Magic Containers

I’ve been in awe of these Rubbermaid Freshworks produce containers for years and had previously thought about writing about them here as something that makes me happy but never did. Now in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis I feel like it would be remiss of me not to share my knowledge of them with you. I’ve always been skeptical of any specialized stuff like this claiming to keep stuff fresher longer. In my experience they never work. So when my husband bought some of these containers a couple of years ago I kind of scoffed at him and was like whatever. Those were probably a waste of money.

Boy was I wrong! These things are amazing! They totally do make our produce last longer without getting wilty and sad. With our new reality of trying to go to the grocery store only once every two weeks we bought even more of these to try and extend the life of the fresh produce we’re buying. I highly recommend getting some for yourself. Now if only someone could figure out a way to make it so bananas didn’t get ripe so fast. There’s no way I can buy two weeks of bananas at a time.

Punny Swag

We listen to Marketplace almost every night while my husband is making dinner. I’m also a huge fan of two Marketplace podcasts, Make Me Smart and The Uncertain Hour. So I toss them some money every once in awhile. I am especially pleased by their swag. Kai Ryssdal host of Marketplace and one of the co-hosts of Make Me Smart along with Molly Wood is always saying “The stock market is not the economy”. I love my reusable bag and now new socks that play off of that phrase. I look forward to all future punny swag they come up with.

Pair of socks that say the sock market is not the economy and a tote bag that says the super farmer's stock market is not the economy.

Summer Clothing Staples

I’m trying to get a little bit better about posting non-music stuff around here. Let’s face it, it’s probably still going to be like 90% music related content, but since no one who reads this blog cares that much I’m trying to mix it up every once in awhile. I used to try and write about stuff that makes me happy no matter how small. With summer starting to wind down (not that you’d know it based on this heat wave), I thought I would share a couple of my favorite summer clothing items.

I few years ago Target started making these tank tops. They were originally under one of the house clothing brands that Target retired. When I saw that they were getting rid of that brand I was super sad because I thought it meant these tank tops were going away, but they just started making them under the A New Day brand (which whenever I see the tags I always think says And Away). I own this tank top in approximately one million colors. Since white tanks get dirty so easy and the tanks are so cheap, when I need something to fill out an online Target order to get the free shipping I will toss one in my cart.

The other thing I absolutely love are these Abeo Kadie flip flips from The Walking Company. I posted here once before about a pair of flip flips that I loved, but bit the dust because they were so old and I wore them so much. Those flip flips having nothing on these. It took me literally years and so many wasted flip flop purchases to finally find a pair that I really loved and I felt like I could wear without tearing my feet apart. These are great. They are super comfortable. They have great arch support and most importantly the straps don’t rub at all. From the very first second I put them on I could wear them with no issues. I’ve owned far too many flip flips that I just hoped the straps would eventually soften up or my feet would get used to. Not so with these. I can wear them for long periods of time with no problems. They have never cut my feet or caused blisters. They are just plain comfortable. They are definitely more money than I ever wanted to pay for a pair of flip flops, but they’re really worth every penny. I wish that I had managed to snag another pair on summer clearance as backup before they sold out of my size. Now I just have to hope they bring them back again next summer.

The One Off

For years, every time I had something I wanted to write about that did not fit the theme of this blog, which is dedicated to talking about things that make me happy, I thought about starting another blog where I could talk about non-happy things. I never did it because I wanted to try and stay positive so didn’t want to open up a space for negativity which tends to be more my mindset anyway.

Then 2016 and 2017 happened. Over the past 2 years my ability to find things to write about in this space has greatly declined. I don’t feel happy most of the time. I just feel beat down, and I know I am not alone in that. That’s not to say that nothing makes me happy, but even if they do they are overshadowed by all the terrible or I just don’t have the energy to write about them.

This week I again felt the urge to write about something weighing on my heart that decidedly does not belong in this space, so I finally bit the bullet and started a third blog (my other one is my book reviews blog, which I am also terrifyingly behind on). The One Off is now up with my first post, Elegy for Baltimore. I don’t plan on writing there a lot, but now I finally have a space to talk about the not-so-great things too.

