Saturday, May 27, 2017

**REVIEW** Merrell Women's Jungle Moc Slip-On

Before I start this review, I'm going to repeat a couple of things. Things you guys are probably SO tired of hearing:

  1. I have bad feet.
  2. I am about to be traveling
Okay. Got it out of my system. I didn't say point out either of those things to be annoying; they are actually pertinent to this review.

My best sneakers (tennis shoes, or whatever you want to call my Sketchers) finally broke down. The wear and tear a fat person can put on shoes in incredible. I can say this because I am fat. My fat is due to medications (mostly) but, whatever the deal, I am fat. I am a fatty mac fat-fat (as one of my nieces and I often say jokingly).

This all meant that I am going to be the fat chick on the plane, wearing my gut-tucking tank top under my shirt so that I look a little less chunky. 

I am going to be the chick huffing my way through the airport, praying that my boarding gates are close to security so that I don't break out in sweats the way we fat people tend to do when under strain, stress, or the slightest exertion.

I will definitely be the fat lady who's glaring at all the well-proportioned ladies who aren't  having the fat sweats. Like it's their fault that I'm packing around these extra pounds. (Thank goodness that I'm not so fat that an airplane seat is uncomfortable. That's a big deal with me.)

Now, I can't do anything about this fat situation in time for the trip, but I was determined to do something about my feet. Or, rather, my shoes.

My Sketchers were very comfortable, but they only lasted about a year. Now, no matter how many comfy insoles I stuff inside them, there is no denying that the shoes just aren't great for prolonged periods of walking. Plus, adding insoles only makes the shoes fit too tight for comfort. Kind of defeats the purpose, right?

So... I went shoe shopping the other week. I found some affordable shoes that weren't comfortable. I found some sort of comfy shoes that weren't affordable. Then a friend told me about a shoe that she prefers.

Merrell Jungle Moc
That's a pair of Merrell Women's Jungle Moc Slip-ons.

It's not a bad-looking shoe, but all I care about at this point is how comfortable they are. And, actually, it's an ugly shoe unless you have really petite feet - not these big ol' size 8 dawgs I have. (Even my feet spread when I gained this weight. I've gone from a 7 to a 7.5 to a, depending on the shoe, an 8.)

Since I will be gone from Anchorage before my birthday next month, my friend decided to early gift me some of these Merrell's. So we go to the shop where she usually gets hers. She ordered me not to look at the price tags, just to pick a color. I chose a tan pair and ask the clerk to bring me a Size 8 to try. My friend nudged me and told the clerk to bring out a Size 9 also. 

"Just in case," she said.

 "Just in case of what?" 

"I'll bring them both right out," the clerk told us.

Of course, I tried on the Size 8's first. They fit. If I held my breath and scrunched my toes under. The shoes felt like a Size 6.6 or maybe a narrow 7. 

Image result for Merrell Women's Jungle Moc Slip On

"They just tend to fit small," the clerk said, She was trying to be nice, but I wanted to kick her. My feet hurt too bad though.

I tried on the Size 9's. They did fit. They were a bit tight but I didn't have to do toe contortions or hold back tears. 

Both the clerk and my friend said that the shoes would fit even better after some wear. According to them, the shoe loosens up and "becomes custom-like". Noticing that the shoe was suede, this sounded true to me.  But, since I had to get a 9, I switched from the tan to black, hoping the color would make my feet look smaller. They didn't. Not really.

As vain as I can sometimes be, I did consider trying on a Size 9.5 but the clerk and my friend said that wouldn't be good. Because these shoes should break in to better fit my feet. A larger size, they both insisted, would not be a good idea in the long run. 

I walked around, testing out the shoes while my friend took care of the bill. They were lots comfier than my broken down and beat up Sketchers. 

Basically, I can tell you that the best feature of these shoes is the nice thick sole. On the other hand, they tend to feel heavy. Sturdy, yes, but heavy. The soles are very comfortable, but the fit remains tight after two weeks of wear. 

