hair, but she’s not a movie star clone.  She’s more like the girl next door and more often than not she’s sporting a very nerdy t shirt or smexy Tetris nail polish.  My second life is part of my real life and I’m actually a happier person for it, because it has truly helped me to cope while also giving me a creative outlet that helps to distract me from my issues, as well.  I met some of my best friends in SL and would never have had the chance to meet in RL, so I’ll always be thankful for having my second life.  I hope you’ll take a look at their site if this sounds like a good fit for you and if you decide to join, please don’t hesitate to send me an email or text, and I’ll happily share my SL name with you so I can help you get acquainted with, and enjoy, your second life.  🙂

My Favorite Things Part 1

Hi there!  I have been coping with some emotional and medical issues, and honestly tend to become even more introverted when dealing with things, so I tend to opt for things that distract me, and blogging makes me WAY too reflective to be considered a distraction.  *grin* I’m doing a little better today, so I wanted to take this opportunity to write.  J  In light of everything I thought I’d keep things light today and wanted to share some of my favorite things.  I don’t believe I’ve ever done that, other than recipes, so prepare yourself for an eclectic collection of items. I added the links to Amazon for what items that I could, in case you’d like to check them out, so just click the hyperlink and it should give you a new window with Amazon instead of steering you away from the post.  (I divided this into two posts with home and organizing being first and next with be electronics and entertainment.)

 

First up, I’m absolutely obsessed with all things Command related.  Hooks, bins, and picture frame strips; you name it, I have them all!  *grin* I especially love the cord hooks, wire hooks, and the all-purpose 3 lb. hooksI have a hanging shoe organizer on a door with all of my extra cords, label maker, candle melts, and other knickknacks, but dedicated an entire row to command products so that I always have a variety on hand when I spontaneously decide to organize things. I even have one of the bins on the wall beside the couch holding both of my e-readers in easy reach, yet safe from the animals, and still able to charge.  I’m tickled by the simplest things sometimes.  *laugh*

 

Second, although there are a few features that are definitely missed, I love the performance of my Shark Navigator Deluxe VacuumIt auto adjusts to carpet pile, which is my favorite feature, and picks up kitty litter really well, which is actually very rare.  I wish it had a light, a spot for all of the tools to attach, and an edger, but it’s a powerful workhorse at just $123.99.  It is super light and moves so easily, which means I can vacuum without causing myself more pain.  (Seriously, it is so effortless that people will keep vacuuming when I have them test it out, instead of doing just a push or two!)  Despite missing a few features that I like, I honestly wouldn’t trade this for a different brand.

 

shark

My absolute favorite kitchen gadget, which I have even given as gifts because I love it so much, is the simplest piece of plastic that is seriously handy.  The Jokari Baggy Rack Storage Bag Opener and Holder quite simply has clips that hold your zip bag open so both hands are free for filling the bag.  I know that you’re probably thinking I am the laziest person in the world to need and love this little device, but think of how many times a zip bag has folded in on itself as you tried to put leftovers or some meat in?  Or what about when you try to pour something with some sauce on it?  Or had it fold as you were trying to spoon corn into the bag with one hand and holding your pot in the other, and those evil little kernels of deliciousness found their way under the edge of the cabinet, under your mixer, or made a wet path across the counter?  I especially love it for when I’m doing meat prep, like chicken strips, and then I can even pour marinade in without worry (my wild, unexpected movements cause enough messes, so I need every bit of help available *laugh*).  The holder works really well when pouring bagged ingredients in, too, like making your own trail mix.  At $6.78 for a single unit and $10 for two, it’s a very cost effective gift that will be priceless for the recipient for years to come.

baggy holder

We bought a gas meat smoker and have been learning different techniques, etc., which brought on our first attempt to spatchcock poultry.  Prior to this we always bought broke down birds and we figured I should use what little energy I have on other tasks instead of trying to break down whole birds.  No shortcuts are allowed when smoking a whole turkey, though, so we did our research and bought the OXO Good Grips Spring-Loaded Poultry Shears (at an investment of $24.95).  According to the “Man of the Smoker” (yep, that’s my nickname for him when he messes with the smoker) it’s pretty easy to spatchcock a thawed turkey with these shears, although it would be a little more difficult for someone with less hand strength (like me).  They work so well in most food prep, though!  They cut chicken into pieces easy enough that I prep a lot more chicken than ever before, they make short prep work when used on vegetables such as broccoli, and can even cut hunks of clingy fat that some of my knives have trouble with.  The best part (for the one that has to do the dishes *laugh*) is that they come apart and are a breeze to completely clean. 

Shears

Another often used kitchen gadget is my professional SaladShooter.  I bought this through Walmart’s website years ago, so I have no idea what I paid back then, but I found one that looks almost identical to my unit and attachments here for $44.66.  We mainly use it for cheeses, since we’re kind of obsessed with cheese and it’s a lot cheaper to buy a block at Sam’s Club.  We had a lot of problems with packaged shredded cheese molding quickly too, especially during our humid, hot summers, but only shredding a few cups at a time when we want it on hand, and covering up the rest of the block until the next time, has massively cut down on waste.  To top it all off it is running perfectly over 5 years later!  If you buy one, make sure to keep an old toothbrush (dedicated to this task) with your kitchen washing items, since that’s the most effective way to get the cheese grime off of the grids and out of the grater holes. 

saladshooter

 

Lastly, I thought I’d throw in one of my favorite desserts.  The best part is that it’s a diet ice cream that tastes and feels just like the real deal in our opinion.  Edy’s Slow Churned Ice Cream has several flavors with that awesome slow churned texture, yet they have half the fat and a third of the calories of regular ice cream (depending on what you eat, of course).  I actually prefer this ice cream over regular ice cream, now!  It can sometimes be difficult to find some of the flavors in the Midwest, but even plain ole vanilla floats my boat.  *grin*  I am a big sucker for the Mint Chocolate Chip though and it helps cool down my GERD, too, so I almost always have a legitimate excuse to eat ice cream whenever I’m wanting it without anyone making me feel like I’m just being a pig.  *biiiiig grin* Yeah, I’m shameless sometimes. 

edys

Tune in tomorrow for the other half, when I totally get my nerd flag flying.  Until then, happy pampering!

 

 

 

 

 

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