mom who works

the joys and challenges of being a working mom trying to find "balance"

Apple Pay is the killer app for Apple Watch September 4, 2015

Filed under: general,organization & productivity — Deborah @ 9:19 am
Tags: , , ,

apple watch apple payI’m now 6 weeks into my Apple Watch love affair and our relationship just keeps deepening. Perhaps most surprising to me, however, as the initial glow wears off and we start to develop a more entwined and symbiotic relationship, is how Apple Pay has really become the Apple Watch’s killer app.

As I mentioned previously, I’m usually one to try new things – not early adopter per se but right on the tail end of that mindset. When Apple launched Apple Pay on iPhone, I was all excited to get my cards loaded in and start using it. Unfortunately, the fact that it takes the same effort to root through my purse to find my phone as my wallet (actually my wallet is bigger so it’s easier to find!), and I never quite figured out how to make it work seamlessly by touching my phone to the credit card terminal, I rarely, if ever, ended up using it in real life.

disney magic bandWith Watch though, it’s AMAZING! If you’ve been to a Disney park since they launched Magic Bands you’ll know exactly what I mean. You wear the Magic Band on your wrist and it serves as your room key, park ticket, and digital wallet – you just wave the band at the terminal anywhere on property to buy food, gifts, services, everything. With Apple Pay on Apple Watch, its like having a Magic Band for your real (i.e. non- Disney) life.

Now, as I’m heading to the checkout line, I don’t need to root through my purse to find ANYTHING. I just quickly double tap the side button on the Watch  (the longish button below the digital crown) to open Passbook, and hold my wrist up to the terminal. Payment is seamless, instant and secure. I’ve seen a few cashiers’ mouths drop open when I do this, which always makes for an interesting quick conversation.

apple pay on watchFor security, you do have to load your credit cards on the Watch app separately from the cards on your iPhone (although your other Passbook cards, like frequent buyer cards and coupons will sync to Watch if you have Mirror My iPhone selected in the Passbook app under Watch). You can select your default card on the Passbook app as well (and it can be different than the one on your iPhone). You also should have your Watch set with a passcode if it’s off your wrist if you are planning on loading cards to your Watch. But once that’s done, you are good to go! You too can impress your local cashiers.

What do you think? Is Apple Pay the killer app is for Apple Watch? Let me know in the comments!


A real-person’s view of the Apple Watch August 5, 2015

apple watchFULL DISCLOSURE – My lovely hubby and daughter got me an Apple Watch for my birthday a few weeks ago, and I LOVE it. I’m not a fashionista, and I’m not a tech guru, just a busy working mom with a slight tilt toward early adoption (not the type of bleeding edge where I will wait in line for hours to be the first to get the latest gadget, but I’m open and willing to try new things). This is not an in-depth review of the Watch, but instead my thoughts about it after using it in the real world for a few weeks.

Activity Tracking

My initial impetus for wanting an Apple Watch in the first place was for the fitness tracking – I have to admit I just hate the look of the typical FitBit wristband that just screams “I’m trying to get in shape” to everyone who sees the black plastic lump on your wrist. I had actually resigned myself to the FitBit One, which I at least could hide somewhere under my clothes, because I just couldn’t justify spending US $600+ on an Apple Watch. Lucky for me, hubby justified it in the name of my birthday!

And as far as the fitness and activity tracking goes, I’ve been thrilled with it! The built-in Activity and Workout apps (they get “turned on” on your iPhone when you first pair your watch to it) offer all a desk-bound mom with no time to work out needs to get off her behind and start moving. They track your general activity (i.e. steps), how much you stand during the day, and your exercise (moving at a quicker pace/heartbeat then normal walking). And darn it, I WANT to get those little achievement awards! I’ve already lost 2 pounds in 2 weeks, just through the Watch prodding me to move a bit more.

Customization and Style

One of the other things I am really enjoying about the Watch is the customization. apple watch simpleThe Watch comes with 9 standard watch faces, but with most of those you have an infinite number of additional customizations you can make, and what’s great is you can save them as well.

For example, for the Simple face, which, as its name implies, is pretty simple, I have several iterations saved that I can call up depending on what color outfit I’m wearing. I frequently wear Mickey Mouse on the weekends, and while we were recently experiencing a blue moon I was wearing the Astronomy face to track the moon’s phases.

