Some Things I Love Right Now

Today I felt like sharing some random products and services that I personally love a ton, because why not share the love? Maybe you guys will even find your new favorite thing on my list!

Dead Nation

I’ve been replaying Dead Nation on my Playstation Vita lately because I want to finish off the last of the trophies I have to get, and it’s reminded me how damn fun this game is. It’s a zombie apocalypse story that’s set as a top-down shooter, and the waves of zombies that sometimes come at you all at once are intense. I’ve literally replayed the story mode about fifteen times at this point, and it really isn’t getting old any time soon. There’s just something immensely satisfying about blowing away wave after wave of zombies and zombie-like monsters. I’ve been working really hard on the “kill 53,596 zombies” trophy. >:)

But seriously, if you’re looking for a really fun little top-down shooter, this may be the one for you. Check it out if you get a chance!


FitBitChargeHRYou guys know, via my constant whining, that I am not the best person in the world for keeping fit. But if there is one thing that helps me want to get fit, it’s my Fitbit. These wearable devices are activity trackers, and depending on which version you get they do much more as well. I personally have a Charge HR, which not only tracks your steps and flights of stairs climbed (based on changes in elevation), but also continuously monitors your heart rate and adjusts a calculation for calories burned based on that info. So in other words, if you walk 10,000 steps in a day but your heart rate stays pretty close to resting, you’ll report fewer calories burned than if you went 10,000 steps and your heart rate was elevated for some of them. This was a big improvement to the previous Fitbits, in my opinion, because the non-heart-rate-monitoring versions can’t tell if you’re casually strolling or sprinting uphill against the wind.

You can also pair a Charge HR with your phone so that it buzzes and shows the incoming number whenever someone is calling you, and you can set silent vibration alarms to wake you up in the morning. Not to mention this particular model is also a sleep monitor. And on top of that, I’ve recently discovered the joy of having Fitbit friends, with whom you can set challenges, motivating you to be the one to exercise the most. Brilliance, I tell ya. Check them out!

Metamorphosis Quad by ColourPop and Coffee Break with Dani

If the title of this one made absolutely no sense to you, don’t worry, I’ll explain. First off, ColourPop is a cosmetics company that sells all kinds of awesome stuff at pretty affordable prices. Coffee Break With Dani is one of my favorite YouTubers. Dani, who is a beauty guru, collaborated with ColourPop to make this four-piece eyeshadow set called “Metamorphosis”, and I decided to pick it up both because I love Dani to death, and because they really are amazing eyeshadows.

The two brown shades, Bravery and Strength, are classic colors, one in a matte and one in a satin finish, but the real players here are Hope and Kindness, which are both duo-chrome with opal finishes. These two shadows are so awesome because they are super-versatile. Basically, you put them over top of whatever other eye color you’re in the mood for, and they transform the color. I can’t even really describe it, but for instance, I’ve tried Hope (the one that looks pinky-white) all by itself, and it looks like a lovely shimmery, sparkly pink, but when I put it over top of a blue eyeshadow, all of a sudden there are gorgeous purple shifts everywhere. Kindness, on the other hand, looks kind of dark purplish-blue when I wear it on its own, but when combined with a green eyeshadow it pops full of gold and blue sparkles. And they change significantly depending on what you have underneath them!

Best part? They are totally inexpensive. The set of four is $20, and though the pots don’t seem that big they last really, really long. I’ve been using Hope and Kindness steadily and I don’t even have a significant dip in the surface of the pots. But this is a limited time set and we don’t know when Color Pop is going to pull it, so if you’re interested get it soon!

Doctor Who

Okay, okay, Doctor Who isn’t exactly anything new. Even the new version of the show started a decade ago. So yeah, I’m pretty late to the party. But that said…

I started watching the new version of the show about a little over a year ago and my reaction was pretty much, “Why have I not been watching this?” So after about two seasons of that I started thinking, “Why have I never watched the old version of the show?”, and I went out looking for the old version. Turns out the old version has, like, 800 episodes. So…yeah. None-the-less, I’ve been slowly making my way through those old episodes. I’ve watched about five years now, and I’m only just making it up to where the first Doctor regenerates into the second Doctor. @_@

So yeah, I have assloads of episodes left to go through, but I am loving it. Even the super-old episodes from the 60’s in which they had little to nothing for special effects are awesome. The stories are great and so inventive for the time, and the most of the characters are just so likable. The first Doctor has actually really grown on me, so I might be sad to see him change!

