My relationship with Fitbit has changed drastically over the last year. In September 2015, I purchased a Fitbit Flex and wore it religiously for eleven months. I lamented my Fitbit failings along the way. Then I lost the charger. (Hah.) I could have easily found a new cable and kept stepping along. But I found that there were some deficiencies in my Flex compared to my now-current fitness tracking needs. And after scoping out my options, I finally acquired a black Fitbit Charge 2. I’ve been using it for two weeks now, and I’m extremely happy with the results.

 Fitbit Charge 2 Review

What I Love

The Band and the Charger

After using a Fitbit Flex for a year, I noticed the band starting to wear out in colour and stretch. It was a solid colour, so the change was obvious. Plus, the clasp was (and had always been) precarious, and popping the device out of the band to charge it was an unnecessary strain on the band (and on me).

The Fitbit Charge 2 comes with an integrated device + band, meaning you charge the device while it’s still attached to the band. The Charge also has a belt- or watch-type clasp, so I’m a lot less worried about it falling off. Plus, the simple textured design will keep any discoloration down the road hidden for longer than a solid, smooth band would.

Heart Rate Monitor

This was the main reason I purchased the Fitbit Charge 2 over, say, the Fitbit Alta or something a little bit smaller. Now that I’m getting more active, it’s a lot more important for me to track my heart rate and cardiovascular health. This is Fitbit’s HR-monitoring option with the lowest cost and the most narrow band.

Simple But Sufficient Display

Unlike my Flex, the Fitbit Charge 2 doubles as a step counter and a watch. It also lets you cycle through other screens to see your heart rate, start tracking an activity (like a run), use a stopwatch, begin a guided calm breathing exercise, and view your upcoming alarms.

The App

I’m used to using the Fitbit app from my Flex days. But with floor counting, heart rate monitoring, and more detailed activity info, there’s so much more to do now that I have a Charge 2! I especially love tracking my heart rate throughout the day. I went through a phase of tracking my nutrition via the app as well, but with the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan, it’s way too time consuming (and probably unnecessary).

Nitpicks

No Ability to Control Smartphone Music

I would gladly trade the smartphone text/call notifications for the ability to skip through a playlist via my Fitbit. Unfortunately, the Charge 2 doesn’t have this functionality. I would have to trade up to the Blaze smartwatch for that ability — but that’s a larger device, with an extra $100 on the price-tag. I opted for the simplicity.

Not Waterproof

I don’t do much swimming (at all), so removing my Fitbit for a swim isn’t a big deal. The larger challenge is remembering to put my Charge 2 back on after a shower. So far, it’s been two weeks and I have yet to forget. But I’m still concerned, as my memory is pretty awful. We’ll see how long I can last before I walk out the door without my Fitbit!


In summary, I’m very happy with my new Fitbit Charge 2. In spite of some slight shortfalls, I definitely don’t regret choosing this fitness tracker out of the others out there on the market!

How do you track your fitness?

Agendio Planner Review

If you’re like me, one of the most exciting things about the New Year is starting out with a brand new planner! I find that putting my thoughts and commitments down on paper is one of the best ways to get organized. Plus, it’s so satisfying to check items off that pesky To Do list! I went a totally new direction with my 2017 planner than I ever have, so I want to share my Agendio planner review and customization experience.

(Note: this post contains my referral links. I hope this review helps with your planner decisions — thanks for your support!)

What about Erin Condren?

Last year, I was a huge Erin Condren Life Planner fan. I’d been using the planner for six months when I first blogged about it, and continued for another six months before letting the habit drop. (It was an 18-month planner, by the way.) So what happened?

  • It became too bulky and cumbersome for my needs. I couldn’t bring it along to meetings, and I was hesitant to take it home stuffed in my laptop bag every night.
  • The layout was very daily-focused, without much space for weekly lists or notes. With my schedule becoming more erratic, I wasn’t able to assign many tasks to certain days ahead of time.
  • The interchangeable cover was starting to get a little damaged, and I couldn’t justify ordering a new one (especially with shipping costs).

