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monthly faves: january 2k15


This here is the first post in a new series for 2015 where I talk about things I loved this month! Because I don’t spend enough time doing it at the end of the year. Obviously.


JAM: Because I have functioning ears and have also been alive for the last two months, my favorite jam is currently “Uptown Funk”. Bruno Mars is everything and it’s just SO GOOD. I love late 70s/early 80s era funk and “Uptown Funk” hits all the right notes of nostalgia and homage while still feeling really fresh and new and alive. Even with as much airplay as it’s been getting and as much as I’ve been listening to it on my own, I am still not sick of it. Also, the performance from Ellen was too much and Crystal won’t stop watching it at work and getting overly amped. AMAZON | ITUNES


ALBUM: This may seem seasonally inappropriate, but I think if you listen you’ll find that Low’s Christmas is actually wildly appropriate for January when it’s dreary and cold and Christmas is over and winter seems as though it will never end and you are going to be trapped in the cold and snow for so long that you transform wholly into some kind of frost creature. “Taking Down the Tree” is definitely my favorite here, but “Long Way Around the Sea” is also excellent. ITUNES


MOVIE: I only watched two movies in January — We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Maze Runner — and though Kevin was great, The Maze Runner wins for being more fun (Obbbbviously!) and also improving upon the weak-ass book that spawned it. I like Dylan O’Brien enough, but I thought the secondary characters were a lot more compelling and drove my interest more than I would’ve bet. I didn’t love it, but I was just amazed how much better it was than the book. That’s rare, so it’s worth noting. AMAZON | ITUNES


BOOK: I finally got the sequel to The Raven Boys on to my reading schedule last month and it was so, so gooooood. I would say The Dream Thieves is maybe even better than the first book? I continue to not like Adam as much as Maggie Stiefvater wants me to, but everyone else is genuinely awesome and complicated and interesting and Stiefvater continues to effectively and EROTICALLY exploit the female gaze in ways I love. I genuinely cannot wait until the third one comes up in my schedule. AMAZON


BATH & BEAUTY: I am allergic to traditional deodorants and since I quit wearing them in 2011, I have been on a quest to find a good “natural” deodorant that is 1. not a pain in the ass, 2. effective, 3. cheap, and as most of those efforts have failed, I have mostly accepted that I will usually just be a little smelly. I’m okay with it, Crystal is okay with it, and it’s better than getting huge growths in my pit follicles. Then I found Arm & Hammer’s Essentials and I don’t really smell bad anymore! It doesn’t have aluminum, it lasts all day and through even my long workouts, and it’s magical. The fresh scent is a little toilet cleaner-y, but that doesn’t really bother me and the unscented isn’t really — it’s sort of a light citrus-y smell. I’m in love. AMAZON


STUFF: Goodreads is my favorite uncategorizable thing I loved this month. I finally signed up at the start of the year so I could join the Reading Challenge in hopes that it’d help me hit my 50 book goal for the year and then I decided I’d write reviews of what I read all year too and it’s been really fun! I like seeing what everyone is reading — and how fast y’all read! — and it really has helped me keep up on my challenge. And I’m constantly adding things to my Amazon wishlist because I see other people reading stuff I haven’t heard of. It’s awesome, let’s be friends!

I also really liked this New York Times article about product naming, this A Softer World, this A Softer World, this post at thefrenemy.com, Dear Teen Me, this comic, and retroj.am.

LMAO months later, I realize I forgot one of my most favorite categories: television. Thankfully, I only really watched a couple episodes of Brooklyn 99 and New Girl, so nothing all that new to talk about. Oops.

totally top five 2k14: bath & beauty

5. Tree Hut Sugar Scrubs

These scrubs smell great, feel great, and make my skin crazy soft. They’re the only scrub I’ve tried that I’ve ever had make a dent in my rough, scaly elbows and yet manage not to irritate or abrade my skin at all. The Italian Mocha smells so good that it kind of makes me furious and it gets even better when it’s sort of mixed/followed/preceded by Philosophy’s Peppermint body wash. I can’t speak to the ~firming properties of the mocha, but it can’t hurt, can it? The Coconut Lime smells like the best sunblock ever and is a very close second to that amazing mocha.