And of course, the new show is absolutely fantastic. So far I’ve only watched the Christopher Eccelston episodes and about 3/4 of the David Tennant episodes, but I’m really itching to watch more! If only I could trick my husband into watching them with me more often. ^_^

So those are a few things that I’m loving right now. What about you guys? What are you just, like, super into right now? Please share!

Accountability Wednesdays: Week 16

Before I get started today, I want to send out a belated “Happy Easter!” to all those who celebrate the holiday, and I hope you had a good one! This Easter was the first one that I really got to celebrate with my daughter since she was too young to understand what it was about the first two years, and last year I was working on the other side of the country during the holiday. Since I had the opportunity I staged a little egg hunt with goodies (cream eggs, M&M’s, mini-eggs, and little plastic bracelets) in plastic eggs. It was too fun watching her run around looking for the eggs, sometimes staring right at them and walking past. She also got a Build-a-Bear Fluttershy (My Little Pony) from us, which was the first thing she ran right for, which of course made my heart melt. Throw in some books and candy and a couple of games for her LeapPad from the grandparents, and the little missy had quite a lovely day, and therefore so did I. Little joys, my friends. Little joys.

Also, decorating eggs is a necessity! :D
Also, decorating eggs is a necessity! 😀

And now that I’ve thoroughly cleansed your pallet, it’s time to muck it up with a week’s worth of failure. o.o

Goal #1: Lose ten pounds and become healthier overall.

On the upside of things, I weighed myself this morning and I am almost three pounds lighter than I was when I had my meltdown last week. I’m not exactly sure how that happened, or whether either of those two weigh-in’s was accurate, because it doesn’t seem likely that I lost three pounds in one week without doing anything at all. But for now, I’ll take it.

The bad side of things is that I had an awful week for poor eating, due in part to the Easter holiday. I mean, come on, chocolate was everywhere. I also had a lot more pop than I should have, so I’m reasserting myself to avoid it this week. Water, water, water…maybe if I repeat it enough times I’ll start to enjoy drinking it. lol

The other bad side of things is that I did almost zero activity last week. I hopped on the treadmill once, and that was it. My FitBit should seriously have some kind of shock function that fills me full of voltage if I get fewer than so many steps in a day. >.>

But there is another upside! Kinda. See, I’ve got a plan. My plan partially hinges on the weather not being an ass, but it’s a plan none-the-less. I broke out an old book I’ve got called “Buff Brides” that I used when I was trying to lose weight for my wedding. It’s actually a pretty nice program, laid out in a simple-to-understand “do this on this day” system, and it helped me last time so I figure it can help me this time. The program involves weight training three days a week, starting with simple exercises that neither take too much time nor beat you out so that you end up quitting right away. It also encourages three days a week worth of cardio, so I’m going to hike up my britches, pay that my stomach holds itself together until the doctor’s can give me a more definitive answer about my gastronomic issues, and start my Zombies! Run! app again. I hope to start my new plan this Sunday – starting with a Zombies! run – but I’m not committing to it for certain because I’ve got some other things to deal with between now and then. If not this Sunday, it’ll be the following Sunday. Hold me accountable, people! Ask me how I’m doing and yell at me if I say anything other than “Great!”

Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my “author platform”.

This week was much like the previous week. I’ve been doing pretty well with Facebook and the blogging community, interacting and getting conversations going and the like. Twitter is my weak point and I’m not really sure what to do about it. For some reason it feels like a lot of extra effort to add that one site to my daily routine, and I think it’s because I can never think of anything to say that I can compress into less than 140 characters. I’m just too wordy, I guess. 😛

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

This is the crux of my failure right here. I keep telling myself that I’m going to work on it, and I keep daydreaming about what it will be like when I’m 100% done and sending the file to Create Space, and yet it never happens. Partially my problem is a mixture of laziness and lethargy – I’ve been very badly obsessed with sitting on my ass and playing video games the past while – but at least part of the problem is good-old-fashioned fear. I long to have my book finished and published, but I also fear it. It’s that stupid human way of fearing both failure and success simultaneously. What is wrong with the human mind? A great many things, it would seem.

That said, I stand before you now (or rather, sit behind my side of the computer screen) and swear to you all that I am going to get something done toward this goal this week. Even if it’s just to go through and fix the invisible typos that my beta-reader pointed out, I will do something this week, I promise.

