A Girl’s Best Friend is Her Chrome Extensions

Chrome Extensions to make life easierIf you’re like me (and most people), you’re into ways to make life easier. These Chrome extensions have individually and collectively improved the quality of my life significantly, and I’ve been recommending them to people in Girl Develop It classes, so I thought it’d be good to compile them all here. Without further ado:

Pocket — I used to scroll through Twitter and email tweets to myself if I didn’t have time to read the fascinating content they linked to. This did not lead to a stress-free inbox. Enter Pocket. Now when I find something I want to read later, I just save it to my Pocket via the Chrome Extension or through Twitter. I like to save articles to read during flights or while waiting for appointments.

WhatFont — Ever fall in love with a font but not know what it is? No more! WhatFont tells you what font (duh) a site uses, along with font-size, line-height, color, and other such useful CSS values.

Eyedropper | Colorpicker — I used to wish that there was a Photoshop eyedropper tool for the browser. There is! Of the two, I prefer Eyedropper. Colorpicker is a little too robust for my needs. Both provide hex codes and rgb values for colors on a website.

Feedly — I recommended Feedly to everyone who was traumatized by the death of Google Reader. I never liked the Google Reader interface, so I’ve used Feedly instead since 2009. I enjoy categorizing all the feeds I read regularly, and I still like the interface better than anything else I’ve seen.

WebPage Screenshot — I’d been trying to figure out how to get full-page screenshots of projects I’ve worked on to use in my portfolio. I’m not sure how I found this one — I probably just got frustrated one day and started searching — but it is really handy. It’s also integrated with Google Drive and Dropbox, if that’s your jam.

Dayboard — I installed Dayboard literally yesterday, and its high level of awesome is what inspired this entire post. Credit goes to Roz Duffy for sharing this one. I routinely have multiple windows with multiple tabs open, and it is far too easy to get distracted and forget what I’m doing when I’m working online. Dayboard doesn’t let that happen. Every day, it asks you what five things you want to accomplish. Every time you open a new tab, you’re faced with that list of five things. It’s constantly bringing me back to what I should be focusing on.

Are there any I’ve missed? What are your favorites?

Moving & What We Hold Onto

catsWe’re in the midst of a move. It’s not far, but it’s fairly major. It’s maybe the most physically and mentally exhausting move I’ve endured so far, even though it’s literally just a few blocks.

I’m looking forward to the chance to purge and rearrange thoughtfully, which is admittedly counter to my accumulative nature. I get particularly attached to furniture and vintage glassware. I’m still in love with Craigslist scores from five years ago, and the thought of reselling some of those things makes me unreasonably sad. I’m also at an age where I’m starting to accumulate things at family auctions, things I couldn’t ever sell to someone who didn’t have an emotional connection to my family.

I don’t like that about myself — that I get so attached to objects. But there’s something about being able to look around and remember the yard sale in a town I don’t live in anymore where I got a particular end table or fruit crate. It’s just stuff, I can hear my mom say. And I know I don’t need it. I know I can live without it. But it feels like home in a way that I don’t want to let go of.

That said, I am looking forward to an interior refresh…and new appliances and central air and a second bedroom and dedicated office and music space. I may document and share a little bit of the process here over the next few weeks and months as we settle in.

Iceland: Everyone’s an artist

Icelandic CatOn our last night in Reykjavik, we decided to make friends with a really sweet bartender at the famous Kaffibarinn after ordering the cursory shot of Brennivin. He told us that everyone in Iceland is a bartender, because everyone is also either a photographer, musician, or artist and tends bar to pay rent. We asked which of these he was, and he answered, “I’m all three!”

I think one of the things that draws me back to the country and stokes my fascination is the total saturation in literature, narrative, visual art, and music I felt while we were there. Our wanderings in downtown Reykjavik were punctuated by stopping to read the poetry that was painted on the sidewalks.

Reykjavik Sidewalk Poetry

Before we even left the city, I decided that someday I would try to partner with an organization that would send me back to Reykjavik for Iceland Airwaves, to write about and photograph it. Airwaves is a huge music festival that happens every fall. Even if you don’t score tickets to the shows, there are street performers and free gallery shows all over the city. It’s a little scary to admit it, but I’m still secretly harboring the dream of being sent there to cover it for a music or travel publication someday. It was while we were there that I really solidified my decision to quit my really terrible job and take my creative sabbatical, and having a dream that huge and beautiful made the idea of quitting my job seem easier. I’m still grateful for that.

Kex Hostel, Reykjavik Iceland

To close out the Iceland series, I’ve put together an Icelandic Love playlist so you can get a taste of the music and art that’s so prevalent there. Fun fact: I walked down the aisle to part of the first track — Sigur Ros’ Untitled 3!  I’ll likely be adding to it, so feel free to follow along on Spotify.

