Mommy blogging just got easier!

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Salman Sajid’s Touchtype case, touchtypecase.com

Well hello there, strangers! It’s been awhile since I’ve stopped in.  Callie has been holding down the fort since I’ve gone back to work, and I’ve finally found some time to check in.  Being back to work full time while having a family to care for and a side business to run has proven to be challenging (but of course, I wouldn’t change it for the world).  I’ve been looking for ways to make this multi-tasking lifestyle easier, and recently I came across some products to help me be more efficient.  Since today is my 2013 blogging debut, I thought I’d start with this awesome product I came across just before the holidays that will help me not only at work, but here as a blogger, too!

I was browsing the internet for gift ideas for myself.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I was not looking for things to buy for others.  I was looking for ideas to email my husband so that he would know what to buy ME.  Listen, you do what you have to do so that you don’t get 15 pairs of socks from Claire’s and a sweater two sizes to large.  Anyway, I was looking for a way to make more use of my iPad.  I’ve come to rely heavily on my laptop at work since computers are hard to come by in my school lately (a story for another day).  Although my MacBook is significantly smaller and lighter than the old HP I was toting around a few years ago, it was still cumbersome and inconvenient.  It would be SO much easier to take my iPad to work, since I’ve also downloaded some word processing apps and file sharing programs.  However, the touchscreen keyboard is just not conducive to lengthy use.  I can navigate it well enough for Facebooking (yes, that’s a verb now) but to type out complete lesson plans and student handouts on it is a bit trying.  I’ve tried some of those other cases that have blue tooth keyboards built in, and without naming names, let’s just say that most of them don’t live up to the hype.  I LOVE my Apple Wireless Keyboard that we have at home for the desktop, and immediately emailed my husband a link to the Apple store with the subject line “hint hint: Santa could fit a wireless keyboard in his gift bag, right?” (Yep, I’m subtle).

So fast forward through the holidays (it feels like we zoom through them anyway, right?).  Sitting in front of me is my shiny new wireless keyboard and my fun purple iPad case… that can’t hold the keyboard.  I thought it would be easy to find a case that would hold the keyboard, but as it turns out, there’s not a lot of choice out there.  That’s how I found Salman Sajid on Kickstarter.com (AWESOME website to help support and fund budding inventors, artists and entrepreneurs of all sorts- check it out!).  His project, called The Touchtype Case was EXACTLY what I was looking for.  It’s slightly wider than the standard iPad case so as to accommodate the wireless keyboard and has an inner pocket to store it in.  As it turns out, a lot of others were looking for it too- because he was sold out and on backorder! Salman was easy to reach via email, though, and was happy to keep me in the loop so that I would know when to expect The Touchtype to be back in stock.  He sent me a beautiful gray polyurethane case about a month later, and I’ve been using it ever since.

The case is sturdy to hold and protects the ipad well, but thin and easy to carry around.  I don’t have to juggle it on top of my coffee mug while unlocking my classroom door because it folds up neatly and keeps the iPad and keyboard snugly in place.  At first I was worried about the iPad being held in place with a few simple elastic straps, but they do the job well.  In fact, there are two sets- one to hold your iPad in landscape mode and another for portrait.  This is actually very convenient for me because some of my most-visited apps- including my school’s online grading and attendance system and the app for my Etsy shop- do not automatically rotate like many other iPad-friendly sites do, so I need to be able to adjust the Ipad’s position in order to keep working.

At work, my classroom is used 9 out of the 9 periods in the day between myself and another teacher.  So, there is rarely time for me to sit at our classroom computer to do work.  I’m always on the go- heading to a meeting, hunkering down in the library to grade, or in the faculty room trying to get some plans done before heading home.  Having this case has allowed me to be mobile and productive at the same time.  Previously, I’ve had to choose one or the other; I could carry my laptop around so that I could type better and get more done, but would need to leave other resources behind since I just couldn’t carry it all.  Or, I could take the iPad and not be weighed down by the laptop, but would sacrifice productivity because I would have to use the on-screen keyboard.  To carry the wireless keyboard separate from the iPad was counter-intuitive to the whole “being more mobile” philosophy.  The Touchtype has, literally, made me a more productive teacher by freeing me from the laptop and giving me access to a better keyboard.  I’ve also been able to return customer emails to my Etsy shop better now, too, for the same reasons.  Previously, if a customer wrote to me and I was on the go, I had to respond from my iPhone.  Now, I love my iPhone, but 15 typos from a tiny cell phone keyboard is not the most professional way to respond to customers.  I’ve found that this case isn’t exclusively for the professional side of your life, though.  Just because I *CAN* use my wireless keyboard doesn’t mean I *HAVE* to, because it is tucked away neatly underneath the iPad until I pull it out.  So I can continue to use my iPad for my grocery lists and coupon apps while I’m out at the store and not worry about juggling the iPad and keyboard when I’m just trying to use it the old fashioned touchscreen way.

