Category Archives: Shameless Promotions

Monday Listicles – The Scents of Well-Being

The one good thing about Mondays is that NorthWestMommy diligently offers up a new fan- influenced prompt, geared towards the positive aspects of existence. This week is 10 favorite smells. Like Ms NWM herself I tried to keep the list from representing all foodstuffs. Unlike her, well, you’ll see.

1. Fresh air. Not much of it around here. When I go to the mountains, even just the suburbs, I can sense the difference especially since it usually means more serene surroundings – since city life is as much soul-crushing as it is physically polluting. Fresh air works up the appetite for one thing. That leads me to the next one.

2. Barbecue. Yes I plainly see the irony of longing for and appreciating the outdoors, then polluting it just to get extra char on my burger/hot dog/ steak/ vegetables.

3. Dried flowers. the scent is as strong, if not longer lasting, than when they are in bloom. Except for honey suckles, which are wonderful when they are around. I do not have much exposure to actual full gardens (see #1).

4. Candles. Not just a source of mood lighting, many candles are scented, which can go along with a seasonal or intentional purpose. This is a tricky area, since candle scents can be overpowering or smell more like food than they really should. I have found that Crystal Journey candles are my favorites; clean light and refreshing, and if you are into meditating/ spiritual practices, you will likely find what you need here. Or get me something. Just puttin’ it out there.

5. Indian food/curry/basmati rice. Sure you can get that nice aroma from the cart food, or a divey little place in Curry Row NYC, but when you get those fresh ground seasonings in a nice rich gravy, accompanied by basmati rice with actual saffron, inhale deeply and you will reach a dreamy state. All this before you take the first bite!

6. Garlic/onions frying. This gears more towards my Italian roots. When I was younger, Sunday mornings usually meant waking up to this aroma wafting through the apartment. A good sauce takes time of course, and was an integral part of even bigger meals, like lasagna or stuffed shells. If it wasn’t our house cooking, then this was the first thing you would smell when walking into grandma’s house. Imagine if #4 came in this scent?!

7. Banana bread. I generally enjoy baking, and the aromas are great (especially when vanilla and/or brown sugar are ingredients!), but the smell of banana bread just seems to equal warmth. Pulling open a muffin is likeable to a blossoming flower.

8. Brewing tea. Whether it’s with regular leaves, green tea, spicy chai (see #5 for a 1-2 punch!), or ones blended with herbs like sage or rosemary, every aroma is clean and refreshing. Your senses will steep in the smells and the flavors.

9. Hugo cologne. I first bought this in college. I know, you grow up and move on to other scents, but this reminds me of my turtleneck sweaters and cold weather in general, as well as my more carefree days (ok that’s not completely true, college is stressful!) I never could wear it during warm weather. I always make sure to own even just a small bottle to wear from time to time.

10. Cats. When I bury my face in their cute fuzzy bellies, I get their scent. Then they wash themselves immediately afterwards since they have MY scent. Litter boxes- eh, not so much a fan of THAT part. Like babies, you wonder how something so cute can create something so diabolic. It’s the balance of nature; just keep repeating that to yourself as you clean it up. Or just burn a candle!


Filed under Life, Lists, Monday Listicles, Shameless Promotions, Writing

From A to Zamzee

So hurray for me, I won a Zamzee! Thank you, Ms. Mel!

Say what, BT? you probably asked. What is a Zamzee?

Something between a thumb drive, Just Dance and a Tomagotchi. Only YOU are the virtual pet.

Umm ok, you probably thought. Isn’t this for kids?

While it is geared towards the younger generation, who these days don’t have to walk 10 miles to school (uphill both ways, during snowstorms, even in summer),  responsible and active adults like you, yes YOU, *points at you* will find it useful. Also, Lionel Trains and baseball cards were meant for kids (once upon a time). Also also, we’re all kids at heart.

If you have a Zamzee, it’s pretty simple. Clip it on your belt, and head out into the wild blue yonder/infinity and beyond/get on board the Great Space Coaster. When you get back to your computer (or another that has the program installed) plug it in and see the points/minutes that you racked up!

There are no pressuring ‘calories burned’ counters, nor is your weight measured. There are challenges, but they are based on specific ‘points in this amount of time’ brackets (the descriptions for each challenge are creative and funny – particularly the one where you win a trip to London but Grampa says you better not think about it until that lawn gets mowed!). Pointz can be used for customizing your avatar, a little fella/lady who looks like you would, only 100% more cartoony (you get that from your father’s side).

Not everything about the Zamzee is virtual though! There are Zamz! Zamz are available as rewards for some of the more challenging challenges (quite defining!). You can also use Zamz to buy premium avatar items, but they also can get you ‘real’ prizes (not a Zamzee, since you already have one, duh). Different Zamzee ‘skins’, leopard print duct tape, smart phone apps, and even console video games -ones that incorporate exercise that is (Running from/blasting zombies and rocket-jumping are NOT exercises). You can even use your Zamz towards donations to different causes and charities! The exchange rate runs about 100 Zamz for a dollar, which in this economy is pretty good.

There are also Goalz, which are challenges set by people you know. If you ask for one, your ‘goal setter’ will put in an amount of real money (exchanged to Zams) and set the pointz you need to earn. Reach their goal and you win the Zamz!

Zamzee also has is social interaction in that when you upload pointz, you can choose a status from 3 rows of choices to make odd, but non-offensive heroic tales of exermasize. “Slapping nuns like a bully during a bank robbery” is not an option. Star Wars and Harry Potter references do exist, so they know what items SHOULD be there. There are also seasonal ‘options’, so you can see they like to keep current and fun. You can ‘like’ other Zamzeenians (?) statuses and add them as friends, but there is no direct contact. (you CAN upload to twitter as well, if you have that login information linked in your preferences). Other than that, there are no chat or email options; which further lend to the idea that you should be outside doing something, not sitting in front of a keyboard/staring at a smartphone.

So that’s a Zamzee. The big question though – is it fun to use?

It is! As I mentioned winning a contest earlier, what scored me this Zamzee was mentioning my daily routine of getting off the train one stop past my job, then walking back to it at the end of the day- that being one way I get a bit of exercise in each day. It’s not 10 miles, uphill both ways, but it takes 10-15 minutes each way (yes I have done it in snow and rain storms). I also take the stairs (>10 floors) if required/possible (which is inspired by at least one of four elevators being out all the time!). I’m steadily gaining points and Zams every day, and even manage to win some 15 and 20 minute challenges just during my lunch hour. I’ve already got my eye on the 6 hour challenge (150 Zamz) which I will take on during one of the upcoming NYC street fairs.

As I keep it clipped to my belt each day, it has become a habit, and *ding!* I figured it out; that’s the bottom line with Zamzee. To take each opportunity in your day to get moving and exercise. It’s geared towards kids and their potentially boundless energy, sure, but even grownups could find Zamzee fun and useful. If you have a desk job like me, it’s easy to fall into the habits and excuses of not exercising (planting and building stuff on your virtual farm are also not exercises). Of course Zamzee taps the competitive goals/reward spirit we all have, but at least you are out there and moving, not pestering long lost friends to help with your virtual barn raising.

Wonder how many pointz THAT would be?


Filed under Exercise, Life, Reviews, Shameless Promotions