You can read about the rest of our adventures in Iceland in the archives

 

The Day I Thought We Died: Vík & Jökulsárlón

Iceland SheepWe got to the car rental place as soon as it opened. After signing so many papers and making so many copies and getting so many very stern warnings about not taking our rental car off-roading or over any bodies of water, we started driving out of Reykjavik. It didn’t take us too long to realize that we were headed in the opposite direction of our intended destination: Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon in the south of Iceland. It was recommended to us by multiple Icelanders as something we had to see while we were there. There are bus tours, but we wanted to be able to stop and explore at will, and I’m really glad we did.

Icelandic house

We drove for hours and hours. Through black sand deserts and over so many shallow rivers. Through lava rock and mossy hills. Past more waterfalls than you can count. There are so many waterfalls that many of them don’t even have names. The landscape changes are sudden and startling and otherworldly. We saw no one for most of those hours. There were a few hamlets of sheep farmers along the way, set at least a couple miles off the main road at the bases of mountains, but that was it.

Iceland

After a few hours, we hit the tiny town of Vík along the southern coast, where we stopped for lunch. Vík is the southernmost town in the country, and is surrounded by a black sand beach and lava rock meadows that are covered in moss and huge stones.

Iceland Glacier

As we started heading north up the coast again, the black sand faded into snow and ice. If you’ve ever wondered what a glacier looks like, it’s as if a river is rushing toward you flooding through a valley and is frozen mid-flow. It’s kind of terrifying.

Glacial Lagoon

Jökulsárlón itself hardly looks real. The icebergs are bright blue and white and range wildly in size and shape.

Glacial Lagoon

After staring into the abyss (literally) for awhile, it was time to turn around and drive back through the glaciers and the sand and the rocks and the rivers. The sunset was hours long, and at its height, there was a split second when I seriously began to wonder if we’d wrecked the car and died. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful. We drove around a bend, and I instinctively whipped the car to the side of the road so we could get out and take so many pictures. These were minimally edited. This is how it really looked on all sides.

Iceland Double RainbowIceland Rainbow

Iceland Sunset

Iceland: The Golden Circle

Thingvellir, Iceland | Lisli: The Journal

It’s typically not our style to do touristy guided tours. I want to feel like I’m more or less free to explore when and how I like. So it was odd that Chad and I found ourselves hanging out at the Icelandic Travel Market several times throughout the week. We definitely weren’t bored and looking for things to do; it was just that the employees there were so lovely, helpful, and fun that I wanted to befriend them. I will be forever grateful to one woman in particular, who I had really interesting conversations with about street style and anthropology and who also booked us with the most amazing tour guide ever to get the scoop on the Golden Circle.

Thingvellir, Iceland | Lisli: The Journal

The Golden Circle is a pretty touristy (except in Iceland, even touristy things aren’t overcrowded and overcommercialized — I could’ve walked into any field or waterfall I wanted to, and there were no crowds at all) roundup of a few natural highlights of the country, located in a ring. It consists of Thingvellir, Gullfoss, and Geysir. We took a few bonus stops, because our group consisted of Chad, me, one other solo traveler about our age, and our guide.

Our guide’s name was Cyprian, but we called him Cyppie. He’s a Kenyan filmmaker and artist who met his Icelandic ladyfriend while they were studying in Asia. They flipped a coin between living in Kenya and Iceland, and Iceland won. It works out well for him though, because Iceland has one of the longest “golden hours” — the time of day when the light is best for photography or film. He said it helps him get more “money shots.”

Thingvellir, Iceland | Lisli: The Journal

Thingvellir is the home of the first parliamentary session. It’s now a rift valley, with the fault between North America and Europe continuing to expand ever so slightly as time goes on. Thousands of people from all over the country would flock to Thingvellir each summer for the proceedings.  The spot where the Norse and Celtics met to organize in 930 has now opened up into a canyon, and you can actually see the gap between the tectonic plates. Interestingly, there’s a spot nearby where many women accused of various crimes, including witchcraft, were drowned. There’s a plaque by the water with the names of those who were drowned there; Cyppie told us that most everyone in the country was probably related to at least one of the names on the plaque. 

Gullfoss, Iceland | Lisli: The Journal

 

Gullfoss, Iceland | Lisli: The Journal

Gullfoss, or the Golden Falls, was one of the highlights of the afternoon. Because of the light and the mist from the water crashing below, there were consistent double rainbows over the falls.

geysir2 Geysir, Iceland | Lisli: The Journal

Geysir, as one might imagine, is where we got the English word “geyser.” There are all sorts of other, smaller geysers and hot pots around the area, and we saw them all go off several times. Apparently you can boil eggs or make bread by burying it in the ground near one of the hot pots, and there are hotels and restaurants nearby that serve them.  Cyppie kept reminding us that the warning signs were serious — 100 degrees Celsius is a lot hotter than Farenheit.

You can read about the rest of our adventures in Iceland in the archives