oh life

Because each day of My First Week is uniquely woven with its own challenges, such as:

  • go outside
  • go outside and go to the pediatrician
  • go outside, get caught in rainstorm, find out Joan hates rainstorms
  • drive to the midwife and gently rear-end someone and resolve that midst newborn screams
  • go the grocery store with one in the cart and one in the sling
  • (and it’s only Wednesday!)

…I’ve been trying to jot down daily life notes more frequently. Of course this is the same goal I’ve had for awhile, and to that end I’ve used this easy set-up offered by Oh Life since last year:

ohlife

Nice notes, but tragically widely interspersed, right? Once you sign up, Oh Life emails you at the end of every day and asks “How’d your day go?” Just respond to the email and they compile it all for you in a pseudo-journal (skeuomorphism!) style. Despite all our complaining, the internet is still full of great free things, I think.

It’s decompressing for me too. I find that the wonderful moments bob to the surface of my memory once I’ve written down a few of the more embarrassing and chaotic ones. For example, in the case of the unexpected rainstorm: after we arrived at our friends house totally drenched with Joan screaming, I settled on to their couch and watched Lux learn to cut out hearts and airplanes in sugar cookie dough. Soon it smelled like baking cookies and my sling, Lux’s shorts, and bunny (of course) were spinning in their dryer, and I decided I didn’t need to go to the grocery store that day after all.

And that’s really all this week adds up to, I think. Feeling embarrassed, exposed, disorganized, messy, and learning to love it or ignore it, as the case might call for.

Twitter Poet

I had to go back and take a screenshot of this tweet from last month. I liked it so much, and I want to be able to think of it and see it again.

ian_bogost_twitter

Curiously when I first read it and liked it, I didn’t even bother to follow the author on Twitter. Odd, hmm? This just feeds my pet theory that it’s much harder to get followers these days than it was “in the good old days.” (not counting spam bots whom I speedily block)

Petting Zoo

Petting-Zoo-by-Christoph-Niemann-121

Pending a post about how guilty I feel whenever Lux looks at my phone for more than 5 minutes (wow, that sounds like a fun post!), I still have to highlight this delightful app I just bought. I sat next to her yesterday while she poked at it for eight minutes (Or was it nine Less than 10, I swear) and it was really fun. I would laugh, she would laugh.

Petting Zoo is simple animal illustrations with cheerful music (mostly trombone honking). Each drawing responds in a completely unexpected way and flows into the next one so imaginatively.

It was created by Christoph Niemann who illustrates the financial column for the New Yorker and did the cute nuts.com packaging you might have already noticed on grocery shelves.

Petting-Zoo-app-by-Christoph-Niemann-101 dezeen_Petting-Zoo-app-by-Christoph-Niemann-71 dezeen_Petting-Zoo-app-by-Christoph-Niemann-91

I think I would play with this if I had a short commute on the T, just to keep my mind relaxed. Petting Zoo is $2 on itunes. We used it on an iPhone, it’s probably double the fun on an iPad.

houseguests strangers

I posted our apartment to homexchange.com a few months ago, hoping some Romans would want to houseswap with us. No Romans want to, but everyone else does. We’ve received requests from Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, Bermuda, Iceland, Spain, Florida….seriously if we had a million frequent flyer miles, I would say yes to all of these offers!

Nothing has happened yet; except that one time a French family stayed at our apartment over Christmas! Here’s what happened: I eagerly set it up via email, Joe comes home from work, he reminds me we don’t have any plans to go to France, just Italy. Ah yes good point.

So I say, “Hey why don’t you come after all? We won’t be here anyway. Maybe bring us a bottle of champagne and we’ll call it even.” We had one Skype conversation in which I ascertained that they were perfectly normal people who were not going to auction our belongings on craigslist while we were gone, and the deal was made. And so Bindu and her husband and her little daughter came to stay in Beacon Hill for New Years.

We cleaned the sheets and tidied the bathroom, set out fresh towels, locked the door, and hid the keys for them. When we returned, the apartment was cleaner than I’d ever seen it in my life, and they left all sorts of surprise gifts for us—duplos for Lux, champagne, red wine, French chocolates. I think they might have ironed our bedspread because it looked brand new.

Bindu wrote out little notes to explain all the gifts. The most surprising one was the foie gras–I known I’ve eaten this before, but only in the tiniest doses, and never with the fig jam and sweet wine that she recommended. Joe and I have split the jar for two dinners now, alongside a baguette.

So, I learned 1/ how to be a much better houseguest in the future. Now I want to always leave gifts, especially local treats from where you’re from. 2/ It was pretty neat to know someone was enjoying our stuff while we were away. Bindu wrote that her daughter loved all of Lux’s toys, and they found our apartment warm and comfortable. I thought, “yes, I do too!”

Would you be brave and let strangers stay in your home?

 

comments for the better!

I switched ED comments to the disqus platform (pronounced “discuss”) because I want them to take over the internet.