4. Nailtiques Avocado Foot Crème

Had I done a Totally Top 5: 2K13 edition of Bath & Body, this stuff would’ve been at the top of it. We use this so often we just call it “avocado-ing” our feet.

I love this stuff. It’s creamy, it has a great, not subtle, but gentle smell, and it makes my cracked, gross, miserable feet unbelievably soft and happy. I slather it on before bed once or twice a week (slightly more in winter) and put some cotton socks on until I just can’t tolerate them any longer, which is usually about thirty minutes. (People who sleep in socks are an entirely separate species from me. I cannot.) Regular lotion has never helped with my feet. I hate wearing socks and shoes and I spend as much time barefoot as is humanly possible. Winters in North Dakota have changed my habits some — it’s not generally a great idea to walk around without shoes when it’s twenty or thirty below zero, especially outdoors — but they’ve also obliterated any natural moisture my skin has ever had, so this stuff has changed my life. So much less cracked foot pain!1

3. Revlon’s Colorburst Matte Balms

I love lipsticks more than any other cosmetic and they are the only kind of make-up I wear consistently. I like mattes best, the drier and more matte the better2 and I really love these Revlons. They aren’t as dry as I normally like, but they finish very matte and are easy to apply and wearable. I love the range of colors and I love that they’re cheap-ish. They’re long-lasting enough — I usually only have to reapply after I eat — and the color payoff is solid without being thick or sticky. Shameless, Sultry, Striking, and Standout are all excellent. Shameless is my go-to for when I am looking for something dramatic but surprisingly wearable. I love these so much that I’ve even given one of the non-matte version a shot and fallen for Honey, which is totally my Your Lips But Better color. Well done, Revlon. 

2. Bath & Body Works Three-Wick Candles

Okay, so I already wrote about these last year and they’re only barely skirting the Bath & beauty category3 but this year… well, the candles have become A Situation.

That’s the Situation. We have an excessive number of these things — for all seasons! — and we love them an amount that is probably not great for our mental health. My girlfriend blames the problem totally on me, but every time we’re in a place with a Bath & Body Works she’s like, “Hey… Do you want to go sniff some candles?” and I’m not going to lie, it’s like the most romantic thing she says to me.

I’ve got a lot of favorites — we’ve got fourteen candles out right now for winter/Christmas alone — so here’s a mini Totally Top Five for those!

5. ‘Tis the Season – Celebrate the perfect holiday with a festive medley of bright red apples, cinnamon, cloves and deep green pine notes – This is spicy and Christmassy and pretty much like what you’d grab in a Glade candle if you were in the grocery store except better.

4. Marshmallow Fireside – Cozy up by a crackling fire with the warm scent of marshmallows, smoldering woods and vanilla – One of my favorites last year was Fireside, but this year I’ve found it to be a little too smoky for my liking even though it still smells otherwise awesome and Marshmallow Fireside has that nice warm wood fire smell without the smokiness and some added sweetness that never gets overbearing.

3. Sparkling Icicles – A sparkling blend of bergamot, a citrus bouquet and a touch of holiday moss, inspired by ice glittering under the sun – I love this candle. It was one of my absolute favorites last year and I still love it so much. To be fair, I love it partially because it smells like part of California Adventure’s Soarin’ Over California, but also just because it smells clean and wintery with just a hint of citrus.

2. Merry Mistletoe – A flirty and festive blend of cranberries, pears, frosted citrus and a hint of holiday greenery – I’m not sure about flirty, but I most definitely think that Merry Mistletoe is not only festive, but festive-ass. This is like, Christmas without all the cinnamon. Green and bright and lovely.

1. Spiced Apple Toddy – A warming blend of apple brandy and spiced plum, infused with mulled cider and tart cranberry – This smells so good. This one smells so good that when I first got it last year, I pretty much immediately ordered another one during the next 2 for $22 because I am nothing if not a crazed person, constantly terrified that the companies I buy from are going to discontinue the things that I love. It’s really fruity and a little sweet and wonderfully spicy and awesomely Christmassy.

1. Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner

Crys and I first tried out the Mario Badescu stuff because I saw Jaclyn Hill mention the brand in one of her favorites videos and we’ve been really happy with almost everything we’ve tried (Aloe Moisturizer, Acne Cleanser, and Drying Lotion) but I really, really, like 110% LOVE the Glycolic Acid Toner.