Farewell My Flip Flops

Now that summer is officially over and flip flop weather seems to be pretty much over for the season, I have decided it is sadly time to retire my favorite pair of flip flops. I don’t remember exactly how old they are, but I know I’ve worn them to every Newport Folk Festival I’ve been to which makes them over five years old. They are the best pair of flip flops I’ve owned my life, but unfortunately this summer is their last. They are so worn out there is barely any shoe left under my big toes. I’m going to miss them.

They were the most comfortable flip flops I have ever known. I’ve never owned another pair of flip flops that I could walk around in as much as I did those. The straps never cut into my feet and they never gave me blisters. I’ve worn them everywhere. They’ve pretty much been on my feet at every outdoor concert I’ve been to in the past 5+ years. I like being able to kick off my shoes and be barefoot on my blanket, plus if it’s too dusty or muddy it’s easy to wash the flip flops off and not ruin a regular pair of shoes. I never had to think twice about putting them on for anything because I knew my feet would be fine wearing them. I rarely have shoes I can 100% say that about.

These were cheap flip flops I picked up at Target on a whim, and now I wish I had bought 20 pairs of them. This many years later they of course aren’t carrying anything like that now. Knowing it was time to give these up I started looking for new ones. I perused all the flip flops in places like Target, Zappos, and various shoe stores, but didn’t really see anything akin to the ones I’m trying to replace. I asked for recommendations on Twitter and ordered about a dozen different pairs from Zappos based on people’s feedback. They were all fancy name brand flip flops way more expensive than what I spent on the pair I’m getting rid of and none of them were as comfortable. I settled on a pair of Sanuk’s, but I’m still not super happy with them. They do actually have more support, but if it’s hot they make my feet super sweaty and I can tell that if I tried to walk any length in them the straps would totally cut into my feet and leave me miserable. I was hoping that they would break in a little bit and get more comfortable in that area, but it hasn’t really happened. They’ll have to suffice for now, but hopefully next flip flop season will present me with new options and I can find something that will truly replace my beloved flip flops.2016-09-25-17-30-30

Escape Room Fun

I’ve been curious about these Escape Rooms since I first heard of them a year or so ago. Yesterday I finally got to find out what it was all about when a group of friends and I went for someone’s birthday yesterday. If you’re not familiar with the Escape Room concept, there is basically some sort of themed room that usually up to 10 people get “locked” into and have an hour to figure out how to get out. There are lots of locks in the room and you have to use clues you find behind the locks in order to unlock the final key to get out of the room. Basically it’s a race against the clock to win the game and escape.

I wasn’t really quite sure what to expect, but I was excited to try it out. These things seem to be popping up all over the place these days, but the one we went to was called Escape This Live in Catonsville. They have three different rooms there. We did the easiest one they have called Queen Anne’s Revenge and it was a pirate themed room. Even though it’s the easiest one there, it was still rated moderate difficulty and we were told that only 24% of people who do it make it out within the hour.

The first thing I found out was that they don’t really lock you in the room, at least at this one so no worries for the claustrophobic.  You could technically get out whenever you want. There were two doors. The main door that you enter the room through is left unlocked the whole time. There was a second locked door that was the one you needed find the key for and open in order to win.

There was a short 1 minute video intro with a sort of starting clue and then the timer started. Again I don’t know if this is typical of how all of these places work, but at least at this one you were left with a walkie talkie and could contact the people who work there to get up to 3 clues throughout the hour. They obviously had cameras in the room watching us because every time we asked for a clue one would pop up on the video screen related to the puzzle we were obviously working on at the time, so they could obviously see what we were doing while we were in there.

We did actually manage to make it out with only 1:34 left on the clock. It was really harrowing there at the end. We still had three locks left with less than 5 minutes and had been working on one for at least ten minutes. Once we got that one finally open we got the other two lickety split and got the door open just in time. It made the end really exciting. It was fun no matter what, but I’m glad we managed to get out. It would have been disappointing to get so close and fail.

