life unfiltered


I’m getting some final paperwork things taken care of, some last-minute projects around the house and I’m aiming for an Etsy-open date of June 1. 

If the current project works out as well as I’m hoping, I may even post some plans for how I built it. It’s the first time I’m planing the edges off my 2x4s so I’m kind of intrigued about how it’s going to look.

I will say that this is the first time in a long time that I’m super enthusiastic about all the projects I’m working on and I think it’s the right path because all my free brain space is working on projects in the background constantly. That feels good after a year-ish of limbo.

life unfiltered, photos, southern dispatches

What? A proper post?

The transition from working to not-working has been…weird.

I started babysitting when I was about 10. I’ve always had a job. I still have a job, but my job is different now. I’m in charge of the finances, the household, the cooking and I’m kind of a personal assistant to my husband. All of which is interesting, surprisingly challenging sometimes and…weird.

The house is coming together. My first woodworking project will likely happen this weekend. I’m converting an old coffee table into a new coffee table. The original we’ve had since we got married (16  years is a solid life for a table) and I’m repurposing the iron base to just make a larger table with a new top. I’m excited to see how it turns out, especially as it’s prep for my next project: building a dining room table from scratch.

Right now I’m doing laundry. I’m preparing a marinade for Spicy Chicken Satay for tonight’s dinner. I put new rugs on the patio and took down the hammock. Mom is coming to visit next week, so I think she’ll help with my sewing room as well as starting to look at where things will be hung on walls.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the weather- it’s hot and the humidity is something I’m enjoying more than I would have expected. I’ve been able to do something I’ve never done before: grow plants. My yucca tree has grown like bananas and has a home in our bedroom. I’ve started sage, mint, basil and cilantro. There are succulents in the house. There have literally never been so many things living in our house. Any house.

life unfiltered, lifehacks, work

Digital Life

My posts have all been instagram for a while. Moving has been hectic. Settling in has been hectic. And while there have been things I could write about, I’ve found that thinking through HOW I would write them has alleviated the need for actually doing so.

I’ve developed a vast appreciation for Snapchat these days. After the kind of clumsy interface adjustment, I’m really enjoying the ability to send short (short-lived) video messages to my friends. I hate facebook’s video integration, so snapchat is a nice option. I’m also using Instagram far more than I would have expected (obviously). Facebook and twitter have taken a deep back seat of late.

I’ve signed on with a temp agency in town. I’d like to get back to some sort of part-time work and I might as well get cracking. We’ve got some travel coming up, so the idea of being able to work when I want to work is really enticing. We’ll see how that actually works out.

We’ve also been house shopping. It turns out, house shopping hasn’t gotten more fun over the years. This was less grueling than previously, thanks in no small part to Trulia. This is not a paid endorsement, but it is a shockingly easy to use app which helped us TREMENDOUSLY. The ability to weed things out of our list, map them and drive to them on our own (before getting an agent) and narrowing what we think is important with live pictures was instrumental. Two days of actual viewing and we’ve got two likely candidates. Excellent.

Our house in Colorado is likely going to close on the 20th. That will be a relief. Worrying about property from a distance is nothing I’d ever like to do again.

The fun part of new homes- furnishing/decor. We’ve gotten rid of so many of our possessions that we’re really kind of starting from scratch, which is exciting. I’m going to make some of our furniture for whichever new place we end up with. I’ve got plans for a dining table, some end tables, floating shelves. I’m looking forward to making some things.

As for today, the husband has developed some sort of cold. I did a mercy donut run this morning and plan to read some books or watch some movies.

life unfiltered, travel, work

Official things are official

My farewell tour of Montana started back in October. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it a full year, not living apart from my husband (I actually like the guy). My goal was to get through another contract year and I made it.

I drove 10 hours to see a concert (in the same state), I toured Glacier, a deer hit my car, I visited Mt. Rushmore and Devil’s Tower, visited numerous state parks, had drinks, did good work, spent time with friends and colleagues. There are worse things than knowing you’re going to leave.

Spring is here and things are just now starting to green up, thanks to the long dry winter. I’ll be going to North Dakota – again, but likely for the last time – next week to pick up my husband before we drive south. I think I’m going to go a little out of my way to Fargo before we turn because, why not?

I looking forward to the warmth. I’m looking forward to hanging out with my guy. This has been a life-changing experience and I’ll never be sorry I did it.

life unfiltered, lifehacks, running

Let’s talk about Tech, baby

I’m going to pitch this as a comprehensive, but not exhaustive, review of the Pebble Time Round. I’ve been using it for a bit more than a week but before I write about how I like it, let me give you the rundown about why I wanted it.

I like Fitbit and Misfit- have owned and used both. While they both eventually incorporated a timekeeping modality into their devices, the devices are…less than asthetically pleasing. Misfit gets points ahead in this department – slim, round, two taps had the time flash on the device. Fitbit bands…don’t work for me. In order to really functional, the activity/timekeeping device needs to be something I can wear everywhere. The Misfit was my best option (for looks) until Pebble.

