Monthly Archives: June 2014

What’s Going On Outside My Window

One of the nice things about my office is that I have a window seat. I get plenty of natural light, and a front row view to anything interesting happening in the street. It’s usually pretty quiet, but once in a while there’s some entertainment. Like, a few months ago, I heard a crash down below and turned around to see three cars involved in an accident. The guy who caused the accident jumped out of his car and started chasing the other two drivers like he was going to tear their heads off. A pedestrian intervened, and the aggressive guy jumped back in his car to drive off, just as the police showed up. If I hadn’t been so surprised by the guy’s reaction, I might have thought faster and snapped a picture of his license plate as he squealed away. It was certainly one of the more adrenaline producing “shows” we’ve witnessed.

Periodically, we see the police pulling over multiple cars just up the street from me. It wasn’t readily apparent what was triggering the police to pull over one person and not another, but at times they’d have 5 or more cars lined up, waiting to get ticketed. Elsewhere in the city, I’ve encountered similar setups looking for expired inspection stickers, so that was one of our theories. That theory held up when they were pulling people over at the beginning of the month, but they also show up mid-month and pull over just as many people, so we decided it wasn’t inspection stickers. Then we decided there must be another police unit further down the street that was in radio contact with the units we can see out the windows. The drivers must be doing something to get the attention of the police, and then it’s the job of the units by us to pull them over and issue tickets. This theory holds up over time, and explains why people coming up to the intersection from the cross-street aren’t ever pulled over. But what are these people doing – apparently in droves – to warrant a ticket?

Yesterday, we finally figured it out. The building where I work takes up a whole city block, and the street outside my window is a one-way with three lanes, coming from my left as I’m looking out the window. Halfway between the intersection to my left and the intersection to my right, where the police units are set up, is a cross walk. There’s a plain clothes police officer stationed at the cross walk, and when the units tell him they’re ready, he casually tries to cross the street. From what I can see, they try to time this for when there’s a decent sized knot of cars coming along, and the ones who don’t stop for the under cover cop are pulled over once they reach the units up ahead. It’s sneaky, but I love it!  Hopefully this set up happens around the city, and reminds drivers to be on the lookout for people crossing the street. Maybe the city will be a safer place to walk, one of these days!

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DIY: The “Fakkare” Hair Clip

In my internet travels, several times I’ve come across hair accessories from a company named Ficcare. In particular their beak clips, also known as the Maximas clip, are especially popular. These clips come in a variety of colors and sizes, and feature a very strong spring which securely and comfortably holds all kinds of hair styles, lending a polished look that a pony tail holder can’t achieve.

Sounds great, right? The one drawback for me is the price. While Ficcare makes a good quality hair clip, I still can’t bring myself to spend $40+ for one, especially because most of the colors I want have been sold out for months. So, what’s a frugal girl to do? Create a knock off!

While browsing at Ulta one day, I came across the Karina Flamingo Clip. It closely resembles a Ficcare, but it only comes in one color. On the upside, it’s significantly cheaper than a Ficcare, especially if you catch it on sale. Ulta periodically offers $3.50 off $10 coupons – combine these with their periodic sale price, and you could get 2 of these clips for $10.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself why you would want two clips of the same color. Here’s the beautiful thing – the clips are easily paintable! All you need is some free time, a small amount of acetone, a cotton ball, a bottle of your preferred nail polish color and a decent quality nail polish top coat.  Use the acetone and cotton ball to clean any dirt and finger prints off the face of the clip. Once it’s dry, start painting with your nail polish; you may need several coats, depending on the nail polish formula. Build up the color to your liking, allowing each coat to dry between applications, and then seal with the top coat. If you get bored, just use a nail polish remover to bring the clip back to its original color and repaint!

My two clips are pictured below. The blue one is “For Audrey” by China Glaze and the green one is “Show Me the Way” by Sinful Colors, with a hand drawn design using black nail art polish. These clips are both about 2 years old, and have seen moderate use, though neither shows much wear and tear at all. I carry these around in my handbag or pocket, and they take a good amount of abuse. I originally thought I would switch out the colors once in a while, but I’ve been so happy with the way they turned out, I haven’t been tempted to change the color or design.

