Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Making Fairy Doors

There is an adorable myth around the town I live in. Fairies populate the walls and corners of our very normal buildings. For more on the legends, take a look at this website: http://urban-fairies.com/

They were so cute, my parents and I decided we wanted to make our own fairy doors. My father and I devised elaborate ways to build the doors when my mom reminded us that these are already done, they’re called dollhouse doors. So I went online and ordered some dollhouse doors. There are tons of sites that your can order from. The sites also have for sale little details that you can glue onto the doors, kickplates, doorknobs, and doorknockers: http://earthntree.com/miniatures/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=72_80&zenid=8f29cba960080127189300ea2df9e745

I then bought some paint and a little glitter and jewels. I painted the doors and added some flair. The first one is a perfect match of my parents door. Minus the diamonds of course. The one at the top is the fairy door in my own apartment. Hopefully I’ll get fairies to come visit soon.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Free Online Weight Loss Diary

There are now some great online resources to help you loose weight. I've tried a few and found a great one called My Fitness Pal. This website is an online food and exercise diary. This social networking site get users create a database of foods and corresponding calories. You can use the database to create a food journal. It also subtracts calories for you depending on how much you exercised that day.

One annoyingly helpful thing...it sends you emails if you haven't entered your diary in a while.

Also check out the really cute Personalized Weight Loss Badge they give you! Helps keep you motivated.

Calorie Counter

MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

One of the other free food diaries I tried was My-Calorie-Counter, but there were serious technical issues and I had trouble logging in on several occasions. I've heard the Weight Watchers diary is also helpful, but it does cost to join.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Choosing a Gym

Recently I read an article on choosing a gym and I thought it was far too limited. It only talked about a few aspects when, there are so many factors that influence you decision to work out. Also a gym membership is a serious financial investment. Here is a list of things you need to ask yourself. I have also created a check list to open up and print out and take with you when you visit gyms so that you don’t forget to ask them anything.

1.) Location – Try to find a gym where it is easy to get to from home and from work. Parking should be close so if it’s raining you can’t use that as an excuse, but it may be helpful for it to be within walking or bike riding distance. Also, if you work far from home, multiple locations would be a huge benefit. Some gyms that have programs like there are: YMCA and Ballys

2.) Initial Fitness Assessment – How much will the fitness professionals help you with your fitness goals? Do they conduct fitness and health assessments? Do these services cost extra?

3.) Cost – Don’t think that the more expensive a gym is, the more likely you are to go to it because you invested so much money in it. If it’s too out of the way, or awkward to get to, you will be less likely to go to it.

4.) Classes – Look at the class offerings and the times. Are you interested in any of them? Are they an extra cost? Sometimes an expensive gym includes classes that make the cost much better.

5.) Population – You will want a population of fellow gym goers that you are comfortable with. Some gyms are geared to families, so if screaming kids running around under your elliptical machine isn’t what you want, you may want to avoid these. There are also some gyms like Curves now that are women only, so if you want to avoid the man factor check these out. Some gyms have plenty of young professionals or if you’re more comfortable with a middle aged population.

6.) Hours – What are the hours the gym is open, and are they different on the weekends? What are the hours of the pool? What times are the classes?

Finally, if they give you a free trial visit, save it for the busiest time typically between 7:00-9:00 AM and 5:00-7:00 PM. You don’t want to see the empty machines and pool lanes at some random hour and then get there at your normal workout time and realize the place is packed. Here is the checklist for you to print out:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Magnet Picture Frames

Today’s project is pretty simple. Recently I bought little picture frames from Ikea. They were pretty cheap, and when I tried to put them on the wall, I realized just how cheap they looked. So I decided to refurbish them and turn them into magnet picture frames for the refrigerator. Here’s a picture of the two of them. I did a little experiment and tried the bar magnets. (These I stole from a broken locker mirror) I also tried the little circle magnets, but it took eight of them to hold up the frame. I hope you like it!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

New Bentos

This entry I posted a couple of new Bentos that I made in the last couple of weeks.

In this one there is a Taco Salad on the right that I made to look like a little birds nest. In keeping with the bird type theme, there's egg salad. Also a Baby Bell cheese and a Japanese treat.
In the second lunch I've made heart shaped falafel and set them in a bed of garlic humus. Then I made tiny chocolate cupcakes and a Laughing Cow Cheese and little Onion Crackers.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lace Easter Eggs...A Little Late

My mom saw these on Martha Stewart and made them. The comments on Martha's page were a little negative, but I thought my mom's turned out very cute! Sorry it's a little out of season, but you can try them next year. For directions follow the link...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hungarian Cooking

Hungarian Cooking Lesson

Today is a lesson that I’ve been cooking up for a while now. My mother is Hungarian, so I decided to give everyone some lessons in Hungarian food. If it isn’t red, it isn’t Hungarian food. That’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s mostly due to the Hungarian Paprika we use. Note: Hungarian Paprika isn’t the same as regular paprika. Hungarian paprika has a slightly sweet and spicy flavor where as regular paprika is basically food coloring.

When cooking these dishes please remember to taste them and adjust the spices as you see fit. These recipes aren’t set in stone, but a creative process. I will add pictures as I cook these recipes again.

