Online Spectacles

Not to brag, (OK, maybe just a little) but I tend to get a lot of compliments on my glasses.  This leads into the inevitable “where’d you get those” question and my overly-thorough 20-minute presentation on the how, where, and why of buying eyeglasses online.

The last time I was giving this eyewear dissertation, I said, “I really should write a blog post about this”, thinking that it would be helpful so I can stop overwhelming the listener with facts and tips, and it would give me a place to leave the links to the websites I recommend.  So here we are.  Let me start by giving you some tips and bits of information you’ll need before ordering, then I’ll give you some of my favorite online spec sites.

Tip #1: Get a copy of your prescription and have your doctor note your PD on it.

Your eyeglass prescription is only good for two years, and many websites will want to see a copy before filling your order.  Make sure your prescription is up-to-date, and make sure that your pupillary distance (or “PD”) is noted on the prescription.  Your PD is the measurement between your left and right pupils, basically how far apart your eyes are.  The online retailers will need this to know where to center your prescription in the lens.  Most of the time, your doctor won’t note your PD on your prescription because the staff at their optical shop will measure it for you while you’re there buying your glasses.  If your PD is not on the copy of your prescription that you have right now, call the office and ask for it to be added.  Your doctor will most likely say something about how it’s not a good idea to order glasses online—my doctor wrote “not responsible for glasses purchased on the internet” on my prescription—but don’t listen to them.  They just want you to pay eight times more and order glasses from their shop.

Tip #2: Look at the glasses you have now, for comparison.

Put them on your face and look in the mirror.  How do they look?  Are they too big?  Just right?  What do you love about them?  What bothers you?

Now check the numbers inside the temple.  You should see three numbers.  Mine say 51/20/145/  51 is the width of one, single lens.  20 is the width of the bridge (the part that connects the two lenses over your nose).  145 is the length of the temple arm.  Do your glasses slide down your face all the time like mine do?  Look for a pair with a shorter temple.  I usually try to keep my temple length around 130, but I loved these frames so much I was willing to put up with the slipping.

Write down the measurements for your frames and keep them nearby when you’re browsing for new frames.  The websites will all list the measurements of the frames you’re looking at, and you can compare them to your current glasses to gauge the size and approximate fit to your face.  Many sites have “virtual mirrors” or other virtual try-on gadgets, but I’ve never had luck with them because they don’t adjust for scale and never give you an accurate picture of how the glasses will look.

Tip #3: Search Flickr and Instagram for photos of the frames in real life.

Want to know what the frames you love look like on real people in real life?  Search for images.  Go to Flickr and search the retailer name and the frame style name.  Check Instagram for hashtags of the retailers names.  You won’t have luck with many of the lower-end websites, but the pricier ones, especially the sites that offer free at-home trials of frames will have oodles of photos available.

Tip #4: Search for coupon codes.

Although you’re going to pay drastically less for online prescription glasses than you would at your doctor’s office, it’s still nice to get a good deal.  Before you commit to buy, Google “coupon code” and the name of your retailer.  Most of the codes you’ll find are bogus, but if you keep trying, you may find one that works.  I once found a 30% off code that was given out on the QVC website after the retailer appeared on the channel.  Score!

Tip #5: Adjusting your glasses.

This is always a big question—what if my glasses don’t fit?  Your glasses will not arrive perfectly adjusted to your head.  You will either need to adjust them yourself, or have them adjusted for you.  Most optical shops, and even your local LensCrafters store will adjust your glasses for you.  Occasionally they may charge you a few bucks for glasses that weren’t bought at their shop, but it can be worth it if you’re too scared to mess with them yourself.  I adjust mine myself, but it’s taken some practice to get it right.  If you want to try it yourself, I suggest you watch any of the countless YouTube videos about adjusting your glasses.  Here’s a good place to start.  My favorite method is pouring boiling water into a tall glass and dipping the temples in until they’re pliable enough the bend.  Depending on the material your glasses are made from, sometimes a hot hairdryer is the best tool.

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And now for the fun part… the shopping.  I’ve bought probably 20-30 pairs of glasses online and have found some favorite websites that I like to recommend.  They each have their specific strengths, so let me show you the glasses I’ve gotten from each and tell you a bit about the sites.  But first, this picture above is a peek at maybe half of the glasses I’ve purchased, not including the prescription sunglasses.  I may have a problem.

