Category Archives: Tips

Child Safety Seat at Packard Children’s Hospital

This week, my husband and I went to a car seat inspection at Packard Children’s Hospital. If you live near Stanford University and use a child car seat, it’s definitely worth making an appointment. At first I thought that it would be a quick appointment where they would show us how to install the car seat in the “best way.” It turned out that we learned different ways to install the seat, depending on circumstances, such as with or without LATCH or base. We also learned how to adjust and buckle the harness. Also, we learned how to put the car seat in and out the base without hurting our backs.

The amazing thing was that it was a free service. Appointment slots go pretty quickly so be sure to sign up a month before you need the appointment. If you are expecting, make the appointment for a month before the due date.

Name Change After Marriage

One of the many questions I had while preparing to get married was how long it would take to get my name changed. My driver license was going to require renewal this year so I figured I would get my name changed when I did the renewal. Since my wedding would be two weeks before the renewal due date, I was not sure if I could meet the deadline. It turned out that things worked out great.

The usual way of mailing in the marriage license could take a few weeks. I went to the County Clerk-Recorder in San Jose on Monday morning after the wedding and got a certified copy of my marriage certificate for $14. I thought that I would get the original in addition to that but it turned out not to be the case. My celebrant had highly recommended getting two copies to deal with the name changing process so I requested an additional copy.

I then headed to the Social Security Administration where I showed the proof of marriage and desired name change. I was told that I did not need the new SS card to show to the DMV because they would check electronically. However, he recommended waiting a day so that the computers would have time to get updated.

That worked out well because a few weeks earlier I had scheduled an appointment for the DMV for one day after because I did not know how long it would take at the SSA and I wanted to have time to spend with family members who would still be around on Monday.

The next day I went to my early morning appointment to the DMV. They were so fast at calling my number that I did not even finish filling out my form. The longest part of the visit was waiting in line to take a new photo. I was out of the DMV in 30 minutes. My sister in law from NYC was impressed that I returned so quickly from the appointment because they can’t make appointments at the DMV there.

Each office took about half an hour and no more than an hour to get things done.  I recommend checking the web sites of the respective agencies for any applications to fill out ahead of time. The DMV was the only office that did not have that option.

I would like to emphasize that this was my experience in Santa Clara County in California. Your experience might vary based on your location and its laws. I wanted to share what I learned to help out anyone else in my situation because I had trouble getting an answer to the question of how long it would take to get my name changed after getting married.

Kitty-Proofing the Bathroom

One of my cats, Mr. Knightley, likes to destroy toilet paper and eat plastic. That meant that I had to keep my bathroom door closed to keep him out of trouble. That was not great for ventilation after showers. For years, I looked for a solution that would protect the toilet paper and discourage him from eating the plastic lining of the trash can to no avail.

I have finally found two things that helped me to make it safe to keep the bathroom door unattended. I bought a toilet roll holder from Ikea that had a cover. It was a great find since every other solution I had seen cost much more than the $10 I paid for that one. It was very easy to install, requiring just two screws.

I found the trash can solution at Target. It is a round step can by simplehuman studio. The key feature is “smartbucket”, which prevents bag overhang. It was pricey for a trash can, but the peace of mind of mind that there is less plastic for my cat to find and eat makes it worth it. I am actually going to get another one today for another room in the apartment.

I hope that information helps someone who has a cat as mischievous as mine. :)

Awesome WordPress Theme: Atahualpa

I just changed the theme of my blog to Atahualpa. I liked it when I first saw it because of the ability to have a rotating roster of random heading images. It’s really cool because it is so configurable that I don’t have to edit the theme files themselves.

The theme comes with some nice images. However, as a photo-phile, I wanted to use my own photos. The challenging part was finding images that I could crop to match the long proportions of the heading images. Once I figured out what I needed to do, I was able to generate more pictures without taking so much time on each photo.

Here are the steps that I have figured out. I used Picasa and Dreamweaver.

  1. In Picasa, look for landscape photos that had the most interesting elements in the horizontal axis.
  2. Select the desired image, File > Save a Copy
  3. Edit the copy, which will have the same filename with -1 appended (skip steps 2 & 3 if you don’t care about saving the original)
  4. Click on I’m Feeling Lucky to see if it improves the look of the picture. If not, undo
  5. Click on Crop and use the Manual option to select a long rectangle that contains the desired content
  6. Click on Preview to see the dimensions of the crop area. This might take experimentation since the size of photos vary but I found that I got good results if the height is no more than twice the max height set for the header image in the theme configurations. This is dependent on the width of the original and the size to which it will be reduced, if at all.
  7. Click Apply once satisfied with the crop area.
  8. File > Export Picture to Folder
  9. Select the desired Resize setting if the original is not the right size
  10. Click Export
  11. A Windows Explorer window should open that contains the new file
  12. In the local copy of the blog, copy or move the file to the folder: wp-content\themes\atahualpa\images\header
  13. In Dreamweaver, select the new file and upload

I hope that helps. It seems complicated with so many steps but after a while it gets easy to do.

Epilation Experience

I have become a fan of epilating. I avoided it for years because I was afraid of the potential pain. However, when I researched it last month, it seemed the technology has improved a lot to minimize pain. I was sold on the Braun 5270 Silk-épil X’elle Body System Epilator due to the reviews that reassured me that it was not going to be a horrible experience.

In my research, I found lots of tips to help prevent too much pain. I’ve put them together for my own setup. I now look forward to my weekly epilation sessions.

Preparation Tips

  • before the very first session, shave 1 to 3 days beforehand so that the hair is not too long and yet have something for the epilator tweezers to hold on to
  • exfoliate to avoid seeing micro bits of dry skin flying
  • take a hot/warm shower/bath to help open the pores
  • per instructions, dry legs and do not apply cream/moisturizer


The Braun 5270 comes with a beginner head. It would be a good idea to try using that for the first time. It massages the skin to help distract from the tweezing feeling. Sometimes, it even tickled but it was not uncomfortable. The scariest part of the process was the loud noise. Unfortunately, it meant that it was too loud to have the television on in the background. I played some music to help me relax.

Move the epilator slowly over the legs, going against the direction of hair growth. If you have experience tweezing eyebrows, you would likely know the trick to reducing or preventing pain is to stretch the skin around the hair follicle. This worked while epilating, too.

During the first session, I was able to move on to the advanced epilator head. That’s how practically painfree it ended up being. The results passed the smoothness test where I rubbed my legs together. It never felt that good when I shaved with a razor.

When done, moisturize. Use the included brush to clean the epilator head.

Electric Razor

The Silk-épil came with an electric razer head. It was useful for hair that I was too afraid to try to epilate. The results were better than using a regular razer because I did not get itchy bumps.


Epilating took longer than shaving, but it was more comfortable sitting in the living room instead of standing in a wet bathtub. What I really like about epilating is that it gave me smooth results that would last between weekly sessions. Because I could do it on a more convenient schedule in a more comfortable setting, I now have hairless legs even during the winter when most days I would wear jeans or pants. Then I can wear dresses/skirts without having to plan ahead.

Something to note is that I have fine hair. This could contribute to the lack of pain for me. It is possible that people who have thicker hair might experience more pain, but I do not know. Just a heads-up so readers do not go after me if they do not have as great an experience.