Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sharing Photos Instantly: Nikon Wireless Mobile Adapter

** This post contains affiliate links.

Graham is always thinking about how he can help me with my goals and hobbies. He knows I love to share photos taken on my Nikon but that I always had to wait until we got home, take the SD card out and transfer the photos to my laptop. If I wanted to share the photos on Instagram, I often emailed myself the images and downloaded them on my phone as well. Now I don't have to do any of that thanks to the Nikon Wireless Mobile Adapter that he bought me. It's a must for bloggers, photographers and those who love sharing on social media like I do. I have a Nikon D3300, and while this was made for the D3200, it works with my newer model. In order to view and download the images on your camera, you must download the app. It lets you control the camera to take photos, too. The adapter comes with an attachment to your camera where you can store the adapter when it's not in use. I am loving the ability to share my photos instantly. We found the adapter at Best Buy, but it's available online as well. A link to the product is included below.

Nikon Wireless Adapter

Happy sharing!

Note: I was not compensated for this post, but affiliate links are included.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Door-to-Door Organics Farm Box Delivery

When I lived in Phoenix, most of my produce came from farmers markets and the Sunizona Farm Box, which I picked up every week at Whole Foods or my local yoga studio. I liked the convenience of having the vegetables and fruits come to me, and I wanted to support local farmers as much as possible. Now that I live in Chicago, it's especially important to save trips to the grocery store for me, because my least favorite thing to do in the city is drive. I discovered Door-to-Door Organics at the expo for the Chicago Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. I used a promo code I received there for a discount on my first box. 

Each delivery costs me $26.99, and I receive my boxes on Mondays. I can put my subscription on hold when I'm on vacation or when I simply don't want one. I chose the Bitty size box that comes with a mix of fruits and veggies, for Graham and me, though we could use the next size up. I use it to supplement what I buy at the grocery store when I go once a week. Door-to-Door also offers Small, Medium and Large boxes, and delivery is free.

My most recent order:
  • 1 avocado
  • Potatoes
  • 1 eggplant
  • Limes
  • 2 Honeycrisp apples
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 broccoli bunch
  • 2 zucchini squash
  • 2 tomatoes

Note: I customized those orders based on what I needed that week. I am usually sent a list of veggies and fruits that are available and I substitute if there's something I know I won't use. I can see which veggies are organic, non-GMO and local.

Each item equates to about $3. For some items that's comparable to what I paid at farmers markets. I compared some prices to a local Whole Foods recently for a blog on a personal finance site and discovered that while the retailer has some cheaper options, like bananas, I wasn't sure where those came from. Door-to-Door lets you know which items come from local farms, by contrast. Also, you can order items like organic meat, eggs, wild-caught fish and bread.

If you worry about creating waste by having food delivered in a box, know that Door-to-Door asks customers to leave their boxes out on the next delivery date and they will recycle them for you. Same goes for packaging materials.

One of my goals is to order a bigger farm box and begin to use my Nutribullet again. I used it a lot when I first got it, but I haven't since we moved to Chicago. It was an easy way to consume more vegetables.
Door-to-Door Organics' delivery areas include Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio. Check the website for more information.

Have you ever ordered from a farm box service? What did you think?

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Back to the Invisalign Life

** This post contains affiliate links.

I start my second round of Invisalign treatment today. I wore Invisalign aligners for more than a year, and I was set to get new impressions made when we moved from Phoenix to Chicago. The whirlwind of moving and adjusting to a new city delayed my plans to find a new orthodontist. Now, I am finally back on track, which means I need to get used to wearing the aligners again. 