I saw Claire Marshall mention it in one of her videos and bought it at the next possible trip to [REDACTED]4. I’ve been using it since the end of October and my skin has NEVER looked better. It’s smoother, it’s brighter, and I haven’t broken out. I’ve had maybe three or four small zits and two of them were in a few days where I missed my toner. The others disappeared within a day and never really developed into anything more than a bump.

I use it in the morning, usually after just splashing my face with warm water5, and then make sure to moisturize thoroughly, which I’d do anyway. A lot of internet tipsters say you don’t need much, just a few drops rubbed in with your fingers, but that method is messy and annoying and I like this stuff enough that I won’t mind buying it again, even if it seems a little soon. I use amazingly soft and fluffy cotton pads from Target from Target, wipe all over with the textured/design side and then wipe again with the smooth side. I swear this stuff might actually be magical and if you haven’t had problems with glycolic acid, I cannot recommend it enough.

Honorable Mentions

Previously: 2K12 | 2K13 | JAMZ | MOVIES

1: My usual remedy for all my dry skin is just to make it worse by scalding it with the hottest water I can tolerate in the shower. It’s the only thing that keeps me going in winter here. Twisted.

2: I wear MAC’s Ruby Woo more often than any other lipstick and I find the wear not only tolerable, but pleasant. Despite Ruby Woo’s popularity, people on the internet and irl seem to find MAC’s retro mattes almost universally unwearable.

3: To be fair, had I a bathtub in which to bathe, I’d be burning these suckers non-stop during the process.

4: There is a store I sort of love that sells both drugstore and high-end brand cosmetics and skincare and bath and body, but they rejected my affiliate application without explanation or even telling me, so you know. Tiny vengeance via redacting.

5: I don’t wash my face in the morning because Salma Hayek told me not to and when Salma Hayek tells you to do or not do something, I think we should listen to her.

totally top five 2k13: stuff

So, like last year, I found myself with a little collection of miscellaneous things that I loved this year that I wanted to share and so I’m throwing ’em all together here for your perusing pleasure!

5. iPhone Apps [lift | daily goals | tody]

Though I am legally and technically an adult — and have been for ten years — I am not great at managing my life. I am really forgetful! And there are just days where I struggle to function for a variety of physical and mental reasons that don’t particularly need to expanded upon. On those days in particular, I am grateful for these three apps, but, really, they’re my every day saviors.

I’ve been using Daily Goals for a really long time now and my goal list has gone through a couple of different iterations and each one has been as useful as the last because the app is so clean and simple and functional. The developer has added some extra functions recently that are nice, but not always functional (the streaks don’t seem to work correctly at all for me?) but I don’t need them anyway, so I don’t really care. I track my every day things in here — vitamins, tooth and skin care, and my selfie-a-day — and it’s nice to be able to scroll through the calendar and see if I’ve missed days.

I’ve been using Tody for quite a long time too and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s a cleaning to do list that actually works and allows you to set tasks and how frequently they ought to be done and it’s all really easy and functional. It’s not the prettiest app in the world, but I don’t care because it does exactly what I need it to do without being fussy or overly complicated.

Lift is a relatively new addition to my system and I really love it. It’s got a community aspect to it that I didn’t care about when I started but have actually found to be kind of motivating. It’s surprising how accomplished a thumbs-up can make you feel! It’s a nice looking app with relative ease of use and functionality. I am not fond of the recent update with the 21 step goal system and wish desperately that there was a way to turn it off; I wish you could create new goals/activities instead of only being able to pull from the ones that already exist — sometimes you just need a really specific goal, you know — and I wish they hadn’t taken the ease of just hitting the checkmark away — you’ve got to hit and save and exit now and it’s pretty silly — but I think it’s a great app despite its flaws.

4. Songza [songza.com]

Songza is a lot like Pandora except Songza has the magical Musical Concierge which helps you choose the station you want to jam to by letting you pick the activity you want to soundtrack. You can even choose playlists based on moods, decades, or cultures/communities. It’s got minimal ads on mobile — way fewer than Pandora at the very least — though you do sometimes have to sit through one if you choose a favorite playlist rather than choosing through the concierge (which wouldn’t bother me that much except it’s always the same video ad for Mondavi wines which should just be subtitled ‘Boring White People on a Dock’) and I think the variety is solid. Plus, it seems to get new music really quickly, which I only know because new Beyoncé jamz pop up with regularity.