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

You know what? I’ve changed my mind. This is the crux of my failure. If there’s one thing that I know for sure that a writer has to do, it’s write. We have to write, write, and write some more, and then have a couple of cups of coffee and keep writing. I have completely failed this aspect of writer-dom during the month of April. I figured – I really did – that if I wrote and scheduled all my A to Z Challenge posts in advance, then I would have tons of time to write other things throughout April without having to worry about the blog. Technically that did happen. I’ve had time to write. I just haven’t been using it. I completely wasted three weeks of not having to worry about writing blog posts by completely failing to write anything else. This past week the only thing I wrote – literally, the only thing that wasn’t a Facebook status or a comment reply – was last week’s accountability post…for a grand total of 875 words. The really sad thing? That was actually a better total than last week.

So my second promise for this week is to write something every day, even if it’s just a couple hundred words of nonsense. This complete and utter laziness toward writing has got to stop. How can I ever consider myself a professional writer if I don’t write?

Accountability Wednesdays: Week 6


Before I get started this morning I have a question to ask of any cat owners out there. Do any of you have any reason why my two cats (it may be just one of them, I don’t know because I’ve never caught them) randomly choose to go outside of their litter boxes? I’ve had these cats for something like 9 and 7 years respectively, so it’s not like they don’t know how this works. They have three litter boxes between the two of them so it’s not like there’s a sharing issue or something. And the thing is, I could understand if they went somewhere outside the box if I’d let the boxes get disgustingly dirty. But barely 24 hours ago I emptied and scrubbed all three litter boxes and filled them with brand spankin’ new kitty litter that was subsequently cleaned out later in the night, and this morning I wake up to find an enormous (no joke) pile of cat droppings in the middle of my living room floor. I’m at my wit’s end, people, and I’m THIS CLOSE to putting up spy cameras to catch the culprit so I can toss them out of the damn house.  And don’t talk to me about animal cruelty, because if they keep this up and my three-year-old daughter happens to find the mess before I do, “cruel” is the least thing that I’ll be.

Okay, okay, a bit worked up this morning. Let’s take it down a notch with some accountability, shall we?

Goal #1: Lose at least ten pounds and become healthier overall.

I’m not even really sure what to report about this for this week. I haven’t been exercising, that’s for sure, though I have been doing a lot of housework and the like, so maybe that might count a little. I definitely haven’t been getting my 10,000 steps a day in, according to my Fitbit. I’ve been trying to force breakfast down my throat because “most important meal of the day” blah blah blah. Here’s another question on that topic: does anyone else find it genuinely sickening to eat when you first wake up? Because I do. It has nothing to do with what I’ve eaten the night before, because I’ve stopped eating at five in the evening and been unable to force myself to eat at seven the next morning. I just can’t eat when I first wake up. I’m not the slightest bit hungry and forcing food down my throat just makes me feel sick. On average I seem to have to be awake for a good two hours before my stomach is willing to accept food. And yet people tell me that you’re supposed to eat a hearty breakfast within the first hour of awakening. Tell me how that’s good for me if it makes me feel like throwing up?

I’m having a bit of a rant day today, it seems. *Ahem*

That said, I can tell you that I’m still about two pounds down from where originally started at the beginning of this goal, so at least I’m not gaining back. I fully plan on taking a pair of sneakers and exercise clothes out West with me on Monday, so here’s hoping for good things to happen in the future. All I have to do is figure out how to work exercise into a 12-hour work day without losing any more sleep than I already lose when I’m out there. 😛

Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my “author platform”.

As ever, this one is difficult to report. I don’t think I did terribly well this week, but not terribly bad either. I was only on Twitter a couple of times, but I did participate in the blogging community quite a bit this week. I also took to Facebook in order to make fun of the conditions in Sochi during the Olympics, but I guess that isn’t really any good for my author platform. Heh.

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

Now HERE is something to REPORT! 😀 I worked my ass off this week, and I am happy to report that editing is DONE! Or, at least, the first round of edits is done. I don’t want to rain on my own parade, but as I was editing I came up with a number of things that I expect my beta-reader to point out. I didn’t go back and fix them because many of them would have required a whole re-haul of everything I had already worked so hard to edit. My plan, thus, is to hand what I’ve got over to my beta-reader, see what she says about everything, and then base the second round of edits on that. Hopefully round 2 will be a lot quicker that round 1, if only because round 1 involved more re-writing than should normally be part of the editing process. Either way, until my beta-reader gets back to me I can officially wipe my hands of this particular manuscript and move on to other things, which FEELS SO GOOD YOU HAVE NO IDEA.

