Category Archives: Shopping

Winter running attire – 2020 edition

Winter is here and with it, the joy of cool weather running.  Since I’m still doing the stay-at-home mom gig, winter running has been much warmer so far.  Running in mid-morning gives me a good ten degrees over running at the crack of dawn, as I’ve done in past years.

While a cold gray day or rain makes it a lot harder to run, I think correct attire makes all the difference.  I can’t claim to know much about running at temperatures under 30 F, but for cold, gray rainy days, I feel like I’ve got things dialed in.

1.) Start by buying an indoor-outdoor thermometer.  Everyone is different in terms of attire preferences, but the best way to dial in your own choices are to at least know how warm or cold it is.  Online weather services are often off by up to five degrees, which is huge.  I received mine as a gift, but it looks a like like this one.   At this point, we have two indoor-outdoor thermometers, and I always look at it before dressing to go running.

50 F +

If it’s not raining or extremely windy, temperatures 50 and higher, even if it’s overcast, call for shorts and short sleeves.  Since motherhood, I mostly wear tight shorts, but any kind of shorts will do.

These shorts from Lululemon are have a pocket big enough for my phone at the back of the waist (where I prefer to carry it) and side pockets on the shorts for a key.  They’re quite stretchy.

For loose shorts, I’m a fan of Zoot.

I really like these short-sleeve Nike running tops.

If it’s rainy or windy, I add gloves and/or a very lightweight headband that I can take off once I warm up.

High 40s

If the temperature is in the high 40s, I consider switching to capri tights and will generally bring along a lightweight headband.  I prefer my Capri tights short – just below the knee, ideally.  Oiselle sells a number of “knickers” that meet this spec.

If it’s windy or rainy, I’ll probably switch to a long-sleeve half-zip top.  NOT quarter-zip, not one-third zip – a full half-zip, so I can unzip it fully if I get warm, which I usually do.  One of my pet peeves if retailers selling “half zip” tops that are really quarter zip.  A half zip top should unzip at least to the midpoint between the collar bone and belly button.  I love my Sugoi half zip tops, but unfortunately, they are no longer sold.  This Lululemon top meets all my specs – tru half zip, thumb sleeves, pockets (to store gloves and headband), not too short, too tight, or too long.

Low to mid 40s

Often, in the low 40s, capri tights plus a LS half zip top, gloves, and a headband are sufficient to keep me warm. However, if it’s raining or threatening rain, I sometimes like to wear a lightweight water-resistant vest and a hat with a brim, or a visor.  (I have a different lululemon vest that’s no longer sold – mine may be a bit more lightweight than this one.  The more lightweight, the better.)  Keeping the rain off my face makes a huge difference.

Around 40 degrees

At around 41 or 42, I switch to full-length tights.  I am a fan of the Epic Lux line by Nike.  Like Lululemon and Amazon, Nike has free shipping and, crucially, free returns.  I don’t remember paying this much for my Nike tights – maybe they’ve raised their prices?  It looks like they’ve added some pockets, so they’re not quite the same as the ones I own.

If it’s raining with the temperature around 40, I like to wear a super-lightweight Gore-tex jacket without a hood.  Vents a must-have feature.  The Patagonia jacket I own is still available on eBay, and if you live in a cool rainy climate, it’s a 1000% worth it.  Note that it comes in men’s and women’s sizes, so make sure you know which you’re buying.

Near 40 degrees, I like to add a more robust headband, like this one.  It’s a couple layers and makes a big difference.

Low to mid 30s

When the weather drops into the 30s, I like to switch to Sugoi MidZero tights.  Be careful to buy *mid*zero tights, not SubZero tights, which are for much colder temperatures.   Near 30 degrees, I might add a light layer over the tights if it feels particularly chilly due to wind or something like that.

In the 30s, I switch from a headband to a hat.

