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Crazy About Kindle!

February 4, 2011

Here it is: the long-awaited Kindle review post! Before I start, you should know that I am in no way being endorsed or rewarded for the sentiments expressed here and I am not affiliated with Amazon in any way (except in the lusting-after-everything-they-carry way). This is just my true view on the product. Enjoy!

I love to read. Reading is my true love. So before we get into why I love the Kindle, I’d like to start by clearing up the following:

  1. I will never stop buying real books
  2. I will never get rid of my bookshelves of wonderful real books
  3. I too, am a sucker for turning musty-smelling pages made of paper

So… it’s not like I hate books or anything, it’s just that there are so many situations where the Kindle is so much more convenient. Examples?

  • You’re a journalism student, forced to read upwards of five newspapers a day. Rather than wrestle with the dastardly pages of print newspapers, you simply subscribe to them on your Kindle and they are delivered overnight via WiFi, at cheaper rates than print subscriptions.
  • You’re an english lit student, forced to read several million classic novels per semester. You get them all for free on the Kindle store (since they’re old and out-of-copywrite) and bring your 8.5 oz device around instead of lugging novels to the library.
  • You’re a business woman who loves reading, and who must go on several business trips per year. You simply browse the selection on the Kindle store, download on the go, and read!

Okay I have to stop. I feel like I’m writing a Kindle ad campaign. A cheesy one. An unsuccessful one. So let’s move on to the review portion of the post, shall we?

Features I Love..

  • I can read with one hand. This may not seem like a big deal, but consider this: no more do I have to worry about the book closing if I don’t hold down the pages. I can read all like “Look Ma, no hands!”. It’s way more fun than it sounds, I promise.
  • I can highlight whatever I want, and those highlights get collected for my later perusal. When I read A Fraction of the Whole, I underlined tons of enlightening paragraphs. But the only way I can find them now is by flipping through the book – frustrating. When I read Crazy Sexy Diet on my Kindle, I highlighted a whole bunch of tips on everything from veggies to exercise, so now I have the Sparknotes version on both my Kindle and my computer.
  • I can search for whatever I want. With any books, I am forever flipping back through the pages, in search of that one sentence that stuck with me or that one character introduction that didn’t seem important at the time (but now I can’t remember who they are!). On my Kindle, I can search for anything on any page, and it’s actually a surprisingly reliable function.
  • I can learn new words easily. Whenever I don’t know a word, I just move the cursor next to it and voila! A definition from the New Oxford dictionary.
  • There’s a web browser, so whenever I have WiFi, I can look at anything I want online! And websites render surprisingly well on the browser.
  • It has the capacity to Tweet or Facebook any highlights I make, if I choose. So get ready to geek out with me if I post my favourite passages from Alice in Wonderland!! Hehe.
  • It has a stellar battery life. Since getting it mid-January, I’ve only charged it once, and it’s still going strong. If you keep the WiFi off except when you’re using it, I’m told this prolongs the battery even more.
  • It’s really easy to buy content on the go – Amazon uses a one-click system which makes it simple to buy things without the hassle of typing in credit card numbers every time.

Wishes..

  • I wish that the Text-to-Speech function was a little more refined. As it stands, almost any ebook you download from the Kindle store has the capacity to be read aloud to you by a robotic voice. As much as I adore the idea behind this feature – hello, reading while doing chores!!! – it doesn’t work very well right now. I’ve tried it several times now, and the voices (your choice of male or female) tend to blur words together, making it very hard to understand. But it’s such an innovative feature, so hopefully updates will come out soon!
  • I wish the keyboard was a bit faster, it lags slightly. Not enough to really impair anything I do, but enough to be noticeable.

Content..

I’ve gotten most of the content on my Kindle online, for free. If you become the lucky recipient of a Kindle, the first place I would look would be Kindle’s own page on where to find free Kindle content. My favourite of these would be the Kindle Popular Classics page, or Project Gutenberg. Both websites specialize in free, out-of-copywrite classics – everything from Emma to Dracula.

I have a whole category of PDFs that I’ve gotten from various websites – Focus from zenhabits, A Brief Guide to World Domination from Chris Guillebeau, and various other personal documents (notes to self, lists, etc). Kindle supports most file formats (for a complete list, click here), and other formats are usually convertible to one that Kindle does support.

