Archives for ‘reviews’

Wodna Wieza

June 20, 2014 By: Jenna Category: reviews, Travel

I think this post represents two firsts for me – the first time I’ve written a recap within 24 hours, and the first time I’ve done so with photos taken and edited on my iphone. All edits were done with VSCOcam and the side-by-side shots are done with TwinCollage.

Everyone else in my family is sleeping in today (we are still in Poland), and since I was up at 5am I’ve had plenty of time to process photos and put this post together. I’m hoping I can keep this early morning momentum going because I love feeling like I’ve accomplished so much before 8am.

I wanted to write up a post about our dinner last night for a few reasons. I’ve been doing lots of Europe trip planning lately and the English-language blog posts I find about things I’m researching are really handy. TH and I also fell in love with Wodna Wieza and when we like a restaurant that much we start to worry it might go out of business. This happened to our favorite Dallas restaurant, Aurora. I know odds are slim that any of my readers will be heading to Krakow anytime soon, but if you ever do visit the southwestern area of Poland I think it would be worth a trip.

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 Wodna Wieza calls itself a Steampunk Cafe, though I think the use of the term cafe makes it sound a lot simpler than it actually is. It’s nouvelle cusine with a touch of molecular gastronomy in a setting that has attention to detail unmatched by any restaurant I’ve ever been to.

Is there a Steampunk Restaurant Supply catalog somewhere? My iphone couldn’t do this place justice.

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The wine cellar.

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It wasn’t just the decor that wowed us, with each course of our 5 course tasting menu they brought us unique silverware unlike anything any of us had ever seen before.

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The restaurant is on the top floor of an old water tower, so the views are stunning as well!

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Our dining group for the evening.

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The first course was a grouping of individual mushrooms, in a very unique serving dish, made 10x cooler when the server “watered” the largest mushroom and revealed the presence of dry ice nested underneath. Throughout the meal I was really impressed by how far they were able to take things without it feeling cheesy or trite. We ooohed and aaaahed with each new thing brought to the table. Even the bread and butter! (Honey and lemon infused butter, delicious.)

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Review and Giveaway: HP Chromebook 14 via #hpjoy

December 06, 2013 By: Jenna Category: reviews

When I opened up the box that HP sent me as part of the #hpjoy promotion I pulled out the 14 inch Chromebook and told my husband “Now I can install some computer games and be a gamer with you!” Obviously I hadn’t read up on the device before I agreed to review it! If your intention is to get a laptop that you can load up with your favorite software, this is not the right laptop for you. As I discovered, there are a lot of really great uses for this device. If you buy it with the right intentions I think you will find that it is a useful part of your daily routine. (Google Hangouts have changed my life! But we’ll get to that later.)

hpjoy chromebook

 

The Chromebook operates differently than any other laptop I’ve encountered – if you can’t do it in the Chrome web browser, you can’t do it on the Chromebook. It’s meant to be connected to the internet at all times, and everything is done via the web. At first I felt limited by this, but as I’ve used the device I’ve started to see its strengths.

  • It takes seconds to boot up. Almost as soon as I think “I want to comment on that Facebook thread I saw earlier,” I can start typing. The apps load in five seconds or less.
  • It took me less than 5 minutes to take it out of the box and start using it the same way I am right now. I signed in to my Google account and my Chrome links were locked and loaded, and my favorite apps were available in the Chrome Apps launcher. Getting a new device often means a significant portion of time devoted to setting it up the way you want, and so I really appreciated this feature.
  • It has a sense of humor! I took a test shot in the camera app and when I went to delete it the app asked me “Are you sure you want to delete this priceless photo?”
  • The battery was charged at 75% when I first opened it up (I like when I can start using a device right after I get it) and lasts between 6-8 hours between charges depending on your screen brightness.
  • Touch the power button to put it to sleep. Hold it down for a few seconds to turn it off and log out.
  • There were a few free offers in my box. I chose 100GB of storage on Google Drive for two years and free 4g mobile Internet for two years via T-Mobile. This may be something specific to the HP Chromebook 14 version I have (if you win you’ll get to choose from a few things as well!)
  • The caps lock button is replaced by a magnifying glass, and allows you to launch any website or app with a tap of your pinky. It feels really natural. As I was typing this Spotify starts playing a Christmas song I wasn’t excited about. I tapped the search button, started to type s-p-o, hit enter when I saw Spotify was selected, and was taken to the tab where Spotify was playing. This allows me to keep lots of tabs open and easily navigate to the place I want to be. If you miss the caps lock button you can change the function of that button in the settings.
  • My absolute favorite part about this device – Google Hangout! I’ve never used Hangout before but I thought FaceTime was meeting my needs. The Chromebook Hangout experience has been so invigorating and exciting for me because of the combination of three things:
  1. When I call my mom on FaceTime, she wants to see the kids but talk to me. It’s usually dinnertime and I need to be up and about heating things up. With a tablet or phone + two young children I can’t set the device down and move about the kitchen, or if I do it never lasts long before the baby has the phone in her mouth or my son hits the red button and hangs up the call. Using a laptop means that I can set up the call with the Chromebook on the kitchen counter and point it toward the living room while the kids dance around adding effects to their faces while I talk to my mom as I make dinner. VIRTUAL BABYSITTING. Bet HP didn’t know that’s what they were boxing up when they sent me this Chromebook.
  2. Hangout also allows multiple people on the call, and using Google+ I can craft circles of people who might be interested in participating in a call together. Each night as I’m making dinner, facing down yet another evening without adult interaction due to always-working husband, I fire up Hangouts and invite one of my circles to video chat with me. I have circles for my mom and sister, husband, immediate family+husband, blog friends, Bay Area friends, etc. I’m even working on recruiting my grandma to Hangout with me! My husband was able to virtually participate in the tree decoration using a Hangout, which meant a lot to me.
  3. Hangouts can be done using a desktop, laptop, phone, or tablet (as long as they have a camera). Android and Apple users can both participate by downloading the Hangouts app. This has significantly increased the pool of people that I can video chat with.