We rarely have temperatures below around 30.  If it gets that cold, I just stay home.

retail therapy

I engaged in a little retail therapy a couple weeks ago and bought this cashmere cardigan in gray from Madewell.  It is probably the most I’ve spent on a sweater, but I have not taken it off since it arrived.  I’ve worn it every single day.  It’s so comfortable!  And looks kind of OK / cute on my round, pregnant shape.

I finally broke down and bought a third pair of maternity pants, in addition to a blue pair of maternity chinos and black maternity leggings.  With my previous pregnancies, I was working in the office and needed to look semi-professional, so I never hesitated to spend on maternity-wear.  This time, I’ve been working from home, so I’ve been dressing like a ragamuffin in all manner of workout clothes, my husband’s clothes, etc.  But my belly is breaking the system down.  You can only wear maternity leggings so many days in a row.  I even invested in a second bra that actually fits.

sports bras

It seems like whenever I find a sports bra I like, it ends up becoming unavailable.  With pregnancy, the problem became a bit more pressing, so I ended up ordering a bunch of bras.  When I was younger and skinnier, I was an A cup, and I could wear basically any old sports bra worth its name.  I liked the champion ones you could buy for $20 on Amazon.  I put on some weight and became a B-cup, and needed a more supportive bra, but most moderately supportive bras worked for me.  Pregnancy and breastfeeding is a different story.  I’ve taken the two-bra route for breastfeeding in past, but it’s uncomfortable and not my favorite.

Currently, there are two bras that work for me:

New Balance Women’s Metro Run Crop Sports Bra – not available anywhere as far as I can tell.  

LuLuLemon Pace Perfect Bra – available only at $100 on eBay

This one is awesome because it has a handy back pocket for my phone.  Love it!  But not enough to pay $100 on eBay.  I think.

Since neither of these was available, I ordered a bunch to try:

Brooks Juno Crossback – This is a super popular bra, but I’ve always been un-enthused about a bra with hooks for working out.  In the end, it was just tight and uncomfortable and unflattering.  Maybe I just needed a bigger size.

Nike Indy Hyper Femme – I honestly thought this one was cute, but it looked horrible on and just didn’t provide anywhere near enough support.  I think it’s more of a bra to look good than functional.

Oiselle Bra-Zen Bra.  This one was too stretchy and didn’t provide enough support.  I own an Oiselle bra, and it’s also not sufficient supportive when I’m pregnant.  It’s fine otherwise, but it won’t work now.

Lululemon Zip Front Enlite Bra.  I actually really like this one.  It was comfortable, easy to get, and supportive.  It comes in true bra sizes instead of just Sm, M, L.  However, unfortunately, I think I’d need to size up the band for pregnancy, and then it wouldn’t fit afterwards, and this is a $100 bra.  If I was desperate, I’d pay, but I’m not, so I’ll pass on this one for now.  I think this one is a good option for more busty women, a category I don’t normally fit into.  I’m just a tourist.

Lululemon Energy Bra – This ended up being the one I decided to keep.  I love the floral pattern.  It’s supportive, not too hard to get on, and was reasonably comfortable.  While I liked the Enlite Bra a little more, this one is more forgiving (and less supportive as a result) and should fit fine after pregnancy, too, so I don’t mind paying $50 for it.  It ran in it yesterday, and it provided enough support for comfort.

 

high heels

Fun with shoes.  I think the ones B is wearing look the most dramatic, but I can’t walk in them, so I’m leaning towards the ones L is wearing.  I’m not a huge fan of the slingbacks, though they, too, are a lot easier to walk in than the sky high heels.  I don’t understand how some women (lawyers) can walk in shoes like that day in and day out.  (Becca?)  I guess practice makes perfect.

All shoes are Sam Edelman and courtesy of Amazon’s Prime shipping and free returns.

Great things: Fakespot.com

Alternate blog title: Blogging, a great way to procrastinate from running and other productive activities.

