Archive for February, 2011

What’s in your wallet?

Everyone seems to have some sort of points program lately and I can’t keep it all straight. I become paralyzed with indecision when starting to make travel plans as I’m not sure where I have points, what is getting ready to expire and I never seem to know where I stand with retail points. Luckily Award Wallet has created a streamlined system to do all the work for me in three easy steps:

  1. Join AwardWallet for free and add your reward programs.
  2. Let AwardWallet track and monitor your reward programs and itineraries for you.
  3. Get notified when your balances change and before your points expire.

The number of airline, hotel, credit card, shopping, etc programs that AwardWallet will track for you is extremely extensive and so convenient to have all in one place. So pack your bags, travel, go shopping and know that someone else is keeping up with all the details.

Say Cheese!

Below are my favorite photo apps for the iphone but I’d love to hear your hints and suggestions as well:

A few weeks ago at Sundance Film Festival (#13 on my lifetime list) , I was shooting some photos through Hipstamatic and got this great shot of singer Janelle Monae at the bing bar. I was using the John S lens, Ina’s 1969 film with the flash off. $1.99 for standard equipment

My friend Sarah Truckey (in photo below) turned me onto the Pocketbooth. Pocketbooth perfectly replicates the intimacy, spontaneity, and hilarity of a traditional photobooth and is only $0.99 for a limited time.

The third and final is Instagram. It’s a FREE simple photo-taking and photo-sharing app that is filling Twitter with fun, cute photographs.  New York Times Magazine contributing writer  Clive Thompson explained how the photo sharing app Instagram had changed his life in this video and explains how it can help writers escape the tunnel vision of mobile devices and see the world around them in a more artistic way. Social media guru, Patrick Powers, is also a big fan of Instagram.

A few others that were recommended in Budget Travel this past year, but  I have not tested, are:

Nature’s Air Freshener

This is my daughter, Sadie, reading to our plants and this explains why we have plants that thrive now as opposed to all those that I sent to an early grave before my daughter came along. But honestly, anyone can care for indoor plants and all they really need is light, water, air and soil according to Emily of Life Renewed and then let nature take its course.

Emily recently posted a simple, straight forward article called “Creating A Healthy Home with Houseplants” on green your way. The benefits include:

  1. Plants provide life & energy – Bringing plants into your home can help you to feel happier and more calm. Plants in office spaces help people to be more creative and productive.
  2. Plants increase humidity levels – Plants help to increase humidity levels and refresh the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
  3. Plants improve indoor air quality – A NASA study showed that houseplants can remove toxins (formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, ammonia, benzene, xylene, and chloroform from the air) in the air by up to 87% in just 24 hours.

Some of the best plants to grow are Lady Palm, Bamboo Palm, Peace Lily, Rubber Plant & Boston Fern. My advice is to toss all those “plug ins” from your walls and freshen up your space naturally. (And if you have kids, put them in charge of the watering – and reading!)

Do the (good) deed! photo

February 14-20 is national Random Acts of Kindness Week. Not that we all shouldn’t be looking for ways to be kind on a daily basis but next week in particular encourages us to ramp it up a bit. There are thousands of ways to perform a random act of kindness (at home, work, running errands, etc) and these sites make it really easy to start.

So put your kindness cap on & plan out warm, fun, inventive and creative ways that you can bring some light into someone’s life next week!

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

I have 3 of my own sisters and we have been, on occasion, described as weird… among other things. Naturally I was drawn to this book by Eleanor Brown though I’m always hesitant when there’s the possibility for assigning family members isolating and cliche stereotypes. Thankfully, this book contained none of these and created each sister full of contradictions and flaws. Their love for each other is unconditional yet one gets the sense that they might not even be friends if they weren’t born into the same family.

One of the most enjoyable parts for me was their peculiar father who spoke

My "weird" sisters, I'm in orange.

primarily in Shakespearean verse and named each daughter after a character: (Rosalind; As You Like It), Bean (Bianca; The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordy (Cordelia; King Lear). While it’s enjoyable for the reader to see how applicable these verses are to daily life, the sisters felt a bit differently Read the rest of this entry

Happy Heart Day!

No matter to who or how you plan to say I Love You this Valentine’s, I’ve got some suggestions to hopefully make it your best yet.

For the tea/tea party lover, pick up a set of these beautiful ‘inside out heart’ cups from

For a dapper fella who’s always in a suit, gift these ‘suggestive’ collar stays which will keep him grinning throughout those long meetings.

For the book lover, a copy of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.

Locally, take your special someone on a Valentine’s Night Hike at Shaw Nature Reserve.

For the person who’s all business, this great Lifestyle File Tote is practical and with every purchase 25% will be donated to the American Heart Association.

Uncommongoods provides a fantastic Love Meter so that you are able to gauge your own “commitment level” and shop accordingly.

Last, but not least, consider the give of life and contact your local Red Cross to make a blood donation or head to and register to be an organ donor.

The Battle over the Tiger Mother

As a parent, I was completely engrossed by this fascinating book that discusses one mother’s choice to raise her children in the Chinese way while surrounded by indulgent Western parents.  After working with college students over the course of 15 years, I’ve become intimately familiar with parents whose children received medals for participating in any sport, never had to resolve their own conflicts, and paving over any discomfort throughout their entire childhood.  So, some of her beliefs did resound with me.

I’ll admit that there were MANY parts of this book that made me uncomfortable, but I couldn’t put this brutally honest, yet humbling, memoir down. Amy’s forthrightness regarding her choice is made without apology, even when one of her two daughters begins to take an unwavering stand in favor of a more typical upbringing.

Over the course of the last few days, I’ve already heard multiple reviews of this book that attempt to reduce it to a simple argument:  Amy Chu’s way against every other parent in the world.   It is reminiscent of the tired, dated debate that pits  working  moms vs. those who stay at home.  Don’t buy into it-  you need to pick up this book for yourself.  I promise that it will create great discussions.  And like me,you’ll realize that the answer, like most things, lies somewhere in between.