As a *girl,* I love being able to customize my watch to match what I’m wearing. Both in terms of the watch face but also in terms of the band, which is so simple and easy to remove and replace (just one small button on each end of the underside of the watch). My Watch is the Stainless Steel with the Milanese Loop band. I’m so glad hubs chose that instead of the Sport watch, and let me tell you why. I’ve found great aftermarket Sport-type rubber bands for Watch that you would never know are not the real thing, but the third-party aftermarket Milanese loop or other stainless steel bands leave something to be desired. Apple has made much about the materials they’ve used with Watch, and they’re right. The quality of the leather and stainless Apple bands I’ve seen is really nice, but when I can get a Sport-like flurolastimer band for $4 that looks like the real thing (vs. $49 at Apple), I’m in. I’ve already purchased 2 colors of the MoKo band, and I may just get each one at that price!

Apple Pay

I’ve tried a few times to use Apple Pay on my iPhone and in all honesty, it’s just as clunky to pull out my phone from my purse and fiddle with Passbook as it is for me to pull out my wallet and fiddle with my debit card. Other than the security aspect, I haven’t found using Apple Pay on iPhone to be worth the trouble most of the time. On Watch, however, it’s a much more elegant, seamless and enjoyable experience.

The credit cards on your iPhone passbook don’t sync with your Watch, so you do have to set them up separately. Once they are set up, though, using Apple Pay is as simple as tapping the button on the side of the Watch (the one below the digital crown), and gently holding your wrist above the card reader. That’s it. I’m actively LOOKING for places to use it now because it’s just so much simpler and easier that digging in the black hole that’s my purse for my phone OR wallet.

Connecting by Disconnecting

One of the most surprising aspects in using the Watch, however, is how it’s actually allowing me to put my phone DOWN for a change. I’ve set up my Notifications so that I’m only getting the gentle wrist tap and *ping* for VIP emails and certain text messages, and as a result, I find I don’t need to constantly look at my phone anymore. I can leave it in my purse or on my desk, and know that if it’s important, Watch will tell me.

Another unintended benefit is that I almost never can hear my phone ring when it’s in my purse, but Watch taps me to let me know when a call is coming in, and with a quick glance at my wrist (rather than fishing through my ever-expanding bag) I can see if it’s something I need to answer right away or can let go to voicemail.

As a result, I can relax more, knowing that Watch will let me know when I need to pay attention to my phone, rather than feeling like I have to constantly check and recheck it just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. In the end, adding this subtle, wearable tech has allowed me to let go of more intrusive tech.

And this is really the most important benefit of Apple Watch, but it’s also one that is hard to explain. It is really transformative once you experience it. One of the most thoughtful reviews on this that I’ve seen is Ben Bajarin’s My First Week with the Apple Watch on Techpinions. He really nails the experience with Notifications that I’ve had as well, just in a much more eloquent and tech-savvy way.

Thinking about the Watch, or not? Let me know in the comments below!


Organization for the nail polish obsessed April 15, 2013

Never in a million years did I think I would own so many nail polishes. But once my collection got over 20, I realized I needed to find a way to keep track of what colors I had so I could avoid purchasing duplicates and just because I’m kind of an organized person anyway it just seemed like something I needed to do.


So I started first with a spreadsheet. I chose to include columns such as Brand, Color Name, Collection, Year, LE (Limited Edition), Color Family, Color Tone, Formula, Untried?, Swatch (link to a photo of my swatch on Google Drive), and Others in Collection I Don’t Have.

I save this out to my Google Drive, in a folder aptly titled “Nails” which includes the aforementioned photographs, as well as another spreadsheet I keep with my base coat/top coat experiment (that’s a different post altogether).

Nail Polish Spreadsheet

The spreadsheet works great for keeping lots of detail about polishes, and for quickly sorting by brand or by color. But it’s not great in terms of seeing at a glance what the colors are, or what colors go good with other colors in terms of mani-pedi combos, etc. So for that I turned to swatch spoons.