I do have a few complaints about the HP Chromebook 14. The screen tone is very blue, and the contrast isn’t high enough. I haven’t been able to figure out how to adjust this to my liking.The sound is decently loud, but it’s a bit tinny and lacks depth. I love the white color and sleek design, but I wouldn’t say it feels lighter than I expect. For these reasons I strongly suggest viewing one in person before you buy.

Overall the HP Chromebook 14 has been a pleasant surprise. I haven’t had a laptop for several years, and had been trying to make a combination of Bluetooth keyboard+iPad fit my needs. It was an awkward setup and I would often forget to charge the keyboard.  This week I had some time between errands and it was easy and fast to open the HP Chromebook, start up the screen, connect to the wifi, and answer emails. After the Hangouts function, my favorite part of this device is how quickly I can accomplish the tasks it is designed to accomplish. No waiting, and no crashing. The large screen on the Chromebook allows me to easily see my recipes from across the kitchen as I make dinner. On nights when I want some company I send out a Hangout invitation to one of my circles and wait for someone to join when they are available. While I wait for someone to join the call I connect the Chromebook to my Bluetooth speaker and dance around the kitchen with my little ones as the dinner simmers on the stove. After the kids are in bed I climb into bed to answer emails and finish off blog posts with a proper keyboard on my lap. It’s been a wonderful #hpjoy experience.

Now the reason why most of you clicked over in the first place – #hpjoy sent one HP Chromebook 14 for me to use and review, and in that shipment they included one for me to giveaway to one of you! Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One (1) winner will receive a HP Chromebook 14 . Giveaway ends on December 13th at 12am PST. Open to US residents, 18 years old and above only. One entry per household. Winners will be contacted via email and given 48 hours to confirm win. By entering you are giving me permission to use your contract info for shipping purposes. Not affiliated with Facebook or Twitter. Void where prohibited by law. All entries will be verified. Sponsor reserves the right in their sole discretion to disqualify any entry content at any time in the event it is determined that the entry content is offensive, inappropriate, fraudulent, not in keeping with Sponsor?s image or if it is determined that the entrant has not otherwise complied with these Official Rules.

I have received two HP Chromebooks for my review and comments. #sponsored

Review: TogetherBox

November 05, 2013 By: Jenna Category: reviews

(There is a coupon code at the bottom of this post if you’d like to try this out as well!)

That Husband has been working 7 days a week lately (I wish that was an exaggeration, it’s not.) This means that our time as a family is really sparse, and happens in brief pockets before he leaves for the airport or the office. Most of the time we futz around doing  nothing, and I’m left feeling like we never spend any quality time together. When TogetherBox contacted me about sending me a free box for review I thought we might be able to use the contents to maximize our time together.

The concept is really simple. They send you a box with items and activities centered on a theme. Right now their website talks about a Bug Box and a Bubble Box.

My favorite part of the box was the set of cards suggesting ways to use the items found inside. We could hunt for bugs, or make a spider web, or use sidewalk chalk to draw bugs in our driveway – and all of the supplies needed for those activities are found inside.