Of course, nothing in life is totally perfect.  My small pieces of constructive criticism on the Touchtype are just this:  First, I wish that there was a style available that I could simply open and type-  meaning, the keyboard were stored in such a way that when I open the case, the keyboard is already in front of me and set up to go.  I realize, though, that this isn’t really a problem with Salman’s case so much as it is a design flaw of the iPad, because the keyboard keys would scratch up the glass no matter what type of case it was (I learned this in Salman’s Kickstarter video found on his website- check it out!).  Secondly, I wish that there were multiple angles at which the case could be propped up when opened.  It’s perfect when I’m sitting at a table or desk, but when I’m home and laying in bed or lying on the floor with my son and need to adjust the iPad angle a bit to suit my position, this case doesn’t really allow for that the way that some other typical iPad cases do.  That being said, in those scenarios it’s also less likely that I need the wireless keyboard and I can turn off the Blue Tooth and use the on screen keyboard, instead.

All of that being said, I strongly recommend this case for whatever your needs.  If you’re looking to be more productive and efficient, or to lighten your carrying load, or just have an overall nicer case, this one is worth it.  Spring for the leather model, too- it’s very stylish and professional looking!

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It’s O’s First Birthday, Charlie Brown!

First, let me apologize for this very delayed post.  O turned one about three weeks ago, but we then had a minor crisis and a major crisis back to back:  first, O had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic and nearly wound up in the ER (minor crisis), and in the midst of recouping from this we were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.  Long Island has been hit hard by it, and I’ve been participating in a lot of charity events to help raise money to support those in need (check my Etsy shop for some Long Island items that are up for sale with proceeds benefitting hurricane relief programs).  We were very fortunate to escape unscathed (despite many days without power or heat, school shutting down because of damage, family who lost a lot of personal effects… all told, we’re alive).  For now, we’re holding up though, and it’s high time I shared a bit about O’s 1st birthday!

I made a lot of the decor myself (I’ll post some of those pics another time), but I outsourced two things:  the cake (I had lofty goals and not nearly enough time or skill, despite my love of baking) and the cake pops.  While they seem incredibly easy, it turns out they are SO not! I’ve tried a handful of times and they are just… well, ugly.  Thank goodness I found Monica from Rendezvous Sweets on Etsy!  Her cake pops were so cute and tasty looking, it was one of the best decisions I made to have her make the pops.  She sent me two dozen delicious cake pops designed to fit O’s party theme: It’s O’s Birthday, Charlie Brown!  One dozen of them were cute little pumpkins, complete with pretzel sticks for stems, and the other dozen were actually Charlie Brown! My guests loved them and absolutely devoured them (after admiring their cuteness, of course).  She even through in samples of her chocolate covered marshmallows, pretzels and Oreos (mmmm yes please!.. don’t tell my guests- I ate those and didn’t put them out for the party!).  I made stands for her cake pops using metal tins from the Target dollar spot and vinyl decals.  I glued round foam balls to the bottoms of the tins, pressed the cake pop sticks in and then added green tissue paper in between for a grassy effect.  Voila!

Take a look:

Rendezvous Sweets cake pops

Cake pops by Rendezvous Sweets

So, would you like a chance to win some tasty treats from Rendezvous Sweets? Monica is offering one of our viewers a sampler pack of 3 cake pops, 3 chocolate covered pretzel sticks, 3 marshmallow sticks and 3 chocolate coveted Oreos! I hope you have a sweet tooth 🙂 Here’s how to win:

  • “Like” Rendezvous Sweets on their Facebook page (click here) and write on their wall that you are stopping in from “We Don’t Need Sleep”
  • Leave a comment here when you’re done and tell us what flavor you hope to get in your FREE SAMPLE PACK if you win!  The winner will be announced in the coming days, so keep checking back to see if it’s you!

❤ Kristin

Long time, no see!

Hello strangers! It’s been quite awhile since I’ve last posted, which you may recall has been due to my return to teaching after a year-long maternity leave.  It’s been quite a month, to say the least, but I’ve finally found some time time to do things other than lesson plans, grading, laundry or cleaning…. and it feels nice to be back!