What I realized after I'd worn them outside (making them non-returnable) is that outside upper of the shoe is suede. The inner part of the upper is synthetic. Synthetic might stretch - after a TON of wear, but for now, the shoe is still snug. (By the way, there is a sneaky reason that most shoe stores have carpeting!)

If it weren't for the comfort of the insole, I would hate these shoes.  They are heavy and I'm going to have to work hard to break them in. Also, these are not true "slip-on" shoes. The fit is too tight for you to simply slip these on. After the first week, they are easier to put on, but I still can't just slip into them like I could regular Crocs or moccasins. 

Since these were a gift, I really didn't think to look at the price while my friend and I were in the store. I thought that they cost around $40 to maybe, just maybe, $60. When I was checked so that I could write a review, I discovered that the price is $80. I almost cried. For $80, I want to love these shoes. And perhaps I will, in time. For now, I just kind of like them. They are better than my raggedy Sketchers.

I'm so grateful to have friends thoughtful enough to really care about my needs. My friend could have just gone and picked out some random and nice gift, but she seriously considered what I needed. Talk about being blessed with good people in my life!

Because we are friends, I was honest with her about the shoes. She still thinks that I am going to love them by the time I travel. She has her pair and two other styles from the brand and swears she won't go out of her way to buy anything else. So there is hope for me with these shoes. Still, the next time I shoe shop, I'm going back to some Sketchers or some other affordable brand.

Summing things up:
Pros -
  • Thick sole
  • Thick insole
  • Suede exterior outer
  • Should take a lot of wear (even for heavy people)
  • Fairly comfortable
Cons -
  • Pricey - in-store or online, doesn't matter.
  • Runs very small & tight. A women's 9 feels like a large 7 or small 8
  • The heel grip is very tight 
  • Synthetic interior upper
  • Heavy. More clunky with a work-boot feel than a slip-on
  • Doesn't really 'slip on' due to tight fit
  • Have to break the shoe in and part is synthetic
  • Price!
  • Price!
Despite my friend's extreme love of this shoe (and my mild liking), I think these are very overrated. Maybe it's because they are pricey and that's what some people like? Maybe in a few more weeks, my pair will be broken in and better fitting, but that is just too much work for such a pricey shoe.

Merrell shoes are, I believe, a brand people either love or hate. Until the shoes get broken in, I don't think there is much in between. 


Friday, May 19, 2017

**REVIEW** Windows 10 Creators Update

There was a lot of buzz about this last year:

Image result for windows creators update

It's no longer on the way. It's here.

By the way, I kind of need this to be an open letter/apology to Microsoft but I'm embarrassed at my own ineptness. Let me explain:

I am part of the Windows Insiders Program (don't ask me how or why I got myself signed into that). In general, this is kind of cool because I get to preview different Windows products. It's when I get down to specifically using some of the products that there are problems. And this is not always (or even mostly) because of the product. I take the blame for 99% of my frustrations. No, that's not entirely true. What I blame is my cognitive confusion. Some of you know that I struggle with this issue but, when I tell you about my experience with the MS update, you might really start to understand the "cognitive confusion" impacts me on a daily basis.

(Consider this post a sort of "Dummies View Review" if you will!)

Yesterday, I got a reminder that I was eligible to update to the Creators version of Windows. That reminder was very clear and precise but all my brain picked up on at the time was "update". When I hit the button to install, I was expecting the usual security updates that we've all been seeing so much of the past several days. I figured the update had something to do with all the malware and PC attacks. Now, I did briefly flash on the "Creators" part of the wording, but ~shrug~. Here are the highlights of getting the update and then using it.

Takes a while to download/install. Quite a while

I was doing some packing and cleaning for my upcoming move so I didn't pay attention to my PC once the updated started. After about an hour, though, I glanced over and noticed that the install was still running (and was only at about 35% or something like that). That struck me as a little odd, but I still shrugged it off.