I love these clear plastic swatch spoons. You can find them in packs of 50 on Ebay from a number of different sellers for less than $10 a package. I purchased mine from sunwebhome, who I would recommend, although I don’t know that they always have these available. Price is good, communication is good, the only thing is these are shipped straight from China so it can take several weeks to receive them. You can search on words like “nail art tips stick polish” to see what’s out there.

swatch spoons pink red orangeswatch spoons green blue brown grey black

The first thing I do when I bring home a new polish is paint the swatch spoon. I always do two coats, and top it with one of my less preferred top coats for protection and to give the look that I would expect to see on the nail. I now have these organized on large, 2-inch binder rings by color family – whites and pinks, reds/oranges/vamps, blues and greens, purples/greys/blacks. It allows me to quickly flip through and “test” a color on my nail or as a mani-pedi combination.


Nail Polish App screenshotFinally, for the best of both worlds on the go, I recently downloaded the FREE Nail Polish Book app for iPhone.

This app is AWESOME. It allows you to sort quickly by brand, name, color or collection. You can “flip” though the photographs just like many of the carousel-like photo apps you’ll find for iPhone, and you can even search by name, brand or collection. This is invaluable when you’re at the store considering a purchase, and aren’t sure if you’ve purchased that color before or if you have a dupe already.

I actually just upload my swatch photos (the ones I keep in my Google Drive), rather than bottle shots, so I can see how it looks with my skintone. I tend to take the photo with my iPhone anyway, so it is a quick and easy step to just add the photo from my Photo library into the Nail Polish Book.

So those are some of the tools and tricks I use to try to keep organized with this fun hobby. How about you? What kinds of things do you do to keep organized?


Swatch spoons! July 8, 2012

Filed under: beauty,organization & productivity — Deborah @ 8:14 am
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swatch spoons pink red orange

swatch spoons green blue brown grey black

I finally got my clear swatch spoons, and as it so happens, I had a free hour and a half hanging out with my daughter to swatch my polishes. I was able to swatch out everything I currently have, and I’ve even prepped blank spoons with labels for the ones that I am waiting for in nail mail (and for the Fall 2012 Chanel arrivals at my local Chanel counter next week). I only have about 50 polishes at the moment, and my “philosophy,” if you can have such a thing, is to avoid having color duplicates in my stash, for the most part anyway. We’ll see how well my resolve holds up as Chanel introduces their new colors. It’s definitely not my goal to just have lots of polish, but I will actually admit here that I am a huge Chanel collector, so that may be the only brand that I may be tempted to purchase most, if not all, of the polishes as they are released.

Anyway, it feels good to have these as a tool, not only for reference and choosing a particular mani or pedi color, but also for future color comparisons. What about you? Do you swatch your stash or just let it grow organically?


Meal planning made MUCH easier! March 1, 2012

Filed under: food,organization & productivity — Deborah @ 5:23 pm
Tags: , ,

PlanToEat.comI’ve been on a quest to try to simplify meal planning, as it is critical for getting my family to eat healthier (otherwise it’s burgers and pizzas all week kids!). There are tons and tons of resources out there, but one that has been really useful for me is this great web site –

Add or upload your recipes. Then select what you want to eat that week (or 3 days, or month!) and the site automatically generates a shopping list from your ingredients. Now I know there are plenty of software programs that do just that (I think I have 2 or 3 of them on my Mac at home right now), but what is GENIUS about PlanToEat is that it’s cloud-based, so you have access to your recipes, planner and shopping list from ANYWHERE. At the store and there’s a great sale on eggplant? Pull up your smartphone and search “eggplant” and get a list of your recipes that include that ingredient, then select the recipe you want and voila! The ingredients are added to your on-the-fly shopping list.

Another great feature is the “Save Recipe” plug in (I have it for Firefox, not sure if it’s available for other browsers). Find an interesting new recipe on a site like or Just hit the Save Recipe link on your bookmark bar and PTE automatically loads it into your recipe database. Like I said, GENIUS, and it works really really well. I’ve been using it now for about 6 months and I have to say that I am a permanent re-subscriber. Just the amount of money I save from the unplanned restaurant trips (because there’s nothing at home for dinner) more than pays for the $39 annual subscription (or $4.95/month). has a 30-day free trial so you’ve got nothing to lose by giving it a whirl. I’m all about making it easy for the peeps out there … plan away!

I am not sponsored by (or anyone else for that matter), and received no compensation whatsoever for this post. PlanToEat doesn’t even know who I am!


Organizing Checklists Everyone Should Have — 5 Best Lists June 23, 2011

The summer travel season is upon us, and I found this collection of checklists really helpful from Lorrie Marrero, guru of The Clutter Diet . I am always looking for ways to get more organized. Thanks Lorrie!