Zenni Optical – zennioptical.com

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Zenni is great for cheap frames.  Like $6 cheap.  This price includes single-vision lenses, but you can add on options like anti-reflective coating and tints for a small additional fee.  Shipping costs are minimal and quality has been great.  The materials aren’t totally top of the line, so if you wear them every day, you may need to have them adjusted more often, but come on.  A pair of prescription glasses for under $10?  You won’t hear me complaining. Here are some of my Zennis, in real life.

Global Eyeglasses – globaleyeglasses.com

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Global has a great selection of actual sunglass frames, not just eyeglass frames that they will put tinted lenses into.  The price listed for Global’s glasses includes single-vision lenses, but you’ll have to pay a bit more to add the tint to the lenses.  (I usually go 80% gray.) (Just like my hair!  Zing!)  Most of the sunglasses I bought were about $25 plus shipping, which makes it not so painful when you turn your head while riding a motorcycle and your sunglasses get whipped off your face and run over by the car behind you.  Or so I’ve heard. Here are some of my Global frames, in real life.

Lookmatic – lookmatic.com

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Lookmatic was my first foray into the world of higher-end online glasses.  One of my favorite blogs, Cup of Jo, often has Lookmatic giveaways and I quickly fell in love with this pair, called Slims.  (And oh man, I went on Lookmatic to find a link to the Slims and instantly fell for this pair, called Ace. Swoon…)  Lookmatic’s glasses are $95 for single-vision anti-reflective lenses, and the shipping is free.  Here are my Slims, in real life.

Warby Parker – warbyparker.com

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I love everything about Warby Parker.  They’re funky and fun; they make amazing quality eyeglasses; they will send you five pairs of you choosing to try on at home for free; they sell a monocle (measured in furlongs); and for a past April Fools Day, they launched a fake site called Warby Barker with glasses for dogs.

My first pair of Warby Parkers were polarized prescription sunglasses.  I ordered my try-on selections and had a fun week of taking endless photos of myself in various frames and locations until I finally decided on the Everetts you see above.  I was so impressed with the quality and the customer service that I ordered a pair of everyday glasses, the Sims above (although the color of my frame doesn’t seem to be available anymore).  Single-vision, anti-reflective lenses (for non-sunglasses) are $95, polarized sunglasses are $150 and the shipping is free.  Whee!  Here are my Everetts and my Sims, in real life.

Coastal – coastal.com

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I stumbled upon Coastal when I was obsessively searching for a good deal on prescription Ray Bans.  They do have prescription Ray Bans, but what I actually got from them was my absolute favorite pair of glasses.  And they were nearly free.  Coastal offers you first pair free, but you have to pay a processing fee and shipping, which came out to just under $20.  The quality of the frames is amazing and they’re the glasses I get the most compliments on.  Although they don’t say they are, the lenses appear to be anti-reflective, so don’t order up to the special lens package because the standard lens is top notch.  I recently ordered two more pairs when they had a two for $95 sale and I’m just as happy with me new pairs as I was with the first.  Here are my Coastal frames, in real life.

Gaffos – gaffos.com

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Gaffos is, by far, the most expensive site I’ve ordered from, but as I said above, I was looking for a very specify Ray Ban sunglass frame and Gaffos sold it with the Ray Ban certified polarized prescription lenses in them, so I splurged.  At $220, they’re the most expensive pair I own, but still far cheaper than they would have been if I ordered them from my eye doctor.  Gaffos has many high end brand names, so if brand names are what you’re looking of, Gaffos is a good place to look.  There are often ads on Facebook for Gaffos, so keep an eye out for coupons and offers to lower the price.  Here are my Ray Bans, in real life.

So there you go.  That’s my shortlist, do you ave any sites to add?  Have you ordered glasses online?  Have any tips to add?

Sail Away

I may have mentioned this before, but I have a particular preference for a very specific genre of literature: the couple-sells-everything-buys-a-boat-quits-their-jobs-and-sails-the-world genre.  If they’ve been written, I have either read them or put them on my to-read list.