Now, remember that I've also been having serious cell phone problems. The dang thing shuts down and restarts whenever it feels like it, regardless of what I might be using the phone for. All my family and close friends are no longer surprised when our calls drop or I just sort of disappear in the middle of a text conversation. (I think this all has to do with a software update that got interrupted). That's not really important, but I want you to realize that I was dealing with my phone for the next half hour or so. I forgot all about the computer and the Windows update.

Almost 2 hours go by before the update is finished. That's when I realize this was no ordinary update.

I get a Welcome screen and an offer from Cortana to help set up. Unfortunately, my phone did something strange (or maybe just stranger than usual) and started making a long uninterrupted buzzing noise. I had to deal with that and by the time I finished, my PC had shut down. I restarted and that's when I realized I had something more than the usual update.

The Edge browser is a lot cooler than before.

The first thing I see is the new and improved Edge (browser) page. And I like it. The look is very Chrome-looking and I prefer the look of Edge to Chrome.

(By the way, one thing that hasn't changed is that Edge still has the ugly Internet Explorer icon. Ugh.)

Edge was kind of nice pre-update but I liked Chrome too much to swap out. Now, I would totally use Edge on a regular basis. Except for one thing.

Changing cookie options is... impossible?

At least they are in my experience.

Since Edge had such a nice look (and all my Chrome bookmarks were transferred over - from when I tried out the original Edge), I was excited to use it. I came straight here to my Blogger login page and... Could not sign in. I was being prompted to allow cookies, but there is no way (that I can see) to do so.


While I'm thinking of it, here is what I saw as an intro to the new and improved Edge browser:

I skipped dealing with any cookie-required sites and just played around with the Edge default Home Page. It's not that bad. Matter of fact, I really do like just about everything in the new browser (except for that cookie situation!). Some highlights of Edge that I love - really, really love:

Set aside tabs to get back to

At the click of a button, I can set aside tabs to look at later. This is more useful than it sounds. With Chrome, when I am using a bunch of tabs, I will separate certain ones by opening them in a new window. That doesn't seem like a bad solution, but I have a tricky brain. If I am working on a story and doing research, I don't like sorting through all the various windows I have opened.

With this feature, I can scroll through the different saved tabs at the top of my screen. When I click on the one that I need at that moment, it drops down as the viewing page. (Hope that made sense to you all...)

Read eBooks in the browser & Create a "reading list"

I haven't really played with eBooks feature, but I can tell you that it looks useful. I do like the"reading list". It's in a pane right there alongside the eBooks you've got and then the usual links to of  Favorites, Downloads, and History.

Edge matches up well with Chrome. There are extensions (like in Chrome), a translation feature and, of course, importing of bookmarks.


Other things to with and in Edge:

  • There's a "reading view" to shut out visual distractions. LOVE this.
  • Get desktop notifications from certain sites (ex: Facebook, Skype)
  • Cast your content to other devices
  • Click/highlight to get more info from Cortana on a subject without leaving the page you're browsing.
  • Get access to your MS Office files (useful for me since I use Word for manuscripts)
  • Though I've used the Web Clipper feature for months, in Edge, I can make and share web notes.
  • Pinterest lovers will love being able to share to the site.
There are lots more features for me to play with and learn about, but I think I covered the highlights.

Not just the browser was updated...

I was having so much fun checking out Edge that I forgot about everything else to do with the update. It wasn't until I was connecting my Bluetooth headset to the PC that I noticed another excellent change.

During the day, I tend to swap my headset between my phone and PC. Before now, it was such a hassle to connect to the PC. There was lag everytime I tried connecting and I'd usually have to turn the headset Off and back On before the PC would connect. This is solved:

Perfect! Just perfect.

It's one of the small but very appreciated improvements.

There's now a Paint 3D app. Not just Paint

I tend to use Pixlr for working with the product review photos I use on this blog. Or I will use the good old Paint app (which is what I used for the above photo about Bluetooth). However, I just noticed that there is a new app called Paint 3D.