What Invisalign life means to me, more or less:
  • More water, fewer sugary drinks. You have to take out your Invisalign when you drink anything but water. Invisalign was a great motivator for me to stick with water. I saved money and drank fewer calories.
  • More attention to dental health. I would always either use Wisps or brush my teeth immediately after eating to keep my Invisalign aligners clean and prevent bad breath. This can be tricky at restaurants because we'd be in the middle of conversation and I'd have to excuse myself to brush my teeth and put my Invisalign back in. Wearing Invisalign forces you to be more vigilant. I loved using Wisps when I was on the go, and I plan to do the same this time around. It's also important to have two or three cases to store your aligners. I always kept the last set in case I lost a pair, and I had one case in my purse at all times for when I needed to take my aligners out to eat.
  • Less snacking. I found that in order to keep my aligners in for the optimal 22 hours I would snack fewer times a day or take a shorter amount of time to snack. Cutting back on snacks meant less time I'd have to excuse myself to brush and rinse my mouth out. It can be challenging to wear the aligners more than 20 hours.
  • More denture cleaner. My orthodontist recommended using denture or retainer cleaner to keep the aligners clear. This is a must! I also brush the aligners with a tiny bit of toothpaste.
  • Less spending. The treatment isn't cheap, but the results are worth it. I have to adjust my spending accordingly, but I did that successfully the first time around, so it shouldn't be a problem. The treatment is a priority for me right now, because I know it will boost my confidence and give me a more healthy and better-looking smile.
  • More smiles. I loved seeing the results so quickly. I can't wait to be completely done with treatment!
orthodontist chair
View from my orthodontist's chair.
These are some of the things I will continue to use quite often during treatment, along with denture/retainer cleaner. I'm thinking I'll just get the Wisps in bulk this time.

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Joining the Tutu Tuesdays linkup!

Note: I was not compensated to write about these; I really did/do use the products, though my case was the Invisalign container that I was originally given. Links are to ShopStyle affiliate program.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Testing GoPro's Dog Harness

Taylor and Capone went for a swim in Lake Michigan yesterday to test their new GoPro dog harness. It's nerve-racking letting our dogs swim in frigid water wearing a camera attached to them, but luckily we didn't lose our GoPro. The harness did its job, though it did shift on our dogs' backs because of all the movement. At first, Taylor refused to take a single step with the harness on. Capone didn't mind it at all. When we put the harness on Taylor on the beach, however, she forgot she had it on and played as usual.

Watch my first GoPro video using the dog harness here.

We also had a nice autumn walk through our neighborhood. We felt the cool, crisp air and noticed the ever-changing colors of the leaves.

Rogers Park, Chicago, fall

Rogers Park, Chicago

It was one of those perfect fall days. Take me back!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Pescatarian-Friendly Chicago Eats

One of my favorite things to do in Chicago is eat. You can find just about any type of food you're craving. If you're vegetarian or pescatarian, you don't have to worry about finding dining options that suit your diet. I have found plenty of tasty meals, many of them for cheap, on the North Side of Chicago.

So what have I been eating?

Veggie torta takeout from Vince's Pizzeria and Taqueria on Devon Avenue.

Veggie omelet (broccoli, cauliflower, green bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, zucchini and cheese) with hashbrowns and toast (not pictured) from Nookies Edgewater on Bryn Mawr Avenue.

Veggie Chicago-style hot dog and garlic Parmesan fries at Wrigley Field.

Baked ziti and a salad from Pete's Pizza on Granville Avenue in Edgewater.

Spinach, green bell pepper and jalapeƱo omelet, wheat toast and hashbrowns from Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park.

I'm always looking for affordable and delicious dining options in Chicago. Send any recommendations my way!

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thank You, Cubs

On Opening Night 2015, I wondered how I would cheer for a team I didn't know. It was my first game at Wrigley Field and Graham and I had been living in Chicago for two weeks. I had no one to go to the game with, so I went alone. I was still terrified of the move we had just made from Phoenix, and I would be for months. 

As the season progressed, I felt more comfortable and started to have a lot more fun. Maybe this move wouldn't be so bad, I thought. The team was fun to watch, and I experienced the tradition and revelry that Wrigley is known for. The crowds' chants were irresistible. I was able to see the most amazing plays and nerve-racking games. I could take any out-of-town visitors with me knowing they would have a great time.

