Category Archives: holy grail

HGB :: Muku Labs Shuttr Remote

Muku Shuttr (Black)

The Shuttr. So little. So unprepossessing. So effing awesome!

Now, I’ve made a vow to never use the word “awesome” unless I mean it in its dictionary sense; that is, something has to inspire awe in me in order for me to use the word “awesome”. And I’m telling you, this gadget is AWESOME! Let me count the ways:

  1. Slim and tiny – Have you actually ever seen me hold this sucker in any of my pics? Yep, it’s that slick. Fits in the palm of my hand for covert selfies.
  2. No muss, no fuss – I have an iPhone so can only speak to that, but this gadget did not need any external apps to run. It works perfectly with my phone’s camera. And it was an instant, out-of-the-box user experience. Bluetooth sync and go.
  3. Long-lasting – I’ve had this baby for over seven months now and have yet to replace the battery. And it uses a typical lithium coin battery that’s a mere $2 on amazon. Just make sure you turn it off after use to preserve the battery life.
  4. Excellent customer service – Muku Labs started off as a Kickstarter project and I got in at the very beginning so I can’t say how they are now. But I remember getting a personal email from Kevin, one of the founders, and he answered all my questions clearly and promptly.
  5. Safe and quick delivery – Some of you may be leery of the Hong Kong origin, but not to worry; they do deliver. And I mean that literally and figuratively!
  6. Best bang for your buck – At a mere $40, I say this baby has paid for itself and then some. At this point, with the amount of work I’ve put it through, I can safely say that my Shuttr has earned its keep.

Honestly, folks, this nifty tool really revolutionized my blog photo taking. Before, I needed someone else snapping my pics and that was always so inconvenient and I hated having to depend on others. Then I thought I had it beat with those timer apps. But the best ones I found require you to wait for the countdown and/or clap to activate and doing either really takes away from the authenticity of the smile/pose. The Shuttr allows me to perfect that pose and snap at will.

It’s also saved me tons of money. Before I found the Shuttr, I was all set to plunk down some serious cash for an actual camera with its own remote – a good $500 – but let’s face it: my blog is not now and never will be a money-maker and spending that kind of cash is just cray-cray. Think of all the shoes I could (and did) buy with that?

If your a hobby blogger like me and use your phone for pics, I say this will be the best investment you will ever make. Go forth and order. And tell Kevin that I sent ya! 😜

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HGB :: Longchamp Large Le Pliage Tote


Last summer, right before the end of my 7-week stint at Yale, KS #1 and I went shopping to take advantage of tax-free weekend in Massachusetts. Apparently, this magical time happens once a year, ostensibly to give parents a break as they shop for back-to-school stuff. (However, after a brief Google search, I couldn’t really find hard evidence that supports this reasoning. Anyone in MA wanna chime in on this?)

I’d already lived a pretty ascetic existence, the camp experience not being conducive at all to leisure, fashion or shopping, so both my psyche and my pocketbook were raring to go. Thus, it was with very little remorse that I made my first (and probably only) deliberate purchase of a fancy shmancy bag.

Now, I’ve previously maintained that women are divided into two main camps. There are your purse connoisseurs and there are your shoe mavens and never the twain shall meet (unless, of course, you’re independently wealthy or have a Mr. Moneybags that can supply you with both). I count myself in the latter camp and really couldn’t be bovvered with brand name bags. Why spend hundreds of dollars on a single Kate Spade when a $34.99 Merona bag at Target ferries my stuff to and fro quite adequately? My money is better spent buying more shoes.

But today’s HGB proves me wrong every day that I tote it around. The Longchamp Le Pliage is apparently the de rigeur bag in the New England area, primarily because it’s au courant and weather resistant at the same time. And I can attest to the latter. Sure, we don’t get squalls and gales in SoCal, but there has been many a time this school year when I’ve either dumped an entire water bottle’s worth of liquid in this bag or have gotten coffee splashed on it. A quick emptying and hanging over the tub, and this bag is still as good as new.

I also love the size of it. Longchamp makes this particular style in several sizes but the large suits me and my 15-inch Macbook Pro to a tee. When I finally surrendered my ancient PC to home computer status and switched over exclusively to the Macbook assigned to me by the school, this bag became a true workhorse. It not just transports my technologies (laptop, battery, cord and all), it also carries my lunch, aforementioned water bottle, silent reading novel du jour, makeup bag, foldable travel flats and other work detritus I manage to acquire within the course of a week. And because it’s PVC-coated nylon, Le Pliage doesn’t add pounds to my total carrying weight, making it easy on the shoulders.

My only quibble about this bag is its lack of compartments besides the barely adequate interior wall pocket that doesn’t hold a thing. But I suppose this is what makes it so lightweight and portable (did I mention you can fold this sucker into a nifty little envelope when not in use?).