That being said, I’m still a huge fan of Erin Condren’s tools and aesthetic. I will definitely purchase products from the shop again someday, though they might be other types of stationery or accessories.

I started shopping around for my 2017 planner in early November, and I wasn’t finding anything that met all of my requirements. And yes, I may have been nitpicking. But if I’m committing to a planner for the year, I don’t want to compromise! Eventually, I gave up searching for pre-existing planners and just typed into Google, “customizable planners”. There were a few misses as I scrolled through the results, but I found a real winner: Agendio.

Agendio Planner Review

Agendio’s web app allows you to walk through the entire process of building your perfect planner, essentially from scratch. You first choose your general layout: the size, timescale (daily/weekly/monthly) and orientation (horizontal/vertical). From then on, you’re in the driver’s seat. Create customized list areas, add check boxes, manually adjust section sizes or day breakdowns (hourly or into sections), pick your colours and fonts — basically do whatever you want. Click here for a sample of Agendio’s “customer creations” if you want more examples, but I’ll show you my own!

 Agendio Planner Review — Cover

First of all, I selected the smallest size and the leathery binding with small interior rings. I’d heard in an unboxing video on YouTube from MissVickybee that this format felt lighter than it looked, and that’s what I was hoping for! The exterior on this version has the Agendio logo, and the only customization available is the colour. That was fine by me. If you’re looking for something more substantial, the sizes go up to 8.5×11″, and there are customizable laminated covers for the full-spiral binding. (See images of other planners here.)

My weekly layout looks like this:

 Agendio Planner Review — Weekly Layout

If you’re curious, that’s weekly layout Model #32064. I’m also using Enriqueta as my font.

The left-hand side I’ve devoted to daily notes, while the right-hand side is for a weekly overview. There’s space for goal-setting, random notes or doodles, a to do list, blogging ideas, and a weekly thankful thought (borrowed that idea from Erin Condren!). Each of these sections were things I either appreciated or wished for when using other planners. I customized the sizes, lines, and shading for each of the boxes on the right-hand side. The web app was very easy to use as I set up the layout. I’m so excited to use the sections!

Now here’s my monthly layout, Model #32060:

 Agendio Planner Review — Monthly Layout

I was able to customize the look and feel of the page, plus the notes area on the right-hand side, which I’ve kept in list form. Plus, you’ll notice on the 12th that I’ve included my dad’s birthday. You can add your own events to the calendar in weekly or monthly mode (or both), and you can make them recurring if you need to. While I didn’t use the feature very much, I was extremely impressed with it. I can totally see how that would come in handy!

You can set the colour of each month separately, if you wish. I decided to follow the Life Planner trend, giving each month a different colour (dark blue for January, for example). Other than that, though, I will admit that the planners aren’t nearly as colourful as others on the market. No worries! I ordered a bunch of stickers from Amazon last week to spice things up throughout the year. And to accommodate the stickers, I added a cardstock pocket to the back of my Agendio planner (for $3 extra). You can also add an elastic for the cover or coloured monthly tabs for the interior.

If you’ve missed the start of the year to find the perfect planner, fear not! Agendio allows you to choose the starting month of your 12-month planner.

Every Agendio planner review I read before ordering my planner was very positive, and this one is no different. I’m so excited for 2017 — with my new Agendio planner in tow!

What’s your planner of choice this year?

When you’re looking to add a new board game to your home collection, one of the most important things to ensure is that the game won’t get stale. What’s the point in buying a game that gets boring after the first few play-throughs? Joe and I were on the hunt for something fresh and fun this weekend. We landed on Pandemic, a popular cooperative strategy game released in 2007. So far, we’ve played in three different groups: with my family, with his family, and just the two of us. And we had lots of fun each time!