When I sat in my seat at Wrigley that first night, I didn't imagine they would make it to the playoffs, let alone the NLCS. We got a lot more baseball than we expected, and I'm grateful for that. I'm glad I got to see what happens in Wrigleyville when the team wins big, even if my head was killing me the entire next day. Ah, the memories.

Thank you for making my first seven months in Chicago a blast, Cubs. See you in April! (Or maybe even at spring training!)

NLDS, Chicago Cubs
The Cubs' NLDS win

Fourth of July fireworks at Wrigley

The Wrigley scoreboard

Kris Bryant
Kris Bryant
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Running Milestone: 500+ Miles

Six years ago, I couldn't run a mile. I struggled to breathe, to keep moving. I remember at one point trying to run for about a week, but then I gave up. I didn't try running again until 2011, when I was in the midst of the darkest time of my life. I had absolutely no confidence in myself. I decided that something had to change, so I gave myself a challenge: to run the 4.2-mile Pat's Run race that ends in Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. At the time, the thought of running that far when I couldn't manage a mile previously terrified me. I used a training program and treadmill to prepare myself for the race for weeks. On race day, I surprised myself by finishing the race in my goal time and without walking. The race gave me the confidence boost I needed, reminding me that I could change anything in my life that I wanted. Slowly I did transform my life, by untangling my ties with certain people and focusing on myself. That's how my love of running began. I would train race by race, taking breaks in between. I went from Pat's Run to 10Ks to half marathons to Ragnar Relays. This year I trained for more than 16 weeks for my first marathon. After the marathon, I wondered what would be the next milestone I would celebrate.

I now know what it is.

I hit the 500-mile running mark at the end of September. I didn't make a big deal about it. I didn't tweet it or tell anyone except Graham. But I'm realizing now that I should be proud. I've never consistently ran throughout the year until 2015. Sure, I showed more commitment some months than others; In January I ran almost 100 miles vs. the 14 I logged in May. (And October has been another slow month.) I have never entirely quit and that deserves to be celebrated. Many runners log 500-plus miles every year, but this is my first. Now I hope to surpass that by at least 100 miles. 

I would have never guessed I'd become a runner, but I'm so grateful running has become a part of my life.

How has running or working out affected your life? Have you surprised yourself with what you have accomplished?

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cute & Green: Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper

I was reminded yesterday Christmas is fewer than 10 weeks away. Can you believe it? It's not too early to think about holiday gifts and how to wrap them. While I haven't done any shopping yet, I decided that this year I want to wrap my presents in eco-friendly options. 

These three companies can help with that goal:

  • Wrappily, a Hawaii-based company, makes its reversible wrapping paper sheets from recycled newsprint. The whimsical designs are a refreshing change from the typical patterns you see in stores. The paper is compostable and printed with soy-based inks. Wrappily also says its patterns are created by independent designers, something I can get behind. I ordered some of the Tannenbaum print shown below, as well as the Festive Forest/Snowflake Confetti pattern.

Wrappily gift wrap
Credit: Wrappily
  • Green Field Paper Company sells gift wrap made with 100 percent recycled paper. Its designs are printed with soy-based inks. Plus, the wrapping paper is made in the U.S. I guess I am attracted to tree designs but I liked the pattern below. I can picture it with red ribbons and a bow.

Green Field Paper Company
Credit: Green Field Paper Company

Paper Source wrapping paper
Credit: Paper Source

Of course, you can always make your own wrapping paper reusing materials you have at home. I like the idea of putting the gift in a reusable shopping bag decorated with bows and ribbons. I like to reuse bags from previous holidays every year, too. In my family it's not a surprise if you recognize a bag from last year during our gift exchange. 
Have you started shopping for gifts? 

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P.S. I'm joining the Tutu Tuesdays linkup today!