The stories are all essentially the same. One or both of the couple is unsure, things get bad and then they get worse, unbearable boredom and/or seasickness, there’s a whale/dolphin sighting, friendly hospitable islanders take the couple in, they realize how much they love sailing, they reluctantly head home, lives are changed forever. And yet, I finish one and can’t wait to start the next.

I admire these people so much.  If it weren’t for my fear of sharks, empty bank account, attachment to my family, and oh, you know, complete lack of knowledge about sailing, I might like to go on the same adventure.

Last fall I attempted to start learning about sailing.  I wrote about it last summer on IMHO.  We were going to try out a learn-to-sail vacation in the Virgin Islands, but unfortunately I’m STILL waiting for the company to call me back.  Instead, I’ve started getting a subscription to Cruising World magazine which is somewhat like someone who wants to learn Italian buying and attempting to read an Italian newspaper.

“We have a mizzen stays’l halyard that comes out the forward side of the mizzen mast — so that’s the head. The tack has a line that is attached to a turning block at the base of the main mast and is secured to a cleat on the forward end of the main boom.”

Doesn’t that sound gorgeous?  Cruising World is full of sentences like those.  I haven’t a clue what it all means—something about sails, I’m guessing—but I love reading the words.

We’re right smack in the middle of the cold, gray New England winter and I’ve reached the point where I’m dreaming of turquoise waters and warm sea breezes.  Work hasn’t been great, either, so the idea of chucking it all and sailing away is sounding better and better.  But then again there’s that thing about the sharks and missing my family.  Also money.  And I don’t think Judy’s quite ready to hit the high seas.

So until I strike it rich and get up the courage to go on a a life-changing adventure, I’ll just keep reading my books and savoring words like bimini, davits, and spinnaker.  Up next? A Beach Less Traveled. Maybe A Sail of Two Idiots.

Feeling the urge to set sail, too?  Here are a few favorites to get you hooked. Join me aboard, won’t you?  Ahoy!

An Embarrassment of Mangoes
The Spice Necklace
The Motion of the Ocean
Bumfuzzle
Love With a Chance of Drowning

Hey There!

There are certain times of the year when I feel more talky, and other times when I want to crawl in a hole and talk to no one.  Fall seems to be a talky time, and since I feel bad monopolizing the front page of the joint blog I’m a part of, I thought I might come back here, now and again, for some longer form, rambling thought posts.  Sound good?

While I get busy writing some new posts for you, please take a moment to read some of my posts on IMHO.

One Year

INVOGORATING

Purge

Amanda and the McNuggets

Puppy Blues

Please Try Not to Remember Me

IMHO

Hey, guess what?  I’m blogging!  I am, just not here.

I’ve teamed up with two friends to start IMHO, a joint blog with a pop culture slant.  Go check it out.  I might be back here now and again, too, but for now you’ll find me over there at least twice a week.  We hope you like it!

SXM: Days 5-7

Day 5.  In the US, the election results were in (yay) and a snowstorm was blanketing the Northeast (boo).  In SXM, we were doing this:


Oh yeah we were.  Our plans for day 5 were to take the “ferry” to Pinel Island, a short, two-minute ride from SXM.  From one slice of Paradise to the other.  I say “ferry” because it was really an overlarge rowboat with a motor, but it was a whopping $7 so who really cares?  Plus, it brought us here:

There’s no electricity on Pinel, no roads or cars, but there’s plenty of  crystal clear, shallow water, soft sand, and snorkeling in the marine reserve on the other side of the island.  There are even two beach bars and an outdoor “boutique” area selling clothing and souvenirs.

For a little change of scenery, Luke and I took a little hike over the hill to see the marine reserve on the other side of the island.  Check out this view:

So crowded. Can’t stand it.

Many of the reviews I read about Pinel complained that it was overcrowded.  Not while we were there.  We did have an interesting “sighting” though.  There was a lady sunbathing near our umbrella with short cropped, bleach blond hair and tattoos all over.  I nudged Luke and said, “Look, it’s Pink.”  I’m sorry to admit that I know what Pink’s tattoos look like, so although this lady looked A LOT like her, it wasn’t.  Luke’s still convinced it was.