T1′s favorite items from the box are the net, bug mansion (ha!) grabbers, and magnifying glass. I wanted to keep all the supplies together, so we would know they are when we wanted to do another hunt. He had different ideas, and has been sleeping with all of his new tools since we opened the box.

I think of this as “Pinterest in a Box”. I’m always pinning great ideas for activities to do with the kids, but it can take a lot of time and effort to assemble all of the necessary supplies (I’ve been saving empty toilet paper rolls for months, and by now I’ve forgotten which project I had intended to use them on). Once I went around to 4 different stores trying to find marbles! And when I did find them my only option was to buy a large container with multiple sizes for $15. I like that the TogetherBox helped me feel like the cool mom with fun ideas, but I didn’t have to spend several hours trying to figure out where to source my supplies.

We did some hunting in the front and backyard as baby girl took her nap, but only managed to catch one small spider for our box. He was so small that once he reached the top of the box he was able to jump right out! It was also really nice to be out in the front yard, gave us a chance to say hello to our neighbors when they walked by.

My favorite part of the experience happened when we were walking home from lunch. We passed by a small patch of flowers with several butterflies flitting about. Running around with the net, screaming, laughing. I’m not just describing  T1 with that last sentence, it was me too. We were sweating and smiling and we were so happy.

Next time I plan on assembling a spider web in our hallway after the kids are in bed. The next day we can all wake up together and throw crepe paper flies at our web! Hopefully I can get one of those bubble boxes they are featuring on the site so we can experience that theme as well.

TogetherBox

TogetherBox is offering That Wife readers 50% off your first month using the coupon code “thatwife” if they sign up by November 12th. (My mom has already started asking for wishlists, maybe you could forward this over to the grandparents and see if they’d like to sign up and have the first box ready to go for Christmas?) My favorite part is that the first 5 people to sign up for a subscription using that coupon code will also get a free TogetherBox!  Make sure to choose one of the options that automatically renews (set a date on your calendar to remind you to cancel if it’s not working for you) in order to be eligible for the free TogetherBox. Go to TogetherBox.com and click on “Get Started” to sign up.  TogetherBox ships to the United States and Canada.

I really enjoyed my free TogetherBox, enough so that now I’m a paying subscriber. If you sign up too we’ll be able to chat about the adventures we have using what is found inside.

Fat Chance

July 10, 2013 By: Jenna Category: reviews, weight

My parents, whom I am currently living with, can attest to the fact that I can’t stop raving about Fat Chance by Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF. My cliffs notes takeaway from this book can be summed up with the following statements:

  • The lipid hypothesis (fat makes you fat) is false*. Fructose is causing the spike in obesity and metabolic syndrome.
  • Calories are not processed equally.
  • Everyone has the responsibility to manage their own health and make good choices. But not everyone has reasonable opportunities to do so.

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Sneaking into the kitchen and eating gummi bears straight from the bag at 2 years old. I was a sugar addict practically from birth. Read more →

Review: The Snugg

June 15, 2013 By: Jenna Category: reviews

As I set out to lose my baby weight, I sat down and wrote out rewards for each 5 lb milestone I hit. One of those rewards was to buy myself a new iPad case, and when I reached that point in my weight loss I did a lot of research and decided to buy Belkin YourType Folio Case with Keyboard. There are some things I dislike about that case, but buying a keyboard for my iPad has revolutionized the way I use it! I can answer emails or finish up posts or comment on blog posts a lot easier now.

The Belkin is great for using the iPad as a hybrid computer, but it’s not everything I would want when I’m just using my iPad as a tablet. When Snugg contacted me and asked if I’d like to review one of their iPad cases I was excited because it provided me the opportunity to try out a case specifically built to maximize the features of a tablet.

I picked an iPad 3 case in baby blue leather. The color is beautiful in person (my dad picked it up when he saw it and immediately commented on how much he liked the color), and the PU leather feels nice. I am a little nervous that the material used combined with the color I chose means it’s going to look dirty faster so I would be aware of that when you are deciding which color to order. On the top you can see a little flap of fabric sticking out, that’s to hold a stylus. I do not have a stylus currently, but now that I have a place to store it with my iPad I may look into getting one.

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The case has two different upright modes, which is a feature I’ve really enjoyed. If I’m sitting up in bed with my iPad sitting below me, I use it this way. 20130530-IMG_0768
And if I have my iPad sitting on the kitchen counter while I’m cooking I use it this way. Or y’know, when I’m getting ready in the morning and watching the Colbert from the day before so I can pretend like I have some idea regarding what’s going on in the world.  Read more →

      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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