I wanted to show off a few things I’ve been working on, whenever I could steal a minute or two here and there.  I closed down my Etsy shop to new orders just before returning to work because I knew I had my work cut out for me at school this year and would need my head in the game for these first few weeks.  However, I did have some previous orders that needed attention, and they’ve finally been finished!  Here are a few:

Pumpkin themed cake toppers for an October 1st Birthday

“Germ Juice” is a teacher’s best friend!

A first birthday Mickey banner… this one was fun!

 

Jack-o-Lantern face decals… no cutting and carving necessary anymore!

 

To thank you for sticking around while only one half of our Mommy duo was in action, and to start October off with a bang, I’d love to offer a set of the Jack-o-Lantern decals to one lucky reader! Comment below and tell me about your favorite part of this time of year, and then repost us on your facebook/twitter/blog as well.  The winner will get two jack-o-lantern decals for helping spread the word about our blog.

Good luck!

❤ Kristin

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WFD?

Over the last two weeks, my anxiety and stress levels are absolutely through the roof because of returning to teaching after a year-long maternity leave. As a result, my milk supply is dropping big time and my belly has been one big sour knot. So, Chris and I decided that a nice freshly harvested garden dinner was in order to get some healthy stuff in me and alleviate some of my problems.

Our garden has grown bigger and bigger each year. We now grow our own: tomatoes, carrots, eggplants, peppers, red and white onions, green beans, zucchini, cucumber, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, lettuce, and an assortment of sad pathetic herbs (currently only basil, oregano and fennel have survived).

So last night we opted for a delish steak taco meal. We started with fresh tomato and mozzarella topped with drizzled olive oil and our own basil and oregano. Then we toasted some corn tortillas (trying to avoid the gluten in the flour tortillas) and filled them with home grown lettuce, diced tomatoes, onion and cucumber. Chris cut up some leftover steak pieces from the night before and freshened them up with a little garlic and olive oil in a skillet for a seconds just to warm them up. With a side of long grain rice it was just right- light yet filling, and satisfying knowing it came almost entirely from my backyard.

For dessert, an assortment of berries from the garden (Chris topped his with whipped cream… I’m not a fan) hit the sweet spot without sitting heavily in my stomach like the cake and cookies I’ve been gorging myself on.

So it’s not a very innovative meal, but it goes to show you what you can create with your own crops (and how little you have to buy if most of it is in your
Backyard!).

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Rave, Review and Giveaway! With a Twist Gourmet Pretzels

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WINNER UPDATE!

The winner of this delicious prize is hbandrewsfamilyAndrea! 

Congratulations! Send us a PM on the facebook page with your address so we can get these out to you!

I grew up with one set of my grandparents living in my home, so a lot of my childhood memories involve doing things with them. One fond memory is of making holiday chocolates with my grandmother. We’d get a large 10lb bag of chocolate melts at the speciality candy store and all sorts of fun things to coat- pretzels, marshmallows, nuts, raisins, etc… Nan taught me how to heat the chocolate- slowly and on a low boil in a double boiler, being careful not to get the chocolate wet or else it would taste bitter. When it was nice and smooth, we’d pour spoonfuls into holiday molds and add lollypop sticks or sprinkles. For other batches, we’d toss handfuls of the treats right into the chocolate, stir them around to give them a good coating, and then fish them out with a spoon and set them on wax paper to “dry”. Sometimes we’d go to the dollar store and buy some holiday tins and doilies and fill them with chocolates and deliver them to all of the neighbors for Chanukah. Nan’s favorite chocolate creation was a brittle made with peanuts, raisins and mini marshmallows. After mixing them into the chocolate we’d pour the entire pot into a cake pan, wait for it to firm up and then chop it with a butcher’s knife into squares.

Over the years I’ve come up with my own fun things to coat and cover in chocolate so that I could continue this holiday tradition in my own home. I send my husband to work with tins of chocolates for the secretaries and custodians who sometimes get overlooked when all of the kids bring gifts for their teachers. I leave a small package for each of our immediate neighbors on Christmas Eve, and take some with us to any holiday parties we attend. My husband loves my homemade peanut butter cups (probably because I make it with his favorite brand of all natural peanut butter and am very generous with my spoonfuls). My all-time favorite, though, are chocolate covered pretzels. You really can’t go wrong with a good chocolate covered pretzel. They are salty and sweet, crunchy and melty all at once. There are so many ways to make them, too! Dark chocolate is my favorite, but white chocolate is pretty good, too.