Chicken Paprikash

1 Can Small Chopped Tomatoes
½ Can Tomato Paste
1 cup sour cream
4 Pieces Chicken Breast
1 Green Pepper
1 Large Onion
1 Can Chicken Stock
3 Tablespoons Hungarian Paprika
3 Garlic Cloves Minced
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 cup Dry White Wine

  • On medium heat, pan fry chicken in chicken stock and a little white wine and garlic, until mostly cooked. Add Cayenne pepper and paprika.
  • Add drained can of tomatoes, onions and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent and tomatoes begin to break down.
  • Add green pepper and lightly cook.
  • Continue to add Chicken stock and wine.
  • Add in ½ can tomato paste and mix well with juices.
  • Lower heat and add one cup of sour cream.
  • Sprinkle with paprika to serve.

Dill Pickle Soup

2 Cups Dill Pickle Juice
¼ Cup Finely Sliced Pickles
½ cup Flour
3½ cup Water
1 Large Potato Eyes Removed
4 Cups Chicken Broth
1 cup Skim Milk
3 Cloves of Garlic Minced
2 Tbs Dried Dill
1 Large Onion Finely Chopped
1 Cup White Wine
3 Tbs Olive Oil
3 Tbs Dried Dill Weed

  • Sautee Onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
  • Add White Wine and Simmer for 5 minutes
  • Mix ½ Cup of Water and Flour in a bowl and then add mixture to the Onions
  • Add the rest of the water and the pickle juice
  • Wisk if needed
  • Stir in Milk
  • Add shredded pickles and a little more wine
  • Season to Taste

Hungarian Goulash

2 lbs of Beef Stew Meat

1 Sliced Green Pepper
1 Medium Sliced Onion
1 Can Small Diced Tomatoes
½ Can Tomato Paste
1 cup Red Wine
2 Cups Beef Stock
3 Cloves Garlic Minced
Olive oil
Cayenne Pepper (optional)

  • In a medium pan warm a little olive oil, red wine and add the stew meat. Cook until brown on the outside.
  • Add Garlic and cook for a few minutes
  • Add chopped veggies, beef stock, tomatoes with juice, and more wine.
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce heat simmering for 30 minutes.
  • Mix in tomato paste into liquid.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes.

Golabki/Stuffed Cabbage

1 lb Ground Beef or Turkey
2 Cups Cooked Rice
1 Can Tomato Paste
2 Cups Chicken Stock
3 Cups Water
2 Tbs Garlic
2 Tbs Paprika
2 Onions Chopped
1 Head of Cabbage with Large Leafs
2 Tbs Salt

  • Cooked ground meat and onions, add garlic.
  • Boil some water add 2 Tbs of Salt, rip off the cabbage leafs individually and cook them in the boiling water.
  • Stuff each cabbage leaf with the meat/rice mixture. (You may need to tie string around them or hold them together with toothpicks.)
  • Heat the stock, a few cups of water, paprika, garlic and the tomato paste.
  • Gently place the cabbage packets in the soup.
  • Simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  • Serve with tomato soup sauce over them.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rose Ornaments

Today's post is a craft project making ornaments out of dried roses. I tend to take the special bouquets of roses I receive and dry them to make a keepsake that lasts longer. The problem is, all of these keepsakes take up a lot of room. To cut down on the space they take up, I made special little ornaments out of the roses.

Step 1: Pull off the outer petals of the rose blossoms. The best roses to use are the ones that are the fully open. These roses are miniatures so I made the ornaments small.

Step 2: Cut out a small cardboard circle the size of the ornament you want.

Step 3: Put a dab of glue on the back of the petals. Start gluing petals in a circle around the edge of the circle. Wait for the row to dry.

Step 4: Glue another row of petals in a circle in the center of the decoration.

Step 5: I like to glue something interesting in the center. Here I glued tiny matching jewels in the centers.

Step 6: Glue ribbon to the back of the decoration.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Italian Style Meatloaf Muffins

This blog is a very cute recipe for what I like to call Meatloaf Muffins, but these are Italian Style. I can imagine making Mexican Style by using Salsa in place of the tomato sauce and Mexican cheese instead of Mozzarella.

Italian Meatloaf Muffins

1 lb Ground Turkey
1 Cup Oats
1 Cup Spaghetti Sauce
1 Small Onion Finely Chopped
1 Tbs Ground Garlic
1 Tbs Oregano Flakes
1 Egg
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Preheat over to 350 degrees.
Hand mix Ground Turkey, Oats, Sauce, Onion, Garlic, Oregano, and Egg.
Grease muffin tins.
Fill tin in alternating spaces with mix slightly over flowing so that they are small mounds.
Sprinkle with additional garlic and oregano.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
Remover from tins, paint with extra sauce and top with shredded Mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 5 extra minutes.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Amazing Craft Site

I just Stumbled upon the coolest craft site. It's so useful and personal. Everyone needs to check it out. I can't rave about this thing enough. Posting your projects is so easy and your profile and projects then are so manageable, it's easy to become an addict. Also really neat is that the community is so sweet and helpful. Everyone must check it out...