5 Tips for Healthful Meal Planning March 14, 2011

In continuing the theme from my previous post on Eating Healthfully, I’m posting 5 more TIPS for HEALTHFUL MEAL PLANNING, especially for other busy Moms Who Work.


For me, planning time is in the quiet of Saturday morning before everyone else is up. I usually will do my grocery shopping for the week on Saturday or Sunday morning.

The actual planning process will take some time as you start getting used to the idea of meal planning, so make sure you don’t quit just because it seems to take an hour or so at first. It WILL get easier and faster as you start building up a cache of standby recipes you can recycle over the month. Just find a *mostly* regular time that works for you – plan on an hour as you begin – and try to stick with it as best as your schedule allows.

As an example, when I first started this, I would sit with all my “Eating Clean” cookbooks and flip through pages looking for ideas. Then, as we started trying our new clean meals, I quickly learned what ones were well liked, what ones were okay, and what ones we didn’t want to eat again. I now have about 15 core meals that I rotate every other week, with a few new ones each week thrown in. In addition, I find my grocery list is a bit shorter because I now keep on hand most of the new “clean” staples needed for most of these recipes.

Fridge Meal Planner

Image courtesy of


I discovered, quite by accident while passing by the clearance rack at Target, a great “meal planning” magnetic whiteboard/grocery list combo that sadly is no longer available. I am searching out suitable replacements and will post here, but so far no luck. This works for me because it’s fits comfortably on my fridge and leaves plenty of room for lunch/dinner and “notes” for all 7 days.

For some, it may make more sense to track on your computer, or a notepad, or paper wall calendar. You could design a form on your computer and print out a new one every week. It doesn’t matter WHAT you use, it just matters that you find a tool that you’re most comfortable with so you’ll USE it.


This has helped me tremendously. Some advocate doing all your cooking for the week on Sunday. While I do a fair amount of prep and cooking on Sunday (usually in the morning, after I’ve done the shopping), I like to spend some time relaxing too. So to make this work, I will often split up prep across the week.

For example, later this week I’ve planned for a hearty veggie and meat chili. My recipe requires a head of roasted garlic, which I roasted last night at the same time I roasted some sweet potatoes (to be mashed for dinner tonight – more pre-prep). Now tonight, as I am preparing dinner (a simple dinner of pan seared center-cut pork chops with the mashed sweet potatoes and some roasted brussels sprouts), I will also prep the vegetables needed for the chili, and if I have time, even make the chili tonight. In either case, I will either have the chili ready to go for tomorrow night or all the vegetable prep done so it will come together very quickly tomorrow.

None of this would work, however, if I hadn’t planned our meals out for the week (or at least, the work week). See how this all comes together? It’s the only way I’ve found, short of hiring a personal live-in chef, to ensure that you can have healthy, home-cooked meals with a minimum of stress and frustration.


Whenever you can, purchase as many small, single-serving size food storage containers as your cabinets will hold. I like containers that hold 10-13 ounces, which are small enough for a single serving of lots of things, but still provide room for expansion in the freezer.

Using the chili mentioned above as an example, I will be making a batch that serves 8-10. There are three of us, which means that there will be at least 4 -5 extra servings of chili leftover. Once dinner is finished I will immediately portion out the leftovers into the individual serving sizes, label the contents and date with an Avery Removable label and stick in the freezer. Instant, no-hassle lunch.

This also works with component ingredients, too. For example, I have a recipe for a stuffed pork tenderloin that requires cooked broccoli. If I plan right, I can save some leftover cooked broccoli from a earlier dinner for my pork stuffing later in the week.


All the planning in the world can sometimes be for naught if life throws you a curveball or two, although hopefully you’ve built in some backup and flexibility to handle those inevitabilities.  Just in case, however, I always like to keep one of the drawers in my office desk stocked with some emergency snacks, including a small container of natural almond or peanut butter, a box of Ry-Vita crackers, a selection of teas, and a small zipper bag or two of raw unsalted almonds or cashews. Dried fruit is also great to keep on hand and lasts well. I also always keep emergency almonds in my purse, and they have come in handy more than once. The Almond Board has cute almond tins for next to nothing that keep your emergency snack fresh.

If you are committed to eating clean, healthful meals, you need to commit to the time to make it work. It’s too easy to slip back into takeout convenience. Plan for your eating clean success and your body will be grateful.