The goal of Pandemic is to save the world from four deadly diseases. You play as a team of specialists with various randomly-assigned skills. As your turns progress, you and your team travel the world to treat these diseases and research their cures. At the same time, new cities are infected and outbreaks spread. It’s a race against the clock and the forces of nature to save the world.

Pandemic is the first cooperative game I’ve ever played. It took some adjustment, but I really enjoyed being able to work with the other players. Instead of competing via psychology and betrayal, your shared enemy is a series of random card draws. That way, the suspense and excitement were equally high for all players. Plus, you can share everything: the cards in your hands, your plans for next turn, and suggestions for your teammates’ moves.

The cooperative gameplay worked best when all players were engaged in the game. That wasn’t always the case, though. But even when a player was distracted or disinterested, they wouldn’t fall behind like they might in other games. The team still could still direction and use that player’s in-game special skills as things progressed.

My favourite part of Pandemic is the role of randomness in providing a unique game experience every time you play. Your strategy will change based on which cities are infected, when your cities have an epidemic, and what your special role will be for the duration of the game. I’ve noticed that some board games get very repetitive the more you play. That’s not the case with Pandemic, especially because you can also adjust the game’s difficulty at the start of each round.

 Pandemic — A Board Game Review

I do have a couple of warnings for new players. First, the game gets harder and the strategies get more intricate as you add additional players. It’s intended for 2-4 players, but we tried playing with 5, which made it much harder (but not impossible). Extra players essentially lengthen the time it takes to execute your strategies, and there are more opportunities for random events to ruin your plans.

Also, be aware of your team composition. Team strategies in cooperative games like Pandemic tend to gravitate toward the suggestions of players with stronger personalities. Do your best to ensure that every player gets a chance to voice their opinions and make decisions with the group.

In short, Pandemic is a great game for groups to have fun and be competitive – but with common goal. It looks a bit daunting at first glance, but the mechanics are really straightforward once you get the hang of the three-stage turn system. I would recommend Pandemic for groups of all kinds!

What are your favourite cooperative board games?

Smartphone Astrophotography with Novagrade

Hello all — I have returned from Starfest, Canada’s largest annual astronomy/camping conference! We had fabulous weather and clear skies for (almost) the entire week straight. There were lots of opportunities to use telescopes, binoculars, and even our eyes to observe the skies, especially the Perseid meteor shower! While real-time observing has its merits, many Starfest attendees are also heavily involved in astrophotography: taking photos of planets, stars, galaxies, or the night sky in general. This year at Starfest, I tried out smartphone astrophotography for the very first time.

Heading into this week of astronomy, I brought my 10-year-old automated telescope along with me. My only camera is a Nikon point-and-shoot. It’s not suited for long exposures or detailed images, both of which are important for “imaging” astronomical objects. However, I’d recently heard about a new trend in astrophotography that would take advantage of a camera most people already have: their smartphone.

It’s not enough to hold up your smartphone to a telescope eyepiece and snap a picture, though. You have to keep incredibly still, and if your phone moves out of alignment, you’ll see nothing but a black screen. That’s why Joe and I decided to make a purchase through Red Raven Marketing, one of Starfest’s vendors, at this year’s conference:

The Novagrade Phone Adapter for Smartphone Astrophotography

 Smartphone Astrophotography with Novagrade

The phone adapter is a device that latches onto any reasonably-sized smartphone or mini tablet. The side clamps are spring-loaded, and the back of the device has an adjustable hole to accommodate any camera placement. We found that it was easier to have the adapter hold the phone upside down. That way, thee little knob above the phone (see above) would support the phone’s weight instead. The adapter then twists onto a telescope eyepiece or camera using a compression ring.

 Smartphone Astrophotography: Novagrade Compression Ring

For our first foray into smartphone astrophotography, also known as digiscoping, we used 2″ eyepieces and a Samsung Galaxy S6. We used the Pro Mode of the phone’s built-in camera app to take pictures. That allowed up to 10 seconds of exposure, and we could play around with brightness and focus to try and optimize our images. Some turned out really cool, but we struggled with some others. We’re still learning! I’ve just used PicMonkey to apply some filters to these images. (That’s known in the astrophotography world as “post-processing”, apparently.) Take a look!