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The real-deal Ficcare is certainly a beautiful thing, and I would still like to invest in a clip one day. In the meantime, I’m thrilled with my Fakkares!

Review – eShakti Cowl Neck Birdsong Dress

A while back, I promised pictures and a review of some of my purchases from eShakti. Finding a time when I’m wearing makeup, happy with my hair, haven’t spilled on myself, don’t have other commitments, and have access to a camera and some half-way decent lighting is not as easy as it sounds.

I had aspirations of being like the bloggers who are featured on the eShakti site – a beautifully artsy shot of me against a garden backdrop, or me walking confidently down the middle of a quiet road, or me looking contemplatively off into the distance in the middle of an urban jungle. Of course, one can’t achieve those kinds of pictures without help; Hubby offered me his tripod, and The King’s favorite setting on his camera is “Fish Eye Lens.” Ok, fine, I’ll do it by myself. If you aren’t impressed by selfies taken in the bedroom mirror, I apologize in advance.

The outfit that I chose to feature first is actually my most recent purchase from eShakti. One of the things I love about this company is that they rotate color options on quite a few of their styles, so if you see a dress shape that interests you, but the color is wrong, keep checking back because it’s pretty likely that it will be offered in a different color in a few weeks. eShakti offers a very nice $25 discount for first time orders, but if you use my referral link, eShakti has generously upped the first time order credit to $35.

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I first saw the Cowl Neck Birdsong Dress in a deep eggplant color; I loved the style, but I wasn’t sure about the color. When I saw it offered in Sunkist Coral a few weeks later, I couldn’t resist. I ordered without customization, and it’s great as-is, though I think it could be really cute with sleeves added, too. In the last few days, it’s been listed in Peacock Green, if Sunkist Coral isn’t your thing.

I can’t help but feel happy when I wear this dress. The color is so cheerful, and the jersey makes it feel like I’m wearing my favorite comfy t-shirt. I get tons of compliments on this dress, which tells me the dress looks as good as it feels. Last week, I was waiting for the elevator after a long day at work, and starting to feel a little grumpy. The grumpy feeling didn’t get any better when the elevator finally arrived without room to get on – but I was laughing by the time the elevator doors closed because one person in the elevator shouted “I love your dress” to me, which made the other 10 people jammed in there take notice and shout compliments through the closing doors, too.

The best thing about this dress is the fabric. It’s super comfortable, washes well, and doesn’t require ironing, even on the appliques. It’s a thick, soft cotton knit with some weight to it, which gives it shape and makes it hang nicely, but keeps me nice and cool on warm days. The cowl neck is fuss free because it falls from pleats in the shoulders; other cowl neck tops I’ve owned looked good, but needed constant attention because they’d flop in a weird way if I moved too much. The elasticized waist on this dress is nice because it helps the dress stay where it’s supposed to be, but isn’t too restricting.

I only have one minor complaint, and it’s easily avoidable; if I carry too much in the pockets, it causes the dress to stretch from the shoulders and sag under the arms. Luckily, a trip through the washer tightened up the knit and restored the original shape to the dress, and I now know not to put anything more than my phone and my keys in my pockets.

I mentioned customization a little earlier in this post, and I want to make sure I highlight that aspect of eShakti, because it’s really cool. For every order, eShakti requires your height, so there’s no more worry about whether a dress will be a mini-skirt on a tall person or a maxi-dress on a shorter person. While you might need to wait a few weeks for a color you like, you don’t need to wait to get the perfect fit for you. eShakti is really consistent with the measurements they use for standard sizes, but they also offer customization for a mere $7.50. You can do something as simple as modify the neckline, sleeves and/or hem length on a standard size, or you could send eShakti your measurements and have them create a dress that is made specifically for your body. I’ve even seen a handful of cases where people have entered a special request in the comments box, and eShakti has delivered, though I haven’t tried this myself. It’s because of this personalization that delivery time is 14 business days (18 calendar days) after your order; everything is made when you order, to your specifications.