We all boarded the 3pm ferry and headed back to our place to change and take off again for Philipsburg to pick up the ring we bought for Luke.  I didn’t mention that in the last post about Philipsburg.  We’re on a never-ending quest to find a wedding band that Luke will wear and while we were in the jewelry store talking about the Molly ring that I had ordered from Etsy, the lure of the sparkly things won us over.  He found a simple white gold “comfort fit” band that he really liked and I said go for it!  He wanted to have a memento of Molly like I was going to have, so he asked to have “Molly” engraved inside the band.  The day we picked it up, I asked the jeweler to clean my rings (which have our names written around the outside).  He read, “Luke…and…LISA?”  He looked up and said, “Then who is Molly?”  We answered at the same time.  I said “Our dog.”  Luke said “My other wife.”  That’ll teach him to ask silly questions.

Next, a sunset dinner at Chesterfield’s overlooking the bay, then a walk on Dawn Beach, and we were ready to call it a night.

Day 6, our last full day in SXM.  Luke and I opted to stay close to “home” and hang out on Dawn Beach while the rest of the group went to finish their souvenir shopping with a trip back to Philipsburg.

It was nice to have a quiet morning to ourselves.  We bobbed in the water, read our books under the umbrella, and even saved a baby sea turtle.  We were looking around in the water for jellyfish (Luke kept thinking he felt them bumping his legs) when one of our fellow bobbers said “Look, a turtle!”

He was itty bitty and seemed to be caught where the waves were breaking.  Luke scooped him up and brought him out of the water for a quick photo, then waded back out past where the waves broke to set him free.  Good deed done.

The gang returned and met us at the beach for a quick dip before Luke’s suspicion came true and the jellyfish really did appear.  We packed it up and headed to the resort pool to try and absorb as much of the beauty as we could before it was time to leave.

That night, one last visit to The Red Piano, and our trip was officially over.  The next morning we had to pack up and head for colder climates.  I woke up feeling like I was having nicotine withdrawal.  There aren’t any no-smoking laws in bars in SXM and I inhaled a couple of lungfuls that night.  Despite the secondhand smoke, we had a blast and it was a fun way to end our trip. (This is what it look like inside. This was the piano player probably teaching us another dirty toast.)

Day 7: pack it all up.  Another great thing about staying in our palace was that it was a private residence, not a hotel, so there really was no set checkout time.  We were able to pack, clean up the place, hang out and enjoy the view a few hours longer, and then head right to the airport to check in for our 4 p.m. flight.

Goodbye awesome condo:

Goodbye many roundabouts with your random statues and monuments:

Goodbye vague, understated signs:

Goodbye palm trees:

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Goodbye Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, thanks for another great week!

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SXM: Days 3 and 4

Day 3 in SXM started out slowly with Megan and Elke heading to the resort’s spa for fancy manicures and pedicures.  The rest of us hung out, took walks, and waited for the ladies to return so we could head into nearby Philipsburg for some shopping.  Philipsburg is one of the ports where cruise ships dock and hoards of tourists flock looking for cheap liquor, Cuban cigars, and deals on jewelry.  It is not my favorite place.  It’s like a city of pushy car salesmen, but it’s on the water and there are gorgeous views and the jewelry stores give away free beer, so hey, it’s worth a look.  The girls wanted to check it out and buy some souvenirs, so we spent the afternoon wandering and shopping.

My one favorite part of Philipsburg is a little French cafe on Old Street called Au Petit Cafe.  We ate there on our past trip and this time we had the same sassy waiter and a meal just as delicious as we remembered. After a long day of shopping and eating, we headed back to our condo for a light dinner on the roof and an early bedtime.  Do you remember the view from the roof?  Should I remind you?

Day 4 made up for any lack of excitement we may have experienced on day three. Our plan was to head to the Loterie Farm and finally go on the zip line course.  Or as they like to call it, the “treetop adventure obstacle course”.  We stopped there on our last trip to the island, but didn’t get the chance to go on the zip line.  This time we weren’t going to miss it again.  The six of us sucked up our courage and plunked down the €55 ($72) and got suited up for adventure.