I work out to Performance Enhancing Pop: Running almost every day and go to bed to Psybient or 3am Airport pretty often. The holiday playlists have also been great — I’m particularly fond of Never-Ending Christmas Hits, Cozy Christmas Classics, and Jazz Christmas. I also love the 80s Slow Dance and 90s One-Hit Wonders. I prefer the app to the desktop site because it’s much more streamlined and functional. The site is kind of a mess, frankly, but they do their job regardless and the great, varied playlists are what really matter.

3. Graze & Ipsy [graze | ipsy]

I love Graze. Like, so much. Like, an insane amount. It’s a little subscription box — we get it every two weeks, since mail here can be dodgy — filled with four delicious, healthy snack servings. It rules. We’ve been getting it almost the entire time we’ve lived in North Dakota and I know it’ll be following us wherever we go next. And they’re working on bulk options so I can fill my pantry with all my favorites like the veggie sushi plate, my thai, dark rocky road, and boston baguettes. It’s rare that I don’t like something from Graze and even then it’s usually just because I’m a fussy weirdo that doesn’t like goji berries. Such a good, cheap, fun thing to get in the mail! Plus, if you use the link up there, you get your first and fifth boxes free!

I initally tried Ipsy way back when it was still called GlamBag and ordered it alongside BirchBox to see which I liked better. I wasn’t impressed enough to keep either, but I thought GlamBag was leagues ahead of BirchBox*, so when I was looking into subscriptions again, I decided to give it a newly-renamed second chance. I loved that first bag back and haven’t been disappointed with one since. The bags are so so cute — November and December were particularly cute! — and you get a really decent selection of items. I love the POP Eyeshadow Trio I got this month, the BH Cosmetics Baked Eyeshadow I got last month, and have loved and learned a lot from what I’ve received thus far. For $10 a month, you can’t ask for a lot more.

2. Bobbles [amazon | waterbobble.com]

We ordered a couple of Bobbles back in March after I saw my friend Cam raving about them and because even though we like the tap water here, it has a little bit of a weird taste. I grew up on Los Angeles municipal water which is either terrible or the best in the country, depending on who you’re talking to, so I either have really high standards or exceedingly low ones. Either way, we thought it couldn’t hurt to run what we drink through a filter. We loved them so much, we bought two more and they’re the only way we drink water now. They’re particularly nice because the water that comes out of our tap is really cold, so we just drink and refill throughout the day. We both like the Bobble Sport better, since the cap stays attached and we don’t have to hunt them down all the time because we’re forgetful like that.

1. Bath & Body Works Three Wick Candles [spiced apple toddy | sweater weather** | champagne toast | leaves | lemon mint leaf]

I talked about these before at great length and since then, my obsession has only gotten worse. I mean, to the point that I just placed an order about twenty minutes ago so that I could snag some of my favorites to stockpile while they’re super cheap (Use TREAT4YOU for $10 off $40 or WINTERWISHES for 20% off!) during holiday clearance. I mean, it’s so bad that I’m going to have to work out some sort of storage system for them as they go in and out of seasonal usage. I feel like some sort of candle-hoarding monster demon? But it’s kind of worth it to be honest. And since the three-wicks go on sale (2 for $22!) pretty regularly, it’s not too terrible an obsession to have.

My personal favorites thus far are linked up above — Spiced Apple Toddy and Champagne Toast are probably my top two though I haven’t actually burned Champagne Toast yet. It’s part of the seasonal line, but it’s so bright and fruity that I’m saving it for spring/summer where I think it’ll be much more suitable. Spiced Apple Toddy is maybe the best smelling Christmas scent I’ve ever smelled. It’s sweet, but not sugary and tart apple heavy, but it’s got a nice spice that makes it feel super holiday appropriate. Sweater Weather and Leaves are both really close in terms of fall scents, but I think Leaves is suited more for late fall because it’s got an apple base, so it feels a little more holiday-ish/pre-Christmas. Sweater Weather is just unbelievable. And I haven’t burned Lemon Mint Leaf yet, but it smells so good in the jar I want to eat it. So, so pretty. I also love Fireside which is masculine and woodsy without smelling like a campfire.