Cut Out + Keep

8 Reasons you should not go (or send your child) to a Residential College.

A Residential College means that they have the right to force you to live on campus for the entire 4 years and you must check with them if you want to live off campus. They can and probably will deny you permission to leave and charge you automatically.

  1. You will never learn how to pay rent. Finding an apartment, signing a decent lease, budgeting for rent. Forget about that if you live in a dorm room for four years. Where will that money go? Beer. Maybe new purses. Don’t expect people to be responsible if they’re never trusted with responsibility.
  1. You will have to move 4 times a year. Most resident halls don’t stay open during the long Christmas break. This means you have to move everything you will need for an entire month home for Christmas break and then back to school after break is over. This is on top of moving home for summer break.
  1. You will never learn how to cook. Yes, you can always microwave ramen, and you will be able to have one of those cute little refrigerators in your room, but living off Easy Mac will get old after four years. When you finally get to the real world, you will learn embarrassingly how to cook.
  1. You will be locked into paying a high room and board rate. What if your enterprising student finds a cheap apartment? What if you don’t mind living on Ramen and eggs, and don’t need all that cafeteria food? Forget it. You must pay for room and board. Basically you pay to feed unlimited chicken fingers to 250 lb freshman linebackers.
  1. You will not be able to keep a job. As noted above you must move out of the odds of you having a job that will let you leave for a month is slim. Good luck finding a prime University job. Those are very competitive and probably don’t pay that well to begin with.
  1. You will have to move in with your parents again. What happens once you graduate? My school kicked us out of our campus apartment THE VERY DAY of graduation. There was my father dressed in a suit helping tote my dirty laundry to his Jeep. We had little time to look for jobs or new apartments during the finals, so where did I end up? Back at home.
  1. You will be going to graduate school. What happens to people who don’t have the social skills to live on their own? More school! YAY!
  1. You will never learn the responsibility needed to become a functioning human being. All of these skills are life skills are things you should learn throughout a couple of years

Please, help us out and share any experiences you have had with residential housing and moving off campus.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Embroidered Heart Ornaments

Today’s entry is a craft project inspired by some very cute crafts I Stumbled Upon and decided that I could make them cuter. www.crafts.com abounds with hand sewn ornaments and sachets. All of these are very cute, but with a little effort, you can make your own, and not have to pay $30 for someone else to do them.

Supplies (JoAnn Fabric):

½ Yard Brown Felt

½ Yard Red Felt

3 Pre-Cut Quilting Fabric Patches with Funky Patterns

2 Pkgs Sequins (Gold and Red)

2 Pkgs Beads (Gold and Red)

2 Spools Thread (Pink and Brown)

1 Bag Stuffing

2 Spools Funky Scrapbooking Ribbon

Taking the felt, I cut out a large heart using the old fold in half method. Next I took a matching piece of funky patterned paper and cut out a medium shaped heart. Using large rather grotesque stitching, I sewed the medium sized heart to the felt background. I think the amateur stitching adds to the homemade feel of it. Here is where I decided how to further decorate my little heart. Do it now before you try to sew things together or it’ll just end up being a big pain in the butt. In some of the ornaments I added small hearts that I had previously decorated with sequins. These little hearts I just glued down. Then in the extra background space, I further decorated with
sequins. Once I was done decorating, I sewed a backing felt heart to the front one using a end* stitch. To attach the ribbon to the top of the heart, I just sewed the ribbon in to the closing stitches. When I had only a little space left, I then stuffed the stuffing in as well as any lavender or scents that someone would want. Finally I sewed it up the rest of the way and hung it on a
rack. Here are some pictures of the results, I have a few I will post as soon as I go the lucky recipients and borrow them back for a picture!

I will post soon the patterns that I used for this project. While they started out perfectly symmetrical, I did trim more off one side because they look must better the less perfect they are. Also, here are some pictures of the completed one. I spared you the first mistake or two.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

7 Financial Habits to Pick Up

Everyone’s always telling you what not to do with your finances. Don’t use payday loans. Don’t buy coffee. Don’t pay the minimum on your credit cards.

1. Check your account everyday. Before you start your work at the office, open up your online bank account and look at it. It is impossible to stick your head in the sand if you are forced to look at your finances everyday.

2. Make your coffee at home. Invest in a coffee maker on a timer and some travel mugs.

3. Keep your receipts. Make a weekly envelope and keep the receipts for everything you purchase. Not only will this force you to notice your spending habits, but it’s a great place to hang on to receipts for refunds.

4. Take your lunch to work. Make your lunch the night before or right when you cook, section some out in a little container for lunch tomorrow. If you get lonely, get a buddy to do it with you. Create a critical mass and you’ll have all of your office friends taking lunch to work.

5. Make one ATM withdrawal (at your bank ATM) once a week. Do it on Monday and swear not to get more money out. Even take your ATM card out of your wallet. You won’t be tempted to use it when you’re running low, and you’ll be reminded what money spent really looks like. Also, you get rid of those nasty out of bank fees.