I’ve seen some complaints online regarding eShakti’s customer service. Personally, I have never had any trouble, but I have noticed that responses are a little slower right after they’ve done a big promotion, and around holidays. The month before Easter I saw response times a little slower than usual, but I imagine they had a pretty big uptick in orders because who doesn’t want a pretty new dress for Easter? As long as you keep that in mind, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.

I should mention that my clothes from eShakti were purchased by me with my own money; I do receive a referral bonus if you make your first order through my referral link, but I am not otherwise compensated for my reviews. If you’re interested in getting your own referral link, I encourage you to check out their referral page here.

Meet The Kids: The King

Yesterday, I introduced you to my youngest, The Supplanter. I’ll dedicate today’s post to my oldest, The King.

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As I mentioned yesterday, we named him after our grandfathers. A few weeks before we discovered I was pregnant, we were celebrating our final Christmas with my grandmother. She was in kidney failure, so she spent much of the afternoon in bed while the family took turns entertaining her. As we gathered to say our goodbyes, she asked me when I was due. I was trying to figure out what she meant, when she announced to my mother and cousins that I was pregnant. This was news to me and Hubby, but it turned out she was right, since it was shortly after the New Year that I got a positive result on a home pregnancy test. It felt like this was her gift to us, and I knew we had to name the baby after her or Pa, depending on whether we were having a boy or a girl, with the middle names coming from the grandparents on Hubby’s side.  The King arrived in mid-September, and helped make that first Christmas without Grandma a little less painful.

It wasn’t long before he earned himself the nickname of Shark Child, based on the notion that sharks never stop moving. The day he learned to roll was one of the happiest days of his life, since it meant he didn’t need to depend on us to explore things just out of reach. I still think he didn’t learn to walk – he learned to run. He ran almost everywhere, and explored almost everything. While he’s not as social as The Supplanter, he was often one of the leaders of the packs of children that would form at the playground, simply because he was one of the most physically daring. Kids followed him because he was the one climbing up the outside of the play structures, or jumping from the top of a platform, or doing some other crazy stunt; he was doing his own thing, and if kids wanted to join in, that was great.

As he’s grown older and bigger, his reserved side is showing more. The fearlessness that he had early on is being replaced by caution after some pretty spectacular accidents, and I’ve noticed him more on the fringes of groups of kids rather than at the center as he used to be. I think it’s been a pretty big adjustment for him, as kids caught up to his physical abilities and some have surpassed him. He was used to being the center of attention because of the things he could do, and it took him a while to learn how to get appropriate attention when he’s not running and jumping and doing stunts. He doesn’t always tell me details, but I think he’s lost a few friends over inappropriate things he’s done, and I think he’s working hard at slowly building up his good reputation again. It’s fascinating to watch how his interests evolve in relation to the people he wants to be friends with, and sometimes it’s a challenge to bite my tongue and let him make his own decisions.

I think it’s probably because he’s always on the move that I feel like it’s a gift when The King curls up with me and tells me about his day. He reads a lot of non-fiction, so he’s full of interesting facts that I never would have guessed he knew. I love talking with The Supplanter, too, but conversations with The King can be surprisingly deep for someone his age; he loves science, and asks thoughtful, detailed questions. Of course, he’s also 8, and takes great joy in anything gross or inappropriate. He has the best giggle, and sometimes Hubby and I go along with The King’s silliness just to get him laughing.

He’s a multi-faceted, complicated child and he’s not always easy to parent, particularly because I think he gets jealous of the attention The Supplanter gets with his much bigger personality. On the flip side, though, the qualities that make The King complicated also make him a really interesting person. He’s hard work, but getting to watch this smart and funny person emerge is just reward.

Meet The Kids: The Supplanter

I find myself writing about my children a lot, which is strange, because I’ve abandoned my other blog that was dedicated to kid-type stuff because I felt I didn’t have enough to write. Apparently The Universe works in mysterious ways, and enjoys taunting me.