Newspaper and magazine subscriptions seem to be priced much lower on the Kindle than in paper, and most come with a free trial period, anywhere from 14 (Globe and Mail) to 60 (New York Times) days.

And the huge plethora of paid content is nothing to scoff at either! I mentioned that I read Crazy Sexy Diet, it was one of the first books I ever purchased on my Kindle. After seeing the price in the bookstore (about $30 Canadian), I decided to save myself some money, and bought the ebook version for $9.99! Sure, it won’t be an addition to my paper book collection, but I still got all the same information, and at a significant discount. It’s good for us students!

Your Thoughts?

Anyone out there have an eReader? If so, what do you use it for? What do you like or dislike about it? I’d love to hear any tips/tricks/hacks you have to share with a newbie owner!

And if you don’t have one, would you ever consider getting one? Why or why not? Let me know what you think about them in general.

As always, feel free to email me at effieboo.inlimbo@gmail.com or leave me a comment below!

xoxo,

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Super Bowl Salsa!

January 30, 2011

Okay, no. It’s really not like I celebrate The Super Bowl (it is a holiday, right?), but I will admit to having a soft spot in my heart for Super Bowl food. All the greasy, cheesy goodness, all the beer, all the good grub. Yum. I won’t be watching this year, but in honour of the SB, I whipped up a surprisingly easy and delicious salsa a la Pioneer Woman.

Salsa can be mucho expensivo, especially if you’re like me and prefer Garden Fresh (which costs a fortune but is the tastiest thing on the planet). A simple alternative is to make it yourself! I was pleasantly surprised at how yummy and quick this was to make.

The recipe I tweaked is here, but I fear I probably did a disservice to the great PW by neglecting the jalapenos. My excuse? It’s freezing outside here, I didn’t want to go to the store!!! (weak). Anyways, feel free to follow her recipe more carefully, but my version turned out very tasty nonetheless.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 of a red onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • Big handful cilantro

I basically eyeballed this recipe, since I didn’t have PW’s suggestion of Rotel Tomatoes & Green Chiles either, and I only have a very small food processor. But it still turned out really nicely! Just taste after adding some of the onion & garlic, and season to your liking.

The recipe is incredibly simple. Just chop up what needs to be chopped…

…throw it into a food processor & pulse a few times…

…and serve in a pretty dish! Voila!

The consistency was wonderful: smooth and uniform. Just the way I like it.

Oh wait! Don’t forget the chips, or you’ll be sorry.

Yum yum yum.

Here’s to celebrating the Super Bowl the only way I know how! Not with sports knowledge, or cheers, or being a football fan. But with food. Wonderful, amazing food.

xoxo,

Is It Worth It?

January 29, 2011

I had a big fight with my boyfriend a couple weeks ago. It wasn’t anything major, but tempers ran high and we were upset. In the subsequent days, when I had time to think, I realized that most of all, I felt tired. I didn’t want to have fights, I didn’t want to get upset, I was exhausted from feeling all these feelings. I questioned, as all couples do, if it was worth it. “It seems like we fight all the time”, “What’s the point of all this?”, “Why are we doing this to ourselves!?”.

It’s so easy to say those things in the aftermath of all sorts of bad feelings and really feel that you mean them. We tend to forget the wonderful experiences when we’ve felt uplifted and alive and honoured. We get ready to give up on the relationship the second it makes us feel badly.

While I was in this state of funk, I texted my mum. I told her we’d had a big fight, and she could tell I was down. After getting some of the details, she wrote something that made me stop, breathe and re-center:

Nothing worthwhile is easy.

It’s true, isn’t it? Things that are easy might be nice, and pleasant, and maybe even fun, but usually they’re not important & worthwhile. Of course, there are probably a few examples of worthwhile things that seem easy (not that I can think of any right now). I would argue though: were they without any negative emotions? Without feelings of doubt, fear, anger, hopelessness, etc? Although, of course, most human experiences have negative emotions, I think it’s harder to stick with worthwhile ones, because they require so much more work than other experiences. Wouldn’t it just be easier to turn to friends-with-benefits scenarios instead of engaging in serious relationships, to eat tasty junk food instead of learning to nourish yourself, to hang out with friends that only talk about superficial things? Yes. It would be easier. But would it be worthwhile?

worthwhile |ˈwərθˈ(h)wīl|
adjective
worth the time, money, or effort spent; of value or importance : extra lighting would make a worthwhile contribution to road safety.