6. Put your credit cards in a sealed envelope and hide them. I’ve heard about freezing them, so that you can’t use them unless you melt them out. It’s a great idea because you have them in case of an emergency, but can’t use them when it’s not. If you can, define the emergency you may need them for. Write them on the envelope. Try to think of some ways ahead of time to solve these financial crises without using the credit card and prepare for them. Example: Your car may break down. Create a car fund of $300 in a separate bank account. Ignore it, leave it, forget the account number but know that it’s there (collecting money) to get you over the worst of the hump.

7. Go to AA. No it isn’t for the free donuts. Alcohol is the most expensive and flexible expense you have. If you can, stop drinking. Or bring $20 and leave your cards at home. You won’t be tempted when you’re most susceptible to over spend.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Solving Clutter Problems

Today’s blog is a practical exercise in solving clutter problems. Your house may be clean, but if you have a few random things lying around on every surface, it doesn’t look clean. People often ignore things lying around because they don’t have a place for them or aren’t sure what to do with them.

Step 1: Clear off a large space to put all of your clutter. Pull out the trash can, get a bag for donations, a laundry basket, and get a box for miscellaneous items. Set out the trash bags and plastic bags.

Step 2: Walk around your home and pick up the little bits of clutter lying around. Set it all on a table or in one location in the middle of the floor. Mail, lotions, clothes, random projects are all lying around my place.

Step 3: Start piling like things together. Make a pile for dirty laundry, or for trash, one for items to donate. If you have random things, make a pile for each room and even each area they go in. Create a pile for things you have no idea where they should go.

Step 4: Once you have sorted everything, put the groups of items away in each room one at a time. Take out the trash, put the donation items in the car.

Step 5: Take a look at the miscellaneous items you can’t find a home for. Determine if you really need them in the first place. Maybe you don’t need 18 Yankee Candles out at a time and you can put some in a space the cupboard. If you need a break, put the miscellaneous items in a box, just don’t leave everything out indefinitely.

Step 6: Schedule a time to sort through the miscellaneous box. Schedule a time to deliver donations if you cannot deliver them immediately. Do not shove it in the corner. On your appointment time, go through the miscellaneous box. Don’t be afraid to throw away things if you find you really don’t use or need them.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

15 Reasons You should wait go to Graduate School

1. You are already in debt. So you’re in debt from undergrad, students loans, private loans, and particularly credit card bills, and you want to go to Graduate School. While you can get a deferment for the student loans, you will still have to pay them some day, and they will be worse once you’ve graduated from Graduate School. Take the time and at least get those credit cards taken care of. You won’t be able to afford the payments while you are in school.

2. You’ve never worked in your field. You think you want to be an archeologist, but you’ve never been on a dig. Well then you don’t really know if you can hack it or if you even like it. You need to get to know what you’re going to be doing so you can find out if all the work is really worth it. This shouldn’t be a random day dream but something you KNOW you want. Experience is VITAL in graduate school. The people with more experience get the best projects and positions and have more to talk about in class. If you can’t find a paying job in your field, try to job shadow or volunteer if you can afford it.

3. You want to meet someone. You graduated from college and suddenly it’s impossible to meet anyone new. You miss the constant mixers and the intra-gender library bonding/flirting. Grad school is significantly more expensive than e-harmony. If you want a college atmosphere, get a job in a college town, in the university if you can. The coffee shops and bars will be teaming with grad students anyway. Besides, what happens when you meet someone in grad School and then get successful new jobs…on opposite sides of the country.

4. You want to write. There are thousands of students pouring into creative writing and English programs hoping to be novelists, even though most experts advise against this. Instead think about working joining a writing group for a year, getting together a portfolio and maybe some printed work. You will get to write what you love, instead of a dissertation on the gender implications of Jack and Jill going up a hill.

5. You STILL don’t know what you want to do with your life. If you’ve graduated college still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, first of all don’t feel too bad. (If you went to a Liberal Arts School like I did, I’m impressed you managed to choose a major.) There are better ways to figure it out than spending massive amounts of time and money on another degree that might not help you anyway. Take a year off and try a few temporary jobs, if you have the money, travel. Dropping out after a semester of grad school is a huge waste of time and money. Don’t stress out, a lot of us are still figuring it out.

6. You can’t find a decent job. A graduate degree isn’t a golden ticket. You still don’t have any real life experience. And the job market may actually be worse when you graduate and you will have even more debt to pay off on your measly still starting salary.

7. You don’t have the proper Language Skills

8. You just want a degree. You want that extra piece of paper. You don’t care what field it’s in and you haven’t thought what you’ll do with it. A Graduate Degree is not an End in and of itself. It is a Means to an End. If you really need a title, call yourself Master of the Universe.

9. You have no savings. You must, I repeat MUST have some savings before you try to go to graduate school. It should be at least enough for you to be able to live on for at least year. Most of the time you can get another job while you are going to school, but if you think you’ll be able to totally support yourself without credit cards or loans you are mistaken. The last thing you want to do is miss out on projects or networking opportunities because you have to deliver pizzas after class. Your grades and your work will suffer and the debt you will have after will be astonishing. Figure out the cost of living at the place you want to go to. Overestimate. You may be able to make a little money on the side, and you can probably use some loans, but don’t cripple yourself before you even start your career.

10. Someone told you to. You’re getting too old to do what others tell you to do. If you’re not mature enough to assert yourself, you’re not mature enough to go to Graduate School.