I recommend only spending the cash on the three-wicks, by the way. The minis and the smalls have, in my experience, burned very poorly and had very little impact scent-wise. Go big or, you know, go home without a candle.

Previously: 2K12 | JAMZ | MOVIES | ALBUMS | TV | BOOKS

*: I cannot emphasize how much I genuinely hated BirchBox. I mean, really, hated it. I opened the box, went through what was in it and went, “I spent ten bucks on garbage!” and I am still angry about it.

**: Amazon links just provided for reference because those scents aren’t currently available on the Bath & Body Works website. I don’t actually think you should spend two or three times what they cost in store. I don’t even think you should pay what they cost in store, to be honest. Wait for sales!

review-ish: bath and body works candles

So, I recently got kind of hooked on watching YouTube videos of, like, make-up how-to people and I guess, like, lifestyle vloggers? And by hooked I mean I watched like four or five which is an outstanding number for someone who normally won’t watch a video longer than thirty seconds, especially when you take into account that a lot of these clock in the 12-15 minutes range. My tv has a built in YouTube app that recommends things to me, I’m powerless against its inscrutable algorithm.

Anyway, these color-coordinated, put-together, spotless-apartment-living, spend-more-on-make-up-in-a-month-than-I-have-in-five-years ladies kept mentioning Bath and Body Works candles. And I guess it sort of stuck in my head and then Crystal and I had to go to Minot so she could see her dentist and there’s a Bath and Body Works in the mall there and then the next thing I know I was coming home with eight candles? I think I was drunk. Or maybe lightheaded from sniffing every single candle in the store. Repeatedly.

I like candles! They’re great. I don’t buy a ton, but we do have a mix of real and battery candles scattered around our place. They look pretty cool and all and Crystal is really into this thing where we have a little row of them in mason jars in a windowsill. And we buy the occasional scented candle — I just sent Crystal on a mission to buy one while she was at Walmart the other day in fact — but I’m not, like, crazy about candles. So, you know, I didn’t expect to come home with eight of them.

i accidentally developed a bath and body works candle problem oooops

In our vegetable wax and lead-free wick induced haze, we bought:

Lemon Mint Leaf — Freshly cut lemon balm and spearmint leaves give a refreshing lift to a blend of vetiver and citrus — My girlfriend chose this one because it is eerily close to the basil-lime dish soap we use and love. Haven’t burned it yet, but has a good cold (what I learned on the internet is called) throw. The sales associate said it’s one of the most popular candles in their store. It’s too spring-y to burn now, but come March I think it’s going to be our go-to.

Sweater Weather — Cuddle up with an aromatic blend of eucalyptus, juniper berry, and fresh sage that celebrates the arrival of sweater weather — This is amazing. I smelled this one pretty much as soon as I set foot in the store and came back to it over and over again. We knew we wanted a big fall candle and it came down between this one and Leaves because despite having very different descriptions, they smell incredibly similar, but Sweater Weather just had something that Leaves was missing. I’ll definitely be buying Leaves eventually though.

Harvest Coffee — Relax with this rich, robust blend of roasted coffee beans topped off by creamy vanilla foam — I don’t like coffee at all unless it’s masked with a bucket of milk, sugar, and whipped cream, but I love the smell of it. This one gives off a great smell when it’s unlit, but once it gets warm it is way, way too sweet and caramel-y. I’m not really a sweet candle person (I learned in the Bath and Body Works yesterday) but if you are and you like coffee, you’ll probably love this one.

Bergamot Woods — An aromatic woodsy blend, highlighted by bright bergamot, fresh lavender, and deep green cypress — I love this one, love love love it. Like, can’t stop opening it and sniffing it and worrying about “wasting” it. It’s what fragrance people probably classify as a masculine scent and those are scents to which I am frequently drawn. I see it pop up alongside reviews of Flannel pretty often, but I did not like Flannel at all, so clearly this scent thing is weird and subjective. This has a good burn smell and a good, lingering throw.