So was it worth the $145 I spent last August? Well, if you subscribe to the whole cost-per-wear philosophy, and I’ve used this tote for 185 school days, then I guess a free bag is a pretty darned amazing investment.

P.S. I bought mine in the slate color shown here but I’m thinking of purchasing a back-up bag. Should I get red, gunmetal, lemon, or navy?!

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HGB :: Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Toner

tonerBefore KS#1 got a hold of me and taught me the ways, before I started blogging and had to care about grooming as well as clothing, BFF introduced me to the amazing Beauty Bible by Paula Begoun. The blurb on Amazon explains the premise of the book quite handily so I’ll skip the description and share instead my personal takeaway from having read it: a clearer understanding of what to put and what not to put on my face to preserve my skin as best as I can without resorting to surgery.

At the time, I was primarily concerned with cleansing and moisturizing and protecting. I was nearing forty and beginning to notice The Signs. (Previous to this, I was washing my face in the shower with whatever my body wash du jour, moisturizing with perfumed hand lotions and leaving the house bare-faced with no thought to sunscreen or antioxidants. Hell, I didn’t even know what an antioxidant was!)

My parameters were very specific, however. Yes, I wanted the best product for my skin (dry to very dry and prone to eczema) but I also didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg for very little. I also didn’t want to have to plan a special trip to the mall to procure the goods; I needed them easily accessible, preferably online.

And at the risk of sounding like a sucker or a secret promoter (which I’m not), I ended up choosing Paula’s own facial beauty products, specifically items from the Skin Recovery line. I’ve been using them now for over four years and I can safely say that they are totally HGB.

Today, I want to highlight the toner, which is Step 1 of my regimen. I don’t actually use Paula’s cleanser (I’ve talked about my choice of that here) so if you choose to invest, this will probably be your Step 2. Anyhow, I absolutely adore this toner because it’s odorless, refreshing and non-drying. You know that skin-tightening feeling you got using those astringent high school staples? Well, you get none of that with Paula’s Skin Recovery Toner. Also, not only does it make your face feel extra special clean and supple after application, it also feels as if it firms up my face as well.  It really is a miracle in a bottle.

Speaking of bottles, a little goes a long way. I can keep an entire 6oz. going for a good 4-5 months, and that’s using it everyday and applying liberally into an absorbent cotton swab. And when I run out, it’s just a matter of reordering online direct from Paula’s website.

At $18 a bottle, it’s already a steal, but if you wait for the frequent sales and free shipping offers, it really becomes a deal you can’t afford to pass up. I usually stock up on several bottles when these come rolling around.

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HGB :: Harney & Sons tea


It’s been a while since we’ve had an HGB feature and today, we shall attempt to rectify that oversight.

Since I’ve already talked about kettles and tea infusers, I think it’s high time we talk about the tea itself. Now, I may not be a true tea afficionado – I never heat my pot; I always oversteep or understeep; I use an obscene amount of creamer – but I know what I like. And I unabashedly, unflinchingly, unfailingly love Harney & Sons flavored teas.

I discovered this company at – of all places – my older sister’s baby shower over a decade ago. The party was hosted by her best friend who ended the usual baby shower festivities by opening up a beautiful box filled with these elegantly packaged sachets. I couldn’t quite decide which flavor I wanted to try but ultimately settled on Pomegranate Oolong. Previous to that day, I had been an indifferent tea drinker, but upon making myself a cup, I was transported. It was a burst of unimaginable flavor in my mouth. My taste buds were literally dancing with rapture.

Yes, it was that good.

Sadly, at the time I was a newlywed/neophyte teacher/twenty-something and I couldn’t be bothered/afford/remember to investigate the tea. It would be another five years before I’d rediscover Harney & Sons and place my first online order. (Back then, it was sold only online but I’ve since discovered that Target now carries some varieties). Now, of course, I’m thoroughly hooked and wouldn’t even consider drinking any other kind. I usually buy in bulk when H&S has their infrequent % off sales.

I have tried many of their offerings but I always end up in the flavored tea section. My tried-and-true faves, in no particular order are: Pomegranate Oolong, Florence, Tower of London, Hot Cinnamon Spice and SoHo. I highly recommend these. I also highly recommend H&S because of their amazing customer service (free ship on orders $50+ and carefully packaged items) and their phenomenal variety. Don’t have an infuser? Buy the sachets. Love a particular flavor? Grab a pound bag of the loose leaf. Wanna sample before you commit? Most flavors offer sample packs for $2 and it’s enough for at least 3 cups.

I am not being paid or endorsed by Harney & Sons, which shows you how terrific I think they are that I’m waxing so ecstatically over them. There may be other tea companies out there – Brit friends wanna chime in? – but I think I’ll remain a loyal H&S fan for a long, long time.


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