• App Reviews,  Boston

    eclipse sandwich

    AugustYou can’t rush August, though there is every temptation to do so. It is fully half the summer and the most glorious half, at that.

    We found a new apartment to live in, in the North End! The North End is an incredibly historic neighborhood in Boston, full of Italian businesses, Italian churches and Italian people! The streets are residential, peppered with commercial properties, like all city neighborhoods used to be. It’s a few minutes walk from Lux’s school and offers amenities we’ve never had before: a washer & dryer, a patio, air conditioning, first floor living!


    Because it has things like more than one bathroom, the actual living space is smaller than what we currently have. We will need to lend a few of our chairs away for a season to make it work. But I’m not worried about that because we’ll (eventually) have a table big enough to share meals with friends on! And the patio! And the same short bicycle commute for Joe. Wow. So much to be thankful for.

    We’ve been pruning our possessions a bit before packing things up. For example, I just went through my kitchen utility drawer. I lined everything up and pulled about 20% of it that I wasn’t using. Next up are a few drawers in my closest where things like scarves, hair dryers (as if!), and sewing supplies hide out for far too long.

    I’m also studiously emptying ridiculous things; I just used up the last of our hot sauce, and I haven’t replaced the soy sauce. I’m trying to use up all our frozen venison before the end of the month. These are tiny things that no doubt have absolutely no affect on packing–but, it’s a mindset!

    We are keeping less adult books now as the girls’ collection grows and becomes more useful. I like staring at the edges of our books, lined up and reminding me of who I once was, but the girls’ books are read more regularly and used for all sorts of things like making towers, and going to sleep at night.


    Meanwhile, my friend just sent me something that’s been on my want-list for awhile: a small, countertop ice cream maker!! So, things aren’t getting too pared down around here.

    I’m really beginning to regret our decision to go to Maine instead of chase the totality of the eclipse. Planning a vacation around three minutes sounded crazy at the time, but then again, I didn’t consider the fact that there’s really nothing like the totality, versus a partial eclipse. If you are getting your kids ready to discuss it, I highly recommend TinyBop’s Eclipse Primer and the vox video linked to therein. We love TinyBop’s Planets app too, especially the part that lets you compare the planet sizes.



  • App Reviews,  Tech

    Toddler iPad


    At 2.8 Lux can be happily ensconced with the iPad for close to the entirety of a four hour flight. She didn’t really engage with movies or games on it until around age 2, so this is a big change (sweet relief) for our travel now. I thought I’d do a quick update on what we keep on there. We only use the iPad for travel like this, or serious emergencies at home, so everything stays fresh and exciting.

    We have purchased both seasons of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood from iTunes. Love him. When’s the new season coming, Daniel??

    For this trip, I bought the 30 minute Lost and Found film, on tinybop’s recommendation. It was $10 on iTunes which seems steep but she ended up watching it about six times and it’s really really lovely.

    We also bought the Japanese film My Neighbor Totoro. We all watched that one together, really sweet and I love all the Japanese lifestyle details. I think Miyazaki films are great for kids. They remind me of folk tales and seem to encourage imagination of all sorts.

    Our current favorite apps for her are: the Human Body, Monkey Lunchbox, Petting Zoo, Soundtouch, and Ants Lite (actually, just Lux approves of this one. I find it confusing).

    Other travel items we rely on: her panda headphones, and sugary yummy earth vitamin C suckers for take-off and landing.

    image from the Lost and Found film, by Oliver Jeffers. 

  • App Reviews,  Boston,  Tech,  Using technology

    what’s on your homescreen?

    a new series wherein I ask friends what apps they use frequently and why. I’m going first, let me know what you think!

    rachael_ringenberg_homepageVoice Memo I’ve been using this to record Lux talking to herself and at music class so I can remember the songs for Lux later on.

    Google Maps Much subtler on the road than the Apple maps app.

    Merriam Webster Good old fashioned knowledge.

    Simple a new bank that Joe and I are using because their app is designed to help you save.

    Google I use their search app because it’s quicker than the Safari browser.


    Feedly, Twitter, Instagram Need no explanation, really.

    TeuxDeux a to-do app for the daily and the long term. I really love the simplicity of it. In November, they are going to start charging $24-a-year, and I’m up for paying.

    Foursquare Better for suggestions of where to eat more than over-saturated Yelp these days.

    Notes Compared with TeuxDeux, I use it more for spur of the moment. Great for grocery lists. Intuitively designed not to waste your time when you are just trying to jot things down in the moment.

    LevelUp Boston’s preferred pay-with-your-phone app, usually saves me $5-$10 every ten purchases or so.

    Petting Zoo Still my favorite kids app, though Lux prefers instagram, especially #puppiesofinstagram.

    Kayak for whimsical flight searches, just to satisfy my frequent “how much does it cost to fly to Bali in March?” thoughts.

    iQueue it makes zero, ZERO, sense that I have to use a third party app to update my Netflix dvd queue, but there you have it. It works quickly and simply. Recently added: La Vie en Rose, A Nos Amours, Mystic Pizza, Skyfall.






  • App Reviews,  Using technology

    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?

  • App Reviews,  Good design

    A Kitchen App

    Oh man I’ve needed this app for awhile. Thank goodness for friends who share what free + delightful apps they’ve discovered. A ridiculous story: I lost my 1 teaspoon, months ago, and somehow I got it into my head that I should find some beautiful silver or ceramic, or french pottery, or whatever at a flea market and that would replace it. So here I am, months later, (a meticulous measurer, mind you) using my half-teaspoon for everything.

    The free and beautiful designed Kitchen Dial app.

  • App Reviews,  Good design,  Using technology

    instagram: the Visual Twitter

    an instagramed photo of Joe's dumpster-dived globe. Our new nightlight!

    Are you all Instagram fans? It’s an app for sharing photos (and using interesting filters) on iPhones. I gave it a try a couple months ago, and didn’t quite catch on, but these days I’m addicted. There’s something very appealing about seeing tiny little snapshots of other’s daily lives. It’s my favorite app to check when I’m waiting for the T.

    If you’re on there, you can find me under girlpolish, and I would love to follow you back!

    postscript: Of course NYT wrote an article about it yesterday that I missed. Apparently there are 5 million+ users! I only follow 23…