The Crescent Moon

 Smartphone Astrophotography — The Moon

Saturn

 Smartphone Astrophotography — Saturn

Jupiter, and some of its moons

 Smartphone Astrophotography — Jupiter

The Double Cluster in Perseus

 Smartphone Astrophotography — Double Cluster

(Okay, it basically looks like a bunch of stars…)


Another important aspect of this process was the Twilight app. We were taking photos in the dark and looking at faint objects in a telescope, so we didn’t want to ruin night vision for ourselves or the other campers around us. This program applied a red tint to everything on the phone screen. This way, our eyes didn’t get blown out by bright white light every time we looked at it. The only downside was having to take a break every couple hours to look at all of our images in full light, to make sure they still looked good!

Want to use this technology for yourself? You’ll need a smartphone, an adapter like ours, and something with an eyepiece. That could be a telescope, a birding scope, perhaps binoculars… or maybe even a microscope! And as for me, Joe and I are going to keep experimenting with our Novagrade Phone Adapter!

How do you enjoy the night sky?

Disclaimer: This post is not affiliated or compensated in any way. I just enjoy sharing about cool products!

Pokémon Go Problems

It’s the gaming craze that’s swept the nation, and it’s a very fun and surreal bandwagon to hop on. Pokémon Go has people literally searching their neighbourhoods for Pokémon, with many of them reliving their 90’s childhood in the process.

But Pokémon Go is not without its problems. Its many, many problems. Problems such as…

When your country’s release is over a week after the USA’s.

Canada and Europe freaked out online when America got Pokémon Go before they did. Of course, everyone figured out the workaround, but then panicked, believing the rumour that it would get them banned from the real game once it launched. Plus, there were huge risks of inadvertently downloading malware along with the game if the source was unsafe.

In spite of all that, after six days of watching US social media blow up, I figured I should try it out anyway. And that led me to problem number two.

When the Pokémon Go servers are down.

All the time. Whether you’re logging in or in the middle of gameplay, the servers get overloaded so frequently.

I feel bad for Niantic, to be honest — the level of engagement in this game was totally unprecedented. How could they have known they would need server support for the biggest mobile game ever, especially with its regional launch strategy? Nevertheless, Nintendo probably should have tipped off their developers to the phenomenon they were about to unleash.

When your phone isn’t supported.

Canada finally got its release on July 17th, less than a week ago. I opened Google Play and searched for Pokémon Go, and… it wasn’t there.

Oh, come on!!

Turns out my Samsung Galaxy S3 is so ancient now that it won’t support the game. Boo. And because of everyone’s favourite No Buy July challenge, I can’t get a new phone until August!

Luckily, Joe’s got an S6 and he wasn’t super intent on playing alone, so we made an account with my Gmail and decided to share the Pokémon-catching responsibilities.

 Pokémon Go

When you catch (or hatch) yet another Pidgey.

It didn’t take long to learn that Pidgeys are everywhere. Of course, we started evolving and powering up one of our Pidgeys with the “Pidgey Candy” earned from the others. But how are we supposed to catch ’em all when all we can find are Pidgeys? (And yes, someone has [essentially] caught them all. Something tells me he’s a little more dedicated than we are.)

When you hurt yourself because you’re staring at your phone.

There have been some really horrible injuries and situations caused by Pokémon Go. Luckily, I’ve managed to avoid any danger, and I want to encourage people to be safe, look up, and be aware.

Psst: The battery saver mode of Pokémon Go can help you stay alert while you play! It dims your screen when you lower your phone, but keeps the app on so it will still buzz to notify you of nearby Pokémon. Though you should use these tips to avoid any glitches while using the mode.

When the game glitches.