So, if you’re a savvy Amazon shopper, no doubt you’ve noticed that Amazon reviews have serious issues these days.  I am a person who used to buy the product with the best reviews most of the time, unless it was significantly more expensive.  I’ve found that fake or paid for reviews are absolutely pervasive on Amazon.  I’ve found that my entire shopping approach has changed.  Nowadays, I look for name-brand products, because I’ve found that brands like Asics and Sony don’t pay for their reviews.  However, I miss the days when I could buy the no-name cheaper product because a bunch of people tried it, and it was awesome.  I got burned a few times on products that had hundreds or thousands of 5-star reviews and turned out to be absolute crap.  The solitary one-star reviews I left made no difference, I’m sure.  I’ve also mostly given up writing reviews these days, and I’ve found that when I do write reviews with less than 4 or 5 stars, they’re often rapidly down-voted.  There was a time when I used to watch my reviewer rating, and this kind of thing is a motivation not to write honest, negative reviews.

Nothing irritates me more than, “I received a free product in exchange for my fair, unbiased review.”  Ha.  I immediately mark such reviews as “not helpful.”

Enter fakespot.com.  I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s possible to spot fake reviews.  You can tell in various ways.  Sometimes, a whole bunch of 5 star reviews appear one after the other, during the same couple of weeks.  Other times, half the reviews are only one or two words.  The reviewer either has ONLY reviewed this product, or only leaves 5-star reviews on other random products.  And so on.   This is fine, but it’s a pain to do manually.  I don’t know what fakespot’s algorithm is, but in my spot checks, they are spot on, ha ha.

These days, I routinely run Amazon URLs through fakespot to determine whether a product is too-good-to-be-true or actually awesome.  It seems to work well for all categories, including books.  There’s nothing more annoying than spending 2 or 3 hours reading an entire book that received wildly positive reviews, think it’s horrible, and notice that it was self-published and, hmmm, who are all these reviewers anyway?

I decided to blog this after being just about to put Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart on my to-read list.  Now, I have not read this book.  It may be fabulous.  It has a rating of 4.5 stars with 998 reviews.  However, after reading the plot synopsis, I became suspicious.  Basically, women decides to hike PCT to escape pressures and distractions of modern world and meets lots of interesting and lovely people along the way.  Sound familiar?  I mean, it’s been written a few times before.  Why did so many people find this particular version of that plot line extraordinary?  Well, Fakespot gives the reviews an overall C, for a fairly high percentage of low-quality reviews, and provides an adjusted rating of 3.  Given my suspicions, I’m inclined to give this one a miss.

Try it for yourself.  I know I sound like a pitchman, but I assure you, *I’m* not getting compensated by anybody.  I just believe in reviews that are ACTUALLY fair and unbiased.

 

Best of 2015

Best books

we Are All Completely Beside Ourselves By Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

17910054

History of the Rain by Niall Williams

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Best Buys

For whatever reason, we seem to get a lot of power outages in our new place.  Hence, the Siege Lantern.  I wish we didn’t get so much use out of this thing.

 

My feet love these insoles.

My Kindle paperwhite allows me to easily read in the dark, an incredibly useful feature with a baby in the house.

How did I live so long without knowing about Satin Floss?

Oral-B Complete SaTinfloss Mint, 50m, Twin Pack

L and I color with these colored pencils basically daily.  They are way better than the Crayola variety.

Six bucks for rock awesome, comfortable and not bad-looking sunglasses.  What more could you want?

My favorite buy of the year: my sewing machine.

And, last but not least, love this quilting book:

Best Day

I haven’t posted about our successful landing of our rocket, but it was a wonderful day.  I can’t wait to fly it again soon.  Autonomy and re-usability.

Best Netflix

The Walking Dead

Image result for the walking dead

Copenhagen

Bloodline

Angela’s Ashes

Best Quilt / Sewing

Facing West

I made quite a few quilts this year – I’ve lost track of how many – but this one was my favorite.

I also loved working on the Farmer’s Wife, but I have a long way to go on that one.