You might have an easy relationship, but if it’s always easy, it’s probably not giving you much that could be considered of value or importance. Of course, this would depend on what you personally would define as valuable in a relationship, but for me: trust, understanding, inspiration, acceptance, communication. Those are things I believe are worthwhile, and consequently I don’t believe you can achieve any of those things without some effort, time, conflict and difficulty.

Think of a few things that you would consider worthwhile, important, valuable. Friendships? Volunteer work? Campaigning for something? Maintaining personal values? Nothing worthwhile is easy. Worthwhile things are wrought with struggles, frustration, negative emotions. But that doesn’t mean we should give up on them. It doesn’t mean that we should throw in the towel on a boyfriend or best friend just because there’s conflict. That’s the whole point: these things are worth it. Which means that working through the hard times will pay you back in great times.

To a certain extent, we all know this intuitively. When we really believe in something, we’re willing to fight for it against adversity, to defend it against criticism, to work for it because we know in the end it will be worth it. This is just meant as a reminder: are you considering giving up on something that might end up being worthwhile?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter!

xoxo,

Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

January 21, 2011

It’s been a while since I made this absolutely delectable treat (before Christmas!), but I loved it so much that I needed to share it with you.  Although I just finished reading Kris Carr’s absolutely outstanding and inspiring lifestyle book, Crazy Sexy Diet (read it read it read it!) which eschews sugar, dairy and processed foods, I’m having a hard time kicking my long-time habits. Until I get my hands on my boyfriend’s juicer and a basket full of greenery, I’m going to try to my best to use up the bad things in my pantry and fridge. So maybe that yogurt could be put to good use in this dessert? I’ll be posting about Crazy Sexy Diet (and my Kindle!) just as soon as I catch up on some readings..school’s been taking a backseat lately.

But in the meantime, I give you Joy the Baker‘s frozen chocolate chip cookie dough balls. Not only are they the tastiest cookie dough I’ve ever consumed, they’re also safe (no salmonella!) and take about 10 minutes to prepare.

Either click the link above for the recipe (I didn’t change much) or see below for more!

Baking up a storm!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (that’s 1/2 a cup, and FYI I used salted butter..oops!)
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt/applesauce (I used Balkan-style yogurt, which was delicious)
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, melted for dipping

Cream butter and sugars together.  Beat in yogurt and vanilla extract. Mix together the flour, salt and baking soda; add the mixture to the creamed butter/sugar. Once combined, mix in the chocolate chips.

Scoop out little balls onto a baking sheet, put in the freezer for a few hours. I found that the balls never really froze through, just got nice and cold, so I don’t think it matters exactly how long you put them in for. Then you can melt some chocolate chips, dunk the dough balls and put them back in the freezer for a little while. I was too busy eating them to take a picture of that step!

Oh my gosh, I may just have to run into my kitchen imminently and whip these up again!!

Or, alternatively, you could make me some and I could eat them?

Bon appetit!!

xoxo,

Break The Rules!

January 17, 2011

Photo thanks to fulbert05

..Banish the guilt. Boot the hesitations out the window. Crack open the windows of your soul and let in the fresh air. Don’t doubt.

If you’re my age, you’re handling a tricky time. Famous psycholgist Erik Erikson (great name, huh?) proposed that humans of ages 12-18 are struggling with their identity versus role confusion. During this stage, we try to determine who we are apart from our families and what we want in our lives. If we’re unsuccessful, we experience confusion and conflict. Sounds like heavy stuff, but I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about.

Everyone experiences the same struggle to figure out “who they are”: ie. their values, opinions, likes & dislikes, preferences, attitudes, standards. Along the way, as we try to find strength in our newly shapen identity, we stick (stubbornly) to our guns about our self-imposed opinions & tastes. At times, I’ve been known to insist I hate something that I haven’t tried, since I’ve already decided it doesn’t jibe with who I’ve decided to be. I’m sure you’ve all experienced that as well, either with yourself, or with friends and family.