Here are some of the glitches I’ve experienced so far:

  • The images of Pokémon disappearing in combat so I can’t hit them with Pokéballs
  • Pokéballs freezing on screen without letting you exit combat
  • The GPS going crazy, thinking I’m running around a huge area when I’m sitting still and tilting my phone
  • Screen freeze

And on it goes. I’m hoping Niantic can work out the kinks before the fad dies down!

When you use up all of your data.

Pokémon Go is a data-heavy game. And last night, Joe and I hit 95% of his monthly data, which won’t reset until the end of the month. Thanks to No Buy July, we will not be purchasing any additional data to facilitate our Pokémon obsession. Looks like we’ll have to take a break from Pokéwalks for a while.

When you smile and wave at someone else playing Pokémon Go on the street (as everyone tends to do) — except they’re just using their phone like a normal person and now you look nuts.

Awkward.


In spite of its problems, Pokémon Go is probably one of the most hilarious pop culture events I’ve seen. I love that it’s bringing people together, getting them outdoors, and taking complete advantage of that nostalgia factor. I can’t wait to see how far this thing goes.

Have you run into these Pokémon Go problems while trying to catch ’em all?

The Bachelorette — The 2010 Video Game for Wii

As we all know (apparently), tonight on The Bachelorette, JoJo Fletcher is down to her final four suitors, and it’s time for hometown dates!

Let me say this right now: I am not a fan of this show. In fact, the hour of last week’s episode that I happened to watch was only my second experience with the entire franchise. I cringed my way through the forced conversations, and killed myself laughing when JoJo and Jordan crushed grapes at a vineyard with their sweaty, hairy feet and then drank it. Because they honestly thought it was wine. I was dying.

The Bachelorette — JoJo & Jordan Vineyard Date

They’re perfect for each other. (Eww.)

So to amplify the excitement of tonight’s episode, and to fill my entertainment void due to No Buy July, I bring you:

The Bachelorette — A Real, Actual, Honest-to-God Licensed Video Game for Wii

 The Bachelorette Video Game — Cover

Joe and I saw this video game at the library yesterday and just had to see what it was all about.

Our assumption, based on the subject matter and the back cover description, was that this game would be a dating simulator, where you win over the Bachelorette and sabotage your opponents (somehow). And for a while, nothing seemed to be amiss.

First, you choose your character. If you choose a guy, you’ll be competing in The Bachelorette, and vice versa. We chose this dude, a photographer, and named him Chad. Your other career options include Med Student, Account Executive, Movie Producer, and Designer.

 The Bachelorette — Character Select

Then the games begin — way more literally than we expected.

The first group date was a hot air balloon ride. So, naturally, the balloons need to be inflated. And who better to inflate balloons than the Bachelorette contestants, by pressing the A button repeatedly? If you fill your balloon the fastest, you’re rewarded with “heart points” from The Bachelorette herself!

  The Bachelorette — Balloon Mini-Game (1)

At this point, we’re a little confused. Are we playing The Bachelorette or Mario Party? Perhaps it’s just a qualifying round, so we can get to the real date…

No such luck.

The entire purpose of the game turns out to be earning these heart points, and the winner gets the girl. We are treated to a racing game, a tracing game, a puzzle game, a memory game, a weight deduction game, a catching game, and Joe’s personal nemesis, a picture-guessing game. Sometimes these games get re-skinned to match the theme of the date — notice, for example, how the game in the center below looks suspiciously like the hot air balloon challenge.

 The Bachelorette — Mini-Games

If you succeed at earning the most heart points during the group “dates”, you are invited to a one-on-one date, which includes (you guessed it!) another mini-game. However, there’s a cutscene component to the one-on-one dates as well! If you win your mini-game, the romantic scene can go well:

  The Bachelorette — Massage

And if not, things get a little uncomfortable. Both for the characters and for the player.

  The Bachelorette — Awkward

Then it all comes down to the rose ceremony, which tends to be quite dramatic on the TV show. The video game version, though, has no surprises at all. The contestant with the fewest heart points goes home.