I have no idea how to use the app yet, but I'm sure some folks will be excited to hear about it.

When I have more time (as in, when I'm not in the middle of trying to move), I will do a more in-depth review of the updated features. I hope this quick run-through was helpful to some of you.

Do sign up for the Insiders program. I wish I had more time to take part in the forums and quizzes. Maybe in a few months when I get settled. For now, here are some links to more information:


Thursday, May 11, 2017

**REVIEW** DIM (Di-indolyl Methane)

(I'm ahead enough with the packing that I could take a little time to post!)

You all know me. I will try just about anything (within reason) to improve my health and energy. I've tried some things that I initially liked but gave up on after awhile. It's like dieting: seeing results increases motivation. Out of about 15 supplements, vitamins, and other health-related things that I've reviewed, I continue to use some of, specifically:

  • Ceylon Cinnamon (I like to put it in my drinks)
  • Beetroot powder (and beetroot juices because I like the juice better than the powder)
  • Matcha tea (though I still don't like the taste and mask it in smoothies and foods)
  • Raw Honey & comb (and I have a couple of favorites that I will try never to be without)
  • Magnesium oil 
  • Most of my natural skincare oils (especially coconut, castor, and nearly all my essential oils)
  • I've slacked on using the super greens & wheat grass but only because of lack of money.)
  • Yacon syrup & Blackstrap molasses
As a matter of fact, I am shipping my oils and I made a list of other items that I plan to restock once I get moved and settled in a new place. Of course, I will have a kitchen of my own and room and time to make use of everything.

Back at the beginning of April, I started using a supplement that I plan to keep using. The reason I even tried it was because I'd heard it could help with menopausal symptoms and weight loss. It might actually do that - once I get back on my sensible eating/Keto plan - but that's not the result I'm experiencing. What I am experiencing is a lift in energy and mood.

Moving is stressful, number one. My reasons for moving were super stressful, number two. Then, of course, there is my struggle with fatigue due to health and required medications.

Honestly, I had no idea how I was going to manage the planning and packing, etc that comes with moving and a big life change. That's why I started so far in advance.

As soon as I started taking this supplement - and this is the particular brand I am using right now

- I could feel the boost of energy. Not a buzzing boost - like you get from coffee or an energy drink - but a definite surge. That was on Day One, Tablet One.

There are lots of different brands out there. Some brands are solely the Di-indolyl Methane and others add something other than the BioPerine (which is a black pepper extract). I picked this one because it had high reviews and was a 2-months supply for a good price.

After about three or four days (to the best of my poor memory), I was feeling a lot less of the general "blues" and those sneaky attacks of anxiety I'd been having. Understand that I was so stressed and depressed that I was having bouts of inner weeping and wailing. After about another week or so, I was actually able to get things done.

The one thing this doesn't alleviate (and I had no hopes that it would) are my general cognitive problems. I still struggle with keeping details and tasks straight in my head, and I have days when I feel as if I'm functioning with half my brain. But... I don't feel so crazily fatigued that I can't get anything done. Matter of fact, because I have to work so hard to get even basic tasks done, I count on the DIM to give me energy for perseverance.

As of today, I have finished most of the packing and other little tasks that come with planning a move, All I have left to do is sell the car - not something I plan to do until the last second!

The DIM has caused no side effects for me other than promoting more regular bowel movements. Sorry for the TMI, folks! Also, I tend to sleep a little bit better on most nights. I still have a bit of insomnia but I think that's just going to be a fact of life until things settle down for me.

Now, since I am no kind of medical professional, I am not recommending this to anyone. I am just reviewing MY results with DIM. You can do your own research and talk with your medical care team. I have to admit that I did only light research before I started using the DIM.

Like I said, I haven't experienced any weight loss with the DIM. Because it improves my general mood, I can believe that it does impact hormones. I'm post-menopausal and if I thought monthly PMS was bad... Hah! Menopause is like PMS without end.

So, along with the other natural and non-RX things that I use for my health, this is going to be a staple in my new home.