Marshmallow Fireside — A sweet-toasty end to a snowy, fun-filled day — toasted marshmallows and sumptuous vanilla cream blend with the comforting aroma of rich smoldering woods — This was Crystal’s pick and I fought her on it in a lazy and unengaged way because I just thought it was way, way too sweet and was being obstinate about it, but now I can’t stop sniffing it. It’s got a nice sweet note that isn’t too cloying and there is that woodsy undertone that I think I was just missing in the store. Looking forward to burning this post-Halloween.*

Sparkling Icicles — As sparkling as the ice at the local skating pond, this fragrance features a citrus bouquet, bergamot, and a touch of holiday moss — Another one I love love love and another fairly masculine scent. I actually picked this one because it smells like the pine forest/river rafting section of Soarin’ Over California at Disney California Adventure and I plan to burn it and listen to the soundtrack and cry a lot. Just kidding. Kind of. Nice and woodsy.

Fresh Balsam — The invigorating aroma of evergreen woods on a clear, fall morning features crisp eucalyptus, fir needles, and cedarwood musk notes — Forget what the official descriptions says about fall, this is straight up Christmas, balsam is the smell of Christmas, and this one hits it just right. Not too woodsy, not too green, and it doesn’t smell like those little green Christmas tree car air fresheners.

Winter — A season full of fun in the snow is captured in notes of pine needles, clementine and winter woods — This one has some of the same initial scent as Sparkling Icicles, but it’s much less masculinely woodsy and much more cinnamon bark and pine. It’s more foody than floral, but not super sweet or sugary. I initially liked Snow Day better, but the more I smelled it, the sweeter it got, so Winter won out.

sweater weather forever #bathandbodyworks

The big candles are $20. I still can’t get over that because it just seems absurd to me. I looked them up on the internet beforehand and I was like, “No, no way. $20 for a candle?! Who am I, Howard Hughes? I’m not lighting up the Spruce Goose over here!” And then I walked into the store and smelled them and just sort of stumbled from rack to rack, saying, “No, no, these are ridiculous. Twenty dollars!” until my arms were full and Crystal had to check us out and pull me bodily from the premises. To be fair, the little ones were 3 for $12 (3 for $10 online, but their shipping seems outrageous to me.) and that’s not terrible.

My official review is basically this: these things smell pretty great and there was an awesome variety of scents and even if I can’t get over their price — $20 dollars! — they’re pretty much worth it, especially if you’re not burning them all day, every day. Each is strongly scented but not in that chemical, headachy way and two of the three I’ve burned thus far have had an incredible range, smell great after being extinguished, and linger in a super pleasant, not overwhelming way. (And the third just isn’t my favorite personally, a ton of people probably love the crap out of it.) Plus, the labels peel off so easy, like, window-cling easy and if you care about that, you know exactly what a big deal that is.

Just give in and buy some already so we can, like, high-five about it or something. Jeez.

*: I think you should be aware at this point that I’ve been reading the official descriptions of these in Dana Carvey’s Church Lady voice. Important.

good shit: techy stuff i love

So I’m kind of anal retentive, you know? (Yes, yes you do.) And you’ve got to know by now that I have a deeply, deeply obsessive personality, yeah? (Of course you do.) and that I like techy things and gadget-y stuff? Okay, well, that all culminates pretty intensely on my computer and phone and, since I use lots of little things that make my life easier and am also driven to tweak how things look like a crazed monster, I thought I’d like, you know, share some of those things and tweaks.

So my desktop pretty much always looks something like this:

And right now it looks just like this except without all the writing and arrows showing you what’s what:


[click to embiggen]
So let’s start with Adium which I have been using as my chat client since I got my first Mac as a college graduation gift in July of 2007. It integrates pretty much every chat client* you could possibly want to use into a single interface so you don’t have to have a million things open and it does it while being extremely customizable.

I use Decay 2.0 which is an included theme and layout and just tweak it obsessively until I like the way it looks, including changing the font to Helvetica Neue to match the message style I use. I use the Minimal set of service icons, White Chat Bubbles status icons, and Flat Bubbles 2.0 for my dock icons. I don’t keep a menu bar icon active because i don’t like doubling up in my dock and menu bar. Redundancy is ugly! I’m c r a z e d about this.