No one who knows me would tell you that I’m real fashionable, but I’m just fashion-conscious enough that even the original Pebbles aren’t my jam. They’re boxy, square and like all the other smart watches on the market- they look like smart watches. Also, I was still experimenting with what I do and don’t want to know throughout the day- how many features on these things are important to me? 

  • I want an alarm (vibrating) because it’s less likely to wake my husband. Having the possibility to modify the alarm to work with my sleep pattern would be ideal.
  • Step counter, obviously.
  • Ability to sync with other apps I’m using
  • Having the ability to control the music on my phone so that I don’t have to get it out of my flip belt while working out would be helpful but not a deal breaker.
  • Notifications- I want some but not a lot

The last one is the most important to me and the Pebble Time Round is the only smartwatch out there that qualifies. So when the Time Round dipped below $199 on Amazon, I was ready to pull the trigger. My logic is thus: I would spend $150 on a watch I really liked, so $180 for something I love that does everything I want is saleable. Also, I had a giftcard, so it actually came in under $140 for me.

This is what the watch looks like with the screen illuminated. This is a pretty basic watchface with a black background. When it’s not illuminated I can still see what time it is. There’s a function where this will automatically illluminate based on the motion of your arm but I don’t use it. I press the little button on the left. It’s quite thin and the watchface is sized similar to most men’s watches. The watch looks sturdy- stylish but not delicate. Replaceable bands may also be purchased to further customize the look.

Without the light on.

The watchfaces are interchangeable and controlled by either the buttons on your watch or via the Pebble Time app on your phone (it works with Android and iOS). I fiddled with it a LOT in the first day which brings me to the point which most online reviews talk about – battery life. The battery life isn’t tremendous because it’s such a thin device. That said- it’s pretty easy to get 2 full days. This doesn’t sound like much, so let me talk about the charging. The cord which comes with the Pebble Time Round has a USB end and a magnetic charging port which lines up with the back of the watch. It takes between 15 and 30 minutes to charge. That’s it. Really. So I’ve typically charged it while I’m in the shower or as I’m in bed reading before I fall asleep. It’s surprisingly a non-issue for as much as I’ve seen it discussed in reviews. Maybe I’ve become accustomed to needing to charge my phone dailyish, but it just hasn’t been on my radar as a problem.

The device comes preset with native apps, including alarms. These work much as you’d expect, you set the time and the watch vibrates. I downloaded a free Gentle Wake app which works with my sleep pattern to wake me up AROUND the time of my alarm but when I’m already naturally stirring and therefore close to waking up on my own. It has varying alarm vibrant patterns, snooze functions and different ways of disabling/shutting off but I’ve gone with the basic ‘buttons on the watch’ option. I used it for the last week and it was flawless. There are several apps available which I’m looking at but this does great for me.

As a step counter it works great. It’s pretty close in accuracy with Google Fit (my primary tracking app) though I didn’t bother comparing it with the Misfit. I like that I have access to all my activity data but that it’s not right in front of my face. You can also add apps that prompt you to get up and move based on time or activity as well. I haven’t felt the need to branch out into that area yet. It also can differentiate between walking/running which is helpful with some of the workout apps I use. 

As I mentioned above, it syncs with everything I need it to. While I’m working out, the Round automatically picks up my music player and, from the watch screen, I can bump into the next song, back up, etc. Super handy and not super cumbersome.

When you’re setting up the Round on Android, the Pebble app will prompt you to install Android Wear. Let me tell you that you ONLY need this if you want notifications from Google Hangounts. If this is not your primary or secondary text communication, you don’t need Android Wear. It connected imperfectly with the Round and will look like it’s trying to connect constantly- this is okay for Hangouts functionality but I found it unnecessarily annoying. I also burned a lot of battery time the first day trying to figure out what the hell was going on with it and, ultimately, whether or not I needed it (no).

Notifications are a personal thing, so keep in mind that your mileage may vary here. My phone is kind of ever present but with the job I have now, I can’t always have it out. It’s pretty commonly in a pocket or a bag. What I love about the Round is that I can see who’s calling me while the phone is on silent in my bag (it vibrates like the alarms). I can dismiss the call and/or text the person from my watch using canned responses if I’m in a meeting. If I’m not in a meeting, I can use the watch to voice a text (which is kind of sweet and very Six Million Dollar Man).

I get text notifications (if I want). Most of my friends aren’t huge texters and I chose not to have an alert when a text comes in (vibrate). I can check all my notifications at any time with the touch of a couple of buttons and, frankly, if there’s an emergency someone is going to call me- not text.

There’s also a pretty sweet tea time alarm app which you can customize for something like 8 different kinds of teas. It seems random, but as a non-coffee drinker it’s been pretty helpful. There are a lot of apps that you can use and enable notifications on- TripAdvisor is probably the next I’ll experiment with.

All of this brings me back to battery life for just a moment- expect that the more you’re fiddling with the apps and setup components you are going to get way less than 2 days battery life in your first day or so. This week I plan to use a watchface which incorporates the weather and I’ll see how much that affects battery usage. Having a very active watchface (some of them are SERIOUSLY animated) will, I imagine, use more battery life. 