Monday, October 19, 2015

A Day at All Seasons Apple Orchard & Pumpkin Patch

I crossed off several fall bucket list items over the weekend: drink apple cider, go to a pumpkin patch, get lost in a corn maze and visit an apple orchard. All Seasons Apple Orchard in Woodstock, about an hour and half drive from Chicago, had all of those activities and more. But, I must admit, my favorite thing to do at the orchard was eat.

Graham and I shared an apple-cider doughnut, apple blossom, pumpkin-shaped sugar cookie, and apple nachos (apple slices with whipped cream, caramel and nuts). And of course we sipped apple cider. Don't worry, we also took home half a dozen more doughnuts.

All Seasons Apple Orchard, Woodstock, Illinois
Goodies from All Seasons Apple Orchard

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Before our light lunch, we watched the adorable pig races. The racers had names such as Voldepork. I hope those cute little piggies live a happy life.

All Seasons Apple Orchard, Woodstock, Illinois

All Seasons Apple Orchard, Woodstock, Illinois

All Seasons Apple Orchard, Woodstock, Illinois

We also wandered around the corn maze, something I've never done.

All Seasons Apple Orchard, Woodstock, Illinois

All Seasons Apple Orchard, Woodstock, Illinois

And we paid a visit to the bunnies. The chilly weather made them sleepy. I don't blame them for staying put.

All Seasons Apple Orchard, Woodstock, Illinois

All Seasons Apple Orchard, Woodstock, Illinois

We took a wagon ride to the apple orchard and to the pumpkin patch. 

All Seasons Apple Orchard, Woodstock, Illinois

All Seasons Apple Orchard, Woodstock, Illinois

We searched for the Great Pumpkin, but we settled for these beauties instead.

All Seasons Apple Orchard, Woodstock, Illinois

Basically, we did all the fall things. I went home with a full belly and happy heart.

What fall bucket list items did you do this weekend?

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Friday, October 16, 2015

How I Budget for Fun

Planning a trip to Costa Rica has reinvigorated my desire to save more and spend less. I have certain tricks I use to budget and force myself to save for travel and other fun.

Keep a change jar. Graham and I paid for our car rental on our wedding trip last year, a Cadillac SUV, with change we put in a jar. If you pay for anything with cash, put some or all of the change into a jar and don't touch it. It will add up over time. We counted our money at the end of several months and had about $300! 

Divide. To make sure I don't blow all my spending money before my next paycheck, I divide the amount I have by the number of days to give myself a daily allowance. I strive to spend less than the amount daily. If I have cash left over, I transfer it to savings.

Earn rewards. Sometimes I deliberately use my credit card with a rewards program for purchases and then immediately transfer the money from checking to the credit card. I still earn the cash rewards but don't run up any debt. Cash rewards can go to savings or toward other expenses.

Evaluate your priorities. Cut back on other spending categories to make more room for fun. You likely don't need to shop as much as you do, and you'll thank yourself when you're sitting on a beach somewhere on an amazing vacation.

I'm linking up with CommuniKait today to discuss budgeting. Check out what other bloggers have to say at her site. 


How do you save for fun?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Celebration in Wrigleyville

I can now say I have celebrated a Cubs playoff win in Wrigleyville. It's not lost on me how lucky I was to have a ticket to the NLDS Game 4 at Wrigley Field. 

If you looked at the stands, you'd see a see of blue and white. The white was from W flags that we all waved tirelessly. I was afraid to leave my seat for fear of missing something, like Schwarber's 419-foot home run in the 7th inning.  

Also not to be missed was a tribute video of Harry Caray leading the stretch. Everyone pops out their cellphone to record a video.

And then, the most intense moments were watching for those last three outs. I would not believe it was happening until the final strike was called. 

The celebration began, both inside and outside of Wrigley. 

Afterward, I was able to celebrate with Graham and friends at a nearby bar. I was exhausted, starving, and sweaty from all the jumping around I did during the game. But it was all worth it for the experience I'll never forget.

Go Cubs!
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