You can make pretty much anything chocolate covered without any specialty ingredients or equipment Hershey’s pieces and a microwave will do, but I assure you it’s not the same as a good brand of chocolate melts in a double boiler. Even if you’re an amateur like me and have your own double boiler and a specialty shop nearby for the good chocolates, there’s still no comparison to a professionally made chocolate covered pretzel. If you’re not up for the DIY chocolate making just yet, and I have you craving some chocolate-y salty goodness right about now, you should check out With a Twist on Etsy. I found these ladies while checking out the ‘edibles’ section on (where else?) Etsy, and I am SO GLAD I did!

My sample box of chocolate covered pretzels arrived and were gone in almost the same day. They were wrapped nicely in a clear cello bag with a lovely brown natural looking tag. My husband and I each tried one as soon as we opened the package. From my rave about chocolate covered pretzels above, I’m probably already a bit biased, so instead let me tell you what Chris said (who, mind you, isn’t a big dessert OR chocolate person):
C: WOW. These are probably the best chocolate covered pretzels I’ve ever had.
Me: Really? (raising my eyebrow incredulously). You know, I’ve made you a lot of chocolate covered pretzels. Are you sure?
C: Yeah, those were good. But these are GREAT. I mean this pretzel is like PERFECT. Do they make the pretzels, too? It doesn’t taste like a crappy bag of store pretzels.
me: I don’t know, I’ll ask. What about the banana flavor? Did you like that one, since you’ve moved on to eating those too?
C: (spitting crumbs at me through his mouthful) These are freakin great. Order more.

I think that says it all! The chocolate peanut butter pretzel was the winner for both of us, and I’m not even really a big peanut butter person. The chocolate covered banana flavor had just the right amount of sweet to compliment the chocolate without overpowering it, too. As my husband also said, the pretzel itself was fantastic, too. Look at these adorable creations that they’ve made:

So, even though we’re approaching the busy season for With a Twist because of fall festivals and holidays (seriously!!), they’ve generously offered to donate a prize to our readers for your enjoyment: A beautifully packaged medium gift basket with two bags of covered pretzels (Chocolate Covered Orange and Dark Chocolate Espresso). Perfect for giving or enjoying yourself! As usual, first make sure you are following our blog to be eligible to win! With a Twist is still working on their Facebook page, but you can find them over on Etsy and add them to your circle if you’re set up with an account already (or add some of their yummy treats to your favorites). Once you’re following us here, just leave a comment on this post:

What is the most amazing chocolate covered thing you’ve ever had/dreamed up/can’t wait to try?

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We’ll draw later in the week so check back to see if you’ve won!

;

Kristin and Callie

Raves and Reviews: Dirty Girl Apothecary (Win Something, too!)

PRIZE ALERT!

THE WINNER OF THIS WONDERFUL PRIZE IS MICHELE BERKOWITZ! CONGRATS, MICHELE!

Send us a private message on fb with your address to claim your prize!

Thank you so much, Jenn, for providing this weeks giveaway!

You’ve figured out by now that I’m obsessed with Etsy, right?  I am on Etsy probably more than most people Google.  Aside from being on my own shop with my paper and vinyl crafts and party decor, my favorite thing to do on Etsy is to peruse the categories that I don’t often get to see with the products I sell.  Lately it’s been spa/bath/pampering products, as the stress of going back to work has taken over.  That’s how I found Jenn from Dirty Girl Gardening and Apothecary.  The name caught my eye (okay, it made me giggle), and the more I looked through her shop the more I had to try some of her natural products.  I was lucky enough to try her lavender sugar scrub, two french clay mud masks, a bath tea and rose water sprays.

A delicious lavender sugar scrub, two mud masks and a bath tea from Dirty Girl Gardening! The rose water spray is missing, thanks to my mother 🙂

Her mud masks were packaged in tiny cute little tubes like smelling salts and made them easy to stash in the bathroom cabinet next to my facial cleansers so I wouldn’t forget to use it.  The single use size is perfect for someone like me who doesn’t want to commit to a large jar something I’m not sure I’ll like or have time to use regularly.  I used it one evening after the baby went down to bed earlier than usual and I found myself up with nothing to do (crazy, right?!).  I’ve never loved the feeling of a mud mask tightening on my face and becoming all stiff, but this mask didn’t leave me checking the clock every 30 seconds waiting to wash it off.  It was a dark green powder that just needed to be mixed with a little water and then patted on.  There really wasn’t any strong fragrance and my skin felt nice and firm yet clean when I washed it off.  It’s small size made it perfect to toss the extra one into my travel bag so I would have a nice surprise to pamper myself with the next time we head out overnight somewhere.

Single use sizes are perfect!