The Bachelorette — Elimination

I suppose this is the entire premise of the show, but it seems a little strange when it’s phrased like this, don’t you think?

One of the strangest things about this game occurred at the end of the first “season”. We managed to win all of the mini-games (all fifteen of them…) and win the heart of DeAnna Pappas (yes, they used the real Bachelorettes). After the proposal cut-scene, we arrive back at the main menu to find that we’ve unlocked the second season with Trista Rehn. And we’re still playing as Chad the photographer! So basically, the object of the game is to successfully propose to the women in each of the five seasons?! I don’t know if the developers really thought that one through.

That’s the main storyline of the game, but there’s also an unlockable series of personality quizzes. They’re used to determine which Bachelors/Bachelorettes are most compatible with you, and you can also evaluate your compatibility with friends that take the quizzes. The topics include Dating, Marriage, Leisure, and Sex. And the slant on these quizzes was extremely confusing.

The Bachelorette — Relationship Quiz

Did the same person that wrote this quiz…

The Bachelorette — Sex & Pleasure Quiz

…write this quiz?

I know this game is rated Teen, but like, who is their target audience, exactly?

But the quizzes can’t be all bad…

The Bachelorette — Soulmates

D’aww. (I have mixed feelings about trusting this game though.)

Just like the love of most of the winning Bachelor/Bachelorette couples over the years, this game will live on the hearts of absolutely no one. I give this totally incongruent, dated (pun intended), so-bad-it’s-hilarious game one and a half roses out of five.

 The Bachelorette — Rating

If you feel the urge to play this game… you should probably just play Mario Party and then watch The Bachelorette tonight instead.

Todoist — My New Favourite Productivity App

Sometimes I discover something that gets me so excited that I have to share it with the world — and Todoist is one of those magical finds!

As a checklist addict, I’m always on the hunt for solid productivity tools. I love my physical Erin Condren planner, obviously, but there are limitations to the power of paper. When it comes to collaboration and recurring events, digital is the only way to go. My coworkers and I use Trello for assigning tasks and keeping track of the goals for the week, but Trello has some serious deficiencies that impact my workflow:

  • No checklists. Once you create a card (or a to-do item), it’s either there or it’s not. You can create checklists within the card, but there is no way to mark the entire card as complete. You can archive, but those closed tasks will no longer be easily accessible for historical purposes.
  • Limited nesting. In Trello, there are three tiers: lists, cards, and checklists. Beyond that, you’re SOL. And as I mentioned, they don’t all have the same functionality.
  • No recurrences. This one is a killer, especially in a department like mine, with lots of weekly or monthly tasks to remember.

The recurrences issue was what drove me to seek out a new tool for keeping track of my daily, weekly, and monthly tasks at work. (Full disclosure: This issue came to light because I forgot about a weekly action item…)

Enter Todoist.

Todoist is a checklist app for smartphone and desktop (plus a browser plugin). Side note: the Android app looks just like the Gmail app! There is a premium version, but for the sake of this review, I’ll stick to the free features (since I’m not that dedicated yet!). You can add tasks with due dates and priorities, make them recurring, and assign them to “projects”, i.e. folders. You can also add collaborators to your projects, so that your friends, family, or coworkers can view and edit your lists together. Here are some of my favourite features:

View by Project or by Upcoming Due Date

A lot of checklist apps have calendar views in addition to categorical views. I like Todoist’s approach in particular, because the by-date arrangement is still formatted like a checklist to give you that consistent experience.

Indentation: Sub-Projects or Sub-Tasks

At any point, you can “indent” a task or project so that it falls under the category of the one above it. And, of course, you can drag it up or down so that the item is assigned to the right parent. Parent Projects are helpful if you want to be able to view multiple lists at once, but still have them broken down by subcategory.