I like this whole commenting-on-websites-idea more if all the comments I make, ever, are accessible in one place to check back on, follow up, and deliver that last minute zinger before fleeing the scene. I also want my profile to be clearly connected to the social media of my choice, like my blog and my Twitter, in one place (though this is not so good for fleeing the scene).

And it seems like disqus is doing this best right now. I see it on company websites, I see it on tumblr, and I see it on wordpress. I don’t see it on blogger much, but it could be there, if you wanted it. United!

But I dooo apologize for the hassle of creating a new profile, if you haven’t worked with them yet.

Sapphire Preferred

I promise I’m not getting paid to tell you this. but i should be. It’s about this credit card we’ve had for the past couple months. Chase Sapphire Preferred. We signed up because they have this promotion going: if you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months, they will give you 40,000 points. We’re not very good with frequent flyer miles, points, perks, gold star 4life programs and like, but we thought we’d give it a try.

So we got a card just in my name, put everything on it and lo: 40,000 bonus points appeared! Most of which I just used to buy flights home for Christmas that would have cost $400!

Now we’re going to get a card in Joe’s name and do the same thing. Besides the free airplane rides, I thought Chase’s online banking was easy to understand and their online flight booking operation was really nice, like, nicer than some of the airlines’.

So, if you’re in the market and not dangerously misled by balancing credit card balance and bank account balance (having never had credit cards in our marriage, I was not so good with that and became a little overwhelmed by the idea of owing money!) I recommend checking it out.

The photo above is a somewhat related, it’s Kate Bingaman Burt’s illustrated and letterpressed bill from her Chase credit card that she eventually payed off.

fudge brownie + espresso swirl

My friend and I tried the sandwiches from Frozen Hoagies, a food truck parked by Copley Square farmer’s market. I thought their truck might be the cutest one I’ve seen–it looked like an old dry cleaner delivery truck, with pink trim.

this photo mostly featuring Birgit’s cute flats…

The cookies were the best part, we picked fudge brownie. Next time I might ask for half the ice cream. It quickly turned into an emergency situation to keep up with it. (exactly what happened when we had ice cream sandwiches in NYC.) Ideally I’m a leisure ice cream eater, with many contemplative pauses. If Lux hadn’t been seagulling bits of my cookie every minute or so, it might have been calmer.

Whenever I have a chance to food truck hunt, I use the free app Street Food Boston. I love that it lets you click straight through to the food truck’s twitter handle, just so you can double check where they are that day. It’s tough keeping up with these guys without it.

Favorite Travel Apps

We spent a long weekend in Philadelphia, meeting up with Joe’s family and several good old friends who have settled there. With just three days, we had lots we wanted to do, eat, and see! Here are my favorite apps that helped make a fantastic weekend:

LevelUp. We all know the future is paying with your phone and leaving that silly wallet behind (except we would still carry our purses because we love them so much, obviously). If you too want card-free transactions, imagine having a baby in your arms and a diaper bag on your shoulder: Suddenly you want it 100x more, right? I love that LevelUp is a pay-with-your phone option at most of my favorite spots in Boston, and it is Philly too. Because they give you credit for your first visit to most places, my afternoon macchiato at the lovely cafe down the street from my hotel was free!

LevelUp is in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Philly, San Diego, Seattle, and lots more cities! It’s a free app, but if you sign up with my code 65582, we both get a $5 credit. bing.

Best Parking. Is there a more confusing nightmare than parking garage signage? I think not. Especially if you’re a deal hunter, a street full of  garages all offering different rates is terrifying! I used Best Parking (which is in loads of cities) to sneak out the best overnight rate near our hotel. It’s intuitively designed (it’s owned by a twenty-three year old!), and can use either your address or your location to help you find parking.

Yelp-the Bookmark List. Don’t worry, I too have thoughts about how much therapy most Yelp users need. Especially when they use a restaurant review as a place to complain about their waiter. But! Yelp on your browser and on your phone make it easy to “bookmark” places you want to go. Then you can pull up the app and see where those places are on a map, and hunt them down.

This is super helpful if you’re chatting with someone and they’re like, “oh try this spot! and check in there! and make sure you have oysters over there!” and the names are flying past you and you’re just nodding along, wishing your dictation secretary was around. And, not to be a complete nerd here, but the user experience on Yelp is way better than Google maps. For one thing, it searches businesses more quickly and more accurately. For another, the labels on the map are movable, so they don’t obscure whatever you’re trying to look at (hint hint Google Maps!).

Venmo. Joe and I took advantage of the grandparents in the city and went out to all sorts of fun drinks spots with friends. But then the bill shows up at the end, and turns out everyone ordered different things: a salad here, a water there, three cocktails over here (who could have ordereed those??). Venmo makes it easy to let one person pay the bill and everyone else pay you back on the spot. Because we know those promises of “oh, I’ll get the next one!” never really work out.

What about you? Any apps you’re loving on the go these days?