11. You want to do some extensive traveling. Do you seriously think you will be able to afford travel after pouring tens of thousands of dollars in to a degree? Do you think you’ll have the energy to do it?

12. If you wait someone might help you pay for it. A lot of companies are now offering to help pay at least part of the cost of getting another degree. Most of the time this has to relate to your position, but many times you can get some partially relevant classes. Just make sure that what you do will transfer when you do choose to go to school.

13. You still drink like you are and extra in the movie Animal House

14. You don’t think that you will never go back if you don’t do it now. I heard this one a lot when I was deciding on graduate school and I soon learned it is not true at all. You may not want to wait till you have a mortgage and a little of children, but I was the youngest in my program at the age of 23. Plenty of people go back, and it is actually easier for them.

15. You’re afraid of going into the real world. There are much cheaper ways to stick your head in the sand, and if you get a degree you don’t need or want, you might as well have spent the time working at a pool side bar for a year or two.

Monday, March 03, 2008

5 Quickie Dinners made with Tortillas

Making dinner during the week can be difficult. Working takes up enough time, but what if you want to work out or meet with friends. Here are a few ideas for dinners that are quick and easy and are made of ingredients you can easily have on hand.

Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 Brick cream cheese (I use 1/3 fat)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained
  • 8 fajita sized tortillas (I use the whole wheat)
  • 1 cup shredded taco cheese
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • Two cooked Chicken breasts chopped into small pieces * For vegetarian just add another can of drained pinto beans instead
  • Cayenne pepper and powdered garlic to taste

Melt the cream cheese and salsa on medium heat. Stir till blended, then add the cooked chicken, drained pinto beans, cayenne pepper, garlic, tomatoes and stir until blended. Fill the tortillas, roll into tubes, and lay side by side in an oven safe/lightly oiled pan. Chop up the onions. Pour sauce over rolled enchiladas. Sprinkle on chopped onions and shredded cheese over the top. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Mexican Pizzas

  • 1 Bag tortillas
  • 1 can refried beans
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Salsa
  • Chopped Onions

Toast one tortilla spread refried beans and salsa on top. Layer with next tortilla spread onions and green peppers, salsa and then toss shredded cheese. Toast in toaster oven or in oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.


  • Tortillas
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Chopped Onions
  • Chopped Green Peppers
  • Baby Spinach
  • Oil

Toast one tortilla. Layer cheese, and chopped vegetables between two tortillas. In a lightly greased pan toast until light brown and cheese is melted.

Taco Salad

  • 1 Can pinto beans
  • Salad
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Salsa
  • Tortillas

Make a salad with all of your favorite veggies. Toast a tortilla in a toaster or in the oven. Toss shredded cheese, drained pinto beans, salsa, and crumbled tortilla over the top.


  • Turkey Swiss, Baby Spinach, and mustard
  • Turkey, Mexican Shredded Cheese, Onions, Green Pepper, and Salsa
  • Hummus, Green Peppers, Onions and tomatoes

Quickie Tips

  • Keep chopped up onions and green pepper on hand for speedy use
  • Buy pre-chopped salads/lettuce
  • Keep cans of pinto beans and chopped tomatoes on hand

Grocery List

  • 1 Bag of Tortillas
  • 2 Bags of Shredded Mexican Cheese
  • 1 can of Enchilada Sauce
  • 2 Can of Tomatoes
  • 2 Can of Pinto Beans
  • 1 Jar of Salsa
  • Baby Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Green Peppers
  • 1 Can of Refried Beans
  • Turkey Lunchmeat
  • Humus

Friday, February 29, 2008

Organizing Your Out of Control Email Inbox

So you haven’t deleted an email in 3 years, so it takes 3 days for your email system to search for a password reminder to your favorite website. Keeping your email inbox messy is like dumping all of your mail on your doormat. It’s disorganized, messy and wastes your time. I will admit I’ve had this problem, but I’ve devised a few tips for cleaning your email us.
  1. Do a bulk search on things you know are spam - Did you subscribe to 5 different email lists only to read one of them 1/3 of the time? Get rid of them, they’re only sitting in your inbox taking up space and making you feel guilty for not reading them.
  2. Unsubscribe - If there is one or more email lists that you have never actually read, find away to unsubscribe to them, or at the least list them as spam and have them automatically filtered out for easy deleting.
  3. Create folders and file - Here is a list of folders I have, you may want to change them for your needs, but I found just about anything fits into these.
  • Read and Respond – Emails that shouldn’t be in my inbox, but I am looking to read some day or I should respond to someone. I like to look through here at least once a week to make sure there isn’t anything I’m slacking on.
  • Bills – Bills and payment confirmations.
  • Blog Research – I like to keep forwards or websites or list research for my blog here so if I’m ever uninspired I can look in here, you can really create a folder for each topic of research you are interested in.
  • Current Projects – Doing research for something new? Try to store it all in one spot.
  • Files – I email myself files instead of saving them to a thumbdrive.
  • Friends – All of the interesting emails from them, not the ones that are 2 sentences long.
  • Job – job search tips, interesting companies, interesting postings (some people toss old postings, but I think that if you were interested in the company once, you should hold on to it and maybe check it out later when you’re more motivated to look for a new job)
  • Memberships – emails about password/account information
  • Recipes – I love to cook and the lists I’m on send me recipes all the time, I try to hang on to anything I might like.
  • Writing – Here is where I keep information from cool writing websites, as well as emails from editors and other writers.
  • Yoga_Health – Yoga tips and health articles I might read some day, right after I quit drinking Diet Coke…
  1. Be realistic about what you can do - I know that I will never have time to read all of the Yoga tips I love, so I have a deadline and if the emails are more than a month old I delete them.
  2. Email Reminders – I love using email reminders to remind myself to do something or take care of someone’s birthday, however once the event is over, get rid of the reminder.
  3. Responses don’t have to be perfect– If the email is from my friend and all it requires is a two sentence response, do it while you have it open. By the time you close and and reopen it later you’ve wasted even more time. Don’t make life more complicated than it is.
  4. Schedule Time on it – Don’t let yourself get bogged down with elaborate organization systems. It should not take you more than 15 minutes to organize your email. Of course it’ll take more time to respond, but budget your time specifically to organize so at least you know what’s going on in your InBox.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bento Lunches