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

I had an excellent week this week, in part due to the massive editing push mentioned above, but also largely in part to planning blog posts in advance. Don’t get too excited…not all of them are typed up and scheduled…but I’m very proud of the job I’ve been doing. I’m hoping that by Monday when I head back out West, I’ll have the better part of those two weeks scheduled out. You see, part of my plan to work exercise into a 12-hour work day is working the blog writing out of the 12-hour work day. I’ll let you know if it works. In the meantime, I get to tell you that I wrote a grand total of 20,757 words this week. Not too shabby, right? Some quick calculations tell me that I’m about 14,000 words behind for the yearly total so far, but I’m not too concerned. It is very early in the year, and if I can manage to have a few more weeks like this I’ll be all caught up in no time.

Until next week! ❤

Gadget Review: Fitbit Flex

As I mentioned last week, for the past little while I’ve been testing out my new Fitbit Flex. I haven’t been using it for long, but I think I’ve gotten enough of an idea of it that I can write a decent review.

First, let me state that there are several different Fitbit options to be had, as can be seen by this comparison chart of products. Originally I had thought to go straight to the top of the pack and try out the Fitbit Force, but after a little bit of research I decided that the extra money wasn’t worth it. The main differences between the Flex and the Force are that the Force records “stairs climbed” (which, according to other reviews, is an extra feature that doesn’t work particularly well), and the Force has a small display on it that, amongst other things, shows the time. Basically, the extra money you’re paying is to turn your Fitbit into a watch, which for me wasn’t worth the $30 difference. I expect that the Force’s screen shows more than just the time, but since both devices can wirelessly sync with your smartphone in order to view your info, and I always have my phone with me, I didn’t see the need for the screen. To be fair, I should also add that when I was deciding what I wanted to get, Futureshop was having an excellent sale on the Flex, so that did affect my decision a bit.

Moving on, the Fitbit Flex is a wireless activity and sleep wristband. It’s worn like a bracelet, and as you go about your day it tracks steps walked, distance moved, and calories burned. While you’re asleep it tracks your sleep quality and, if you choose, can wake you via a silent vibration option. You can sync the device with your PC or Mac, or a variety of iOS and Android devices. If you so choose to use a smartphone with Bluetooth capabilities, you can sync the Flex with your device so that all your info updates automatically as soon as you open the app.

So, now that you know a little bit about the Flex, let’s move on to the review itself, shall we?

Comfort Factor

This might seem like the least important part of the review, but for me it’s actually pretty high up there because I can easily be pushed over the edge of annoyance by something that fits poorly or is uncomfortable to wear. Luckily this device is neither. In a market full of devices that are both enormous and unwieldy (I’m looking at you, BodyMedia), the Fitbit Flex is refreshing in that it feels no different from wearing a watch or thick bracelet. It’s only half an inch wide, and about a third of an inch thick at the thickest part (where the actual electronics are), and it comes with two different band lengths so that you can chose the one that will fit you more comfortably. The bands latch using a small grey clip, which I’ll admit was annoying at first because it didn’t seem to want to push through the holes properly. However it only took three or four times taking the band off and putting it on again for everything to loosen up and become easier to attach. Now I can just push against the clip and it pops right in. All in all, the device is no more annoying, uncomfortable, or noticeable than a watch would be. It even comes in several colors so you can coordinate with your own personal style if you wish.

Ease of Use

This is a topic on which I’m going to hop back and forth across the fence a few times. Firstly, as far as hardware goes, the Flex is easy as pie. The electronic bit slides out of a slit on the inner side of the band and plugs into an included cord for charging purposes. The cord has a USB end on it and is intended to be plugged in via your computer, but I’ve personally found that it works just as well using the charging block from my iPhone or my Samsung tablet. Five little LEDs on the miniature screen show you how charged the Flex is, and when fully charged you just slip it back into the band, put it on, and get moving.

For software, I downloaded the iPhone app, and it took a grand total of about two minutes to set up and have the two devices synced. More on the software later.

My one major complaint is that the device itself didn’t come with anything that I would consider to be instructions. For the most part they aren’t required anyway, but there are a few things that would be nice to know, or to have explained a little better. For instance, I had to do a Google search to find out how to put the Flex into “sleep monitoring” mode, and even then I couldn’t quite figure out how to do it via the Flex itself instead of the iPhone app. There’s supposed to be some kind of method where you tap the device for one second and it knows that it’s supposed to be in sleep mode, but all I got was a few blinking lights and no sleep recording. On the other hand, it seems to record my sleep whether I put it into the mode or not, because the readings pop up automatically if I tell the app which hours I was sleeping during. It’s the kind of thing that makes me frown, because I like to understand what’s going on, but it still technically works just fine, so I can’t complain too much.