Todoist: Nested Checklists

Pretty neat, huh? The colours indicate priority levels, so you can sort by those as well. (Side note: this is not my real to do list…)

Recurring Tasks

Yay! There is now an easy way to set up those pesky repeated tasks, without having to select any dates by hand. You can easily set up recurrences by typing something like “Every Wednesday” or “Daily at 3pm” or even “Every 5 days starting July 5th” into the due date slot. Todoist will interpret your request accordingly. It’s actually pretty fun to test the limits of the Quick Add date selector.

Postpone

Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. But that’s okay! Todoist has a built-in Postpone function that will shift your due date either one day or a full recurrence forward. You can always change the actual due date if you prefer, but this is a nice, quick fix that doesn’t make you feel so bad about yourself when you don’t accomplish everything you hoped to!

View Completed Tasks

This feature is pretty simple and neat. At the bottom of any project list, you can click a button to display all completed tasks. Plus, you can then uncheck them if you want to revive them on your checklist.


Now, of course, no app is perfect. But given the way I work and the features Todoist has, it’s a definite improvement over my previous system, or no system at all!

In short, I would definitely recommend you give Todoist a try at work, home, or both!

What are your favourite apps for getting things done?

desk accessories on my wishlist

I work in a large, open-concept office — and everything is white. Walls, ceiling, tables, columns, everything. I mean, sure, there are a couple of accents (our company values and vision, done up in brighter colours just a couple of weeks ago), and the chairs and computers are black, but otherwise, it’s white. Not only that, but in order to maintain a “clean” and “streamlined” look and to “avoid distractions”, we have a strict desk accessories policy. You are allowed:

  1. Computer (and its peripherals)
  2. Phone & Headset
  3. Mandatory name card
  4. A coffee mug
  5. A reusable water bottle
  6. One personal item

And that’s it.

Most people have a photo of their kid(s) as their personal item, which makes sense. I, on the other hand, do not have any of those. I started working in the office 8 months ago, and so far, my personal item is a Kleenex box. Not doing very much to liven up my workspace, am I right? Especially seeing some other bloggers posting about how they make their desks uplifting and fashionable. (I’m looking at you, Career Girl Daily…)

Naturally, I’ve spent some time scouring Pinterest and Etsy for cute things with which I can decorate my desk. Keep in mind, though, than I can only choose one!

Too Legit to Quit Floral Mousepad — littlehawthorne on Etsy

 Desk Accessories: Too Legit to Quit Floral Mousepad

I don’t currently have a mousepad for my wireless mouse at work. Realistically, I’ve survived this long without one, so I probably don’t need one. The nice thing about this option, though, is that it doesn’t take up any additional space on my desk, aside from that which was already occupied by my mouse. Love the sentiment and the design, too.

Black, White, and Red Pencil Holder — makingtimetc on Etsy

 Desk Accessories: Black, White, and Red Pencil Holders

This option is a little more useful, especially considering the state of my top desk drawer right now. I have way too many writing utensils and highlighters in there! A pencil holder is a little iffy, though, since I’m not sure if all the pencils and such would count as additional items. (I’m not even joking. There are desk audits.) But if I do want to get organized, this is the way to go. I also love basic patterns like these.

Dotted Mini Chest of Drawers — WalterSilva on Etsy

 Desk Accessories: Dotted Mini Chest of Drawers

Along the same lines as the previous option, but it’s pink! Good for all of the little stuff that gets lost in my drawers.  I also like that what I do store in here will be hidden, so unlike the pencil holder, there’s no visible clutter. Honestly, though, these desk accessories are more about having a bright colour and pattern within my line of sight than they are about the organization.

Glazed Porcelain Succulent Planter — MarukoCoco on Etsy

 Desk Accessories: Glazed Porcelain Succulent Planter

Don’t you feel chill just by looking at these little planters? My attraction to these is twofold: first, I love the appearance and design; and second, I love the idea of growing a plant at work, even a teeny-tiny one. Of course, there are no windows anywhere near my desk, so I’ll have to choose my succulent wisely. If you have any suggestions for small plants that will do well in artificial light, let me know in the comments!