It would be interesting to try another one now that I’m familiar with the concept to see if I would be any better at it knowing some of the way things were set up in this one. Also having done it, I do think it’s probably the most fun with a large group of your own friends so that you buy out the room. I feel like there could be a weird dynamic trying to do it with people you don’t already know. I would definitely do it again.

eShakti Dresses

It’s summer dress season, which means I’ve been wearing all the cute dresses I’ve bought from eShakti. As such I’ve thought about writing a post on them multiple times this summer, but because of the state of the world every time I thought about it something would happen that would make writing about dresses seem too trivial. Earlier this week I was having a Twitter conversation with some friends about eShakti dresses which revived my thought about writing this post.

First of all eShakti has some awesomely cute dress designs. I always get compliments on the dresses I own from there whenever I wear them. That’s not really what makes them so great through. I get plenty of compliments on other dresses I have that I’ve bought elsewhere, but despite their cuteness none of those dresses are as great as my eShakti dresses.

There are several things that set eShakti dresses apart. First they are all custom made so you can order the dresses with alterations than just the normal style displayed on the page. Some alterations are free and others cost a little bit extra money. Granted I’ve never actually opted for any of these alterations, but I appreciate the fact that they exist and are something I could choose if I wanted.

What’s really great though are the things that just come standard in most of the dresses. Aside from a few styles where they just really wouldn’t work it is standard for eShakti dresses to come with pockets in them. Pockets in dresses are, to go back to the early 00s for a second, the bomb. I love dresses with pockets in them and curse all the dresses, skirts, and pants for that matter that come pocketless. Second all their sleeveless dresses come with snap hooks for putting your bra strap in to keep them from slipping out from under the dress strap. It’s so nice not to have to worry about having to constantly be shoving your bra strap back up. It’s such a nice little touch and just seems so thoughtful about how woman actually wear clothes.

I’m not going to lie and say that eShakti dresses are cheap because they surely are not. You do have to shell out some money for them, although you can get some sales that will make it less painful. However I think they are totally worth it. Plus the price keeps me in check. If they were cheaper I’d probably own way more of them.

Tux in DC

Last week was my husband’s last week of work at his job. After being forced to commute to DC since last October he found a new job that will let him work from home again. While he was working in DC though our Arizona nieces were impressed that he went to Washington D.C. every day. Since they live in Arizona places like Washington D.C. and New York City are these big cities they have never been to, but see on tv and in movies all the time and learn about in school and it seems very exotic to be going there. I try to tell them that my other niece and nephew live in New York City, but since they don’t know each other I still don’t think they really get it or understand how these other kids are related to me.

Anyway on Thursday, since it was Paul’s last day of work, I was taking a staycation, and it was a beautiful spring day, he played hooky after lunch and I went down to DC to meet him. He had promised my nieces he would send them postcards from DC, which he still hadn’t done at that point. He did do that, but also decided it would be fun to take around a little stuffed penguin that we always play with over Facetime with them and take photos in front of DC landmarks to send them. So we walked around and took lots of pictures of Tux in DC.

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Triple Crown Winner

I was very excited yesterday to see American Pharoah win the Triple Crown after winning the Belmont Stakes. It’s been 37 years since Affirmed was the last horse to win the Triple Crown. That meant that there had never been a Triple Crown winning horse in my lifetime as the last one happened just a few short weeks before I was born.

My parents would often hold Kentucky Derby parties to watch the first leg of the Triple Crown. Now that I live in Baltimore, home of the Preakness, I have continued their tradition in a slightly altered form by hosting an annual Preakness party. So as you can see I’ve been kind of invested in the idea of there being a Triple Crown winner. I’ve been waiting and watching every year hoping that there would be a horse that could pull it off only to be disappointed. The worst years were the ones that there wasn’t even a chance because the horse that won the Kentucky Derby didn’t win the Preakness.

