Archives for ‘reviews’

Buon Viaggio with Minted

August 10, 2015 By: Jenna Category: reviews

When I started researching coding bootcamps I saw the same warning popping up over and over – “Clear your plate entirely. Email all of your friends and family and let them know you won’t be returning phone calls, emails, or text messages. Set up an auto-responder for your email accounts. Set the expectation with everyone that during this period you are doing one thing, and one thing only – coding.” It’s going to be nine weeks of coding and kids and not much else.

Part of our plan for making parenting and family life better in the years to come is establishing stronger connections with friends in the area. That portion of our plan-of-attack is going to have to wait until 2016 to be carried out, but I thought we could set a nice foundation by throwing a Bon Voyage party before school starts. Bon Voyage Summer of Growth! Bon Voyage TW and TH! Soon our life will be all about work and kids and squeezing in enough time to get a decent amount of sleep each week.

Enter Minted, with their perfectly timed pitch to partner up with That Wife Blog and explore some of the options for party decor for this end-of-summer party. I’ll use some credit they provide me in exchange for this post to hang Minted party decor for our Bon Voyage party, and then fingers crossed they’ll be interested in working with me again in January for the Graduation Celebration soiree I’m hosting to re-introduce our friends to the idea of hanging out with us again.

Expo 2015 in Milan had an entire section devoted to cacao beans and chocolate, and I stocked up on a variety of unique chocolate bars while I was there. Carrot chocolate, pineapple chocolate, hemp chocolate, fennel chocolate, and some beautifully-packaged bars with flavor combinations unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I’m going to chop those bars up into little pieces and host a chocolate tasting that allows everyone in attendance to have a small taste and vote for their favorite. We’ll continue the Italian influences with a spread similar to what my sister and I had during antipasto hour at a bar on our first day in Italy. Actually, now that I’ve added in all of these Italian details I think we’ll make it an Italian party (the house we’re living in now was built by the elderly Italian owner!) and call it the Buon Viaggio Party. Buon Viaggio old life! Hello new That Wife!

We don’t have all of our decor up on the walls yet, but the house is unpacked enough to host and certainly some bunting and signage will help bridge the gap until we get our hammer and nails together for the long-term look.

On the front porch we’ll have an ice cream and lemonade station where kids can stop and fuel up as they run around the front yard.

I only have a black-and-white printer, but that’s all I need to make these black-and-white ice cream cone wrappers from the Julep blog.
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Review: Dear Kates

March 10, 2015 By: Jenna Category: reviews

As soon I finished listening to the interview Stuff Mom Never Told You did with the creator of Dear Kates I was on my computer, adding panties to my cart and submitting my order. Growing up I had a series of urinary tract infections, bladder surgery at eight, developed interstitial cystitis in high school, had a bladder distention in 2002, and though I was lucky enough to avoid a resurgence of my IC post-pregnancy, I certainly didn’t find that childbearing and childbirth helped my incontinence at all. One of the reasons I prefer wearing dresses is that I find that the increased air flow is helpful, and I pack a lot of extra underwear whenever I travel so I can change as many times as my sneezing or scurrying determine. These methods and several others are how I’ve previously dealt with this particular health issue. And hold on to your britches because I haven’t even started talking about my Paragard IUD periods yet!

Enter Dear Kates. A product I’m about to make a serious investment in because they’ve been so revolutionary in relation to my personal hygiene. The founder, Julie Sygiel, used her chemical engineering background to develop a multi-layered underoo that can hold up to 3 tsp of liquid when fully lined. 3 tsp! Bully for you if you’ve never sneezed and then ran immediately to the bathroom (feeling grateful this happened to you at home instead of out and about). I know there are plenty of women like me out there who have found themselves desperately wishing for something like this after laughing, walking, coughing, sneezing, running… you know, living their life as humans do.


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Podcast You Should Be Listening To: Throwing Shade

January 27, 2015 By: Jenna Category: reviews

After listening to 41 episodes in less than a month, I think it’s time to write up Throwing Shade as a podcast you should be listening to. First, you should know that this is definitely content that would be rated R if it was being evaluated by the MPAA. Second, you should know that there have been several instances where I laughed so hard at the banter between Erin and Bryan that I folded in half on the back extension machine at the gym and wasn’t able to stand up straight again. Or today, giggling so much that I started to think I might need to pull over for my safety and the well-being of the other drivers sharing the road with me.

Throwing Shade Podcast


Maybe you’re like I was last month and don’t know what throwing shade means. Who can keep up with whatever lingo the kids are using of late? Stuff Mom Never Told You sums up the development of the phrase very well, but this quote referenced by Gawker’s Rich Juzwiak is the best concise description I’ve seen: “Shade is, ‘I don’t tell you you’re ugly, but I don’t have to tell you because you know you’re ugly.’ And that’s shade.

Erin describes herself as a Feminasty and Bryan has declared himself to be Homosensual and they are constantly playing off of each other as they discuss current news related to feminism and homosexuality. Sometimes she loves gays, sometimes she can’t stop talking about butts, sometimes he pretends that he agrees with whatever ridiculous anti-feminist arguments/news the mass media is currently reporting. Even their ads are hilarious! It’s the best improv I’ve ever heard.  Read more →

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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.


 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.


The wine cellar.


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.


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


Our dining group for the evening.


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

      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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