Color Me Happy Daily Desktop Box Calendar

 Desk Accessories: Color Me Happy Box Calendar

Remember when I said that it’s all about having colours at my desk? Well now I can have the opportunity to create the colours too! Honestly, I’m kind of joking with this one, since I have no idea when I would actually do the colouring when I’m supposed to be working. But it would be really cool to have for a five-minute mood break.


These are my favourites so far. Of course, there are so many more options out there. And remember, I can only choose one! Time to put the Kleenex box in my drawer and display something that really improves my workspace!

What desk accessories would you recommend?

ipsy Glam Bag

It’s almost the middle of the month, which means, for me at least, that it’s…ipsy Glam Bag time! I just received mine in the mail. It’s honestly one of the highlights of my monthly routine, especially when I haven’t peeked online to see what others received and spoiled the surprise.

For those of you who haven’t heard of ipsy’s Glam Bags, it’s a monthly subscription service in which you receive around 5 makeup (or skincare or haircare) products, usually in tester size, in a cute little bag. The products are personalized based on your responses to a questionnaire you take during sign-up.

ipsy Glam Bag

Here’s this month’s bag, keeping with the theme “All Eyes on You”. Cute, huh?

It’s important to mention here that I know basically nothing about makeup. I actually spent two of my years at university wearing no makeup at all (except on special occasions, i.e. when my mother insisted). So while I was in the process of moving out and starting a career, I realized that I had no idea what makeup I was supposed to buy for myself. The aisles of Shoppers Drug Mart were overwhelming. How was I supposed to know what any of these products were for, let alone what palette I needed to choose?

I stumbled across ipsy and my makeup-illiterate prayers were answered. I was able to select things like “completely uncomfortable with makeup” and “basic products only” on my questionnaire. All I had to do was input my eye colour and complexion, and they did all the work for me.

For example, let’s examine what I got in my ipsy Glam Bag this month.

Ipsy Glam Bag

This month’s Glam Bag contents!

Promise Organic Ultra Moisturizing Argan Creme Facial Lotion with Olive Oil

My impression: Awesome! Lotion for my face! That’s great because my face is super dry in the winter. Also, it’s a cute little bottle and it smells pretty good, too.

City Color Eyeshadow Trio

My impression: I like these colours, but I really don’t know how eyeshadow trios work. I found some tutorial videos on Youtube but this palette is a limited edition just for ipsy, so unfortunately, no one has done a tutorial on this specific set of shades. I guess I’ll have to wait for more people to receive their Glam Bags and upload some videos!

Skone Smudger Brush

My impression: I assumed this was for smudging eyeshadow/eyeliner, but I Googled it just in case. I was right, and I also found out that this brush costs $15 USD retail. That’s nuts! The entire Glam Bag was only $10 USD! (Hey Canadians: I paid $21.29 CAD this month, all in – that’s sadly higher than previous months because of how the dollar is faring right now.) Anyway, it seems pretty versatile?

Mr. Write (Now) Jac Eyeliner Pencil from The Balm

My impression: My sister tells me that The Balm is a big deal. I wouldn’t know. This eyeliner is cool and metallic… But I’m terrible with eyeliner so I’ll likely use it sparingly.

Skyn Glacial Cleansing Cloths

My impression: So you rub the cloths together and they foam up so you can “gently sweep” them across your face. Honestly, I don’t really understand these. Do you use them in place of washing your face with soap? In addition? I hear a lot about “skincare routines” but I really don’t have the time or energy to come up with one of those.

From what I understand, these Glam Bags are also great for people who are good with makeup, and want access to testers of expensive products before making a commitment. There are also discounts on ipsy’s shopping site for products that appeared in their Glam Bags, which makes sense. For me, though, I probably won’t even make it through the testers in the first place!

Until next month, ipsy!