On the device, there are specific settings you can adjust. I keep the backlight on and only have one background app (Battery Plus). I have kept the motion enabling on but shut it off today because I don’t really use it. I leave the ambient sensor on, have the screen at a medium intensity and 5 second timeout. I have the Quiet Time set to on from midnight to 8 but it will allow phone calls (I’m on call for work regularly). 

The device does NOT have a touch screen. I purchased a set of screen protectors mostly because I have a habit of scratching watchfaces. 

All in all, I really love the Pebble Time Round. I was glad to see it drop to a price point I find more reasonable and it has every feature that I want in this specific type of device. This was about as custom tailored to my needs as I could hope for and it does every thing I want a smart watch to do (and probably more things I don’t want it to do). If you’re going to be away from a charging port for several days, this is probably not what you’re looking for but it also worked with my battery recharging device- so it’s not like you can’t take it on the road.

life unfiltered, work

It snowed today.

That’s really where things were destined to go terribly wrong. Today would normally be my day off, but I started out fixing a bunch of company-wide forms and, well, it didn’t get more exciting than that.

Holy cats, it’s been a crazy month. So I’m working from home on a Friday night and having a difficult time focusing so I took a break, had a beer and read my favorite newsletter (TwoBossyDames) and have been listening to a lot of great music (Bad Bad Hats, Walk The Moon, Hey Marseilles, Lianne LaHavas, Eleanor Friedberger).

I’ve read some books, but haven’t caught up to my GoodReads schedule. To tell you what I’ve read I’d have to get up and find my kindle, so you get vaguepost.

My super exciting plan for the weekend includes policy revision, continuity plan updates, and frozen dinners. I know, I know; you’re jealous. The good news is the snow didn’t stick. It’s supposed to get warmer. I might even go for a run tomorrow. For now, this is what the future looks like.FridayWorkNight


books, life unfiltered

The eyes have it

In my case, they have me getting up every hour to put drops in them. Over the weekend it was every two hours. I spent two days in a dark room, listening to audiobooks, in hopes it would help kick this thing to use my eyes as little as possible.

That didn’t work.

I did, however, get to listen to audiobooks of two of my all time favorites: The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, both by Robin McKinley. I think I first got these in late grades hook/early junior high. I suspect I’ve retread them every single year since then. They are my go-to comfor reads. 

Not too long ago, on a podcast I love, one of my Twitter friends said she uses audiobooks for books she’s already read and loved, so that if you get distracted during a task you haven’t really MISSED anything. It was amazing advice and the first thing I thought of when I started to get sleepy while listening. I know both of these books so well that I could practically pin the chapter where specific action happens. It made them the PERFECT listen for a sleep-deprived, eye-damaged weekend. Now I’m going through my well-loved books to see which ones I maybe need some audio for.

Do you have any favorite comfort-reads?

food, health, life unfiltered, Uncategorized

This sick beet


Taylor Swift got beats, I got beets. No trademark infringement!

I made this shake for dinner and I’ve got to say I like it. I’ve never been a fan of beets – generally I think they taste like dirt – but I cooked these in the microwave (surprisingly easy) and put one in with all these ingredients. I added chia seeds and a cup of spinach and, as you can see, it remains a lovely shade of PURPLE. Possibly the purpliest purple to EVER purple. Double bonus: it doesn’t taste like dirt. I’ve got a friend doing Atkins induction right now and this is possibly the only meal she won’t be jealous not to be eating.

After a follow up visit with an eye doctor today, it turns out I didn’t have something in my eye after all- just a straight up eye infection. It’s one I hadn’t heard of and it means putting drops in my eyes every two hours for the next day or so and having my eye dilated for a couple weeks. This means I’ll be lots of fun at parties. Luckily I have no parties to attend.

It also means no real sleep tonight, so I’m going to stream Netflix’s Sense8 which everyone said was an interesting and trippy show and should go real well with sleep deprivation. w00t!

The upside is that finally having stuff to help my eye will maybe make me less likely to want to assault people. The struggle was real today, people.

xo, sj

food, life unfiltered, travel


We’re doing a lot of things differently this year.

Typically our home is open to anyone who doesn’t have a place to eat. This year we’re still in temporary housing, most of our things in boxes, which makes it a bit more challenging. So it’s just the two of us and what will likely be a large amount of leftovers. We’re not the kind of people to just cook a turkey breast, ya feel me?

So I’m adjusting most of my recipes, thanks to ChefTap (which has long been my most favorite recipe app). On android, it will automatically scale down (or up) and it is AMAZING.

I’ve changed up my cranberry-jalepeno sauce recipe, I’m making a new green bean casserole, and I’m experimenting with doing gravy-prep the day before.

What I’m most excited about, though, is my mom’s Pumpkin Torte. It’s been a staple in our home since I was a kid and it’s my favorite pumpkin recipe of all time. Last year we had a bunch of leftovers (shame!) so this year I’m making a 1/2 batch BUT I’m also putting them in individual graham cracker cups! I’m super stoked about individual desserts and thrilled to find a way to have my favorite for a smaller crowd.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!