The point is: it’s understandable, this stubbornness. No one can fault you for trying, in this crazy world, to figure out who you are and, once you’ve got it, stick to it with every ounce of your being. It makes sense!

But never be afraid to break the rules.

Never be afraid to smash down the restrictions you’ve set for yourself, when you said “oh, no, I’m not that kind of person” or “I can’t stand zucchini” or “I never stay up past midnight” or “I only like clothes in shades of black, white or grey”. Challenge yourself. Step up to the plate and break all your own rules. Your identity is important, but nobody else cares too much about whether or not it’s consistent. Try on different hats! Experience new things! See for yourself. Never get so boxed into your identity that you don’t try things you think seem fun or interesting.

If you want to, then..

…try the wackiest fruit in the grocery store, even though it’s “too exotic for you”

…start a blog, even though you have “nothing important to say”

…read the news, even though you “don’t really care about politics”

…read the tabloids, even though “they’re much too fluffy for your taste”

…take a nap mid-day, even though that’s “highly unproductive”

…try a recipe you think looks delicious, even though “it’s much too complicated for you”

…buy a vibrator, even though “you’re not that kind of girl”

…go out to a speech instead of a club, even though “that’s totally lame & nerdy”

…cry, even though “real men don’t do that”

…sleep around (safely, of course), even though “real ladies would never”

…use the five-second rule, even though “that’s disgusting!”

…eat nothing but junk food all day, even though “you don’t even like food like that”

…go figure skating, skiing, dancing, karaokeing, surfing, biking, running, even if “you’re not very good”

do whatever you want.*

.

To a lot of you, this advice may seem totally intuitive. If it does, I applaud you. You’ve managed to keep yourself from being tied to a rigid identity. But I suspect that many of us are guilty of falling victim to this technique of saying: “that’s just not me”, and limiting ourselves from new experiences. Or, if we free ourselves from our restrictions, we feel an automatic sense of guilt about doing something outside the norm. We feel we’ve failed, somehow. I urge you (and myself) to escape this guilt. Say bye-bye!

If you feel like doing something, do it. Don’t question whether or not it’s right for you (it is, by the very nature of you wanting to do it), don’t worry that it contradicts “who you are”, don’t feel guilty about having done something you’ve previously deemed “uncool”, “unproductive” or “not like you”. Live your life first, and your identity will come later.

Happy adventuring, loves!

xoxo,

*Edit: It’s been pointed out to me that maybe some of these statements would imply going against your personal values/morals. That was not my intention! I’m not implying that you should push yourself to do anything that doesn’t jibe with your core standards. My only goal with this article was to serve as a reminder that our self-imposed ‘rules’ do not need to be so rigid. By all means, if something really isn’t you, at your very core, then don’t do it! Sorry for any misunderstanding. :) xo

BlogLovin’

January 16, 2011

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a web-wide roundup of articles or sites that have really got me excited. Therefore, today I shall do just that.

Remember how I wanted to watch the Top 250 IMDB movies this year? Well this tracker is absolutely perfect for my needs. I’m at a measly 49/250 right now, but slowly climbing up. I saw One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest last night, and the Diving Bell and the Butterfly today. Slow and steady wins the race!

This is my absolute favourite new website: How to Get a Grip. It’s hilarious, smart, and surprisingly true. It’s like a good kick in the pants if you’re wallowing in self-pity, self-consciousness, regret, and any number of other things that don’t serve you. A quote from the wonderful Matthew Kimberley:

Reward yourself? What are you? A dog?

Fuck that. Do the fun stuff first. It makes getting through the rest of the day easier.

And if you do choke on an avocado stone or pass out fatally from bleach inhalation, at least your last day on earth wasn’t without strawberry cheesecake.