Today's post is on two Bentos i made for lunch last week, they aren’t exactly in Bento boxes because I don’t have any big enough right now. The first has a little flower shaped sandwich made out of turkey, lowfat swiss, and BBQ dressing. The flower is nestled in a little flower bed of baby spinach. In the side compartment is a lowfat Baby Bell cheese, heart-shaped picks with baby dill pickles and mandarin oranges. For desert I made a mini vanilla cupcake with multi-colored sprinkles.

The second Bento has multigrain crackers with a mustard smiley face, egg-salad, laughing cow herb cheese, a Baby Bell cheese, mandarin oranges, and wasabi dried peas. In the side compartment is some Chicken Korma with chopped spinach. Yum!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Apartment Gardening

If you are short on space, but still want to be a green thumb, today’s tip should help you out. I’m not ashamed to say it, but I went to Science Camp when I was a kid. I also participated in our school’s science fair every year. One of the classic Science Fair projects is the seedlings in a plastic bag.

The idea is simple. Buy some seeds, then take a square of paper towel and a clear plastic sandwich bag, and a little water. I love projects that do not require you to purchase any extra supplies! Wet the paper towel and fold it into quarters. Sprinkle the seeds in the middle of the folds and then put the flat wet paper towel in the plastic bag. We always taped the bags to the windows, but I taped mine to my window frames because the screens are in the way. I made sure to label the bags with magic marker so you know what’s growing where. Make sure when you tape the bags up, the window is not too drafty for the young plants.

If you start your seedlings in the next couple of weeks, they should be sturdy and ready for the outside garden in a month or two. This is of course depending on your climate and weather. Buying seeds is much cheaper than purchasing flats of little plants, and gets you in the mood for gardening a little earlier than usual without wasting any space. If you don't have a back yard or a balcony you can always move the plants to a container garden on your window sill.

Above are some pictures of the project. I decided to grow Oregano, Chives and Basil. As you may be able to see, some of the seeds have begun to sprout after only a week!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Writing Ideas Journal

Today’s tip is for all of those aspiring writer’s out there. I constantly hear writers saying “I don’t have anything to write about.” Well I’m here to tell you, that I NEVER have that problem. Aren’t I lucky? Divinely inspired? Nope, I have a system to make sure I never run out of original ideas: an Idea Journal.

My idea journal is really helpful and simple to create. While I don’t keep it with me everywhere I go, it is in a prominent and convenient place on my desk. Whenever I have an idea, I take an entire page in my journal and write the idea down. Many times it just a cool character or a cool line from one of my friends. When I write the interesting tidbit down, I usually have some inkling of how it may further develop in to a story.

My journal is unlined. Remember this is just a brainstorming phase right now, no need for lines and boxes to keep you down. Once story idea for each page I find works best. I also like to use brightly colored fine pointed sharpies. These usually help me get more excited about the idea. Sometimes there is an interesting article in the news or online and I cut or print them out and save them to glue or tape in my journal.

Anytime I don’t have a particular project in mind, I go back to my journal and pick out an idea I was really interested in. I would have forgotten the idea if I hadn’t written it down so I appreciate having my writing journal.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Recycled Coffee Tin Craft Project

Today’s project is pretty simple, but the outcome is very useful and I find it very attractive. I buy all of my coffee at Trader Joes, and in the end, I always end up with these large coffee containers. While, I get the large containers, there are smaller ones too I might experiment with.

The containers are sturdy, so I decided to dress them up a little bit and reuse them. I bought some paper from this gourmet type paper store around the corner from me called Hollander’s. I picked out a couple of beautiful sheets of paper months ago, and I was still looking for an excuse to use them. All I did was cover the coffee can with a sheet of this paper, making sure that the trees are growing in the correct direction. I used a basic Elmer’s-type glue. When doing this, the less glue the better, around the tip and bottom edges and the slowly gluing a little strip as you go around. Otherwise, the paper can get a little wrinkly. A bone flattener tool that is used in bookbinding could be helpful here to flatten out the glue bubbles.