In case you’re wondering, closed-toe shoes that cover your heel, a restrictive, mildly humiliating harness, and a single leather gardening glove are all the gear you need.  No one else seemed to notice that the hardware on our harnesses looked a little concerned, but these were the faces we were making, too, as we took off for what turned out to be two and a half hours of sweaty, exhilarating, shin-banging, finger-pinching, high-flying fun times.

We rode up Pic Paradis in the back of a rickety truck and were deposited near the top for the start of our awesome trip down.   There were probably about 15 of us in the group with one very laid-back guide named Adrian.  A quick lesson on what to do and more importantly, what not to do, and we were off.

The zip lines varied in height and length and were broken up by ladders, wooden slat bridges, and tightropes.  It was a blast.  Two of the last zip lines were 1,400 and 1,600 feet and the views were amazing.  I brought my Flip camera, hoping to shoot some video, but the battery died at the first platform, so I had only my iPhone, which I was terrified to pull out of my bag since it had not strap on it and we were, you know, UP IN THE TREES!

I did catch a couple of videos of Luke, and this one is my favorite.  Apparently Luke, who is good at everything, figured out how to play around on the zip line and had been barreling toward me upside down.  Unfortunately the trees were in the way and I only caught him as he turned back around to prepare for his smooth landing.  We made it to the bottom, bruises, sweaty bodies, wobbly legs and all, and high-fived ourselves for having such a great time.  By that point were were starved and exhausted, and decided to head toward Simpson Bay for a little lunch and looking around.

After a delicious bay side lunch of fish tacos and ribs at Skip Jacks, we took a trip across the street to show the girls the Royal Palm, where we had stayed on our previous trips to the island.  It was happy hour, so it was two-for-one rum punches for everyone!  Well, almost everyone.  Virgin Mudslides for others…

We soothed our exhausted legs in the ocean and headed back across the street to the Simpson Bay Yacht Club see if we could find Brian, who had been the bartender at The Lady C, our favorite floating bar which is now out of business.  We lucked out, not only finding Brian, but spotting a double rainbow, and catching the drawbridge in action as the sun was setting over the ocean.

We made our way back to the car, happy but exhausted, and wound up stuck in construction traffic heading into Cole Bay.  Luckily for us, we spotted a restaurant called The Carousel which specialized in gelato.  Perfect!  We took a little traffic break to wander around the beautiful restaurant, complete with full-size carousel in back, and had an early dinner of creme brulee gelato before heading back to the resort hot tub for a little relaxing before the night’s end.  Sigh… I could get used to this.

SXM: Days 0.5-2

So! How about some vacation photos? I promised this wouldn’t turn into the I’m sad because my dog died blog, and here’s where we bring back a little of the fun.

Last week, as you may have heard, we were in St. Martin (or sometimes Sint Maarten, depending on which side of the island you’re on) or as I like to write it, because it’s just easier: SXM.  This was our third trip back with our friends (who marked their ninth trip to the island) and this year they brought their two daughters.  Due to our new, extra-large group, we had to find a different place to stay than the previous years.  A larger place with more bedrooms.  This is the quaint little place we settled for.  It was alright:

And by alright, I mean that it was flipping amazing.  Stunning.  Mind-blowing, and every other adjective you can imagine.  I found it here on VRBO and if you’re planning a trip to SXM, I highly recommend it.  For instance, this was the view from our private balcony off of our bedroom:

Yeah, like I said, it was OK.  (!!!)  Want to see more?  How about the private rooftop infinity pool?  You read that right.  The condo complex has its own private rooftop infinity pool for the 18 privately owned units and we were apparently the only people staying in the building last week so we had the place to ourselves.

We flew into SXM on a Friday afternoon (hence the “Day 0.5″) and made our traditional stop at the Sunset Beach Bar in Maho to toast our good fortune and watch the drunken dummies sand blast themselves on the beach as planes take off and land at the tiny airport.

Let me stop here and say that, like most of the people in this picture, I took many of the photos on this trip with my iPhone. I had my big Canon with me, but the iPhone was smaller and less conspicuous, and WATERPROOF with this rad totallyworththemoney case from LifeProof.  OK, back to the photos.