This year I actually missed watching the Kentucky Derby because I was traveling at the time, but I did watch the race on a replay. Since American Pharoah didn’t run away with the race and I kept seeing all this stuff about how much he hated crowds I didn’t hold out much hope for him going into the Preakness. Then however the Preakness happened and my hopes were raised a little. He really ran away with that race, and thought maybe just maybe this is actually the horse that can do it. Of course people have said that about many other horses that have won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness only to be disappointed.

One of the problems is that these days if a horse doesn’t win the Kentucky Derby often owners will rest them by having them skip the Preakness, which means at the Belmont the potential Triple Crown winner is facing a field of horses that are much better rested than he is. I was worried about that this year as always, but it didn’t seem to matter. American Pharoah went out the gate at the front and never let go of that lead and once again completely running away with it at the end. It was a very exciting race and the end of something I’ve been waiting to happen for a very long time.

Dorm Life

The other day I was reminiscing about high school, so it only seems fair that today I’m talking about living in a dorm. Don’t worry I’m not planning on continuing to examine every phase of my life since high school. I spent Tuesday at a copyright conference in Colorado Springs. The conference itself was free, but obviously there are flight, rental car, and sleeping accommodations that still had to be paid for. I was long out of professional development money from work, so anything I spent on this conference was coming out of my own pocket.

I debated for awhile if I should come because it seemed a little silly to fly from Maryland to Colorado for a one day conference. (There was a half-day pre-conference on the basics of copyright that I decided I didn’t need to go to and flight times would have made difficult anyway.) After looking over the agenda multiple times I decided it really was something I wanted to go to. The copyright sessions at the big library conferences I mostly wind up going to tend to focus on copyright basics or on the new relevant case law. I already know a lot about copyright, and I keep up with the current case law so oftentimes these sessions aren’t as useful for me as I would like. This conference was really focused on doing the work of a copyright librarian. It turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. The sessions were really helpful, and I’m glad I decided to make the trek.

You may be wondering what the heck all this has to do with living in a dorm. Well like many conferences held on university campuses during the summer there was an option to stay in the dorms for much less than it would have cost to rent a hotel room. I had done this once before a few years ago. I received a scholarship to attend a week long workshop at the University of North Carolina, which included accommodations in their dorms. I didn’t find that a particularly pleasurable experience, but I’m also cheap so I decided to give dorm life another try.

While I’m staying here I vow that I’m too old for this and it’s not worth it, but I know myself and should the option present itself again I know I’ll do it to save money. Dorm life as adult is both better and worse than dorm life when you’re actually in college. First of all in college you really don’t know any better. I also stayed in hostels while traveling at that age. I wouldn’t do that now because I don’t have to. Also you have all your stuff with you so you make it home for yourself. As an adult just staying in a dorm room for a few days it’s a pretty spartan existence. Think back to what was in your dorm room when you arrived no campus each year, add the cheapest possible sheets and towels and that’s what you get for your stay. This room at least has blinds. The UNC dorm had nothing on the window so a streetlight shined into all night long keeping me up.

Dorm life as an adult is much quieter than when you’re in college though. There are no students in the dorm, so there’s no crazy drunk people wandering the halls all hours of the night. In some ways dorm life was never for me even when I was in college because I am a pitiful sleeper. My freshman year when I had to live on a hall it was loud all the time, and I really don’t think I slept for the entire year. After that my dorm rooms were always in suites so there were only a few rooms in my hall area, which generally made it quieter. My sophomore year I lived above a frat that ended their parties every weekend with the song American Pie. If I was home I knew not to even bother trying to go to sleep until after that song played.

I can’t say I’m sleeping much better during this dorm experience mostly because the dorm doesn’t have air conditioning. With temps in the mid-80s the past two days and the afternoon sun shining directly in my window it’s been pretty warm in the room. I’m one of the lucky Baltimoreans that has central AC and we also keep a window unit in our bedroom since the AC doesn’t get to our top floor very well, so we keep it nice and cool while we sleep. This warm weather sleeping thing is not for me.

This was a weird, rambling post which is mostly to say that I’m happy I no longer have to live in a dorm and I look forward to staying in my nice comfortable bed in my cool bedroom tonight.