My message style is Pretty Simple used pretty much as is. I set my background to gray and made it nicely transparent. There is also a nice matchy Pretty Simple contact layout and, though I like the font, the layout doesn’t work for me because I keep my list pretty narrow and it cannot display statuses below their contacts. I prefer Decay 2.0 solely for this reason and just changed the font to match my messages. I told you, I’m super intense.

My favorite tool by far is TinyAlarm which I’ve been using for approximately 1,000 years. It’s a little menu bar timer that lets you set alarms super quick. It’s tiny and effortless and I use it pretty much daily. I mostly set timers to remind myself to do things — usually to go upstairs and cook dinner or check a load of laundry, stuff like that — because I am unbelievably terrible at knowing what time it is and remembering that I have to do things. I also used to do it to set productivity windows but I’ve recently moved on to the next item on the list for that.

While writing this I realized I hadn’t updated the app in forever and when I did, it was new and ugly and also shareware that costs $7 after thirty days. I hate the new menu and was irritated with the whole thing in about a minute, so I downgraded via my Time Machine backup and am much happier again. Since it was free for such a long time and is no longer the same app, I’ve uploaded the old version so you can have it too.

My next favorite thing is Eggscellent which is a productivity app based on the Pomodoro Technique. I use thirty minute chunks and five minute short breaks and I love how easy the app makes it. Plus I can throw a bunch of things on my list and have them waiting when I’m finally ready to get to them. I’m still figuring out the right settings for everything and I wish the visual timer were more customizable — I’d like it to be significantly smaller and preferably square and definitely sleeker (Is that nest and egg situation really necessary?) or I’d like the internal/external distractions to be clickable in the drop down from the menu bar so that I could close out the visual timer entirely — but even with my complaints, I’ve already used it every single day since I installed it.

When I discovered If This Then That through Flickr last week I had one of those rare moments where my eyes went really wide and my mouth dropped open and I went, “Oh my god, how did I not know about this already?!”

Basically, IFTTT lets you create recipes for actions on the internet. I use mine to automatically upload Instagrams to my Tumblr and Flickr and also to automatically share new posts I make on all the various social media accounts I have. I am really, really bad at self-promotion and terrible at remembering to crosspost, so those recipes are incredibly useful to me.

I also have to throw out a recommendation for freethephotos which is a migration tool to get all of your Instagram pictures into your Flickr account. I tried Flickstagram with almost no success (It lagged like crazy and stalled halfway through and also added a bunch of unnecessary tags to my pictures.) and so I tried freethephotos instead and it was super simple, fast, and didn’t lag or over-tag. And since I set up an IFTTT recipe to do it automatically after I Instagram something, I don’t have to worry about using it again.

My phone is also, obviously, important to me too, but I am much less likely to use really useful things on it since I do most of my being productive stuff while at my desk. Most of my phone apps are for photography, including my most recent download InstaPlace. Because I live in the middle of nowhere, this is not yet all that useful to me, but I have a feeling that when my gf and I take a road trip later this year, it will be. It’s a fun one to play with anyway.

My last two recommendations are Hippo Remote Lite and Sleep Cycle. I’ve been using Sleep Cycle for a long time — on and off since I got my first iPhone in 2009 — and for the last 99 consecutive nights. I don’t know that the data it accumulates has any real value — most of the nights I wake up feeling the worst, the app tells me I’ve had a 90% or higher night of sleep — but the gentle alarm is great. Hippo Remote Lite, on the other hand, is very new to me and has already been super, super useful. The last three Monday nights we’ve had storms that interfered with our satellite and interrupted our recordings of Teen Wolf and we’ve had to resort to watching on the MTV website. My computer is pretty big, but we have an Apple TV and would much rather use AirPlay to watch it on our tv, so we do, but using the mouse from a distance is kind of weird and almost impossible depending on where we sit with it. Hippo Remote Lite solves that by letting me use my phone as a mouse right in front of the tv. Magical.

Now go forth and anal retentively organize, tweak, and time. You deserve it.

*: I know that it doesn’t integrate Skype (Although there is a plugin that will make Skype work with it) which is the chat client du jour but I won’t use Skype as a chat client because Microsoft has made it effortless to wiretap you with it. I only use Skype for vidchat when absolutely necessary.