Here are some pictures of my new storage containers. They store all of my nail polish and manicure supplies. I hope you enjoy this great recycling and organizing project.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

How to get LESS Sleep

So everyone's always talking about how people these days need more sleep, and how bad a lack of sleep is for your health, but in reality, Who has time for all that sleep? Here's a list of ways to get less sleep. Also a helpful tip, any time you find one of those sites that tells you how to get that all important sleep, just do the opposite.

10 Ways to Sleep Less
  1. Force yourself to sleep in a different place or position every night. Totally confuse your body by falling asleep one night on the couch, one on your bed, another in the arm chair, on the floor with a pillow…
  2. Exercise late at night. Just when your body thought you were ready for bed, go out and run on the treadmill for 30 minutes. Just make sure that you aren’t doing it at the same time every night so you’re body can’t get into a pattern.
  3. Nap frequently, but erratically. Allow yourself an hour nap when you get home from work. Make sure it doesn’t last longer, and you’ll be up till 3 easily. If you can get down to 4 hours of sleep a night, one extra hour totals only 5. If you can get a 15 min nap in the afternoon. It’s better to nap a little then be totally unproductive while waiting to be able to go to sleep.
  4. Break the Routine. Get to know your body’s patterns and make sure you screw them up as much as possible.
  5. Take your vitamins. An iron deficiency can make you tired. Also the healthier your body is the better you can withstand this sleep loss.
  6. Cut out the refined flour. These kinds of carbs lead to up and down blood sugar. Stick with whole grains and more protein if at all possible. What you want is a long and steady moderate sleepiness.
  7. Drink more water. Dehydration leads to fatigue, also you need keep drinking enough water to fight the diuretic effects of number 10.
  8. Eat little snacks. Low blood sugar can lead to sleepiness. If you start to feel like you’re energy is waning, have a little sack like a handful of dried fruit or a yoghurt.
  9. Never Turn out the lights. Keep your lights on when you sleep so that your body doesn’t think you should be asleep for the night, with any luck your body won't be abel to tell that it’s night at all.
  10. COFFEE! Coffee is good, but make sure you have a steady stream to keep the caffeine and a moderate level. What you don’t want to do is down a shot of espresso, bounce off the walls for half an hour, and then pass out in a bush on the walk home from Starbucks. Also better for the slow drip release of caffeine are drinks like diet coke and tea.

*These tips are provided for sarcastic purposes only and are not proven to keep you awake, make you more productive, and will probably decrease your general level of health.

(Photo Courtesy of pbo31)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Cover Letter Help

Lately it seems that I have been revising a lot of resumes and cover letters for my friends. It makes sense, because I live in Michigan where everyone is either unemployed or underemployed. I found that I was explaining how to write a cover letter more often that not, so I put together a few really great sites with examples of different types of cover letters. Also, I have a little sheet here that shows how I write cover letters. If you click on it you can see it in detail and print it out.

Since most cover letters are going to be cover emails now a days, I have found some sites that are a little more up to date than other sites. Remember that if you email in your resume to a job, you should treat that email just as you would a physical cover letter.

Sites with different examples of cover letters:




And here's the handout...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bento Lunches

Hello there, the fabulous Stumble Upon has introduced me to yet another hobby I never knew I missed. Bento boxed lunches are easily the cutest culinary habit since the invention of Peeps.

Popular in Japan, the idea is to make adorable your packed lunch, not only the container, but actually the food inside it. I found a few Bento Blogs that showed me all sorts of cute ideas. My favorite is easily http://www.cookingcute.com/, but for some reason the owner of the site doesn’t post anymore. (I think she had a baby.) I also like http://bentoanarchy.blogspot.com/ and http://ss-biggie.livejournal.com/ and especially http://www.bentoyum.com/.

I saw all of these and I had to buy a bento box and try it out myself. I’ll admit when I got my box I was shocked at how small it is. I insist on getting a microwavable box even though the traditional way to eat them is at room temperature, because you do not refrigerate them at work or school. (The food safety issues here are obvious.) But my box looked about the size of my fists closed together. I couldn’t imagine how this would fill me, and it doesn’t entirely, but I usually bring something along on the side. I also realized how this could better help me with portion control. Here's a picture of my little Bento Box. Ooooh the cuteness! Oh and it's microwavable.

This bento is not my first, I will try to post that one later, but this is my most recent one. I made a little wrap of spinach, turkey, cheese and humus. Those little balls are wasabi dried green peas. In the top level is a little wedge of Laughing Cow Lite cheese and Triskets.

My first bento was a cheese, onion and green pepper quesadilla cut into little animals using a Noah’s Ark animal cookie cutters. The excess I ate for breakfast. The little piggy of sauce has hot pepper sauce from Trader Joes. (If anyone has a non-wasteful way of getting sauce into pig please enlighten me, I had to put it in a bowl and then squeeze the container to suck up the sauce leaving lots of leftover sauce in the bowl.) The bottom level is my baked ziti. Eh it could be cuter. I'll try harder next time, I have a few cool ideas.

And here's another attempt , a humus smiley with celery sticks and spaghetti.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Taking notes for a large Research Paper

Writing a large research paper is daunting on the best of days, but staring at a blank page can be intellectually crippling. Even after reading dozens of articles, people will procrastinate to avoid starting the writing process.