Since they’ll likely be featured often going forward, I decided I’ll take a blog post or two to properly introduce you to the boys. I commonly refer to them as The King and The Supplanter – my oldest (The King) is named after our grandfathers, and in baby books, the meaning of his first name usually comes with some variation of “the King of the House.” My youngest was harder to name,  because my family tends to have really old-school New England names that we felt were either too old-school to use, or too frequently used. The irony is that we agreed on a name, but didn’t look at the Social Security baby names data, and so blindy chose the top boy name for him. Neither did we look into the meaning of the name in the baby name books until after the fact, but found it greatly amusing to discover that one of the meanings of his name was “Supplanter.” The names suit both boys very well, and in many cases, so do the name meanings!

Today, I’ll tell you a bit about The Supplanter. He’s in Kindergarten this year, and is a little bundle of energy. At preschool graduation last year, his teachers voted him “Class Politician” which is spot on. He makes friends wherever he goes, but he has a particular knack for befriending teenage girls. I think a big part of it is his freckles and his long, fluttery eyelashes; he knows how to work the cute. He’s one of those kids who does great in a group, and usually tries to make sure no one is left out. He’s kind and caring, and loves the spotlight.

I’ve been trying to raise the boys to be open minded, and I frequently challenge their ideas about what’s a “girl” thing vs. a “boy” thing. While The King remains skeptical that boys can openly enjoy things that aren’t traditionally boy things, The Supplanter embraces nearly everything. A few days ago we were driving around town, and he saw a strip mall nail place. He’s in that phase where he reads EVERYTHING because he can, so he sounded out the word “manicure” and then had to ask what it meant. I gave him a brief explanation, and he responded “oh, so girl stuff.” He was surprised when I told him that there are plenty of men who go for manicures, too, but he was intrigued by my explanation of pedicures. “Man, I need one of those,” he told me from the back seat. “My feet are really peely.”

The next day, we attended a birthday party at a place at the mall. Afterward, Hubby wanted to buy a cupcake from the high-end bakery, but I wanted to pop into Lush, which offers specialty bath products and cosmetics. I discovered the franchise when I was in Covent Garden in the late 1990’s and have been a fan ever since. Since we don’t make it to this particular mall very often, I thought I would pop in and buy a birthday gift for my mother. At first, The Supplanter didn’t want to come with me, but then the pretty girls in the shop started talking to him. Then, I showed him the bubble bars, which look like colorful marshmallow candies. The final nail in the coffin was the bath bomb demonstration – warm water in a bucket, a bath bomb that produces first pink, then blue, and finally lavender foam, with a gorgeous scent – The Supplanter was hooked. He wanted to buy the whole store, but I convinced him that one bath bomb for the tub was enough, and that he could come back some day and buy the lip scrub he discovered at the cash register. He got back to the car smelling like neroli and lavender, and covered in glitter (in addition to the regular dirt and a blue tongue from the candy at the party.)

Blue Tongue!
Blue Tongue!

The King thought the bath bomb was a girly thing, until he realized that The Supplanter was going to use it in the tub, and then suddenly bath time was cool.

The Supplanter is also as sensitive as he is outgoing. He loves to explore, but he gets spooked easily. Take, for example, the day we went to Broad Meadow Brook to sign up for summer camp. He wanted to play in the nature area, but my shoes were all wrong for hiking. I told him I could see him down to the bottom of the hill, if he wanted to run down and back before we left. He took off with his usual eagerness, but was back within a few minutes; he was pale and looked very concerned. “I think I heard a fox,” he said. “Can we leave?” I knew there were other people on the path below him, and doubted that he’d really heard a fox less than 200 feet into the woods…and really, who could resist that opening, right? “What did the fox say,” I asked? The look he gave me would have turned Medusa to stone. “It’s not funny,” he replied. “I’m really feeling nervous. Can we go, please? I’ll be fine if I have a camp counselor with me this summer, but I really want to leave right now.” By the time we were back at the car, he was singing, and I bet you can guess which song.

So, that’s The Supplanter in a nutshell – adventurous, sensitive, outgoing, loves to shop, enjoys the finer things in life, and full of equal parts humor and love.