Here’s the gang (minus me) at the bar.  Megan (in the shades) is drinking ginger ale, in case you’re wondering, and Emily (on the right) is 19, and therefore legal to drink in SXM, so get used to seeing that. From Maho we headed to our palace—I mean condo—to gape at the amazing view, drop our bags, and head to the pool at the adjoining Oyster Bay Beach Resort.  Did I mention that there’s another infinity pool there, too.  Here’s a shot of the resort’s pool area from the top of our condo building.  It’s on the right, there, alongside THE FREAKING OCEAN.  I still can’t believe they let us stay there:

We had dinner that night at Daniel’s by the Sea, which is on the beach on the other side of the resort.  During the day it’s Mr. Busby’s Beach Bar, and at night it switches gears to become Daniel’s.  It was delicious.  We walked along the sand back to our SXM home happy and stuffed.

Day 1 began with a terribly exciting trip to the Grand Marché to buy groceries and nearly have a heart attack watching the total on the cash register go upwards of 345.00 until the cashier said to us “Dollars?” and switched the total from the Dutch guilders, to U.S. dollars. Phew! (The exchange is roughly 1.79 guilders to the dollar.) From the store we went back and quickly unloaded the groceries and then practically sprinted to the beach.  Dawn Beach is our favorite beach on SXM and is adjacent to the resort so we only had to walk across the parking area to get there.

Not a bad place to be.  After laying on the beach and floating in the water for a while (hey, look! I’m actually in this picture!):

…we headed back to the resort pool to laze and float and marvel at how lucky we were to be there.  I posted this shot on Instagram that night with the caption, “Today did not suck.” That was the truth.

On day 2 we had planned to take the girls to a new mall that was being constructed the last time we were on the island in 2010, followed by a trip to Mullet Beach.  But the we realized when we woke up that it was Sunday and the mall was closed.  A quick regroup and we instead headed for Happy Bay, a place I had been wanting to find.  I say “find” because you cannot drive to Happy Bay.  You have to hike through the woods, across a field, and along a cliff to get there.  It’s secluded and empty and sounded AMAZING.  I was psyched when everyone else was on board with the adventure.  We had to drive across the island, through the French side to get where we were going, and on the way we passed by Orient Beach and Boo Boo Jam, where we used to like to go.  Here’s what Boo Boo Jam looked like in 2009:

And here’s what it looked like last week, shortly after someone burned it to the ground:

Sad.  We paid our respects and headed back out to find adventure.  We spotted two interesting-looking locals on our way there.

This guy was chilling in a slightly inadequate tree on the side of the dirt road leading to Boo Boo Jam.  And this guy was ruling the world from atop a rock on the side of the road to Friar’s Bay:

To find Happy Bay, the directions I had were: park at Friar’s Bay and walk down the beach, past the last beach bar.  Start walking into the woods, the path may or may not be marked. ALRIGHTY! Let’s go!  The path was marked by a spray-painted rock with an arrow that pointed up into the jungle.  We hiked in the woods, along a ridge, through a field, and into Paradise.  Here’s a bit of what it looked like getting there:

Walking, walking, walking… a giant pig randomly tied up in the woods… walking, walking, walking… Megan blew out her flip-flop… walking, hopping, and BAM! Happy Bay:

Seriously. It hurts to look at, it’s so beautiful.

There were only a few other people there (and yes, a couple of nudies) and it was just Paradise.  I have a funny video to post later that shows me trying to get back into the water after being slammed on my tush on the rocks just a little earlier.  Happy Bay might be beautiful, but she is rough and I had the butt bruises and cuts to prove it.  It’s OK, I still love you, Happy Bay.

There aren’t any restaurants on Happy Bay, so we eventually hiked back to Friar’s Bay (not to shabby either) for some barbecue lunch before heading out:

Next, we made a stop at beautiful Baie Rouge.

I think it’s gorgeous there, but the waves are rough and after my bum rush at Happy Bay, I opted to hang out on the sand and watch the adorable little dogs up the beach from us.  They kept digging things up in the sand and bringing them to their sunbathing owners who couldn’t care less.

After Baie Rouge, we rounded out the evening at the resort pool, then a delicious Italian dinner at our favorite little place in Maho, followed by a quick stop for some singalongs at The Red Piano.

It was like a day special ordered just for me!  Wow, it’s only day 2 and I’ve already crossed most of the to-dos off my list!