I know I’m beyond late in the blogosphere on this one, but Seth Godin’s blog is absolutely wonderful. Every day, a short, well-crafted article slips itself into my blog reader and informs me about good business practices, good manners, and everything in between. Seth on annoying GPS instructions:

If it’s gotten to the point where we are uncomfortable disobeying a 3 inch by 4 inch touchscreen, then you know we’ve been brainwashed. It’s actually okay (in fact, quite possibly productive) to call out the Garmins, the bosses and the influencers in your life, and ignore them all you like.

And the last two blogs on my list of brand-new favourites are: Unicorns for Socialism and  If You Never Did, You Should. Both are stellar, check ’em out.

This retrospective by Pandora is absolutely stunning. Her clothes are amazing!

I like this piece by Woman’s Day on Foods That Look Like the Body Parts They’re Good For.

Since I’m in the field of psychology, my professor lectured on an upcoming journal article to be published on ESP. The whole field seems either embarrassed or confused, but in our class we dissected the experiments (there were 9), and based on the criteria we use to evaluate all psychological experiments, the ESP studies passed with flying colours! The results are statistically significant and the experiments are reproducible, simple and straightforward. Read this piece in the NYTimes for more information.

On food: I have now made these chocolate chip cookies from Desserts for Breakfast (mentioned here) twice, the second time properly browning the butter with the help of Adrienne, and they are absolutely amazing. I am dying to make this comfort food, it looks so perfect for wintertime. If I don’t manage to make this Pizza Margherita at some point soon, I will probably drop dead. Veggie Wedgie is a vegan raw food blog, but the pictures are so gorgeous it doesn’t even matter that I’d probably never be able to make any of the recipes. I’m not sure if I could pull it off, but making even one of these beautiful cakes would make my year. I don’t pretend to know why my beloved Joy has sworn off butter and sugar and turned health-nut, but these potatoes redeem her. I would love to try them! My next ambitious project will be making these Winnie-the-Pooh cake pops from Bakerella. They’re so adorable!

I can’t help myself from loving Emily’s office from Cupcakes and Cashmere.

Was this how you pictured Scott Schumann?? For some reason, my mental image was much different from reality (when isn’t it?). Regardless, it’s a very cool short film about his process.

When I grow up, I don’t want the Glamourai’s style, but I want to know exactly what mine is, like she seems to. Check out these Christmas gifts she got that match her apartment and style perfectly! So glamourous.

The Selby’s favourite photos from 2010.

Whitehottruth never dissappoints, and I especially love the way she talks about money: plain, simple, no nonsense.

Just got my Kindle yesterday, so suddenly this article on hacks is so much more interesting! Kindle review coming asap.

I adore this song by Lady Gaga – so excited for her new material coming in May! Oh, and did you see the creepy new video for Kanye West’s ‘Monster’?

And that’s all she wrote! I’ve scoured my brain for more linkies, but that’s all I’ve got. Hope you enjoy!

xoxo,

Loving This Week…

January 14, 2011

{a delicious caramelized red onion and mushroom grilled cheese sandwich}

This week has been full of simple, lovely things. I went back to my beloved yoga class, and my body informed me that it was about time, since I’ve been sore since Tuesday. I had my first column published in an online newspaper (take that, New Years Resolution #17!) and couldn’t stop beaming with pride! I had a much-needed girl’s dinner with a good friend: perogies (with sour cream & caramelized onions), salad (with tomatoes, walnuts, goat cheese and green onions) and delicious wine. We ended the night by making the easiest chocolate chip cookies on earth (and replaced chocolate chips with chopped up Toblerone). I heard my Dad get overjoyed about his Kindle (and got antsy for mine!*), watched more episodes of Modern Family than I care to admit, wished I could do Rihanna’s dance while I walked down the street listening to this song, got all my textbooks and felt alive and on fire in the best possible way. Here are some snapshots from the last week or so.

{two amazing Christmas presents that I am absolutely in love with!}

{my super convenient clip-on iPod that is perfect for mittened-hand control!}

{the first issue of my Vegetarian Time subscription!}

{just a few textbooks – I’m so excited about my subjects this semester!}

{I picked up some beautiful things from the Dollar Store – candles, a vase and two decorative bowls, perfect for entertaining!}

What’s floating your boat this week?

xoxo,

*Expect a Kindle review post as soon as I get my hot little hands on my belated Christmas present!