The Bath tea was just so super cute! Packaged like a real tea bag, I just dipped it in the bath water and let some of the herbs and fragrance seep out.  I tend to be very sensitive to scents, so I was cautious with the bath tea and only dipped it a few times for a touch of fragrance.  Someone a little more daring could probably leave it to soak in the tub and really benefit from all of the natural and organic ingredients that Garden Apothecary prides themselves on using.

My absolute favorite of all of the products I tried was the lavender sugar scrub.  It smelled luscious and sweet when I opened the lid and I couldn’t wait to use it.  The scrub was gritty in texture and I knew I was going to get a good exfoliation out of it (don’t you just hate those products that call themselves a scrub but it’s really a lotion with some salt tossed in?).  I could see large chunks of the natural and organic herbs right there in the jar and I knew I wasn’t covering myself in a ton of unknown junk.  Everything was written right there on the label, no mysteries involved.  The scrub left my skin feeling super smooth all night, and even the next day I found myself impressed that my legs still felt smooth.  My one and only criticism of the scrub is that I wish there was an option to purchase it in a plastic jar.  The glass jar is very elegant and apothecary-like, and I’m sure has a much smaller carbon footprint, but I have a tiny bathroom with no counter space and leave most of my bath products around the edge of the tub.  With a 10 month old who loves to touch anything that he’s not supposed to, I found myself having to take the sugar scrub out of the bathroom every night for his bathtime because I was afraid he’d grab it and drop it in the tub.  But that’s just me- most people do not have shoeboxes for bathrooms like I do, so that might not be an issue for anyone else.  Sadly, I did not get to try the rose water sample.  My sneaky mother snatched it off of my counter when she was over for a visit and took it home with her because she loved it so much! Her review of it was simply that “it was perfect”, and since all of the other things I tried from Dirty Girl were amazing… I’m inclined to believe her 🙂

I love that part of the directions on the bottle includes “Be nice to people”!

Interested in learning more about how these products are made?  Their website and blog has a lot of info about their locally grown and organic ingredients.  Check it out at www.dirtygirlgarden.com.

So, would you like a chance to win something from Jenn’s shop over at Dirty Girl Gardening Apothecary Company?  She has generously offered to give one of our readers a vanilla sugar scrub (yay!!) and a mud mask.  Here’s how you can win:

  1. Follow our blog by clicking the ‘follow’ link on this page.
  2. Head over to Jenn’s facebook page– ‘like’ Dirty Girl Gardening AND leave a comment that you’ve stopped in from wedontneedsleep.wordpress.com.
  3. Leave a comment here on this post- What product from Jenn’s shop are you most excited about? There’s a lot to choose from!
  4. If you’d like to earn extra chances to win, share our facebook page status on your page and encourage some friends to sign up too.  For each one that mentions your name in their comment here, you’ll earn an extra entry in the drawing later this week.

Good luck!

Kristin and Callie

Win Something Wednesday! Ritual Bath

Have you ever had one of those days where you just need to take a breath and tell yourself, calm down?  I feel like that has been my MONTH lately! After being home with Owen for 10 months, I am preparing to go back to work when the school year begins again in a few weeks.  I am teaching a new subject, with a new co-teaching partner.  I have a new principal and a new classroom to return to, and lots of new national teaching regulations that are going to be breathing down my neck everyday.  Plus, I have to adjust to putting Owen in daycare which is really stressing me out.  Add a seriously sick dog to that and you can imagine, calm wouldn’t be the best word to describe me lately.

So I don’t often get the time to peruse the internet for leisure much as a result of all of that, but a few weeks ago a rare moment did present itself.  Given all of my stress factors, I decided to do a search for “something calming”.  That is how I came across Ritual Bath out of Los Angeles, California.  Their products looked wonderful and I imagined myself drifting off to sleep in a nice bubble bath with some of them.  Naturally I reached out to Lauren, the proprietor, who was eager to partner up with us at We Don’t Need Sleep to offer some of her great things to our readership.

From Ritual Bath’s fan page on facebook; a 1oz. sized Calm body lotion

Ritual Bath is offering one of our readers a sample of the 2oz body lotion and a 2oz body wash from the calm line.  If you’d like a chance to win, as always, here’s how:

  1. Make sure you are following us here at We Don’t Need Sleep! Use the button to the right of this post and enter your email address.
  2. Go ‘like’ Ritual Bath at their facebook fan page and be sure to leave a comment to let them know you’re stopping by from http://www.wedontneedsleep.wordpress.com
  3. Leave a comment here on this post: Why could you use a little calm in your life lately?

 

We’ll draw a winner at random sometime this week, so get t it! You don’t want to miss out on more FREE STUFF!

 

Kristin and Callie

 

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