For the most part, I have to give the Flex a thumbs up as far as ease of use because you pretty much just wear it and let it do the rest.


I’ve only used the iPhone app version of the Fitbit software so far, but I assume that most of the options are pretty similar.

When you first start up the program it asks for your basic information such as height, current weight, desired weight, etc – the same information you’d be asked by any such device or online weight-loss program. Once that information is in and your Flex is synced, you get to see a variety of information. At the top of the screen you see a picture of your device along with a little battery symbol to show you how much power it still has. Beneath that is your steps for the day, the distance you’ve traveled, and your “active minutes”. A colored bar depicts the percentage of “goal steps” you’re currently at, based on 10,000 steps a day (which can be altered in the program if you want to up it or take it a little easier). The distance is based on the steps and (I’m guessing) your stride, which would be determined by your height input. The active minutes are something else that it would be nice to have a better explanation of. At first I assumed that this category was for you to log alternate exercise, because when you enter that section you have the option to add activity. However, I noticed that on the first day that I walked a decent amount, the app told me that I’d had 3 “active minutes”. I cannot explain this. If I figure it out, I’ll come back and let you all know.

Beneath that information is calories burned, which is also something that could benefit from more explanation. I assume that the calculation incorporates some calculation of the calories that a body normally burns just by being awake and active, but I couldn’t tell you exactly. All I know is that when I wake up every morning and open the app it is already showing that I’ve burned something like 500 calories. This is something that I hope to find a better explanation of in the future.

Beneath that is a bar that shows your current weight and how many pounds (or kg) you have to go to reach your goal. Nothing too amazing there.

Moving on is a bar that shows how long you slept last night, how many times you awoke, and how many times you were restless, based on your level of movement throughout the night. If you click on this bar you will see a graph that depicts your night in three colors. Dark blue is asleep, light blue is restless, and pink is awake. I’ve seen iPhone apps that do a better job at depicting this information (Sleep Cycle is an excellent one), but considering that it’s an added feature, it’s a decent display.

Finally, there are bars for calories eaten and liquid drunk, which of course requires some input on your part. I haven’t used these options too much myself so far, but I’ve checked them out and it’s fairly simple. The program uses an internet connection to search for the nutritional info of whatever you input. You then add the item to whichever meal of the day it was consumed during, and the program keeps track of where you are as far as calories consumed.

All in all, the program is clean looking, easy to read, easy to use, and though I’m not too clear on how some of the information is calculated, it seems like good information to have.

The key, of course, is to make sure that your calories burned exceeds your calories eaten so that you end up losing weight. In theory. 🙂

Battery Life

I had to mention this because to be honest, I’m amazed by how good it is. Granted that I haven’t been as active as I could be, so the Flex hasn’t had to work as hard as it might in the future, but on my first full charge the device lasted almost a full ten days. Not too shabby considering how quickly some devices die these days. I’m impressed that I don’t have to plug the Flex every day like many other devices.

As an additional note, when my device finally began to die, I was surprised to find an email pop up on my phone to let me know that my Flex needed to be charged. A cute little extra consideration for people who might not actually bother to look at their info more than a couple of times a week.

Helpful Emails

This was actually a surprise to me, but apparently when you sign up with your email, you’re sent a message each week to tell you how you’ve been doing. The email shows such stats as your most and least active days, and all the previously mentioned stats in terms of totals for the entire week, daily average, and best days. It also shows where you fall on the “leaderboard” if you’ve added friends to your account. Nothing overly amazing, but still a cute little addition and also a bit of extra motivation.


Overall, thus far, I’m fairly impressed with the Fitbit Flex. It doesn’t offer quite as many options or helpful bits of information as some other devices, but it can also boast that it’s cheaper, more comfortable, and in many cases much easier to use. When you add in that the software aspect is 100% free (unlike some other devices, and I’m looking at you again, BodyMedia), it’s a neat little gadget that won’t break the bank. Whether or not it is able to assist you in your health and weight loss goals really depends on how you choose to use the data gathered, but it is definitely a useful tool that has the capability to be a great asset toward healthy living. Simply put, I won’t be removing it from my wrist any time soon. 🙂