Today’s tip avoids this research roadblock completely. When I write my research papers, I almost never have to start with a blank screen because I take notes on my laptop while I’m conducting my research. If you can read papers online, make sure you take notes along the way in a Word document you’ve pulled up along side the articles. Feel free to cut and paste great quotes into your Word doc, just MAKE SURE that you have a system to differentiate between your original thoughts/comments and your direct quotes so you don’t accidentally plagiarize someone’s work.* Also, go ahead and put the full citation information and make each note a footnote ahead of time. This way you will know exactly where you got each quote/argument.

Doing this work ahead of time is a great way to make use of the murky procrastination time. You can “work” on your paper and get some information down, without stressing that all of the arguments are in line.

If you do this you must be ready to cut some arguments out and you should also start to create an outline for the whole thing as you go along. Often research papers, especially in the humanities, start to flesh themselves out, but if you have to write a literature review in and department, this tip should help you.

Software tools can help, like Adobe Acrobat Pro which will let you comment within a PDF, but you still have to cut and paste the notes from several documents into one. Also, helpful are citation management products like EndNote and ProCite, but it is difficult to take actual notes in these too.

I hope this research tip helps you get over the procrastination monster and start writing your research paper with organization and ease.

*You may have to download the newest versions of Adobe Reader to be able to cut and paste from PDF documents. Otherwise using HTML documents when available is advised.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Get Full Text Articles in Google

Recently, I have heard a lot of frustration with Google returning searches that are full of articles and webpages that most people cannot look at. Here are a few options to

1. You may have access to this article through your school or public library, so contact your local librarian or go to their website, you probably have access to more than you realize.

2. The second option you have is to go to the Google Advanced Search and select the “Usage Rights” section and change the option to “Free to Use or Share.” (See circle below) This will give you only the articles that have full text. I could not find this option in Google Scholar, however the Advanced Search is usually good enough to locate some great research. If you will look at the picture above, I have circled the drop down menu you will need to use in the Advanced Search tool to find the "Free to Use and Share" files.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Christmas Bread Gifts

Here is the second Holiday Tip that I would like to add, again sorry it’s late, but you can keep it in mind for next year. This is a very flexible idea so you can probably use it sooner.

This year for some of my office mates I made Christmas Focaccia. I case anyone doesn’t know, Focaccia is an Italian bread that is a cross between a thick pizza dough and flat bread. It contains about a gallon of olive oil and you can put any toppings on it that you like. For my Christmas version, I used fresh rosemary needles to emulate pine needles and then I also used onions and Red and Green Peppers. For a little extra flavor I kneeded in garlic powder and dried basil.

There are a number really easy recipes to make Focaccia, and I have included a few below. I also have a recipe that takes half a week to complete, but I wouldn’t recommend that unless you have absolutely nothing better to do.



Another Lazy Girl Idea is to use frozen bread dough. You can usually get them in packs, and all you have to do is let them thaw in a bag with olive oil overnight. Once it’s thawed, you can just punch it down and add a little more olive oil and let it rise again. It’s a pretty easy idea and the end result is super cute without a lot of work. (But no nice girl would ever admit to using.)

Once the bread is cooled, you can wrap it in Saran Wrap and then I found these cute Christmassy clear plastic wrapping at the Dollar Store and wrapped each loaf with the Christmas wrap so that the recipient can still see the bread below. A great thing to include with the bread would be a nice bottle of flavored olive oil or a jar of bruschetta.

If you want an Easter Focaccia, try some Yellow and Orange Peppers with some nice purple-y Red Onion. Or what about Orange Peppers and Black Olives for Halloween! The possibilities are limited only by the number of Holidays you celebrate.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Magnet Craft Project

I am very sorry for the delay. Christmas was a very busy time for this girl but I do have a few holiday gift and craft ideas to share. Part of the reason I waited till after Christmas to share these is because I wanted to take some pictures for you to help illustrate my directions. Also, I didn’t want to ruin the surprise for any of my gift recipients.

The first project I will tell you about is an idea that I got from the great craft blog, Not Martha. They are homemade magnet sets made from recycled magazines as well as online Images I located on Google Image search.

The supplies needed for this project I picked up at Michael’s and consisted of one tube of clear drying glue like the one seen here.

The glass balls are actually the marbles that people use to make flower arrangements. They do have some in the mosaic section of the store, but I found these in the flower arranging section which gave me more pieces for less money. Little magnets are also available there in packs of 20 or more. I also did a little spin on the magnet idea and created some pushpins using thumb tacks to glue to the back of the pictures. While Not Martha recommended using a circle stencil to cut out the images, I found that just generally cutting out the images and then gluing down the marbles and then trimming up the edges after the dried to be the best process for me. I feel like this way I got just the right angle from the marbles which were not exactly round in the first place.

I made sets of the magnets of 5-8 that would match each other. Some of the sets I made were,

"Dogwood Blossoms"

“Impressionist Paintings”

“Old Masters Paintings”

“Butterflies and Roses”

"Puppies and Kittens"

"Colorful Gods”

...and then of course there are my Christmas Images.